Chicken Little may be right after all

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For decades, those who have overdramatized the dire consequences of a particular situation have been ridiculed as being "Chicken Littles." Proclamations that the sky is falling have always been met with derision and disdain for the messenger of the foreboding news.

However, in-depth analyses of our energy situation often result in "you can't get there from here" as all of the options are examined. This time Chicken Little may be right.

I LIKE TO THINK of myself as an optimist who believes the United States can do anything it commits to do. Therein lies the rub -- commitment. Who among us doubts that the United States could pull off another Manhattan Project or Man on the Moon program?

It isn't that we don't have the talent; rather, we don't have the commitment or the leadership to help supply that commitment. The dilemma we face is as follows.

THE GLOBAL ECONOMY is rooted in oil. The worldwide supply of oil is peaking. Maximum oil production is at hand and future production will decline. Because we are basically chasing harder-to-access oil with energy derived from easier-to-access oil, we eventually get to the point where we are expending an amount of energy equivalent to the amount we are recovering, and at that point we stop oil production.

If we merely pursue the status quo, then long before this time occurs there will be worldwide economic chaos that will make today's economic troubles seem like the good old days.

BECAUSE WE FOCUS on higher gas prices, many don't realize that about one-third of every barrel of oil goes into production of petrochemicals. It is from this class of materials that we derive many of our common goods such as pharmaceuticals, plastics, tires, clothing, plumbing materials, and asphalt.

One could make a convincing argument that if we do increase domestic oil exploration and production, then we should optimize refinery operations for petrochemicals rather than gasoline.

HOW, THEN, CAN we prove Chicken Little wrong?

If it isn't too late, we can start by establishing a no-nonsense energy policy that appropriately incentivizes the development of a different energy basis for our economy. This policy should recognize the potential contributions of different forms of energy production, energy efficiency initiatives and conservation and encourage (mandate?) their implementation.

ALTHOUGH WE SHOULD be open to all reasonable options, the only alternative energy source that could do the heavy lifting required to wean us from oil is nuclear power. Whether it is charging batteries for electric cars or making hydrogen for transportation, huge new electricity demands will be upon us as we graduate from oil, and that will require a massive investment in nuclear power.

Do we have the will and the leadership to make that investment?

Uh-oh! Gotta go. Something big and blue just fell in my backyard.

(Editor's note: The writer is executive director of Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness in Aiken.)

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HTN007 09/28/08 - 05:25 am
0 for McCain for McCain since, in essence, you've just described his energy policy

patriciathomas 09/28/08 - 06:26 am
No, don't vote for McCain and

No, don't vote for McCain and his energy policy. Higher taxes will provide all of the energy this country needs. Vote Obama. He'll change everything.

christian134 09/28/08 - 08:21 am
We have weathered storms

We have weathered storms before people and if the people will just wake up for their lapse of insanity we will get past this super storm as well...McCain seeks with the leadership of God and a mixture of both parties(the best of each) to come together and work for solutions...Just send this Obama and his puppeteers a simple message..."We, Americans, are just not going to fall for your rhetoric, failed plans and enslavement of the people to the government any longer"...When we have all stood shoulder to shoulder and yelled that out then we might start to rebuild a nation stronger and more united...

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