Interesting to go back to Jimmy Carter's 1977 speech on energy conservation. People made fun of his sweater-wearing fireside chats, but we'd be a lot better off today if he had been taken more seriously back then. Some parts of the speech show their age--I'd guess he'd rewrite some of the sections advocating greater reliance on coal, and some predictions were off--but others could have been written yesterday and are more applicable than ever now that global warming has been added to the mix. Some excerpts below.

No one can say he didn't try. Too bad too many didn't listen.

The most important thing about these proposals is that the alternative may be a national catastrophe. Further delay can affect our strength and our power as a nation.


Now we have a choice. But if we wait, we will live in fear of embargoes. We could endanger our freedom as a sovereign nation to act in foreign affairs.


We will feel mounting pressure to plunder the environment. We will have a crash program to build more nuclear plants, strip-mine and burn more coal, and drill more offshore wells than we will need if we begin to conserve now. Inflation will soar, production will go down, people will lose their jobs. Intense competition will build up among nations and among the different regions within our own country.

If we fail to act soon, we will face an economic, social and political crisis that will threaten our free institutions.

But we still have another choice. We can begin to prepare right now. We can decide to act while there is time.


... we must protect the environment. Our energy problems have the same cause as our environmental problems -- wasteful use of resources. Conservation helps us solve both at once.

... we must reduce our vulnerability to potentially devastating embargoes. We can protect ourselves from uncertain supplies by reducing our demand for oil, making the most of our abundant resources such as coal, and developing a strategic petroleum reserve.

... the cornerstone of our policy, is to reduce the demand through conservation. Our emphasis on conservation is a clear difference between this plan and others which merely encouraged crash production efforts. Conservation is the quickest, cheapest, most practical source of energy. Conservation is the only way we can buy a barrel of oil for a few dollars.


The citizens who insist on driving large, unnecessarily powerful cars must expect to pay more for that luxury.