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

From: Eugene Leitl (
Date: Sat Sep 29 2001 - 04:29:11 MDT

On Fri, 28 Sep 2001, Greg Burch wrote:

> Question: What would you propose?
> Is a government initiative on the scale of the Manhattan or Apollo
> project something that could address the problem? If so, what would

R&D would seem a lot cheaper. Most of it is done, anyway. Photovoltaics
could get lots more boosting, though.

> its R&D targets be? You would want to develop R&D goals that would

For starters, I'd suggest starting slowly ratcheting up nonrenewable
nondomestic energy prices (making it all initially slow, very sustained
and predictable, so you could forecast markup on a decade scale),
allocating the skimmed taxes entirely to the solar
hydrogen/methanol/photovoltaics (mostly terrestrial but also solar sats)
program plus supplementing them with funds drained from other sources. I'd
pass new building codes requiring extra insulation (not forgetting minimal
air exchange rates, as recirculated air tends to get loaded with toxic
crap) and maximal/minimal temperatures if heating energy comes from
nonrenewable nondomestic sources.

> require the least disruption of current social and economic life, so
> the use of as much of existing modes of transportation as possible
> should be desirable. You want maningful results as soon as possible,

Taxing gas guzzlers would seem a smart idea. There's no point in a half of
ton of steel on wheels to just move one monkey from A to B. Make that
monkey pay for the privilege.

> with a reasonably high chance for success.
> You have the president's ear. What would you say?

I would dump above raw list and state that this is just an outline, as
real research and modelling needs to be done to make the transition as
painless as possible. And, of course, to reverse the amound of dirigism
after you're done. Last but not least.

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