Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Four Ways to Stop the Energy Crisis

Gal Luft has been profiled by Esquire magazine as one of their "Best and Brightest Minds for 2007". In the Esquire article Gal outlines "Four Ways to Stop the Energy Crisis". Highlights are below...

  1. Make gasoline-only cars illegal

    "Every gas-powered car has an average street life of seventeen years, which means that the minute you leave the lot, you're signing up for two decades of foreign-oil dependence. The easiest way to change this is to mandate that every vehicle sold in the U.S. is flex-fuel compatible so that it can run on just about any blend of hydrocarbon-based fuels -- gasoline, ethanol, methanol, etc. The technology already exists, and the process is cheap, about a hundred dollars per vehicle. Detroit will cry about 'government interference,' but in fact the mandate would open a vast new free market in alternative-fuel development."

  2. Kill the Iowa caucuses

    "Here's the first thing every presidential candidate who visits Iowa is asked: 'Where do you stand on ethanol?' Why's this a problem? Because the ethanol lobby has managed to place huge tariffs on ethanol produced abroad while freezing out the development of other alternative fuels at home. It portrays itself as this sort of savior, the domestic solution to our reliance on foreign oil, but it really just protects a tiny number of midwestern corn farmers. Anyone who thinks otherwise, bear in mind: Even if every single kernel of corn grown in America were converted to ethanol, it would still only replace about 12 percent of America's gasoline requirement."

  3. Think of the world in terms of sugarcane

    "America hasn't been very good about making friends in the Middle East lately, but there are still a few countries in Latin America, Africa, and southeast Asia that like us. And many of them, such as Panama, Kenya, and Thailand, grow sugarcane, from which you can make ethanol at half the cost of making it from corn. We should direct foreign aide throughout the agricultural sector in these countries to increase their efficiency and create jobs. That will make them happy, and it'll improve our national security. They'll be our friends forever. Unlike the OPEC nations."

  4. Revolutionize waste

    "Sixty-five percent of our garbage is biomass: food, paper, scrap wood. All of it could be converted to methanol. The process has been around for two hundred years. And it's twice as efficient as cellulosic ethanol, supposedly the next big thing in alternative fuels. Then there's coal -- America has a quarter of the world's reserve, but we use it mainly to feed power plants, which is a dirty and inefficient use. Instead, coal can be converted to clean-burning methanol for the equivalent of one dollar per gallon. Last, look to recyclables, like black liquor, a toxic by-product of the paper industry. Right now, paper mills inefficiently recycle it themselves. But black liquor can be converted to methanol. Do so and we'd generate nine billion gallons of methanol a year -- almost twice the ethanol we now make from corn."

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