Musings from George

What’s the future hold?
April 9, 2007, 5:02 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

A friend asked if I was optimistic about the state of the world. Just finished watching ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, and I regularly watch Brian Williams on the evening noise. So my take…

I have to say that I think as a country we are at a real nadir. Bush has squandered the respect (and the fear) that the rest of the world had for us, and is slowly bleeding us in a conflict we can’t win. It took 15 years to recover from Vietnam, and we can’t really afford to wait 15 years to have our confidence back. I’m also not convinced that any of the Democratic candidates can really change the course of the nation — we need a landslide in the Senate to change anything, and the country is just too comfortable to make the important sacrifices we need to make (for energy, for health care). So while I am very happy and comfortable, I can’t go so far as optimistic. Where are the bright spots?

1. We adapt faster than anyone’s computer models predict. If the US government decides to make a difference in energy production and consumption, we can change the world in less than ten years (for those as old as I am, remember dioxin? Nearly eliminated the bald eagle, and it’s taken twenty years to recover … but we banned it, and they did recover. Remember CFCs and the hole in the ozone? Ban -> results). So my free proposal for anyone running for president: Buy Chrysler, and make a truly eco-revolutionary car at cost for the world: Solar panels cover it’s square top (can power 100 miles each day in the average US climate), a very tiny gas engine enables the car to get to 65 MPH in ten seconds, and the frame is a huge capacitor battery that can drive two people 300 miles on a single charge. Note: no revolutions, all these technologies exist today. Note: no danger — far less gas needed, no exposive acids or fuels included. Distribution of both electricity and gas are well understood / in place. Sell the car at cost, and give huge tradein value for older / larger cars — change the makeup of the cars on the road today, and give the poor people who are driving crappy cars a chance to move into the Prius world affordably.

2. Subsidize any form of energy conservation that makes sense — free trade-up for refrigerators more than twenty years old, 50% subsidies for replacing single-pane with double-pane glass, free tradeup from electric coil heaters to ceramic heaters.

3. Stop optimizing & subsidizing the production of oil & coal, and plug real money into solar, wind, and tidal power. Tack another $1 tax on the price of a gallon of gasoline, and spend 100% of that money building replacements for oil. People predicted chaos and recession when gas hit $2.50 — well guess what, we all adapted somehow.

4. Kids and immigrants are not saddled with our preconceptions about what is free, and what the world owes us. I’m very hopeful that we can become more conscious of the impact we are having on the world, and more fearful of the consequences of that impact. We’ve already made housing so expensive that more kids are moving back in with their parents after college; in many cultures, that is the most efficient way for communities to grow and for consumption to remain largely flat.

Gotta go, my corporate-free retreat only lasts a week and I’ve been sitting here too long already…



2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

With such a breadth of knowledge, I’m curious as to who you picked in the final four this year.

Comment by Gary Schoenlein

Got all four right. Florida surprised me though in the final, so it wasn’t a perfect storm.

Comment by jaquette

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