Thursday :: Nov 6, 2003

Here Comes The Sun

by pessimist

There has been talk across the Web lately about how to end the oil addiction of the country and what it would take to accomplish this. Some have even suggested an Apollo-style program to accomplish this.

I'm very glad to see this, for I have felt this way for a while. I even wrote an article on this very topic for To The Barricades back in July.

So in order to keep up with the discussion, I submit my ideas, and a song lyric parody, to the readers of the Left Coaster.

July 31, 2003
Here Comes The Sun

The Engine of Prosperity was beginning to misfire as the 1960's began, belabored with the costs of the Cold War, the early stages of Vietnam, and the aging of the factories that constructed the defeat of the Axis powers. America was resting on its well-earned laurels for engineering this defeat and saving the world from Fascist-Corporatist serfdom.

But laurels dry out and crumble to dust, just as the prosperity of a nation will if there is no vision of improvement in the future and the will to make it happen.

John F. Kennedy was a man of vision, a leader with the rare ability to seem like one of us as he inspired us to greater efforts. A perfect example of his leadership was the manned space program. In just 8 years, the manned space program went from tossing a live human out of the atmosphere for 15 minutes and returning him hale and hearty to the surface of his home world to safely transporting 3 men 240,000 miles to our first landing on a non-terrestrial galactic body and returning them safe and sound.

Such a technological triumph over the forces of the universe required a massive amount of funds and effort, but the rewards of the program, through major improvements in existing technologies and the creation of new ones, far outweighed the investment. All life on the planet was affected for the better.

There is no doubt that petroleum created improvements over the previous ways of doing things, making it easier and less labor-intensive to move large amounts of profitable cargo without also hauling large amounts of costly fuel, but this particular technology has remained essentially unaltered for about 150 years.

The fact that the world's known petroleum reserves are dwindling through heavily promoted profligate and unnecessary usage is a recipe for disaster, and has led to war. Control of oil was a primary motivation of the Pacific War with Japan back in 1941, and that particular lesson has not been learned in the years since.

Entrenched interests with a stranglehold on the energy generation facilities prevent any effort to decrease or replace oil usage with other forms of energy. Their desire to retain, if not increase, their massive profits precludes any effort to reduce the production of major health-threatening pollutants. This desire to continue to limit the available energy sources to that which they dominate is a major reason why US troops continue to die in the Middle East, and also acts as an ally to the terrorist groups whose plans for attacking the Great Satan could not be anywhere near as effective without the massive amounts of monies paid to those who rule the hot sands with the largest known reserves.

In an effort to illustrate what could happen in this nation if we to find and elect a true leader with vision, I have taken the liberty of adapting a speech given by JFK at Rice University in 1962, announcing to the world that the US government was committed to placing a man on the moon. Through this speech, essentially unaltered except for the replacement of "space" with "renewable energy", I try to show that if this country were to commit to a program of development of renewable energy technology, the results could match or exceed that created by the space program.

The following article is adapted from JFK's Rice University speech of September 12, 1962. The headnote is also adapted to match the theme.

In this 1962 speech given at Rice University in Houston, Texas, President John F. Kennedy reaffirmed America's commitment to ending dependence on foreign oil before the end of the 1960s. The President spoke in philosophical terms about the need to solve the mysteries of renewable energy and also defended the enormous expense of the renewable energy program.

President Pitzer, Mr. Vice President, Governor, Congressman Thomas, Senator Wiley, and Congressman Miller, Mr. Webb, Mr. Bell, scientists, distinguished guests, and ladies and gentlemen:

I appreciate your president having made me an honorary visiting professor, and I will assure you that my first lecture will be very brief. I am delighted to be here and I'm particularly delighted to be here on this occasion.

We meet at a college noted for knowledge, in a city noted for progress, in a state noted for strength, and we stand in need of all three, for we meet in an hour of change and challenge, in a decade of hope and fear, in an age of both knowledge and ignorance. The greater our knowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds.

Despite the striking fact that most of the scientists that the world has ever known are alive and working today, despite the fact that this Nation's own scientific manpower is doubling every 12 years in a rate of growth more than three times that of our population as a whole, despite that, the vast stretches of the unknown and the unanswered and the unfinished still far outstrip our collective comprehension.

No man can fully grasp how far and how fast we have come, but condense, if you will, the 50,000 years of man's recorded history in a time span of but a half-century. Stated in these terms, we know very little about the first 40 years, except at the end of them advanced man had learned to use the skins of animals to cover them. Then about 10 years ago, under this standard, man emerged from his caves to construct other kinds of shelter. Only five years ago man learned to write and use a cart with wheels. Christianity began less than two years ago. The printing press came this year, and then less than two months ago, during this whole 50-year span of human history, the steam engine provided a new source of power. Newton explored the meaning of gravity. Last month electric lights and telephones and automobiles and airplanes became available. Only last week did we develop penicillin and television and nuclear power, and now if America's new spacecraft succeeds in reaching Venus, we will have literally reached the stars before midnight tonight.

This is a breathtaking pace, and such a pace cannot help but create new ills as it dispels old, new ignorance, new problems, new dangers. Surely the opening vistas of renewable energy promise high costs and hardships, as well as high reward.

So it is not surprising that some would have us stay where we are a little longer to rest, to wait. But this city of Houston, this state of Texas, this country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by those who moved forward--and so will renewable energy.

William Bradford, speaking in 1630 of the founding of the Plymouth Bay Colony, said that all great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage.

If this capsule history of our progress teaches us anything, it is that man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred. The exploration of renewable energy will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race for renewable energy.

Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolution, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of space exploration, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of renewable energy. We mean to be a part of it--we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into renewable energy, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see renewable energy ruled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.

Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world's leading renewable energy-generating nation.

We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For renewable energy science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new technology will lead to peace or a new terrifying theater of war. I do not say that we should or will go unprotected against the hostile misuse of renewable energy any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that renewable energy can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours.

There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in renewable energy as yet. Its hazards are minimal to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation many never come again. But why not oil, some say? Why choose renewable energy as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic?

We choose to develop renewable energy. We choose to develop renewable energy in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in renewable energy from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency.

To be sure, we are behind, and will be behind for some time in renewable energy. But we do not intend to stay behind, and in this decade, we shall make up and move ahead.

The growth of our science and education will be enriched by new knowledge of our universe and environment, by new techniques of learning and mapping and observation, by new tools and computers for industry, medicine, the home as well as the school. Technical institutions, such as Rice, will reap the harvest of these gains.

And finally, the renewable energy effort itself, while still in its infancy, has already created a great number of new companies, and tens of thousands of new jobs. Renewable energy and related industries are generating new demands in investment and skilled personnel, and this city and this state, and this region, will share greatly in this growth. What was once the furthest outpost on the old frontier of the West will be the furthest outpost on the new frontier of science and renewable energy. Houston, your city of Houston, with its Renewable Energy Center, will become the heart of a large scientific and engineering community. During the next 5 years the National Renewable Energy Administration expects to double the number of scientists and engineers in this area, to increase its outlays for salaries and expenses to $60 million a year; to invest some $200 million in plant and laboratory facilities; and to direct or contract for new renewable energy efforts over $1 billion from this center in this city.

To be sure, all this costs us all a good deal of money. This year's renewable energy budget is three times what it was in January 1961, and it is greater than the renewable energy budget of the previous eight years combined. That budget now stands at $5,400 million a year--a staggering sum, though somewhat less than we pay for cigarettes and cigars every year. renewable energy expenditures will soon rise some more, from 40 cents per person per week to more than 50 cents a week for every man, woman and child in the United States, for we have given this program a high national priority--even though I realize that this is in some measure an act of faith and vision, for we do not now know what benefits await us.

I'm the one who is doing all the work, so we just want you to stay cool for a minute. [laughter]

However, I think we're going to do it, and I think that we must pay what needs to be paid. I don't think we ought to waste any money, but I think we ought to do the job. And this will be done in the decade of the Sixties. It may be done while some of you are still here at school at this college and university. It will be done during the terms of office of some of the people who sit here on this platform. But it will be done. And it will be done before the end of this decade.
And I am delighted that this university is playing a part in creating renewable energy technology as part of a great national effort of the United States of America.

Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, "Because it is there."

Well, renewable energy is there, and we're going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God's blessing on the most safe and beneficial and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.

Thank you.
John F. Kennedy - September 12, 1962

Imagine there's no Enron It's easy if you try Oil use behind us An unpolluted sky, Imagine all the people living well today...

Imagine no refin'ries
It isnt hard to do
No oil to kill or die for
the Mid East region cool
Imagine all the people
living life in peace...

Imagine no obssesions
Controlling the oil can
Reducing greed-caused hunger
The betterment of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing a healthy world...

You may say I'm a dreamer,
but Im not the only one,
I hope some day you'll join us,
In a world powered by the sun.

Adapted from "Imagine" Writen by: John Lennon Bag productions inc.
Adaptation Copyright 2003 PESSIMISTUNES

pessimist :: 6:00 AM :: Comments (4) :: Digg It!