Friday, August 10, 2012

My Mother is 92 years old.

When I was talking to my mother the other day about poetry, one of her great loves, along with Shakespeare and other eminent authors, I happened to speak a quote - "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud." - a famous poem called "The Daffodil." by William Wordsworth that most of us read in school. My Mother, 92 years old remember, then proceeded to quote the whole 4 verses word for word. And I mean word for word, I had the book in front of me and she recited it word for word, not missing one word! Four verses.

I then asked her what she'd had for lunch - no more than one or two hours ago, she smiled at me and asked my father what she had had for lunch. He rolled off the meal along with all of the extras.

I could have asked her 5 minutes after she had eaten it and she would not have been able to tell me. But mention a line from Shakespeare's Tempest, or Hamlet and she would continue it without hesitating for as long as I wanted!

Go figure. The miracle and tragedy of the human mind.

My mother has forgotten more than most people ever learned. For most of her life, until a horrendous automobile accident changed her and everyones life aound her, she knew the answer to almost anything I or anyone else would ask her. I almost never knew her to not know the answer. She knew more than all of my friends and family put together.

Now she can still remember things from her schooldays with incredible accuracy, but she can't remember what happened 5 minutes ago.

A tragedy of the first order, whatever that is. And a loss to us and the world.

Energy idea.

Just an idle thought really. I have seen the "Ads" on TV for "Clean Coal", which of course I do not believe. I guess you can call anything, anything you want to call it - like "Dry Rain", "Fast Snails", or even "Clean Coal".

But, I also believe that we are being devastated financially by the amount of money we send abroad to buy oil, much of it to our enemies.
It seems to me that yes, coal is dirty, but surely so is oil? Maybe not AS dirty as coal, but at least part way there.

So, my suggestion is this. I hear that we have enough coal in this country to supply our energy needs for centuries. Why don't we work on producing that energy from coal as cleanly as possible? We may not be able to produce Clean Energy from Coal, but surely with our technology - going to the Moon and Mars etc - we can at least produce Cleaner Energy from Coal?

Let's just say that we manage to clean it up to where it is only twice as dirty as oil, I really have no idea if that is possible or not. I do know that Britain survived for hundreds of years using nothing but coal, and very dirty coal at that, and they are still around. We should be able to use "Scrubbers" or whatever to greatly reduce the pollution. This would give us a huge amount of money back in our pockets - not being sent abroad - that we could use to develop a clean energy, from Solar, Wind, Wave, Geo Thermal, Hydrogen etc - all produced in our own country, by our own people. Millions of jobs, here, in the US.

Also we all know that we waste a HUGE amount of energy in the US. One of the reasons for that is that in spite of its cost, energy is still cheap here. Why else would people leave their cars running when they are not even in them, heat their homes to 75 or 80 degrees in the winter and cool them to 65 to 70 degrees in the summer? And of course we were raised to be wasteful.

So the second step in becoming more energy independant would have to be to Use Less Energy. This would have the effect at the same time of producing less pollution. Cut your energy use by 20% - easy - and you reduce pollution by 20%.

But how do you get people to use less energy? I see people waiting by schools for their children, sitting inside of their big SUV's with the engine running! Even when it is not very hot or very cold. Why not instead shut off the engine and get out into the air - which would be less polluted and more breathable right away by having shut off their engines! The only way I can think of to reduce gas use would be to raise the price. Not a very palatable thought. How could it be made more palatable?

How about if the government explained that a $1 a gallon tax on gasoline would educe pollution which would save everyone money in pollution reduction costs and health costs and also reduce the amount of money being sent abroad which would also reduce everyones taxes elsewhere. The money collected could be put into a fast track clean energy development organization. There are hundreds of thousands of out of work NASA engineers and scientists who could work on it. These are people capable of putting men in Space and sending them to the Moon and Mars. I am sure that they could solve this problem. The rewards would be huge. Cheap, Clean, Domestically produced Energy, less pollution, cleaner air and water, healthier children and adults.

Another way to reduce energy produced from foreign oil without it necessarily costing us more would be to have a progressive price on electricity prices. I envision actually Reducing the price of electricity but then increasing it the more you use. This would strongly encourage people to use less electricity. Turn off lights, turn down the heat, turn up the A/C, install Solar etc.

It could be set up so that the total income to power companies was the same, but less power would be used because people would be encouraged to reduce wasteful use.

Here is a possible way to go. We use about 1,500 units of electric per month - a 1500 sq ft home with 2 people - at 10 cents per unit, price is $150/ month. Lets say we drop the price to 3 cents per unit for the first 100 units, then raise it by a penny a unit for each 100 extra units we use. So the second 100 units would be 4 cents per unit, the next 100 would be 5 cents per unit and so on. By the time I reached my 1500 units I would be paying 17 cents per unit for the last 100 units. This would actually make my bill EXACTLY $150 if I used the same 1500 units of electric.

BUT, obviously I would be using way less than I was before because every time I saved a unit I would be saving 17 cents instead of only 10 cents, so I would be busy saving as much as possible. (Well I would anyway. Maybe very rich people wouldn't, but that would be OK too because when they got to 4,000 units they'd be paying 43 cents a unit! Which would be subsidizing the rest of us!).

However this would not work out for the electric company as their income would drop substantially. We'd probably need to start at 5 or 6 cents a unit and go up from there. Or maybe start at 1 cent a unit and go up a penny every 50 units instead of every 100 units. So I would be at 30 cents a unit by the time we reached our 1500 unit figure. That would still be good, at an average of 15 cents a unit my bill would be $225 if I continued to use 1500 units, which of course I would not!!

If I were saving 30 cents a unit you had better believe that I would be saving every bit of electric that I possibly could. This would most likely give me a bill about the same as I was used to. But of course the country would be doing well because we would be importing considerably less less energy and putting considerably less pollution into our air and our water and our lungs.

And again we'd be sending less money abroad, have more jobs at home and have a cleaner environment. Who would object to that?