Part of the Problem | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Part of the Problem

Re: Bob Bates letter "Do The Math"Well Bob, let's apply your logic to another area - food. McDonald's can supply food at lower cost than

Re: Bob Bates letter "Do The Math"

Well Bob, let's apply your logic to another area - food. McDonald's can supply food at lower cost than eating healthier alternatives. Unfortunately, it's high in sodium and fat, and also lacks in some key nutritional value. But hey, by your logic it's the cheapest, so that's what everyone should eat. We'll conveniently ignore the byproducts of that decision - obesity, heart disease, diabetes and all the other costs that stem from a poor diet. We just won't count that, put our collective heads in the sand. But that doesn't mean there is no cost associated with that decision.

It's the same with energy, we use coal and oil because today they're economically cheap and easy. We conveniently ignore that we are taking a large amount of carbon from where it's been stored for millennia-underground- and release it into our atmosphere. Can we continue that indefinitely without serious consequences? Our best scientific research says no. So we must consider alternative ways to meet our energy needs. All kinds of things have a place in that mix-solar, biofuels, hydropower, wind-the list goes on.

You also conveniently ignore that photosynthesis is a solar process. Plants and algae do a great job of extracting carbon from the atmosphere. From there we harvest oil and produce alcohol. Then we can use that to power almost anything - even bulldozers (in fact there was a recent test where a commercial airliner successfully completed a flight using biofuel). No carbon need be extracted from the ground because it's being sourced from the air-a closed-loop system.

As for all the doom and gloom demand numbers you cite, they only conclusively prove one thing-that America squanders a lot of energy. We build inefficient homes, offices and factories. We drive inefficient vehicles and lack well coordinated public transportation systems. We overlook plenty of energy sources simply because we have cheap coal and petroleum. But there is always more to that cost. You can try to keep that accounting "off the books" all you want but they still exist and will be paid. There is no free lunch.

At the beginning of the petroleum age, we transported coal by horse-drawn wagon and there was no such thing as an oil pipeline. Natural gas was a bothersome complication we simply burned off so we could get to the easy-to-handle crude oil. No doubt at the time we could have painted a dreary picture of all the investment that was necessary to make that system work, but we made the investment. And so just as we started from zero then, we have to start from somewhere with the next step. Nay saying is not contributing to the solution-it's part of the problem.

Rick C Johnson, Bend

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