E. Thomas Chesworth
We have got to stop using fossil fuels to make energy.
Not because it is bad for our environment, although it certainly is. Nor because it is expensive, although it certainly is. Nor because we spend much of the money for fossil fuel elsewhere and, worse, with our avowed enemies to finance their war against us. And we do that too. Not even because it's scarce and it is. In fact we are now getting it in the Arctic at the bottom of the oceans in the deserts and shipping it thousands of miles to where we use it. Gone are the days when you could sink a couple of shallow wells in Pennsylvania or Texas and get all the sweet crude you could use.
The real problem is that it is going to run out in the whole world just like it did in Pennsylvania, and we will be left with essentially none in a few decades. In fact, we have put off realistically addressing the problem for so long that we are already out of hot water and standing in a cold shower.
Oh, I know we can go back to coal. Right. Why do you think we quit using coal in the first place? Because it ran out, that's why. Gone are the days when you could dig a short shaft in the hillside behind your barn in Pennsylvania and get all the coal you needed. In fact, the steel mills moved out of Pittsburgh because you had to transport the coal long distances, hundreds or thousands of miles when the local coal petered out. And it has already been pretty well used up in the rest of the world.
Oh, I know we can use natural gas. Pennsylvania, for example, has more natural gas than a cow eating wild garlic. We can always go back to gaslights and Jack the Ripper. But the gas will also peter out, and it won't take long if we use it to run our automobiles, heat our homes and make our electricity.
What are our options? First, the reason we are in trouble now is because we did nothing to address the problem in the latter half of the 20th century. We can always wait a few more decades when the only way to survive is, as Scrooge said, to decrease the surplus population. Then those of us who are left can live a lovely bucolic 17th century life, complete with cozy fires of blazing logs that we have to gather in the woods, then split with a hand ax. And eat healthy organic food that we have to hoe all summer and harvest with a hand scythe. Forget it.
So what to do? At this point we have to hope that something will work out. In the meantime drill, baby, drill and tear up the hills to get what's left of oil and coal. Where the sun shines we need to use photo- electric power generation, but reasonable calculations (1000W per square meter at this distance from the sun, it's dark half the day, the earth reflects 1/3 of the incident sunlight and a few minor difficulties like that) show that to power Pennsylvania we will need to completely cover it and Ohio with solar collectors -- but who needs Ohio anyway.
Where the wind blows we can use windmills. If we don't cover everything with solar cells we can use bio-diesel and ethyl alcohol made from plants and such. Wherever there are waterfalls natural or man-made we can use hydroelectric power, like France does which makes 80% of its power at three kilometer island using nuclear reactors. Don't hold your breath waiting for thermonuclear energy -- it's been coming on line within a decade since 1960.