Sunday, January 16, 2005

Alternative Energy Blog

I was recently directed to a great blog, entitled Alternative Energy Blog, discussing, as the name suggests, alternative energy resources. If you are at all interested in the subject of alternative energy, I recommend checking out this blog.

I have often stated that I feel that the development of a new national energy policy, focusing on increased usage of alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar, and eliminating all dependence on fossil fuels, is the biggest issue facing our country today. In an age where the Bush Administration is continually focusing the national attention on the false crisis of social security, we will soon face a true energy crisis if we do not act now to reduce energy consumption, and eliminate our dependence on non-renewable resources.

The Bush Administration has demonstrated an unwillingness to address this issue. In fact, they are acting completely irresponsible, instead simply pushing this impending crisis off onto future generations. When you boil it down to black and white, the issue is simple - we have a developed a huge global energy infrastructure, based on a finite resource. In a relatively short period time, we have developed a global energy production of over 82 million barrels of oil every day. This simply cannot continue indefinitely.

Free market supporters will be quick to inform you that eventually, when the supply of oil cannot match the demand, market forces will force corporations to switch to the development and usage of alternative energy sources. The argue that alternative energy resources are currently just too expensive. This is a fundamentally flawed argument. The reality is that the global economy is not a reality -- it is a system designed to encourage efficient production and consumption of resources. This global market is not a true reflection of reality -- As a country and as a world, we need to wake up and realize the bigger picture at play. The free market is oblivious to the nuances of the issue - It does not properly factor into equation the true reality of the situation:
  • There is a finite level oil and other fossil fuels available on our planet. The global economy basically assumes an unlimited supply of natural resources on our planet.
  • The global economy and our food supply are directly dependent on oil. Currently, the global economy relies on oil to transport food and other goods across the entire world.
  • The economic model does not properly address detrimental affects to our environment. Burning of fossil fuels results in pollution, environmental devastation, global warming. The cost of this damage is not entered into the economic equation, so corporations will continue to use non-renewable energy resources, even though it is in our nation and our planets best interests to switch to an renewable and sustainable energy infrastructure
  • The development of a renewable energy infrastructure is going to require a large-scale investment of capital. We will need to invest a large amount of energy currently only available in the form of non-renewable energy resources in order to produce this new energy infrastructure. If we wait until non-renewable energies begin to dry up, the cost of developing a clean, renewable energy infrastructure may already be prohibitively expensive.
Rather than addressing this issue properly, the Bush administration has taken to postponing a solution on two fronts. First off, they have invaded Iraq. You may argue that the war in Iraq was not about oil, but when you big picture, it is hard to imagine any other possible justification for the war. Secondly, the Bush Administration is continually attempting to convince congress and the general public if the need to drill in the ANWR (Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve). This is a foolhardy and short-term solution. The Bush administration is attempting to argue that our nation's problem is our dependence on foreign oil. The issue is not a dependence on foreign oil, but simply a dependence on oil. Estimates are that there are about 10.4 Billion total barrels of recoverable oil in ANWR. When you look at the global energy use of around 83 Million barrels of oil per day, you should realize that the entire ANWR oil reserve can only product enough energy to power the global energy grid for about 123 days. The US alone uses 20 Million barrels per day, meaning that ANWR could only supply the US alone with enough oil, given current demand, for about 520 days, or less than two years. This simply is not a long term solution.

Drilling for oil in ANWR will undoubtedly produce a few thousand new jobs for a while, and provide Halliburton with a handy multi-billion dollar no-bid contract, but in the end, the net effect will be: A) Further Environmental Damage, and B) A short postponement of our nation's development of a new federal energy policy, based on energy conservation, and the elimination of the dependence on non-renewable resources.

As I mentioned before, the real problem we face in addressing the issue of national energy policy reform is one of politics. Each elected official in our country will generally act in a way that is most likely to get them re-elected. It isn't a popular message to state that we need to reduce our energy consumption, to raise gasoline taxes, or to pay higher taxes to support subsidies on alternative energies. These changes are, however, in our nation's best interest. To avoid this issue is simply to pass the problems onto our children, who may be much less able to adequately address the problem without major sacrifices in their quality of life.

So, back to the original point of this blog posting, which was to make you aware of the Alternative Energy Blog. Earlier today, I sat down and read every posting on this website, which is full of interesting facts and insights into the subject of alternative energy. I would like to conclude by highlighting a few of the many articles and quotes that I found useful or interesting:

Peak Oil: Can 3D Exploration Postpone The Peak?

Hybrid Cars: Forbes/Newsweek Discussion-A great article discussing the possibility of new hybrid cars which can run completely off electricity for short in-town transits of up to 60 miles. You can bet that the global gas companies aren't going to like this development.

Alternative Energy - American as Apple Pie
- This article contains one great quote that I would like to point out, which pretty much sums up my view on the renewable energy debate: "Today, we rely on largely on finite and foreign energy sources. The cost of those resources will only go up, particularly when production starts going down. When that day comes, the investments we make now in renewable power will be a blessing."