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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 1/13/19

Like Gilligan's Island

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It was 1958 when President Eisenhower created NASA in response to fears of Russian domination of outer space by Sputnik. The program focused the varied energies of multiple, government agencies into one agency. Eleven years and twenty billion dollars later, Neil Armstrong walks on the surface of moon. It was and is, the greatest technological achievement of humanity. What began as a super power competition created the greatest period of technological development far in excess of the wildest dreams of even the scientists who were participating. The program cost the average American tax payer fifty cents, per person per year.

The investment was huge spending twenty billion dollars over ten years. The investment was small when compared to the one hundred and seventy-three billion spent on the Vietnam war. One gave us cell phones, space stations, laptop computers, satellite communications and the greatest accumulation of scientific knowledge in recorded human history. The other, left us fifty-five thousand American deaths and one million Vietnamese dead.

Humankind claims to be an intelligent species, a questionable claim at best. One with little factual data to back up it's claim. George Washington famously said, "Millions for defense but not a penny for tribute." Which has become billions for fighter planes and weapons systems and pennies for science. It reminds me of Gilligan's Island, the professor could do anything but the obvious, patch the hole in the boat. We must patch the hole in the boat, if we are to survive.

Franklin Roosevelt created the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1933. The country was in the throes of the Great Depression the TVA created jobs by building over two hundred dams in the Tennessee Valley. At that time, the Tennessee Valley was one of the poorest regions in the country. The residents suffered with poverty, malnutrition, scurvy and even malaria. Private power companies ended electrical service at the city limit because it wasn't profitable to go any further. The TVA changed the Southeastern United States in a way undreamed of by its planners. The modern cities of Atlanta, Nashville, Memphis, Birmingham could not exist, if not for the TVA. The diseases, floods and calamities which were once commonplace are long forgotten.

Congressional Democrats are talking about a Green New Deal"something or someone must become the catalyst. This should be the center piece of the 2020 campaign. It has the potential to solve multiple problems while rewarding us with dividends unimagined. The cost of wind power energy has dropped 90% in ten years"what could ten more focused and invested years bring us. It should be simple, for the cost of one major weapons system or two or three aircraft carriers we could solve our energy needs"forever. Putting aside, eliminating greenhouse gases and creating millions of jobs it should be simple.

But you see we have this population" A population committed to building a Twelfth Century wall, a population educated to know nothing. A population trained to sieve all ideas through the lenses of Liberal or Conservative. Obviously, any attempt to solve any of society's problems is a Liberal idea. Conversely, anything which removes nickels and dimes from the pocket of billionaires must be bad.

A few years back, a European consortium came up with the Desertec Initiative. A simple idea with solar plants to be built across the width Sahara Desert. The energy then shipped to Europe the Mediterranean and Middle-East. Building redundant plants along the suns path extending the hours of available of energy.

The United States is the Saudi Arabia of wind and solar potential. We have the potential, we have the technologies. From North Carolina to California, 100,000 square feet of solar panels would power 1,200 homes. A solar surface area of seventy-seven square miles would generate enough electricity for the power needs of the United States. A one square mile solar array would cost $3.2 billion dollars. For $246 billion our nation could have a clean energy solution. Or for $406 billion, we can have an F-35 fighter program.

The wind potential for this country is 10.8 trillion kWh per year or the equivalent of 20 billion barrels of oil. Wind energy has the potential to supply 35% of our energy needs creating 600,000 jobs. Newer wind turbine designs are taller reaching for a more consistent wind flow. Standing one and a half times as tall as the statue of Liberty at 450 feet. The cost, $100,000 to $150,000 per unit installed. It is estimated that it would take 500,000 turbines to generate 4.082 billion megawatt-hours. Now, add in an additional 500,000 units offshore. Or ten billion dollars per year for ten years.

Yet power generation is only half of the equation, more importantly is the power grid. $346 billion or 35 billion per year for ten years. The figures are huge and all we get is energy independence, price stability, millions of jobs and innovation. But where could we obtain such huge funding? Let's see, is energy independence a matter of national security? I say yes, and for less than five percent of our current military budget the project could be fully funded. In the third quarter of 2018 the United States imported $714 million dollars' worth of petroleum"per day!

It's not just a bad environmental policy, it is a bad economic policy as well. The money leaves our shores funding despots who we must protect with our bloated military budget. Currently, clean energy subsidies must be reauthorized by Congress every year while petroleum subsidies go in in perpetuity. The ensconced petroleum industry won't go quietly into the good night. They will fight and spend their largesse convincing their minions, what you need is a border wall! Solar power won't work, Rush Limbaugh said so. Wind turbines kill birds, ask Tucker Carlson, while ignoring that petroleum is poison and will render the earth uninhabitable, if its use isn't discontinued.

Our domestic economy is in a shamble, most families living paycheck to paycheck. Is that a surprise in a country that ships $700 million from its economy daily? An MIT study estimates as many as 200,000 premature deaths each year in the US are due primarily from two sources, power generation and motor vehicle emissions"hello?

It has been sixty years since the United States has taken the initiative to do something anything, for its people. As a child of the 1960's I grew up with the fear of a sudden nuclear holocaust. All that was needed was one mistake or one miscalculation and the civilized world would end in a flash. This crisis however is different, the errors and miscalculations have already been made. If we don't correct them humanity will end retching on its own vomit, the world can't wait!

 

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I who am I? Born at the pinnacle of American prosperity to parents raised during the last great depression. I was the youngest child of the youngest children born almost between the generations and that in fact clouds and obscures who it is that (more...)
 

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