The cure for high gas prices is not new politicans–its new ideas

 

Yesterday I took the historical tour at the Kennedy Space Center. It takes you all the way back to the origins of the US space program, Apollo 1-13, Challenger, all of it–very interesting. I love the assurance of outer space–that humans are small and insignificant in the big picture.

As the guide spoke of patriotic heroes who had taken steps of personal danger for the greater good of space exploration I was touched. But I also could not help but think how much further advanced and evolved the world could be today if we had thrown the same amount of tax dollars, brains and scientific determination behind some of the key struggles of humanity: sustainable, clean energy, water and food. Imagine if we had spent the last 50 odd years funneling trillions of dollars and the brightest math and science minds into the sole purpose of not riding rockets (or financial engineering), but solving the world’s need for clean, sustainable, domestic energy. Think we would still be cremating our environment and fighting over oil in the middle east? Somehow I doubt it.

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9 Responses to The cure for high gas prices is not new politicans–its new ideas

  1. Barry says:

    My wife and I were there in November. Hope you get a chance to snorkel with the Manatees at Crystal River west of Orlando. One of the best experiences of my life.

  2. Robert says:

    Read “The Singularity Is Near by Ray Kurzweil” and pay special attention to the section on “S-Curves” and technological paradigms. It clearly shows that we are in the middle of incredible change but that we are not at the next paradigm shift yet. Government interference in the markets and science will most certainly delay or extinguish the next paradigm shift.

  3. Roberta says:

    Jimmy Carter told US citizens the truth over 30 years ago – that we needed to be more fuel efficient. A majority of the US citizens decided they did not like the truth, elected Ronnie, and have bought bigger and bigger vehicles and homes ever since.

    Today Americans have the choice to drive fuel efficient vehicles yet roughly 1/2 of us choose to buy gas hogs. I am for the freedom to allow them to do it, even though I think it will end up causing us immense pain in the future, possibly even destroying the nation, as our fuel is squandered and food, heat, and basic transportation becomes extremely expensive. With no expenditure by government this problem could be helped a lot if the people just chose to do the right thing, used common sense, and deciced to be more fuel efficient.

    I am extremely disappointed in the lack of common sense displayed by Americans – there are MANY exceptionally intelligent people here – and our freedom has produced material things that are beyond my wildest dreams – but common sense among Americans is rare. Among politicians in America common sense does not exist – it can’t – if a politician displays common sense he will not be elected. I think the future of America, for the next generation or two looks extremely bleak.

  4. Dabblerjim says:

    “Common sense is not so common.” -Voltaire

  5. Randy says:

    While I agree with the sentiment, not necessarily that easy. Billions have been thrown at alternative energies, often just to get government subsidies, and then failed. Witness the ever growing dead wind turbines.

    Billions have been spent on fusion power and abandoned after 20 years. Nuclear as well. Seems like when government money is used more effort is put into getting and sustaining grants than productive risk taking.

    On the other hand new privately funded projects for safer nuclear are being developed (Bill Gates being a backer). And in Canada, a small start up is trying a whole new approach to fusion that 20 years of international research could not solve. Major funder, Cenovus the oil sands people.

    Your point that most resonates with me is the was of time, brains, and money on Wall St. that should be directed to risk capital. Apollo was an exception to government funded programs (usually more like the F-35), what is interesting is that their was in essence more than one program competing with alternate designs, ie. competition.

    Always interesting how the internet changed the world with minimal government involvement, just risk takers. Then wall street stepped in an created the dot.com bubble.

  6. dave says:

    They didn’t do this because they didn’t see a problem then. Oil seemed to have an unlimited supply. But no need to worry because in time we will overcome the shortage of oil. The solution to high oil prices….. are high oil prices.

  7. d robertson says:

    I saw several of the Space Shuttles lift off from Kennedy Space Center some years ago, and being in Titusville watching from the parking lot, or on Cocoa Beach was a trip, but the absolute best was when I was with Stan Weinstein of the Professional Tape Reader who let me spend several hours with him at Disneys Contemporary Resort and we watched a shuttle blast off with its huge, white plume spiking up into the clear blue with our famed crews G-forced into their seats looking forward to the excitement and the sorrowing horror is something went wrong….we both had tears in our eyes and we were both choked with emotion. Stan turned to me and said “it makes our greed on making money in stocks seem so trivial, doesn’t it?”.. Right.

    And then there is the occeans, the mysterious deep full of strange life and a lot of mineral resources we can exploit right here in our own backyard. How about Mars?
    There are most definitely signs of ancient civilization on its surface. Want to take a ride? Like Jodie Foster said at the end of Contact at her outpost at SETI to a group of visiting children. “There is sure a lot of empty space out there if life doesn’t exist but on Earth”. Salute our space heroes and ride the rockets upwards, damn the budget deficits!

  8. dazzo says:

    Reality Check

    By James Howard Kunstler
    on March 5, 2012 8:37 AM

    America is starting to remind me of Bette Davis in the horror movie classic “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” America is losing its grip on reality. America is acting like an elderly strumpet in too much pancake makeup performing a song-and-dance on the beach while its kinfolk lie dying in the sand.

    History is taking us in a certain direction and we don’t want to hear about it. We’ve got our hands clapped over our ears and we’re shouting “Kittens and puppies! Kittens and puppies!” Here are some of the things that we’re confused about:

    We tell ourselves we’re in an economic recovery, meaning we expect to return to a prior economic state, namely, a turbo-charged “consumer” economy fueled by easy credit and cheap energy. Fuggeddabowdit. That part of our history is over. We’ve entered a contraction that will seem permanent until we reach an economic re-set point that comports with what the planet can actually provide for us. That re-set point is lower than we would like to imagine. Our reality-based assignment is the intelligent management of contraction. We don’t want this assignment. We’d prefer to think that things are still going in the other direction, the direction of more, more, more. But they’re not. Whether we like it or not, they’re going in the direction of less, less, less. Granted, this is not an easy thing to contend with, but it is the hand that circumstance has dealt us. Nobody else is to blame for it.
    A particular set of economic behaviors are over. The housing sector will never come back to what it was because that whole living arrangement is over. We built too many houses in the wrong places in no particular civic disposition and it only worked for a few decades because of cheap oil, cars purchased on credit, and foreigners lending us their money. We’re done building suburbia, and after while, when we can no longer stand the dysfunction and inconvenience, we’ll be done living in the stuff that’s already there. To complicate matters, we have no idea how over all this is. That’s why one of the main themes in this presidential election – not even stated explicitly – is the defense of the entitlement to a suburban lifestyle; in other words, a campaign to sustain the unsustainable. As the suburban dynamic increasingly fails, disappointment may turn to fury. It will be the result of leaders not telling the public the truth for many many years. This public fury may be very destructive. It could bring down the government, provoke civil war, or lead us into foreign military adventures – the result of blaming other people for our own bad choices. If we put our effort and spirit into inhabiting our piece of the planet differently, this might turn out differently and better. By this I mean returning to traditional development patterns of civic places (towns) embedded in productive rural places (the agricultural landscape).
    More higher education is not going bring back the turbo-charged consumer economy. We will not need more office gerbils, bond salesmen, regional deputy managers, or Gender Studies PhDs. That’s going in the opposite direction too. Though corporations and giant institutions seem to rule our lives these days, they will soon go extinct. Anything organized at the giant scale is going to wobble and fall: national chain retail, trans-national companies, colossal banks, big universities, you name it. The center of economic life in America will be food production and other agricultural activities, not computer gaming, big box bargain shopping, and hybrid car sales. We will need more farmers, more people competent in agricultural management, and more human laborers working in the fields. There will be a lot of other practical, “hands-on” kinds of jobs, but not so many positions in air-conditioned cubicles. You might want to check the “no” box on those things, but reality will have her way with you anyway.
    We’re real confused about our energy predicament. Stories are flying all around the news media to the effect that the USA will soon be an oil exporter. That’s utter nonsense, by the way. We still import more than two-thirds of the oil we use. Another story is that the Bakken shale oil fields will make us “energy independent.” That is a complete misunderstanding of reality. Another widely-repeated untruth is the notion that we have “a hundred years of shale gas.” These are stories generated by the particular stage of collective grief we have entered – the bargaining stage, where we attempt to negotiate a better contract with reality. Good luck with that. The truth is, we’re nearly out of the good cheap oil and gas and what’s left is so expensive and difficult to extract that we may not have the capital investment resources to get it. One byproduct of ignoring the disorders in our banking system is that we are also failing to pay attention to the absence of real capital formation. Meanwhile, the oil and gas companies are propagandizing tirelessly in TV commercials in order to get “other people’s money” to sustain their Ponzi operations. (Translation: swindling retirees who cannot get yield from “safe” investments such as bonds.) Eventually we’ll have to face it: the fossil fuel age is ending and there are no miracle rescue remedies waiting to come on-stage.
    We’re not going to “tech” our way through the array of mega-problems we face, in particular the energy predicament. The American mind-space today is clogged with cargo-cult fantasies about electric cars, nano-manufacturing, and “information” technology that would allow the trajectory of progress to continue just as we have known and loved it. This too, like the end of suburbia, will lead to vast disappointment. We’re heading instead into a “time-out” from technological progress, duration unknown, which will probably also result in the loss of some tricks we’ve already learned. The leading wish-fulfillment fantasy, of course, is that we will change out all the gasoline and diesel cars for electric cars. This is not going to happen. We will be a far less affluent society. There will be much less capital available to devote to auto loans. Our towns, counties, and states are all going broke and will not be able to keep the stupendous roadway system in repair. That’s a major reason why we have to return to living in walkable towns instead of disaggregated suburbs, and why we desperately need to repair the regular (not high-speed) rail system.
    We pretend that if we ignore the problems in banking / money / capital formation they might just fade away like the morning dew. The failure to reintroduce the rule-of-law into these matters will destroy the system, and will probably even overtake the destabilizing potential of the peak oil problem – in fact, will accelerate it due to capital scarcity. President Obama is not doing America any favors by, for instance, allowing Jon Corzine to remain at large. If we continue this policy of pretending that nothing has gone wrong, reality will correct our money system for us, by sweeping away all our current arrangements and forcing us to begin over again from scratch. I mean literally from scratch.

    It would be nice if we could correct the disorders in the collective conversion that we call “politics,” but we are probably going to see ever greater divergence with reality. For the moment, all leadership in America has drunk too much Kool-aid, all of it lacks conviction and competence, none of it wants to enter the actual future.

  9. peter says:

    Nuclear energy gets a bad press, but other than the tsunami (and a few others distant accidents in far and few places), it is not a bad alternative, in non-tsunami-prone area and in area where there is uranium nearby. Until solar and wind get to be viable in terms of price and a solution is found for storage, they are best because they are the safest. (Let’s not forget that one has to mine the material needed to make these machines and, for solar, some of it is plastic, unless you go for Biosolar). Coal pollutes. Dams (hydro-electric power) break and destroy the ecology of huge areas. Oil and gas pollute too, as we know. David Suzuki had a program on Japan after the tsunami and the big message was localised solutions that suit the area best. Geothermal and tidal wave energy were showcased as well. I guess some areas are best suited to certain types of energy and diversity is a good idea when there are problems.

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