The world is addicted to fossil fuels and America leads the way. With 5% of the world's population we consume over 25% of global energy, most all of it in nonrenewable resources. The U.S. now uses up as much energy as the entire world did in 1950.
This need not be so.
The routine burning of oil and coal has killed hundreds of millions of people worldwide during this past century from toxic pollution in the atmosphere. Two hundred million more individuals have died by homicide, including wars. That means that every few seconds someone needlessly perishes from breathing foul air or becomes a victim of a weapons assault.
This need not be so.
None of this includes the effects of global climate change induced by the routine burning of fossil fuels. It is the overwhelming consensus of more than 2500 atmospheric scientists, on the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that we are well into global warming and climate change. There is more carbon dioxide, 30% increase over 1900 levels, in the Earth's atmosphere than there has been for 160,000 years.
As a result, polar ice melts, sea levels rise, airborne diseases head north, and storms intensify. Even more loss of life (than tallied above and accelerating), limb and property has brought on a tenfold increase in disaster relief spending over the past thirty years globally.
All this need not be so. Clean and renewable energy is now feasible, and new options researchable. We can supplant the fossil fuel industry by public acclaim.
The energy industry and related infrastructure (financial, media, government to name a few) are more powerful, wealthy and unassailable than any enterprise in the history of the world. Petroleum alone consumes $2 trillion per year. The collusion of these industrial giants with government, warned about by so many former U.S. presidents, is now so massive that an Empire is now forming in our own nation, one so powerful that we citizens cannot prevent our tainted leaders from going to war over oil.
Why is it we cannot by our simple vote and consensus, shift public subsides and research funds from the fossil fuel and nuclear industries to clean and renewable energy options, an amount totaling over $50 billion each year? Why do we tolerate the increased public spending on oil, gas, coal and nuclear subsides and weapons? The Enron corporation's egregious violation of the public trust, and its friendship with the Bush administration, is but the tip of the iceberg of what fossil fuel greed can do. Another is the war in Iraq and projected cleanup contracts shared by the likes of Halliburton and Bechtel.
All this need not be so.
Nuclear power, comprising only 7% of America's energy mix, may not pollute the atmosphere when everything is running well, but its dangers have become legendary: power plant failures such as Chernobyl, the spread of nuclear weapons worldwide, and the lack of an uncontaminated burial of long-lived radioactive waste that would be with us for 25,000 or more years.
This need not be so.
Regarding our oil and natural gas supplies, we are on such a binge now; most all of it will be gone by the year 2050. Our masters have rigged the market so we pay whatever the supply and demand can endure, and the supply is inevitably going down, with production peaking within this decade. So fast is this depletion that we scrap for the remaining reserves, mostly in the Middle East, at our risk and peril. We threaten the pristine Arctic Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to provide 1% of our projected oil needs. We threaten coups in Venezuela and bribe the Middle East oil fiefdoms.
All this need not to be so.
Even if a new oil bonanza were to occur, say a huge discovery of twice or even ten times the known reserves, we extend our oil supply just a few years, maybe even a decade or two. So what? Here we have a resource, formed painstakingly over the eons, in the crust of the Earth, wrung out in one greedy glut lasting a mere century, a span we are curiously in the middle of, a span so short compared to the time this lifeblood of the Earth was formed. In our thirst for energy and military superiority, we are stealing the Earth from our children, as explained by the late David Brower.
This need not be so.
It need not be so, because clean and renewable energy waits patiently in the wings for its opportunity. Scholars have already determined that a solar-hydrogen economy, for example, would be cheaper than a petroleum economy-plus-pollution economy, amortized after a few years. Whether the source be the sun, the wind, hydrogen fuel, cold fusion or space or zero point energy, it's there waiting for us to begin what has to be the greatest public project ever. This project will, and must, supplant any previous notion we might have on what to do with the energy picture. And it must be in the public trust; otherwise, the exploitation and wars and pollution will continue. Would you trust your own future to the CEOs of an Enron, Exxon or Halliburton-turned-U.S. vice president?
We therefore form a movement which would publicly support those energy alternatives which could create a clean and renewable energy system, without prejudice.
In 1975, I was Congressman Morris Udall's energy advisor when he ran for president. I also orchestrated hearings and reports for his Subcommittee for Energy and the Environment of the U.S. House Interior Committee. We envisioned a clean and renewable energy economy by the year 2000.
Something funny happened on the way to the vision. From the time Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980, the whole environmental movement was derailed and relegated to courtrooms and boardroomsÑnot policy-making, which has been very bad indeed for the environment and for our survival. This regrettable situation has remained until today.
The basic result of all this is a disenfranchisement of the American public, the erosion of the Constitution, and the suppression of alternatives.
We therefore must form the New Energy Movement, the political arm of a worldwide effort to ensure the development of clean and renewable energy for the world as soon as possible. We are confident that such resources could be developed with moderate public funding, and this could soon supplant our fossil fuel/nuclear industries.
So what are the clean and renewable options? While I worked with Udall, it was obvious to me we could have a solar/wind/hydrogen economy to supplant our fossil fuel/nuclear economy within years, and that the new system would be more cost-effective, especially when the costs of pollution were included, costs which have always been externalized and therefore not considered part of the economy.
Meanwhile, an enormous number of alternative "new" clean and renewable energy concepts have been researched--cold fusion, advanced hydrogen technologies and zero-point, or space, energy. Any one of these approaches could change the world. All have been suppressed by governmental and industrial secrecy. Any one could supplant the largest industry of all time, the oil industry, and therefore has met with the greatest possible resistance. It is acknowledged that some could present great dangers, such as weapons use, which must be discussed as a public (not private) concern.
People often ask, if free energy is feasible, why don't we have it? Why can't I go out and buy one? The answer is, we are in the research phase of a research and development cycle. Asking for free energy now would be like asking the Wright Brothers to deliver millions of passengers and mail each day. It is for that reason that venture capitalists, seeking to become the Bill Gates of free energy, have stopped short of funding the research and development needed. They are waiting to "dip into the river of optimized profits." Such efforts, so far unsuccessful, demand that the public sector fund any progress. And the government has done nothing about it, something we must redress.
The New Energy Movement would encourage public debate and discussion as to which new energy alternatives would present a safe direction for humanity. What we have now is unsafe and encourages the accumulation of wealth while discouraging innovation. The New Energy Movement therefore needs to be open to all viable clean and renewable options free of vested interests because it's the goal that counts, as in the Apollo program. We wish to work with all viable inventors and concepts. It also needs to be aware of what it will take to make the necessary conversions from a polluting energy economy to an emission less energy economy. We believe that with a concerted effort, conversion can be complete by 2020 on a global level, given a turnabout in U.S. energy policy. We are committed to develop the infrastructure and blueprint, which consists of the following:
(1) Support research, development and public demonstrations of selected new energy devices and infrastructures;
(2.) Support, select and demonstrate commercial prototypes;
(3) Develop a plan which would consider the proper mix of innovative energy technologies with the more conventional renewable technologies such as solar and hydrogen;
(4) Develop a plan to retrofit and otherwise convert polluting technologies into clean and renewable ones in all relevant sectors: transportation, power generation, heating and cooling of buildings, etc.; and
(5) Oversee the conversion process.
We therefore set as a goal an emission less global energy economy by 2020. To those ends, we commit to ensuring the public funding of the needed shift in subsidies, to support the research, development and demonstration of viable alternatives, and to stimulate debate on options and implementation.
We challenge all the suppression and empire epitomized by the current administration. We believe that with a simple shift of public subsidies from fossil fuels and nuclear energy to sustainable energy, we could be well on our way to a clean and renewable energy economy. It could also provide the prototype of what needs to be done to preserve, restore and sustain the Earth's biosphere.
Each day, billions of dollars are being spent on the public support of war and the consumption of polluting energy. That can be reallocated to a clean and renewable energy economy and health and environmental protection. The New Energy Movement will garner the needed public support to make sure this will happen.
Brian O'Leary, Ph.D.