riddle goes: you were granted three wishes, and you have one
wish left. What do you wish for? Everyone over the
age of 6 knows: more wishes.
When we figured out that there was oil under the ground, and figured
out how to use it, it is as though we had been granted three wishes.
Now the oil is running out. It is as though we have
one wish remaining. So what do we do with it?
What we have done in the meantime, is run around looking for more
Genies. Coal? No, too dirty. Nuclear?
No, can’t figure out what to do with the waste.
Solar? Wind? Geothermal? Tidal?
Biofuels? No, they are intermittent, too costly,
and won’t make up for the energy that we already are getting from oil.
No worries. Yankee ingenuity will solve the problem.
LED lighting, ultracapacitors, hybrid cars, hydrogen fuel
Except, so far, none of those really solves the problem.
Plus, with climate change, we may be running out of time.
Feds cut climate research to save fuel
By BRIAN SKOLOFF, Associated Pres Writer Wed Jun 18, 3:54 PM ET
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – They haven’t rechristened a ship the Irony, but
federal researchers are canceling and cutting back on voyages aimed at
studying climate change and ocean ecosystems so they can save money on
…In a June 10 e-mail to NOAA field offices and others, portions of
which were obtained by The Associated Press, NOAA warned of an
“approximate” $1.7 million budget shortfall due to fuel costs, and
noted the agency has proposed cutting 231 ocean research days for the
mass transit, mass investment
June 16, 2008
High gas prices are prying record numbers of Americans from their cars
and onto buses, subways, and commuter trains. That has many pluses: It
eases pocketbook expenses, road congestion, and pollution. But it’s
also straining providers of mass transit – a signal for needed change…
…Mass transit depends greatly on local, state, and federal money –
from sales taxes, for instance, which are slowing with the economy, and
from gas taxes, which have not kept up with inflation.
As a result, public transit operators are increasing fares and delaying
projects and improvements – just what the country doesn’t need at a
time of increased demand. APTA estimates that $45 billion to $60
billion annually is what’s needed to invest in America’s aging public
buses, rail transit, and facilities. Yet current capital spending is
only about $13 billion a year.
Human ingenuity may yet solve the energy and climate change problems.
But, it takes energy and financial resources to have a
realistic hope of solving these problems. As the two articles
above point out, we are running a bit short on both kind of resource.
Yes, Brazil recently
announced a major oil find. But it will take seven
years to bring online. Yes, there are enormous reserves in
the Caspian area, but there are problems
there, too. ANWR and Florida coastal fields are too small to
make a big difference. Add to this picture, the fact that the
population keeps increasing. Also add the fact that the proportion of
the population that utilizes a lot of energy is also increasing, and
the problems become even more difficult to solve.
We know that we can buy more time if we all agree to vastly reduce
consumption. This is proving to be difficult to implement on
Nobody can predict the future. I personally think it is
unlikely that we will find a source of energy than can provide the same
standard of living that oil provided for 6 billion people, back when
the world population was only 6 billion. It is possible,
though. However, it is not possible to get a meaningful
estimate of the probability that the problem will be solved.
If we could get some kind of consensus on a rough estimate,
it would help prompt people into appropriate action. The
appropriate action is for people to do what they can to conserve, while
we use the remaining resources to enable even more conservation (e.g.
mass transit) and to develop sustainable sources of energy.
Free-market types despise the idea of subsidies for sustainable energy
and mass transit. But the free market appears to not know
that it is running out of wishes.