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A Manhattan Project for Energy?

Can new energy research save the world? The economy? Supporters say, “Yes, invest now.” Budget-cutters say, “Forget it.”

Sandia National Laboratories shows Stirling Energy System's SunCatcher solar power dishes in Albuquerque, N.M. (AP)

Congress tried and failed to put a price on carbon, to unleash market forces to find an alternative to cheap and dirty fossil fuels. With that chance gone for now, advocates are saying: O.K. then, let’s invest directly, public money, big-time, in research to find breakthrough, game-changing clean energy — on a “Manhattan project” scale.

Opponents, Tea Party Republicans, say we can’t afford it, and that budget-cutting must be priority number one. But the rest of the world is moving. Will the U.S. be left behind?

We look at spending, budget-cutting, and the call for a giant push for clean energy.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests:

Ryan Lizza, correspondent for The New Yorker. Read his inside account of how climate-energy legislation was derailed: “As the World Burns.”

Steven Hayward, fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who focuses on energy and the environment. Read his new paper, written jointly with the Brookings Institution and the Breakthrough Institute, on “Post-Partisan Power.”

Michael Greenstone, professor of environmental economics at MIT. He served as chief economist on the White House Council of Economic Advisors under President Obama and was part of the administration’s efforts to pass the energy plan. He is also director of the Brooking Institution’s Hamilton Project, a public policy forum that produces research on economic and civic issues.

Matt Kibbe, president and CEO of  FreedomWorks, an advocacy organization that works to promote smaller government and has close ties with the Tea Party movement.

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  • Joshua Hendrickson

    Budget cutters can go to hell. A major energy project is exactly what we need now … it’s what we needed twenty years ago, frankly. Make it so.

  • jeffe

    After the Swiss announced that they had completed drilling though the alps for what will become the worlds longest train tunnel that will connect Southern Europe with the North it occurred to me that we are backward thinking nation. They will be cutting the time shipping of freight down by days and at the same time cutting down on diesel engine pollution from the thousands of truck that cross the alps every year.

    No we have the budget cutters say forget it.
    Interesting idea, lets jest let the rest of the world roll over us and move ahead.

    It’s interesting how Germany is now the leading industrial nation and is wiping our clock in this area and high end manufacturing.

    If we don’t invest, and the the idea is invest, we will fall behind and never catch up. Look at Japan, that’s our future if we don’t get it together. Stagnation.

    Of course we have the media running around giving airtime to a bunch of people saying that Obama is a Muslim and he’s not an American citizen. All sorts of nonsense that drives the agenda of our politics that makes us look like adolescent fools on the national stage. We need to grow up as a nation or it’s over.

  • Bill A

    It seems that whenever there’s fiscal problems, education and research are some of the first things to go. I find it quite narrow minded and short sighted. Our leaders need to recognize that by depriving the next generation of the skills and innovation that they will need to succeed, they aren’t investing in the future welfare of the country. Indeed, they are setting us back and instead handing off the reins to countries like China to invest in the future play a more dominant role in the global economy.

  • Zeno

    The only things that are holding the USA from taking the lead in these technologies and their implementation is the monopolies that control centralized energy production, and their propaganda media outlets that have convinced the republican base that energy cannot be derived from the sun, gravity does not exist, and that if you attempt generate your OWN energy then you are a Un-American.

    Conservative media states these things don’t actually generate power: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/solar/catc-flash.html

  • Zeno

    In other countries where education and reason are set above prideful ignorance like here in the US they have discovered that the Sun can be used as an energy source:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_in_Germany

    Or maybe they are just praying harder…

  • Nevan

    A “Manhattan Project for energy” is just an excuse for Obama to try and ram through another wasteful and failed stimulus package. I trust the private sector to find new and innovative energy sources, not the Obama-Pelosi-Reid crowd that has given us two straight years of double digit unemployment.

  • LinP

    Nevam,

    Yep, that all started the day Obama took office. I am so sick of revisionist history like that.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    Don’t laugh too loud, Zeno. According to a cult movie I once watched on Youtube (Zeitgeist)the Judeo-Christian thing originated as a Solar religion. (The Sun is coming back, just read Revelations. High voltage stuff: seven horse power.)

    Seriously, China produces 50% of all photovoltaics and the price of a unit drops by half about every three years. Decentralized energy, originating from home or community generation, is forbidden in the USA and encouraged elsewhere because of our “fishes in a barrel” economy. Them that own the coal and nuclear can’t let go of vertical integration. (Information from Earthwatch Institute) See also the Diane Rehm episode “Vertical Farm” archived from last week.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Snagged from a COTO Report last night: “This tract was published by the Wei Jingsheng Foundation, and restates points from leading Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng, originally given to TV5Monde, a French-language TV broadcast. (Link http://coto2.wordpress.com/2010/10/17/tsk-tsk-dont-be-moderate-wei-jingsheng/)
    He (or she?) says American corporate profits want oppression of the Chinese and Chinese labor; it hardly argues for such progress taking place here. I mean, we get the union benefits; they get the actual green energy production, something like that.

    “Many people think I’m better qualified for this prize. But I think the situation now is that the Westerners do not want people like me to get the prize. They do not want the Chinese people to rise up, thus affecting their interests in China. Many Western companies know that without the help of the Chinese Communist Party, they cannot get such cheap and excellent labor in China. So they hope that all the Chinese people will obediently cooperate with the Chinese government and accept oppression without opposition, thus protecting their opportunity for huge profits. These Westerners do want a continued Communist dictatorship regime in China.

    “So which kind of road should Chinese democracy take? I think there are only two options. One is following Nelson Mandela of South Africa and the former Soviet Union. When there is both strong international and domestic pressure on the autocratic regime, authorities had to adopt the way of peaceful evolution. This is possible in China. But now, due to the economic interests, Western countries have reduced the pressure on China more and more. When the resistance of people in China also is guided to the direction of working with the Chinese regime, the pressure gets even smaller. So, what could the suffering ordinary people without any help do? Eventually, they have to rebel, leading to a major upheaval. This upheaval would not be a good thing to either Chinese society or the international community.” (end of quote)

  • Grady Lee Howard

    Hint: Don’t reply to Nevin (Louise in drag?) until the message is positive; then praise away. It works like a charm. That’s how they trained me.

  • cory

    Manhattan Project= a massive government program that created the greatest weapon ever known. An expensive and time consuming endeavor that ended the second world war and may have saved as many as a million American combat casualties.

    In our age of Austerity, tax revolts, tea-baggers, conservative anarchists (libertatians), and conspiracy theorists this sort of public undertaking may no longer be possible… No matter how much it advances the common good.

    We have become a nation of Buggy whip makers led by know nothings who cater to <%5 of the population.

  • cory

    Joshua Hendrikson,

    You must be a Trekkie. Your comment ended with a Picard-like flourish!

    Live long and prosper!

  • jeffe

    Nevan so your answer is for the US to do nothing.
    For the country to go back to the way health care was, well it still is, and for people to die from their illnesses while going bankrupt. That we should let the private sector take of everything, of course without regulations. Do you know the why and how that EPA came into being in the first place? Did you know that the EPA was formed under the Nixon administration.

    Do know anything about history? Or are you only listening to conservative echo chambers that reinforce your own absurd ideas based on the myths you want believe so you can form a flat earth ideology.

    As stated this revisionist nonsense has to stop. GET AN EDUCATION. At least make an effort.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Cory, this is a bit far-fetched, but in the interests of enlightened “democratic” polity and debate I’ll suggest: The entire Teaparty has been drinking soda or sweetened tea, and the dentists are dancing on our depressed IQ’s (between mercury amalgams, the correction insurers will not diagnose, nor treat; and flouride treatments). We are incapable of clear cognition. We need to be polite and calm to each other, because we are predisposed to be flighty and antsy.
    Case in point, voters who are easily brainwashed, which the Supreme Court may have noticed.
    http://www.naturalnews.com/023367.html (mercury amalgam, 2008 law suit)
    http://www.naturalnews.com/026103_fluoride_water_health.html
    “Studies done on mice have shown varying levels of neurotoxicity when these mice were exposed to fluoride. The first major study that showed fluoride caused neurotoxicity was done in 1995 by Dr. Phyllis Mullenix on mice. All the previous theories about fluoride that the researchers were working from were proved incorrect as the research went on. The mice who were drinking fluoridated water were expected to perform tasks similarly to the control mice and they did not. The fluoride was not expected to cross the blood-brain barrier and it was proven that it did.
    “Eighteen subsequent studies on fluoride and the brain have shown lower I.Q. levels in children with elevated fluoride levels, even after controlling for other factors that could cause the lower I.Q. such as parental education levels, lead levels, iodine exposure, and family income.”

  • http://www.lowenfoundation.com/ Flowen

    I can certainly accept Nevan’s take (not that it is Obama invented the game) that it is a bad idea for the government to subsidize the renewable energy industry. It will lead to the usual big business – government partnership that ultimately exploits the population. However, in the current oil, gas, coal, nuclear, ethanol favored environment, it is the only way to gain any traction, although it is a deal with the devil.

    The only way to achieve real solutions is to examine and eliminate the many ways the oil, gas, coal, nuclear, ethanol industries are subsidized and supported by taxpayers and ratepayers. The idea that they necessarily form the foundation of our economy on the basis of their merits is absurd. The US energy plan is and has been Exxon’s, BPs, Halliburton’s, Shell’s, ….business plan; like the financial industry, they really like the part where they keep the profits and charge off the costs and unpleasantness to the taxpayers.

    If you want an energy revolution, do what it takes to allow the relative cost of energy to rise. It will not happen without, we will only get much more of the same.

    I have no doubt, the great speed at which the economy can shift from fossil fuels to renewables will surprise everyone, given a real price paid for gas, diesel, and kwhrs.

    BTW, there should be an international agreement making North Pole exploitation of oil/gas off-limits.

  • WINSTON SMITH

    It certainly would be great if we as a country could undertake a Manhattan style approach to solving the energy problem and decreasing our dependence upon oil imports from nut cases like Hugo Chavez and from countries that hate us. Unfortunately, it seems like we are no longer capable of functioning this way. We end up with incredible financial waste and fraud, incorrect priorities such as subsidizing corn farmers to produce ethanol which is a net energy consumer, bridges to nowhere, social security checks to criminals and deceased people, medicare waste in the tens of billions of dollars, etc. I don’t know what the answer is, but continuing to feed the insatiable government monster doesn’t seem like a solution to me either.

  • Liz

    Our country was built on cheap energy and abundant resources and it’s going to be very, very hard to change that mindset. I think there’s deep skepticism that so-called “alternative” energy even works. And we all know conservation isn’t sexy.
    The problem with government research is that it’s politically influenced, and the problem with private R&D is that they must demonstrate profit potential in order to attract funding. Corporation with a lot at stake can simply buy out any small invention, or worse, steal it.
    I don’t have a solution (and many of these issues should be addressed by states) but we should at least require that all new buildings have much higher efficiency. And government can at least lead the way by using the very best technologies in its own functions.

  • Harry, Madison, WI

    I think the priorities in the Federal R&D budgets seriously need to be changed. Our nations future depends on developing cheap sources of clean and renewable energy. As an example of what scientific research can deliver, see this report, that describes a new approach to photovoltaics, which offers significantly higher efficiencies, as well as other advantages vs. current PV technology:
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100802101813.htm

    Slide 7 of this report details the spending in the Dept of Energy’s budget on R&D. The spending is about equal among the categories, which include fission energy (red) fusion energy (which as the saying goes, is 30 years away and always will be), carbon capture and other fossil fuel-related research. We spend more on space exploration than on energy research. What’s wrong with this picture??

    The total is about $4.5 billion, vs. ~$13 billion we spend EVERY MONTH on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (not to mention the long-term costs): http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd/presentations/prneis109.pdf

    Slide 11 breaks down federal R&D by agency. Note that the Dept of Defense gets more than half: $80B vs. $68B for all other agencies combined. So we spend more on developing weapons than we do on every other category of research, including medical, ag, energy etc.
    http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd/presentations/aaasrd20091028.pdf

  • Ellen Dibble

    To be realistic, looking at what can actually be achieved politically (and politically globally), it seems the R&D needs to be at least half into how to REVERSE the damage we’ve done, how to dissolve CO2 back into oil or something like that.
    A lot of Manhattan-type green energies I’m sure will be discussed, and I hope that efficient apartment buildings will be encouraged, concentrating people and energy use. But I think the city planners need to come to the fore. If someone creates a job in a city, that job needs to enable the person hired to happily live within self-automated range, the way life happened before the automobile. A network of rails can help make this more attractive. But population centers being areas to avoid has to change.

  • Brian M.

    Another day, another Tom Ashbrook show about the deficit.

    Sooner or later you’re going to run out of conservative think tank guests.

  • Jerry

    Don’t give up on the best solution:

    lowering taxes on the incomes of American workers and small businesses —
    and raising taxes on the polluters, the terrorists, and their oil.

  • Yar

    Compare the Steroid era in Sports to the Carbon era our society is currently in.
    Like steroids fossil fuels have allowed us to do amazing things, but they have also added Mercury, Arsenic and other metals to our biologic system. Should we stop using fossil based fuels? Yes for the sake of our health, just like the damage caused by steroids, Fossil fuels are causing changes that cause long term harm.
    I would love to be part of a Solar Energy project. I have an idea that uses carbon nano tubes and noble gases to convert sunlight to electricity. It doesn’t have to be Government funded but it will save the taxpayers money it is.

  • Brian M.

    I should add that I think it’s disgraceful that you’re elevating a FreedomWorks partisan hack by having him on alongside people who have done reporting on this issue and experts in the field.

    Unbelievable.

    If it wasn’t so early in the morning, you could play a drinking game where some wingnut hack makes a nonsensical point, and Tom goes back to a knowledgeable guest and says “well…. doesn’t he have a point???”

  • http://analogousdesign.blogspot.com Dave Eger

    I don’t think that the energy solution has to be some high tech miracle like atomic energy. New things like that tend to also bring unforeseen risks. I think that biomass gasification and biochar is a fairly simple solution that has a lot of potential.

    Cap and Trade has been shown to only encourage outsourcing of industry to places where it doesn’t happen. I think that in order for a solution to work to improve both the ecology of the planet and the economy of the country, there needs to be incentives, not restrictions. So if CO2 causes a greenhouse effect, why don’t we just build more greenhouses and pump the CO2 through them. The plants will love the increased CO2, and turn a lot of it right to O2 and more biomass.

  • WINSTON SMITH

    As far as cap and trade, you can bet your bottom dollar that Wall Street hedge fund managers, hypocrites like Al Gore (who tell us to reduce our carbon footprint while living in 20000 square foot houses and then paying companies that they own huge amounts to plant trees to offset their Paul Bunyon-sized carbon footprint), and our corrupt politicians and lobbyists will create legislation and an initial carbon price, etc. to greatly enrich themselves at the expense of the common citizen. None of them seem capable of taking any actions that is in the best interest of the middle class rather than simply lining their own pockets or insuring their own re-election.

  • Tom

    Tom,

    This subject smacks in the face of our corrupt political system which is run by corporate interests! If the big energy companies do not want alternative energy they will fight it to the bitter end. Would we have ever have had a national highway system built in the 1950′s if our government then was run the way it is now?

  • Ellen Dibble

    Ryan Lizza is talking about how the passage of the health care bill used up Obama’s political capital, but remember that after Republican Scott Brown was elected to the Senate in January, Obama and the Senate leadership decided to pass the health care bill BY RECONCILIATION, which is done with 50 votes, not 60. I believe Reconciliation is only possible with something affecting the budget, but doesn’t energy research and/or taxation involved the budget??????
    So something should happen lame-duck while 50 votes are still there.

  • Edamits

    Who spends more on dog food reseach. Not tax payers but the companies that sell this food from their revenue. Please stop your push on this cap and trade mess. I hope we vote out Lindsey Graham during the next election. Now Graham is talking about the Government takeover of industry. He has seen the Light but it will not help him in four years. He will be gone.

  • Harry, Madison, WI

    Here is another good slide from AAAS posted on Andrew Revkin’s blog; energy R&D is in green. Spending on space is much larger.

    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/04/what-would-an-energy-moon-shot-look-like/

  • Brandstad

    Why talk putting a price on Carbon without solidifying science proving that carbon is detrimental and that the earth is an inherently unstable system like the alarmists are saying.

  • Herb Fuller

    Leading as a nation is the only way to set an example for immense emerging economies to value environmental stewardship. If we can join the building international consensus, we won’t have to compete economically against so many heavily polluting nations. Reasonable measures now can possibly avoid draconian measures in the future. The choice is between some restraint now and certain environmental catastrophe in the future.

    Herb Fuller
    Somerville, MA

  • Jerry

    For those Republicans who think that man-made global warming is a left-wing conspiracy, I will make sure to sell their children cigarettes. I’ll become a “smoking-causes-cancer” doubter, and at the same time make some money at it. :)

  • Ellen Dibble

    I heard a panel at whitehouse.org with energy industry representatives saying there is a lot of red tape, and Canada is easier to navigate. I believe it was wave force that was being harnessed, and the waves beating on our shores could go a long way to powering us up. In scale, I don’t think any one technology will do the trick, but entrepreneurs in all put together, would be a good scale — if given the necessary leeway.
    What I hear is government (the corporate sway probably being felt) is GETTING IN THE WAY.

  • http://cyberfumes.blogspot.com Dave Eger

    I really think it’s just a waste of time to talk about Cap and Trade. It never showed any potential of reducing carbon emissions. It just means more fuel will be burned shipping things in from countries that don’t have such a tax. The whole thing was just an effort to commodify something that has no reason to be traded so that the credits could be passed around and the traders can make money off of thin air.

    What we need is for average every day people to actually get a feeling that they have some impact on making the world a better place. As long as everything is removed from our hands and put in the laps of those with the money to do what they want, the average folks don’t really care. We’ve been screwed by people who told us the environment didn’t matter, and we’ve been screwed by folks who said we had to put all of our effort into saving the environment. After you get screwed enough, you start to realize that you’re barking up the wrong tree hoping that big business will ever act in the interest of anything but their profits scorecard.

    If the government just did their job providing resources for everyone, such as public schools, libraries, and health care, the rest of us might actually be in a position to care about making the country better. Instead, we’re being micromanaged by folks that obviously don’t know what they are doing.

  • Marc

    I’m with the cynics of a Manhattan like project. I just don’t trust the people who brought us the health care bill, the two wars and all the rest, to do more than take our money and waste it. Unfortunately, I don’t see any other way of doing this, other than the government getting involved. And I am a believer in man-made global warming, but I sympathize with people who don’t. There’s far too much of a religious enthusiasm around climate change and the need to reduce carbon emissions. There’s a long history of scientists piling on one side of an issue (the side that makes them the most money, get’s them visibility, and fits with a bias they have) and turning out wrong. In this case, though, I don’t think they’re wrong.

  • Zeno

    The conservative talking point is that taxpayer money should not be used for ANYTHING that assist the people of the US, only the corporations.

    Before the wars there was talk of these same energy policies and their cost to the national budget. It was stated that a completely renovated electrical grid could cost as much as 700 million and was unaffordable. Also energy credits, efficiency, wind, etc…all too expensive to research, build, and implement, but not too expensive to purchase from Europe or China.

    However the wars at 4 trillion was just fine to facilitate the continued trading of oil in dollars (Iraq), to reclaim the nationalized oil fields (Iraq), to project power over the leading oil producing region (Iraq), and to pipeline the (..)stans regional oil to the gulf (Afghanistan)….not to mention the socialization of all of the corporations that carried out the (privatized) wars.

  • click (here) to delete

    Sorry, folks…if you have to ask, it’s already too late.

    Game over.

  • Brandstad

    Jerry,

    For those so blinded by politics or so unable to think as a scientist, Skeptical until proven. I have several 650sq foot houses in California that I would like to sell you for $1 million each that are a great value and investment.

  • Webb Nichols

    25 Billion dollars a year? Too much money? You have got to be kidding! That is two months of spending in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is a surreal conversation. Help! Where are rational minds and reasonable people?

    Webb Nichols

  • http://cyberfumes.blogspot.com Dave Eger

    What a good idea, have the defense department spend more money on nukes! That’s really stepping forward…

  • khat

    Ellen, thank you for your post about flouride. don’t forget to mention that the research that was originally done about the effacacy of flouride came from the manhattan project trying to prove it wasn’t the excess of flouride being used in creating nuclear power that was polluting all of northern new jersey. that project created one of the most horrible weapons ever known to human kind, and if it saved any american lived it did so at the cost of millions of japanese lives and the american health for the past 70+ years.
    there is no reason we can’t tax carbon emissions and use the money for clean energy research. there’s no reason we can’t cut the budget and still invest in clean energy research by changing how we spend the taxes we do collect. we’ve spent billions per day in fighting a war over oil in the middle east, and our educational and health services have suffered. it’s good to know that the people in power have the best interests of the american people in mind, not their own profiteering.
    finally, we really shouldn’t need to invest much money in finding clean energy, it’s already been done.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLUeGX3hNpU
    all we need to do is build cold fusion plants, which would cost exceptionally less than researching other clean energies. the process is so efficient and clean that energy would be practically free. we should also encourage individuals to produce their own power with wind, water and sun where ever possible by offering tax breaks on the purchase of these technologies. the answers are all here and apparent, it’s just a matter of implementation.

  • Edward Burke

    Refined gasoline and jet fuel consumed in the US contribute two of our largest sources of pollution, viz., automobile exhaust and ozone depletion at high altitudes. Tax both at the source (in other words, put a tax on pollution, or wield semantics and tax the fuels themselves), no matter how regressive; watch the happy outcome of only the well-to-do able to own/drive/operate an automobile, only the wealthy able to afford to fly. (Would this amount to taking democratization out of economics or to injecting democratization into economics?) Raw economics has its own regulative role to play, if we let it.

    For the purposes of this program: what are the functions and activities of the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva and the Tevatron outside of Chicago–why do these two projects, or how exactly, do they fail to constitute on-going “manhattan projects” for energy research? If you look briefly at what particle physicists are up to these days, you might begin to be amazed.

  • Paul Martin

    It’s remarkable to listen to corporate evangelicals talk like this:

    Corporations never do any wrong. Ever. They operate with perfect efficiency, and the free market fixes everything.

    I guess the government created slavery. And pollution. And unsafe products, dangerous workplaces, child labor, etc.

    These people simply don’t believe in civilized society at all. There is no “us.” Only “me.”

  • Ellen Dibble

    As the real cost of energy, Kibbe of the Tea Party is saying, as it goes up.
    The real cost is obscured by not adding in the cost of the wars to defend pipelines, to support governments along the path whose positions are less than humane. The real cost of energy is obscured by lots of Very Big Government subsidies, as we are beginning to understand.
    Energy WITHOUT government support is nonetheless greening up, pushing against the Big Guys. I’d like to think their success is inevitable.

  • Valkyrie607

    People really need to consider exactly what is meant by “big government.” I for one oppose the push during the past 10 years to increase the government’s power to spy on its own citizens without warrants, but for some reason this never come up with people who harp on and on about big government.

  • Brandstad

    Spending money for a good goal with little thought is equivalent to the Failed Obama Stimulus Bill.

  • Heidi Kroner

    If private enterprise could fund alternative energy, then T Boone Pickens would be in there right now! However, the banking industry would not free up the capital. So, yes, the government has to intervene, and I DO THINK this would create jobs, put us back on the frontline of world competitiveness, and save our nation.

  • Dave

    Finally, someone like Mr. Kibbe to be on the show to offer a true libertarian (tea party if you must) perspective on issues. Please keep someone like him for many of your shows.

    Is he so scary everybody? Simply saying that the government probably isn’t the best way to achieve things? And pointing out that since every one is corruptible, concentrating power in a large, centralized government just invites the worst kind of effects of corruption? Spread out power, allow REAL competition, NOT the government influenced false competition that brought us the recent crisis (corrupted Fannie Freddie, corrupted lack of Wall st. regulation, unaccountable power in the Fed fueling the inappropriate financial bubble).

  • Zeno

    If you have a car produced before 2000…as I do, you might have to purchase a new one now: http://www.hybridcars.com/incentives-laws/ethanol-desubsidize-27931.html

    I was trying to be Green by maintaining my old car (30 mpg), and now I may be forced to purchase a new one due to corporate subsidies.

  • miro

    The Republican guest speaker, whose hero is Ronald Reagan, says that Republicans are not anti-science. He cites the Star Wars initiative, which most scientists thought was a futile waste of money, $10B/yr, which was larger than the NSF budget at the time, that could have been much better spent on the NSF.

    During Bush’s term, the NIH budget was flattened and funding got very, very tight, with grant funding success rates well below 10%. Hundreds if not thousands of labs downsized and/or shut down entirely.

    It’s just a flat lie that Republicans are good for science, and the speaker’s casual assertions should really have been challenged. Republicans like science only when the money subsizes their constituents, i.e. for the wrong reasons.

    Rather than focus on “clean” energy, we should focus on “sustainable” energy and energy independence. Rather than investing billions in nuclear power, we’d rather see a massive investment in cleaning up coal and natural gas (carbon sequestration). We have large reserves of coal and natural gas, and it makes sense to address the environmental externalities of those technologies.

    But, as usual, conservation and energy efficiency increases are the low-hanging, but oft-neglected, fruit. Large incentives for insulation and weatherization, cash for caulkers. A $1 gas tax would immediately shift car choices towards smaller, lighter vehicles. There is no reason that we should not be driving 100 mpg cars — Europe’s per capital energy consumption is half ours, with a comparable std of living. There should be guidelines that mandate constantly increasing energy efficiencies.

    The reason for these measures is not primarily a clean environment — it is economic autonomy and sustainability — energy independence — in a world that will see intense global resource competition and probably war in the coming decades. Our problem is political — oil comanies and financial interests have captured our government, effectively blocking major efforts to wean ourselves of our oil addictions.

  • Ellen Dibble

    If China is setting forth that they will invest 750 Billion in renewable energy development, it seems to me we should expect to spend at least that much (even if we have to borrow it from them), but China, being more centralized, is probably a lot more efficient in deploying its billions.

  • Nevan

    It’s funny how the offshore oil drilling ban was lifted less than 30 days before the mid-term elections.

  • http://N/a Jim Smith

    What about removing all US government subsidies for fossil fuels as a start. Wouldn’t that begin to level the playing field, but would the tea party and conservatives support that? Would the Democrats for that matter?

  • jeffe

    The Tea party is the modern equivalent of the “Know Nothing party”.

    The issues here are about investing, what part of this word do these people not understand?

  • Chris Troy

    This guy is talking about reducing subsidies for alternative energy??!!! Carbon-based energy gets $500 billion/year in subsidies! That’s the only reason drilling for oil in a mile of water is competitive (or building a nuclear power plant in N. Canada to convert oil sands).

    Hell, we spent $1-2 trillion to get the oil in Iraq, and we might need to go get Iran’s oil too. How much will that cost?

  • Flowen

    Interesting the Professor doesn’t want to talk about the $12 M / monthly for 12M barrels oil/daily they plan to get from Iraqi oil.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Who is saying government has to go for where there is most profit? Is this consumer friendly? Develop things that wear out, that end up in landfills?
    There is less profit in small efficient items. They are much less costly for the planet.
    Example. I have bought a whole new set of space heaters in the last year, using between 100 and 500 watts, which I might not have done if the 1500 watt ones did not blow my fuse. But someone got richer because I went greener.

  • Brandstad

    It’s funny how the offshore oil drilling ban was lifted less than 30 days before the mid-term elections.

    AND China and Russia can drill closer to our coast than US companies. And we wonder why so much of our oil supply if under foreign control… The answer is THE US GOVERNMENT and Man Made Global Warming Profiteers.

  • Valkyrie607

    Can we have a death panel for carbon-based energy? Shouldn’t the negative effects on our health and environment, and the extreme costs to our foreign policy, be factors in deciding to shut down subsidies for those industries?

  • Flowen

    Sorry, I meant $12 Billion monthly for Iraq operations.

  • john dobridge

    R and D on batteries would be a fair use of tax dollars. So would subsidies on micro-inverters, batteries and solar cells. Youtube is ripe with Americans building DIY energy projects. Use tax dollars to make that process easier

  • http://w.CarbonisOrganicallyCleanww. Dara

    Carbon is Organically Clean

    It comes from Organic material and turns into Organic material, just plant more trees instead of cutting them down.

    The waste from Nuclear, Solar Panels and car Batteries are all Toxic and dangerous.

    Especially, Electric cars are so sophomoric, because there is another Energy source is used to produce the Electricity which has its own pollution beside the energy Conversion and Transmission to the outlet for Charging cars has an Efficiency drop of at least 50 Percent which doubles the waste.

    Can you bring a Scientist guest on your show who has done a Trade-off study for full Cycle of each option.

    Regards, Dara

  • aefman

    Congress couldn’t put a monetary value on carbon, but there is definitely a price. It needs to be asked – What is the moral ideology behind the deniers who continue to obstruct any progress for a healthy planet. Tons of money is being invested to prevent environmental progress.

  • http://www.CarbonisOrganicallyGreen Carbon is Organically Green

    Carbon is Organically Green

    It comes from Organic material and turns into Organic material, just plant more trees instead of cutting them down.

    The waste from Nuclear, Solar Panels and car Batteries are all Toxic and dangerous.

    Especially, Electric cars are so sophomoric, because there is another Energy source is used to produce the Electricity which has its own pollution beside the energy Conversion and Transmission to the outlet for Charging cars has an Efficiency drop of at least 50 Percent which doubles the waste.

    Can you bring a Scientist guest on your show who has done a Trade-off study for full Cycle of each option.

    Regards, Dara

  • http://cyberfumes.blogspot.com Dave Eger

    The spending on the wars is the problem! The profits are only made by the resource extraction corporations. I’m with Webb that this whole conversation becomes surreal when put in context. Here we are feeling guilty about the gas we use driving to work, while there are Hummers and bombs are putting tons of pollution into the air everyday.

    Perhaps it’s time to realize that we are the aggressors in this war. It was never about defense, especially when you realize that those who benefitted the most from the wars were those who were the most gung-ho about starting them in the first place. Yay, we’re down to only 50,000 troops in Iraq, now we don’t have to worry about figuring out why we ever went there to begin with. It’s surely a coincidence that we just happened to invade the flanks of Iran and then start hearing spears being rattled in that direction.

    You want to save the environment? Stop the unnecessary wars. Until then, talking about your carbon footprint just makes it clear that you can’t see beyond your own shoes.

  • Valkyrie607

    Dara, you’re being obtuse – carbon pollution wouldn’t be a problem if it came exclusively from living organic sources. But instead we are taking carbon from organic sources that have been dead, and locked out of the carbon cycle, for 250 million years. Like phosphorus or nitrogen, it’s an essential nutrient that can be damaging when present in excess.

  • khat

    dara, you make a great point. if we produced enough batteries to replace all the gas burning cars in america the smelting process for those heavy metals would produce thousands of times the pollution that burning gas does.

    cold fusion!!!!! just do it!!!

  • Chuck Bagg

    I propose a simple workable solution to our energy and pollution problem in my Kindle e-book, “How To Fix America.” We could build hundreds of geothermal plants all around the giant Yellowstone Caldera, and produce and disstribute enough zero-emission electricity at 2 cents per kilowatt hour to shut down all our coal and oil fired power plants. It would put $200 billion a year into our treasury, and give us the cheap[est cleanest energy in the world. As a side benefit, we would suck enough heat out of the magama dome to prevent it from blowing up and wiping out most life on the planet.

  • Ted

    I haven’t heard anyone mention hydropower including both conventional and hydrokinetic. It is cheap and continuous (aka dispatchable) renewable energy like the potential of biofuels and unlike wind and solar which are intermittent. Hydropower could easily match the 20% by 2030 wind potential because there is very little scientific breakthrough required; just good solid engineering development and an intelligent permitting process.

    Secretary Mabus’ long range recovery plan published in September 2010 for the Gulf states specifically mentions the potential of harnessing power from the Mississippi River Basin which drains 40% of all the water in the US.

    I agree that the government and the National Labs are terrible at picking winners. That’s why any government R&D investments should use a portfolio approach that is broad with multiple research avenues in each area. Long term market methods should still be pushed because they are vastly more efficient and will draw in the private capital sitting on the sidelines; all they need is a stable market signal.

  • Ellen Dibble

    If smartcars, smartbatteries, smart-windmills, and smart-computers all require rare earths, which China (and Afghanistan) are busy cornering the supply of, then the next “war of aggression” might be over possession of the moon. I kid you not. NASA is probably thinking about laying claim to any promising looking rock up there in the sky.

  • Bernard B

    Earlier there was mention of Regan’s interest in science as exemplified by Star Wars and the International Space Station. This shows a lack of depth in understanding the science, technology, and history of these projects. The Star Wars was a technological and military absurdity. It was made quite clear at the time by Tsipis and others. The slow, expensive development of limited defense against long range missiles in the intervening years confirms this.
    Those examining the Space Station have not found that significant science has been produced.From a project costing in the tens of millions.

  • http://choniski@corporatevalueservices.com michael choniski

    Regarding the question if whether advances in clean energy be best pursued by capitalism or the US government: It depends upon the nature of the solution being sought. If the solution being sought is solar cells with an efficiency and cost that make them a viable substitute for some kinds of energy use, then it is likely that industry and a reasonable level of research from govt agencies can develop a breakthrough. But if you are pursuing space-based solar arrays and microwave transmission of energy to ground stations, this is something that should be pursued by government.

  • khat

    chuck, if most of the life on the planet is as lacking in intelligence as it appears to be, maybe letting it get wiped out isn’t a bad idea…..

  • khat

    cold fusion!!! it’s possible, it’s been done dozens of time over -

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLUeGX3hNpU

    why is no one else talking about this option??? no batteries, no emissions, minimal environmental impact…. do the research!

  • Dave

    “What about removing all US government subsidies for fossil fuels as a start. Wouldn’t that begin to level the playing field, but would the tea party and conservatives support that? Would the Democrats for that matter?”

    Exactly. Of course Libertarians/Tea Party would support that.

    Would the Dems? Would the Repubs? What do you all think? Of course not. They are so far corrupted into our status quo, business as usual, grease your lefties, grease your righties culture, trust our “centrist” approach…..

    If you keep characterizing the Tea Party/Libertarians as “Far Right”, you are really throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and missing a chance for a paradigm shift. Yes you will find far right nuts. You will also find disillusioned progressives.

    Its a movement for less centralized corrupted power that does NOT serve the people over the long run. The long run. Socialism fails over the long run. Neoconservative Imperialism fails over the long run. Corruption fails in the long run.

    Taking Power away from a large centralized, corruptible power (what do you do when an all powerful govt is corrupt, where do you turn? When a smaller entity with competitors is corrupt, you turn to a competitor, unless of course the government has colluded and created an oligopoly via favoritism), does not have to be a “right or left” idea. Unless you are an actual socialist, it does not have to be.
    Why don’t you believe that if gas prices go up, business people will scramble to find alternatives? That is really un-debateable, if the people are free to pursue those interests and not held back by government/industry corrupted barriers to entry.

    It is just common sense for a country that is supposed to be founded on freedom and individual liberty and responsibility.

    The corrupt powers of the status quo will continue to try and blur the Tea Party/Libertarian movement as a Far Right aspect of the GOP to prevent open minded people from seeing any value to the ideas.

    Divide and Conquer.

  • Bernard B

    These conversations generally seem to share the unspoken notion that if we get carbon emissions under control, that we will more or less be OK. The dying off of genetic diversity is obviously a wider phenomena and we are the seven billion elephants in the room.

  • Brandstad

    I know this is a seperate topic but, did anyone else see Barney Franks boyfriend heckling Barney’s opponent during a press conference?

  • Dave

    “The spending on the wars is the problem! ”

    Yes. And unless you support a drift toward larger and larger corruptible government making more and more decisions for us that benefit cronies and politically connected business (Fianance anyone??), you should listen to what folks like Ron Paul and other Anti-War, Anti-Big government, Anti-big banking Libertarians/Independents are saying.

    Dump the Dem/Repub Big Debt-Big War Machine.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Dave, I think removing the supports from fossil fuels, besides getting costly for the everyday Joe, would cause another recession. Industries that are huge would have to retrench. Huge numbers of jobs would be lost.
    That has to happen, but in the turning of the Titanic fashion, mindfully. Perhaps one fiscal collapse propagated BY the government right after another fiscal collapse (well, to be sure that was actually propagated by government policy or lack thereof as well) — that would be too much.
    My take-home quote has to do with the government (or its profitable tax-payers and campaign contributors) wanting to invest where there is as much profit margin as possible.
    Whereas the consumer ought to be looking for bargains in the old-fashioned way. It might not be “sexy” to have really comfortable shoes, less sexy than the latest model car, but they’ll get you from here to there. Why is the “best choice” (per the ads on TV) always the worst choice for the planet?
    Because the best choice for the planet doesn’t need a large advertising budget. Word of mouth should do the trick.

  • mad-nomad

    It is interesting to hear the many ideas from individuals, on how to change the way we should use energy.

    As gas prices rose five years ago, I noticed all those little scooters buzzing around. Even little scooter dealerships popping up roadside. But, once fuel prices dropped the scooters dissappeared. An example of people trying to save themselves, not this country or the planet.

    And during those $5 a gallon prices, not once did I hear anyone suggest lowering the interstate speed limit, from 70 down to 60. Wouldn’t this do it’s part to help? If there were enough citizens in this country who cared enough to start with, they would slow down now.

    Smart cars, battery cars, solar, electric, sounds great. But this country has a “need for speed” appetite. They race cars, trucks, boats, motorcycles, buses, go-carts, jet skis, airplanes, snowmobiles, dragsters, semi’s, hell they even race RIDING LAWN MOWERS!!!! I cannot imagine a time where the parking lot of the Daytone 500 will be filled with smart cars, or similar, while 750 hp behemoths are circling the track at 2 miles per gallon. Can you say “oxymoron”?

  • Nevan

    Thank God Obama and his job-killing democrat party couldn’t pass Cap and Trade. Don’t rule out Obama illegally trying to enact higher energy and fuel prices via Executive Order after November second.

  • john smith

    Once again the M.C. allows neo-cons to spout their mythologies unchallenged.

    First, where is the evidence that the so-called free market comes up with better solutions than non-profit entities? Private enterprise does things in a manner designed to maximize their immediate profit no matter what the long term cost to the economy or the cost to society. For instance its actions in the financial markets which were designed to maximize immedaite profit at tthe expense of the world economy and the money of millions of small investors. Or the recent BP decision to ignore its own engineers and cut costs by not following proper procedures, leading to the gulf well blow out.

    Second,what if there is no adequate “free market” solution to problems such as global warming? Does that mean we shouldn’t use the resources of government to deal with the problem? Why don’t we leave fighting wars up to the “free market”?

    Where were commentators that would present a different point of view? Just some more of government radio’s capitulation to neo-con sensibilities.

  • Dave

    “Do We Worship the Market?” (Libertarians)

    http://www.campaignforliberty.com/article.php?view=1155

  • Dave

    “Whereas the consumer ought to be looking for bargains in the old-fashioned way. It might not be “sexy” to have really comfortable shoes, less sexy than the latest model car, but they’ll get you from here to there. Why is the “best choice” (per the ads on TV) always the worst choice for the planet?”

    Exactly, and those are free economic decisions. If the Fed prints more money allowing you 0% credit cards so you “can” buy the sexy shoes….. that’s the whole problem.

    And thats why painful as it seems, letting prices reset,painful as it is, seems like the best option. Otherwise we will never do it.

    The big enterprises that are benefitting from our malinvestment will never willingly hand over their corrupted positions. Are we going to negotiate with them to take it back slowly? Every additional negotiation with the corrupt will be another compromise that prevents us from ever being rid of the problem.

    So a painful reset to a more truly level, unsubsidized in any direction playing field, where intelligent people can choose comfortable shoes, rather than be tempted by the Federal reserve to buy sexy ones they can’t afford, benefitting only the credit companies and the sexy shoe companies.

    Save up for sexy shoes.

  • Adrian

    I am again touched by Tom’s absolute trust in the omniscience of politicians and his faith in and his unquestionable devotion to Al Gore’s Church of Global Warming. The only guest on your show who could think in principles was Matt Kibbe, president and CEO of FreedomWorks. Indeed, freedom is the only thing that works.
    Tom, may I suggest that some good day you have a discussion with a distinguished older scientist, physicist Hal Lewis? Prof. Lewis has resigned from the American Physical Society, one of the nation’s most prestigious scientific associations, in protest over its support for the global warming hysteria. Lewis’s open letter explaining his resignation shows how Climategate has radicalized many scientists, who now see the integrity of science itself as under attack. For a copy of the good Professor’s resignation letter go to:
    http://www.thegwpf.org/ipcc-news/1670-hal-lewis-my-resignation-from-the-american-physical-society.html

  • ThresherK

    Oh, “budget cutters” again? While waiting for the podcast I eagerly anticipate hearing evidence therein of them actually cutting budgets. Or even balancing a budget!

    Until then, it’s just another label given in Republican Birthrighteousness (and honorarlily to “centrist” Dems), like “Family Values” and “Strong on Defense”.

    Obama and his job-killing democrat party

    I was so on board with you until you used the noun “Democrat” as an adjective. I’m beginning to think you’re not very well informed. However, we are dunning you 100 “Fox bucks” for forgetting to call it “cap and tax”–memorize the talking points next time, bub.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    Tom: You wasted another perfectly good hour “listening to car talk.” The research arm of the Manhattan Project was in New Mexico (Los Alamos-militarily controlled), and corporations did all the manufacturing and refinement in East Tennessee (Oak Ridge) and Washington state (Hanford)). Like most of WWII the corporations ran the war for profit (sometimes deferred) and seized bureaucratic control to entrench the Congressional-Military-Industrial Complex. My considered estimate is that nuclear power is a net loss on the environment and society and has only been maintained by subsidies and underwriting at public expense. It has also been an excuse for secrecy and surveillance on innocents. Our entire GDP could not clean up even Hanford in a hundred years. We have no radioactive waste repository, even after much expenditure. In my mind nuclear power and undeclared war are pretty much the same category of costs, feeding the fascist-corporate monster that holds us hostage. Your guests admitted they don’t have a clue as to what such a project would be seeking besides tax money.

    The early Twentieth Century insurgent model was pragmatism. John Dewey wrote about it and applied it successfully to higher education. There could be no better experiment than community and family scaled energy production. Right now those yard furnaces that burn wood anyway could also power a turbine for electricity. Solar panels are cheaper every day, and every home and apartment with Sun should install some. Towns need their own windmills not subject to privatized utilities. There should be more incentives and low interest micro-loans. Bio-fuels seem ill-advised if cropland is to be switched away from food, but who can quarrel with using wasted by-products? If there were to be a global campaign for one thing, I’d say, let’s abolish the corporate charter as a concept and make all people accountable for the way they earn money. You don’t have to be a P-tardier to support that, but it is something that solves alot across the political spectrum.

  • Liz

    @ Heidi Kroner
    Are you kidding? T-Boone has already invested millions of his own money in a huge windfarm project. We should all be as bold.

  • http://www.venturacommenter.org F. William Bracy

    Your Enterprise Institute guest thinks there is such a thing (and wants) free energy. He says batteries need to be 200 percent more efficient than they are. Remembering that batteries are nothing more than an energy STORAGE device, this would mean that batteries would require 200 times longer to fully charge than they do presently.

    There is no mention of hydrogen energy research on this panel which is precisely what I expected. These are folks whose lips run like perpetual motion — spin that takes off without a scintilla of thought behind it.

  • ThresherK

    Liz, search “boone pickens” “wind farm” and “water rights”. There are a lot of knowledgable folks who wonder about Pickens and ulterior motives west of the 100th meridian.

  • Nevan

    Of course we should look to the federal goverment to establish new and innovative energy policies, just look at how brilliantly the federal goverment has run Social Security and the U.S. Postal system into the ground.

  • Dave

    Ellen and others interested, RE: Removing government subsidy, or put another way, Keynsian theory-based maintenance of demand for demands sake, via debt spending.

    http://mises.org/daily/4682

  • cory

    Nevan,

    Hoover Dam… Interstate Highway system… Apollo program… Manhattan project… Lend Lease… Military defeat of Germany and Japan in WWII…

    These are all things brought to you by YOUR powerful central government which was funded by taxpayers who dont always agree with what their tax dollars are spent on.

    Which of the above achievements are possible with your particular world view?

  • Clint

    What about using abanonded mining sites across the US as potential sites for energy R&D? It would create jobs for struggling local economies and rehabilitate some awful scars. Plus you’d have a huge amount of land at your disposal and you wouldn’t risk the possiblity of destroying anymore beautiful resources. You can find a large mining site within a resonable distance of any major city so you could attract intelligent people too.

    Clint, Architect

  • http://www.venturacommenter.org F.William Bracy
    …just look at how brilliantly the federal goverment has run Social Security and the U.S. Postal system into the ground. Posted by Nevan, on October 18th, 2010

    Right, Nevan, and don’t forget about Amtrak. Oh, wait. That’s right, Amtrak was the government entity CREATED when the privately owned passenger railway system in America folded, what with Santa Fe, Union Pacific, Illinois Central and virtually all others deciding that they could no longer support their losing financial enterprises. Strange — Europe has never had that problem. Passenger rail flourishes almost everywhere else in the world. How could this be? It couldn’t have anything to do with “government intervention,” now could it?

    How old are you, Nevan? Do you expect to still be alive when America sees its first “Bullet Train?”

  • Flowen

    IMHO

    The bottom line is that with proper energy pricing, intelligent tax legislation, and supportive lending, a Manhattan style energy research project would not be needed.

    Exxon et al will be well on the way of GM, and eventually buggy whip manufacturers, a whole lot faster than most people think.

    Without proper energy pricing and current tax law, a Manhattan style research project won’t make any difference and will be a waste.

    Remember the AEI guy thinks the research project would be great as long as it focused on renewable energy that cost less than fossil fuels (Bush corn ethanol deja vu?), and by the way, algae sounds like a winner (who else likes algae, hint: rhymes with revlon). And, if gasoline goes back to $ 4-5 / gal, he says politics and economics get messy, all bets are off!…that’s the one thing that they can’t deal with: higher energy prices leading to “demand destruction.” Until then, everyone, Repub, Dem, Liberal, and Tea Partier, we are all under their oily boot!

  • Steve V

    One issue seems to be off the table, and that is the growing worlds population. To many people will be chasing fewer and fewer resources, including energy, food and water. Apparently that’s a subject we can’t discuss. By the way, what is the population capacity of the world? Is it unlimited?

  • Zeno

    All large projects require a manufacturing base, and a functioning economy based on labor. However, thirty years of Reaganomics may have sealed our fate : http://www.dailyfinance.com/story/disturbing-statistics-on-the-decline-of-americas-middle-class/19676292/?icid=main|classic|dl1|sec4_lnk2|178480

    It is difficult to imagine how our failed republic can withstand anymore trickle down.

    “As Smith notes, the top 20% of the American populace holds roughly 93% of the country’s financial wealth, and the top 1% of the country holds approximately 43% of the money in the U.S. Meanwhile, the middle 20% of the population — what would, officially, be called the middle class — holds only 6% of the country’s total assets. While disturbing, even this minuscule share of the wealth pie dwarfs the bottom 40% of the country, who control less than 1%.”

    The problem with our government is that it does not serve the people, but is very effective at redistributing our tax dollars upwards.

  • Jeff

    “Markets, when not corrupted by government, tend to work”

    Does he mean markets like the one undermined by Wall Street shenanigans?

  • Nick

    Clean engergy incorporating natural resources — solar + wind — IS the way forward.

    The neo-conservatives + Tea Part supporters are ideological Luddites: burnt fossil fuels create carbon (CO2). Fossil fuels are tipping the planet’s natural atmospheric and ocean PH balance, advancing the natural plantary warming + alarmingly, the rapid thawing of both poles.

    Investing $ Billions in Clean Energy would create millions of jobs, reduce our reliance on oil + coal (+ natural gas) + protect human + planet-wide, intricate ecosystems, of which we, people, are just one tiny (albeit absurdly ignorant + destructive!) part.

    I suggest reading some New Yorker + New York Times articles re. the fossil fuel conundrum + how burning oil + coal is negatively effecting the planet: our only natural habitat!!

  • bernard b

    One of these guys claimed that jet engine efficiencies (presumably airliner turbofans) have increased 200% in the last 20 years. Operational engines have been significantly improved, but that means a ball park improvement inverse specific fuel consumption of something like 30 per cent or so, not 200 per cent. In fact, the idea makes no sense on the face of it and indicates a very week technical background.

  • Revolutionary Technology Comes From Direct Government Programs

    Many (or perhaps most) revolutionary technology
    comes from direct government programs.

    Consider :

    The Internet (DARPA)
    Satellites (NASA)
    Microprocessors (NASA, NSF and DARPA)
    Modern Computer Programming/IT (DARPA)
    Gene Sequencing (NIH, NSF)
    Genetic Engineering (NIH, NSF, NCI)
    Stem Cells (NIH, NSF)
    Nuclear Energy (Manhattan Project, DOD)

    Much additional technology comes from
    government contractors and highly regulated
    utilities. For example : The old Bell Labs.

    Additional technology comes from non-profit
    institutions like Universities that receive
    major amounts of government funding.

    Of course, without the government granted
    MONOPOLY on the fruits of applied research -
    Eg. PATENTS – very few companies would invest
    in applied research, and even fewer would
    make their knowlege public which allows others
    to build upon it.

    In short, if your looking for revolutionary
    technological innovation – look FIRST to GOVERNMENT,
    NOT to markets.

    Markets are better at short term incremental
    advances that offer clear and near-term
    rewards. Even visionaries like Apple built
    on the work of government sponsored research -
    and off course – all technology companies
    DEPEND on government granted monopolies.

  • http://www.homegrowngreens.com Clifton Middleton

    Free Market Hemp is the solution to a renewable, sustainable fuel supply and jobs. Have none of these experts studied the history of biofuels. Henry Ford operated over 40 ethanol production units using hemp for fuel and fiber car body parts. Educate yourselves, Google hemp and fuel, please. The production of hemp is possible in every state of the union, the processing will require thousands of jobs everywhere, the fuel produced will be carbon neutral. We can do all of this without any taxes or borrowed money. The Tea Party is for Free Market Hemp and joins George Washington in exhorting the Patriots, “Concerning hemp, Plant It Everywhere. The media conspired to make hemp illegal in 1937 and need to tell the truth about hemp.

  • syed ali

    shift labor and payroll taxes to green or carbon tax and the market will take care of finding the best way forward to a low carbon technologies.

  • james

    TOM ,I was listening to your program today on NPR in my semi,& the gentleman on the program said that even if someone could come up with A concept how to make power to power the world, If it would work.he said No one had A cocept on paper. (yes I do). And I had gave my concept to A college Electical Teacher he said that it was Pheaseable. I tried to get A Grant Search & I was turned down ,because it was not far enough along.(It was on paper in A concept)So it is not as easy as he says to get the funding. This concept would power cars without big storage ,drive arround the world & never use 1 ounce of coal ,gas or nuclear & never plug in .So what is wrong with this picture.This concept could replace all the power plants as we know it. Not using 1 ounce of fossil fuels or nuclear.Tom I hope you get this message ok.Please reply,Thank You James

  • jeffe

    We live in a plutocracy, period.
    Nothing will be done.

  • Mark Lamb

    How about allowing consumers the choice? The government can have a role of providing standards so consumers know they may pay a little bit more for cleaner energy.

  • Zeno

    Jeffe – Yes.. and until people begin to realize that most of the discussions here on On-Point are pointless unless they acknowledge the primary fact that the government they were born into, is not the government they have now.

    All of the political parties are facades for the continuation of the corporate plutocracy, and addressing your goals and desires to them is like sending letters to Santa.

  • Mark

    Plenty of $ for improved energy sources. Go after the people who are bankrupting the world and have most of the wealth. For the betterment of society, make them pay for it!

  • Grady Lee Howard

    Clifton Middleton must have gotten ahold of some bad weed. He is mistaken if he thinks the P-tards will support either hemp production or pot decriminalization when they are INSTALLED in January. They represent the most AUTHORITARIAN segment of society and are in awe of our corrupt Oligarchs. Expect raids on Social Security and Medicare for prison and policing funds. And George Washington? George got his money the old fashioned way:
    1. Owned 400 slaves
    2. Speculated illegally in Ohio lands
    3. Married a wealthy widow

    Clifton Middleton has an ass-grabbing site (dissolves your tool bar) where he is selling his organic farm and some mysterious organic seeds he had left over. So don’t go there. Maybe the Koch’s will buy your farm, Cliffy. In fact, I hope all Oligarchs “buy the farm.”

  • Ellen Dibble

    If our government is mainly a reflection of K Street, of what the lobbyists for large corporations believe is to be in their interest, then why do they want “small government”?
    Firstly, large corporations seem to think that their interests are congruent with ours; they are enlightened, and enlightened self-interest for a large corporation is supposed to be the same as self-interest for the entire planet. (Bill Gates split off that part of his thinking and left his corporation behind, but that is an exception; he’d Microsoft thrives because the world is stable and flourishing, I bet.)
    Secondly, corporations seem to see themselves as responsible for and paying for lots of government functions; they pay into the Community Chest, the United Way, for certain functions, but trying to keep the Situation in Washington DC in line? What a waste of money. The less they get in the way the better. We think on behalf of America. We have the monies that mostly end up going for the wars, all that. Doing it via Congress is so inefficient; the less Congress does, the better.
    I wonder if those MBA business school deans would concur. “We teach people to think globally, and to take responsibility,” something like that.

  • Dave

    ““Markets, when not corrupted by government, tend to work””

    “Does he mean markets like the one undermined by Wall Street shenanigans?”
    -Jeff

    Did you see the words, “when not corrupted by government”. Ie: Federal Reserve policies (even though not really government, but horrifyingly a private, unaccountable cartel), and Fannie/Freddie. Then, you have the corrupt politicians (government) letting their Wall St friends run roughshod using all the free Fed money, without an appropriate legislative framework.

    Libertarian 101: Establish Legislative Framework for level playing field and accountability. Let competition work.

    Thus, “Markets, when not corrupted by government, tend to work”

  • Dave

    Jeffe and Zeno,

    Make a better Tea Party.

    Their gut is right, even if some lack “sophistication” and some are socially conservative.

    Dems and Repubs are a dead end.

    Repubs and doing their best to fold Tea Party into the GOP, which will kill the true reform aspect of the movement.

    Most Libertarians and I think many Tea Partiers are on board with the Ron Paul stoyline which is anti-big banking/Fed and anti-military industrial complex and aggressive foreign intervention.

    There is a HUGE difference between Ron Paul Republicans/Tea Partiers/ Libertarians, and the Modern Neoconservative Republicans.

    We should keep the Tea Party alive, not let the GOP steal it, and improve it by finding common cause between disgruntled small government progressives, libertarians and yes, disgruntled republicans who may not share social liberties, but have more fundamental things on their mind right now.

    This is a rare historical window of opportunity to challenge the massive and massively corrupt 2-party/banking/foreign policy status quo.

    Agree?

  • Jim in Omaha

    Kind of late to the “discussion” but Dave has a point. True progressives should have greeted the Tea Party by saying “We feel your anger. We’ve been pissed off for years. Thank you for finally paying attention because anyone that is paying attention should be angry.” Now we have let the anger be essentially captured and directed by the regressives.

    And for Brandstad, also kind of off point: Did you notice we are still fighting 2 wars at obscene cost and to the detriment of our country due to the lies and incompetence of Barbara Bush’s and Liz Cheney’s idiot husbands?

  • Zeno

    Dave – Although the T.P. has had many valid points, its future is being controlled by extremists. I hope they are not the future of American governance. Continuation of Reaganomics and Christian Theocracy combined with extreme Libertarian ideas will not restore the Republic or even a continuing democracy.

    The nation needs to build the Independent party with an unbiased secular platform (think renaissance) based on the best ideas from ANY source that will best provide for the people, and not the select ideologues who seek the same envied power that the plutocracy now enjoys.

    The TP has become repugnant to the American Ideal.

  • Ben Millstein

    What about the subsidies that oil receives. We have to have all the info. How much of the military budget is actually an oil subsidy?

  • d’Arcy

    One of the guests, I think it was Michael, declined to explain why the “Manhattan Project” and “Apollo” analogies aren’t apt, so I will: Neither of those programs required many new ideas. Einstein was pretty sure that a bomb would work, Oppenheimer pretty much knew how to make it work. Werner von Braun and his fellow German engineers knew how to make rocket engines; von Braun became interested in rockets in the 1929s as a means to travel to the Moon. In both cases most of the effort was in applied science. In contrast, for “new” energy sources we do need breakthrough basic scientific research.

    Now, as it happens, and unmentioned in the program, we have the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (DOE) that is doing basic as well as applied research. I don’t know what its budget is, but it should be relatively easy, though time-consuming, to find. We also spend hundreds of millions on research on hydrogen fusion as a power source. It, unfortunately, has been “twenty years to fruition” for fifty years.

    Tom calls for $25 billion a year. That works out to about 250,000 workers – scientists, engineers, technicians, oh yeah, and bureaucrats. Bureaucrats include secretaries, grant writers, administrators, custodians, a full list would be almost endless. It would be a boondoggle. And given our putative shortage of scientists and engineers, how would we ever staff it?

    Does that mean we should we do nothing? Not at all! The above mentioned NREL is something. And private industry is doing a lot as well. We’d get much more private investment if industry could be assured that when it finds a breakthrough it can profit from it. Too often wind and solar, for example, are met by rabid, self-styled environmentalists (and Nimbys) who move heaven and earth to block projects, “You want to build what? Where? Over our dead bodies!” Recall it took about ten years to get initial permits for Cape Wind.

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.zapen David Zapen

    This is almost a week late; sorry. Miami FL’s WLRN plays the show at 7pm. Any reference to cheap oil must be refuted with the math from http://www.thomhartmann.com that $3/gallon gasoline is subsidized down from the $10/gallon in costs to health from pollution and policies that include $3T hostilities in Iraq & Afghanistan & Venezuela, the latter that had a near-coup declared by then-Secretary Rice before it happened. Remove all subsidies for oil (like undervalued leasing costs) and coal (like letting mountains get dynamited) and nuclear power (like insuring what the private sector won’t) and put solar panels on roofs like in Germany with electric cars for batteries like in Denmark. If Reagan & Bill Casey hadn’t kept the hostages in Iran after the 1980 election, or with a different Bush v. Gore decision, we wouldn’t need BP’s alleged technology.

  • T.S.

    Why didn’t we even mount a “Manhattan project” to try and stop the Gulf oil disaster?? Compare how we handled our crisis with Chile. Had we treated the mine disaster in the same way we handled the BP disaster, those miners would still be down there waiting for the mine company to get them out.

  • George

    Where’s the funding for R&D in ocean energy?

  • Flowen

    “As gas prices rose five years ago, I noticed all those little scooters buzzing around. Even little scooter dealerships popping up roadside. But, once fuel prices dropped the scooters disappeared. An example of people trying to save themselves, not this country or the planet.”

    Posted by mad-nomad, on October 18th, 2010 at 11:24 AM

    Thanks mad-nomad! You make my case…the only thing that will produce a clean energy future with improved national security, health, and environment is by allowing energy prices to rise. Painful as it may be, it is the ONLY way.

    Looking out for “number 1″ is the greatest motivator of behavior of all.

  • Eric

    Here are plenty of examples of technology that already exists to create clean, sustainable energy -doc “Our Technical Reality” Full http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqv0Y1t1bNw&feature=related

    I think this lecture is also very relevant. I’ve taken the time to break the vid down into sections if anyone is interested.

    Zeitgeist Orientation Guide: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnK5mBCFTMg
    Part 1: Section 1: Monetary Economics
    1: Need for Cyclical Consumption
    2: Abundance of Scarcity
    3: Priority of Profit
    4: Fiscal Manipulation
    Spectrum of Crime: 1. General 2. Corporate 3. Govt (worst War)
    War: 1. Industrial Profit 2. Resource Aquisition(theft) 3. Strategic Geopolitical Alignment(increase ease of 1 and 2)
    Section 2: The Final Failure (20min 35sec)
    1: Beyond Irresponsibility: The Nature of the Current World Wide Collapse
    2: The Ultimate Outsource: Technological Unemployment
    Monetary Reform does not address this issue
    Part 2: Section 1: What is Relevant? (31min 20sec)
    1: Natural Law
    2: Scientific Method
    3: Dynamic Equilibrium, Carrying Capacity of the Earth
    a. Energy, nothing but abundant on this planet
    b. Industrial Raw Materials, enough to support the Earth’s people?
    Carrying Capacity of the Earth
    1. Knowing exactly what the Earth has as far as component elements and materials.
    2. Where technology is in regard to creating synthetic substitutions for certain elements and materials.
    3. How society organizes and manages it’s use of these elements and materials
    Current system rewards 1. scarcity
    2. planned obsolescence
    3. waste
    4. pollution
    5. multiplicity
    Section 2: Means for Social Evolution (46min 30sec)
    -Goals: Clean air and water, nutritious food, material abundance, efficient transportation, relevant education, public health care, the end of war, environment that enables us to improve, human extensionality, reduced stress, reduced crime
    -Method of Thought: Scientific Method
    -Tools: Technology
    Part 3: Resource Based Economy , The Venus Project (49min)
    Section 1: Industry and Labor, How do we design a production system that maximizes high quality output, reduces waste, considers the dynamic equilibrium of the Earth, and reduces repetitive and mechanical human labor?
    step 1: survey the planetary resources.
    step 2: decide on what needs to be produced.
    step 3: optimization of production methods: maximizing product lifespan.
    step 4: Distribution Methods
    step 5: Optimized Recycling
    Who will maintain the machines? Cybernation, self repairing. Delegating labor and decision making to technology.
    Section 2: Govt, everything in regard to social organization is a technical process. (1hr 06min)
    -The Transfer of decision making to computers is the next phase of social evolution. This removes human error, and removes dangerous biases, subjectivity, and erroneous opinion.
    1: Cybernated System:
    a: A Central computerized database containing catalogs of every known material and technical understanding. The most efficient decisions we can make are decisions that take into account all known relevant variables.
    c: An Earth wide autonomic sensor sytsem, with environmental sensors in all relevant areas of the planet, generating “Industrial Electronic Feedback” regarding resources , operations and other environmental issues.
    c: Interdisciplinary teams of technicians oversee the system and help orient research projects to continue growth, efficiency and social evolution.
    2: What about Democracy? our problems in life are technical. Democracy currently is an illusion. Once politicians are in power we have no say. There never was a true democracy.
    3: How will a person participate in a Resource Based Economy?
    True participation in a society would entail understanding how society technically worked. And then constructively proposing ideas and renovations to be implemented, created, or altered.
    1: Interact with Centralized Database most likely in form of website everyone has access to.
    2: Input their proposal. The Central Database with it’s historical knowledge and full integration of all scientific fields would then analyze the concepts for it’s scientific and technical integrity along with optimizing the materials required, if necessary, based on current understandings and availabilities. If the proposal is initially accepted by the Central Database after it examines it for it’s basic integrity it would either immediately be put into production, such as would be the case for desired invention.
    3: Or it would be turned over to the interdisciplinary teams that oversee the implementation of the new proposal and orient it into the system. The person who submitted the proposal would then become a part of the interdisciplinary team relevant to the idea. These teams would not be fixed but constantly revolving based on who wants to participate in a given field and what they have to contribute. This is a true “election” based on what a person has done , not what they claim. Further more, the publics fear for corruption will have little basis for there is no reward for it. The Interdisciplinary Teams do not get paid in any way for their world views have been expanded to realize that their reward is the fruits of the society as a whole. And they contribute because it benefits them directly. The reward is the continual improvement in society for all. Similar to volunteering today even in our corrupt world. Participation is open to all.
    Part 3: Summary (1hr 19min)
    -Who makes decisions in a RBE? No one does. Decisions are arrived at by the use of the Scientific by Method by computers that give real time feedback from the environment along with the Central Historical Data Base of all known technical information. And maintained by revolving Interdisciplinary Teams. The Goal is to increase objective decision making as much as possible. And when we realize that all our problems in life are technical the merit of this approach is without parallel.
    -Real Issues in Society in the Natural World Are:
    1. The Production of Goods and Services that are equally available to all.
    2. Research projects and educational systems to expand our knowledge, understandings and applications.
    3. The Monitoring of the Earth’s Resources and atmosphere for feedback and possible environmental problems.

    Resource Based Economy Section 2- Cities and Lifestyle (1:20:10)
    1. Cities: Designed to be extremely flexible to allow for constant upgrades and changes. They are emergent fully integrated systems designed to evolve like a living organism.
    2. Life Style: ownership vs accessibility

    Human Behavior (1:28:15)
    1. Nature Vs Nurture All humans are hardwired to be greedy and want to seek dominance?
    a. What is Criminal Activity?
    b. Environment: There is no fixed , predetermined “human nature”. Our values, methods, and actions are developed and derived from experiences.
    2. Legal System
    -Laws are nothing more than patches. Which do not address the root causes of behavior. The source of any so called “crime” is really Society itself.
    - Merva-Fowles Study
    -1% Rise in Unemployment resulted in
    6% Increase in Homicides
    3.4% Increase in Violent Crimes
    2.4% Increase in Property Crimes

    -Design Out the Flaws of Society- If we want to alter the behavior of people we have to alter the social conditions

    In Conclusion:
    -Many Religions throughout History Advocate peaceful, unified ideals for humanity. Our current system perpetuates one’s self at the expense of others. Therefore it won’t allow for a world of balance and harmony.

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