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|San Diego County, CA||March 2, 2004 Election|
By Gary M. WaayersCandidate for United States Representative; District 50; Green Party
This information is provided by the candidate
World wide oil production will peak in a decade. Switching to safe renewable energy avoids economic problems of dichotomy between supply and demand; also tackles Global Warming and other environmental issues; creates jobs.Currently world oil production, barrels per day, is increasing to match the increase in world oil consumption. This is about to change. According to Switzerland-based Petroconsultants, a world leader in oil and gas consulting, and many other oil industry experts, world oil production will peak in the next decade. However, oil consumption is still projected to increase after oil production peaks due, in part, to the rapidly expanding Asian economies. This means that by the time our current crop of pre-schoolers want to drive the family SUV, supply will not meet demand. Oil company executives know this fact. Bush and Cheney are oilmen, and Matthew Simmons, their chief advisor on oil futures, has told them of the coming oil shortage.
So what do we, the government of the United States, do when faced with the knowledge that oil supply will not meet demand world-wide? 1) Our government can reach out to control as much oil production as possible, trying to insure our nation's needs are met at the expense of others. 2) We can begin a major conversion to other safe energy sources so we are not dependent on oil to run our economy/society. 3) Or, we can do nothing.
By making a grab for oil, as we are in Iraq, our government is choosing the option of controlling the oil production. So is there a down side economically to our actions? The world will still face a major shortage of oil after the next decade. Regions of the world on which we depend to be solid markets for our goods will not have the energy to keep their own economies going. There is an extremely good chance that a depression will hit many regions that will not have all the oil they need. The oil that is on the free market will be very expensive, based on simple principles of supply and demand. It will be difficult to shield our supplies from these higher prices. It doesn't take a genius to see that higher fuel prices will slow our economy, as will any decrease in demand for our products from countries that lack sufficient oil to continue to have growth economies.
What about coal as a replacement? Coal as a replacement for oil or gas must be further refined well beyond any current refinement of coal. This further refinement will require energy, driving up the cost of refined coal. Coal also places more pollution into the atmosphere than either oil or natural gas, causing increases in acid rain, mercury in our communities, and health-related illnesses. Coal also contributes to the increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, making the changes in the global climate more expensive to deal with. Most nations of the world already recognize global warming as a major threat to their economic and social systems, the very reason many countries pushed for passage and acceptance of the Kyoto protocol. It would be unlikely that they will support our use of coal as a replacement for oil to run our economy. Because of the cost of using coal, changing to coal will not alter the major downturn in the world economy in a decade or two caused by the decrease in oil production.
Why not go to nuclear energy to supply our energy needs? The engineering cost to build and later dismantle nuclear plants is significant. The mining, processing, and later disposal of nuclear material to be used is not insignificant. To prevent contamination of the environment with nuclear waste, that waste needs to be contained in areas where no threat of its escape to the air, water, or soil can take place for thousands of years, and where it is secure from terrorists. This storage will cost billions of dollars for hundreds of generations to come.
A terrorist action or accident in a nuclear power plant can would be catastrophic for the surrounding communities. If we are ever going to be a world without nuclear weapons that threaten our very existence we must reduce the ability to make the material that is placed in the warheads. As long as we have nuclear power plants, possible terrorist strikes against them, accidents, and fuel for weapons will be a reality.
We are faced with a crisis. It's coming at us like a meteor ready to destroy life as we know it. Yet our leaders cling to the idea that the big energy corporations know what they are doing, while they keep the people in the dark about the upcoming energy crisis.
The timing of the crisis could not be worse for the USA. It hits just as the bulk of the baby boomers are set to start collecting Social Security and using Medicare. As the world economy grinds to a halt, will our government be able to support our seniors?
The only answer I see to heading off this crisis is a head on run to renewable energy. This should involve major government investments into wind and solar energy to bring them up to producing at least 50% of our energy needs in the next fifteen years. Energy conservation along with a plan for hydrogen fuel cell- powered cars to be mainstream vehicles by the year 2015 should be included within this policy. This policy is ambitious, but not unlike President Kennedy's reach for the moon.
Moving to wind and solar will cost the taxpayers almost nothing more. Bonds, paid by the consumers, would be used to build up a system of wind generators. The rate paid by the consumer for these bonds would be no greater, (but instead lower, when projecting the supply/ demand dichotomy in oil in the not-too-distant future) than the rate they currently pay to foreign countries to burn the fossil fuels that generate electricity. Current wind generation technology would allow us to meet 100% of our nation's electric needs if we simply had them in place.
Solar energy should also be aggressively pursued. As with computers, there are some issues concerning hazardous waste with solar panels; however, these concerns are minor compared to the concerns faced with nuclear energy. The positive sides of solar are: 1) the decreased demand on maintaining a high capacity power grid from one part of the nation to another, 2) a great increase in local jobs to install and maintain the equipment, 3) a much higher rate of wealth retention in the community because we are not buying oil from outside the community, 4) a drastic decrease in global warming gases, and 5) a decentralized power system not as susceptible to region-wide blackouts or terrorist attacks.
Conservation needs to be a cornerstone of this plan. Extensive conservation measures will bring huge savings for both the economy and the environment. Conservation, along with increased energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, is an essential part of any effective energy policy.
We need to be well on the way to being energy independent by the end of the next decade or we will be faced with the worst financial and societal crisis ever faced. The weapons the world contains makes it a very dangerous place as countries slide downhill due to the lack of energy, while at the same time trying to provide for their people. Without the energy to run their economies, how can the scenario be any different? The United States can, and should, lead the world in making renewable energy the economic, environmental, and peaceful approach to transition out of the age of oil.
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