but energy policy is very important.
Absolutely. A rational energy policy would accept as a given that we need more energy every year. Else is the nightmare slide into eternal barbarism. But where does the energy come from?
That needs to consider the nature of the energy storage and transport. If right now we had a totally hydrogen-fueled transport system and someone came up with a fuel with 5 times the energy density, that was further a liquid at room temperature and pressure so storage was easy, we'd jump all over it. Cars need gasoline. On the other hand, using fuel oil for home heating or powerplants (except as a way to employ what is left over after a barrel of raw crude has produced all the gasoline it can) is just wrong.
Powerplants, unless there is a handy high-head-pressure hydro source (i.e. Hoover dam) should be nuclear. It's the safest, least polluting power source known to man, but it takes a large, permanent, immobile installation. Right now, all the 'renewable energy sources' other than water power are not cost effective. This is disguised by massive government (i.e. taxpayer) subsidies for things like wind power, but an honest look at the numbers shows they don't really work (except, again, in certain limited locations with a particular geographic advantage like very steady winds).
Natural gas is a 'natural' for distributed heating, since burning gas produces very stable heat when burned in atmospheric conditions (compensating for minor variations in feed rate as things wear - something that gasoline will not tolerate). That's not terribly volume efficient, and external combustion is not terribly safe for mobile installations (such as cars). But it works great for homes. Electrical heating of homes (except as a very occasional thing as in Southern California or Hawaii) is just too inefficient for a rational energy policy.
If we focused our energy policy on considerations like that, we would both increase our efficiency (through things like gas heating instead of electric heating for homes) and increase our available energy sources (through use of nuclear power for electricity generation, freeing up fuel oil for mobile users like cars and trucks). Special case users, like large volume trucks and transport aircraft might take advantage of hydrogen with an acceptable penalty.
However, once we get as efficient as practical - while still providing a decent standard of living - we need to identify and exploit sources of the various types of energy-producer. That means drilling for oil in ANWR, etc.
Notice how many of those options that start from an acceptance that we need a continuing supply of energy are the opposite of what would be accepted by those who most complain about no energy policy? All they want is to restrict usage, and I am personally convinced it's so they can control our lives. If, for example, the only way to get around is on public transport, then whoever controls that transport controls a major part of our lives. If, for example, we all have to live in high-density housing (so that commutes are shorter) then we wouldn't be able to 'vote with our feet' to move from suburb to suburb and thus big-city bureaucrats (a natural government constituency) control more of our lives.
Thus, while the Kyoto protocol itself may die a well-deserved death, the basic socialist attitude of using energy/pollution controls as a way to control and limit free choice is the wave of the future. It needs to be combatted in every way that we can.
posted on 08/30/2006 12:26:11 PM PDT
A couple of companies are pursuing a car engine that operates on compressed air...seems like a good solution for congested cities to run their fleet of buses and city cars. I read somewhere that Mexico city has ordered thousands.
The car is in production and is seen as solution to localized pollution problems (such as in doors in industrial settings, fork lifts and such.)
posted on 08/31/2006 8:37:35 AM PDT
(In warfare, the only moral stance is to win.)
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