Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Book of Matthew: Solving our energy crisis

Published: February 1, 2008
Section: Opinions

We have an energy problem in this country, quite possibly the most difficult one in history. This problem is two-fold; we must find sources of energy that are cost-effective, but at the same time do not contribute to global warming.

President Bush was one of the last people that I expected to call for alternative energy sources, given his ties to the oil industry, but lately he has been doing just that. In fact, in his State of the Union address, the president asked Congress to help fund clean coal research, nuclear power, and renewable power. To many, this is a move in the right direction, but to others it is not enough.

Although clean coal, nuclear power, and biofuels are better alternatives to oil in terms of greenhouse gasses released, they are not good enough. Just think about it. Clean coal may be clean, but it is still coal and still gives off carbon dioxide when burned. Nuclear power does not release such gasses, but it does result in highly radioactive nuclear waste, that no one wants to store. Biofuels, although considered to be one of the best choices for America, are polluting and cause agricultural prices to rise. So, my question is why does our government talk about these three alternatives so much, while ignoring emission-free wind and solar power?

Actually, the answer to this one is economics. Clean coal, nuclear power, and biofuels are similar in that they all require energy companies, which in turn make large profits. Wind power, however, has long been labeled as unreliable, while individuals can utilize solar power without the aid of energy companies. In short, this means that President Calvin Coolidge was dead on when he said, “the business of America is business”.

In order for this nation to fully adopt wind and solar power, we must prove that they can be just as profitable as any other alternative energy source. I hate to say it, but a lot of Americans just don’t care about the environment, and they will never care without some incentive. They must be given an incentive.

What we can do is give control of all existing windmills and solar panels to energy companies, and require these companies to build more all over the country. This may be a large investment at first, but after these structures are built they require little else aside from maintenance (compared to the coal, gas, uranium, or corn required for other power sources). In the long run, this should reduce high energy prices, and give many Americans piece of mind, knowing that their homes are not contributing to global warming.

All we really need to end this energy crisis is some good old-fashioned public outcry and a president who is willing to make real, decisive change, instead of mere improvements. I’m not sure exactly who this president will be, but I can tell you all with certainty that it will not be George W. Bush. It will be a real leader.