Apropos of Nothing

June 13, 2008

My take on the Energy Crisis

Filed under: Environment,Newsworthy,Politics,Rant,Science — aproposofnothing @ 10:30 pm

Just a little wine fueled rant from yours truly.

The current situation is the result of decades of mismanagement by Congress on both sides of the aisle.  The executive branch can recommend and push for laws, but their main job is to enforce them.

Good policy proposed by either party tends to get blocked by the other or becomes so diluted through compromise that it is ineffective.  I’ve come to the conclusion that most members of Congress are more concerned about their own needs and wants rather than what is good for the country.

What the country needs is a common sense energy policy that makes use of ALL available science and technologies to solve our problems.  Yes, sucking on the oil teat when most of it is imported is a stupid idea, but denying access to 85% of our potential reserves doesn’t make much sense either.  It wouldn’t take much compromise to allow minimally invasive survey and exploration.  If promising fields are found, current modern technology could allow us to get the oil without a large impact on the environment.

While we are weaning ourselves away from foreign oil, there is a long list of other energy sources that should be expanded or explored.  We need to look at what energy technology works best for each area of the country.  Wind and Solar are darlings of the enviro set, but are not the answer for the majority of the country.  Areas that have abundant sun or constant wind are ideal areas for them to supply a good percentage of that area’s energy.  There are also many regions that have large untapped geothermal energy potential, these should be explored.  Ethanol, another technology liked by enviros, has shown some huge growing pains.  Corn, the source of most of the US’s ethanol, has shown itself to be less than an ideal solution.  And the subsidies Congress has voted in are huge.  Brazil, which is presented as a model of ethanol usage, uses sugar cane for its ethanol as it is much more efficient than corn.  Regardless, energy is required to plant, grow and harvest these crops.  The net energy value of sugar cane is much higher than corn, but since much more of the country is ideal for growing corn, CONGRESS mandated tariffs on imported sugar cane which pushes it to too high of a price to use for ethanol.  There is a lot of promising technologies out there that use agricultural waste (both crops and meat animals) to create ethanol and biodiesel.  Money should be removed from corn subsidies to fund this research.  I have also read about technology that is being developed recycle plastic and rubber from old cars back into petroleum.  More funding is needed for this research.

Another area to look at to reduce our oil use is plastics.  The best estimate I could find says that about 4 percent of the US’s daily oil use is used as feedstock for plastic and another 4 percent or so provides the energy to transform the feedstock into handy plastic.  We should move towards using natural products such as soy, corn and algae to create our plastic.  What other things are made from oily?  How about: Clothing Ink, Heart Valves, Crayons, Parachutes, Telephones, Enamel, Transparent tape, Antiseptics, Vacuum bottles, Deodorant, Pantyhose, Rubbing Alcohol, Carpets, Epoxy paint, Oil filters, Upholstery, Hearing Aids, Car sound insulation, Cassettes, Motorcycle helmets, Pillows, Shower doors, Shoes, Refrigerator linings, Electrical tape, Safety glass, Awnings, Salad bowl, Rubber cement, Nylon rope, Ice buckets, Fertilizers, Hair coloring, Toilet seats, Denture adhesive, Loudspeakers, Movie film, Fishing boots, Candles, Water pipes, Car enamel, Shower curtains, Credit cards, Aspirin, Golf balls, Detergents, Sunglasses, Glue, Fishing rods, Linoleum, Plastic wood, Soft contact lenses, Trash bags, Hand lotion, Shampoo, Shaving cream, Footballs, Paint brushes, Balloons, Fan belts, Umbrellas, Paint Rollers, Luggage, Antifreeze, Model cars, Floor wax, Sports car bodies, Tires, Dishwashing liquids, Unbreakable dishes, Toothbrushes, Toothpaste, Combs, Tents, Hair curlers, Lipstick, Ice cube trays, Electric blankets, Tennis rackets, Drinking cups, House paint, Roller skates wheels, Guitar strings, Ammonia, Eyeglasses, Ice chests, Life jackets, TV cabinets, Car battery cases, Insect repellent, Refrigerants, Typewriter ribbons, Cold cream, Glycerin, Plywood adhesive, Cameras, Anesthetics, Artificial turf, Artificial Limbs, Bandages, Dentures, Mops, Beach Umbrellas, Ballpoint pens, Boats, Nail polish, Golf bags, Caulking, Tape recorders, Curtains, Vitamin capsules, Dashboards, Putty, Percolators, Skis, Insecticides, Fishing lures, Perfumes, Shoe polish, Petroleum jelly, Faucet washers, Food preservatives, Antihistamines, Cortisone, Dyes, LP records, Solvents, Roofing.  If we can convert even a portion of these into non-petroleum based products, it will reduce our dependence on oil.

And now we come to the elephant in the room, Nuclear Energy.  Today’s nuclear energy is not your dad’s nuclear energy.  Modern Pebble Bed Reactors use a Passive Safety System that prevents accidents and meltdowns by their very design.  Some countries in Europe and Asia get a large portion of their energy from nuclear reactors.  A commitment to increasing our use of this technology would go a long way to reducing our dependence on oil, coal and natural gas for our electrical generation.  I’d be interested in the technology the Navy uses to power its ships.  They’ve used them for decades with no accidents.  I also read about a self contained reactor that Toshiba is developing that is 20×6 feet and will power a small town for 40 years.

There are many other promising technologies that could use more funding like shale oil, clean coal, fusion, liquid coal, hydrogen (not made from petroleum or natural gas) and wave and tide energy among others.

Enough of my ranting, I’m sure I missed a bunch of alternatives, but I think I covered the major ones.


  1. check out http://www.straightrecord.com/oil and http://www.straightrecord.com/paper. you’ll even more grist for your view. right on, except for putting it all on congress.

    Comment by straightrecord — June 13, 2008 @ 10:50 pm | Reply

  2. Nice site. Theres some good information on here. Ill be checking back regularly.

    Comment by Josh Maxwell — June 13, 2008 @ 11:00 pm | Reply

  3. Re-reading it, I guess I did put it all on Congress, but I do believe that they deserve at least 70-80% of the blame.

    Comment by aproposofnothing — June 13, 2008 @ 11:03 pm | Reply

  4. Today on june 9th 2008-I was deleted by wecansolveit.org-

    the organization looking for alternative energy for america has deleted me- the man who solved the energy crisis-

    why- because i say I am a messenger of god

    you want your cake and eat it too- you want life exactly the way you want it and not told by another

    you dont pick your messengers- they are chosen-

    i had enough- i have now endured 13 months on this net being deleted by every arrogant organization run by humans and just regular folk like you who have always ignored my messages since my time upon the net-

    well i am done with your stupidity-

    let your oil prices go up- let your food prices go up- watch your economies crumble- see your jobs lost- get rid of all your pet animals as you cannot feed your family and pet dog as so many are giving them to the pound-

    I have come openly with a solution 13 months ago only to be ignored-

    now a gluttonous world playing on the internet shall all learn how primitive man is and must be civil to one another- instead of shunning someone bringing forth a solution- in the months to follow- you will learn there is no alternative fuel- panic mode will set in very soon-

    when you understand clearly how important energy is- i guess your arragance will stop and just implement my scientific deeds – as for my messenger duties- it will make sense in time- all is well- but it will only get better after your destruction- i am sorry i have to say this- but it is I who has now watched you completely ignore and ridicule a man of god- as always you will learn the hard way-

    time will tell

    solomon azar

    Comment by SOLOMON AZAR — June 14, 2008 @ 6:17 am | Reply

  5. “Can the energy crises be overcome?” – I say yes!

    I think that the public, the government and corporate America should treat these energy crises as a danger to our way of life.

    During World War II, the America we know unified in a common cause. Everyone rolled their sleeves to chip in and Americans produced an enormous amount of hardware for the war effort. “I see a solution within 36 months”.

    If we as a nation can really appreciate and understand the severity and enormity of the energy crises, the catastrophic impact on our economic stability and civilization,
    we must unite and do whatever is necessary to produce other forms of energy and overcome this energy and economic crises “by putting all politics and egos aside and look for the good of our nation”.

    Jay Draiman, Northridge, CA

    Soaring gas prices, record oil company profits, unsustainable trade deficits, soldiers dying in Iraq’s deserts and catastrophic climate change— conservative energy policy is running us toward ruin. We urgently need to stop subsidizing dirty fossil fuels and start investing in a clean energy economy. In 1961, President Kennedy challenged us to send a man to the moon within a decade and launched the Apollo plan to make it happen. Now we need a similar vision—an Apollo initiative for energy independence, mobilizing science and technology and investing in energy efficiency and alternative energy.
    The benefits are immense. We can create jobs, capture growing global green energy markets, eliminate our dependence on Persian Gulf oil, reduce our trade deficit, improve our children’s health and end the catastrophic threat of global warming. It’s time to act.

    Comment by Jay Draiman, energy consultant — June 18, 2008 @ 8:19 am | Reply

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