Michael Klare in his book “Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet,” warns readers that growing scarcity and sustained worldwide demand for fossil fuels has created the new geopolitics of energy which are putting many at risk.

Risks to humans worldwide include increased energy prices and adverse environmental impacts, and the possibility of resource wars between powerful nations fighting for control of these precious but few drivers of our modern economies.

So, when Navy Secretary Ray Mabus says that he wants 50 percent of the power for the Navy and Marines to come from renewable sources by 2020, steps are clearly being taken in the right direction.

That the armed forces are reducing their currently heavy reliance upon fossil fuel powered machinery can only help in transforming the psyche of the American consumer.

Sustainably powering base camps saves not only fuel cost over time, but also reduces risks to military convoys that transport fuel to rural Afghanistan over dangerous ground. Ironic as this decision may seem in light of Americans’ addiction to oil, the military is often the first to embrace technological development and implement it in machinery and weaponry.

The military, by switching from coal to gas before World War I, propelled the United States to becoming the leading oil-consuming nation in the world. Now, with its investment in developing and implementing renewable sources, it can help us reduce our addiction.

Instead fighting for “vital resources,” the military’s ability to stimulate development of new sources of energy will consequently stimulate social and economic demand for these resources from the vital American private sector.

The means by which we pursue our ends in Afghanistan and militarily throughout the world must be conducted in a more sustainable fashion. Such sustainable means are smart and practical.

Thank you, U.S. Armed Forces.

Evan Doyle

Falmouth

The development of a hydrogen manufacturing base and infrastructure was not even discussed at the gubernatorial candidates’ debate on energy and the environment.

Even though we now have cars, trucks, buses, railroad engines, planes, boats, ships and even submarines that can run on hydrogen, we don’t discuss it. It is because the focus is fixed on producing more electric power using fossil fuels, wind, solar and nuclear power.

This is a glaring mistake. All of these take a method extraction, refinement and delivery that is expensive and inefficient when compared to hydrogen. Even oil from the Gulf of Maine must be extracted and refined. Where would it go to be refined, who would ship it back to us and at what cost? Wind power takes huge massive towers on which are perched relatively small generators. Both the tower and generator must be constantly maintained. Put it out to sea and the cost is magnified. I could go on to the others, but I don’t have enough space.

Hydrogen can be produced by hydroelectric and biomass (wood chips) electricity for electrolysis of water. It can be produced at retro-fitted, unused mills at far less cost of any other fuel source. It can be distributed very close to source, thus reducing delivery costs.

Yes, biomass and hydroelectricty have a carbon footprint, but it is relatively small when compared to tower generators, solar panels, ethanol, nuclear plants and refineries.

Herbert Twiddy

Yarmouth

To the list of players, including Vladimir Putin and Big Oil, hoping to exploit Arctic fossil fuels should be added the Republican Party.

For the past 25 years, the major energy initiative proposed by Republicans has been opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil drilling. Conservation, alternative energy sources, increased car fleet gas mileages, have been scorned.

To quote from the recent “Contract from America:” “Authorize the exploration of proven energy reserves to reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources from unstable countries and reduce regulatory barriers to all other forms of energy creation ” ANWR is again being specifically targeted by this platform.

Even taking off the table any argument about global warming, such backward-looking policies would ultimately only briefly delay the inevitable exhaustion of fossil fuel supplies, and put us even further behind China and many other countries who are investing in nonhydrocarbon technology for the future.

The Arctic Refuge also happens to be the single most majestic tract of wilderness in this country. The U.S. Congress has little authority over much of the Arctic, but does have the power to permanently protect ANWR.

The choice will ultimately, of course, depend on we the people, and the individual choices we make about our relationship to the planet, our children’s futures and the politicians we elect to office.

Paul Muscat

Cape Elizabeth 

The Business Saturday article in the Oct. 2 issue of your newspaper regarding the state’s second-largest installed solar energy system should be an eye-opener to anyone who is involved in energy policy from the local business-owner level to state and national governments.

A few basic facts from that article:

The total installed price for this system was $347,300. The owner planned to save 70 percent of his $13,000 annual electric bill. The net cost to the building owner for the solar energy system was $77,000.

Now let’s fill in some blanks:

The annual electrical cost saved was $9,100 ($13,000 times 70 percent). The actual simple payback for the system is in fact 38 years ($347,300 divided by $9,100). The cost difference that was paid for through federal grants, tax credits and rebates, was $270,300 ($347,300 minus $77,000).

The simple payback enjoyed by the building owner is therefore about eight years ($77,000 divided by $9,100). One other fact that deserves mentioning: The estimated useful life of a solar photovoltaic panel is about 25 years.

Conclusion: This type of investment is a really smart one for the building owner, being the equivalent to about a 12 percent annual return on investment ($9,100 divided by $77,000).

From a policy basis, however, the taxpayer will still be paying for this “investment” well after the system wears out. This is good policy?

Gary R. Guerette, P.E., C.E.M.

energy engineer,

Scarborough

GOP blocking law to keep U.S. jobs at home 

The latest measure advanced by Congress to help out-of-work Americans currently being blocked by the GOP is legislation to end tax breaks for companies that send jobs overseas.

This legislation would give those tax breaks to companies that actually invest in creating jobs for American workers in America.

In 1970, the top 20 percent of American wage earners controlled 9 percent of our country’s wealth. Forty years of politics and policies that mostly favor the rich have caused that percentage to rise to 23 percent by 2008.

During the Bush administration and Republican rule in Congress from 1994 to 2006, 700,000 jobs disappeared from our economy while the top 1/10th of one percent saw their wealth rise to levels not seen since the robber baron days of the J.P. Morgans, Carnegies and Rockefellers of the 1880s. If you look at old pictures of Bar Harbor you will see the palatial homes that wealth built.

So shut off those multimillionaire shills for the economic elites Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and call Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe and ask them why their party is stonewalling a measure to provide tax breaks for hiring American workers? Ask them to explain what’s patriotic about their party supporting tax breaks for companies that send American jobs overseas. It’s time we exposed the “con” in conservative!

George Harlan

Old Orchard Beach

Sign thieves should recall that it’s against the law 

I would like to thank the people who have removed the campaign signs that I have placed to show support for my candidate during the recent campaign. I have used my gas, my time and my vehicle at a considerable expense to me to show my support.

They removed these signs because they did not support this candidate. Maybe in future campaigns everyone should go around and remove the signs of candidates they do not like. That could be beneficial to everyone, as there would not be any signs from any candidate.

No, I didn’t remove any signs — as a matter of fact I have even straightened up some of the signs that were bent over by the wind, even though I did not like the candidate they promoted. I still believe people have the right to show support for the candidate they support. Are vandals aware there is a $250 fine for the illegal removal of these signs? Check the state laws. I hope they get caught and fined the next time this happens.

Roy Cogswell

Portland

Suicide news shows people aren’t listening 

What sobering news in a single day — two suicide attempts. One was in Portland, a man in so much emotional pain he lit himself on fire to free himself from it. In New Jersey, a young student jumped off a bridge and died after two fellow students streamed his homosexual sexual liaison online and made jokes about him.

And get this, the students look like they are minorities, one with Pakistani or Indian heritage and another with Asian heritage! Surely they know how it feels to be a little different and to be ridiculed or discriminated against.

In Portland, two bystanders risked their own safety to help the man in flames. If they could have helped this man before he lit the match, would they have done so? What if the students in New Jersey could have seen ahead to the outcome of their prank?

Every one of us knows what we should do; it’s not at all complicated. We need to treat others how we would like to be treated. Every day each of us has opportunities to overcome our self-centeredness and to listen, to set aside our prejudice to show tolerance and to slow our reaction so we behave consistently with our values.

These examples show that doing what we should do can make all the difference.

Curtis Mildner

Kennebunk