Democrats & Liberals Archives

Solving the Energy Problem

Here’s the energy problem: At the present we obtain most of our energy by burning carbon fuels - oil, coal, natural gas and biomass – that increase CO2 in the air; this increases global warming. To avoid catastrophe, we must find ways to decrease use of carbon fuels and increase the use of non-carbon fuels that do not produce CO2. How do we accomplish this?

Solving the energy problem is urgent. Some experts claim that we have only about 10 – 20 years to do it. Others think we have even less time.

In addition to being urgent, the problem is extremely complex. There are too many scientific unknowns that churn together to give us our climate. As far as remedial actions are concerned, considering technological factors alone is not enough. We must also take into account scientific, ecological, economic and political factors as well.

Although not normally emphasized, the energy problem is long term. Merely reaching the point where most of the CO2 is removed from the air will not permanently solve the problem. Previously emitted CO2 may stay in the air for a century or so. Although we may not know it today, we may find that non-carbon energy sources produce non-CO2 forms of unacceptable waste. Another factor is the growth of world population, which will place further burdens on our energy system.

We need to act now. We need the advice of energy experts trained in science, engineering, ecology, economics and politics. We need a long-term solution. We need a Federal Energy Board (FEB).

The Federal Energy Board (FEB) would perform a task similar to that done by the Federal Reserve Board (FRB). The FRB controls the flow of money; the FEB the flow of energy. The FRB’s main tool is the manipulation of interest rates; the FEB’s energy costs. The FRB’s primary goal is achieving prosperity; the FEB’s keeping the climate stable and CO2 (and other waste) emissions low.

The major functions of the FEB are:

• ANALYSIS – Determine CO2 content in air and stability of the climate. As far as possible, predict future climate conditions. Write annual report.
• PRIORITIZATION – Calculate priorities for each energy source, carbon and non-carbon, based on evaluations of energy scientists, energy engineers, energy ecologists, energy economists and energy politicians
• EDUCATION – Educate the public about making homes more fuel efficient, buying cars using less gasoline, and explaining many ordinary-living behaviors that may save energy. In addition to these ideas, FEB will offer advice about R&D and investments to companies and financial organizations. It may also train climate experts or help universities to do this. In addition, FEB would coordinate activities with the UN, foreign governments and climate labs around the world
• RECOMMENDATIONS – A big reason for the FEB is to make recommendations to Congress, the Federal Executive and to state capitols about changes needed in rules, regulations, laws and execution approaches.

President-elect Obama has appointed an energy team with Carol Browner as energy “czar” to coordinate activities among the team and Departments of Transportation, Interior and Commerce, as well as other agencies affecting energy policy. This is great. I believe the FEB could supply the energy team with well thought-out information to help them make good decisions.

Posted by Paul Siegel at December 11, 2008 7:53 PM
Comment #271867

I am leery creating yet another federal agency. We already have an energy dept,EPA etc. They can and should function to reach your stated goals. The problem has not been a lack of resources as a lack of the political will from the Bush regime to actually work toward a solution to the energy problem and climate change. The Energy Dept. has worked basically as a federal liason with Big Oil and to a degree with the Nuke industry. The EPA can be refered to as the Enviormental Procrastination Agency without being too far from the mark, going to court to weaken California’s emmission standards and rejecting the responsibility to regulate CO2 emmisions etc. BHO can change this. Give him time.

Posted by: bills at December 12, 2008 6:39 AM
Comment #271875

I agree with bills somewhat if the person is a pure activist instead of scientifically motivated and educated will just end up shooting ourselves in the foot, our congress must stop lieing to the public, they mandate and force the auto makers to make millions of flexi fueled vechiles to run on the higher concentrations of ethanol and no frigging stations to be found that carry them, I found three stations when coming back here to NY, one in Nebraska and two in Kansas 2800 miles!! come on the biggest percent of ethanol they use is mixed with gas at about 10% for replacing the poisonous MTBE additives that was made to raise octane ratings and oxygenate the fuel That they mandated in the early 1990s and that crap has ruined billions of gallons of ground water where is the science and testing I truly hope Obama can direct these clowns to work for the people again instead of there back pockets.CHA CHING $$

Posted by: Rodney Brown at December 12, 2008 10:48 AM
Comment #272241

well the problem with energy is that all of the good clean resources of energy have a low output. If we look at all the wind mills, geothermal, hydro and solar energies they only produce a small small fraction of what we need to run our house etc. We could boost the output of these sources some but most of them are pretty limited and arent as super reliable as a power grid needs.

Solar power I think has the most potential to reduce dependency on coal and oil. They are currently working on technology to put solar panels into roof singles. This could have a large impact on oil and coal energy consumption in the near future if every house in america has solar panel shingles on their roofs. There are also several other technologies out there or being worked on but most have the problem of not being as cheap as oil and/or not having the ability to produce energy in any significant quantity.

The most important thing right now is to reduce energy waste. We as a nation are incredibly wasteful when it comes to energy. People leave there lights, tvs, radios etc. on all the time even when they arent in the room. people also pay attention to only putting more heat into their house with no regard to stopping heat from leaving their house. Also, companies have had the ability to make more energy efficent products for everything from light bulbs to washing machines, which would only slightly increase the price of the appliance, for years now (might i add the money saved from energy conservation would more than made up for the extra price) but until recently they have decide to stray away from it. This was smart on their part because of the american consumer’s desire for cheap goods rather than quality goods. This is shown by our buying of everything made in china.

There has been a start in the change of attitude from bigger and more powerful to more efficent and I think if consumers stick to this attitude business will quickly move towards making the most efficent products. This is the best bet to begin to push away from coal/oil while new technologies push to take the dominant role over coal.

As for this new agency, making new departments to the enormous number that already exist is a waste of time and money. He should have restructure the existing energy department. It is also key for the government to be friendly to the change, but I have had very little confidence in the mockery we call a congress to do anything to truely facilitate the move. Most of the congressmen are too busy getting money for their state and making sure they get something they want add to every bill rather than what is good for the country.

I am also a mechanical engineering student myself, and hope that I might have a hand in solving this problem myself.

Posted by: william at December 17, 2008 6:10 PM
Comment #272247

Good luck William,They are using recycled plastic and polycarbonate integrated photovoltaic cells, The cells are integrated right into the cell structure of the poly and plastic roof shingles, A man in Arizona has the patient on it, like anything else to get the best efficiency and effectiveness out of this system the solar calculation’s and placement of the structure is very important to maxify the best exposure of sunlight during the day also as you are aware in California it averages 300 plus days of sunlight a year where in the northeast the average might be as low as 180 days a year, also factor that the angle and axis is different in the winter and summer and the sun doesn’t shine at night, it would be wise to have a full system with storage batteries included to supply power at night and on cloudy will also lessen the use of silicon.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at December 17, 2008 7:15 PM
Comment #309972

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Comment #431762

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