We Need Alternative Energy Sources

I've written enough about global warming on this site, that I have probably created in some of my readers a false notion. So let me disabuse it. I think it is wise that society pursue alternative energy sources. It won't do a dadgum thing about global warming, but it will clean up the air. And it will reduce a significant source of revenue for terrorists.

There are a lot of excellent alternative sources of energy besides coal and oil. Although known reserves of these two energy sources are sufficient for a long time, it's still good to reduce our dependence on them.

Hybrid Vehicles. I've just started looking into used hybrid vehicles. I'm not sure I trust a used hybrid, because they're still pretty expensive to maintain, but this will improve with time. This is the general inevitability with good ideas in a free market. Admittedly, my reasoning for wanting a hybrid is not primarily to clean up the air (that's secondary). It's cause I hate the prices at the gas pump! Toyota makes small (Prius), midsize (Camry), and SUV (Highlander). Interestingly, the Highlander hybrid is currently about $8,000 more expensive than the regular Highlander, as is the hybrid Camry as opposed to its neanderthal cousin. The price of the Prius is down about $6,000 from what it used to be, though! And you can get a federal tax deduction for buying a hybrid.

One of the dumbest things Ford and GM could have done is to not notice the market demand for hybrid vehicles. I have no stats, but my guess is that this is the major reason for their undoings.

Wind Energy. It's not completely reliable, but it's a start. It takes a boatload of wind turbines to provide much energy, and the best technology isn't made in the United States. What's funny is that a lot of otherwise "environmentally conscious" people say NIMBY, NIMBY, NIMBY when it comes to wind turbines in their area. The price of wind energy is bound to come down, in part in conjunction with more effective ways being discovered to harness its power.

Nuclear Energy. This is one of the greatest untapped sources of power that we aren't using. Finally, something good that we can take from France's example! A significant amount of France's power comes from nukyalur. The Three Mile Island incident scared a lot of people, and made insurance premiums for nuclear reactors to go sky high, but that was before we really knew much about how to regulate and control it.

Solar Energy. Solar energy is unreliable like wind, but that's not to say that we shouldn't use it. Some locales are providing for the ability of solar (and probably wind) power sources to feed their excesses back into the public power grid, which I think is a great idea. As the ability becomes available for homes and business to store more and more solar and wind power, these technologies will become more viable.

That's a good thing.

And I think that the improvements will most likely come about through market-driven initiatives.

That's a good thing to.


  1. Frank,

    My only objection to nukular power is my fear that Utah and Nevada will become America's nukular dumping grounds. It's grossly unfair to Utahns to bear the environmental risk and cost of nukular energy, while other states capture the benefit.

  2. Tom,

    You raise an important issue. Your thought actually crossed my mind as I was writing this post, but I guess subliminally I didn't want to deal with it.

    It would probably require federal statutes that required people (states) to store their own waste.

  3. Y-Intercept has recently had some interesting posts about solar energy. He thinks that the technology will very soon reach the point where it will be truly mass marketable.

    Scott Adams derided hybrid vehicles in his 2/19/2006 Dilbert comic. (Sorry, I can't find a copy online). The gist of it was that oil is a highly fungible commodity for which demand throughout the world is skyrocketing. Even if the U.S. could completely quit its dependency on foreign oil, oil exporting nations would have no trouble finding customers. Dogbert implies that decreasing U.S. demand for foreign oil would actually make oil cheaper to other nations, so that oil producing countries that support terrorism would not be left hurting for cash.

    We might be able to feel morally good about not directly supporting foreign oil producers, but we would effectively be indirectly supporting them anyway. Some environmental controls have been applied in foreign countries only because the U.S., as a major customer, has demanded it. (Check out the state of oil production in nations of which we are not a significant customer.) Some of the extremist hatred focused on the U.S. by some nations is tempered to some degree by the fact that we are customers. What will happen when we aren't?

    I'm not saying that we shouldn't seek out every feasible alternative fuel. (I wrote about alternative fuels here.) I'm simply saying that we should keep our eyes wide open about everything that is impacted in this complex issue.

  4. I'll have to check out y-intercept's stuff.

    US energy independence may not completely shut off the revenue spigot for terrorists, but considering what Walid Phares says in "Future Jihad", I think much of our foreign and domestic policy since 1973 has been made with our eye in the rear view mirror watching what the Middle East might try to do to strangle us again. It would be nice not to have to worry about that part of it.

  5. I agree with Frank about alternative energy sources not helping much to alleviate global warming and especially with him on cleaning up the air. I also think we should consider saving some of our fossil sources by slowing down on the rate at which we presently are using them..

    I think Frank should have brought PHEV's and even EV's into the hybrid discussion as they are sure to have an impact later on. He also has not mentioned the diesel hybrid buses starting to be marketed.

    The real problem with GM and Ford is the lack of humility of their leaders who have decided, for some reason unknown to me, that their point of view is more important than that of the buyer when it comes to paying for fuel. The administrators of these companies make such high salaries that they do not seem to understand that the working man suffers when it comes to paying fuel costs for the low mpg vehicles that they are presenting for public purchase. I call this lack of humility and lack of charity.

    I think that Frank could have said a bit more about wind energy turbines. Greatly improved turbine and blade efficiency, off shore location, wind energy storage are topics not to be lightly passed over.

    The costs of Cherynoble must always be taken into account in discussing nuclear. All it takes is one plant to go sour, and then we have radioactivity spread by the wind for hundreds of miles. I think Geothermal would produce as much power and be a much safer way to proceed.

    Frank says that solar energy is unreliable but he has not mentioned anything about the wonderful effectiveness of concentrated solar as in trough collected energy nor has he mentiond the method of storage so that the hours of useable power are extended during the time the sun does not shine. This technology is already available; we don't have to wait but just get off our seats.


  6. Adrian,

    Thanks for your insights. It sounds like we're further along than I thought. What are EV's and PHEV's?

    I'll have to spend some time researching the advances in technology you refer to.

    Thanks again.

  7. Great post - lots of good info. I am reading a very good book I highly recommend called 'Power to Save the World: the Truth about Nuclear Energy' by Gwyneth Cravens. Basically the premise is that there's a lot of mis-information and fear-tactics out there about nuclear energy, radiation, and waste. The book helps dispell those myths and shows how nuclear is the best and cleanest form of energy out there for the large 'baseline' of our energy needs - much better than coal. Wind and solar are good and should continue to be developed, but cannot currently meet that 'baseline'.


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