This is a response to Ben Stein's article "Running Out of Fuel, but Not Out of Ideas."
Mr. Stein, while I have great respect for you, I have to disagree with your article, and admit that I'm puzzled by it. First of all, I'm curious what your goal was when writing it. The title makes it sound like its primary content relates to the many potential replacements for fossil fuels (biofuels, hydrogen, etc.), but it makes very little mention of new energy sources. Was your goal to alleviate people's worries about an energy crisis by repeating that you think we're in a "short-term oil bubble"? If so, you did not provide any items to support that hypothesis. In fact, you even made a case for the opposite by reminding people how little the government has done to support alternative energy.
It seems like your goal was to persuade people that even though we are in a "true crisis," we need to ramp up oil production as much as possible to get through it, rather than starting to wean ourselves off of oil for good. This hypothesis requires some important assumptions about the somewhat-distant future in order to make any logical sense.
The first assumption is that damaging some ecosystems in order to find oil now will be worthwhile in the long run. Besides the possibility of destroying links in the food chain and reducing the number of livable habitats for humans, there's no guarantee we'll find enough oil to offset a significant amount of economic damage. A related assumption is that the current science being spouted by the overwhelming majority of the scientific community is wrong. By putting forth the idea that we can continue to burn as much oil as we currently do, you're rejecting the assertion from scientists that immediate reductions in carbon dioxide are necessary to avoid worldwide (yes, I'm pointing at you as well, China) catastrophic damage to the environment.
While a stronger economy now probably increases the chances scientists will come up with a long-term solution to our hunger for energy by providing greater resources for research and development, I believe the vital question we need to ask ourselves is this: Is it more important to us that we can live in the suburbs and drive Hummers for the next two decades (probably won't be able to) and avoid complete anarchy from the demolition of our economy/lifestyle (not likely to happen, at least in the U.S.), or is it more important that we save the biosphere before millions or even billions die from incredible natural disasters, a lack of food, etc.?
It's a difficult question to answer, as, with most things, the poorest will suffer the most from high energy prices now, but try to imagine telling your great-grandchildren that they have to live in constant fear of survival because you couldn't imagine riding your bike to work or replacing your swimming pool with a garden for growing vegetables.
- At June 10, 2008 at 1:20 PM Kyle said...
Well put favels.
- At June 13, 2008 at 8:16 AM bavarian said...
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