President George W. Bush has a tremendous opportunity to become one of the most important presidents in our country's history - not by being the promoter of the war on terrorism, but by marshaling the nation's strengths to develop an alternative to oil.
This effort should call for all-out coordination of public and private resources, as when the atom bomb was developed.
In less than three years, the oil companies should be major contributors of funds, facilities and knowledge, as they would be major beneficiaries in the manufacture and distribution of the new product.
Why is such a program absolutely essential? Simply put:
The world's supply of oil is finite and usage is accelerating as about 70 percent of the world's population, now not mechanized, becomes mobile.
Oil combustion is a major polluter, with potentially disastrous effects on the earth's climate and air quality.
The exploitation of poor countries' oil resources by the industrialized nations is the major cause of worldwide unrest and terrorism, which will continue to increase as the poor nations continue to lose quality of life compared to the rich, oil-using nations.
Counter-terrorism measures will become harsher and will generate more frequent and horrible attacks, making the current war counterproductive and unending.
On the plus side, the development of an oil alternative will put the United States in the position of being the world's fuel source with unimaginable, favorable effects on our country's wealth and stability. It will make the U.S. the largest exporter instead of being the largest net importer - reversing the outflow of this nation's wealth, now depleting at an increasing rate.
President Bush has been handed an unprecedented opportunity. He should show the world he really is the man he says he is - a leader.
John Walter, Johnston, S.C.