Krauthammer – Energy Nonsense?

Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer has a pretty interesting article today both skewering President Bush over his SOTU remarks about ethanol and outlining the US’s various options for “energy independence.”   Whether you agree or disagree with his ideas, he presents one truth that we all need to consider in the constant debate over how to keep the lights on without burning up the planet:

“There is no free lunch. Producing energy is going to produce waste. You pick your poison, and you find a way to manage it. Want to do something about global warming? How many global warming activists are willing to say the word nuclear?

So much easier to say ethanol. That it will do farcically little is beside the point. Our debates about oil consumption, energy dependence and global warming are not meant to be serious. They are meant for show.”

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6 Responses to Krauthammer – Energy Nonsense?

  1. Matt says:

    I like that guy. Talks tough like Kunstler without being overly gloom and doom.

    And he makes 3 great points.

  2. Bart says:

    Krauthammer’s an interesting guy. All all the neocon spokesmen, he’s one of the more balanced ones.

    Regardless of his politics, I think he’s dead-on with regards to energy. Our modern society demands massive quantities of energy, and any source we turn to will have it’s issues.

    Renewables will be our long-term future, but until then we’ll have to make deals with various devils and use what we can. Conservation will need to be addressed sooner or later… my guess is that it’ll be later, since in most peoples’ eyes that still means admitting defeat and lowering our standards of living…

  3. Beo says:

    Confirms my long held belief that environmentalism can be (and must be!) a bridge builder across the aisle and across other issue chasms. Everybody breathes…

    What simply must stop is the refusal by many Greens to allow corporations and politicians to change. Roasting Walmart, DuPont, and BP America for half measures because they haven’t gone whole hog is not only hypocritical, it is deadly to the cause. The answer to an honest press release must not be “is that all?” but “Outstanding! How can we help?” That isn’t waffling, its compromise-something this country used to value. Finding wiggle room in your stance to let real change get done is a sign of deep commitment, not one of weakness.

    The quest for Perfect can destroy the pursuit of Good if we let it.

  4. Bart says:

    Trying to get our society to make wholescale changes is kind of like trying to steer an aircraft carrier. It takes tremendous effort to make even minute shifts in direction.

    Beo makes a great point about how some greens react negatively to anything other than outright surrender from big business in terms of their environmental policy. This is madness, and it does need to stop. I wonder how much of that is an outcome of the current talk radio noise machine mentality, where you either agree with us completely, or you’re a facist/communist/spin-doctor/moron/money whore. Compromise is needed if we’re going to make any kind of progress.

  5. Keith says:

    Beyond the fact that biofuels are not commercially viable without massive subsidies, there are real environmental problems with biofuel. Consider just one of the negative environmental consequences of more corn production.

    To supply corn for current and plannted ethanol plants in Iowa, about 90% of Iowa’s cropland will have to produce corn. Nitrate pollution of surface and groundwater is a result of heavy nitrogen fertilization, which is required for economic corn production. This occures whether n is derived from synthetic or organic sources. To grow the corn required, Iowa farmers will have to apply about 1 billion more pounds every year. Des Moines, the capital and largest city (pop. 300,000) of Iowa now has the world’s largest nitrate removal plant needed to make the water safe to drink.

    There are plenty of other problems with ethanol but this is one most of you haven’t heard of.

  6. Bart says:

    Thanks for your comment, Keith. I hadn’t considered how much N it would take to generate the corn crop required, and you’re right, that would be yet another catastrophe.

    Railing against biofuels is one of my regular soapboxes. I hope you continue to add insight such as this.

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