Long-term solutions to our energy problems (by Russell Hoffman) -- January 11th, 2001

To: "Tim Redmond" tredmond@sfbg.com,
Editor, San Francisco Bay Guardian
From: "Russell D. Hoffman" rhoffman@animatedsoftware.com,
Concerned Citizen
Re: A long-term look at energy solutions
Date: January 11th, 2001

To The Editor;

Although PG&E is probably lying just as your paper suggests this week (PG&E's propaganda war, SFBG, January 3rd, 2001, p. 19), I have to say, few people seem to be looking towards genuine long term solutions, least of all Gray Davis, Bill Richardson, or much of anyone in government at all.

But nevertheless if we don't find long-term solutions, soon enough we will run out of oil, our nuclear plants will melt down or be hit by terrorists or airplanes or asteroids or what-have-you, and our use of coal will have polluted the planet still further and killed who-knows-how-many miners, and all the problems we are facing now will only be worse.

This is all quite avoidable, but it will take far greater investment by government than anything our governor is proposing, and it will take far greater sacrifice on the part of business than anything PG&E selflessly might offer, and it will take far greater effort on the part of the people than any of us would prefer.

But it can be done, and the only other choice is spiraling costs, depleted resources, and a destroyed environment.

Right now, there are clean-energy solutions to our problems. Wind energy is underutilized, solar energy likewise. We barely utilize tide energy at all, let alone wave energy, biomass, "ocean thermal gradients", or "DAMATOL", which is a way to harness energy from the natural tendency of waves in the Pacific to curve around a circular structure. Geothermal energy use is minimal, and the much-maligned-but-still-not-to-be-totally-ignored hydroelectric capabilities of this state have probably not been fully or properly harnessed. Let alone the Pacific Ocean's own currents, such as between nearby islands.

With current technology, ALL of these systems can be harnessed. Environmental consequences of each are trivial in comparison to what happens if we start to actually run out of oil, or if we have a nuclear meltdown, or if global warming effects become more severe. It's switch or suffer. Those are our only choices.

The progress that has been made in motor, pump and compressor technology not only allows us to build far more efficient machines than ever before, but it allows us to tap weaker and weaker forms of energy. The #1 use of energy in most cities in the world is to move and raise water for drinking, for sewage, for cleaning, for irrigating, and for all other uses. Raising water can be done much more efficiently if people are willing (and able) to make the capital investments necessary to obtain the newest technology.

The Earth is a garden of energy. It's available in many sources, though few are as "concentrated" as coal, oil, natural gas or uranium. That should no longer be an impediment.

The sun creates solar energy -- we can launch rockets from floating platforms, so why can't we build equatorial solar collectors in the middle of the ocean, and transmit the energy to us via high powered, long distance transmission cables? Energy can now be cost-effectively transmitted over land, underground, or under water thousands of miles. Why aren't we utilizing all the natural energy sources that are available, wherever they may be? Why do we still insist on moving millions of barrels of oil and carloads of coal, and radioactive materials all over the place when we could lay down a global energy grid and get all the power we need by wires that just sit there looking and being benign? (For those worried about EMF dangers, these can be DC lines -- they do not have to be AC lines. The technology needed to transmit megawatts either way exists now.)

In the past six months I have collected hundreds of signatures for the petition shown below. These were almost entirely collected at a play about technologist R. Buckminster Fuller, called The History (and Mystery) of the Universe, which was performed recently to sold-out audiences in downtown San Francisco (closed December 31st, 2000). They probably represent a fairly well-educated crowd, and I know there are even nuclear physicists, and teachers of all sorts, in the list.

What they are asking for can be done NOW, using modern, existing technology. Renewable energy solutions are the only solutions with lasting usefulness for humanity. Gray Davis is paying only lip-service to the real needs of this state, and Bill Richardson is less than useless. Great changes need to happen quickly.


Russell Hoffman
Concerned Citizen
San Francisco (temporarily at: 23rd St, SF, CA) California, USA
(full contact information appears below.)

Global Energy Grid: Bucky Fuller felt that the idea of a global energy grid supplied entirely with renewable energy was his most important technological contribution to society. He came up with the idea in the 1930's, before it was practical. But now it *is* practical, and we need it now more than ever. Right now two billion world citizens do not have any access to electricity. http://www.animatedsoftware.com/geni/rh2000ge.htm

Information on new and efficient pumps (and all others, as well): http://www.animatedsoftware.com/pumpglos/pumpglos.htm

Petition signed by hundreds of people in San Francisco in the past few months:

I support a clean, sustainable environment

I want to live in a world that will last for many centuries, so our children, and their children, can all have clean, affordable energy to heat and light their homes, and cook their meals.

I SUPPORT the closure TODAY of ALL the world's 400+ nuclear power plants -- each is a potential Chernobyl because no nuclear power plant can be protected against every potential hazard (earthquakes, terrorists, war, airplane impacts, operator error, design error, rust, metal fatigue, poor construction, or asteroid impacts from the heavens).

I SUPPORT the immediate switch to SUSTAINABLE ENERGY RESOURCES -- away from coal, oil, and nuclear and towards non-polluting or minimally polluting solutions such as wind energy, solar energy, tide, wave, geothermal, biomass, hydroelectric, "Ocean Thermal Gradient" and ALL THE OTHER clean-energy solutions which are available now, yet are not being used.

I SUPPORT a global solution to the world's energy problems, where ALL PEOPLE have a chance to read, to live, and to work in a clean, sustainable environment.




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Mail to: rhoffman@animatedsoftware.com
First posted April, 2001.

Last modified April, 2001.

Webwiz: Russell D. Hoffman