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President Jimmy Carter - Energy

How sad, that he was not reelected. Instead we got Reagan, and Republicans, and the problems we face today.





 

Comments

Margaritas ante porcos… (No, not the cocktail!)

Yes, we haven't had an energy policy since Jimmy.

His first run was my first election and the only election in which I was not only able to vote for the individual I really wanted to see in office but that my candidate won. Sadly that was the only election for which that has been true.

I've voted for him four times to date - I wrote him in in '92 and '96. I just couldn't bring myself to cast a vote for Clinton (though, admittedly, he turned out to be better than I thought).

I'm thinking of resurrecting my write-in for him this November as well - I can't cast a vote for Obama. But like you (as I'm in ID) a Democratic vote in my state is pretty meaningless anyway (the opposite was true in '92/'96 -I knew Clinton would easily carry my home state of MN).

And then Reagan was elected and un-did everything. He dismantled the Department of Energy and raised the speed limit back up from 55. He fiddled, America has been burning since. We have done almost nothing in my lifetime to address the energy crisis.

Imagine if instead of wasting all of this money in Iraq, we had used it to free our nation from OPEC.

Carter wasn't all that stellar on energy policy: he pulled out all support and funding for nuclear power, and advocated for the banning of nuclear waste reprocessing. His thought was that this would lead the world to follow our example and also not reprocess nuclear waste, reducing the risk of nuclear proliferation. Stupid: (1) Reprocessing the waste is by far the best option for dealing with that waste - it doesn't necessarily lead to the proliferation of nuclear weapons and it drastically reduces the radioactivity of the waste. (2) No one would follow our example on this (and many countries did not), leaving us with a huge disadvantage in technical expertise in the field. (3) The use of nuclear energy requires virtually no emissions of greenhouse gases compared to coal. Solar and wind are great for peak load, but for the bulk of base load nuclear is definitely superior to coal and natural gas from an environmental point of view.

Because of this terrible facet of Carter's energy policy we are left with tonnes of nuclear waste that need to be dealt with. It could be used to generate additional electricity, also leaving us with much less short-lived waste (~30-year half-life) as is done in France and other countries that have developed the technology to safely reprocess. Instead we talk about Yucca Mountain and fight about it for no good reason that I can see.

Because of Carter's policies we haven't built any nuclear power plants for 30 years, and we've lost the technical prowess in the field that we once held when we invented the technology.

As a chemical engineer myself, I am worried about the future of my country as I notice the dwindling number of engineering students actually going into engineering, and I watch as multitudes of foreigners earn PhDs in our universities and move back to their home countries.

There are terribly few lawmakers in DC who really understand the energy industry from an innocent point of view, and just as few who act on this nation's need for much more ambitious science and technology education initiatives.

It was worse in Carter's time, so let's not pretend that they really knew what they were talking about.

Afraid I'm going to have to agree with you, Nick. Which is not to say that wind, solar, tidal, wave action, other ocean (salinity and temperature difference), and geothermal (extremely limited to certain places), and hydropower sources should not be developed as much as possible in addition.

My original training was in Chem E, before I switched to Biochem, BTW.

I would add to your points by saying that we have squandered our opportunity to lead in better design of nuclear reactors (i.e. "breeder" reactors with more failsafes built in). Perhaps Jimmy was a product of his time, knowing just enough about nuclear energy to want to join the program to create nuclear-powered submarines... yet not enough to keep abreast with recent developments that, in a better world, would make Three Mile Island and Chernobyl into non-issues.

The elephant in the room, as I see it, has always been population... which underlies all our problems, from communicable disease and provision of health care, to education, to energy -- population which, in this country, is fueled by runaway (unprecedented) and unsustainable levels of immigration. Ooooh. There. I said it.

How many onegoodmove readers know that the USA is the 3rd-most populous nation on the planet? Right after India and China? How many know that 2/3 of us born right now are born to the foreign-born? This isn't xenophobia (I'm 2nd-generation immigrant myself), but it's just cold hard fact. How many of us recognize we use 30 times the energy of non-Americans, on average? (and that recent immigrants quickly assimilate to our energy-wasteful way of life, while taking a couple generations to assimilate to our lower reproductive rates? We simply don't have time for this shit (double-entendre... we won't make the time to learn about the magnitude of our situation, and we don't have the time to continue to use immigration to educate the less fortunate within our borders so that they will have less children in a couple generations).

"Malthusian" is a dirty word now, despite the soundness of the concept overall... and the loudest screams against the most obvious moves we can make to solve our deepest problems typically come from the innumerate. (esp. those who do not understand simple exponential equations, or even concepts like "sustainable development").

I urge readers here to temper the various ways in which our knees are likely to spaz when such topics come up -- and encourage joining the good fights. Check out NPG http://www.npg.org sometime, and consider joining them (forget ZPG; they are irrelevant now... it's too late for ZPG).

And the next time you're ramping up to paint some signs and drive out to the nearest anti-nuke rally, research what the human costs of continued coal extraction are.

More reading: peak coal is likely to be less than two decades away... not hundreds of years, as was previously (uncritically) thought: http://www.npg.org/Coalpeak.pdf

and

My old (and favorite, and really cool-smart-philanthropic and personally generous physics prof. on immigration): http://www.npg.org/thoughts.pdf

I'm sure everyone enjoys your boiler plate critique of Carter but nuclear energy would have hardly solved all of our problems. We have done nothing in the way of mass transit, instead we have built bigger and bigger automobiles--no way to fault Carter on this. We have simply ignored our energy situation, at least until gas hit $4 a gallon. How about bikes? Wind? Solar? Not to mention taking tha damn bus once in a while. These things aren't the silly pipe dreams Reagan had us believe. They are being used around the world to great effect.

As far as Malthus, once again, Carter isn't to blame for population control or lack of it.

Sure he ain't. There's plenty of blame to go around. It's not all about contraception; getting a handle on immigration is also essential. See A.A. Barlett's "thoughts" above. Well-researched and supported, but also with his knack for explaining what swhould be obvious - to non-scientists.

Tim Wirth, BTW was the last politician I've ever voted "for". (he gets an honorable mention in the article).

Because of Carter's policies we haven't built any nuclear power plants for 30 years

Hmmm....this seems really too convenient.
We all know the proactive part of Carter's policies to cut down on our energy usage, etc., are reversed without problem in the very next presidential term.
But - somehow, you're saying his plans for nuclear power (which is part of the overall plan) remained sacrosanct for the next 30 years?

I know you know much more about nuclear power than I, but I would question whether, during that time the decision might not have some merit. Perhaps the lack of a good method of dealing with nuclear waste in the immediate future, combined with national security and other safety concerns, etc., made that the right decision.

Also, from my experience, whenever you start dismantling a comprehensive plan, you need to consider shifting all elements within that plan to balance out your changes so - why didn't Reagan make changes to the nuclear plan when he was disengaging the rest of the plan? What might have been a good decision in Carter's context must have been re-evaluated within Reagan's and Bush's and Clinton's and little Bush's - so why would that sit with Carter?

Or, maybe it was just the wrong choice no matter what but...if you think the Republicans in power after that couldn't change it when they saw how American's oil consumption was going up and their desire not to raise the CAFE standards - not to make any changes that would reduce their oil profits was still strong -- if you think they couldn't change ANY policy of Carter's that they felt like after so thoroughly discrediting his presidency --- well, that seems strange.

Anyway, the main thing I get from Carter is that he wanted us to be more responsible (a word unfamiliar to this administration, at least) users of energy which was about reducing the need for so much energy as a nation.

A very different attitude about Americans and energy than Bush put out. From the May 2001 press briefing http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/briefings/20010507.html (where the fear that gas might go even as high as $3 a gallon and how that might affect the economy was also addressed :)

"Q Is one of the problems with this, and the entire energy field, American lifestyles? Does the President believe that, given the amount of energy Americans consume per capita, how much it exceeds any other citizen in any other country in the world, does the President believe we need to correct our lifestyles to address the energy problem?

Mr. Fleischer: That's a big no. The President believes that it's an American way of life, and that it should be the goal of policy makers to protect the American way of life. The American way is a blessed one...."

Reading the text I get a more Abbonndanza, America - get yourself a Hummer vibe...

Hey guys. Comments, not dissertations, please.

My comment: Reagans win was the beginning of the "I want mine now and screw the world" American attitude. Otherwise known as "Law and Order: SUV"

Wow. I think I really learned something -- and had a belly-laugh to boot.

There's lots of places on the web for your postage stamp witticisms: it's called rotten.com. You'll fit in great there.

It looks like Diablo Canyon was built during Reagan (so sayeth wikipedia - 1984 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DiabloCanyonPowerPlant) and Watts Bar is actually under construction again - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WattsBarNuclearGenerating_Station. Only two examples, but it was hardly a 30 year freeze.

And then Reagan was elected and un-did everything. He dismantled the Department of Energy and raised the speed limit back up from 55. He fiddled, America has been burning since.

Yeah, how horrible Reagan was. His years only led to the demise of the Soviet Union, the rise of America as the world's lone superpower, the elevation of the global standard of living, and the greatest golden age of humanity in history. Really, such a step backwards.

We have done almost nothing in my lifetime to address the energy crisis.

Because there is no energy crisis. Natural resources have always been limited, always been dwindling. Right now we're paying more for them largely because of increased global usage, regional conflicts & natural disasters, speculation, and media-fueled hysteria.

We're also investing more and more in alternative solutions, and have been for decades. What you call a 'crisis' is just market pressure, which does what the market always does: it forces people to innovate.

It amazes me how horrible presidents like Carter get an esteem boost from nostalgia. Stagflation and malaise, anyone?

*Regan's* years only led to the demise of the Soviet Union

Regan had as much to do with their fall as Neil Armstrong had in getting America to the Moon. He showed up at the end to plant the flag.

Hail Carter.

Callicrap:

I agree with the courageous Mr. Muth. The re-republican Elephant in the room. China's one child policy has perhaps prevented... World War III. Or worse.

I do admire Carter's western water policy. Alas. As sure as Caesar, he was stabbed, only in the back, by these sums of bitches, mafioso DeConcini, etc. Rube-icon U.S.A. And now we have here cancerous growth, immigration, "prosperity", and a rendezvous with...density? A life spent in traffic is an unexamined life.

Ideally?

How 'bout a democracy where only Scientists can vote, hard scientists? The rest can vote on American idol, whatever, for consolation. Or snort soma.

Really. Cacography ain't a Science.

Hail Carter.

Callicrap:

I agree with the courageous Mr. Muth. The re-republican Elephant in the room. China's one child policy has perhaps prevented... World War III. Or worse.

I do admire Carter's western water policy. Alas. As sure as Caesar, he was stabbed, only in the back, by these sums of bitches, mafioso DeConcini, etc. Rube-icon U.S.A. And now we have here cancerous growth, immigration, "prosperity", and a rendezvous with...density? A life spent in traffic is an unexamined life.

Ideally?

How 'bout a democracy where only Scientists can vote, hard scientists? The rest can vote on American idol, whatever, for consolation. Or snort soma.

Really. Cacography ain't a Science.

Yeah, how horrible Reagan was. His years only led to... the greatest golden age of humanity in history.

did anyone else find this as amusing as i did?

Yeah, how horrible Reagan was. His years only led to... the greatest golden age of humanity in history.

did anyone else find this as amusing as i did?

It amazes me how horrible presidents like Carter get an esteem boost from nostalgia. Stagflation and malaise, anyone?

I don't know if you are being intentionally ironic but you are always funny. Reagan wasn't dead five minutes when your ilk was writing up his hagiography. Reagan raised military spending yet did away with the G.I. Bill. What an asshole. His deficit spending wasn't reversed until Clinton took office and finally balanced the budget—so much for Republican financial responsibility. Reagan and his cronies laughed at Carter's attempt to develop alternative energy sources and conservation. Now we have practically built a money pipeline to our friends in OPEC because of our short-sighted lack of energy planning.

I would love to know what people like caligraph read to come up with their versions of history and current events. “The war is going great!,” and “We're winning against global terrorism!,” and “There is no energy crisis!,” and this priceless estimation of the Reagan era, “the greatest golden age of humanity in history.” Honestly, are you on an exclusive diet of Fox News and Heritage Foundation releases?

It's also hilarious that this new phase of disastrously high energy prices is being hailed by conservatives as the free market in all its glory. In the past, when we have attempted to raise fuel taxes to artificially stimulate these market forces, the conservatives have screamed bloody murder. These taxes in Europe have been crucial in funding mass transit projects and alternative energy policies. So to summarize the conservative plan, taxes on energy that go to build infrastructure are bad, pissing away billions to OPEC when they raise prices artificially is good. Like I said, I want to know what you read or what you are smoking.

Yeah, how horrible Reagan was. His years only led to the demise of the Soviet Union, the rise of America as the world's lone superpower, the elevation of the global standard of living, and the greatest golden age of humanity in history.

Golden age! What a joke.

Hey, this weekend I think I'll treat my daughter and son-in-law to a golden age of prosperity. I plan to drive to their town, take the whole family out to a big dinner order expensive wine, and when we're all finished, and I ask my son-in-law for his credit card to pay the bill. He will no doubt agree I have initiated a new golden age in his family's finances.

His years only led to the demise of the Soviet Union

Right, russia is now a great democracy that we don't have to worry about at all.

go us.

Swines of the Times.

And Carter was a Christian, born again even. Yet he planned as if the world might NOT be ending in the next few moments!. Go figure. Thing's were not so simple then. The times were so sophisticated, adult, in sharp contrast to our own.

"the demise of the Soviet Union"

The Ex-Soviets are not bursting with overpopulation at least, like some other nuclear powers I know of. Speaking of Bears, er, Elephants in the room, 11 time zone spanning Elephants in the... Weltraum, at least the Soviets believed in this world, Reality. However mistaken they may have been about certain details. They still do. But one detail:

The powers that elsewhere (here, e.g.) be in ascendance now, seem to put more in store by way of imaginary friends (Jesus, personal invisible deities). Unlike the communists, however cold and unappealing they were, we are now seemingly like a gigantic cult. Of...Koresh, Jim Jones, Applewhite. Bin-in-the-mirror Laden. Elfish Elvis, who. like Jesus, lives.

Rabbit's foot, astroillogical Reagan, seems only half-serious, transitional, a bet hedger in hindsight. Our current White House crew and apologists seem dead serious, tending to the Hitlerian, in their un-Bronowskian (Beckerese) certainties. Monica Goodling, Harriet Myers, Brownie, Bush, genuine banality-of-evil stuff.

Putin most likely interprets them as "crazy" like a fox. Saddam Hussein also made that mistake. It is a grave mistake to trust in some underlying floor of rationality beneath the Reagan-mutated-into-Bushist-bullshits.

All I know about Georgians is their music sucks even worse than ours. Most of it, I mean.

Music.

The vanguard of any culture. Damn Silurians (Ichthyostega is my personal fish-friend. Symbol of hyperanthropism.)

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