Oil prices are on the rise again, with gasoline prices again predicted to reach $4.00 a gallon in the next few months. Although I hope such a prediction is wrong, it is likely that Americans will again experience the pinch at the pump, slowing any potential economic recovery and stranding those on fixed incomes whose communities lack good public transportation.
Although I disagreed with Jimmy Carter on many issues while he was president, he was right on the money regarding the need to find alternative sources of energy other than fossil fuel. If the United States had kept up the commitment Mr. Carter made, it is probable that the U. S. would not be in the state it is today, more dependent on oil imports than ever.
It is true that there have been many false starts. Solar power is limited in its practical applicability due to its inefficiency. Nuclear power plants are efficient, but they also create nuclear waste that must be stored deep in underground salt mines. There is also the risk of a meltdown. Perhaps they are a short-term partial solution to our energy needs, but they should not be a long-term solution.
Nuclear fusion continues to hold promise, yet it is difficult to get past the 50-50 split between energy used to create a fusion reaction and energy released from the reaction. More funding is justified for continued fusion research. Accessing energy from the zero-point field is possible in principle, although getting a useful yield of energy has thus far been more difficult than in fusion research. However, if the zero-point field could be made an effective energy source, it would be unlimited–research funds, even in this highly speculative area of research, are, in my judgment, warranted.
Reasonable efforts at conservation such as combining trips, carpooling, and increased use of public transportation would help lower demand for oil. I prefer voluntary rather than coercive measures; if gas prices get high enough and a company offers more efficient public transportation and does a good job of marketing, more people would likely take advantage of such transportation. It might be a good thing for people to actually see other people from day to day rather than images on a computer screen.
Solving American’s energy problems must involve a combination of reasonable conservation and finding new and better sources of energy as alternatives to fossil fuels. If the United States could halt its dependence on OPEC, that would be a tremendous boost to solve the world’s energy problems, obtaining more independence in foreign policy, and affirming U. S. national sovereignty and pride.
- New approach could mean break-even nuclear fusion reactions within 2-3 years (gizmag.com)
- Navy Reports Evidence of Cold Fusion (grantlawrence.blogspot.com)
- Sandia Announces Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion Energy Generation (treehugger.com)
- Compact Fusion Experiment Demonstrates Confinement of 100 keV (Billion-Degree) Ions in Dense Plasma (nextbigfuture.com)