Global Warming and the Energy Crisis have constituted twin threats to the US in the recent past. Now the energy crisis has receded, somewhat, however, the global warming crisis is still very much alive.
Either of the twin problems - Global Warming or the Energy Crisis - had, at one time, the potential to damage our country and, indeed, civilization as we know it. e"
So, in the recent past, we were faced with the tasks of meeting the Global Warming (Climate Change) threat and the Energy Crisis threat. Could we handle the two problems at the same time?
Although both threats eventually would have had to be dealt with, it is my opinion that the Energy Crisis was already upon us (or arriving soon). Judging from the long-term prices of crude oil, gas, and other commodities dependent of oil (practically everything!), The Energy Crisis had to be be dealt with quickly or this country and much of the civilized world could have gone into economic chaos.
On the other hand, the full fury of Global Warming was a few years away although some recent scientific observations (Hurricane Sandy!) has indicated climate change was arriving faster than we once thought.
In the very long run, Global Warming might have been the larger threat, but, if we couldn't handle the Energy Crisis, there may not be much left for Global Warming to screw up when it arrives in full force in a few decades.
In addition to the time-of-arrival factor, there were several other pertinent reasons to give top priority to solving the Energy Crisis (with the closely associated concept of Peak Oil) first.
1. Some of the solutions to the Energy Crisis threat may also mitigate the Global Warming problem.
2. U.S. crude oil production peaked about 3 decades ago and crude oil production had declined to where we were importing about 2/3 of the oil we consumed. .
3. The discovery and rapid development of huge reservoirs of shale formation oil, and particularly natural gas, made possible a solution - to the Energy Crisis problem.
4. Although some progress had been made with developing alternative energy sources, the overall effort has been impressive but a little inadequate in my opinion. Ethanol and other biofuels were our big hope, but it is now generally recognized among the experts that ethanol (at least corn ethanol) may cause so many problems that it is not worth the effort......but please don't tell the corn farmers....they love the subsidies (which appear to be in the process of being discontinued, thankfully!). The experts also say that other biofuels may not be much help either. Time recently had an excellent article on the subject.
To solve the Energy Crisis problem, we will eventually need alternative energy sources. These sources will help with Global Warming, also.
The potential for solar energy is best illustrated by quoting Wikipedia: "If built for use as solar collectors, 1 percent of the land used for crops or pasture could supply the world's total energy consumption."
Of course, 1 percent of all the land used for crops or pasture is still an awful lot of land. But the solar energy technology is now growing rapidly and there are undoubtedly technical means to improve the conversion rate.
Solar energy has arrived!
Ethanol has so much propaganda associated with it that it is hard to separate truth from fiction. To listen to the defunct Bush Administration, congress, and the corn farmers, ethanol leads the list of alternative energy sources. Government subsidies were being poured into growing corn which was then converted into ethanol. These subsidies have recently been largely discontinued.
I am normally suspicious of an alternative energy source that requires large government subsidies for it to be marketed. However, government subsidies have been heavily used in Europe to promote alternative energy development and the European subsidies have been successful there. Maybe, I have been too market-oriented and the subsidizing of corn ethanol production was necessary.
The success that Brazil has had with ethanol produced from sugar cane is often touted to support US corn subsidies. But ethanol production from sugar cane is more efficient than producing ethanol from corn. More important, Brazil can grow three sugar cane crops per year in their climate and that changes the economics. Brazilian ethanol can compete in price with gasoline without government subsidies.
Corn is not sugar cane and Brazil is not the United States!
The use of corn for producing ethanol raised the price of corn around the world. This is not good for several nations where corn is a staple food. I prefer to see corn used to feed hungry people than to see it used to feed our over-sized SUVs.
The recent success of wind power devices is a shock to me. One of the reasons, I had minimized the future of wind power is that I live in Louisiana which is the home of powerful hurricanes and, possibly even more important, the home of fanatical bird (ducks, geese, etc) hunters. Theoretically, Louisiana would be ideal for wind power devices because of average wind speed but would the windmills hold up in hurricanes and would the duck hunters allow their ducks to be slaughtered flying through the windmills?
Truthfully, I don't think the above questions have been answered for Louisiana and wind energy development appears to be moving slowly here, but the world certainly has not waited on Louisiana getting up to speed. The cost of energy from wind is very cost competitive with other alternative energy forms. Some experts say that wind energy is the least expensive way to go among the alternative energy sources.
The market for wind power is booming! For example, in Denmark, over 20% of the nation's energy requirements are being met with wind power. Even in the larger countries of Germany and Spain, wind energy is providing over 7% of energy requirements. One projection indicated that wind power would be supplying over 15% of Europe's energy requirements by 2020.
The March 7, 2008 edition of Time had a cover story on the biofuels, ethanol and biodiesel. The article was very pessimistic about the two biofuels. For example, it stated that the massive production of the two biofuels was greatly accelerating global warming. It also stated that biofuel production was causing a rapid rise in food prices and, as a result, world hunger will rapidly increase. Hopefully, the Time story is exaggerated but it was well written and had an authentic read to it.
1. Alternative Energy Sources. An overview of the major alternative energy sources is provided. These sources include solar energy, biodiesel, ethanol, wind power, hybrid cars, geothermal energy, tidal energy, nuclear energy, oil sands, shale oil, and energy efficiency improvements.
3 Germany in World War 2. German side of World War 2. Who caused World War 2?
Both Global Warming and the Energy Crisis are very serious problems the US and the world are facing.