U.S. attitudes about energy are so far out of touch with reality that they could simply be labeled as insane. Criminally insane.

Almost all our discussion of energy dribbles around fantasies about building new sources: windmills and solar panels and geothermal plants, along with manufacturing electric cars. But we hear almost nothing about the one cheapest and simplest source of energy: CONSERVATION. That is, well duh, to use one helluva lot less than we currently do. Or at least use as little as many other nations. Maybe this approach gets little attention because it sounds so simple-minded. Major high-tech projects inspire a lot more awe than common sense measures.

Consider for example, our prodigious waste of gasoline: We burn 8,0344.7 gallons a day, or 10.6 times as much per capita as Japan, 14.7 times as much per capita as Germany, and 36.2 as much as Great Britain. This extreme difference can be explained partly because we drive far less efficient vehicles and are addicted to lumbering, gas-guzzling, Sports Utility Vehicles, buying these preposterous machines at almost twice the rate as Europeans. So, our average fuel economy is a pathetic 24.9 miles per gallon, compared to the European rate of 57 miles per gallon. Something to think about next time you see one of those disgusting TV ads with a gigantic SUV ripping through forest or desert or mountain or creek at a hundred miles an hour, though in reality most of these monstrosities will never leave our streets and freeways!

Similar absurd waste occurs in electrical consumption. We average 12,235 kilowatt hours per year, compared to Germany’s 6,771 and Great Britain’s  4,500.

A considerable amount of energy is also wasted simply in overheating our houses—and by leaving the heat turned on all night when we could save massive amounts of energy simply by turning down the thermostat to 60 degrees or so

Certainly, we should be all in favor of developing clean, new sources of energy, and if scientists finally come up with, say, a form of nuclear fusion that doesn’t blow up the universe, I’ll be the first to subscribe. But until then, let’s do everything possible to cut our ridiculous energy use to a reasonable, more sustainable level.