The Endpoint: Why alternative fuel research should continue

R&D now for the future

27 October 2008 00:00  [Source: ICB]

THE CURRENT international financial nightmare looks as if it may put the kibosh on investments in alternative energy research, such as wind, solar, biofuels and others.

Meanwhile, with crude oil prices calming down somewhat to about $70/bbl, the "to heck with alternative energy" lobby has also gained a stronger foothold. Not that I approve of the way many of the subsidies have been given out: here's an area where a cruel accountant's red pencil will be necessary- ethanol subsidies, we're looking at you.

But no matter what, at some point the world will need alternative fuels.

Support for alternative energy projects should continue - because it is not as if during this time of financial crisis, people are going to stop using oil and oil-based products.

There has not been much done about reducing vehicular consumption - and with gasoline prices between $3 and $4/gal, I haven't seen very many people doing something simple, like carpooling.

The US had made great strides toward fuel conservation during the mid and late-1970s, after the 1973 oil crisis, but all that went out the window in the 1980s, with the return of cheap oil. That sort of extravagant behavior may have been acceptable then, but no longer.

And it's wrong to think that more drilling will return prices to those halcyon days.

C'mon, folks, the nice space aliens are not going to show up to save us with some super-wonderful unlimited energy source. We are not going to be saved by neutronium in a klystron modulator.

We have to keep up the research ourselves.

WISHFUL THINKING

A friend of mine - let's call him DM, has a lot of conspiracy theories. One of them is that the "big bad oil companies" already have a secret formula, "probably stolen from the Germans at the end of World War Two," says DM, that can turn water into gasoline.

The energy suppliers, my friend says, are just waiting for the oil made from ancient dinosaurs to be gone, then they'll release the secret formula to universal praise and acclaim.

That's what I love about the conspiracy theorists: they are so optimistic.


By: Ivan Lerner
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