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July 24, 2008

Is oil our heroin?

Posted: 09:39 AM ET

Having grown up in a major southern city in Brazil in the late 70s and 80s, I can vividly remember going to any fuel station and the attendant asking my father if he wanted gasoline or "alcool" - ethanol made from sugarcane.

A worker cuts sugarcane at harvest. Source: Getty Images

When I moved to the U.S. in 1989, I realized that American drivers didn't have the same choice as we did in Brazil, but gasoline here was so cheap and abundant that there was no need for an alternative.

Well, you don't need me to tell you that times have changed. While politicians try to spread the blame and try to feed us ideas that will get them elected or re-elected, gas prices continue to go up.

Most Republicans in Congress want to drill in Alaska's ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) as a solution. It sounds sexy enough to say let's drill on our own turf and flip the middle one toward the Middle East, but the reality is that it would take years for any of us to see a drop of that oil in our tanks and there isn't enough there to suppress our addiction to it.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi says the immediate solution is to open up our oil reserves, which we've already paid for as taxpayers, and make it available right now instead of drilling in ANWR. That sounds like a great idea, in theory. But if oil is our heroin, Pelosi is basically saying let's make more of it available to all addicts so that their withdrawal is mitigated. How about when the reserve is gone? What are we going to do then?

I'm not suggesting we follow in the footsteps of Brazil and mass produce our own ethanol. We're trying it with corn, which is driving the prices of food and basically everything way, way up. What works in Brazil may not work elsewhere. Besides, Brazil has its share of problems with ethanol - the Amazon rainforest continues to be cut down to grow more sugarcane. This year, 24 ethanol producers were fined in the millions for planting sugarcane illegally and operating without licenses, among other things.

We must look toward other solutions, be it hydrogen, electricity, solar power or even water. Whatever the answer, our children and grandchildren will either suffer or benefit from the decisions we make today.

What do you think is the answer to our oil addiction? Do Republicans and Democrats have a solution or are they sidestepping the real issues? And how are you coping with the high gas prices?

Paulo Nogueira - Producer, CNN Science & Technology

Posted by: ,
Filed under: Cars • environment • Ethanol • Fuel • Gasoline

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JW Cavallaro   July 24th, 2008 10:07 am ET

I think Paulo Nogueira is wrong when he said that the Amazon forest is being cut to make room for sugar cane plantations. I am a Brazilian myself and it is disgusting to read texts like this which diverts from the truth. Not a single square meter of the Amazon forest was used for sugar cane plantation. Sorry but you should think before you write.

R. Gora   July 24th, 2008 10:08 am ET

"We must look toward other solutions, be it hydrogen, electricity, solar power or even water. Whatever the answer, our children and grandchildren will either suffer or benefit from the decisions we make today."

These are words of wisdom. Corporations need to take them into consideration, but unfortunately corporations only obligation is to the shareholders, and not the communities they operate in.

Right now the enemy of car manufacturers is the oil companies. As long as car manufactures are dependent on oil, we will see the decline in profitability of producing cars. Car manufactures need to take up the mantle now and invest in alternate energy sources, not only for their own futures sake, but ours.

S. Callahan   July 24th, 2008 10:28 am ET

Personally, I think getting T. Boone Pickinds idea off the planning table into action is a beginning to withdrawl from our addiction. I'll even go through the sweats to get there. New ideas generate every day and the forum has to be open to these news ideas, along with corporations investing their bucks to put those ideas into frutation.
I fill up once every two weeks now and minimize my driving by using the alternative (walking ,bus). It's actually turned out quite nice...particularly for the summer months. A whole new world is open to meeting new people on the foot /and at times seated (bus) journey.
I do think we need to open some of our reserves for the winter months because the ones who truly suffer from this oil hostage taking are the poor; but I caution that is not the answer that CNN readers have expressed. We want green alternatives and want our politicans of the the local, state and federal levels to make that a priortiy agenda now and not later.
The only thing that delays this is the calculators of those in power right now. Saddle up politico because either your riding with us or your headed into the sunset!

Camilo   July 24th, 2008 10:52 am ET

The inconvenient truth and one that even VP Gore won't talk about is that the level of energy we use is too great. No matter what the energy source, we can't continue to live as we do now. All our lives will need to change in order that we sip from the energy cup and not gulp. I don't think this will become apparent for some time, but remember who told it to you first.

Wayne Dusek   July 24th, 2008 10:59 am ET

When I see the "let's drill everywhere" response to any sane suggestion of getting off foriegn oil, the picture that comes to mind is a wino out behind the bar going through all the wine and liquor bottles turning up each discarded bottle and draining the last drop.

Jim Samples   July 24th, 2008 11:21 am ET

This guy is an idiot. we are not addicted to oil, we have been accustomed to free mobility, whether that means to walk, drive, or ride a bike. The fact that we use gasoline that is made from oil is only because "that is what is available". If only electric cars were available then THATS what we would use. Would he then say we are addicted to electricy in that case? What a foolish Idiot.

And as for "drilling in ANWR won't give us a drop of oil for several years", so what !! Don't you think we should get started as soon as possible ????? Do you want to wait until 2012 to say GOSH we would have had that extra oil by now had we started back in '08 ...!!!

Start drilling NOW while we try to advance other technologies. If we don't need that oil when it starts flowing out of the ground, then fine, we'll plug it back up. Doesn't that sound SOOoooo simple ??

Peter Nelson   July 24th, 2008 11:24 am ET

People just need to get over this and learn to cope. Domestic drilling would take years to come online and even then would only make a few cents' difference. The Strategic Petroleum reserves are for national security and shouldn't be touched except in a war or embargo.

There is no magic bullet – just lots of tiny magic bee-bees: conservation, improved technology, lifestyle changes, smaller cars, wind and photovoltaics, etc. Individually each only makes a small impact, but together they can help us cope and get on with our lives.

AG   July 24th, 2008 11:25 am ET

Regarding the energy situation, the supply side of the equation cannot be fixed for the long term. It would be devastating to lose our pristine gulf coastline or the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. We have to look at demand for oil and figure out ways to reduce it by offering alternative transportation.

By the way, the Amazon Rain Forest is being cut down... whether it is for increased cattle grazing land or sugar cane production doesn't change that fact.

A. Rodriguez   July 24th, 2008 11:29 am ET

I can't believe you are trying to instill the idea that Americans have an addiction on oil. If so, then the big oil corporations and the federal government are "THE PUSHERS". What choice do we have, every time someone presents another way of producing power, it gets put on the back slate.
There are solutions, we hear them everyday, is anyone in power listening?
Big oil make billions and billions$$$ in profits every year. How much is
too much profits? They say if for research... Ha! Don't make us laugh. All that research was done 50 years ago. They know where that oil is hiding. They know what needs to be done.
They know how to get us off this oil kick if they wanted to.
But we also know that our leaders are making lots of money on oil.
OVER – $4. a gallon
There's so much I want to say...
Americans giving up so much every year, cutting back on essentials,
losing homes, fighting a losing war.
We can't keep going this way much longer.
Something is going to give.
and it's going soon.

Wally   July 24th, 2008 11:31 am ET

At tax time, credits should be offered to those who do not commute and drive efficient vehicles. Car registration should increase for those who commute and drive inefficient vehicles. Government should also inform consumers that gas will no longer be available for vehicles, say by 2015. This will force auto manufactures to come up with a solution and will also stimulate new car purchases once the alternative vehicle arrrives. This will also encourage innovation for converting those "classic" cars into non-gas guzzlers.

Littlebuddy   July 24th, 2008 11:45 am ET

Heroin is our Heroin you pompus ass_s. Oil is the lifes blood of modern industialized society. Without it we live in caves. Period!

Andrew   July 24th, 2008 11:47 am ET

I think heroin is our heroin.

Ryan   July 24th, 2008 11:47 am ET

I am so sick of all of this. I can barely afford to buy groceries let alone drive to work. I have a second job just for money to get to my first job. It is ludacris. They need to figure something out soon or they are going to have the biggest poverty problem this nation has ever seen. Drill off shore, open our reserves, give us electric cars. I don't really care what happens as long as something happens. Every politician dances around this issue more than someone doing a Mexican Hat Dance. Honestly, the car companies have to be getting it pretty bad and they should be the first ones to come up with a good idea. Produce more energy efficiant cars and give the consumers tax breaks or rebates when they are purchased. This has to change or all of the lower-middle class Americans will be homeless.

John   July 24th, 2008 11:52 am ET

Sugar cane rather than corn is the better choice for making ethanol. I've often wondered why we don't go that route. No need to go all the way to Brazil, Cuba's a stone's throw away. Unfortunately the USA won't trade with Cuba because they're Communists, unlike China who are communists. Go figure!

kevin   July 24th, 2008 12:05 pm ET

No, oil is not our heroin but our Jonestown punch. We've had technology and the means to drive solar powered cars, hydrogen cell vehicles, and such for a long time. Greed is everywhere from the gov't down to you people whining about, "FIX IT-FIX IT". Why not open your eyes and realize they want us living this way, under their lock and key with oil as our lifeblood. Stop consuming so much and find ways to scale back if you still need to continue living as such. We aren't meant to live the way we do, and time plus our "tech" advances will eventually let us know. I ride a bike and get my food from local farmers, don't use a cell, only use a computer because of work...well, we have to work don't we? Worker bees.

Jeremy   July 24th, 2008 12:11 pm ET

Hopefully the market can force us into developing legitimate alternatives before the government comes up with a "solution."

Stay out of it, government. Policing availability of commodities is not your function.

John   July 24th, 2008 12:28 pm ET

Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe...

Chris   July 24th, 2008 12:31 pm ET

Can you imagine what technological solutions we would have to renewable energy if we spent the money currently going to Iraq on energy research?

Yup, we're addicted. I recall going through this the first time in the 70s and being extremely disappointed that the lowering gas/oil prices immediately killed most renewable resources research.

Markets cannot impose self discipline – we, the people, must do it, through our own actions and by who we vote for.

As crippling as the current prices are, it is definitely having an effect on how we use energy. People are actually having to THINK when they get in the car, etc. People and companies are finding alternatives and will continue to do so as long as the old-school gas/oil alternative is not viable. Cities are improving their public transportation ... people are investing in solar and wind power, etc.

Don't you think OPEC and the oil companies know that? Don't you think that when they realize that people are switching away from them, the prices will come down – just like the 70s.

Thing is, most of the research I've seen says that more than half the world's oil has been discovered and we are consuming it faster and faster every day. Eventually, the oil companies won't be artificially keeping the prices high ... Probably in the next 5 years.

I think we should keep the prices high with taxes and apply those taxes to energy research. Between the impetus of high prices to stop using oil and newer energy becoming available, we might lick this.

I doubt it though. This issue takes backbone and forward thinking.

People have backbone. People can think.

Not markets.

Adam   July 24th, 2008 12:37 pm ET

The grass is always greener, in the literal and figurative sense. Sugarcane is not the answer for the United States; It is the answer for Brazil. They are the only country in the world that this is an actual alternative solution and i'm not concerned as much about them as I am about the other growing big-economies (India, China). They're as wasteful if not moreso than the United States, but you don't notice this since the US has a larger gross numbers when it comes to consumption. Per capita waste in those countries is considerably higher when taken into relative prespective. They will continue to use oil for the forseeable future, only the US is in a position to do something about OUR over reliance on oil. Solutions? They're all around us. Simply going outside, seeing the sunlight and breathing in the air has provided you with all the solutions you need. I have been an advocate of Hydrogen fuel cells for over a decade now, back when oil was still super cheap. Why was I for it then? Because I knew that oil as we know it now will not last forever, and we've very likely seen "Peak Oil" already. So what's the solution? How about the home grown biofuels – NOT corn, corn is too inefficient, i'm talking about the BioAlgae that's an excellent alternative. Electric cars are not feasible for much of the country, and are fairly dangerous because they can't pass a crash test without exploding batteries shooting acid all over the place. They would only work in tandem with other technologies. i.e. the powerpacks of Hydrogen cars.

Fuel cells have been around for decades. The apollo astronauts used them when they went to the moon, and we've been using them on the space shuttles since. It's proven technology that works.

Ok let me sum up the solutions as I see them. Pickens plan is good, but not great. I really like his power solutions (Wind, Solar), but am fairly indifferent to his car plan (natural gas) since hydrogen fuel cells are a much better alternative that would require LESS investment than natural gas simply because the infrastrucutre requirements for fuel-cell cars is DRAMATICALLY lower (i.e. practically none, hydrogen can be produced on-the-spot at the pump, 100% fact)

We need Everything: Solar (southwest gets endless supply of sun), Wind (midwest wind corridor has endless supply of wind), Nuclear ( Nuclear Fission and even more so for [commercial] Nuclear Fusion [we've had an experimental fusion plant in new mexico for decades], Geothermal (iceland is a good example), Tidal power (UK is investing heavily in it). Hydrogen Fuel cell + Flex fueled hybrids for transportation.

This can be done, it can be done right now. We spend so much each year on oil that ANY alternative is cheaper than what we're doing right now. So no matter what alternatives we end up selecting, it is still cheaper than doing nothing.

Mike   July 24th, 2008 1:00 pm ET

The comparison between heroin and oil is idiotic. Heroin serves no purpose, oil does. Oil has allowed the world to emerge from abject poverty, heroin does the reverse. Oil permits the lifestyle we enjoy by virtue of its energy content, heroin destroys our lifestyle by sapping our collective will. The issue is energy and how to get it. Oil and the energy it represents is getting more difficult to find and the result is that our lifestyle is in jeopardy. Other forms of stored energy are becoming as economically attractive as oil, let's go get it.

Jon Price   July 24th, 2008 1:09 pm ET

We are not addicted to oil; we are addicted to speed. That is, we get a thrill out of moving fast. That thrill is psychologically addictive. We don't realize this because we have been hooked since we were babies. Older people who can remember their family's first car might realize they have a problem.

Jen   July 24th, 2008 1:25 pm ET

Personally, I do think we're addicted to oil. We're also addicted to convenience. I think that if we had to work a little harder to get some of the stuff that we have on our shelves year-round–or–gasp!–we actually had to eat in season instead of having year-round food of every shape and color on the grocery shelves (along with many items that pretend to be food but are actually not food at all) then we might just be able to sustain ourselves.

We need to consume less. That's really all there is to it, but I don't hear anyone shouting that from the rooftops. Instead, all I hear is More! More! More!

Stephen Klaber   July 24th, 2008 1:31 pm ET

The solution is the use of solar, wind, geothermal where they are available (most everywhere). We would be doing so already had we been paying enough for energy in the past. Hydrogen generated with the energy so collected would be our fluid fuel, and would be available everywhere. But none of these can compete with an energy source that is: already available; underpriced; and often nearly mandatory. The new nanotech solar products will make photovoltaic solar far more competitve soon. Waste-to-energy processes are also a productive path.
For those who wish to go biofuels, particularly ethanol, consider cattails. They grow on land that is often useless otherwise, cost nothing to grow(you are usually trying to contain them) and far outproduce sugarcane in yield per acre. They can be cultivated for sustained use, and/or harvested from the many streams and lakes in Africa where they are causing innumerable troubles. When grown in clean water and soil, they are also an excellent source of food.

John   July 24th, 2008 1:33 pm ET

Pelosi's idea is a total farce(it is Pelosi after all). Should we really think of tapping the emergency reserves for the nation when it will cost us twice as much to replace them? We don't have an oil shortage – no one is waiting in line.
The democrats keep insisting that drilling for more oil isn't the answer becuse it will take years to have an impact. I can't disagree with that. But we know that it WILL have a MAJOR impact. The irony is that the democrats can't offer anything that won't take just as long and their ideas don't even come close to being feasable for another 20 – 30 years. Picken's idea is foolish too. It'll take 10 years to get going and if we're not all ready & ripe to pay 30K for new cars that run on natural gas the whole idea is kaput. I don't have the money for the new car I'd need. Much less a new hydrogen car, or a Hybrid. I already have the car I can afford.
What America needs to do is to do it all.Drill here Drill now. Build Nuclear. Research oil shale. Build windmills. Make better lightbulbs. See if there's oil on the bleeping moon if we have to.
I'm so sick of the Federal Government not doing a damn thing about anything.

G. Mirro   July 24th, 2008 2:06 pm ET

America’s energy consumption, both per-capita and aggregate, is so vast that nothing will keep the party going for much longer. Why increase domestic production? To preserve our standard of living? Our standard of living is based on infinite availability of “free” oil. It’s a lost cause.

We Americans are obsessed by the small inconveniences of expensive gasoline. Have you asked yourself how future generations will be affected by our absurd behavior? It is not just fuel for SUVs that will be gone. It is all of the products that we take for granted and that derive from petroleum: tires, plastics, agricultural fertilizers, insecticides, solvents, heating oil and gas... the list is endless. We live in a petroleum economy. If the human population were not so huge, perhaps a “soft landing” could be engineered. But the population is huge and growing fast. And it is not just petroleum that is being depleted. Case in point: the “green revolution” which is producing food for millions of people, thanks to the benefits of industrial agriculture, which is enabled by petroleum and mineral fertilizers, like phosphate.

The only positive note is that coal will soften the blow for a hundred years or so, although the experts are now saying that the supply is less than previously thought. After that, I dread to think. Nine billion people, without oil or coal. Let your imagination wander.

It is an amazing turn of events that resource depletion and global warming are happening simultaneously. Maybe global warming will scare us enough that we will reduce our resource consumption, which in turn will reduce global warming. Of the two, I believe that global warming is much more frightening, since it is not fully understood. Resource depletion can be roughly modelled and predicted. Global warming is full of surprises. An ominous aspect of global warming is that its various aspects aggravate each other. For example, warming of ocean water causes it to release CO2, which increases global warming. Melting of snow increases heat accumulation in arctic soil. In control systems, this is called positive feedback. This effect can take a slow, controllable process and cause it to “snap” uncontrollably from one state to another. Mother Nature is losing her ability to govern the global climate. Even if we are not sure that humans are causing the problem, we should strive to mitigate our harmful influences, as best we understand them. We should not play Russian roulette with Mother Nature.

The world scientific community is sending out ever more urgent warnings. I hope our political leaders start listening. It is a terrible bind, since the solution involves a radical reduction in per-capita resource consumption with the pursuant traumatic reduction in economic activity. There is no precedent in human history for this. So it is very hard for people to believe or understand. But our leaders must act. Even a source of energy like nuclear will not replace the materials that we derive from oil, such as plastics. Petroleum should be preserved for that reason. It should not be burnt for fuel.

KJ   July 24th, 2008 2:08 pm ET

I have always wondered why so many people thought nothing of sending billions of dollars a year to governments with policies so contrary to our own interests by driving large trucks and suv's at high rates of speed.
I like to be optimistic, but since we have had this problem for more than 30 years and felt no real need to solve it during prior price shocks I doubt this one will be any different.

Moose   July 24th, 2008 2:09 pm ET

It is getting very annoying hearing people talk about Americans' "ADDICTION" to oil. Americans are not addicted to oil, they are addicted to conveniences. Those conveniences happen to use oil based products. Do you think we would oppose vehicles that are powered by sand, carpeting, tomato soup, or grass clippings? Change the technology and we will follow.

Brian   July 24th, 2008 2:21 pm ET

Everyone is looking for an easy answer. Sound bites, after all, are only about 10 seconds long.

We have two possibilities for why the price of oil is so high. Our solution depends on which possibility you believe to be the cause.

#1: The price of oil is high because there isn't enough. Demand is high, supply is not so high, and the situation is only going to get worse. There is no magic solution, no relief to the ever-rising price. We must either get more fuel or use less of it. With rising demand in 3rd world nations, we probably need to get off of oil completely.

The bad news is that most alternative energies are even more expensive. Wind energy costs a lot more than coal or oil energy. Electric cars are more expensive and less useful than gasoline powered ones (remember, you've got to change out those massive batteries every few years). Hydrogen powered cars are great, but if they cost the equivalent of $8 a gallon to fill up?

The good news is that once we make the switch, we won't have to worry about international oil prices again. Our economy will adjust to domestic energy prices and we'll start the long, slow climb back to prosperity as the prices of these new fuels gradually (very gradually) shrinks.

#2: Oil prices are high because outside forces are at work. The low dollar, the falling stock market, jumpy investors, evil speculators, clueless media, whatever your scapegoat happens to be. This says that oil prices are much higher than supply and demand would normally indicate, but we're going through a spike because XYZ has happened and has fooled everyone into a panic. The problem can be fixed by tackling whatever the specific cause is - once the economy turns around, or once we sanction China for their unfair currency pricing activities, or whatever, the dollar will rise in value and oil prices will crash. Good times are here again.

The bad news is this just means we'll go through this cycle again later. 30 years from now we'll have another price spike, people will panic again, etc. We won't kick an addiction to oil and research into alternative fuels will sputter and die. Wash, rinse, repeat.

The good news is we'll go back to paying $1.50 for a gallon of gas and I won't cry every time I fill up my F-150. The economy will improve immediately and we can go back to caring about unimportant stuff like the Olympics. Also good is that when this happens again in 30 years, we just might have enough technology then to properly switch away from oil (just as our alternate fuels tech is much more developed now than it was in the 70s, thanks to research in seemingly unrelated areas in the interim).

So which is it? Depends who you ask. The price of oil is currently slumping, but it is too early to tell.

Hydrogen   July 24th, 2008 2:26 pm ET

consider a simple hydrogen atom, basically composed of a single proton. This subatomic particle has a mass of
0.000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 001 672 kg
This is a tiny mass indeed. But in everyday quantities of matter there are a lot of atoms! For instance, in one kilogram of pure water, the mass of hydrogen atoms amounts to just slightly more than 111 grams, or 0.111 kg.
Einstein's formula tells us the amount of energy this mass would be equivalent to, if it were all suddenly turned into energy. It says that to find the energy, you multiply the mass by the square of the speed of light, this number being 300,000,000 meters per second (a very large number):

= 0.111 x 300,000,000 x 300,000,000
= 10,000,000,000,000,000 Joules
This is an incredible amount of energy! A Joule is not a large unit of energy ... one Joule is about the energy released when you drop a textbook to the floor. But the amount of energy in 30 grams of hydrogen atoms is equivalent to burning hundreds of thousands of gallons of gasoline!

If you consider all the energy in the full kilogram of water, which also contains oxygen atoms, the total energy equivalent is close to 10 million gallons of gasoline!

but the truth is, to get that fullest potential out of this, it would destroy the water entirely...

so i say.... Slow it down by 75%

25% the speed of light...

and you now have.. a gallon of water..
that can release the same amount of energy as 2 million gallons of gas.

Ed   July 24th, 2008 2:30 pm ET

So many people keep expecting "someone" to do something about the cost of oil and gas, but don't stop to realize that "we" are the ones that have the power. I hear so many people complaining about the price of gas and yet, they are still doing 70 – 80 mph on the highway.

I recently bought a 1995 Olds Ciera with a 6 cyl. engine for $850. When I first started driving it is I was getting 17 mpg. When the price of gas starting shooting up, I began watching how I drove. I am now getting a little over 27 mpg, a 60% increase. The only changes I have made is driving no more than 5 mph over the speed limit, not racing away when the the light turns green and coasting to a stop at a red light instead of accelerating up to the light.

I admit, I feel like an old man in an old man's car and everyone (yes, everyone) passes me on the highway, but I'm actually paying less for gas on a monthly basis than I was 3-4 months ago. My current goal is to try for 28.5 mpg.

I challenge everyone to keep track of their mileage and try to improve it. Even a 2-3 mpg increase, multiplied by everyone in America, would greatly reduce the amount of oil we import.

G. Mirro   July 24th, 2008 2:42 pm ET

Can someone please fix the font problem in my blog entry under "is oil our heroin?". Looks like all the apostrophes got replaced by a bunch of characters. Thanks.

Paul Borowski   July 24th, 2008 2:47 pm ET

If paulo moved here in 1989 then he knows that it was bill clinton ( I did not have sex with that woman) refused to sign the bill that allowed drilling in anwar. This oil would be powering or "addiction" to CHEAP GAS NOW. We can than clinton for our high prices at the pump. Want higher prices then VOTE for ANOTHER LIBERAL, You will pay and suffer. Which is what liberals want.

Wayne Dusek   July 24th, 2008 2:48 pm ET

Pickins has part of the equation correct. We need to skip moving the auto fleet to natural gas. Carrying around a high pressure bomb in my car has never appealed to me. I would buy a plug-in hybrid right now if one were available. I can see myself with a flex-fuel hybrid that has an electrical range of 30-50 miles. Charge it overnight with $0.25/gal equivalent electricity on off-peak grid power and never add fuel (gasoline or ethanol) until it had to be replaced because it was getting old or I took a long trip.

I also own some land in Oklahoma in prime wind territory. I can see ten or twenty 3 Mwatt wind turbines cranking out carbon free energy. All we need is the infrastructure to get the power from where it is cheap as dirt to where people need it. Maybe there will be a migration of people from the coasts to the central US where the wind is.

JS   July 24th, 2008 2:57 pm ET

This American addiction to big rigs, rather than oil is almost laughable. What did the big CEOs of GM and Ford do for the tons of money they receive in the meantime? Why could again the Japs see it coming and why they could not? Now GM and Ford can scramble with their own rather low-tech hybrid technology to catch up. In the meantime a 30 mpg can be toted as an achievement, really. Congrats to that! Watch out for Honda and Toyota taking over the car industry of this country and watch for the turmoil this economy will go through in the coming years with massive layouts and such. What a pity.

Rick   July 24th, 2008 2:58 pm ET

1) Drilling in Alaska or elsewhere is too little, too late.

2) Why prolong the addiction when it's only going to get worse as we cross peak oil and the 3rd world uses more and more.

3) War over oil (and other resources on this over populated planet) is inevitable...millions will perish, get used to it, some of the victims may be your family members.

4) Brazil not cutting down rain forest?? Satellite recon proves you wrong. There are more bare patches down there than my lawn has.

5) Hydrogen will not work. Repeat that. It takes an incredible amount of energy to break down water into H2 and O2. Electrolysis–look it up or try the experiment some time. Monitor energy input if you are technically inclined.

5) Pickens plan is both simple and logical from an energy standpoint. It also lowers our trade deficit and creates US jobs. And it gets us out of the middle East, once and for all.

Dale   July 24th, 2008 2:59 pm ET

The only way to reduce consumption is to control global population... good luck with that! All the conservationists that say consume less, are you promoting not having children or genocide? Perhaps you have not noticed but the world population is growing exponentially. There are a few logical paths to follow with the consume less argument, but none of them are very nice as they consist of population control, devolving back into the stone age, or preventing other countries from modernizing.

As long as the government does not try to butt in and regulate the free market, the energy "crisis" will fix itself in time. We are already seeing alternative technologies come online. The Toyota Prius is a great example.

Everyone just needs to take a deep breathe and realize this is not the end of the world. Other places in the world have been dealing with $8 per gallon gas for years, I think Amercans can handle $4 a gallon gas.

Andrew   July 24th, 2008 3:00 pm ET

Yes, Americans are addicted to oil. We have roughly the same per capita income as Japan and countries in Western Europe but consume 3-4x as much oil. How is that sustainable? The blame isn't with speculators. The blame is with people living in the suburbs in their empty McMansions driving more than 50 miles to work one way everyday in their SUVs. Or shipping California oranges to Florida and Florida oranges to California to create jobs for truckers.

What we need is better urban planning. Compact cities where people can walk to their grocery store and nearby restaurants. Homes closer to where people work. Enough with far away suburbs and exurbs. Add punitive taxes to white collar workers who purchase SUVs and trucks. No, accountants and lawyers, etc. don't need an F-150 to carry their documents.

Seriously, people. Middle class people in third world countries have retirement savings. Middle class people in America, who make so much more money, are saddled with debt. Wake up and be more financially responsible.

RICHARD   July 24th, 2008 3:04 pm ET

$5 per gallon gasoline is THE SOLUTION. It is already reducing our consumption, and it makes our own sources of energy competitive and worth developing.

Rapidly develop wind and solar conversions ( e.g. T Boone Pickens) to electricity. Use some of that to separate and produce Hydrogen fuel from water or natural gas. In the interim, convert to use more LNG. Do not go for the long term solution of drilling for oil, or converting oil sands, which is expensive and cannot make us independent of foreign oil or "reduce gasoline prices" soon, and would only delay the development of the good stuff.

We have known for more than thirty years that our dependence on foreign oil would become a huge vulnerablity. Suck it up and take the consequences of our procrastination, and get on with solving the problem. Walk and ride a bike, meanwhile, or telecommute.


Dave   July 24th, 2008 3:16 pm ET

The truth is that we need to do everything – drill, build nukes, wind, solar PV, solar thermal, etc. and do it now. We would have to realize that _all_ of this we would be doing for people 20 – 30 years from now, because we are basically screwed for that long. It'll take that long to get everything up and running – there is no short term solution.

We will be lucky to avoid an economic depression. I figure its about 5 – 1 that it is unavoidable. Yet we must make these research and development advances, or we will go into living in caves with no return to prosperity possible.

Will S   July 24th, 2008 3:38 pm ET

Yes, we are addicted to oil (even Bush says so). Denial is the first line of defense of an addict, and that shows up frequently in the above comments.

Alternatives will not have the same energy density as oil, so dramatic changes in how we live will become the new 'norm'. As exports continue to drop (in the medium and long term), watch recession deepen and food prices continue to climb.

It's time to start a Victory garden if you haven't already, and plant nut trees.

andrea silverthorne   July 24th, 2008 3:47 pm ET

The following is a text of an e mail sent to Chris Burns, a pingo expert. It was copied to Al Gore's group and to CNN's Andersen Cooper. Not only must we stop drilling in the sea- and especailly permafrost areas, we must, as soon as possible stop drilling altogether, as so long as it requires water to drill. If you need proof of what say I would be happy to supply it.

"The forces that create the pingo can be substantial. "I have seen a cross-section of a pingo southwest of Tuk that has 25 meters of frozen sand on top of it. That would equal the weight of a building more than 20 stories high, so the doming involves substantial pressure," says Burn."

Mr Burn. Pingoes are frozen mud volcanoes. They first occurred after drilling began with the first exploratory wells at Norman Wells. From the very beginning, the industry used fresh carbonated water to drill. Due to the fact Norman Wells was isolated, with no transportation, the oil was used locally until World War II, when Canada and America built the Canol Highway from Norman Wells to Alaska, because of the urgent need for fuel during the war.

It was in 1943 that a study was begun to solve the mystery of suddenly disappearing lakes; lakes and ponds were draining at ever increasing numbers and pingoes were appearing, and- of course- if the scientists trying to figure out the reason for this did not know you had to have lots and lots of fresh water to drill, they would not have looked in the direction of the industry; if they did know, the urgency of the war would have kept the information sequestered.

As there was no other source of water, there was no mystery, the oil company has to be considered as the source of the disappearing lakes and ponds. The use of a barrel of water for every barrel of oil, to the best of my understanding-is rote.

There are pictures of rudimentary drilling rigs of the early exploration days in the 1920-1930's, and right beside them are a pingo. As drilling techniques advanced, and drilling went deeper, and then horizontally, the pingoes increased, and as they progressed from carbonated water, to large amounts of liquid CO 2, the pingoes proliferated, and they grew in numbers in areas where methane migration followed the watershed. Unlike the eastern areas of the Canadian Shield, the rock in the area of the Norman Wells basin is sedimentary, which is much easier for the oilman's drilling brew to dissolve. The same goes for mud volcanoes in Azerbaijan; none existed prior to the rudimentary drilling for oil began, and they have proliferated as the drilling increased and techniques became more sophisticated. Land mud volcanoes have contributed greatly to global warming, but not in the spectacular way pingoes, which may begin to break in great numbers -all at once-in an area where methane gas can hydrate- in the sea and earth- at atmospheric pressure

The reason Fort Smith reached a temperature of 102 degrees F during the increased oil production, which began in 1939, when war broke out, had to be the first escaping methane gas from methane hydrate disassociation.

Quite clearly, the pingoes have the ability to destroy most of North America, Russia and Europe too-in one way or another. Quite clearly, it is hard to make hard decisions, especially when there is now- and always has been- such tremendous money and power derived from oil and gas. But you must stop the wishful thinking that somehow destruction is way down the centuries line and can be dealt with later. Clearly, if you sit and quietly ponder the possibilities, you must put the word imminent into consideration; therefore, you need to put this possibility and the information of the true nature of the pingoes into play with a lot more people of intellect and leadership. It is being held too close to the oil and gas industries chest, and telling the government they control is not helpful either; they probably already know.

Pardon the first e mail I sent you, I hit the send button, during an interruption- by mistake, instead of the minimize button. Please do not minimize the threat of the pingoes; it would also be a mistake.

Andrea Silverthorne

Mark   July 24th, 2008 4:14 pm ET

I think we should drill for our own oil while at the same time come up with other alternatives. Why does it have to be one or the other? Just the announcement that we are going to drill here will automatically drive prices down. And in 5 years, those that still have gas cars will have cheaper fuel with no dependancy on foriegn oil. As for me I really can't afford to go out and buy the newest electric car or whatever the newest one is even if they came up with one. So unless they are giving them away I will have to use a car that runs on gas.

chris   July 24th, 2008 4:24 pm ET

Saying we 're addicted to oil is like saying we're addicted to food. True, we may not need oil to survive, but oil drives our economy, and makes the U.S. the most powerful country in the world. We need a way to stay strong economically, without our dependency on oil.

It doesn't matter what the best alternative to gasoline is: If a car company could produce a well marketed, well designed, cost effective car, people will buy it. The people who are really feeling the gasoline crunch are those who make less than 40k a year, the government should offer gasoline cards to supsidize the price to 2.00$ a gallon for these people.

Like Kevin Costner said, people in office just want to stay in office to keep their job, but lose the passion they had that got them their. If we need change, we need new people. If the car companies are to scared to produce alternative vehicles, the government should do something about it. If Oil companies don't want to produce alternative fuels, the goverment should do something about it. Oil has become a monopoly to our economy, and we need to change it.

S Callahan   July 24th, 2008 4:25 pm ET

Would someone PLEASE get John's people over to this site today....they are having a pissy fit in the media about citizens reps not wanting to drill for oil. Come on John..get behind the windmills, the solar panels, and other alternatives...ask your daughter ; she can update you! My grandfather would role in his grave to see a Repub acting like that!

Andre in Dallas Texas   July 24th, 2008 4:54 pm ET

We are currently paying 700 billions dollars a year for the oil we import and in most cases to some countries that do not like us much . Our government is totally incapable to solve this problem as our politicians do not have the political fortitude to tell the rest of the world:
"here is the energy policy of the USA" , period . Remember what happened when Kennedy said " This nation shall commit itself to land men on the moon within this decade and bring them back home safely " , we did just that and more . I have been waiting for 35 years since I stood in line for gas for oiur government to act . We can do it in 10 years if the Democrats and Republicans start thinking about America first instead of who will line their pockets next . In other words I challenge this nation to throw the bums out (really) and start all over again so we a proud nation can stand for what we really are .That is innovative , commited and ready to show the world that we have not lost our way . By the way if it takes 10 $ a gallon for us to act , so be it !

John   July 24th, 2008 5:08 pm ET

True, Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. Unfortunately its in the universe, not here. Its only present at about 1 part per million in the atmosphere. The most common industrial source is from natural gas (methane).

msgijoe   July 24th, 2008 5:16 pm ET

Old T. Boone, the oil man, is trying to sucker us again. There is a return that he is after. That said, our attitude toward oil is very much like an addiction. Our political leaders "spin" BS at us daily. Why is it the only politician that mentioned reducing speed limits to order to increase gas mileage on all vehicles is Warner who has already announced he his retiring? We do need to increase our out put of oil BUT there needs to be a real emphasis on more efficient use of the oil we have and on developing alternative sources of energy. This "oil crisis' is a manufactured crisis that has been planned since VP Cheney had his secret meetings with the leaders of the oil industry. If you doubt it, just step back and look rationally at how we arrived at this "crisis". The bottom line is MONEY.

Adenir   July 24th, 2008 5:33 pm ET

The problem of Amazon is not the sugarcane, while a lot of countries around the world continues buying wood, pay for extinct animals and special plants, the Amazon will continues been destructed. This is the truth...Sorry for the English I'm not used to it.

Jim Samples   July 24th, 2008 5:48 pm ET

People who claim that "drilling would take years to come online and even then would only make a few cents’ difference" are the same people who bring you the threat of Global Warming will kill us in 40 years. They can't predict 40 years out and they can't predict what drilling for new oil will do for us in a few years. They have NO IDEA! So we drill for that oil and we see what it will do for us when it starts coming out of the ground. In the meantime (while we drill for that oil) we also look for other technologies. By the time that new oil starts coming out of the ground we will either "need it" or we will have found a better way. Get it?

STOP being so ignorant about this – OK ???

Alan Vince   July 24th, 2008 6:02 pm ET

I don't think this "addicted to oil" notion is valid. What are the alternatives that automakers or our government provide at the moment? Basically none. The consumer who wishes to utilize individual forms of transportation has little choice in the matter. The alternative that may someday be developed will likely become the next addiction in this way of thinking. So why bother to frame the problem in this way.

James Tracy   July 24th, 2008 6:46 pm ET

Everybody's Talkin

Talk talk talk, Gore, Boone, Branson, the EPA, Senators, you, and me, every one talks about the problems. But little or no action is going on. Bush says the US wont do anything til he is gone. I see all the stars talking, but lip service doesn't make change happen. While alot of people talk about the problems, I see very few bold enough to take action. Boone, for instance: Wind and solar are very acceptable, but the notion of compressed fuel tanks in vehicles is not a real good idea to me. Do we really want to manufacture or alter a vehicle that can explode. Too much liability. One major wreck with a chain reaction explosion. And while you keep talking, these problem are getting worse. Carbon emissions and high fuel costs.

So, I am here to propose a solution. Efficiency and cleaner emissions.

Microwave Plasma can be used to ionize earths atmosphere into Nitrous Oxide and Ozone. Pollution compounds in the atmosphere are broke down to their elements, and solids such as carbon fall out. The Nitrous Oxide and Ozone can be used anywhere fuels are combusted. Exhaust gases can be recycled for reuse. The Coal and Automotive industries emit the most, so we will start with them first.

We can have commercial models this year. We are selling stock, looking for partners and a Power CEO.

You can stand around and talk til you are blue in the face, it is time for action.

Put your money where your mouth is. I have put myself on the line. We all have contributed to the problem. Who is willing to stand up with me.

Alan Oak   July 24th, 2008 7:20 pm ET

Our heroin? How about our buffalo. When the oil is gone, the same thing will happen to us that happened to the plains indians.

uechimadman   July 24th, 2008 8:36 pm ET

We need to kick the oil addiction for sure. We, the people of the United States of America need to be the leaders of the world. The answer to our energy woes shines down in abundance. We need not have to keep pumping out greenhouse gases to power our vehicles. Advances in solar technology are coming faster and faster. There will always be a need for a combutable fuel for Jets and spacecraft, but for almost all other vehicles, they can be run by electricity. Cellulostic Ethonol can help in the interim. How we make the electricty can be done by a variety of means that will not contribute to global warming. T Boone Pickens plan is one that can be implemented. Having distributed solar energy harvesting is another. Reasearch should continue for Fusion that would be unlimited power as well, and much less nuclear waste would be generated.

Check out the Chevy Volt. That is a vehicle that will vastly reduce the amount of fuel needed. Sharp looking, high performance.

We need a manhatten project, a Marshall plan for energy independance. We could power the WORLD on the wind and solar energy that falls on our nation.. We could power it many time over. We need to update our aging elctrical distribution net. Start investing in clean energy technologies. Tax breaks, research money. Create incentives. Prizes. This needs to start TODAY!!!!

Joe Black   July 24th, 2008 10:16 pm ET

Read Mathew Simmons book, TWILIGHT IN THE DESERT. There is no more oil. If the reserves were there, the saudis would have increased to meet the demand. THEY WON'T BECAUSE THEY CAN'T. The world that we know has forever changed and we can't drill our way out of it.

Mike   July 24th, 2008 10:48 pm ET

We are definitely addicted and politicians (mostly Republicans) are scrambling to allow the quickest, most potentially environmentally solutions happens so we can think we'll see gas go down sooner. I'm no tree hugger but the thought of lifting these 'offshore drilling bans' is pretty scary. Yeah, it's many years later and safer and blah blah blah, but so are cars and they crash and kill people everyday. Though, the cars are fine, it's the morons driving them that cause the problem.
Imagine the offshore drilling ban is lifted, an accident happens off the coast of Florida and hundreds of miles of beaches are not goopy oily messes. Can you imagine what type of economic damage THAT would?
Future is electric cars and wind/solar if you ask me. Just have to find some company to grow some and take the plunge financially. Cover parking lots with solar arrays and have a distributed power grid.

TG   July 24th, 2008 11:47 pm ET

There is probably no Oil crisis, and even if there is we had the technology to find alternative energy sources for years. we can clone animals yet we cannot get off fossil fuels? Get real.

Global warming? pffft. we might have some effect on it but not what al gore states. Why don't you americans wake up and realize that you are a slave to yourselves. Turn off your television, Turn off your internet., Try living life without the influence of political ramblings.

Marilyn Manson said it best. Keep people in fear and they will consume (and keep in line). Turn on cnn and listen to the background music. In the background you will always hear a faint intense beating sound.

Played on purpose to keep the viewer intense while watching.

You are a slave to yourselves America. Yet you will only sit back, complain and wait for someone else to take care of the issue. Or the government to come up with another 'resolution' to make another Trillion, then in 50 years time there will be another crisis.

History repeats itself. Im still waiting for the nuclear war that was supposed to happen. Remember all those videos? and i'm only 25 😉 haha

Cantaford   July 25th, 2008 1:33 am ET

If gas prices go up any more (and Chevez did threathen to make gas go up to $300 a barrel). Read it right here on CNN.

If this happens we will see more companies go out of business, more lost jobs, bank credit cards will not be paid, more personal bankrupcies, more bankfailures, forget housing, no one will have money to buy or will not be able to sell their homes. Trucks will be at a stand still, no groceies will get to the stores, airlines will be grounded. Don't know if the farmers will be able to even grow anything, where will they get fuel?

Lets face it,we still need gas. We all cannot afford to redo or buy a new battery operated auto or any other alternate fuel auto. New companies that are building these new autos ( only $100,000) cannot at this time produce enough to meet demand. And which one of you can afford one? I can't.

We may not like doing certain things, but at this time it is a necessary evil. We must drill for oil in Alaska and off shore and everywhere else in between. Yes, and we should also release some of the reserves to give us a jump start. We can replace it later when our own oil flows.
We also should not export any of our domestic oil.

There are currently oil rigs sitting idle off shore. So I think the time frame of 10 yrs is incorrect. '

$5 a gallon is not the answer. Look at the airlines and trucking companies that are struggling. Do you want to pay more for groceries? Do you want to pay your grocery bill, your gas and utilies with your credit card. And then pay the minimum payment while you sit there and watch your balance grow? What are you going to do when you max out your credit card? Or when you lose your job? You can't call Mom & Dad. They can't help you.

In the mean time we can then develop other technologies. No more studies or talking about it. We already have the techology, lets just get busy and build.

Hopefully we will start by building our own solar panels to make them more affordable. This will create jobs and save on shipping costs.

My husband & I have reduced our driving by 75% We only use 12 gallons of fuel a month. Otherwise, we travel around by battery operated golf car. We live in a community where we can get everywhere by golf car. Grocery stores, banks, other shopping. We have done everything that we can think of to reduce our energy use.

We are retired but I am currently looking for a part time job if I can find one. Ha! Ha! I also have a tiny garden, trying to grow my own veggies. We are succeeding in reducing our spending. But we go nowhere as a result of this. Going out is out of the question.

We are just trying to do what we can to reduce our gas consumption so that you young folks can get to work.

When I was young my Dad told me when I go out on a date to be careful. The boys will tell you anything to sweet talk you. Hear them but don't believe everything they say. Take a look at what they have done, not what they say they are going to do.

That is what I would like all of you to do before you vote this November. Take a look at the candidates voting records. All of them.
Take care.

David   July 25th, 2008 2:10 am ET

The solution is simple. Our best bet for the "right here right now" is to conserve fuel as individuals by swallowing our pride and buying an older, smaller vehicle that gets better mileage and parking or selling the less efficient one, carpooling or driving less, driving more slowly and learning to drive using less fuel, and simply driving less. Although most people are complaining of tough times, they're really not changing their ways. They still have their cellphones, new vehicles, large mortgage, manicures, restaurant dinners, etc. Most of those that complain of struggle are simply unwilling to give up the lifestyle they live. We are not only addicted to oil, but we're addicted to living beyond our means, wherein the true problem lies.

Ironically, high fuel prices are exactly what we need. That's the only thing that will stimulate energy conservation, responsible spending, innovation, and a real attempt at coming up with alternative fuels and alternative forms of transportation.

Jeff Roe   July 25th, 2008 2:13 am ET

I am amused a little more as each day passes, when I hear the argument against drilling for oil both within the US and along the coastline: that it will take years to get a drop of that oil to the pump.

Using that logic, I suppose no one should put aside some money from each paycheck for their 401k or IRA, correct? After all, it takes years – 30, 40, more – to get anything out of that.

Oh, and why bother to buy a house with a mortgage. Let's just rent. I mean, it takes years to pay that off. What's the sense of that?

Hey, let's not bother going into college when we graduate from high school. Four years to get that diploma? Not for me. If I can't have that RIGHT NOW it can't possibly be worth the wait, right?

This argument is absurd on all levels, and yet another pathetic excuse for inaction. Instead, let's just complain about why we can't do this or we can't do that. Instead let's dream about the Nirvana that awaits us all under (dare I say it) – Obama.

Once the O'meister is on board – well – we can kiss our energy concerns goodbye. Some magical event will occur at midnight on inauguration day and we'll all be on easy street.

Free health care, open borders, endless stimulus packages, taxes only on the rich, windmill and nuclear powered cars; it'll be like walking into Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory – all the street lights will be big jellybeans, and the sidewalks will be milk chocolate. Heaven on earth awaits us.

Good luck with all of that.

David   July 25th, 2008 2:20 am ET

I also like the idea of electric vehicles for our commutes, or plug-in hybrids that would use no gas on commutes. Ford, Chevy, Honda, and others have already made practical electric vehicles around 1998 for California. They were leased, and then most were destroyed. The average commute is under 40 miles, and these vehicles are practical and held about 80 to 100 miles of real-world driving on a charge. I'd love to buy one if they didn't cost so much. They will only get better and cheaper if they're promoted. Let the oil prices soar so we see this. Then our oil use can be limited to the shipping infrastructure and other purposes where electric vehicles are no practical seriously reducing our demand for oil. Most people can use the electric vehicles for commuting. Also, the oil prices will probably not decrease causing a backlash to non-electric vehicles because world demand will continue to increase. As soon as I'm able to buy an EV, I will.

Ken in Dallas   July 25th, 2008 2:24 am ET

This isn't really all that much like addiction. It's more a matter of people defending the status quo because it's how they make a living. Most of the people who are running the country are involved in the oil business, so they think it's essential; it's essential to them personally, because change is going to cost them money.

People are trained to hate things that cost them money, so people getting rich on oil hate alternative energy. They could move into alternatives, but sticking with oil is making them money, so from their perspective, oil is good and alternatives are bad.

Maybe it is like addiction, but if it is, it's not addiction to oil; this addiction is to money and power. This addiction affects not the general population, but the people running the corporate world, who control the means to develop new products.

From a technology standpoint, most people will use whatever they believe works best for them; most people don't understand internal combustion engines beyond the fact that you turn a key in a lock and you can drive around. They can only choose from among the options they're offered, so they effectively have no input regarding adoption of new technologies.

Oil pays the big shots' bills, so oil is the order of the day until people wake up and get organized to see that things really do change.

Jeff Roe   July 25th, 2008 2:44 am ET

You're ALL missing the point. It's not an addiction to oil – it's an addiction to...


We don't care. Develop a vehicle that runs on ground up worms. We just want to get to where we want to go.

Get it now?

Franko   July 25th, 2008 4:30 am ET

More than a craving gone extra bad. For the world dominator ,Life or Death,
Military runs on oil. Germany and Japan were unable to fight eco-friendly.
History to repeat, not having learned. US unable to project military might ?

Too late to drill, wait for the wind, solar the panels, liquefy the coal,
Just too late, or the military can wait ?
Having learned from history, defeat or victory ?

Ilya Shambat   July 25th, 2008 4:57 am ET

The solar energy and the hydrogen power is indeed the way to go. Rather than burning the planet (and the future of humanity) as many would like to continue to do – or doing away with economics, as some advise but would never be able to implement successfully on a significant scale – converting abundant energy into usable energy, while generating no waste and minimal pollution, will fulfill all the energy needs of the civilization while leaving the world intact for the future generations. There has been media discussion of a proposal to use solar beam energy, and that can and should be a part of the solution. But there is a proposal that stands to complete it, invented by Australian scientist named Arindam Banerjee, and that is: Using solar beam energy to break down ocean water into oxygen and hydrogen, which hydrogen is then to be sent through pipes all over the continent and be used as both energy source (which it is) and water source (which it likewise is) to fulfill on the spot both the energy needs and the water needs of the cities, houses, offices, industrial installations, and vehicles, without producing any destructive byproducts at all. The solar beam energy is used to perform electrolysis, and the resulting hydrogen is then sent everywhere to be used as both water and energy. To take the world into this direction, will make civilization sustainable and give the world a livable future.

Joe - Wilmington, DE   July 25th, 2008 6:36 am ET

The statement, "...[the mass production of ethanol from corn] which is driving the prices of food and basically everything way, way up" is grossly inaccurate. By current measurement, the conversion of corn-based sugar to ethanol accounts for a mere couple of percentage points of the recent spike in corn prices. The majority of increase in corn price per bushel, as well as other commodities, food or not, is due to the spike in the cost of energy. As many people should be aware, including reporters, farming is an energy-intensive process. The vast majority of cost increase per bushel is easily attributed to the increased cost per acre of planting, growing and crop harvesting.

As the price per barrel of oil goes up so does the cost of running farm equipment.

Reporters should be responsible for reporting accurate information and not feed ignorance.

Mike Tedor   July 25th, 2008 8:11 am ET

In 1961, John Kennedy challenged the naiton to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. It united a nation and the scientific community. A similar challenge is needed by our national leaders to break our addiction to oil. Hydrogen, solar, wind and nuclear fussion technology must be developed under a national effort. We have waged war on drugs, poverty and crime. It is time for a war on oil. If such an effort was undertaken, the current price of oil would drop as the market started to see the end of our addiction.

6ftrabbit   July 25th, 2008 8:16 am ET

Read this and followup on the sources and facts presented. Then talk about it.

Bert   July 25th, 2008 8:53 am ET

Peolisi should be tried for treason for even suggesting that the strategic reserve be used. It's there to preserve our country if the arabs turn on us again like in the 70's.

I say elect T. Boone Pickens to the Presidency. Ban SUVs to anyone who lives on less than 20 acres. Ban McMansions. You get the idea.

Scott, Wichita   July 25th, 2008 9:18 am ET

alright, so corn-based ethanol won't work.

What about algae-based? There was an article a few weeks ago saying that a couple scientists had figured out how to mass-produce algae, using hydroponic growing methods, and completely replace corn-based ethanol. Seems like a 1-2 punch, but the Senators in DC like to find little things and make them seem like they're much more important. instead of arguing about how turning corn into ethanol is a bad idea, and is raising the costs of food, just find an alternate source. there's hundreds out there (even GRASS!!!) Algae is the most abundant plant on the planet. Making fuel out of stuff we grow isn't that hard...

Ant   July 25th, 2008 9:26 am ET

All the energy on this planet comes from or has been deposited by the sun. Solar is the final and only energy solution. Hydrogen is a neato battery but, it's most usefull as distraction to the real issue. Coal is a limited resource much like oil and will eventually run out also. Using food crops as fuel is also a dead end ecologically and environmentally.

The best and only true answer is massive space based solar generating plants or super efficient "future tech" ground based solar.

As a tax payer I'd rather pay for a "final" solution than a bunch of intermediary doomed solutions.

Andy   July 25th, 2008 9:51 am ET

Why all this talk about alternative fuels. We need to get off the fuel kick and invest time and effort and money into magnet power.

Conventional physics says that it is "impossible" for magnets to provide a primary energy source. Yet thousands of researchers worldwide have been pursuing the task of building a working magnet motor. Many claim to have achieved this objective. None has reached the marketplace yet.

Four of twenty New Energy Congress members who responded to a week-long poll said they had personally witnessed a magnet motor in operation in which magnets were the only motive force.

Darryl   July 25th, 2008 10:08 am ET

I agree with many of the posts here regarding the plan for reducing our dependency on oil, and particularly foreign oil. I am heavily invested in the AE sector and believe in it's future. However I also work for a major oil company, and I am tired of hearing people say that we are the "enemy" here, and that we have caused oil prices to get where they are.

I'm not going to argue my points in great length as to why oil companies aren't to blame for high prices (I hope most intelligent people really have seen the light and realize that oil companies – at least the major, privately held companies such as the big 5) can not influence the price of a global commodity. The closest any producer (or group of producers) can come to influencing prices is OPEC, and some argue that even their control is diminishing, as they do not have much spare production capacity to increase supplies anyway. So if you want to "blame"anyone for "price control" blame OPEC, but even then I do not think you are focusing on the real problems.

Someone also mentioned that oil companies were the "enemy" of auto companies, and that they have been a barrier to alternate sources of energy for Automobiles. Rubbish! We live in a free market society, and if auto companies (or any other companies) wanted to invest in development of these technologies, they are free to do so. The oil companies can't stop them...but the barrier has been cheap oil – so they have not had the economic incentive in the past to develop more expensive technologies, because why? They would not make a profit on it, because WE the consumer would not buy it. At the end of the day, alot of this boils down to simple economics.

So lets stop blaming the oil companies, which is a waste of time and energy, and focus on the real solutions – further AE tech development and implementation in our country, stop the bipartisanism that is hindering improvements in our domestic energy policy, increase domestic oil production (yes, we need that oil even if it is 10 years out) – as oil will still be needed for a long time to come while other AE's gain acceptance and infrastructure is built – not a quick process.

Hernan M   July 25th, 2008 10:19 am ET

The comment that Americans are "addicted" to oil is as foolish as saying that they are addicted to electricity or indoor plumbing. This particular article is very poorly researched and badly written, with many errors of fact and a great deal of ambiguity. CNN needs to tighten up on the quality of their editorials.

Ken C   July 25th, 2008 10:27 am ET

1) Nationalize oil. It is a strategic, required product.
2) Stop the ethanol requirements and subsidies. Let it win or lose on its own merits.
3) Fix gas prices at $5.00 a gallon. heating oil and diesel at $3.00
4) Give it a year to sort it all out and we'll be fine.

Max Pargament   July 25th, 2008 10:34 am ET

Why does no one speak of solar as the answer? According to the documentary "too hot not to handle" if we installed a 50×50 mile array in a desert in California, all our energy needs would be solved. This ties into our usage in cars, because solar stations can charge electric cars...which GM had produced (called the EV1) over 10 years ago to meet the needs of the average commuting person. The average American travels 30miles per day, and those cars could travel 90miles(according to another documentary called "who killed the electric car") on a single charge.

Although the real answer is a combination of wind, solar, hydro-electric, and possibly a few more, the real answer is in solar.

I hope we get over our addiction to oil. I'm 21, and I've been pushing for alt. energy for years now, for the right reasons: pollution & global warming. I convinced my dad to buy a prius 2 years ago before this fiasco. I also take my own steps to reduce my electricity usage (because I cannot afford solar panels nor a high mileage hybrid).
Go read about ways to reduce your electricity usage at the dept. of energy's homepage.

Mark   July 25th, 2008 10:52 am ET

The only quick "fix" for the price of oil is pass legislation to stop oil speculating, unfortunately our elected politicians will debate the issue until the end of August so they can go on break and say "the dem (or reps) were responsbile for not passing the bill." Thank God they have someone to blame.

As for opening ANWR or off shore drilling, I don't see this as a solution because at best it only encourages us to remain dependent on oil, something that the oil companies would like to see happen. Also, I think about the possible environmental impact. Yes, they say they can safely drill, but hey accidents happen (ever hear of the Exxon Valdez anyone).

If our elected officials really wanted to solve this problem, then stop debating and actually do something rather than pointing fingers. Wake up and realize that the only wrong answer is to do nothing!!!

Kim   July 25th, 2008 11:10 am ET

39 years ago we put a man on the moon, we have micro computers, high tech gadgets, but oddly we can't find a new energy source. We can but the Government won't let us get off the oil/ gas they GOT us addicted to. GREED, GREED and more GREED. So, when the ice caps have all melted and Global Warming is slapping them and their grandchildren in the face, do you think , then they might do something? I doubt it. GREED is destroying our planet. Thanks guys.

Tim S   July 25th, 2008 11:20 am ET

No it is our Methadone. Many benefits, but still highly addictive.

Jackie Fitz   July 25th, 2008 11:20 am ET

Beautifully put by Jim Samples on his post at 11:21 on 7/24. I could not have put it any better. We use what is available. The real question is: why haven't we come up with an alternative to the internal combustion engine yet ? The answer is simple: we have, but it has been quashed by Big Oil, featuring the Saudis and the Bushes/Cheneys, et al. Disgusting.

Eugene Kudrow   July 25th, 2008 11:26 am ET

Oil is definitely our heroin. The dealers pulled back a little in the 70's, decided we weren't addicted enough, and now they can name their price. Failing to address this elephant in the room is the biggest leadership failure of the last 30 years.

Energy is the gold of today. If America wants to continue any hope of prosperity, we need to become a net exporter, not importer, of energy. I agree with the general ideas behind T Boone Pickens plan, do what we can today to make ourselves energy independent, and work towards fossil fuel independence over the next 10-50 years. This is the equivalent of the airline strategy – oxygen mask on yourself first.

Andy   July 25th, 2008 11:47 am ET

Why all the talk about oil. Invest in this Magnetic Power Inc instead of the oil companies.

Magnetic Power Inc’s mission is to supply the world with clean, abundant, and inexpensive electricity.

The company is developing technology it calls POWERGENIE™ (Power Generation of Electricity by Nondestructive Interference of Energy). Based upon proprietary breakthrough discoveries, GENIE generators (as well as other self-sustaining magnetic systems) are being designed to operate continuously, without fuel. The principle energy source is the Quantum Vacuum, which permeates the universe and is abundant, renewable and pollution free. When generators are mass produced, the cost of electricity is expected to be less than any competing form of power generation.

Andy   July 25th, 2008 11:54 am ET

Energy Independence is in the Air!
Magnetic Power Inc

The Self Powered Systems™ the firm is bringing to market, include a revolutionary, patent pending, technology, which converts ambient heat into electricity. This non-magnetic breakthrough has the potential to go to production in the near future. The system has proven capability to recharge batteries from heat extracted from the air; an alternative to the need to plug-in. This technology can give electric cars unlimited range, as well as turn them into power plants.

MPI is also developing breakthrough magnetic energy technologies including POWERGENIE™ (Power Generation of Electricity by Nondestructive Interference of Energy). Based upon proprietary discoveries in MPI’s labs, generators are being designed that operate continuously, without fuel, extracting electricity by converting an abundant, renewable, extremely dense, energy source that has never before been commercialized. The process will create no pollution. Variations will provide a permanent power supply that can eventually replace the need for batteries of all sizes. Conventional power costs are rising. The cost of electricity from these technologies promises to be less than any competing form of power generation today, or in the foreseeable future.

Andy   July 25th, 2008 11:56 am ET


During the first quarter of 2007, a Proof-of-Concept of a POWERGENIE™ generator (Power Generation of Electricity by Nondestructive Interference of Energy) was given a positive evaluation by Lee Felsenstein, EE. He compared it with the early work on the transistor, prior to that invention leading to a Nobel Prize and launching what became known as Silicon Valley.

A patent application covering POWERGENIE is pending. At least three solid-state families and one with moving parts are evolving from the fundamental invention. Other discoveries, leading to possible demonstration devices, toys and laptop power supplies are also emerging from the solid-state laboratory. The mechanical lab has identified a promising design for a room heater requiring no fuel, as well as rotary demonstration devices and a family of toys.

Our evolving theoretical models, continuously refined to reflect hands-on laboratory experiments, allow MPI to develop solid-state as well as mechanical variations of magnetic conversion technologies. They are likely to be converting energy from the Quantum Vacuum or Zero Point Energy. Since some small devices run cooler than room temperature, they may also be converting ambient heat.

The Technical Team:

Members of the MPI team and consultants to the firm are spread around the world, with individuals residing in Mexico, the United Kingdom and Uruguay, in addition to several locales in the USA. Three of the members are degreed Electrical Engineers. Others include a patent and document research specialist with an almost photographic memory, a former adjunct professor of physics, a consulting physicist and four inventors active in the Company’s current development work. The team has recently begun to expand.

Specific Goals for 2008 include:

• A proof-of-concept of a self-sustaining, solid-state, generator.

• Resumption of the Ultraconductor wire development program at Room Temperature Superconductors Inc., MPI’s subsidiary.

• Evaluation of our energy technology by outside, independent, laboratories.

• A fuel-free room heater prototype, expected to open a path to rapid production under license.

• Self-sustaining desktop demonstration devices for the university and school market.

• A variety of toys: No batteries required!

• A 1 kW solid-state POWERGENIE generator. This will have a wide variety of potential applications. A few might be linked together to power a home. Two of these generators are expected to enable removal of the need for a plug from a plug-in hybrid car.

Other objectives may be added as resources permit.

© 2008 Magnetic Power Inc. All rights reserved.

Austin   July 25th, 2008 12:00 pm ET

I wouldn't say we are addicted to oil. We are addicted to our modern lifestyles that are powered by energy. In the near future, for our vechicles that energy is going to be oil. Those that want us to drill for oil aren't saying that this is our long term solution. It is what is needed to power us for today however. Eventually this can likely be replaced by Hydrogen and/or Solar power cars. Solar power gets twice as efficient each decade. We are about 2 decades away from it being a real alternative to gas. Pouring more money into it could speed it up a little, but it won't necessarily do so.

Oil and coal doesn't make us sick no matter what our Senate Majority leader says. It fuels our modern life which is alot more productive and cleaner than it was before these fuels were used.

Andy   July 25th, 2008 12:00 pm ET

Regarding T Boone Pickens plan as read: "I agree with the general ideas behind T Boone Pickens plan, do what we can today to make ourselves energy independent, and work towards fossil fuel independence over the next 10-50 years."

T Boone Pickens plan is to make money. He just corrupting his plan on making money by investing instead in wind power other than oil. Why doesn't he invest in the this magnetic power.

Sam   July 25th, 2008 1:17 pm ET

Is oil our heroin? No, money is!

Eugene Kudrow   July 25th, 2008 2:38 pm ET

"T Boone Pickens plan is to make money. He just corrupting his plan on making money by investing instead in wind power other than oil. Why doesn’t he invest in the this magnetic power."

Nothing wrong with making money. However, the broader principle that I mentioned in relation to his plan was that we need to get energy indepedent as soon as we can – using any and all means – magnetic, conventional, solar, wind, tidal, biofuels from algae, methane from landfills, what ever.

JB   July 25th, 2008 8:09 pm ET

What is the solution to our oil addiction?

Answer: Make oil less attractive to consumers and businessess and make competing energy sources more attractive. The increase in the price of oil is helping to curb consumption. More alternatives need to be developed. Think about it....a critical component of our mobility (i.e. aircraft) are entirely fossil fuel based. Someone please correct me if you know of a helicopter/plane that is powered by one or more renewable energy sources.

However, the real question isn't about oil addiction; it's about energy consumption. We waste a lot of energy. Meaning the way we generate and use energy is very inefficient. To resolve our energy problems we need to do one or more of the following:

1. Use less overall energy.
2. Use energy more efficiently.
3. Engineer new, more efficient ways to create energy (e.g. fusion)

Sadly, people are slow to change. Change can be accelerated via incentives (either positive or negative). Law makers should seek to develop programs and laws that offer positive incentives to help bring
about change.

Franko   July 26th, 2008 1:07 am ET

Oiletta, the Heroine, sacrafices, combusts, to promote efficiency.
Increasing CO2, plant growth, human activity, not infinite, exhausted,
Now, her price is too high, even more wars cannot supply.

She will sleep and rest a while, inside Pandora's box.
Out come the alternate fuels, happy for US!

otilio orabona jr   July 27th, 2008 4:50 pm ET

Well lets get real folks this oil problem is not going away by it self
therefore I propose a solution that will resolve this once and for all if people
will only listen.....
In the spirit of of honored past president Roosevelt of the new deal era
I suggest a manhatten scope project to create new jobs , promote
the well being of our economy and send the 3rd finger salute to our so called arab allies.......Here it is .invest in new hydrogen fuel cars ,electric cars andthe infrastructure needed
to support them. Invest in nuclear power to generate electricity to power them and the jobs created in this hugh effort will revive our ailing economy....get rid of the cronies in the white house that
would veto the legislation that would be needed to make it happen....america wake up take charge of you country.....Once Benjimin franklyn was asked if they had finished drafting the constitution his responce was" yes
you have a democracy now lets see if you can keep it......."

David   July 28th, 2008 4:37 am ET

Ken C: Then let's stop oil subsidies.

People: Oil companies do not want to drill. If they did, our government would be told to allow it. If they were to drill a bunch, production an supply would increase and oil profits would drop. So, oil companies don't want that.

High oil prices cause the demand for ethanol, so high oil is what SUPPOSEDLY causes starvation in a double whammy(by just the oil prices and the corn prices increasing). However, ethanol doesn't necessarily cause starvation. Take Mexico for example. When the Mexican people were plenty capable of growing their own corn even more cheaply than we could, the Mexican government sold out their people and made them slow down domestic production and buy from the U.S. because they wanted to pocket the payoffs and tax money from business with us. As a result, they became totally dependent upon our corn, much like our government sold us out on oil as we're totally dependent upon the rest of the world. So, in essence, blame governments and high oil prices for starvation, not biofuels.

David   July 28th, 2008 4:46 am ET

Also, Mexico became more of a haven for U.S. companies to use Mexican lands for agribusiness where the food is produced for export(Cargill, Birdseye, Conagra, Tyson, Hunt, Campbell's Soup, etc.). The rural Mexican farmers can barely survive, and that's another reason why Mexico depends on us for corn. So, biofuels is hardly to blame for starvation. You can put most of the blame on oil prices in general and the dealings between the U.S. government and Mexican government. And the Mexican government has dealings with many other governments, too.

Who Cares   July 30th, 2008 8:32 am ET

I don't know if this is the solution, or part of it, but a car that run 125 miles on compressed air is certainly intriguing.

Of course, TANSTAAFL: energy is required to compress the air, and in some locales that will mean burning coal among other things, or splitting atoms, but over time these can be replaced with green alternatives. Another advantage over schemes such as fuel cells or natural gas (T. B. Pickens) to power cars, the network to distribute the energy already exists in the form of the electric grid, and there's no need to produce or dispose of the highly toxic components in batteries.

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