Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Why my blog is titled as such

For those of you who are wondering why I named my blog "On the Rim of Insanity" I couldn't think of a more glaring example then this one. Basically, Congress has passed a no-energy bill yesterday which would mandate fuel efficiency of cars and trucks, boost production of ethanol and cut energy use in light bulbs and appliances. Seems nice enough. Clean energy, less oil, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Same bullshit coming out of DC with regards to energy. This isn't even a band-aid fix on our current energy policy (or lack thereof). Brace yourselves, I am going to say something that is too true to deny: ALTERNATIVE ENERGY IS NOT VIABLE OPTION. Now repeat that in your head over and over as you read on.

In terms of abundance, ethanol is only as good as the salted corn chips I like to eat. Other then that, it is a terrible substitute for gasoline. It lowers the mileage of cars, thus causing the consumer (that's person driving an automobile in this case) to purchase more gasoline and burn more fuel. You think they started using gasoline from oil because the automakers wanted to pollute the world? I guess they were all just classic mad scientist supervillains bent on world domination or destruction then, huh?

Since ethanol comes from corn, I guess the USDA and the DoE will be in slithering into the gasoline business. Gasoline (and the cost of salted corn chips) will go up as these resources become more scarce due to the modified refining process. You can expect gas prices to go up about 20 cents per gallon on average over the next year. You can also expect the frequency with which you have to fill up your gas tank to go up as well.

As for lessoning our dependence on oil, the government has done a damn fine job of ensuring that doesn't happen. They are the ones who built the Interstate system and thus created the traffic jam. The more jobs they create in DC, the more people are sitting on I-95 in the morning running their engines and waiting for the car in front of them to go.

As for lessoning our dependence on foreign oil, the government has done a damn fine job of ensuring that doesn't happen at all. They have repeatedly refused to allow oil exploration domestically and have refused to allow more refineries to be built here in the United States. As a result, gasoline prices have gone up as we have to import oil and gasoline. There is no reason why the United States should be importing oil, other than the comparative advantage reason, and Congress has shown just how ignorant they truly are in these matters.

Liberal and many conservatives alike also make failed approaches to this problem. There are people on both sides who seem to think that alternative fuels will save us, from oil dependence or terrorism. These people are fools and probably should read a book instead of blabbing on about the economics of alternative fuels, a subject of which they have no basic understanding. When I was taking IB Chemistry in high school (that's an advanced placement course based on international standards) we learned about alternative fuels and primary fuels and how oil, coal, and nuclear energy are the most efficient and productive and still a lot cleaner then you think. I even took a field trip to a nuclear power plant (Lake Anna) and a coal power plant. In both cases, the power plants were very clean and safe. In the case of the nuclear power plant, the tour guide was very informative and demonstrated just how secure and safe everything is. Did you know that the core material there is replaced every 4.5 years or so? The ratio of resource usage in comparison to coal and oil is so lopsided in this case that it's not even funny.

But Congress has been very hostile to nuclear energy since the 1970s because of the association with nuclear bombs. No new nuclear plants have been built and the old ones are shutting down due to Congress's own regulations. In the three decades since, don't you think that we can build better nuclear power plants with all the advancements in technology? And please, don't lecture me on the problems with Chernobyl as that was based on the flawed Soviet design (the United States has a much stabler design using molten Boron to transfer heat to water instead of directly heating the water from the fission reaction).

EDIT: I've left the above statement up there for a couple of weeks and I realized that I was dead wrong about Molten Boron. That was for Fusion generator designs I believe. In the case of nuclear power, we use highly pressurized water in order to heat the turbine water into steam. This design may seem pointless, but it helps to keep the turbines from becoming radioactive.

So really, the current energy "crisis" is the fault of the Federal government's own overreaching in regulation and power. Maybe they should just back the fuck off and let the free market determine the needs of the people for once.

But no one in the media or the DC elite ever asks, "Should the government be doing this?" these days. I guess that's why I'm a Ron Paul supporter, the only sane voice in an insane world.