The Elections, or ‘Now what?’

The US electorate sent President Bush and his Republican friends a strong message Tuesday that we’re none too happy about many things, and most of it is their fault. Taking advantage of the normal power shift that seems to happen in year 6 of an incumbent presidency, the Democrats appear to have taken power in both branches of Congress, setting off waves of exultation among donkeys and the elephants are moaning, blaming, and asking the Democrats a very good question: “So, what’s *your* plan?”

Whether it’s Iraq, the economy, health care, or energy, the Dems haven’t been too forthcoming on specifics. Now that they’ve got the keys to the government for the next two years, they need to put up or shut up, and if they make a hash of things, 2008 won’t be pretty for them.

I’ll be very interested to see what kind of play energy issues and climate change get now that the Dems are back in control. Both Bill Clinton and Al Gore seem to be taking these issues seriously; whether anyone else who is actually in power does or not remains to be seen. Hopefully they’ll bring something more to the plate rather than just the usual suspects (ethanol, biodiesel, oil shale, tar sands, etc). I’m guessing not, but a guy can hope, right?

If we are going to embark on any kind of plan to keep the lights on for any length of time, I think any real solution is going to involve a mix of relocalization of food production and industry, re-alignment of our living and working patterns to remove the need for lengthy commutes and transportation of goods, alternative energy of all stripes, and probably more nuclear power.

I feel a little queasy talking about nukes, but even if we do our best to cut back on motor fuel consumption, modern life in the USA still takes a lot of elecricity, and without natural gas power plants (which will become a thing of the past in the next decade or two as prices rise), we’re left with two real options: coal and nukes. We’ll get increasing amounts of juice from Solar, wind and hydro, but there are practical limits to how much we can generate that way, and it isn’t close to enough to keep up with US demand.

Also, a real visionary would sponsor some sort of bill to re-establish managed woodlots in urban and suburban areas. Sometime farther out in the future, we’re going to be relying on wood again for heating in some areas, at least. Getting started now on well-managed lots for lumber and fuel generation, as well as habitat for wildlife, would set our kids and grandkids up well. We owe it to them, since we’ve cut down so much of the forests already.

That’s pie-in-the=sky stuff, I know. While there may be some politicians who ‘get’ our real energy crisis, they are few and far between. What’s actually proposed is likely to be much more conventional, and therefore of little value to those who don’t see a bright & shiny future ahead. Here’s to the Democrats on wiping out the Republican lock on power in DC. Now do something.


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