Better Way to Save the Earth Than Starving People?

We Are Smarter Than That!

A friend sent me a fascinating PowerPoint presentation on how gas will probably hit $11 a gallon before too long. (It's from Mathew Simmons' Energy Investment Bank.)

I like it! Plus I'm dreadfully afraid it's true.

So then after gasoline hits $11/gallon and natural gas $25 per MMBTU, water will go up, food following in lockstep. Minimum basic food will be entirely too expensive for a billion people to buy. So they will starve. Seriously, starve to death. Billion; that's a thousand millions. Puts earthquakes and Cyclones to shame.

I liked the PowerPoint presentation, and I think that Simmons Energy is right. They point out that this is not all bad. The good side effect is declining hydrocarbon use - good for the climate. Still it's a painful way to get there. Well designed, fairly enforced government incentive programs for lower energy use might do the same thing without driving so many individuals and companies to ruin - or to the mass graves. Letting "the market" reduce consumption by pricing a necessary commodity out of reach of jillions of folks and raising all those other prices seems to imply that this civilization is just too dumb or too ineffectual to fix the problem any other way, which just ain't so. Just go out and apprehend...

All the Usual Suspects
CAFE rules mandating (by rewarding) much better mileage much sooner. No stick, just carrots for the manufacturers and customers.

Bigger incentives for people to go solar, geothermal, etc. at home.

More research $ for cellulosic ethanol.

More research $ for ag productivity. Incentives for drip irrigation for truck crops. Big bucks for top notch public service advertising to get people to eat healthier (less meat, more veggies).

Tougher penalties for energy wasters. Water wasters. Wasters in general. And actually enforce the standards.

Build thousands of distributed 40-acre solar farms feeding the existing grids. (Privately AND publicly financed, both being fair to the general public by design... Guaranteed market for investors in return for reasonable rates.) All while upgrading the grid.

Mandate the coal-burner electric companies (natural gas, too - just not so urgently) clean up their emissions by any technology that works. Reduce their pain with incentives.

Make it financially and temporally affordable to build new generation nukes.

Invest in convenient, secure, rapid public transit systems better than any in the world.
All (mostly) carrots. Probably all these together running at full speed wouldn't cost as much as the Iraq war on a cash-flow basis, and on a long term capital analysis basis would be just the opposite of the war, building growing returns on every dollar spent rather than building debt service expenses on every dollar borrowed for the war.

That's gotta be better than a billion starvation deaths.

So then you fill up your plug-in car with the five gallons you keep for the little bit of on-board recharging you have to do now and then. And your gasoline is 80% cellulosic ethanol with performance boosters discovered in the new research. Your home car charging electricity is mostly generated by the regional solar farms and the newgen nukes. The nearby coal fired generating plant sells primarily to the very heavy users in industry, and you can live downwind from it and be healthy. The sleazebag construction company that cuts corners by using poor insulation gets some free publicity and a huge fine. You go out more often because the gas is affordable (or you can take a fancy, comfy bus) and the prices at the local restaurants (not to mention the farmers' markets) are reasonable. Your savings grow, especially your investments in the new energy companies and all their offspring. That sound in the distance is the gnashing of teeth in the Oil Dictatorships.

... OR... Sit around on your thumb and wait for $11/gallon gas.

- - - - - -

Addendum: The Friend who sent the PowerPoint makes some good points on the "
Tougher penalties for energy wasters." point: "This requires discussion. Is driving a big SUV full of stuff on a vacation wasting energy? Is driving a 30mpg little car to go play golf wasting energy? Is driving a Prius to go "cruising" on Friday night wasting energy? Is putting water into a swimming pool wasting water? To some a vacation drive is wasting energy, to others it is not (regardless of energy saved or not). To non golfers, driving to play golf is a waste. Some believe a swimming pool is a waste of water, to others is is great exercise and relaxation. What about driving to a movie, is this a waste of energy (depends on whether you like movies or not)? What about boats, private flying, snowmobiles, water parks, fishing boats,etc. Some buildings leave the lights on at night - I think this is a waste, but some believe this helps advertise or helps security. Do we really need St. Augustine lawns in Dallas or would just native grass (mowed twice a year) be OK? Who decides what is a waste and what is desired or necessary?

Who makes the rules??? Maybe each person gets a ration of gasoline, water, nat gas, electricity, etc. per year and when is used up, no more until next year. Then who decides who gets how big a ration? I think you know the answer to who will decide!

AGREED, in general. This ain't easy. Nor is it impossible. Water in a pool, OK. Over-watering your yard until water gushes down the street, not OK. You know, reasonable.


dudu said…
Earth doesn't need saving. Drill, pump, refine, sell gas cheap, cheap food follows because fuel for transportation, farm equipment, planting and harvest etc follows. Hmmmm, sorta like before OPEC raised the price to $3/gallon just for the oil needed to make that gallon. Arrest Algore and try him for crimes against humanity, he is the main crook that caused hysteria among Democrat ecoterrorists including those in Congress demanding that something be done to save the world, the world is fine. Not necessary to use corn or any other organics to make engine damaging polluting low BTU ethanol. Only reason it was attempted is because of Algore and other alarmists who have no background in science and can't comprehend the facts regarding atmosphere and human activities which have a trivial effect on climate. If all of the efforts and false claims from ecoterrorists were channeled toward feeding the billions the question of fuel for golf, vacations (freedom, liberty) would not be on the table. Just another sign of the blind acceptance of the conditioning of the masses from the control freaks who ARE the media and education. We are so screwed, and for no reason. Study for starters.

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