We are living in an interregnum between the end of the old energy economy and the beginning of a new energy economy. As with many interregnums, this is a period of profound confusion. I have designated the current period which hopefully will be over by 2012, the era of confusion. Nothing illustrates the present confusion more than the Obama stimulus package. The stimulus was conceived of as a device to compensate for a decrease in consumer and business spending. In addition it is designed to prop up all sorts of failing businesses. Republicans charge that there is a lot of spending on projects that are more motivated by political than economic reasons. This is quite true, but also hypocritical considering the lavish way Republicans spent on their Pork Barrel projects during the first six years of Bush II.
Republicans were offered a chance to help shape the stimulus package, but chose to play politics with it. Republicans are right that stimulus package is not a good one, it was hastily conceived, as a response to an economic emergency. So much pork got into the package because the Obama team did not have a good understanding of the underlying problems that led us into the crisis. The response is to simply misapply the pseudo-Keynesian formula to the present situation. Republicans have even less to offer, and unlike the Obama administration the Republicans are disinclined to learn from their mistakes.
Be that as it may, for all their faults, the Republicans were willing to offer limited support for conventional nuclear power in the stimulus package, the congressional Democrats, who have bought into the renewables idiocy, lock stock and pork barrel, played politics with nuclear power and shut it out of the final ill-conceived stimulus bill.
In February 2009, we have reached the low-water mark of rationality as far America's energy future is concerned. Not only were loan guarantees for reactors written out of the Obama stimulus package, but the stimulus package wastes billions on solar generators that produce electricity 20% of the time, and windmills that produce most of their electricity in the middle of the night when no one needs it. The whole renewables scheme is very poorly thought through as a plan for replacing fossil fuels. When confronted with the limitations of renewables, and the expense of overcoming them, renewables advocates always fall back on the idea of burning fossil fuels when renewables are not producing. The problem with renewables is simple, on their own, renewables will never stop global warming. Furthermore by asking the simplest questions like "where is the power going to come from after dark if the wind doesn't blow", or "how are you going to generate electricity on cloudy days", is a good starting point. People who have common sense understand these questions, but many people are afraid to ask them, because they are afraid of looking foolish. There are, after all, people who pose as experts, people who claim to have the answers, who will tell you that the questions are foolish. They, the experts, have it all figured out, just don't bother them by asking about details. The answers can all be written in bumper sticker slogans, and people who are confused don't need to ask for more information. More information will only add to your confusion.
Why aren't people asking the questions common sense dictates about renewables? The answer is simple:
Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why so great a proportion of men, long after nature has released them from alien guidance (natura-liter maiorennes), nonetheless gladly remain in lifelong immaturity, and why it is so easy for others to establish themselves as their guardians.The problem is not the so called experts, who can easily be shown to be spreading ignorance and lies. The problem lies rather with those who willingly ignore the fact that the lies are not even very convincing lies. People who are deeply confused have difficulty acknowledging that they are being lied to, even when doing so should be a matter of simple common sense. As Pogo acknowledged years ago,
Until we are willing to wake up, and acknowledge our confusion, there is no way out of the mess we are in.