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Letters Sent to Us from the Public

Articles by Joel Martin

Articles by Margaret Wendt

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07/21/08 Ecology, Security and Economics

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Al Gore gave a speech last week in which he challenged the country to be 100% free of dependence on fossil fuels in the next ten years. His argument was that the effort would solve the ecological, security and economic issues that we currently face. One out of three isn’t bad and I would argue that the one will be the driver that moves everything else.

Certainly a reduction in pollution would be good for the planet and the increasing number of human beings that live on it. But climate change is a tricky thing. There is certainly credible evidence that sun spots and volcanic eruptions have had a significant impact on the earth’s temperature and will likely continue to do so in the future. While human behavior is a contributor, it would seem that insisting that the climate problem will be solved through this ten year effort is most likely a prime example of overpromising. We are likely in for some disruptive weather patterns and temperature changes for the foreseeable future.

Mr. Gore also asserts that we would improve national security because we would not be engaged in invading Middle Eastern countries to ensure access to foreign oil. While it is useful to publically state the real reason for the invasion of Iraq, the idea that an energy source conversion would stabilize this region again seems like over promising results. If anything, the collapse of these economies which are almost solely dependent on selling oil would likely cause further strife rather than less. Additionally, let’s not assume that the global oil cartel is going to go softly, softly into the night. Let’s also not forget that the military/industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about all those years ago is still alive and well.

The most salient argument for Gore’s plan is the one based on economics. Secretary Paulson assured us that the banking industry was going to be fine but that the faltering economy was going to take “months” to fix. No doubt we are in for a good deal more of these prognostications in the near term. One gets the sense that he half hopes that he is right even as he proposes that the taxpayers provide a $300 billion guarantee for the people who invested in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The game of inflated value is over. There will be a good deal of rear guard action as it continues to collapse, but no amount of propping up is going to keep it afloat. The primary driver of the system as it currently exists, the consumer, is tapped out.

So how does free energy address the economic calamity that we are currently experiencing? It’s important to understand that there is no magic wand or silver bullet that is going to make everything all right again in short order. We are going to live through some difficult times, not only economically but politically and diplomatically as well. But free energy has the potential to restructure the economic system. From a practical perspective, if the country undertook the ten year challenge, millions of jobs would be created in building the new infrastructure and dismantling the old one. But more fundamentally we would have a change in the value system.

What was once scarce would become free and ubiquitous. There would be a shift to an economics of abundance. Certainly if energy for everything could be obtained from a free source we would need to question to scarcity of other goods and services. Priorities might shift. We might again realize that our strength as a nation is derived from our reputation rather than our military might.

We have confused ourselves about the definition of freedom. We behave as if freedom were about having whatever we want whenever we want it. That is the freedom of a spoiled three year old who has his parents running around in circles. That’s a freedom that has the results that we are now experiencing. Freedom is really about the ability to choose your own disciplines. It is really about the ability to decide what is important and to behave with integrity. Freedom is not free.

There haven’t been many ripples on the pond since Gore’s speech. The national media is more interested in the latest McCain/Obama dustup or how bank stocks go up when they loose less money than expected. It is not likely that our political class will lead on this issue without a significant push from the public. We’ve had a history of doing or allowing many foolish things for the past 30 years. The long sweet slumber is over. It’s time to get up off the deck.
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It has been brought to our attention that Margaret is being portrayed as a psychic on $1.99 sites. These sites are doing so without Margaret's permission. Margaret has not claimed she is a psychic. - MW