New generation drives global economy

While protectionism and isolationism may make good headlines during an election cycle, they seldom are good options in a global economy. This article appears in the September 2016 issue of Ethanol Producer Magazine.
By Mike Bryan | August 21, 2016

While protectionism and isolationism may make good headlines during an election cycle, they seldom are good options in a global economy.

A large part of the oil-producing region of the world is in turmoil, with no real end in sight. And when the current strife does come to an end, if it ever does, what’s to follow? History has taught us that we cannot assume that a new form of governance means all is well and the future is bright. Most of us have lost count of the number of times we have been wrong in assuming that.

Given the instability in the world, there never has been a time in the history of the ethanol industry when it has been more important. Important to our national security, important to our energy security and important to our economy, all of which are being threatened. Ethanol, no matter where in the world it is produced, promotes peace. No wars have been fought over ethanol. No invasions of other countries or clandestine operations have been launched because of ethanol.

So, while we need to shy away from isolationism, we need to act with a sense of urgency toward becoming more self-reliant by continuing to develop renewable fuels, wind and solar resources and our domestic oil and natural gas reserves. These are not mutually exclusive objectives, but can act in unison to build a stronger economy, a cleaner environment and a greater degree of self-reliance. 

As young people around the world exchange ideas and ideologies on Facebook, Twitter and a host of other social networks, the world becomes much smaller. What happens in rural China does not seem so distant to a student in Central Europe or America. Viewing the world from a classroom in Libya can inspire to action those who clearly can see a better way.

The youth of today represent our future and, luckily, they don’t cling to the ideas of past generations. In time, oil will once again become prehistoric. Ethanol and other renewable forms of energy that we have today will be joined by even newer, cleaner and more energy efficient solutions. Around the world, young people are rejecting the status quo, as they always have, and demanding that the world change to embrace new ideas and technologies.

Today’s energy sources are all just stepping-stones to tomorrow. If we stop and listen, we hear the drumbeat of a new generation, a generation that’s connected on a global scale, a generation that will look at energy, the environment and, we hope war, in a whole new light.

At the recent International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo in Milwaukee, I once again was so proud of how many young people were there and how many women now are in the industry compared to just a few years ago. I said to one of the attendees, “Look around. You see the future of our industry and most of them are in their 20s. How exciting is that!”

That’s the way I see it.

Author: Mike Bryan
Chairman, BBI International