If you don’t subscribe to National Geographic, please try to find the latest copy and read about the dilemma the world faces with the crisis of energy supplies.

Huge corporations are now growing enormous fields of corn or soybeans to be turned into biofuels. And already the peasants in Mexico are rioting in the streets because the corn is so expensive they don’t have the money to buy the masa for their tortillas. And, this week in Burma, the monks are now joined by the nuns and others protesting the price of fuel.

The Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) located in Tacoma Park, Md., has produced a report that is a roadmap for U.S. energy policy for a carbon-free and nuclear-free energy supply. Their latest newsletter, Science for Democratic Action, tells us that we are facing a three-fold global energy crisis:

1. Climate disruption. Carbon dioxide emissions due to fossil fuel combustion are the main cause of severe climate disruption, which threatens irreparable harm to the global economy, society and current ecosystems. Finally, the United States is beginning to pay attention. Lester Brown’s Earth Policy Institute assures us that the strong trend of rising temperatures that began around 1980 has produced the warmest years since 1867. Remember last week? The temperature in Maine was the highest recorded for that date in September?

2. Insecurity of oil supply. Rapid increases in global oil consumption and conflict in and about oil exporting regions make prices volatile and supplies insecure. With decreasing oil supplies and high demand, the price of a barrel of oil has reached over $81 a barrel last. Did you notice the gasoline pump numbers whirred by until you saw a total that reached higher than you’ve ever seen before? It seems only a few years ago that I could fill my tank for $15, and yesterday it was $34.

3. Nuclear proliferation. The spread of commercial nuclear power provides technology that can be used to develop nuclear weapons. Where in the world will we store the nuclear waste? How would you feel if someone wanted to store nuclear waste anywhere in the state of Maine?

The central finding of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research report is that a zero-CO2 economy can be achieved in the United States within the next 30 to 50 years without the use of nuclear power and without acquiring carbon credits from other countries. The report recommends a combination of technologies to create a reliable electricity and energy system entirely from renewable sources of energy, including solar and wind power. This can be done at reasonable cost, while creating a much more secure energy supply that at present. In addition, there will be large health benefits from the elimination of most regional and local air pollution, such as high ozone and particulate levels in cities, which is due to fossil fuel consumption.

Let’s encourage our community leaders to reach out to new environmentally safe businesses that would hire our Maine graduating students. Now that’s a win-win picture.


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