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    Greg and Beth

    the political and personal musings of two
    mountaineers living in west-central Florida
     
    Greg on Politics(10): Energy Policy Comment
    Gregory Morris, 6/15/07 10:04:30 am
    We are stuck with oil for a while. Deal with it. Biodiesel, ethanol, etc. cannot replace oil on their own. Coal still runs this country, and it can't be replaced with solar and wind power. It simply isn't possible. We must keep researching other possibilities though, because there are better ways to generate energy. One place where tax dollars ought to be spent is on incentives for innovation as well as tax breaks for implementation of improvements. For a long time we've relied on oil as a sole means of running the country. There is no silver bullet solution,and I'll argue that there shouldn't be one. Diversity in energy sources as well as better efficiency should be our goal. Keep in mind, however, that I don't advocate giving up our luxuries in the name of efficiency. I'm an engineer, and as an engineer, I know that there are always more efficient ways to do things, but there must be incentives in place for those who want to build cleaner cars, or more energy efficient houses.

    Here are the biggest reasons I think we need to fix our energy policy:
  • National Security. Ever wonder why a single computer virus can have a devastating effect on our nation's corporate (or defense) infrastructure? It is because almost everyone runs Windows. While Windows has some security problems, so do Mac OS, Linux and every other OS. The problem is lack of diversity. If only 1/3 of the nation used Windows, then a Windows virus could take out, at most, 1/3 of the country's computers. Likewise, energy diversity is a matter of national security. One or two rogue nations can hold back their oil, and cause near panic in the US. Granted, we have enough oil here for a while, but that won't always be the case. But what if Al Qaeda blows up a few of our refineries? It is clear that a shift away from oil reliance (not just foreign oil reliance) is necessary. However, let's say Biodiesel were to become feasible... relying on nothing but Biodiesel would have the same, serious risks. For instance, a crop failure or a biological terrorist attack could wipe out the nation's energy! Diversity, continuous innovation and increased efficiency within our energy infrastructure are key elements in the security of this country.
  • Economy. Our nation would benefit economically by having more sources of energy from diverse sources. This would spur innovation, and foster competition, which is always a good thing for the market. It would also help "spread the wealth"... not in a socialist way, but via pure, beautiful, free market capitalism! Demand for energy is increasing, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Oil would still be a money maker, but so would biodiesel, ethanol, tidal-power, solar, wind, etc.
  • Environment. No, I'm not a reactionary, enviro-nazi, tie-dyed, tree-hugging, pot-smoking hippie. But, I like clean air and clean water. I love backpacking, boating, fishing, etc... and all of those activities are harmed by environmental damage. I'm not saying we should stop driving cars NOW, or stop burning coal NOW... just that we need to put serious R&D time/money into better solutions. And as I mentioned before, for that to happen, there must be incentives.
  • Supply. We all know the difference between renewable and non-renewable resources. The oil and coal will eventually run out. Probably not soon, probably not in my lifetime, but it will happen. It would not be prudent to wait until then to implement better energy sources.

    So what are the other solutions? I can't say that I know for sure, but there are safer ways being developed to generate nuclear power. There are advancements with bio-engineered bacteria that produce hydrogen. There are also continuing improvements in the way we do things already (better coal processing, gasoline/ethanol mixes, hybrid technology, fuel cells, better batteries... to name a few.)

    Note: this is not meant to be scholarly work. This is simply my opinion. If I use someone else's ideas, I try to credit them where appropriate. I also reserve the right to change my opinion when provided with better information, as any half-intelligent person should do.

  • [Comments are closed after a month.]

    < "Another thought on HR2640"
    "Greg on Politics(11): Energy Cost" >


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