Saturday, March 21, 2009

Kempe Quarterly 5

Bob Kempe, a longtime friend of more than 35 years, is our next-door neighbor at our summer residence on Cape Cod. It has been our good fortune to participate in some of his discussions about world politics, global warming, education, and much more. If I had to give a one-word description of Bob, it would be "Sage". At my request, Bob initiated a series of commentaries called the Kempe Quarterly, and I am privileged to share his most recent commentary below and invite your comments.

Kempe Quarterly 5

Energy- One more Time

Do not doubt it: we can free ourselves from petroleum as a highway fuel, and we can do it within 5 years.

I belong to a discussion group, Great Decisions developed by the Foreign Policy Association. I was triggered to this in discussions on Energy. I think and write as a U.S. Citizen.

KQ5 is built on three poignant questions from that session:

  • Should the U.S. Government involve itself in the U.S. energy market?
  • To what degree do you believe the U.S. should invest in energy alternatives verses diversify its energy resources?
  • What roles should individuals, Corporations and Governments play in reducing the national reliance on fossil fuels?

I answer (1) and (2): The U.S. will plan and execute a specific, pragmatic, and budgeted program which ends our use of petroleum as a highway fuel and do it in five years. We can definitely drive all our cars without one drop of petroleum based gasoline and do so in five years. Do not doubt it.

To (3) Individuals: Each of you, should and can write to your Senators and Representatives and ask that she/he start action to free us from the penalties of petroleum in five years with realistic and practical technology.

Why the Confidence?

The Fischer Tropsch process distills and fractionates coal into a liquid fuel usable in gasoline engines. The process now fuels cars in South Africa. The company that makes that fuel is Sasol, and they make money at it. It is an old process, more than a century, and tech articles tell of recent improvements, some based on Nano technology. Before the end of WW2 strategic bombing had eliminated Germany’s petroleum availability. F-T is how they fueled Luftwaffe.

Fischer Tropsch is no cure all.

First, it puts more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Second, it needs new, costly plants. Third, coal will not be there for all time, and this might hasten its unavailability. Fourth, at least to start it will cost more. Plus, we can count on our present suppliers to price cut to move us off this kick, and we will be lambasted with massively funded advertising, metaphors, and rhetoric to stick with oil for many, many reasons.

There may well be a better way. As a first stage we must analyze and evaluate others, then chose one and go with it. We must schedule it, repeat- must schedule. If one is found better than F-T and it will take six years, I say go with it and take the six. One more time – must schedule.

In the preamble our Constitution states its aims and so the purposes of our Government. Two of them:

Promote the general welfare.

Provide for the common defense.

The Middle East owns most of our world’s oil reserves. Those countries and others with lots of oil run by guys who sharply differ with our views of freedom and general welfare. So our freedom and welfare will precipitously drop when they have oil and we have run out. Plus, when we seriously gear up to replace oil we will build jobs for U.S. workers and engineers and make profitable growth opportunities to U.S. corporations.

Most of those on the 911 planes were Saudi’s. There is strong reason to think that most of their funds came from Saudi charities. Then add the positions and attitudes of Russia, Venezuela, and Nigeria we face a formidable group. I say we have strong enemies, and as we free up from oil, we:

Provide for the common defense.

So if you agree please write your Representative and Senators and tell them it is key to our general welfare and common defense. If you disagree, post your comments below and tell me your points. I will give you my attention. I don’t know it all. And, I do change my mind once in a while.


Robert A. Kempe


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