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New Priorities For Our Energy Future

Boone Pickens and Ted Turner are well respected businessmen (the former a big  investor and the latter a media mogul and founder of CNN). Both have a history of speaking their mind on public issues and both have a history of making huge sums of money.

While I certainly do not begrudge this gentlemen the right to speak their mind, I wonder if this message (that may be good for America) also is good for their business interests. Mr. Pickens is renown in the energy sector and a large scale switch to natural gas would likely help his wallet. Mr. Turner is a very large landowner in the western States and my gut is that he has found large deposits of natural gas under some of his holdings.

All that being said, I tend to agree with the core of their opinion. The United States should concentrate more on natural gas. It would most likely help the environment and it would help to lessen the choke hold that foreign interests have on our economy.

The following parts of their opinion appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

Renewable energy and clean-burning natural gas are the basis of a new strategy the world needs to create a cleaner and more secure future. And the global transformation to a clean-energy economy may be the greatest economic opportunity of the 21st century. According to the authoritative Potential Gas Committee (administered by the Colorado School of Mines), the U.S. sits on top of massive reservoirs of natural gasan estimated 2,000 trillion cubic feetthat contain more energy than all the oil in Saudi Arabia.

Harnessing this large supplyplus developing wind, solar and biofuel energy sourcesis essential to achieve three strategic national priorities:

Energy security: The internal combustion engine makes us dependent on oil that’s concentrated in a handful of countries in some of the world’s most volatile regions. In June, we imported 374 million barrels of oil, nearly two-thirds of what we used, at a cost of $24.7 billion. With 70% of imported oil going into cars and trucks, our transportation system is perilously at risk to shaky oil markets and even shakier regimes.

Economic security: Last year more than $155 billion was invested in clean energy technologies such as wind and solar, and China and India plan to invest hundreds of billions in renewable energy sources. The annual market for clean energy may escalate in the next decade to between $1 trillion and $2 trillion. The race is on.

Climate security: Likewise, the clock is ticking on potentially devastating climate changes. We already are witnessing the disintegration of polar ice, melting glaciers, rising sea levels and altered weather patterns. But if we act now, we can prevent catastrophic human and economic impacts.

Scientists and Engineers are upset

If you read this site often, you will know that I am an engineer by training (even though I don’t currently practice). I tend to respect this profession a great deal as being fairly straight-forward and hard working. As a group, they also tend to be a pretty smart bunch.

One of the major trade rags in engineering is C&EN (Chemical and Engineering News). It is edited by Mr. Rudy Baum. If you aren’t in that trade, you would probably never pick up an issue so you may not be familiar with it. I haven’t read the publication in a long time but was recently made aware of a bit of controversy by Climate Depot. While the readers of C&EN are likely not climatologists, the science of CO2 and its affect on the atmosphere is very steeped in chemistry which their target market knows a bit about.

The impression of doing good

Dilbert and his boss once again point out the hypocrisy of life.  In this case it is due to trying to be environmentally good.

It is hard to be good.  Sorry, Mr. Gore, but it is true.  Here are a few inconvenient facts:

  1. It is very dangerous to the health of you and your children to live in a home or enter a room where a CFL (compact fluorescent) bulb has broken.  That danger is minimized if you have had the room cleaned by a hazardous waste team.  What is the problem?  Mercury.  Check out this article.
  2. While Toyota and others are offering a bounty for the return of their hybrid batteries, the disposal of all those ecologically unsafe batteries is a real concern.

Good news for green power in Ohio

Regular readers know that I think that nuclear power is one of the very few ways we can provide the power we need without taking the chance that global warming is caused by carbon dioxide.  If you believe in anthropogenic global warming and don’t believe the human race should live like the Amish, then you really don’t have a choice but to endorse nuclear power.

Contrary to my custom, I will be recreating the complete story here.

Strickland details plans for nuclear plant
Business First of Columbus – by Matt Burns

A third nuclear power station proposed for Ohio likely wont start operating for years, but government officials and energy industry executives are saying it is time to start considering its construction and Piketon is the place for it.

Global Wind Day

Today is Global Wind Day.

While there are some problems with relying on wind power for the bulk of our energy needs in the US, wind probably has a place to augment and help us meet our needs, especially if the US doesn’t quickly add more nuclear generation capability!

A short video from Wind Power Works


While I typically do not reproduce pages in whole, I am going to put the entire text of the Wind Day campaign here for your convenience. You should also go to the Global Wind Day site.

Geothermal Future

While I am a big proponent of nuclear energy to solve our energy needs as well as to allow us a green source of energy, geothermal also offers some advantages that may be worth considering.

Like nuclear, it takes years to implement a large geothermal plant (perhaps decades). It is imperative that the United States aggressively and quickly begins the construction of these alternative sources of energy rather than building more coal fired plants.

The NY Times ran an editorial on geothermal which I have reproduced, in part, below. Also, for those that don’t understand the technology, the following video will allow you to learn the basics.

In short, geothermal energy is:

  • safe to operate in very populated areas

Ethanol’s Grocery Bill

Very good article in today’s Wall Street Journal regarding the use of ethanol and how it costs a great deal to add it to our liquid fuel supply.  The article points out that depending on the technique used to create ethanol, it adds 5%-34% more greenhouse gas to the environment than pure petroleum.

There is also a case to be made that there is pressure put on food prices due to ethanol production as well.

I am not totally against using ethanol as an additive. I think there is some advantage to keeping the market alive and viable to spur development of new techniques of creating the liquid and new crop energy sources other than corn.

Renewable energy – our downfall?

There is a great post on the problems with all sorts of renewable energy on Watt’s Up With That.  He does a great job of explaining the various downsides of most power sources and their lack of compatibility with the modern needs of our society.

The article is a posting of an essay by Ralph Ellis but I couldn’t find the original essay to link to.

Check out the article here.

The article discusses

  • wind power
  • solar power
  • nuclear power
  • tidal power
  • hydrogen power
  • traditional coal and oil power

The conclusion is that most of the “alternatives” actually hurt our environment more or cost us dramatically more money.  The only realistic alternative is nuclear.

Munger on cap and trade: Almost demented

Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman Charlie Munger tells CNBC’s Becky Quick why a carbon cap and trade system won’t work.

I absolutely agree with Mr. Munger. My rantings on cap and trade (or carbon trading) are almost constant on this site.

I also agree with Senator Gregg that we need to get 100 nuclear plants online as quickly as possible. Nuclear has problems but it is the best and most clean way to generate the amounts of energy that the United States needs.

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One last chance to save mankind

Here is an excellent interview with famed scientist James Lovelock.  Dr. Lovelock is best known for formulating the controversial Gaia hypothesis in the 1970s, which states that organisms interact with and regulate Earth’s surface and atmosphere. Later this year he will travel to space as Richard Branson’s guest aboard Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo.

If you read this site often, you know that I really don’t like carbon trading.  I don’t think it will help solve any problems and it is only a way to tax people and push industries into doom.  Dr. Lovelock appears to agree with me and he is a fairly strong supporter of the theory that global warming is man made.