Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Luncheon

I arrived at the Conference just in time to hear someone from Washington

tell us about his future energy group.

Yes, in his future,

there is renewable energy.

You must have renewable energy or you are not very cool,

in Washington.

But in his future,

We will have coal,

and we will burn more coal in the next near future,

than we have burned in our total past,

he says with certainty and that air of respectability.

And we will have bio fuels that are grown from grass, or something.

It made me want to go smoke some.

And we will have nuclear, because nuclear is clean.

The future from this man from Washington,

is no different from the past I remember 30 years ago.

His future did not include power paints on every surface.

His future had not one mention of climate change.

His future did not include a new generation of plug in hybrids,

even though he told me later he was very excited about them.

His future did not include a Peak Oil Crisis.

His future is a repeat of the past.

In his future, humankind will continue basicly doing the same thing.

Just differently.

At the luncheon,

We listened to tiny Matthew Simmons tell us quite a different future.

He spoke about the coming breathtaking shortfalls in our fuel supplies.

He spoke about the need to initiate massive telecommuting programs,

He spoke of freeing our work force to work in new ways.

He spoke about the need for massive reorganization of our food supply.

He spoke about the need to restructure global trade as we know it.

He spoke about the need to initiate a World War II type effort,

not unlike the one we created to defeat the fascist 64 years ago,

to find advanced ways to solve our coming energy calamity.

He spoke of his good friend and fellow Houstonite,

who recently passed on.

Richard Smalley was a pioneer in nanotechnology.

And Smalley knew that we must solve the energy issue

in order to solve the other issues that face humankind.

In the past few years, Smalley became an outspoken advocate for dedicating research to alternative energy technologies.

"It may be a greater challenge for us than the Cold War...to make it possible for 10 billion people to live the lifestyle you are used to in a way that doesn't cause unacceptable impacts on the environment," he told an audience of scientists at the International Electron Devices Meeting in San Francisco last December. "There is no escaping the problem. The consequences will be terrorism, pestilence, famine."

At dinner, I asked my guests how the Simmon's speech affected them.

"Like what do you mean," they said.

I mean how did the speech affect you?

Are you going to buy more oil company stock, are you going to head for the hills, are you going to short the stock market, are you going to get out of debt, are you going to sell your real estate, are you going to do anything at all?

They didn't think so.

Simmons reminded us of the summer of 1939.

It was the last summer before we knew without a doubt

that the little guy with the mustache and the funny salute,

was not that funny.

Perhaps this is our summer of 1939.

The fascist are parading their worn out solutions,

in brand new outfits,

and it is far from funny.



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"The luncheon" by Renoir courtesy of art.com


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is distressing to think that at a Renewable Energy Conference it is business as usual and ,as you wrote,some of those attending didn't think it necessary to do anything differently.

How can it change if the best of the best can't envision anything different

6:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Simmons sounds like he was great.

6:50 AM  
Blogger oZ said...

He was.

6:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As one of the dinner guests, let me make a few comments. I power my home with 100% wind energy. Daily, I drive an electric vehicle powered with 100% wind energy. The majority of my engineering practice is devoted to development of renewable energy. A significant amount of my non-work time is spent on business of the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association. I enjoyed the dinner. CHF

9:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suspect that what conceptually underlies traditions of "being there" in the workplace and legislation that erected zoning sanctions in the organization of cities are at their core protectionist measures for the automotive industry and attendant industries that serve it.

In India even the rich people walk to buy groceries which is not possible here because of zoning laws. One third of most peoples entire salaries go to transporting them to and from work, the high cost of attendance.

Change will not come easy given the entrenchment of such powerful interest groups.

1:01 PM  

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