Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Spill The Beans

A side note, before I start the story: you never read about environmental disasters at renewable energy sources very often, but today, you can.
First, leave it to US Today to post the most relevant story to the average American: one of greed, self-interest, and panic.
Next, leave it to the New York Times to post the political implications of a natural catastrophe. This used to be the purview of the Washington Post, but they've been busy rejiggering their editorial staff to make it appears less liberal. Which is sort of like putting a wolf in wolf's clothing and then calling it a sheep.
Meanwhile, heckuva job, Brownie...again! Needless to say, the usual gang of idiots is lining up to try to distract "real Americans" from the terrible tragedy, not just environmental but economic and personal in the Gulf.
It's hard to find good news coming out of this disaster, as unmitigated and absolute a fuck-up as it is. But...
I suppose there are three bits I can hang out and call "good news".
First, suddenly "socialism" is not such a bad word. When David Vitter suggests that the state and Federal government would do a better job overseeing the protection of his state's wetlands, you're losing momentum as a Teabagger. I mean, party.
Second, if a "end-o-world" oil spill (hyperbole acknowledged) had to happen somewhere, it should happen in a high-profile, heavily populated area like the Gulf and West Florida coasts than in some backwater bay in Alaska where the impact was many dead seabirds and mammals. Let people see the mess their cars and houses create on a daily basis SOMEwhere on the planet.
Finally, if the ultimate end of this mess sees us altering energy plans, then good can come of it. In the past, I've campaigned for more renewable energy sources, improved efficiency of those resources, to the extent that I've proposed Obama offer a one billion dollar cash prize to the scientist who can make any renewable energy source-- wind, geothermal, ocean current or wave, or solar-- at BTU intensive as fossil fuels, and immediate interim steps that would see us stop oil drilling and consumption within a decade.
I don't mean switching to tar sands. I mean no more petroleum. It can be done.
At the bottom of the ocean is a supply of natural gas that is much easier to pick up, cleaner when both developed and burned, and could provide centuries of our energy needs, more than sufficient time to wean us and the entire planet off fossil fuels forever.
I speak, of course, of methane hydrates. The entire proposal would take another column to get into fully, but suffice it to say we'd dive very deep, scrape up a bunch of the stuff and bring it to the surface. On the bottom, it's a very compact solid. It would be great if we could contain it that way.
But unnecessary. Through the natural process of sublimation, we could raise the solids off the sea floor, and open up a do-it-yourself pipeline that would both process out the gases while piping it to power plants and other energy dispersal outlets.
It seems to me that we can accompish this using existing technology and have it up and running within not twenty years or ten years, but five and perhaps even sooner.
But hey, what do I know? I'm just some average Joe, right?