You remember the scene in Oliver Twist where all the kids are sitting around the dining hall tables and Oliver has the audacity to ask for more. Then they all break out into “Food...glorious food!” I completely understand it, only its not food, but electricity!
Today I woke up around 9:30a. Just as I walked into the upstairs hallway I heard my computer's battery backup making noise. Thought to myself, “hmm, the power must've just went out.” Sure enough no power. I was going to go make coffee. Wrong, the coffee maker runs on electricity. Next I go back upstairs and decide to watch the Speed Racer DVD I received from Netflix yesterday. Ugh, I can't turn my computer on, can I? Oh well, there's always the Tivo recording of last night's episode of Sanctuary. NOPE...can't watch that either if I can't turn on my television set, can I?
Wanted to call PG&E to see about the outage. Problem there too. We use a cordless phone, which runs on electricity, and our phones aren't working since my router /modem is not on and we use Earthlink's phone service. But I can always use my cell phone. As I slide the keyboard out it gives me a low battery indicator and tells me to plug it into the recharger. :-)
I had thought about going out and shooting some digital photos today, but I needed to recharge my camera's batteries since I hadn't used it in months. Scratch that one. I was about to scream at this point!!
So what's the thread through all of that? ELECTRICITY!!!!! Without thinking of it, American society has grown so intertwined with the dependency on energy, especially electrical energy, that when it's not available we're basically stuck. One of the big themes that we keep hearing by this year's presidential campaigns is try to rid us of the reliance on foreign oil, and the mantra of “Drill...baby drill.” I'll give the Republican candidates kudos for coming right out an publicly admitting that for all to see (even though I don't wholly agree with it. Then there's the talk of “clean coal” as if there really is such a thing.
Build! Build! Build! Build coal-burning power plants. Build hydroelectric dams. Build oil refineries!! Those are always the primary answers that seem to be heard. However, there seems to be very few sound bytes promoting the #1 renewable energy source that will always be here as long as Man walks the Earth....Solar Power.
I'm hoping that someday some president will see that logical conclusion and try and solve the looming energy problem by attacking the crisis head on, with a groundbreaking speech akin to John F. Kennedy's “Moon” speech given Sept. 12, 1962. If you're reading this Mr. Future Present, I would come up with a $1 billion tax break for the first American car company to develop a fleet of cars that rely on electricity. There HAS to be a way to develop a solar cell system that can cover the entire exoskeleton of the car body so as to provide a long lasting charge of energy without giving up many of the creature comforts we've came to enjoy, and being able to drive at more than 30mph for 200 miles at a time. Think of it as a governmental version of the XPrize. (The XPrize foundation HAS an automotive-based XPrize, but it doesn't go far and doesn't have the potential impact this government handout would).
Oh, by the way, YES...I said billion with a B. That's one big tax right off going to big business! However, it would only be available with some strict limitations. The company must be American-owned. The company must build their vehicles here in the US. NAFTA doesn't count. The vehicle must consume 100% electricity as its fuel source. The cars must be in full production and available to the general public no later than 2015, and the company must pledge it will manufacture the vehicles for at least three years after being rewarded with the tax break. If the latter is violated then the company will give up their tax break and publicly publish their patents for all the World to see AND use. By converting our vehicle fleet over to relying on electrical energy, and not looking like something out of Back to the Future, Part II, that will put a huge dent into our consumption of fossil fuels.
Now that's the Pie-In-The-Sky vision, especially when you've got car and oil companies telling us that a 100% electrical car is not going to ever happen because of such and such a reason. It happened with the space industry. It can happen with the auto industry. Also consider the natural advancements in other industries that will be an off-shoot of such an automobile industry revolution.
In the immediate future better tax-breaks should be more readily available for Joe Citizen so they can install solar electrical systems on their buildings to help relieve stress on the Grid. If the leadership of this country cannot envision at least that there will be no emphasis on development. Kennedy had a vision and that vision was realized in less than a decade. This one should be too.
After all, it's not rocket science!
(BTW: If you're interested in knowing what I ended up doing, first I took my fossil fuel burning car and went to my bank, followed by coming home and picking up a book I'd started reading a few months ago. Unfortunately, with my eyes I seem to only be able to read for about an hour before I've got to put the book down. Power eventually came on around 2:30p when I sat down to write this blog.)