Friday, May 02, 2008

The Simple Answers

It is not merely that the answers are simple, so simple that everyone knows it will work. The odd thing is that everyone also finds the ideas radical, impossible - the territory of nuts and cranks. The obvious has become so politically impossible, for very bad reasons, that the following will meet with eye-rolling in many quarters. Yeah, the Assistant Village Idiot just doesn't get it. They're right. I don't.

Build 100 nuclear power plants, as Jerry Pournelle suggests.

Drill for the oil we know is there, as Samuelson at the Washington Post suggests.

Yes, yes, I know it's ridiculous. But why is it ridiculous? Energy problems solved until the year 2100. We can move on to other things. Technologies we have within a decade of feasibility right now - do we think that none of them will work? We have an idea that it's all ungreen, unenvironmental somehow. Compared to...

Confine yourself to reality, please.

7 comments:

lelia said...

Um, okay, I must be slow today. Why am I supposed to roll my eyes at the idea of nuclear power plants? I wish we would build more than a hundred. Our air would clean up so fast you would not believe.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yeah, that's my thought.

Ben said...

What utility is going to invest billions of dollars in something that has proven to be so vulnerable to demogoguery and unreason? Just look at our political inability to take care of nuclear wastes (a problem we more or less know how to handle).

I love our political system, messy as it is, and would defend it against all enemies. But democracies do not always do the right thing. Nuclear power requires long-term unsentimental thinking about energy, security and the environment. How can we make that possible.

Serr8d said...

The 'Simple Answer' is definitely one that we, Americans, capitalists, technologists, futurists, don't really want to hear. It's so obvious, likened to a giant pink elephant in the room, but we have to ignore it because it's anathema to our lifestyle.

I'm not as resigned as this guy ("I am hopeful we can save a few tens of millions of Americans...") but there is some truth in his claims. The facts can't be ignored...60 Million barrels of oil per day, world consumption; maybe 110 Million bbl/day projected/needed by 2023, given India's and China's newfound love of that 'liquid gold.

300 Million people here in the U.S. 6.5 Billion or so, world's population, on a planet that comfortably supports 2 billion. An economy that requires steady growth to stay afloat. And, requires that free-flow of oil at relatively inexpensive prices to sustain that needed growth.

It's hard to swallow, and we won't, but clearly...

Assistant Village Idiot said...

How many people the earth can comfortably support is an entirely technology-based issue. We can't support even 2 billion hunter-gatherers, and probably not 2 billion villagers. Once we have sewerage, running water, reinforce concrete, and electricity, we can support many more. 6.5 billion people is the least of our worries. We're going to 9, then receding.

Erik said...

Hmmm...I'm reconciling this post to your latest "Not Jumping To Conclusions" one...

I like the idea of nuclear power, but I suspect the devil is in the details...

Assistant Village Idiot said...

erik, that is a very fair point. As ben notes, the political difficulty is not an add-on, but integral to the picture.