[Allan Topol / AllanTopol.Com]
Lightning paced thriller writer
of International Intrigue
National Bestselling Author

The Energy Project
by Allan Topol, [IMAGE]2004


Photo Courtesy: Julie Zitin
[Allan Topol / AllanTopol.Com] Unfortunately, we all understand where the American and world economies are headed in the not too distant future because of energy consumption. Not to mention our quality of life. Only the United States can provide the vision and leadership to launch a major Energy Project. It is imperative that we begin now.

Domestic and worldwide demand for energy will continue to increase at a prodigious rate. All one has to do is attempt to drive along one of our clogged interstates, as I did on a recent Sunday on I-95 in the northeast, or I-5 in California on another day. The gridlock was mind numbing. Happily, some of us can take subways during the week, but many spend countless hours behind the wheel burning gallon after gallon of gasoline.

Home builders are continuing to chock up records for new homes. Those will all use electricity as well as businesses in the current economic expansion. All good news for power companies.

In Asia, the situation is even more frantic. I had the pleasure of trying to move in cars in Tokyo and Bangkok, where gasoline stations are now required to close at night. And that was before the Asian nations became major players on the world’s economic stage.

At that time, the Chinese were still riding bicycles. On a recent trip to China, the bumper to bumper traffic in Beijing and Shanghi made riding in a car a nightmare. In Beijing alone, some one thousand new cars are being added to the roads each week, and the Chinese love affair with the automobile is just beginning.

Now General Motors, Toyota, Ford, BMW and a number of other auto manufacturers have plans to build huge manufacturing operations in China. It’s a large country and they want to have people everywhere behind the wheel. Cadillac’s general manger estimates that “by 2010, China could represent 15-20% of our total volume.”

This would be bad enough if oil were an unlimited resource, but it’s not. We’re dealing with a finite depletable resource. Experts are all in agreement that oil’s maximum possible production will peak before too long. They are divided about precisely when. Some say in five years. Others in fifteen.

The consequences for civilization are dire. Oil isn’t just the raw material for gasoline. It is the building block for plastics and a myriad of other products used in hospitals, schools, offices and homes. It’s difficult to imagine a world without the products from petroleum feed stock.

Moreover, burning gasoline in cars, and fossil fuel in power plants is having a serious adverse impact on the earth’s environment. There is no disagreement among experts that global warming is occurring and that the burning of fossil fuels is a major contributor. The only question is the rapidity of the deterioration.

Faced with these facts, the United States should launch a massive national scientific effort to develop alternative sources of fuel along the lines of the Manhattan project during the second World War, or the U.S. space effort that resulted in putting men on the moon. For discussion purposes, let’s call it The Energy Project.

As a subpart of this broader effort, scientists and engineers should develop a cookie cutter plan for building nuclear power plants with redundant safeguards. They have been operating safe and effectively in many parts of the United States, France and elsewhere for many years. Congress will have to enact legislation enabling these plants to be constructed.

The knee jerk reaction, among some, to my proposal for The Energy Project will be that we can’t afford it. My response is that we can’t afford not to do it.

For funding, there are a number of special tax options which could be employed. The obvious one is a gasoline tax which many politicians will abhor. But there are others. For example, in 1980 congress passed the Superfund statute which has enabled an extensive clean up of chemical contaminated hazardous waste sites. For those clean ups, funding came not only from responsible parties, but from industries who use the chemicals. Here, the tax could be imposed on all companies in the energy sector.

These costs will only be short term and recovered in the long term. The Energy Project, like the Manhattan project and space program, is certain to yield valuable inventions. When licensed world wide, these will become an enormous source of revenue.

The fate of our world is at stake. The United States must seize the initiative.