TED Conversations


This conversation is closed.

How can America wean itself from fossil fuels when fossil fuels are so cheap?

America is supposedly the leader of the free world. What was the primary message during the presidential campaign? Energy independence, not the environment. We will continue to sacrifice our legacy, our natural resources that might better be left to subsequent generations rather than accept higher energy costs now that renewables, until now, can't supply economically (at least not without a carbon tax).

As long as our politicians can make campaign promises based on the cost of a gallon of gas, don't expect any negative news about the environment to make headlines.

While President Obama extols the virtue of clean natural gas, I live in rural Schoharie County which is ripe for fracking for natural gas. Never mind that it is a bucolic, pastoral part of nature. It has vast reservers of natural gas so, following President Obama's desire, it will soon be an industrial park and all the tourists who used to come here for our natural beauty will go elsewhere.

When you look at the cost of natural gas in America, it is about the fifth the cost of natural gas in Europe. Guess what? America is going to become the World's leader in natural gas exports. The "good" news is that natural gas has only half the carbon foot print of coal (we have billions of tons of coal to export to Asia---and there has been a massive ad blitz promoting "clean" coal).

Unless there is someone like a Randall Mills who can make low-energy nuclear reactions economic, fossil fuels are our albatross.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Dec 3 2012: A sad story about Ethanol based fuels
    In 2006, Panama, Central America. An engineer develops M4, a mixture of 87% Ethanol and 13% of a mixture of other ingredients. The M4 passed all the tests at Intertek Caleb Brett labs in England. So what else we needed? finally a cheap clean fuel. But no. Local authorities decided that the tests made in England were not enough, so they deviced a set of impossible tests so the fuel could not be sold in the country. The inventor of M4, was denied the right to sell M4 in the country, but he was authorized to export it. And the actual government allowed him to run for a political position. And M4 was silenced. By now who knows were or who is the owner of the patent for M4.
    In an enthusiastic marketing campaign back again in 2006 this engineer stood up with a tank filled with M4 and gave free samples to anyone who wanted to try. And many tried and where happy about it. It was tested by taxi drivers, truck drivers, you name it. It worked. But the first attack against M4 came from the car dealers who stated that their cars were not built and tested with M4 or any methanol based fuel, so they dont advice the use of M4 in new cars. Then came the politics stuff and the impossible tests.
    So what do we learn with this short story?
    That the big fish of the fuel industry will not let anyone, compete cleanly for the market they hold.
    Before i forget he was also working on M5, for diesel engine cars.
    At this date December 3 2012, no gas station in Panama is selling or even knows about M4
    I ask all of you now, if it was a good idea to reduce the cost of energy for the everyday consumer/worker, why its not being commercialized in the country?
    This is a true story i posted no links because most of them are in spanish but if anyone wants i can translate them for you.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.