Sunday, June 15, 2008

More debate on energy prices, global warming

The Washington Times, on June 15, in the “Sunday Read” magazine, has an “opposing viewpoints” style presentation in its “Solutions: Two Views” column, on p 12, on “How to Lower Energy Prices”.

Ed Feulner, from the Heritage Foundation, simply emphasizes more production and more drilling, as well as re-investing in nuclear power, and “letting the market work.” This strategy did seem to work in the 1980s during the Reagan years, when oil prices dropped during the middle of the decade as the Saudis felt impelled to increase production to lowball future competition. It is true, that at a sufficient price, oil can be safely extracted (without environmental damage) from new areas in the Alaska North Slope or offshore, and, as a recent Nightline segment demonstrated, from older fields in Texas and Oklahoma.

John D. Podesta, former chief of staff to President Clinton, emphasizes the development of renewable resources and development of the infrastructure to support plug-in hybrids and the use of sawgrass or biowaste generated biofuels (which requires more processing innovation as well as more innovations in automobile engines). He suggests an “oilbate” to help lower income families, especially those caught in the sudden oil price runup. Even John McCain has been sympathetic to some tax relief to those who must drive large vehicles in rural areas, whereas Obama believes gas tax relief is a “gimmick.” Some Democrats want a “windfall profits tax” when the crude oil price goes and stays over $80 per barrel.

One problem with extra fossil fuel production can, of course, be increased carbon emissions.

A quick Internet search shows that some people consider storing energy from lightning strikes in rural areas (like mountaintops or in the ocean) a promising potential energy source.

The AP has a major story today “Saudi oil chief to address reports of oil increase,” regarding reports that Saudi Arabia will increase oil production now and call a meeting of oil producers in about a week. The link is here.

On CNN today, economist Bjorn Lomborg (author of “Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warning” due in August) was critical of the conventional wisdom on global warming, and that we would do better to invest in strategies to adjust to it than just in reducing carbon emissions. He argues that we can do better if we make better economic investments and “get richer” as a planet first. Lomborg believes the sea level rise in the next half century will be about one foot.

Picture: Solar Decathalon in Washinton DC 2007

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