TCS Daily

When and Why America Is At Its Best

By Brock Yates - March 9, 2005 12:00 AM

One might say that Kyoto is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn't want to live there. Of course it has become a symbolic Nirvana for every tree-hugger on the planet while gas-swilling, car-crazed Barbarians in America choose to ignore the glories of an environmental treaty designed to save the world from a chemically-based Black Plague.

At the core of America's reluctance to embrace Kyoto lies one simple reality -- the inevitable destruction of out industrial base and our world economic leadership should the terms of this Thoreau-like whimsy be implemented.

While transforming America into a Bali-like paradise sounds attractive on the surface, resulting obliteration of history's greatest industrial and technical colossus is hardly a logical option. America can be criticized for swilling unconscionable amounts of energy until one reflects on the benefits. Development of vast and diverse new technologies, stunning medical breakthroughs, aero-space exploration and brilliant agricultural advances, etc. have not come thanks to windmills on a hill or solar panels but rather through conventional power sources like petroleum, hydro-electricity, and yes, nuclear power. Example: Some of our most ardent enemies among the European intellectual elite sneered when President Bush, with apparent American stupidity, sent a Navy aircraft carrier to aid the victims of the recent Tsunami disaster. "What possibly could an aircraft carrier do to help, other than to project American military arrogance?" they asked.

The simple response: An American nuclear carrier has its own inexhaustible power supply and is capable of producing 900,000 gallons of fresh water a day. Its aircraft and helicopters are able to distribute that water and food supplies while its four hospitals and surgical units can handle masses of wounded and diseased. Its sophisticated global communications system can act as a center for international relief coordination. These are the reasons the "arrogant" Americans were present in the Far East, while, it should be mentioned, France's only aircraft carrier remained at home in the faraway Mediterranean.

To be sure, our 12 super-carriers consume enormous amounts of energy, but they, like our aircraft fleet, military and commercial, and our advanced, computerized industrial complex leads the world, not only in worldwide peace-keeping missions, but in the nation's sincere and devoted effort to relieve human suffering at every level.

Friend or enemy, America tries its best when natural disasters occur. It is during these times -- be they famines in Africa, earthquakes in Asia, or Tsunamis in India, America will be on site, packing the latest technical gear -- produced at home thanks to the availability of cheap energy -- electrical, petroleum-based and nuclear.

To be sure, much can be done to increase efficiency and alternative sources like fuel-cells, hybrid automobile powerplants, etc. might be viable in the future, but only if they can survive in the flinty-eyes, pragmatic world of cost-effectiveness and not in the Eden-like fantasy salons of the academia.

Example: Newsweek syndicated columnist Fareed Zakaria recently spouted the nonsensical notion that, with a simple reduction in the greedy dependence of the auto industry on gasoline-powered engines, 500-miles-to-the-gallon cars could be on the market. Zakaria touted home-based "plug-in" hybrid powerplants running on 15% gasoline and 80% methanol or ethanol. He of course ignored the wallet-busting cost of producing, refining and distributing alternative fuels, including the aforementioned ethanol and methanol as well as hydrogen, compressed-natural gas, bio-waste, et al. Such pot-shot proclamations from the elite media are not uncommon, but do nothing to alter the reality that petroleum-based vehicle engines are here to stay for the foreseeable future.

When advances come thanks to intellectual innovation powered by free enterprise, the world's energy sources will no doubt be altered. The earth's petroleum reserves are apparently finite (presuming more isn't being created at the core, as some scientists speculate). To maintain our economic, industrial and scientific leadership, alternatives will surely come, but not through defeatist submissions to treaties ginned up in Kyoto, but through the infallible wisdom embodied in the good ol' Yankee free enterprise.


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