Bush did his last State of The Union gig last night, which usually ends up being a very cathartic political experience for me. I invited a few people over to heckle. I don’t remember which channel we watched it on, but the camera person managed to locate all the sleeping and yawning people in the audience and show closeups of them during the blather, so it was very entertaining- all until the Democratic response, which actually made the President’s speech look good.
While the president has addressed climate issues in the last couple of SOTUs, this year he said greenhouse gases exist and that we should do something about it- big talk! His plan is to let his successor take care of it, though- he’s proposing a three-year commitment to give $2 billion to an international fund, so that other countries can develop clean technologies. This allows him a two-year getaway, plus it’s a bad idea in the first place. First off, $2 billion is a small sum and shows indicative of Bush’s real lack of concern about these issues- even the UAE beat Bush by 2 weeks and $13 billion, and Japan set up it’s own international fund this weekend with $10 billion in financing. Secondly, if we’re in such a financial crunch, why are we giving money to other countries for technologies we don’t have enough of here at home?
Invest the $2 billion in the US for clean technology, Bush, then we can sell it to the rest of the world. That will give us something valuable to export, stimulate the economy, create good jobs, and it’s a lot better than that ridiculous plan of yours to mail me a $600 check to fix the recession.
As a reminder that we’re not doomed yet, here are a couple of articles on large investments in research and development in clean technology. Both are from Wired.
First, especially to please the conservative/free market types, Formula One car racing is requiring its teams to make their cars more energy efficient and look for alternative sources of power, by banning engine development for the 2008-2018 seasons. Hybrid technologies, alternative fuels, and recapture of heat and exhaust to be converted to power are some of the systems to be developed to make the race cars racier in the future. Formula One is to the world like NASCAR is to Middle America, it would seem, and they’re sponsored by some major car companies to demonstrate cutting-edge technology, which then quickly trickles down into the everyday-driver market. This could have a pretty fantastic impact on the efficiency of cars available to the public, and it’s a great demonstration that efficient cars aren’t lame, for those more interested in smoking other cars at stoplights than conservation.
For those interested in the viability of government investment in research and development of new technology, Russia’s $5 billion investment in a state nanotechnology center is worth watching. Nanotech is good for lots of things (everything, according to those involved in nanotech research), but the director of the facility Mikhail Kovalchuk is mostly interested in the applications of his research on efficiency and clean energy technologies. Even more exciting, since Russia’s budget surplus that allows them to make this investment is mostly due to their incredible gains in the oil and natural gas markets (holding Eastern Europe over the barrel, har). The article points out that this investment is at least in part meant to stave off the effects of the certain collapse of the fossil fuel economy on Russia’s economy.