Is government support really unthinkable?

We've been saying that it's unthinkable under today's president. But there was a time when a president talked about the impending energy crisis, saying things that were difficult for the nation to hear, but true. Jerome a Paris, a diarist at Daily Kos, recently reminded his readers of Jimmy Carter's words from a 1977 speech:

We simply must balance our demand for energy with our rapidly shrinking resources. By acting now, we can control our future instead of letting the future control us.

One choice is to continue doing what we have been doing before. We can drift along for a few more years. Our consumption of oil would keep going up every year. Our cars would continue to be too large and inefficient. Three-quarters of them would continue to carry only one person -- the driver -- while our public transportation system continues to decline. We can delay insulating our houses, and they will continue to lose about 50 percent of their heat in waste.

The problem back then--which we know now--was that Carter's alternatives may not really work out in the practical future. He established government funding for solar power, gasohol, and synfuels, for which there are still tax credits on the books that companies like Marriott are exploiting. It didn't matter, probably for lots of reasons. The programs were inefficiently run, the technologies are questionably feasible, and there were political factors undermining Carter, culminating with the Iran hostage crisis which largely helped sink him.

But what if we were to give Bush the benefit of the doubt? What if the Hydrogen Economy is the real thing? (Prof Goose has already had his doubts about this today.) Here on the Oil Drum, we talk a lot about how it's really going to take government intervention to start things a-changing, and Bush is at least making noise, to the tune of $1.2 billion. Unfortunately--aside from the science of it all--I start out a little pessimistic from the get-go, because we all know that that Bush administration is about making their friends just a little richer, not about developing critically needed services in the most efficient way possible (can we all say Kellogg, Brown and Root?) (see also #6 in the Popular Science article). Besides, as Energy Bulletin points out, the hydrogen economy is really code for a nuclear economy (since hydrogen isn't a fuel all by itself). So, unless the Nuclear Economy is simultaneously developed, Bush's $1.2 billion and proposed tax cuts may end up being just another synfuel-esque loophole. (Ironically, in The Long Emergency, Kunstler points out that Carter was the first one to promote hydrogen, so it's essentially his fault that Americans have the false hope that hydrogen will be our savior.)

But I know that some of you out there have a whole lot of expertise, so go on. Here's your chance to educate us.

I'll leave you with some final words from Jimmy Carter:

We must not be selfish or timid if we hope to have a decent world for our children and grandchildren.
In fact, this is what worries me most about George Bush, because I don't believe he cares at all about our children or grandchildren. He just wants to make his friends and family as rich as he can in his lifetime, without any concern for what'll come later. Remember, this is the man who responded, when asked how history will view him, 'History, we don't know. We'll all be dead.'

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Was that the "malaise" speech? The one where he was shivering in his sweater? Yes, Carter sure looked presidential back then. Reagan was lucky to squeak by with his narrow victory of 489 electoral votes to 49.

Your progeny is what makes you immortal provided they too create progeny, etc., as your life force (DNA) continues to be replecated, if "watered-down," through the ages. This fact was recognized by pre-literate cultures, yet seems airbrushed out of our current culture's "value system" of "Work, Drive and Consume" that disregards its affects on tomorrow and prostitutes itself upon us at every opportunity. The inhumanity of the elites is amazing to behold; and they call themselves Christians.

As for government support, striping away the Empire and its support structures would easily free-up over $1 Trillion/Year to put into a truely green energy program and conversion to a low-energy decentralized social-justice-welfare state. And the price of oil would likely go down because of the disapperence of the resource war threat posed by the US Empire. This is the true Power Down; it also would result in the downfall of most political elites.

The only real way to preserve our immortality is to stop killing the biosphere on which it depends. Rolling back the Empire is THE surest way to stop the killing and free scarce resources to preserve living. That's a real Pro-Life message.

Jeez, not all the synfuel work started in the Carter era was a boondoggle. The Texaco-Chevron coal gasification they sell now was pilot-planted then. There were starts made on coal liquefication, wind power, solar power, coal gasification, safe nukes, external combustion cars, ethanol, etc., all shitcanned during Reagan's term. If any of the above had been invested in and developed over the last twenty-five year we'd be in much better shape today.

As for now I'd say that instead of spending $500 billion a year on the military maybe they could try to make do with $400 billion and use the rest to try and develop something that will save the country.

"Hydrogen isn't a fuel all by itself"

Let's be clear. Hydrogen is certainly a fuel, just as gasoline is a fuel.

In fact, crude oil is not a fuel, as it needs to be refined before it can be burned.

You want to say that hydrogen is not an available energy source. That is, we cannot drill down and find some hydrogen in the earth, because there isn't any free hydrogen down there. Rather, we would have to use some other energy source, such as nuclear power, to produce free hydrogen, say from water.

I would put the matter this way: "Hydrogen is not an energy source in itself. Hydrogen could be used as an energy delivery system."

Ralph--Point taken, although I don't think my wording is wrong. Hydrogen is a fuel that needs some help, namely, one that often requires electricity to get it in a usable form. The energy source that it needs assistance from itself requires either fossil fuels or nuclear energy to be generated.

Tim--I didn't say that all synfuels were a boondoggle, just as I think that solar energy is a good idea. What I meant was that even though Carter had some good ideas, he was stymied many times along the way. All of these are possible alternatives to petroleum, and all of them should be investigated. But the "practical future" involves government and the attendant bureaucracy that bogs it down, so most of his ideas were crushed under Reagan and continue to be ignored.

You're right. Bush doesn't care about our children and grandchildren. Bush isn't worried about peak oil or global warming or nuclear proliferation or the unsustainable credit-card economy he's bequeathed us. He figures he'll be raptured before any of his chickens come home to roost. So whatthehell, let's plunder and pillage till Jesus comes!!

They will not do anything until we throw them out and put people in there who give a damn.

Very few who get to Washington remain loyal to those who sent them there. Few of those remember what they were sent there to do. Those who realize where they are and what they are expected to become forget their past, or they leave DC to return to it.

Russia had only a single first strike target...