May 26, 2010
It’s time to take the “alternative” out of our energy development.
By Peter M. De Lorenzo
(Posted 5/25, 11:00AM) Detroit. The pictures from the Gulf of Mexico are relentlessly depressing and beyond sad - for lack of a better word - and they’ll continue to get even grimmer as each day passes. And as this disaster in the Gulf unfolds, it will not only send our southern coastal states directly affected by it into a lingering, decade long, depression-like tailspin, I would argue that it’s going to fundamentally alter this country’s perception of our dependence on oil, forever.
This column isn’t about laying blame at the doorstep of those responsible for what has happened in the Gulf, because there’s plenty of that going around as it is. No, it’s about hammering home what should be the final realization for this country, its citizenry and its leaders, and that realization is that our dependence on oil – foreign and otherwise – needs to be dramatically reduced, if not outright eradicated, and much sooner rather than later.
Which means, of course, that this nation needs to get serious about alternative fuels and alternative sources of energy, and in a hurry. It does absolutely no good to be outraged about what’s happening in the Gulf if we – as a country – are unwilling to do something about it.
And what does “doing something about it” entail, exactly? There are companies and individuals striving to make a difference all over this country feverishly hard at work at turning waste - of all types - into fuel. From farmers turning cow manure into a dependable, accessible source of fuel to support power grids, all the way to the legions of talented and inventive people – the best and brightest this country has to offer – working on real-world, workable solutions that will turn waste of all kinds into cellulosic ethanol that can be created, transported and delivered to our existing fueling stations at a competitive price.
There is alternative fuel research and technology of all kinds out there that is being exploited and explored as you read this, and we just may be on the verge of a breakthrough, if we’re willing to devote this country’s considerable resources to it.
None of these solutions, of course, will come cheap or easy, and I have no doubt that the transition will be painful in a lot of ways and for a lot of people. But this country needs to wake up, and I believe that this looming disaster in the Gulf of Mexico just may be the final kick in our collective asses to get us off of our seats so that we can demand a fundamental shift in the way we power our nation’s fleet.
Everywhere I go these days I’m hearing things like “I’m disgusted,” or “It’s just outrageous,” and the sense of helplessness and hopelessness is growing about what’s going on in the Gulf. But you can be sure it doesn’t come close to the outrage and despair hovering over the people of Louisiana and the other affected coastal areas.
If you’ve never been there then you have no idea what this horrific disaster means. It’s one thing to read the paper or the Internet, or watch the television newscasts, but it’s quite a different story if you live down there, or in an instant find out your livelihood is at stake. And remember, we’re not just talking about a momentary hardship of a lost summer fishing season, either. We’re talking about a fundamental, life-altering event that will destroy a way of life down there for a better part of a decade or longer.
None of us in this country should be saying “It’s sad, but it doesn’t affect me,” either. This unmitigated disaster will affect all of us, and in ways we can’t even imagine yet either. And needless to say, none of them will be good by any stretch of the imagination.
As far as I’m concerned, the Gulf of Mexico disaster should be the final straw. No, check that. It should be the final sledgehammer in our collective foreheads, the one that we’ve needed for a long, long time.
There are better solutions out there and I believe this nation is talented enough and creative enough to find them and make them work. Because depending on hostile regimes and woefully precarious drilling operations for our future energy needs – as we’ve come to find out - is a recipe for disaster.
Thanks to this devastating crisis in the Gulf, I believe we’ve finally reached a turning point.
We have finally come to the realization that alternative energy can’t be “alternative” anymore.
That’s the High-Octane Truth for this week.
See another live episode of "Autoline After Hours" hosted by Autoline Detroit's John McElroy, with Peter De Lorenzo and friends this Thursday evening, at 7:00PM EDT at www.autolinedetroit.tv.
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