O is for oil
In "O is for Oil," Paul Roberts
argues that Americans are
in the dark when it comes to
energy. True energy security,
he writes, is impossible as long
as our economy is based on
oil. Do you agree? If so, what
is the best route to energy
security? Where should our
efforts at technological innovation,
or conservation, be
Totally agree with Mr. Roberts. Our Oil based economy will make energy security impossible. The issue I have with the article deals with the doom-and-gloom approach to the problem at hand. The energy situation is not pleasant but with the pressure on the private sector and/or the government will find a solution. First, we need to really get serious about conservation. I amazed by the num. of people who drive SUVs as their primary vehicles. SUVs make great winter trans. but summer trans. is sort of wasteful. But, conservation can also be encouraged by improving our public trans. I live just 15 miles from Boston, yet there is no Subway and the Commuter Rail requires a 10-20 min. drive. That is the government being irresponsible to its citizens. Secondly, stop waiting for someone to invite a solution to the energy. Invest in and encourage businesses that trying to produce alt. to oil.
Michael, North Reading
American's use of energy is utterly reprehensible, especially in light of events over the past 20 years (energy crisis, foreign policy focusing on the middle east, "global warming", etc). How many people who were sitting in gas lines in the 70s have now purchased SUVs or Trucks because "they need them". I'm sickened by the profusion of SUVs, mini-vans, trucks and conversion vans in our suburbs. Not to let homes off the hook either - look at the profusion of "McMansions" in our suburbs - new homes often can't be found for under $500,000 because they are so large - feeding the developers pocket, the consumer's ego and using more energy than is really necessary. What can be done? Education. Articles such as Pau Roberts "O is for Oil" are a start, but they only come out every so often, people wring their hands, worry a bit, then dismiss it. The Education has to be CONSTANT. More importantly, we must legislate social policy via financial incentives. (Interpret that as increase gas taxes and ALL ENERGY taxes). THAT is really the only way to get the American Consumer's attention. Unfortunately, we need strong willed, high minded people in political office to do this. People who aren't afraid of doing the unpopular thing that will cost them reelection - crusaders if you will. This brand of politician seems to be either extinct or rendered ineffective by the system that surrounds politicians in America today. Perhaps it could be started on the local level - towns strapped by Prop 2 1/2 constraints could raise new funds by taxing energy consumption (perhaps via the current local Excise tax - increase the Excise tax by a percentage based on MPG rating of the vehicle). Unfortunately, I believe it will take a severe rise in energy prices, sparking inflation and world-wide economic calamity for us to really change our practices. Meanwhile, smart people will prepare themselves for this day by preparing their houses and learning to not be so energy dependent.
Bruce S, Acton
You can't be secure when you are dependent on someone else. Conservation only delays the inevitable. Innovation and relince on renewable energy is the only long-term solution.
Dave M, Rockland
Conservation combined with ongoing innovation is our best course of action. Using the latest Recession as an excuse for deferring more conservation efforts is irresponsible and dangerous to our national security. However, it's obvious why our current leaders have chosen war as our primary way to preserving national security: it puts the problem outside the borders of the US and our leaders have too much financial stake in the oil industry.
COLD FUSION. That's the way to go. Virually limitless energy. The most abundant sources possible. No pollution. Very hard scientific barriers - but what good is a Harvard endowment bigger than the budgets of most nations if not for True impact on humankind. Just do it.
The problem is not that our economy is based on oil, the problem is that our economy is based on foreign oil derived from fossil fuels. The solution to this problem is to grow our own oil via biomass. The hemp plant can be grown for food, fuel, and fiber and when grown for fuel, produces rocket fuel quality oil. Not only would this approach solve all of our oil related problems, it would be a godsend to struggling farmers. It's time to wake up and take our country back from foreign and domestic oil companies. Spread the word!
Forget "Energy Security" - OVERALL security for our country is in jeopardy when we are dependant upon our energy resources from a part of the world that considers us "The Great Satan". We are the most technologically advanced country in the world, so you think we could come up with something other than dead dinosaurs to burn as fuel for our personal vehicles. We send millions of dollars A DAY into the same part of the world that produced the individuals responsible for 9/11. This money is being used against us. Donations from Saudi Arabia are what financed the 'Madrasas' - the 'Muslim Fundamental' schools that produce the terrorists who end up in Bin Laden's training camps. This money would be put to much better use if kept at home to pay for locally-generated energy, like bio-diesel or pyrolitic oil from our enormous waste stream in this country. Drilling for more oil in Alaska is extremely myopic - long-term this country needs to develop something other than oil to use as energy. Something that is renewable and clean. Getting the US Government off it's bizzarre phobia of industrial hemp would be a great start - and we're NOT talking legalization of marijuana here.....
Lou, Bellingham MA
Only when clean, domestic, renewable resources are are dominant energy sources, will we have true energy and economic security. We already have technologies of wind, solar, biofuels, heat pumps, and waste to energy. A sustainable economy can only be powered by renewable energy.
We live in a cause-and-effect world, and it's not hard to understand the effects of oil and gasoline being as inexpensive as it is. People drive SUVs because the gas that they put in them is just not that expensive. If gasoline rose to $3 a gallon, people would be less likely to buy an SUV in the first place. If gasoline rose to $7 a gallon, dealerships would be flooded with people trying to trade their SUVs in, and the government would be forced to build efficient, convenient public transportation. Expecting these things to happen without a "cause" is silly and unreasonable. That is why I would support a 400 to 500% gas tax.
I agree completely. The combination of limited oil supplies in countries with unstable governments is a hazardous combination that requires clear and effective policies aimed at both conservation of fossil fuels and development of renewable energy. If we don't act now we will regret it.
Vincent, West Roxbury