Re: Energy and "the Clash of Civilizations" -- a policy thought problem

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Thu Oct 04 2001 - 20:12:33 MDT

Greg posed the question of *what* Bush's senior science policy advisor
should recommend (even though he does not yet have such an appointee) to
reduce the U.S. dependence on foreign fossil fuels.

It took me a while to wrestle with this and I am *still* in the process of
preparing a paper on the topic. In the mean time thought I would release some
preliminary conclusions for people to chew on.

U.S. Oil consumption is ~19.4 million Gbd (billion barrels/day).
Of that, ~5.7Mmb/day are produced domestically and ~9 Mmb/day are imported
(yes I'm aware the numbers don't add up -- go look through the DOE reports
yourself to see if you can determine why).

The state of Texas alone has ~131 million acres of farmland under cultivation.
This translates roughly to 5.3* 10^11 m^2 under cultivation. Assuming a very
low figure of ~200 W/m^2 and a very poor photosynthetic conversion efficency
of 1%, this would suggest that Texas could easily supply 6.15 * 10^8 W
of energy needed to match U.S. oil imports. This is less than 2 one thousandths
of the energy available (3.55 * 10^13 W) in Texas alone.

So what should a science policy wonk recomend??? Ve should recommend
a full out effort to develop the technologies to allow the U.S. to completely
produce its energy requirements using domestic resources.

I'll be posting a pointer to a more in-depth discussion over the next few
weeks as it is refined. I thought I would offer up these thoughts now
to stir the pot to point out there is no *real* reason (other than a lack
of cleverness/commitment) that the U.S. should be dependent on offshore


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