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

From: Barbara Lamar (
Date: Sat Sep 29 2001 - 11:35:49 MDT

Greg Burch wrote:

> You want to
> propose some
> means of decreasing the West's dependence on fossil fuels.
> Question: What would you propose?

The most straightforward way to shift US away from oil use would probably be
to impose a major tax on oil products used as fuel. Tax to be phased in over
several years to give the economy time to adjust. Proceeds used to fund
research into other types of energy. (oil use by sector is, from highest to
lowest--industrial, transportation, commercial, residential).

I would discourage wholesale building of nuclear power plants.

Problem any solution that only applies to US is that this is a global
matter. It's a prisoner's dilemma sort of problem. The (temporary--until new
sources of energy could be perfected) increase in production costs that
would result from the tax would put US products at an international
disadvantage. The US dollar would decline in value. Net effect would be to
make the US even more vulnerable than it is now, since our economy depends
on foreign trade as much as on oil; and the nations we trade with depend on
oil. Since industry and transportation are the major consumers of oil, I
doubt if it would do much good to only tax home energy consumption and fuel
for personal automobiles.

Any effective solution is going to have to be global. The only thing I can
think of that could cause this to happen would be a threat that's bigger
than any of us--eg. approaching asteroid on collision course with Earth;
major global epidemic (although that might have the opposite effect of
causing nations to close down borders and become more isolated); invasion of
Earth by aliens.

My opinion is that we're going to have to ride this one out. Do what we can
as individuals, factoring the international oil situation into our decision
making process.


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