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Thursday, March 10, 2005

Lack of Energy

President Bush's Clear Skies Initiative died in the Senate yesterday with special thanks to Republican turncoat Jim Jeffords and RINO Lincoln Chaffee. What I wonder about is if this marks a win or a loss for anyone. In political terms, it is a win for Democrats who want to take Bush down in his second term. In reality, almost all environmental decisions are a trade-off.
Remember paper or plastic? It turned out that paper bags were made from trees and cutting trees is bad. But wait, plastic bags don't biodegrade. So now you have the choice between filling up landfills or clearcutting the forest. Then again, you can always get your own cloth bags. You just won't be able to buy much at a time.

The big dilemma of environmentalism fighting itself is the diaper. The plastic disposable diaper was a target because the bulky convenience would fill up the landfills. But then people shot back with the amount of water and detergent used to wash cloth diapers. The plastic diaper survived and parents feel relatively comfortable with whatever choice they made.

Lately, environmentalists worship at the altar of conservation. The idea is that we reduce our 'waste' of energy. Of course, most people don't use more energy than they have to. It's pretty expensive. People buy more efficient appliances when they can afford them. They buy new cars that usually have higher fuel efficiency standards than their predecessors. But some people do buy SUVs and trucks and 4 wheel drive. In this snow plauged town it's a good idea if you do.

That is the divide between city life and country life. City people don't need cars (but they still use cabs and mass transit) and certainly not trucks. They're efficient. They have a government mandated system of recycling and even use space efficiently. But then, they have millions of gallons of water pumped into their cities and then pumped out as sewage. They truck their garbage all around the country. They have their electricity transmitted from far away places. I use a gallon of gas a day when I'm working and I have a well for my water.

So what is better? The left complains about the environmental impact of drilling in ANWR. How about the energy it takes to pipe and ship oil from abroad? What about ships that have accidents and spill oil into the ocean? Now I've said before that I think instead of this electric car stuff, we should be looking into biodiesel and ethanol. The irony is that all the emission control equipment on a modern car is incompatible with pure ethanol, especially considering emissions would be lower with ethanol. Corn production in the US is heavily geared toward a cheap sugar product for foods. I think increasing the price of sweets and lowering the price of gas is a better idea. And make no mistake, drilling and oil alternatives will affect the price of gas. Bush's speech alone saw a 1% drop in the barrel price of crude.

I enjoyed Bush's speech about Battelle. They seek to produce business friendly energy systems. Saving money will spur the new technology, not browbeating about the evils of the society that is the envy of the world.

Now that I've seen the size of this post, I think I'll let it go for now. Maybe next week I'll get into the types of energy we'll deal with in the future.


  • At March 12, 2005 6:29 PM, Blogger Craig said…

    I'm pretty fascinated by the process that converts things like turkey bones, feathers, and carcasses into high-grade crude oil. I read an article about a Tyson plant (I think it was Tyson) that is almost energy-independent because of the process -- and they dispose of the "garbage" at the same time.

    There are also some interesting experiments in the southern tier where farmers are generating their own electricity from their own cow manure (a la Thunderdome).

    All of these technologies are developing probably more quickly than we can see -- and interestingly enough, it didn't take a government-funded program to do it.

    Just the good old desire to make a buck.


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