(no subject)

From: Smigrodzki, Rafal (SmigrodzkiR@MSX.UPMC.EDU)
Date: Mon Oct 01 2001 - 11:03:05 MDT

> Greg Burch wrote:
> > Assume that you are George W. Bush's senior science policy adivosor.
> > means that you are NOT an anarcho-capitalist or even a libertarian --
try it
> > as an exercise for fun.) Now assume that you have become convinced
> > wouldn't be hard to do) that one of the most rigid constraints on US
> > policy is the industrialized world's dependence on Middle Eastern oil.
> > recent briefings you have become despondent over the intractable nature
> > the conflict between the Enlightenment cultural values you hold as a
> > scientist and the Islamic revivalist movement that is the most dynamic
> > political and social force throughout that region. You want to propose
> > means of decreasing the West's dependence on fossil fuels.
> >
> > Question: What would you propose?

### Do nothing that isn't being done anyway.

Keep up the R&D on all kinds of energy sources, as determined by
peer-reviewed funding agencies.

Continue domestic oil exploration.

Tax only to get cash but not to shape consumer preferences (unfortunately,
this kind of taxation is being used frequently). Under no circumstances
allow import duties to distort economic reality.

Once the oil wells dry out on their own, or else political instability in
the Middle East becomes too difficult to manage, forcing oil prices up, the
R&D results will allow the market to provide all the energy needed, at the
then possible price. For politicians to try to outguess a peer-reviewed
basic science process and force a pet solution (fuel cells, nuclear) before
its time is like doing a craniotomy without a CT scan for a neurosurgeon -
almost always a bad idea.

My private guess is that alternative ways of making gas (from natural gas,
coal, maybe even from hydrogen from renewable sources) will be the answer,
rather than trying to tame hydrogen itself in cars (barring unpredictable
and almost miraculous drop in fuel cell prices). Germans and South Africans
were quite successful at synfuel production and it won't take a huge
increase in oil prices to make this technology attractive again. And, last
but not least, wind technology could become very important.

Rafal Smigrodzki, MD-PhD

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