|Barack Obama, and Energy.
||[Aug. 30th, 2008|06:00 am]
As gasoline approaches 4 US dollars a gallon in the United States, I find myself most concerned about energy.
I am, of course, concerned about every issue. Energy, however, concerns me the most. In my lifetime, I have watched my country earn several rivals to the large amount of resources it uses. I've watched prices escalate beyond my wildest dreams, due to the increased demand for such resources, the resulting increase in price, and the subsequent effect of price increase on everything that such energy price hikes cause. I see, upon the horizon, a possible crisis with regard to my nation's position in the world.
Barack Obama seems to have spent plenty of time with the same concern. His position revolves around using several options in order to carry our nation out of what he believes is an imminent collapse of our way of life. The conglomeration of short and long-term investments are part of his 10 year plan, and Barack promises 5 million green collar jobs as part of this plan. Of the following paragraphs, I'll explore small patches of what is a wide territory of topic.
Al Gore, of course, backs Obama. Gore also warns that McCain will kill the environment.
Aug. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Al Gore, the former Democratic vice president turned environmental activist, said Republican presidential candidate John McCain is beholden to energy companies and would hinder efforts to ease global warming.
"Big oil and coal have a 50-year lease on the Republican Party and they are drilling it for everything it's worth," Gore told a Democratic National Convention audience at the Invesco Field football stadium in Denver.
The issue of energy, with regard to Republicans and carbon fuels, may be valid, but the energy the world uses for the future is more important to me. It's a given that energy supply, with regard to carbon fuels, has become a costly dependence for today's United States. It is also a given that no candidate will deliver us from this awkward position with carbon fuel in the near future. The candidates, therefore, will debate 'alternatives' to today's commodities, since gas prices have tripled cost of living in this country during the last ten years. Barack Obama supports several alternatives, including nuclear power.
Enter nuclear, the old 1970s flame, which just stepped back in town, fresh off the throwback train. Everything old is new again? Well, in nuclear's case, yes. Obama is for nuclear power. From Ken Silverstein, Harper's Magazine:
In the magazine article, I asserted that Obama is not a mouthpiece for his donors; neither does his voting record mirror the wishes of his contributor list. But, as I suggested, it's naïve to think that he's completely unaware of who's footing the bills. Exelon, a leading nuclear-plant operator based in Illinois, is a big donor to Obama, and its executive and employees have given him more than $70,000 since 2004. The Obama staffer pointed out that the senator pushed for legislation that would require nuclear companies to “inform state and local officials if there is an accidental or unintentional leak of a radioactive substance,” according to an office press release. Obama took a stand on that issue following reports that a plant operated by Exelon had leaked tritium several times over the past decade.
But Exelon is probably not entirely unhappy with Obama. At a 2005 hearing at the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, of which Obama is a member, the senator - echoing the nuclear industry's current campaign to promotes nuclear energy as "green" - said that since Congress was debating "policies to address air quality and the deleterious effects of carbon emissions on the global ecosystem, it is reasonable - and realistic - for nuclear power to remain on the table for consideration." He was immediately lauded by the industry publication Nuclear Notes , which said, "Back during his campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2004, [Obama] said that he rejected both liberal and conservative labels in favor of ‘common sense solutions.’ And when it comes to nuclear energy, it seems like the Senator is keeping an open mind."
Gore may believe that McCain will destroy the environment, but Obama's nuclear friendship isn't exactly green-friendly. There is no way to provide better environmental security and safety with regard to current nuclear power production. On greenhouse gases, one of the few problems currently associated with today's environmental problems:
Nuclear power is not greenhouse friendly. While electricity generated from nuclear power entails no direct emissions of CO2, the nuclear fuel cycle does release CO2 during mining, fuel enrichment and plant construction. Uranium mining is one of the most CO2 intensive industrial operations and as demand for uranium grows CO2 emissions are expected to rise as core grades decline.
According to calculations by the Öko-Institute, 34 grams of CO2 are emitted per generated kWh in Germany . The results from other international research studies show much higher figures - up to 60 grams of CO2 per kWh. In total, a nuclear power station of standard size (1,250MW operating at 6,500 hours/annum) indirectly emits between 376,000 million tonnes (Germany) and 1,300,000 million tonnes (other countries) of CO2 per year. In comparison to renewable energy, nuclear power releases 4-5 times more CO2 per unit of energy produced taking account of the whole fuel cycle.
Also, with its long development time a nuclear power programme offers no short-term possibility for reducing CO2 emissions.
What other alternatives could there be? What about alternative biofuels? From the Washington Post, Barack had been a major supporter of Ethanol, but rising food prices may change his position.
"Look, I've been a strong ethanol supporter because Illinois ... is a major corn producer," he said. He went on to say that he was concerned about reports that ethanol was helping drive up food prices, and that he saw ethanol as merely a transitional option that would eventually give way to biofuels that were more efficient and has less of an impact on food prices, such as ones made out of switchgrass.
One person of which to take great note is T. Boone Pickens, the entrepreneur who helped destroy Kerry in '04.
Pickens funded efforts in 2004 by a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which sought to discredit Kerry's military service in Vietnam. The Massachusetts senator's initially tepid response to the attacks was partially blamed for his loss to President George W. Bush.
Why do we care about T. Boone Pickens today? He placed ads during telecasts for the Democratic convention promoting his wind technology and plans for natural gas to fuel automobiles. He's also looking to make great profit of this, and he's been willing to do whatever it takes to get his way. Obama appears, also, to be supportive of the industry captain.
Obama brushed off Pickens' past at the start of a meeting the Texas energy tycoon requested on Sunday.
"You know, he's got a lot longer track record than that," the Illinois senator told reporters when asked how it felt to meet with someone who tore down his Democratic predecessor in 2004.
"He's a legendary entrepreneur and, you know, one of the things that I think we have to unify the country around is having an intelligent energy policy," Obama said.
Too bad that Obama isn't completely reciprocated in support by T. Boone Pickens. While Pickens has met with both candidates (what millions of dollars invested in campaign of your own personal interests buys you), and he's liked them both, and he'll be at both conventions, Pickens doesn't seem to be sold on Obama's business commitment. From a conversation with Neil Cavuto, an anchorman on the Fox Business Network, and Pickens:
T. BOONE PICKENS: Yes. And he said, Boone, are you going to be active in this campaign? I said, I am not. I can't sell the Pickens plan and be active. So, I said, count me out. I am on the sideline.
NEIL CAVUTO: All right. But obviously you are going to vote.
PICKENS: Well, we will see.
CAVUTO: Wow. So it is conceivable that Boone Pickens could vote for Barack Obama?
CAVUTO: OK. Well...
Well, I guess that's the sideline for Pickens. Heh.
I suppose every possible part of Obama's energy plan is carried in this next video. Obama uses Pickens @ the 7:25 mark of the video in a point against McCain about offshore drilling, stating that offshore plans would take several years, only provide emotional support, and provide only 3 percent of the world's oil reserves (the United States consumes 25 percent).
Obama criticizes McCain's offshore drilling for, in part, a plan that won't take effect until several years in the future. Yet, Obama's energy plan takes ten years. Of which, I chuckle, but the reality of either candidate's national plan is the amazing delay of time it takes to affect the public. Neither candidate can really help the energy crisis within the next four years. Essentially, you are looking for a candidate with a strategy that can work in the future.
While we are deciding who will be the executive leader of the United States, remember that people such as from those working for Exelon and T. Boone Pickens will be placing contributions in exchange for security on future profits. Like Bush, Cheney, and the cuts to oil companies as part of their energy policy, today's Big Ugly Oil Barons can be replaced with others. I feel that reality is the most close to our future. Out of the frying pan . . . into . . . the . . .
China implies their interest in becoming a comparable world power, and they aren't too concerned about keeping promises to other nations when it comes to trivialities such as hosting the Olympics. Russia stomps the feet as of late, clearly in an attempt to remind everyone that they are on the verge of returning to a Cold War era as the US's comparable rival. The European Union has not formed in territory, but it has formed in economy, and the Euro trumps the US Dollar in comparative worth. There are plenty of challengers, and they always appear.
The United States uses a gigantic amount of energy, and we require plenty of imported energy to keep our country functional. As population explodes, more energy is consumed worldwide. The world has a finite amount of matter that cannot be created or destroyed, but on this planet, there is only so much oil, water, air . . . our future could be as fortunate or disastrous as anyone suggests. Both candidates are concerned with US ingenuity, with regard to this matter. I suppose that's also part of the uncertain future reality. We'll need it . . . if we are to have any shot at a happy 'to be continued.'
The US, hopefully, could benefit a bonanza, one where the discovery of a cheaper alternative energy helps the States to produce, consume, and depend. It could also be as drastic as a world war in which several countries decide on who gets what is left of what little we have to use. I would like to have the happy continuation, and I'll settle for the neutral, but I will continue to listen to both candidates on the subject of how our continuation of life avoids an end.