Finding North Without a Compass

A retired Army officer and retired Fortune 500 executive, Warren may be best known for making waves while serving on the Mequon Common Council and Ozaukee County Board. He's no longer an elected official, but he has plenty to say about local, state and national issues.



Are you smarter than an Al Gore? He made the news recently with his speech where he noted that "The Future of Human Civilization is at Stake," unless we convert to 100% renewable power sources, namely wind and solar within 10 years. Now, if you’ve ever seen the program "Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader," you know that some of the contestants are smarter and some are not. I’ve examined Al Gore’s proposal and I offer what a 5th Grader may think about it. Then you can decide if you are at least as smart as a 5th Grader, which automatically makes you smarter than an Al Gore.

In 10 years, without increasing our energy sources from nuclear power and without extracting the oil and gas resources within our nation’s boundaries and the continental shelf, Al Gore proposes that wind and sun alone will solve our energy problems. Can anyone subscribe to his theory? Natural gas and oil will no longer heat our homes or power our vehicles. Coal, oil and nuclear will no longer supply the electrical power to our homes, industries and communities. Our carbon footprint will be zero. Wind, sun, a smattering of tide and hydro power will be our sole renewable energy sources. While not clear on this issue, I suppose Al Gore sees us all zipping around town or out on the highway with little electric cars with enormous batteries. All of us have seen the disastrous results of such past theories, such as the headlong plunge into ethanol from corn to replace a portion of our gasoline supply. Ethanol production required massive taxpayer subsidies, reduced car mileage, polluted the air and increased the cost of gasoline per gallon to the consumer -- all with the unintended consequences of raising food prices throughout the world. Al Gore’s proposals would have to work hard to produce worse consequences but certainly have that potential.

I’m convinced that a 5th Grader knows that Al Gore’s plan originates somewhere in LaLa land and that he or she can offer a better solution. If a 5th Grader were starving but in the backyard were fruits and vegetables galore, would a 5th Grader not go out and gather the produce to eat and avert starvation? If a 5th Grader’s country was sending billions of its dollars overseas, damaging its economy, and straining its citizens to pay outlandish prices for a gallon of gasoline – all while petroleum was available locally – would not a 5th Grader tap those local sources as rapidly as possible?

What would a 5th Grader come up with as a long term energy plan? I suggest it would contain several elements.

1. A 5th Grader would immediately open up ANWAR, the continental shelf, the Arctic and promising locations within the lower 48 states, to drilling. A 5th Grader would know it’s not right to spend billions, at exorbitant prices, causing distress to citizens, for a foreign product, when that same product is available in abundance at home. A 5th Grader would know that this action will immediately drop the price of oil because suppliers and speculators can read the tea leaves as to what the future portends. A 5th Grader would know that this action will strengthen the dollar and improve our economy. A 5th Grader would also know that the technology is available to insure no environmental consequences from a drilling scenario.

2. A 5th Grader would encourage and approve new refineries to insure continual positive inventories of gasoline; eliminate subsidies for ethanol; review the need for special boutique gasoline blends – all to bring efficiency and effectiveness to the marketplace.

3. A 5th Graders would mount a clone of the Manhattan Project bringing together the best scientific and management minds to create a lower carbon footprint in our energy usage. Such a project would include:

a. Expanding nuclear energy with its zero carbon footprint while resolving the nuclear waste issue.

b. Creating minimum carbon footprint coal and natural gas plants producing electrical energy.

c.. Expanding the technology of using wind and solar energy to create affordable electric power.

d. Setting technology achievable car and truck mileage standards including alternates to the internal combustion engine.

e. Encouraging conservation in all aspects of energy usage.

So where do you stand? Are you smart as a 5th Grader?

If so, that makes you a lot smarter than an Al Gore.

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