Friday, October 21, 2011

Energy Security - A Rare Thing: New Ideas

The Great Walls [sic] of China
ALEXANDRIA VA, October 21 - In this age of extremes, the only way to make change is to incentivize it. This depressed, zero-sum world, is profoundly skeptical about the idea of a win-win. Critics of anything with even a hint of green scream that jobs will be lost - irrespective of whatever the idea might be.

If you think the idea of going green is for hippies and commies - think again. We are not talking Al Gore here, we are talking Admirals and Generals passionate about the national security consequences of climate change and the relationship between energy and national security. Indeed, the US DoD has been pushing green initiatives for some time now

Taking the short view - the recent collapse of Solandra means government subsidies of clean energy are a massive waste of time but continued government subsidies of multi-billion dollar profit machines known as oil companies makes a lot of sense apparently. Flat screen TVs were once $8000 a pop - but once enough of them were in the market place the ROI grew, even as their price dropped as the market take-up rate soared. Today a 42" flat screen is retaining for around $500.

Taking the long view -  if cash rich banks are too afraid to invest in anything but quick profits on the volatile market, the opportunity to use stimulus money to create a whole new clean energy industry makes sense. Think 'Eisenhower interstate' system. The govt can't legislate bank investment patterns but they can provide the right environment for investment. The resulting jobs will be high income, skilled jobs, although not on the industrial scale of the Ike years (a fact of the new economy). The effort will drive down entry costs to clean alternatives, something the market wont do all by itself. Today, US ingenuity is creating ideas that are bring manufactured offshore - in some cases due to normal investment patters and in others because the ideas are stolen. Its not guaranteed, but investment in US clean technologies could lead to their manufacture in the US. 

But is there a way to do all of this without spending public money? Creative thinker, Amory Lovins, and the Rocky Mountain Institute don't want to spend $0.01 of government money! They argue that there is an overwhelming economic incentive for the private sector to go green. In a new book to be released next week entitled Reinventing Fire. The authors claim
Reinventing Fire shows how business-motivated by profit, supported by civil society, sped by smart policy-can get the US completely off oil and coal by 2050, and later beyond natural gas as well.
To investigate further check out the radio interview on Science Friday where MIL INT first learned of the book today. For the transcript and audio of the story click here. Former Director of the CIA Jim Woolsey and former Reagan National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane had this to say on the dust jacket:
"A brilliant, thorough, innovative plan for a complete and profitable restructuring over the next four decades of how we use and supply energy for transport, electricity, buildings, and industry. RMI's new fire will transform everything we do, and will especially help us see our way out of the massive problems caused by our dependence on oil and coal."--R. James Woolsey, venture partner, Lux Capital; former director of Central Intelligence; chairman, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
"Amory Lovins and his team of extraordinary professionals provide an analytically sound, detailed, compelling plan for transforming our national use of energy-and for saving $5 trillion in the process! Reinventing Fire is a towering work, a page-turning tour de force of compelling wisdom that deserves a permanent place on the desk-nay, in the mind-of whoever holds the chair in the Oval Office."--Robert C. McFarlane, national security advisor to President Reagan; co-founder and co-chair of the United States Energy Security Council
Reinventing Fire might not change the world, but what if it could? MIL INT thinks it is worth consideration.

1 comment:

  1. Justice Baker in his book "In the Common Defense" writes this about global warming and national security: "If the government's own projections are accurate, the effects of global warming could transform our way of life, including the viability of many cities on the coast. A comparable, even hypothetical, threat of foreign invasion leading to the occupation of the same territory would receive immediate national security treatment and likely the mobilization of the nation to defeat the threat." - Wake up America, the enemy's at our gates...