...this blog kills fascists...

Sunday, July 06, 2008

RFK Jr., Making Serious Sense

From a great piece in Vanity Fair (by way of DKos diarist Valatius), Robert F. Kennedy Jr lays out a really good roadmap for the next president, outlining some actionable steps we can take to become energy-independent, and in the process,
cut annual trade and budget deficits by hundreds of billions, improve public health and farm production, diminish global warming, and create millions of good jobs. And for the first time in half a century we will live free from Middle Eastern wars and entanglements with petty tyrants who despise democracy and are hated by their own people.
Kennedy looks at the success stories which have already provided proofs of concept, while also laying out some of the steps (which would all be good for our economy and the future of our infrastructure) we'll need to take to actualize that sort of success here in the US of A.
We know that nations that “decarbonize” their economies reap immediate rewards. Sweden announced in 2006 the phaseout of all fossil fuels (and nuclear energy) by 2020. In 1991 the Swedes enacted a carbon tax—now up to $150 a ton—and as a result thousands of entrepreneurs rushed to develop new ways of generating energy from wind, the sun, and the tides, and from woodchips, agricultural waste, and garbage. Growth rates climbed to upwards of three times those of the U.S.

Iceland was 80 percent dependent on imported coal and oil in the 1970s and was among the poorest economies in Europe. Today, Iceland is 100 percent energy-independent, with 90 percent of the nation’s homes heated by geothermal and its remaining electrical needs met by hydro. The International Monetary Fund now ranks Iceland the fourth most affluent nation on earth. The country, which previously had to beg for corporate investment, now has companies lined up to relocate there to take advantage of its low-cost clean energy.

It should come as no surprise that California, America’s most energy-efficient state, also possesses its strongest economy.

The United States has far greater domestic energy resources than Iceland or Sweden does. We sit atop the second-largest geothermal resources in the world. The American Midwest is the Saudi Arabia of wind; indeed, North Dakota, Kansas, and Texas alone produce enough harnessable wind to meet all of the nation’s electricity demand. As for solar, according to a study in Scientific American, photovoltaic and solar-thermal installations across just 19 percent of the most barren desert land in the Southwest could supply nearly all of our nation’s electricity needs without any rooftop installation, even assuming every American owned a plug-in hybrid...

...There’s a second thing the next president should do, and it would be a strategic masterstroke: push to revamp the nation’s antiquated high-voltage power-transmission system so that it can deliver solar, wind, geothermal, and other renewable energy across the country. Right now, a Texas wind-farm manager who wants to get his electrons to market faces two huge impediments. First, our regional power grids are overstressed and misaligned. The biggest renewable-energy opportunities—for instance, Southwest solar and Midwest wind—are outside the grids’ reach. Furthermore, traveling via alternating-current (A.C.) lines, too much of that wind farmer’s energy would dissipate before it crossed the country. The nation urgently needs more investment in its backbone transmission grid, including new direct-current (D.C.) power lines for efficient long-haul transmission. Even more important, we need to build in “smart” features, including storage points and computerized management overlays, allowing the new grid to intelligently deploy the energy along the way. Construction of this new grid will create a marketplace where utilities, established businesses, and entrepreneurs can sell energy and efficiency.

The whole thing is really worth a read.

Kennedy also notes that all of these things can be accomplished for about a third of the cost of the Iraq war, which is but one of many, many oil-related conflicts the Bush folks (and those in their inner, outer, and secret circles..not to mention their heir apparent, John McCain and those he's surrounding himself with now) anticipate, and long to insitgate.

Kennedy makes a world of sense in this short piece, which of course puts these ideas at somewhat of a disadvantage in this utterly insane, reality-resistant country. But still.

0 comments: to “ RFK Jr., Making Serious Sense

Post a Comment

Blogspot Template by Isnaini Dot Com