Off-topic rant: My response to alternative fuel nay-sayers

Okay, I’ve had enough. I’m sick of reading how the “energy crisis” can’t be solved — as if CO2 usage and our dependency on crude oil is somehow unique among every challenge faced and overcome in the history of humankind. (Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?) Nearly everyday, I read about some creative response or promising idea that can lessen our dependency on oil — and always, the article includes an “on-the-other-hand” response from a nay-sayer who points out why the idea won’t work — or won’t work enough to make a dent in the situation. (If it matters, for disclosure purposes, I’ll admit to being more of a “geo-green” than a “global warming green” but I view it as a positive thing that there are reasons people from all parts of the political spectrum can agree that it’s crazy for us to continue our addiction to crude oil — no matter where it comes from.)

For example, there’s an article in today’s Wall Street Journal that suggests the laws of economics actually DO work with oil. High prices DO cause demand to shrink. But I’m sure that by the end of the day, such reality will be countered by economists (or speculators who need to see oil prices rise) with some “on the other hand” factoid that suggests people in China are lining up to purchase SUVs. In a nutshell, here are the standard “however” responses I read every day, no matter what any “solution” or positive development (conservation may be working) is floated:

1. It won’t have any impact for a decade.

2. it may cut down on U.S. consumption, but it won’t cut down on the world’s demand for oil.

3. It will only supply X% (usually less than 3) of the U.S. energy needs.

4. It will cost as much as oil.

5. It will harm the environment.

I’m so tired of reading these fill-in-the-blank “nay-saying” responses, that I’ve decided to list my fill-in-the-blank responses. Here they are:

1. When you’re my age and you’ve gone through at least three “energy crises,” ten years doesn’t seem like that long. (Indeed, I remember one of those AT&T science films from the 1960s that said we’d be at this spot about 20 years ago.)

2. It may not work, but what we are doing now doesn’t work either.

3. The solutions that we find for cutting our demand for oil will also work for other countries’ demand. Do the people in those other countries want to depend on foreign oil? Are they going to repeat all the mistakes we’ve made during the past 50 years?

4. Depending so much on ONE source of energy is what got us into this fix. We shouldn’t be seeking ONE source that will supply 100% of the needs — we need to find 20 different sources that supply 5% each.

5. We should do everything to protect the environment, but what we’re doing to it now is horrific. Every day of debate over hypothetical harm to the environment extends the length of time we’ll be actually harming it.

Okay, I’ve got that rant off my chest. Back to regular programming.

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  • Well said, sir! I think I even feel better after reading your rant.

  • Go, Rex!!

  • A wise man who died before my time once said:
    “we choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

    If we quit making excuses and finding fault with everything (an abhorrent rising trend in our nation) perhaps we could rally our attention to one of the greatest crises in our nation. As it turns out, great threats also pose great opportunities. There was a time when our nation’s leaders recognized this.

  • Hudge

    CNN has been running a series on sources of energy and visited the oil sands area of Canada where oil – naturally – soaks the ground for quite a few square miles. The estimated reserves exceed Saudi Arabia’s and maybe a few others. They’ve been pulling oil from the sand there for some time – 2 tons of sand = 1 barrel of oil – but the price of oil had to reach a certain level before it became profitable – I think they said above $2.50 a gallon of gas. There is a lot of refining to be done – the sludgy looking oil extracted from the sand has to be broken down even further before it can be refined into products. Now the small city nearest the fields it is a boom town, with house land prices similar to California, everyone working the fields, 24/7 and double overtime. And it is going through a lot of the pains other boomtowns have seen, with vice and crime and so on. Which of course is a reason to immediately cease operations. So is the remote possibility that the price of oil will fall so much as production ramps up that it will no longer be profitable and the joint will shut down. Oil spills on the land aren’t much of a concern, though, so it does have that going for it.

  • Heather Green

    Great post, Rex.