Saturday, June 28, 2008

Post No. 21: The Solution to All of Our Fuel and Energy Issues

© 2008, The Institute for Applied Common Sense

If you haven’t picked up on it by now, we strongly believe that most of us are far too quick to judge and take rigid positions on issues, without really “digging deep” to truly understand the numerous and complex factors underlying most issues. Most people have a tendency to entertain those positions consistent with their own, and vigorously oppose those positions with which they disagree. Why regular folks have to take such hard positions, on so many subjects, has often puzzled us. This rigidity limits our creativity as a people, and further limits our ability to craft new solutions to problems.

People who manage, and people who run things, have to take positions and proceed to get things done. They can not sit around indefinitely gathering information, since time and resources are limited. However, the rest of us might better spend our time gathering information leading to us being better informed, and not just entertain information that supports our point of view. As a result, we might develop a more informed electorate capable of sifting through the spin, sound bites, disinformation, and cryptic commentary disseminated by our leaders, be they corporate, religious, educational, parental, media and entertainment related, or political.

If you haven’t picked up on it by now, the primary purpose of this blog is to stimulate thought, not to take a position. If we remove but one shackle from your mind, then we’ve accomplished our goal. More knowledge reduces that probability that one will be manipulated by those disseminating their particular message. More information makes the body politic more responsible in the selection of its leaders. We don’t care which position you ultimately take; we just want to encourage you to consider information from all sources, and not just two or three of them, but perhaps fifteen or twenty of them (at a minimum). We’re more concerned about the thought process of examining and weighing all of the competing considerations, since we firmly believe that society can then craft better solutions to problems, and perform its responsibility.

We are amongst the unsophisticated of our society, and thus believe that there are no simplistic solutions to our energy situation. However, we strongly believe that America must “do something.” We also suspect that the average American citizen does not have a decent appreciation of all of the various conflicting factors, particularly those scientific, engineering, and historical in nature, which might be considered in developing practical solutions. Earlier today, on C-Span2 Book TV, a presentation was made by Robert Zubrin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Zubrin), author of Energy Victory - Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil (http://books.google.com/books?id=KysvGQAACAAJ&dq=%22energy+victory%22&ei=f0xmSLzEC4KejgGgk8T9BQ). For those of you, who like us, are confused about all of this energy discussion, you might try to catch his presentation the next time that it is aired (http://www.booktv.org/schedule.aspx), or consider the purchase of his book.

He discusses numerous factors, including, but not limited to, the following: (a) percentages of oil production by country at different points in time during the last century; (b) ethanol; (c) methanol; (d) various other alcohols; (e) costs associated with producing different types of fuels; (f) cost differentials associated with producing oil by the current major oil producers; (g) environmental issues associated with various fuels; (h) effects on crops; (i) effects on food supply; (j) various materials out of which fuels can be made and their relative costs; (k) the status of diesel; (l) the technological and engineering issues associated with automobile manufacturer re-tooling; (m) the energy, power, or miles per gallon produced per unit cost for different types of fuels; (m) the technological and economic status of hybrid vehicles; (n) flex-fuel vehicles; (o) the geo-political ramifications of oil being in the hands of authoritarian regimes; and perhaps most interesting, (p) his position that the Allies won WWII because they had access to, or controlled, oil, and destroyed the German synthetic oil production facilities. (He also tells the story of how the Japanese produced thousands of Zeros during the last year of the war, but did not have the fuel for them to intercept the bombers that dropped the atomic bombs.)

For our purposes, his presentation was about the most comprehensive discussion about this whole issue which one could have in a very short period of time. Additionally, he presented the information in a manner in which the average citizen could understand it. Although there is no in-depth discussion of every single factor (although Zubrin packs in a lot of information by speaking very rapidly and with great passion), he definitely makes one appreciate the big picture. No matter the side of the aisle on which you sit on any of these issues, we would suggest at least taking the time to examine his itemization of the issues. It is a thought-provoking analysis.

Oh, by the way, Zubrin founded a group devoted to the manned exploration and development of Mars.

© 2008, The Institute for Applied Common Sense

1 comment:

  1. At this moment as we type this, T. Boone Pickens is on C-Span discussing American Ingenuity, and its applicability to energy.

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