Americans are increasingly seeing energy as one of the most serious problems facing our nation. We worry about the rising price of oil and how it affects not only the cost of driving and heating our homes, but our economy as a whole.

We’re concerned, too, with growing evidence of the harmful environmental impact of energy use, and we wonder if our national security is at risk of eroding because of where we obtain the energy that powers our day-to-day lives.

As demands for energy escalate, both in this country and in rapidly developing nations, we may soon reach a point of no return. Our very way of life may be threatened by the multi-faceted energy problem. Solutions seem costly, difficult and politically unpopular.

As the energy problem plunges toward an energy crisis, there is growing evidence that Americans are ready to face some of those choices.

Tomorrow evening on Thursday, April 17 individuals can make their voices heard in the National Issues Forum on “The Energy Problem: Choices for an Uncertain Future.” The forum begins at 7 p.m. at Brookfield Public Library and is open to the public. We will discuss the energy problem and the pros and cons of three approaches to solving it. Those choices are:

Unreliable Sources – Reduce our dependence on foreign energy

Much of the oil we use comes from politically volatile countries that cannot be relied upon to continue supplying our needs. This poses an ongoing threat to our security. The U.S. has many untapped reserves of oil and natural gas. Our best course of action is to make all possible use of these domestic energy sources.

Emissions Warning – Get out of the fossil-fuel predicament

The escalating use of fossil fuels is wreaking havoc on our environment. Unless we slow down the burning of fossil fuels, we face catastrophic climate changes. We must get serious about developing alternative energy sources such as wind farms, solar power and nuclear power.

Curb Our Appetite – Reduce our demand for energy

We’re missing the point when we go looking for new sources of energy. We need to find ways to use less energy or use it more efficiently.

The choices for resolving our energy problem are difficult, but we face a grim future if we don’t work through these choices together.

Sandra Baumgardner is president of Friends of the Brookfield Public Library. Joann Day is a member of Friends of the Brookfield Public Library. Both are trained moderators for National Issues Forums.