Wake up and end a fuelish fight

Commodity Online discusses the huge possibility of geothermal power.
Read more about the Brookings report in a Las Vegas Sun editorial.

Once upon a time, national leaders knew the best offense is a good defense and vice versa. So the Manhattan project beat the bad guys to nuclear weaponry. It made the United States of America paramount for more than a half century.

It’s time for another Manhattan-style project to stave off an approaching Armageddon. It should put Nevada and a huge energy initiative at the center, much as Los Alamos, N.M., was central to our defense 70 years ago. More on that in a moment.

Debate the wisdom of bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki into the Stone Age, if you like, or of unleashing a nuclear age that produced as much fear as energy—even more fear after nuclear energy development tripped at Three Mile Island.

Forward-thinking conservators, though, will focus instead on tomorrow’s biggest potential threat: major war and economic shock waves brought on by peak oil playing out and the overall peaking of fossil fuel reliance as this century progresses.

A dismaying aspect of the modern movement that passes inadequately for conservatism is the “drill, baby drill” mentality. It ignores scientific/economic certainty, which shows we’re painting ourselves into an abysmal future corner. We lust after fossil fuels more costly to dig up every year. It’s fraught with geopolitical risks.

The lesson of the BP (British Petroleum) gulf disaster isn’t that a moratorium will give safety procedures and gear sufficient time to catch up; it is that tapping nature’s resources must shift during a transition period, or energy upheaval is unavoidable.

Drilling for oil, natural gas and digging up coal will continue. No one disputes that. But we must advance much faster in research and development of renewable energy natural to Nevada—geothermal, wind, solar. For me, geothermal holds the most promise.

The private sector, with some government help, will handle transition from over-reliance on fossil fuels in transportation. But electrical power actually is more important and needs more government help.

In the public relations campaign to sell the transition, leaders botched things. The left tried ardently to sell all this as staving off climate change. It should be sold more as national defense. Of late, there has been some shift among real thinkers on the left regarding that PR miscue.

Now it’s time to see more movement among real thinkers on the right.

Thoughtful conservatives must finesse “drill, baby, drill” dinosaurs. They also must give up believing nuclear power alone can spur the transition. They instead should favor a Manhattan-style project in Nevada. This is where future power is being born. Don’t let it be stillborn due to partisanship.

An underground conservative group must join thoughtful liberals who know freedom and capitalism will hang in the balance for years. What gets done regarding energy problems over the next quarter century is crucial.

This month the Brookings Institution outlined a proposal to boost renewable energy development, placing Nevada and surrounding states at the heart of the plan. It urged the federal government to spend $2 billion and finance a half-dozen energy innovation centers in the region.

This is a drop in the bucket compared with what is needed, and the Brookings proposal acknowledged that. It said financial commitments like those in health care, defense or space would suggest $20 billion or more is needed for renewable energy.

Think about it. This is the nation’s defense issue for the next generation.

It’s way past time to wake up and smell the fossil fuel burning.