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Posted: Sep. 8, 2002
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Question of the Week: 42 - 5/21/2001
Is There An Energy Crisis?
The United States and the Bush Administration last week announced its new energy policy. Citing that an energy crisis exists, it proposes loosening environmental guidelines, drilling in the Alaska Wildness Preserve and allowing the federal government to take private lands by immanent domain for power or gas/oil lines. Do you think that a real energy crisis exists? Or do you think that the big oil/gas/electric business interests have somehow colluded to misinform the public in order to increase profits while having fewer restrictions placed upon the way that they do business? Would YOU like to see a power plant on the corner of your street if it meant lower energy prices? Do you think that some places such as federal parks and wilderness areas should be off-limits to energy exploration or exploitation? Would YOU pay higher energy costs to help preserve these places? Do you-or would you be willing- to conserve energy or use alternative forms if they were accessible and affordable? Just whose 'energy crisis' IS this anyway? (And if you have a favorite conservation/alternative energy/green activist resource that you would like to share, feel free to direct our readers over to it.)
| Reponses: There are 30 responses posted to this question.
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| I Don't Want To Sound Like An Incredible Wise-guy (well, Girl), But... ||May 21st. at 12:59:49 pm EDT|
|Kerry Marie McGrath (Warren, New Jersey US) ||Age: 33 |
I don't want to sound like an incredible wise-guy (well, girl), but when I heard on the radio that George W. say's that we are experiencing an energy crisis, I just said to myself, "no kidding..." Hey, I live in New Jersey, aka the arm-pit of filth and garbage on the East Coast. Is it depressing? Yes. Is it one of the most if not the most expensive state to live in? Oh yeah. Are we being compensated on the job to afford to stay. Fortunately, I say, "yes, I can." Do I want to stay here forever? Not really; but as we say here, "all roads lead back to NJ." Of course we want to conserve...but after a rainstorm and being told that our water is "probably contaminated" and that we should boil it for three minutes prior to consumption, I hate to admit that I let my water run for about 15 minutes before I even get to the boiling process. The air quality here is crap; if you never had allergies, you'll get them here. So you run your air conditioner, even in the winter, just so you can breathe! And I know that this is wrong but I'm so afraid of poisoning myself. Would I pay more to make my environment a better place. Yes, as a divorcee w/out kids, I would. But it is sad to say that if I had my 2.5 children that I probably would never be able to afford it, and that's a shame.
| Hmm, Good Question. I Would Estimate That About 5% Of The Information... ||May 21st. at 3:24:44 pm EDT|
|Aedh Rua (Prophetstown, Illinois US) ||Age: 35 - Email |
Hmm, good question. I would estimate that about 5% of the information getting to the people on this topic is reliable, which means that we really can't know. This means that the best we can do is make educated guesses, and maybe sketch out possibilities.
A few observations:
1. We are really, really profligate in our energy use. The number of appliances we have now, the types of cars we drive, the speeds at which we drive them, and so on would strike my grandparents, at least, as disgustingly wasteful. Until we are really being forced to conserve, to live in something other than luxury, I am not sure it can be called a crisis.
2. We really are being ruled by a bunch of what used to be called "oil men". Yes the verbiage is sexist, but in the case of Shrub and Company, it fits. These guys are willing to buy the Presidency. I don't think we can trust anything they tell us, about anything at all, least of all when it is in their self-interest to cook up a "crisis" which makes them richer.
3. The last time there was an energy crisis it turned out to be total nonsense, though it led to some sensible conservation. When I start hearing about OPEC again, I am highly, highly skeptical.
4. Despite my opinion of the last crisis, we should note that the oil will really run out someday. Maybe we have been lied to since the '70s, and that day is today. But probably not. Still, the more oil we use, the sooner that day is.
5. There really are some excellent new energy sources, which could be introduced with minimal expenditures of R&D money, and which would, taken together greatly reduce the demand for oil, though they probably couldn't eliminate it altogether. These are not those old '70s standbies, solar and wind. Though both have grown more efficient, they lack the concentrated power to run heavy industry, and cars which people, especially Americans, will actually buy. What can do this?
a) Methanol: This is not ethanol, but a different kind of alcohol. It pollutes, but not near as much as oil, and it is actually more powerful, pound for pound, than gasoline. You can make it from organic waste, of almost any type, in a way which would actually generate jobs. It can be used to run factories, and is used to fuel Indy-cars, so I think it would work well.
b) Methane fuel: Yer basic sewer gas. Like Methanol, you can make it from garbage, but it is harder to handle. Good for generating electricity.
c) Fuel Cells: You can run buses and other vehicles which don't need to accelerate quickly on fuel cells. Also good for private "off grid" home power generation. All of you survivalists take note! There is a new fuel-cell home power system which should be on sale by now, for something like $7000. No, I don't know where to get one.
d) Geothermal: Still works, though only in certain regions. Good for generating lots of electricity. Once again, you can run a factory on it.
e) Hydroelectric: You know, dams on rivers. Not environmentally friendly, except in certain limited areas where there is already little biodiversity for natural reasons. In those areas, however, it can be used, and the dams used to make it produce neat fishin' holes, too.
We really could implement the above fuel sources, along with some solar and wind, and maybe hydrogen, too, for a few billion dollars. The transition would be gradual, but each percentage point not supplied by oil, is another year of planetary survival. It should also be noted that having a more diverse package of energy sources is much more intelligent than relying on any single source by itself, especially when that source just happens to be concentrated in one of most politically unstable regions of the world..........
| The Subject Of The Energy Crisis Is At The Very Least A... ||May 21st. at 5:42:36 pm EDT|
|Garrett LoneWolfe (Fountain Valley, California US) ||Age: 29 - Email |
The subject of the energy crisis is at the very least a hotly debated subject here in Southern California. Everyone seems to be pointing fingers at each other. There is no doubt that more power is being consumed each year. Our population is growing, and we are constantly finding new ways to eat up those Kilowatts. However, I feel the real question is what can be done to correct the electricity shortfall.
It would seem to me, considering my Pagan values, that as a country we should look into alternatives to building new plants. My workplace is a metal and glass box with only two doors which open and no openable windows. All heating/cooling comes from the conditioner above. In addition, there is very little natural light which comes in the office, so all light comes from the florescents above. I have been in many a business and even a majority of homes in which this is the norm. It would seem to me that if we started concentrating on re-thinking the idea of architecture that works WITH nature, not against it, we can conserve quite a bit.
I, personally, am putting up a clothesline and will be installing skylights in order to cut down on the consumption.
| There Is An Energy Crisis,and I Think We Can Avoid It... ||May 22nd. at 12:52:08 am EDT|
|Perrin (Denver, Colorado US) ||Age: 24 |
There Is An Energy Crisis, and I think we can avoid it in two stpes. The first is to find all the desolate places in America, such as Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, ETC..., and put five nuclear power plants per desesrt state, then remove half of the stoplights for one lane roads, and put in four way stop signs, which don't use power. Of course this is so sensible that no one would ever do it, but I think that would cut the nations bill for power in half. The other thing we should do is quit depending on other countries for our oil. This cheapens whatever oiul we find here, and sends our miners over seas. The politcians however, have a different approach, lets debate until some one panics, and decides to blow some thing up.
I may be sadistic, but I'm not senile, which is how I view our current policy on power in general. We send people over seas, and then bitch when there are no jobs, we send power to Mecio and Canada, and complain that California is out of power. There is a saying I've heard from various people that applies to this mess "To err is human, but to really blow the job, give it to a politcian with a computer...", and that is exactly what we've done.
There is another side to this question, if the power goes off so does this and many other sites that people base their lively hoods on.
| We Are In Some Form Of Energy Crisis, Whether We Like It... ||May 22nd. at 2:05:54 am EDT|
|Gray (bay area, California US) ||Age: 20 |
We are in some form of energy crisis, whether we like it or not. I think it's time people stopped acting like our supplies of oil and natural gas will never run out, because it's becoming painfully obvious that they will.
The governmetn should seriously look into investing money into alternative sources of engery. I'm not just refering to solar and wind power, I'm talking about things like fuel cells for cars, things that are viable pieces of technology, that simply need a little finacial boost to make it onto the shelves of the vast comsumer market. Obviously, we can't make an overnight conversion in energy sources, but we can start moving in a new, less big oil funded direction.
First, the president and congress should up the fuel efficency standards for SUV's. They guzzle gas like crazy, and paying $50+ dollars to fill your gas tank in absurd.
Next, instead of drilling for more oil, invest in other types of enegery resources. You never know, with a little bit of money, this itmes culd reach us (at affordable prices)within a few years!
Lastly, even though it can be a hassle, everyone should to their part, to conserve what they can. There's no need to be an energy saving zealot, but, turing off things that you don't use during the day can make a difference not only on the grid, but on your power bill as well.
If the nation works as a whole to improve how we, as a country, handle our energy, there may be a light at the end of the energy tunnel.
| An Energy Crisis Exists If, And Only If, You Are A Major... ||May 22nd. at 9:22:33 am EDT|
|Dovid Zuk (Amherst, Massachusetts US) ||Age: 29 - Email |
An energy crisis exists if, and only if, you are a major player in the current energy set up. The pronouncement by Vice President Cheney made it perfectly clear. If a real energy crises were to exist the US Government would be looking for new, not alternative, forms of energy, such as changing existing power plants to solar and wind operated, tapping into the supply of methane gas produced by our landfills, and other areas which produce no real profit for corporations. The only crises is that these corporations don't have enough income to satisfy their greed. Energy is plentiful. We have many ways to tap into its sources yet we keep hearing the need to develope limited forms and exploit the earth, eventualy (chaos and peace) destroying our home.
President Bush has made it very clear: cost is what counts; if it costs too much for the companies then when won't be doing it.
The energy crises does exist only because companies and corporations and our leaders who they fund are working very hard to make sure it exists.
| The Energy Crisis Is Only A Crisis If You Own An Oil... ||May 22nd. at 10:14:23 am EDT|
|Lhiannon (Cedar Park, Texas US) ||Age: 28 |
The energy crisis is only a crisis if you own an oil well, or happen to be Mother Earth.
California's energy "crisis" was brought about not by a shortage of energy but by a poorly implemented deregulation of the energy industry which placed too high a burden on previously regulated businesses, expecting them to financially survive on a plan that made no financial sense even to a layman.
There is no serious shortage of energy in California - there is a shortage of cash to pay for the energy pumped in from out of state at insane prices that just kept getting higher, and no time to build power plants to keep from getting screwed by the out of state companies greed. That's a lot different than every oil well running dry or an actual lack of energy.
I can't afford a Porche, but I'm not having a Porche crisis. Homeless people sometimes can't afford a meal, but I don't see the Republicans running around and talking about the food crisis - the lines are being blurred between what is an actual crisis and what is poor fiscal planning for a political agenda.
According to the Bushies, it would seem that suddenly whatever is out there that is plentiful but that we can't buy is now considered a crisis.
The unfortunate thing is that one of the most enviornmentally conscious states may have provided a perfect chance for the Bush/Cheney one-two punch, which calls for raping the earth for even more of her resources while killing off those resources that the Republicans can't exploit. Pointing to California as a reason for exploiting and drilling in Alaska is an unbelievable red herring. They wanted to drill before the energy "crisis" ever manifested, and are using this as an excuse, hoping that US citizens won't know the difference between a governmental screw up and an energy crisis.
"Would YOU like to see a power plant on the corner of your street if it meant lower energy prices?"
Sure, if it's solar.
"Do you think that some places such as federal parks and wilderness areas should be off-limits to energy exploration or exploitation?"
Considering the reasoning beahind making these lands federal parks and protected wilderness areas, absolutely. What, we protected it from others' exploitation until we decided to exploit it? Is there logic here somewhere that I'm missing?
"Would YOU pay higher energy costs to help preserve these places?"
Keep my tax cut, go feed a caribou. Absolutely.
"Do you-or would you be willing- to conserve energy or use alternative forms if they were accessible and affordable?"
How long has solar power been around? And when will panels become standard on new homes? Computer chip costs have sunk like a stone, are you telling me that in the same span of time we couldn't have made the same strides in making budget solar panels?
"Just whose 'energy crisis' IS this anyway?"
Alaska's, since they seem to be made the focus by politicians more than California as of late.
George Bush couldn't find oil when he was here in Texas, nearly bankrupting his "company" Arbusto and earning it the nickname of "El Busto". Alternative energy is the long terms solution, raping the Earth is the short term. Family values that ignore the health of our grandchildren are hypocritical family values at best. George W. Bush has no vision, and his views make us, as a nation, parasitic to the very earth that nourishes us.
It's time to trade the missles for solar panels, and for politicians to start looking beyond 2 four year terms.
| I Think The Only Energy Crisis That Exists Is Our Nation's Insatiable... ||May 22nd. at 1:23:53 pm EDT|
|Nelli (Carmel Valley, California US) ||Age: 24 - Email |
I think the only energy crisis that exists is our nation's insatiable greed for more power, and our complete refusal to acknowledge and explore renewable energy sources. George Bush is so obviously pandering to the oil/energy industry, I can't imagine that anyone could still believe he might be operating in the best interests of this country as a whole. I imagine that we are running out of gas/coal/oil resources - after all, we've known for some time that those energy sources are FINITE!!!!! Argh! Sorry, but the fact that this is still up for debate with our politicians, and is still ignored by the general public, REALLY frustrates me. But the fact that we are running out of non-renewable resources is only a crisis for those companies and countries who depend on them utterly for profit.
What I'd like to see on the corner of my street is a big solar plant. I spent a week in the California desert not too long ago, and you know, I didn't see one single house with solar paneling, let alone a solar power plant. Southern California is always bragging about how they have sun and balmy temperatures 90% of the time (which is true) - they should be getting 90% of their energy from the sun! Same with anywhere else that the sun shines more oftten then not! And where it's windy, there should be turbines. Instead of offshore oil rigs, how about offshore turbine rigs? They'd still look a little unsightly, but they don't pollute, and the resource they're harvesting (wind) is constant and inexhausable. Waves also generate a huge amount of energy - surely there is a way to harvest it! People are so attached to the status quo, and cars that can go 110 mph instead of just 70 or 80, and any and all other amentities that polluting resources give us, that they won't even consider supporting alterative energy legislation, or a candidate that puts such forward as his primary running platform. And the oil/coal/pharmecutical/cigarette companies surely aren't going to invest in something that is cheap, renewable and beneficial to the planet - the cheaper and better it is for us, the less money they make.
But This little community we have here is a community that cares deeply about the planet, and I am a firm believer in acting locally to produce global change. The best thing that we can do about this environmental crisis is to live by example. Put flourescent bulbs in all your sockets. Line dry clothes in the summer. Buy more efficient appliances. They next time you get a new car, buy a hybrid or an electric vehicle, or at least a vehicle with a SULEV (Super-Ultra-Low-Emissions-Vehicle) rating. And if you have enough capital, invest in solar power. Go to www.realgoods.com to learn all about solar power. For those of you in California, Real Goods offers comprehensive workshops, and they have a Solar Living Center in Hopland, CA that models all kinds of solar technology. In their catalog, they sell books on solar living, all the tools, materials and parts for installing solar panels, and they have a ton of other neat stuff too.
I often feel that because I don't yet own my own house (and so cannot use solar technology), and because I still drive a conventional car, that I am not doing enough. If you find yourself in that place, don't feel bad. We do what we can! Go to www.workingforchange.com for a variety of less expensive (but no less important) ways to contribute to the environmental and social sanity of the planet.
| As A Pagan, As A Witch, I Take Heart In My Religion's... ||May 22nd. at 5:03:18 pm EDT|
|John (New Naumkeag) ||Age: 34 - Email |
As a Pagan, as a Witch, I take heart in my religion's stress upon Balance. Goddess and God; Lord and Lady; by whatever other Names, it is Balance É and it is Balance that I as a Witch have a religious duty to seek and to live.
And so when I look at this so-called energy "crisis", I think we Americans need to take a breath and become balanced by first looking at the big picture. On this Earth, we have to live and to make a living. Also, we have to preserve this Earth both for our human race and as a moral duty. Human beings are part of Nature, but we are also caretakers of Nature. It is thus not a question of "greed" or "green"; it is a question of responsibility.
So: We have rolling blackouts and rising gas prices.
That is an energy shortage, not an energy crisis. An energy crisis would result if we continue to live with wasteful energy use and foolish reliance upon polluting, non-renewable energy sources É such as fossil fuels or the madness of nuclear fission.
To solve the present energy *shortage*, it seems to me that the only practical solution (politically and economically) is to build some more fossil fuel power plants. (And, yes, I would be happy with such a plant nearby ... in fact, a new one will be built soon in the small town where IŐm writing this, and we need it.)
But, to prevent an energy *crisis*, it seems to me that the only solution is to change over from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. Fossil fuels are nonrenewable (they will run out one day); they are polluting; and relying upon them puts our national security at risk since the primary fossil fuel ĐoilŃcomes from politically unstable parts of the world. Renewable energy sources --solar, wind, and alcohol (ethanol, methanol)-- are clean, perpetual, cheap (once the change-over is made) and they come from right here.
To make that happen --to prevent an energy *crisis*-- requires working through the *realities* of the politics of democracy. Needs of now need to be solved now; everyone needs to get a cut of The Money; and "you catch more flies with honey than vinegar." So, letŐs build some more fossil fuel plants now to solve the energy needs of now; lets make sure everyone gets a tax cut or some other chance at making money with a change-over to renewable energy; and letŐs as a body politic remain civil while forcefully making the argument, namely .........
....... Either we change forms of energy (sooner or later) to renewable, clean sources or we shall have not just an energy crisis but also problems --serious problems-- such as no more advanced civilization, no more habitable Earth, and an angry Lord and Lady wanting to know why.
Tuesday, 22 May 2001
New Naumkeag, USA
| Mm! This Is Whitefeather, And I Don't Belive For A Minute That... ||May 22nd. at 10:23:54 pm EDT|
|Whitefeather (SSMarie, , Ontario CA) ||Age: 16 - Email |
MM! This is Whitefeather, and I don't belive for a minute that there is an energy crisis in Canada or the United States. We have natural resources, solar power, electricity, hydro power, wind power...the list goes on! If we could just find a way to get it into the mainstream, we wouldn't have this so-called "energy crisis." I would certainly use alternative energy sources, and conserve everything I can. (I've been called an Eco-Witch) :) Blessed Be! WF
| It Has Been Obvious Since The First Gas Shortage That The Oil... ||May 23rd. at 8:23:31 am EDT|
|Victor Partaker (south lake tahoe, California US) ||Age: 57 - Email |
It has been obvious since the first gas shortage that the oil companies have used manipulation of the supplies of oil and gas so as to push Americans into paying more for energy and fuel. But if you look their profits are up some 60+% so if there is a shortage where is the profit coming from. But as long as Washington politicians get paid off to not help us and we look the other way and let thme we will be gouged at the pump and thru our utility bills. But the only way we can fight back is buy less. Turn off the air conditioner we survive a long time without it. Watch the stars, listen to the wind, sit by a lake and turn off TV. Far to many Americans sit in the stuffy house when its beautiful outside. I am on this computer at 5 am so I can spend the best part of the day walking thru the woods and appreciating nature. But for those who want all their appliances and do watch TV and want to cool the inside of the house all we can do it vote out any politicians that we know are voting against what we want. Blessed Be
| Well Of Course There's An Energy Crisis. Well, Depending On How, Exactly... ||May 23rd. at 10:45:55 am EDT|
|Jill Swift (Santa Fe, New Mexico US) ||Age: 33 - Email |
Well of course there's an energy crisis.
Well, depending on how, exactly, you define that.
If you define it as whatever the government of the U.S. and the energy businesses claim, then there certainly is.
If you define it as an actual shortage - more need than supply - then there is clearly no crisis.
However, if you define it as I do - energy that leaves significant toxic residue, then there's been a crisis for a long time.
Gobs of other posters have already mentioned the need to find clean, renewable energy sources. I am appalled over how little support the alternative energy researchers are getting in this country. I am equally appauled at how slow big business is to adopt the few new energy technologies that have come from what little fruitful research there has been.
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