It may be the year 2001, but lately I feel like I'm living in the 1970s. I haven't been wearing a mood ring or sporting a leisure suit recently, and I haven't been playing with a pet rock or raising sea monkeys. No, it's the recent media blitz surrounding our nation's energy crisis, the proposed National Energy Policy, and the birth of a host of energy efficiency programs that have me feeling like I've stepped back in time.

In the '70s, gasoline shortages brought about by an Arab oil embargo in 1973 led to the passage of the first National Energy Plan and National Energy Act, as well as the introduction of several industry-sponsored energy efficiency programs. Americans awoke to the fact that natural energy supplies weren't endless and that something had to be done about the country's dependence on foreign oil supplies. Businesses and industry invested in on-site power systems, modernized inefficient lighting systems, boosted equipment efficiency, and reduced energy consumption through load shedding programs.

Although these trends continued into the '80s and '90s, they lost momentum over the years; complacency set in and we reverted to our old bad habits.

Lately, our insatiable desire for electrically powered devices in the workplace and home has pushed electricity consumption to record levels. Our demand for immediate access to every conceivable piece of information has given rise to vast electronic networks that must be supported by power hungry data centers. Couple this with our failure over the past several years to modernize our energy infrastructure, and we're once again faced with an energy crisis. Sound familiar?

So how do we address today's dilemma? We can start by supporting a National Energy Policy that reduces our dependance on foreign oil supplies, supports the continued development of alternate energy sources, calls for modernization of our energy infrastructure, and protects our environment. In addition, we must encourage the development of energy-efficient products and invest in them whenever possible, both at home and in the workplace. But this time let's try and learn from our past mistakes and continue to support these programs for years to come.