|I am no longer worried. Now that I understand there is no energy crisis, no ingenuity crisis, only the need for well-meaning bureaucracies to adapt policies to rapidly changing assumptions, I am terrified.|
|Bill James, JPods|
I used to think and worry about the energy crisis and the terrible consequences we will suffer as our economy crumble and social fabric shreds in the wake of Peak Oil and Global Warming.
I was wrong, there is no energy crisis. In this long dark of working fanatically to find solutions to my worries, I finally broke through the fog. I was looking for answers and got the problem wrong, twice. Not a testament to brilliance.
At first I thought there was an energy crisis but Mr. Edison, Mr. Swenson and 8 years of hard work on JPods corrected me, there is no energy crisis (I will explain this in a moment). Then I thought there was an ingenuity crisis, but looking around there is vast amounts of creativity bursting at the seams trying to find vents to explode into being.
At a glacial pace, not that slow any more, it finally dawned on me when someone asked me a question, "Of the 10 worst famines of the 20th Century, how many happened in Africa?" My answer was 8; the correct answer is zero. Highly agrarian societies have had severe hardships, but truly spectacular famines require government policy (extracted from Reuters ):
Wow, and that does not even account for deaths in war and genocide, which are also direct government policy.
So, life in America is great. What can be wrong with our policy? Why I am so uppity that I should worry and think wrong-headed all our governments, all our political parties and each of us for actively or passively supporting current policies.
That brings me back to the point made earlier, that I would explain later; there is no energy crisis. The sun delivers to us, directly to our farms, towns and cities, 178,000 TeraWatts. All of human society uses 13. There is no energy crisis; we can live within a solar budget. It is like having a really big allowance. Vast amounts of excess energy are delivered to us nearly daily for our convenience by the nature and the grace of the universe in which we live.
Mr. Edison, responsible for substantial inventions, even told us so, "I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don't have to wait 'til oil and coal run out before we tackle that."
It is not a new concept; Thomas Edison lived from1847-1931.
So why are we so neglectful of the resource so kindly delivered to us? Why do are we so in love with oil, nukes and bio-fuels? Why are our policies all directed at cars, trains, buses and airplanes? The answer is pretty simple: they were invented and in use before we build our big government bureaucracies (New Deal and WWII). It sound pretty stupid but think a minute, what is a bureaucracy? Bureaucracies implement policies to create consistency; bureaucracies are the institutionalized suspension of judgment. Once policies are in place, all subsequent actions are linear:
Unfortunately, assumptions that abundant, cheap, and securely oil will always be available, and invisible gases cannot hurt us have proved wrong. We are propelling ourselves and the world's eco-system into famine; but we are very orderly about it.
And that brings me all the way back to the beginning about being wrong twice, there is no energy crisis, there is no ingenuity crisis, there is a policy crisis.
Our policies require we move a ton to move a person. "Light Rail" moves 3 tons to move a person; it is like giving everyone a Hummer, they just don't have to park it. It is no wonder there appears to be an energy crisis; our policies require us to be 2% efficient. It is no wonder we have a Global Warming crisis; 98% of the power we use is vented to it.
Here is a thought from a wise man, "The significant problems we face. cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them." Albert Einstein
Here is different thinking applied to policy from Herman Scheer of Germany, make room for small businesses; let anyone be a power company. Require utilities to buy solar generated power from people at 20% over their purchase price. Policy has created an explosion of innovation and ingenuity. Germany, a country of the far north, with long dark winters, and short rainy summers, has outpaced California in deploying solar energy solutions. The policy has also created 100,000 new jobs in the sustainable infrastructure industry.
For our contribution, we invented JPods. Instead of moving a ton to move a person, JPods strives to move only the person. They are so efficient that the integrated solar collectors capture more power than the transportation network needs. Ribbons of power and mobility turn entire transportation networks into gigantic solar generators. Hopefully the policy that prevents deployment will soon change.
And by the way, I am no longer worried. Now that I understand there is no energy crisis, no ingenuity crisis, only the need for well-meaning bureaucracies to adapt policies to rapidly changing assumptions, I am terrified.