2008-09-19

21st Century Man / 2045

The two defining musical influences of my life are Prince and Public Enemy; that perhaps gives you a framework - a lens - through which to view my thoughts. Most of APAB has drawn from the Chuck D side of my philosophy, but the more hopeful side - the side that sees the issues we face today but believes we can surpass them on the way to a brighter future, just sent the below series of thoughts to the Obama/Biden campaign. Herewith, my attempt to define the future.

I believe Energy & Transportation must be the core focus area for this upcoming Obama/Biden Administration. A focus here would yield benefits in to many other areas, that it announcing plans on a scale even greater than Eisenhower with his interstate highway program, should form the tent pole of your first 100 Days.

For more than 10,000 years coal has been a source for fuel and it was the motivating force behind the steam engines that powered the start of Industrial Revolution in the latter stages of the 18th Century. That revolution brought us into the era of economic growth and since that time we have been burning carbon - first from coal, then expanding with oil and natural gas - in ways to generate more and additional forms of power. We use carbon to heat our homes, heat our water, to fuel our cars and to generate electricity.

And that worked so well for us for so long, that most people did not even think to look elsewhere.

But we know what burning carbon - whether from coal or oil or natural gas - has done to our environment. Today, we have rivers - too polluted for us to drink; today we have air - that when we breathe gives us asthma; and that is not the half of it. The "easy" seams of coal to mine have already been brought to the surface; to get what is left, we now do "mountain top removal", which dynamites mountains and shoves the resulting rock down into valleys and the rivers below.

Try hunting near one of those.

The point is this: carbon, as a source of energy, has become to costly to our health, our businesses and our society. Oil at $140 a barrel showed us that.

But we know what we need to do. The shortest path to more energy is to more efficiently use the energy we do have. That means smarter appliances that turn themselves off when not in use and less usage of incandescent light bulbs that generate more heat than light, but even this will not be enough.

We need to ignite the wind and solar power era.

We have enough wind off our Atlantic coast, to power heat and electricity for our homes and businesses and even our transportation up and down the population centers of our Eastern Seaboard. We have enough wind across our great plains to power the megalopolises of the Midwest and we have so many sunny days across our Southwest that our entire Western flank can be powered for heat and electricity with capacity to spare. And we can store solar power now, as thermal energy that we use to run steam turbines. And we can do the same with wind, by using excess electricity over current demand to heat molten salts, that again is used to power turbines when the wind slows. We can connect up these "power generation factories" off the Eastern seaboard with underwater DC cabling so that power generated in one place can be shifted to where it is needed. We can use underground DC cabling to connect our wind farms to our Midwestern cities and our solar farms to our Western cities.

And we can use this network of power to build a national power grid, so that we would have fail-over protection we lack today. And we can also use this network of power to connect our nation with high-speed rail links - all powered by clean, renewable electricity. With high-speed rail links connecting our major cities, air travel can be reduced to transcontinental and intercontinental use. This will take a major source of pollution down to almost a background level of emissions. With a network of national, regional and local rail lines, we can move people from where they are to their destination in an environmentally friendly fashion. And we will have the renewable forms of generating electricity that we can use to power the electric and gas-electric hybrid vehicles produced in our revamped factories.

No Nukes.

No Natural Gas / Oil.

No Coal.

These were the solutions of earlier generations and they served a purpose at the time. Our purpose has changed. We need to use forms of energy that are locally sourced, so that the money circulates within our economy and is not sent offshore to countries that seem to love our money, but us - not so much. We have a chance to lead the world in the generation of clean, renewable energies. Students will once again flock to our colleges; our teachings and our technologies will bring light and power to the world. And with those ties will come the search for common dreams, dreams that lead toward brighter tomorrow's and away from the sorrows of the past.

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1 comment:

Brian said...

Jericho,

You have some excellent writing skills and the message is powerful. Plus, gotta give you points for tying Prince and Chuck D from Public Enemy into the discussion, brilliant.

I've always been a Public Enemy fan and started to finally appreciate Prince a few years ago. Keep up the good fight and keep writing. It was a very enjoyable read.

Brian