Saturday, December 8, 2007

Prosperity, Comfort, Quality of Life, WalMart, Sanity

There are two schools of thought among reaching the post-carbon age.  The first school is that suggests that we will not have to live with long term energy privations.  We can substitute carbon free energy sources for carbon emitting sources.  We have the technology to do it.  Although although the advocates of solar and wind power tout their approach, they only supply intermittent electricity.   There is no way we can make the wind blow every time we flip the light switch, and we flip the light switch at night precisely because the sun is not shining.  advocates of so called renewable energy know this, but they judge nuclear power by a different standard.

A reasonable question about the future would be, is is possible to have prosperity, a comfortable high quality life, and the ability to shop in WalMart when we want to?   Most people find prosperity through gainful employment and productive labor.  Labor becomes more productive through the input of energy.   If the soul source of energy for what we produce comes from our own bodies, we are not going to be very prosperous.  We get prosperity through using energy and equipment in our work.  Without energy, without biological, mechanical, and electronic input into our labor, we are just not going to be very productive, and thus not prosperous.  

Our personal comfort requires that we similarly direct energy to the care of our personal needs.  My ancestors, heated their homes by burning wood or coal in their fire places.  Most of the space in their homes was cold in the winter.  At nights the slept under layers of blankets.   My parents home was heated by a coal furnace.  The fire in the furnace went out at night, and the house was cold when I woke up.  In the morning the ashes had to be cleared from the furnace, a new fire had to be laid, and lit.  Then all day long the fire had to be tended, ashes cleared again, more coal added to the fire.  The smoke smelled of sulfur, it was dirty with soot, and people had respiratory problems all winter.   Living with natural gas central heating, represents a great improvement in comfort and quality of life.  

In Texas our quality of life is greatly dependent on air conditioning.   Summers here are either hot, extremely hot, oppressively hot or hotter than hell.  Excessive heat can kill.  In order to be comfortable in Texas summers, we need air conditioning 24 hours a day.  All that air conditioning takes quite a lot of electricity, and since it can be 100 degrees at 10:00 on windless Texas summer nights, we need electricity from reliable sources.  The only reliable energy source is for that electricity is nuclear power.         

It is utterly insane to think we can stop global warming, have continued prosperity, and enjoy a comfortable high quality life with out nuclear power. 

I plan to follow up this post with one on an approached taken by some "greens," who argue that we can have a satisfactory quality of life, without high levels of energy, without, nuclear power, and most certainly without WalMart.  

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