You don’t deserve it, but I’m back again the solve all the world’s major problems. Why? Because it makes me look good.
In Part 2 of our series, we’re gonna solve the world’s looming energy crisis. As ever, we’ll begin by understanding the problem, then I’ll make some flippant yet trenchant observations about the best solution. Here we go:
FACT: Our oil future doesn’t look good. Don’t believe Rush Limbaugh, don’t believe Exxon, don’t listen to the Saudi royal family. Listen to oil geologists. Even the ones employed by the oil industry agree: we’re getting humped by Hubbert’s Peak.
It’s not that we’re “running out of oil”. It’s that we’re quickly running out of affordably extractable oil. What good is a $78 gallon of gas? Not much. It’s almost worthless, in fact.
The Space Age is over. The Oil Age is over. And nobody gives a shit about “Lost” anymore.
“So,” you say, “we’ll just switch to Ethanol! The Brazilians are doing it, right?”
What utter bosh. The Brazilians are deforesting the Amazon and dedicating vast swaths of arable land to sugar cane just so they can make a point. Their ethanol endeavor is unsustainable.
What we need is a comprehensive solution.
Some folks say America (and the world) needs to switch to nuclear fission to “get us over the hump” until a more permanent sustainable solution is found. This sounds enticing. After all, Chernobyl was the result of stupid Russians and Three Mile Island was demonstrative of the salutatory effect of good failsafe systems. So, nuclear is safe. Or is it?
Like ethanol, nuclear power is an energy-intensive undertaking, You gotta mine the crap out of the Earth to extract uranium, refine it in energy-hungry breeder reactors, then build enormous, complicated machines to heat water from a controlled chain reaction. Transporting uranium is a dangerous game, and to this day no one has figured out what to do with the High Level Waste.
That’s right: sixty years on and we still don’t know how to keep all that deadly HLW out of our environment and water table. France is trying to re-process its HLW with mixed results. Fact is, they are still studying solutions while the HLW continues to pile up. In the US, we have the same plan we’ve always had: toss it in a hole and hope it goes away.
About the only good thing nukes got going for them is their relatively pollution-free operation. Factor in uranium mining and uranium’s own Hubbert’s Peak, and nukie stops looking so good.
Some futurists (ahem>Kunstler<ahem) feel that even if we attain abundant electricity, we won’t be able to switch to electrically powered transportation. He’s rather gloomy. I disagree.
And I have the solution.
Orbiting solar-powered lasers!
Rather than waste hundreds of billions of dollars on nukes or off-shore oil rigs or greedy Wall Street retards, we should re-invigorate those lame geeks at NASA and give them a new mission: hundreds of orbiting solar collectors, as well as plans to install many more on the moon.
After factoring in solar-to-laser inefficiency, a 200 meter geo-stationary solar collector could power a gigawatt earth-bound generating station. That a gigawatt, people – half a Hoover Dam. And that’s with today’s technology. Making larger and more efficient collectors is an engineering challenge, not a scientific or economic wall.
Coupled with a continued reliance on hydro-electric and new investment in locally-managed wind farms, tidal generators and solar arrays, we’d have plenty of renewable, reliable electricity. And what do we do with this electricity (besides powering porn webservers and George Foreman grills)?
We re-shape the auto industry to make electric cars and trucks. The engineering challenge here is daunting – more so than the space lasers. Battery technology seems stymied. It will take a new approach or a new eureka moment to make it practical and affordable. But I think we can do it. Already, we have this:
I give you Tesla Motors.
Is it the solution? Hell, no. It’s a baby step on the way, though. If we could keep that performance and get a 400 mile range with a recharge time under 10 minutes, we will no longer need automobiles as we know them. Electric motors actually deliver better torque than diesel engines, so our trucks and tractors will be better, too.
Of course, there is one final challenge: air travel. You can’t fly an electric plane. This problem will sort itself out. If we work now to segue into electric travel, there might be enough oil and ethanol to maintain a reduced fleet of commercial aircraft. In a century or two. when those sources become untenable, we’ll either have high-speed electric rail, or do the obvious: stop traveling so far all the time. What are you flying for? To bring the kids to see Grandma? Are you high? Why did you move to Michigan? That was stupid. No, fuck you. You can’t just fly anywhere you want whenever you want. Take the new electric train, or stay home. Dick.
There you go. The answer to the world’s energy (and pollution) problems. No need to thank me. Ah, hell. Thank me, you ungrateful bastards!