Our Addiction to Oil
Record-breaking temperatures, unprecedented natural disasters, corroded oil pipelines, brownouts, blackouts and gas prices that make your head spin. The energy crisis of this new century demands innovation, conservation and legislation that will keep the country running on more than fumes.
We can beat our addiction to oil without sacrificing our need for energy or harming the environment. And one of the side benefits of energy reform will be reducing the windfall to countries that may want to destroy our economy or worse.
The answers rest in new technologies, many of which come from the strangest places. Here are a few promising solutions that won’t put cash into the pockets of foreign oil barons. If we’re going to preserve our way of life, we have to get on board with a dynamic energy plan — starting now.
Grassolean. It’s a biofuel and can be made from the grease drained from deep fryers. Once in a car, it can even leave a french fry scent in its wake.
Geothermal energy. Advances are being made to use the heat from volcanoes, molten lava and geysers to power our world.
Nuclear power. Clean and economically feasible, spent nuclear power even retains 95 percent of its energy, which means that by recycling used fuel, we could cut waste while powering up.
As we look for new energy sources, we should keep the environment in mind. The alternatives should be clean. Luckily, the future looks very green.
What Business Can Do
- Disclose to shareholders how the business may affect the environment via pollution and energy use.
- Become carbon neutral by offsetting emissions through renewable or alternative energy sources.
- Give bonuses to people who bike, walk or take public transportation to work, or buy a hybrid.
- Create lightweight cars. By using advanced materials, automakers can improve mileage by 6 percent for each 10 percent reduction in body weight.
- Build rooftop gardens that eat carbon dioxide.
What Institutions Can Do
- Make eco-education part of the core curriculum in schools and universities.
- Convert the nation’s nearly 500,000 diesel school buses to biodiesel — a move that could cut petroleum usage by 20 percent and reduce carbon emissions by 12 percent.
What Government Can Do
- Create a carbon credit law, similar to one in Europe, that allows companies to spew out a certain amount of carbon. If a company exceeds its limit, it has to buy another company’s credits.
- Start a “feebate.” On a sliding scale, charge a “fee” for cars that emit more carbon dioxide, like Hummers, and offer a “rebate” on cars that spew less, like hybrids.
- Promote nuclear energy use by building new plants. Support the DOE’s Next Generation Nuclear Plant program to develop more efficient reactors and give tax credits to investors.
- Raise CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards, which require automakers to make vehicles with better gas mileage, from 27.5 mpg to 42 mpg in ten years.
What We Can All Do
- Cut back on carbons: Google “carbon offsets” to find websites that help you neutralize the carbon emissions for which you are personally responsible.
- Sign up for clean energy: Call your power company to see if it offers electricity from solar, wind and other clean energy sources. Many do, and often for only a little more money.
- Use Energy Star products: From light bulbs to dishwashers, household items are among the most inefficient users of energy in the country. Cut your fuel bill by buying products with the Energy Star seal.
- Drive E85: Many automakers make flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs), which are designed to run on E85 (an 85 percent ethanol/15 percent gasoline blend), as well as regular gasoline or any combination of the two. Check out e85fuel.com for more info.