If there wasn’t already an over abundance of evidence to consign George W. Bush to the title of worst president in the history of the United States a recent statement he made on gas prices should at least add icing to the already huge cake of lies, rabid cronyism, and incompetence. Bush was speaking on the runaway gas prices that are affecting the country, especially those on a restricted budget. He essentially threw up his hands and while this is not a quote said that there was nothing he could do and that there were no easy answers. Despite his glorious Vietnam-era National Guard service he obliviously missed whatever leadership training they offered at that time.
Being a leader is not, nor ever has been, about offering “easy answers” and any electorate that falls for such promises pretty much deserves what they get. As many times as Bush has gotten in front of people to remind us that he, while acting like some petulant child, is the Commander-in-Chief or when he declared himself “The Decider” you would figure that he could spell out what the country needs to do to break the grip of imported oil no matter how tough the process might be. He certainly relishes strutting around like some modern day Marshall Matt Dillon laying down the law when it comes to the need to torture prisoners or for warrantless wiretaps.
What scares me though is how with gas prices soon to be pushing $4.00 a gallon and a giddy OPEC official speaking about $200 barrel of oil a good many Americans grumble about paying so much but continue to show more interest in the modern day bread and circuses as the future well being of their children slips away. My darkest most discouraging thoughts involve how for most of our history the American people when faced with a problem that threatened them found the strength and the vision to face whatever that challenged them and overcome it, that is until now. While most in government are spineless in facing the power of the oil companies and wouldn’t threaten their comfy positions going against them and with the public complacent and enamored with their lifestyle oblivious of how it can’t be sustained there are some with plans to pull our collective asses out of the fire, if only someone would pay attention.
The January 2008 issue of Scientific American featured an article on a feasible plan using solar energy technology we have now that could by 2050 provide 69 percent of the United States electricity and 35 percent of our total energy including transportation with the use of plug-in hybrids. Of course the federal government would have to pony up 400 billion requiring a hiatus in oil inspired imperial wars to build the required infrastructure. But in turn once the plan was completed it would displace 300 large coal-fired and natural gas power plants. The authors of the article go on to say that it would “effectively eliminate all imported oil”, cut the trade deficit, which would seriously drop the price of oil really pissing off OPEC and its carnival of fruits and nuts. Enough of my drivel here is the introduction to the article along with the link:
A Solar Grand Plan
High prices for gasoline and home heating oil are here to stay. The U.S. is at war in the Middle East at least in part to protect its foreign oil interests. And as China, India and other nations rapidly increase their demand for fossil fuels, future fighting over energy looms large. In the meantime, power plants that burn coal, oil and natural gas, as well as vehicles everywhere, continue to pour millions of tons of pollutants and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere annually, threatening the planet.
Well-meaning scientists, engineers, economists and politicians have proposed various steps that could slightly reduce fossil-fuel use and emissions. These steps are not enough. The U.S. needs a bold plan to free itself from fossil fuels. Our analysis convinces us that a massive switch to solar power is the logical answer.
Solar energy’s potential is off the chart. The energy in sunlight striking the earth for 40 minutes is equivalent to global energy consumption for a year. The U.S. is lucky to be endowed with a vast resource; at least 250,000 square miles of land in the Southwest alone are suitable for constructing solar power plants, and that land receives more than 4,500 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) of solar radiation a year. Converting only 2.5 percent of that radiation into electricity would match the nation’s total energy consumption in 2006.
To convert the country to solar power, huge tracts of land would have to be covered with photovoltaic panels and solar heating troughs. A direct-current (DC) transmission backbone would also have to be erected to send that energy efficiently across the nation.
The technology is ready. On the following pages we present a grand plan that could provide 69 percent of the U.S.’s electricity and 35 percent of its total energy (which includes transportation) with solar power by 2050. We project that this energy could be sold to consumers at rates equivalent to today’s rates for conventional power sources, about five cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). If wind, biomass and geothermal sources were also developed, renewable energy could provide 100 percent of the nation’s electricity and 90 percent of its energy by 2100.
Many years ago my old high school world history teacher lectured that at the height of Pax Romana the Roman Legions were the mightiest force on the planet, Roman money was the coin of the realm from Wales to Palestine, and a simple emissary bearing a letter from the emperor would send any minor prince into panic willing to do anything to please him. The average Roman citizen enamored with their lifestyle oblivious to how all things change and end believed the Roman Empire would last forever. Roman civilization did end because they became complacent and lost the strength and vision that allowed them to build their empire in the first place. It would be nice to see the United States not repeat history but given the current states of affairs I’m not holding my breath.
I forgot to add a special thanks to Zombieslayer for bring this article to my attention.