Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Outsourcing Our Energy Future

Those on the right won't consider the outsourcing of Vice-President Gore to Britain as a loss, but he symbolizes how our country is throwing away its energy future according to Tom Engelhardt:
Do you get the feeling that every project the United States might once have undertaken is now either outsourced or simply handed over to others elsewhere on the planet? GM and Ford, for instance, took the SUV money and ran, handing over the market in fuel-efficient cars, and part of our economic future, to Japanese and other foreign automakers. Now, it turns out that the federal government has done both of those companies one better.

In a front-page piece in Monday's New York Times, "Budgets Falling in Race to Fight Global Warming," Andrew C. Revkin points out that, as the global energy crisis revved up, American dependence on foreign oil imports grew, and military research of all sorts rose by 260 percent, "annual federal spending for all energy research and development… is less than half what it was a quarter-century ago. It has sunk to $3 billion a year in the current budget from an inflation-adjusted peak of $7.7 billion in 1979."

Practically speaking, what that means is: From solar power to wind power, the US is ceding a lucrative energy future to other countries. Whatever breakthroughs might be achieved in alternative fuel development are ever less likely to happen here.
Just one more example of a lost opportunity Bush and friends squandered. Just one more example of how our country is losing it's edge. This is so frustrating because (according to Revkin) Thomas Edison discussed alternative fuels back in 1931:
Many scientists say the only real long-term prospect for significantly substituting for fossil fuels is a breakthrough in harvesting solar power. This has been understood since the days of Thomas Edison. In a conversation with Henry Ford and the tire tycoon Harvey Firestone in 1931, shortly before Edison died, he said: "I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that."
It seems that greater "brains" than Edison decided it was better to get every last dollar out of oil before turning our attention elsewhere.


Lew Scannon said...

I think when corporate America finds away to charge people for access to the sun is the day they'll start focusing on solar power. until tehn, we'll just invade every country that has oil until it is all used up.

Eric said...

I heard a report on NPR a couple weeks ago ... a Republican from the Nixon administration predicted that we're tied to oil as Britain was tied to coal, and the next empire will be based on the next big source of energy.

Kathy said...

Lew, I hadn't thought of that before, but you have a good point. Sadly, Americans will pay for it too - bottled water is a good example of that.

Eric, I didn't hear that report, but it makes sense. On a regional level, look what happened to Michigan because of Henry Ford.