Dave Spicer: Help Wanted: A President for the Issue of Our Time

Want to shake up the election? Instead of allowing the candidates to define the issues, why not have the electorate define the issues and then pick our leader(s) who will do the best job of solving them.

We have several contenders for the title “Issue of Our Time.” We need a presidential candidate to rally the country around a cause, and solving the “Issue of Our Time” would certainly be cause for such a rally. But what is the Issue of Our Time?

Global Warming and its associated climate change should be on our list of contenders. Al Gore recently received a Nobel Prize for keeping Global Warming in the headlines, but after many years and numerous treaties, we haven’t really made any headway in combating it. Perhaps that’s because Global Warming isn’t really a problem, it’s a symptom of the real problem, our continued use of fossil fuels.

How about energy shortages, that would be a good rallying cry. In the 1970’s we reached what M. King Hubbert, a Shell engineer, called “Peak Oil” in his 1956 paper. We are now seeing oil hovering around the $100/barrel mark and its fossil fuel siblings: natural gas, propane, heating oil, etc., have had proportional price increases. In his seminal paper, Mr. Hubbert forecasted domestic US oil production would peak in the 1970’s and history has borne him out. He also predicted that global oil production would peak around 2010, and it appears we may have reached that point as early as 2008. One way to eliminate energy shortages is to use less energy, but we all know that won’t happen. The other way is to focus on the root cause of the problem and shift our energy diet away from limited fossil fuels and begin using another form of energy.

Then there’s always the economy, perhaps that’s the issue to focus on. After all, it worked for Bill “It’s the economy stupid” Clinton. We have a serious weakening of the dollar; a horrible trade imbalance, particularly with countries like China; and we’ve become a debtor nation. One “band aide” for our economic ills is to continue to lower interest rates, that always provides a needed boost in the market, at least until the next one is needed, further weakening the dollar. Instead, maybe we should focus on the root cause of the problem; oil is the single largest component of our trade imbalance. If we curtailed our use of oil and shifted to a different energy technology curve, we could become exporters of that technology.

Lastly, there’s terrorism, an issue that since 911 keeps us all awake at night. After almost five years of fighting in Iraq, we are no closer to “defeating” terrorism than we were the day after 911 and we’ve been spending thousands of lives and about $10B per month in this effort. The foreign policies of the industrialized world are now being dictated by OPEC and a handful of irrational dictators whose only claim to fame is the oil they’re sitting on. Perhaps we should face the root cause of the problem and stop using oil and other fossil fuels, reducing the financial and political influence of terrorists and terrorism to zero.

So perhaps, just perhaps, the “Issue of Our Time” is not any of these seemingly unsolvable problems, perhaps the “Issue of Our Time” is the root cause of all of them, our continued use of oil. And here’s the interesting part, we now have the technology to achieve this through the replacement of our current fossil fuel economy with a “Carbonless Electric Economy.”

Energy economies have three components: sources of energy, uses of that energy, and distribution to connect the uses to the sources. Today’s fuel economy is fossil fuel based. The uses, or sinks, burn these fuels to provide our transportation and electricity, and the distribution channel uses fossil fuels to transport oil and gas in ships and trucks to the places where they are ultimately consumed—burned.

In a Carbonless Electric Economy the source of the electricity is the sun, distribution takes place over electric transmission lines, and the uses turn electricity into transportation, heat for our homes, and energy for our factories. Not a single carbon atom is consumed or a single molecule of CO2 is produced. This technology is applicable to all the industrialized nations of the world and as such its export would reverse our trade deficit, it would cap the generation of CO2 allowing the earth’s atmosphere to heal itself, and it would remove the financial and political influence of those intent on terrorizing a world that really just wants to work and receive the benefits from that work.

This is the scenario within my novel DEADLY FREEDOM.

We have been tilting at the windmills of terrorism, global warming, energy shortages and climate change too long. A telltale sign of leadership is strategy and for the last seven years this country of 300 million people has been without a strategy, ergo, without leadership. Where is the presidential candidate who will focus on the Issue of Our Time?


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