] This is a letter that I wrote to Howard Dean or his advisors. The problem is that I can't find an address to send it to. If anyone in contact with the Dean groiup could help me I would appreciate it. ( mail or Email) I really believe that I understand energy issues better than congress or other governmental agencies.
Dear Doctor Dean,
You are my hope of doing something about a sustainable future for my grandchildren. I think also that it might be possible to help your campaign. My credentials are that I have a BS degree in Engineering Physics from the University of Illinois. I also am a Professional Engineer. During my employment period I worked in government electronics and aerospace. I have designed equipment that went to the Moon.
Fairly early on I realized that lack of energy could destroy the human race and did tremendous amounts of thinking about energy issues during my later engineering career. I am an inventor, a moralist, and a systems engineer in energy. By that I mean that I look both at parts of the energy system and the whole.
My urgent desire is to do something to help my six grandchildren to survive and have a happy life. Since I am 79 years old I must hurry. I would like to be on your staff as an unpaid energy consultant and help to shape national energy policy.
The situation on gas and oil is much more serious than people realize or are willing to admit. US gas supplies are failing and it will be impossible to replace US gas by pipelines and importation by ships. It is true that those measures will help, however if you look carefully at the numbers it will be apparent that it will be impractical to build enough ships or a big enough pipeline to supply the capacity we are using now. Furthermore there isn't that much gas in Alaska.
US oil is also failing. The predictions that I see indicate that most of the supply will be used up within 20 years. This is bad because that is our oil that we could use in an emergency. Foreign oil will also fail fairly rapidly. There are several factors in this. One is that government agencies are guilty of inflating the numbers as to how much oil is available. Another factor is that as we have to go deeper and deeper to get minerals, including oil, coal, and many other things the money and energy cost of retrieval will just keep going up. Still another factor is that competition from populous countries like China and India will cause oil to become much more difficult to get. Another factor is that as oil gets scarce, the producing country will hold oil for its own needs and use it to manufacture products internally rather than exporting the oil.
Our present society is so wasteful and so spread out that any shortage of energy will be catastrophic. The first thing that will come will be mass unemployment because of the massive lack of energy in commerce. High natural gas prices have already hurt the fertilizer industry. This will be followed by inability to heat houses and difficulty in traveling for all sorts of things. If there is no massive movement toward conservation and production of alternate energy then starvation will come.
In evaluating energy issues Congress is unable to comprehend the huge quantities that are involved. Presently the US is using about 100 Quads (quadrillion btus) of energy (World Almanac). Thus, one quad is about 1% of present consumption. Of this amount about 40 quads is coming from oil and we are importing about 24 quads. Natural gas and coal are next with about 22% each. Then comes nuclear with 20% of electricity that is about 7 quads or 7% of total. The remainder is wood and hydro power. I think that alternate energy is still less than 1%.
Biomass, solar, and wind energy will be very expensive but we have little choice but to develop them. There are not sufficient supplies of Uranium to guarantee fission energy for any length of time. No satisfactory breeder reactor has been developed and fusion is just a WPA for physicists. Coal is our longest lasting fossil fuel but if we use more of it then depletion will accelerate.
Running out of energy and Global Warming dictate that we must conserve on energy. In fact up to a point conservation will be much cheaper than producing energy.
The present horrible state of government confusion on energy can be shown by several examples. Hydrogen as fuel is nothing more than a monstrous scam perpetrated on the public by the Bush administration. There is no way we can produce it except from coal, nuclear, gas, oil, or from alternate energy. However there is a pressing need for outputs from all of these sources for other more vital things such as manufacturing. It doesn't make sense to convert life essential fuels to frivolous purposes. For similar reasons it doesn't make sense to convert natural gas to automotive use. Spencer Abraham recently made an untrue statement that nuclear energy is 20% of our total production. Nuclear energy accounts for about 20% of electricity production but only 7% of total energy. Another gaffe is from Senator Lieberman who said that we could eliminate foreign oil by spending $18 billion ??? on alternate energy. However by a very simple computation it is possible to show that we have to spend about $500 billion to produce about 10 quads of wind energy. Since wind is probably our best producer, we then know that the solution is much more costly than anyone realizes.
The technical ideas that I have gathered over several years enable me to suggest programs that will reduce auto fuel consumption, reduce building heating costs, and save electrical energy. In the long term the only way that humans can survive is in apartments with streetcars and trains for transportation.
Your problem now is to get elected. One major tactic is to emphasize over and over the linkage between alternate energy and jobs. Financing of energy installations must come from a mix of government and a larger private investment but the government must lead the way. Another election strategy is to show the instances of government stupidity on energy issues.
I could write a lot more but will wait to see if this is noticed. I could help to develop a broad energy program.
Kermit Schlansker PE