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Energy Independence Pifalls

Posted on Wednesday 01/09/2008 Creating the Universe

Energy Independence

Noble Goal: You hear it everyday, "We need to be energy independent." Of course the term 'energy independent' is talking about not having to import oil from countries that exhibit hostility to the United States. But, things could get a lot worse when we look at the dynamics of becoming energy independent. There is no silver bullet. Every alternative energy source has its baggage to contend with. Some are worse than using petroleum, others are insufficient to power the nation. This is not a complicated issue, but politics have made it into one.

Two Paths: Basically, we can end our oil dependency from foreign governments by using much less of the stuff, or by finding and developing our domestic supplies.

Using Less: This approach works. We can adopt alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, nuclear, and alcohol. Since these alternatives can't provide all of our needs we will also have to consider sacrificing a lot of our way of life in order for this option to work. I have absolutely no axe to grind with alternative energy, but I wonder if those proponents of the alternatives have really thought past their desire to change the status quo?

The Costs: Proponents of using ethanol and other expensive alternatives paint a bright picture with us using these fuels. But, can we really fuel our needs with expensive crops that use valuable cropland for nonfood products? The only way this scenario works is if the price of oil stays high enough to justify the costs. But I want to remind everyone that the United States is the world's largest consumer of oil. It is our use of petroleum that keeps the price of oil high. Killing our demand for oil will put those vast quantities of world oil production on the open market and the price for oil will plummet.

Cheap Oil: The idea of cheap oil sounds inviting until we take a closer look at the consequences of our actions. The rest of the world would be free to develop industries with this cheap oil while we are reeling with the high cost of alternative energy. Oil will not disappear just because the United States decides it would rather grow their fuel than drill for it. Cheap energy is the fuel for industries and the U.S. will not have it available. Competing nations will be able to finish us off economically by using the now very cheap oil as the base for their industries. (And pollution will continue to grow as the other nations of the world tap the energy of oil.)

World's Wealth: As a nation we have been blessed by our industriousness. This industriousness is born from freedom. It is our system that allows anyone to rise to his or her level of ambition. Don't let the detractors tell you different. Anybody in this country can improve his situation by just trying. It is the quest for political power that is poised to drive a stake into our heart. As a nation, we cannot continue to support those who are unwilling to get off their duffs and work. Our compassion for the indolent is dissolving our sovereignty, as we now have to import hordes of foreign laborers to do tasks that our pool of uneducated and other dependents will not do. We have created a culture of dependency in this nation with our compassion. We are content to allow the subculture of welfare continue because a political party needs their vote. While we accommodate those who do not work, we are allowing another culture into our land without assimilation. To be American these people need to learn our language, our laws, our customs and about our institutions or they will never be an integrated part of the fabric of the American community. Ironically, by divesting ourselves of our consumption of oil, we will not need so much labor because our energy will be too expensive to create and maintain industry. Our addiction for cheap consumer goods will just enrich the rest of the world and impoverish us as we live in our oil free society.

Pollution: China is one of the world's biggest polluters. They are becoming an oil-based energy economy now, and if the price of oil ever really gets cheap, they are but a small sampling of what is to come. Do not for a second believe that other nations will not take advantage of a bonanza of cheap energy. Pollution will rise to unprecedented levels as nations use oil without the same restrictions on pollution found in this country.

Not Inevitable: I am not against being energy independent, I only want the leaders we choose to think about what they do instead of looking through the prism of acquiring political power. We need a deliberate, well thought out path to energy independence in a way that does not harm our nation. Consequences of any actions are real, and unless our actions are well thought out, a catastrophe won't be far behind.

One Last Thought: There is much talk about the use of Fuel Cells and hydrogen as fuel. After all, burning hydrogen has only one by-product and that is water. But I haven't heard anyone address what the consequences of millions of cars constantly dribbling water into the environment will mean. It may not be a big deal, but somebody needs to address this issue before we plunge into such a scheme. What will be the volume of this water that will be dribbling out of every car on the road? Will our highways be wet all the time? Will this continuous moisture supply along the highways foster new bacteria to contend with? Would this expelled water be enough to create a change in climate? I am not trying to be an alarmist, but at the present I do not have the feeling that all of these energy schemes have been thought out. We should be careful about what we wish for; we may get it!



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Robert Gross

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A Physics Major at the University of Texas
Retired from the offshore drilling industry where he worked as an Electrical Supervisor, Licensed Chief Engineer, and Electrical Designer.

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