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Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Solving the energy crisis

Posted May 22, 2008

How are you dealing with these gasoline prices? Please weigh in. Folks, we’ve got an energy crisis. How do we solve it? I would like to hear your thoughts.

With every week bringing a new record high in gasoline prices something has to give. Rapidly rising energy costs have a crippling effect on many layers of the economy. So what do we do?

Personally I think it needs to start at the top. We need a true visionary plan coming out of the White House. We need a vision like the one President Kennedy had for the space program in the 1960’s. It’s the type of vision that fires the imagination and the collective passion of the public.

I ran across the quote the other day that fired my imagination. It came from Cal Tech Chemistry Professor Nate Lewis. He said: “More solar energy hits the earth in one hour than all the energy the world consumes in a year." Let that sink in for a few minutes. Lewis believes there are inexpensive ways to convert solar power directly into electricity. Lewis says water could be converted into “fuel like hydrogen, that can be turned back into electricity on demand.” Lewis says one day you may put paint on your house that captures electrons from the sun and ultimately powers all your gadgets and heats your home.


That sort of thinking isn’t going to stop today’s pain at the pump. We need short and long term strategies. We need to develop more energy sources right away and additional ones on down the line.

I look forward to driving a clean and green fuel cell car one day. It can happen sooner than you think with leadership, determination and a national spirit of energy independence and environmental stewardship.

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  • hkypky May 23, 2008

    You can find ways to conserve just about any form of energy available. However, the impact of conservation will always lag behind that of an alternative energy source to what you are conserving.

    In the case of cars and gasoline, the fact is that just about every American is limited by what is commercially available on the market. You can publish all the warm, fuzzing, geeky stories you want about experimental vehicles and alternate fuels, but if those products are not available to the market, don't expect to ever reap the benefits.

    The oil companies don't want you to conserve. They also don't want to spend the money to outfit gas stations with alternate fuels. The automobile companies don't want to produce more fuel efficien and/or alternate power source cars because they are too expensive and it impacts their profit per car. Together they are somewhat joined at the hip in that one has to wait on the other to produce products the other can use.

    We're in for a bumpy ride.

  • charlesboyer May 23, 2008

    One way that employers could really help out their employees is to encourage telecommuting and possibly consider four day work weeks with an optional fifth day. Many companies do this already, they call it "summer hours" where employees work ten hour days as opposed to five eight-hour days.

    That wouldn't work for everyone in every job but if we were more creative in our commuting strategies and took some cars off of the road yet remained productive, it could be of real help.

  • CestLaVie May 23, 2008

    "This would give America time to develope and institute other means of power sources."

    Jimbo: America's HAD time, especially since the 70's when we went through a similar situation with gas.

    I think there are probably MANY who've already had visions & have tried implementing them for decades now. I think those visions have been squashed by the oil & auto industry. The costs to develop these ideas have been & are now prohibitive.

    Living in CO in the 70's & 80's, I saw that solar energy was becoming the norm in newly-built homes. Come back east - a foreign concept. In TX yrs ago, you could see miles & miles of windmills; also saw huge evidence of their use in Monument, CO along I-25. Come back east - NIMBY in effect.

    In CO, I drove a carpool for over 3 yrs 75 miles one way to work. Tried that here - nobody interested.

    Foreign car makers are swelling our country with their better-mileage cars because US car makers aren't getting it!!

    More words for debate.

  • lwilkins May 23, 2008

    We had a president who sat in front of a fire with a sweater on and told the American people to use less.He started the Depart. of Energy and stockpiled gas.He was not re-elected.This was President Carter and the years were 1976-1980. Our past should haunt us.

  • blytle May 23, 2008

    Bill, I loved what your said about having a President inspire our imaginations as Kennedy did with the space program. I also wish people would think about driving more fuel-efficient cars so that demand for gasoline wouldn't be so high. Also think about car pooling to conserve gas and decrease demand. Each of us needs to take responsibility to do anything we can as individuals to decrease demand on oil supplies.

  • willis2 May 23, 2008

    The government hasn't done anything in 35 years since the '73 oil embargo so I don't have any hope they will start now. Drive less, walk more and put pressure on the auto companies to get electric vehicles on the road. My 18 year old car will only be replaced by an electic car so all the advertising in the world for gas cars is useless. Check out the Volve Recharge to visit the (hopefully near) future of autos.

  • ricrdu May 23, 2008

    Bill, It is not Shell or Exxon driving the prices up. It is the oil speculators, the open world market, & oil suppliers in OPEC, Mexico, governments in South America, and the Middle East. It is not the US oil companies and citizens fault. Until the US Congress agrees, and states as US Policy "we will drill new wells and build new refineries on our own US soil for less dependence on others", we will remain hostage to other's profiteering. The anouncement of this new energy policy alone will drive the market prices lower now, even before the 5 to 7 years before our new "domestic" sources and refining come online. The sooner Congress acts the sooner prices will fall.
    Also, I suggest the additional new US oil royalties & government revenue for new drilling opening up be used as the source of funds to increase energy independence.
    The internet is a wonderful source to research why we are at this point in pricing today, government policies begun with Clinton and "oil is too cheap" Gore.

  • jimbo1951 May 22, 2008

    If the American population would just cut out all excess driving and use on necessary driving for only one week you would see the prices start coming down. This would creat an overflow at the storage facilities. The time is NOW to drill here to gat away from foreign oil as soon as possible. This would give America time to develope and institute other means of power sources.

  • Drifter May 22, 2008

    GM has made the Chevrolet "Volt" that can get 150mpg. Unfortunately right now, it's extremely expensive to make the batteries for it. Ford and GM both have fuel cell technology, but again, it costs too much to produce the parts for it currently. What we need is to get people on the ball and get this technology within our grasp to make it cost effective. I think maybe Congress can help with that, if they stop bickering about stupid things.

  • 5GDad May 22, 2008

    Cary,

    Which do you think is easier to do: 1) Get the President and Congress to do something or 2) Solve the problem ourselves?

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