There really is no way around it when it comes to energy costs and it's effect on the global economy. we either find a new source of cheap energy or our economy goes into a big recession. (hint: it's already in a global recession due to increasing energy costs. it's the only explanation that actually fits the evidence perfectly)
this thread for details.
STARGAZING: All I see are the lights of a billion places I'll never go. --Howard Tayler, Schlock Mercenary
Moving away from unstable fossil fuel prices as a primary energy source is actually good economic policy regardless of envcironmental concerns.
You need to look outside the US as well however. look at what nations are doing well despite the global tendency towards a recession, and then compare those with those who do extra poorly. the most common theme is that nations doing poorly have a very high cost of electricity. (greece, italy), while nations who are doing great have cheap electricity. (see Norway, who is actually growing it's economy thanks to cheap energy)
I do not have a handy chart to show you atm. I'l hunt around for one, or try to put one together myself. I got to re-find that site with all the global statistics again.
It think it might be easier to think of energy in terms of a consumable product instead of "energy" to avoid confusion with other forms of energy. Energy as a product needs to be produced and packaged and delivered in a usable form, so it's difficult to look at sunlight as energy in the current paradigm, even if you have solar panels, because the solar panels make you a producer and packager and distributor of energy, otherwise you're electric and electronic devices wouldn't work.
I'm not familiar with the paradox mentioned above, but it makes sense if we're able to distinguish between efficiency and innovation. I would define it thus: Efficiency reduces the cost of a current process but an innovation introduces a new process. Email has replaced a lot of the post, parcel, telephony and facsimile processes and uses less net energy, thereby reducing costs, but it has also allowed more people to use it and it's related infrastructure needs thereby creating new businesses and related activity. Energy being frangible, the comparison for efficiency then might be in how an office conducts business now versus how it conducted business then, but the changes are really based on technological innovation. Of course, one might say that an innovation in shrinking silicon ICs might be an innovation instead of merely an increase in efficiency, so it really depends on the level of abstraction you use.
Et tu BAUT? Quantum mutatus ab illo.