TCS Daily


Outta Gas

By Brock Yates - June 22, 2004 12:00 AM

It is so mindless. So normal. This morning I awoke in our air-conditioned bedroom, fired up the electric coffeemaker and the computer before beginning this ramble about the energy shortages of the future. It seems so irrelevant; this issue of reduced power. It is everywhere, in our homes, our businesses, on our roads and in the sky above us. It is like sunlight and the air we breath, omnipresent and instantly available.

Even the brief squealing by the national press about the spike in gasoline prices is now silenced as Regular dips below $2.00 and Americans take to the roads in record numbers.

Yet make no mistake, trouble lies ahead, if by no other measure than the elemental rule of supply and demand. The increasing global population and its rising prosperity will soon exert enormous pressure on every source of energy, be it petroleum, hydro-electric, nuclear and coal. Whimsies about replacement by wind power remain in the embrace of the Greenies, but are otherwise irrelevant.

Today windmills generate about 2000 megawatts a year. That is expected to more than double within the next five years as more wind farms are built. But that falls far short of the 20,000 megawatts of additional electric needed annually in this nation alone. A sweet idea, as is geo-thermal, bio-mass, solar, etc. but in terms of efficiency, none of the alternatives can match the raw power of petroleum, coal and water.

Of course nuclear is more than viable, but the environmental movement had so shackled this Gulliver with legalisms that only the deepest shortages of energy might free its bonds.

Even more dam building, which is a reasonable source of low cost electricity, is doomed by the Greens who, like everybody else, drive to their rallies and their eco-terrors in gasoline-powered automobiles and live in homes lit by the same electricity as normal people.

The harsh fact is, in the broadest scenario, there is no viable solution to the coming energy shortage unless true courage is shown in Washington. To be sure, off-shore oil drilling is possible, as is more dam construction. France and other nations depend on nuclear power, which operates cleanly and safely. Why not here, if the idiotic roadblocks of the Greens and their political poltroons are removed?

We can rhapsodize about fuel cells, sun-power, etc. etc. but such sources are hardly long-term salvations. So too for energy-saving homes and offices, more public transit, etc. all of which help in small ways, but have little or nothing to do with the vast, all-encompassing problem of massive power demands in a growing population and high tech lifestyles.

Energy savers like fuel-efficient automobiles will help, but until the politicos in Washington begin to deal with the big picture, all the feel-good solutions of the day will plunge us into the cold and darkness of the future. It will take great courage to develop more coal-fired power plants, more nuclear generating facilities, more dams and more inland and off-shore oil-drilling, coupled with improved transportation networks to solve the problem.

It is unlikely that those in power will step up to the problem. Therefore we must await an energy-based Pearl Harbor to get their attention. When that happens, plan to join the Sierra Club around the campfire.


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