Thursday, September 17, 2009

Imagination is funny....

I once got a personalized "rejection" letter from Time Magazine in response to my submission to "letters to the editor". This is the only one I ever got that was not a simple form letter.

I cannot even remember the exact wording to the article to which I was responding, but it had something about President Jimmy Carter erroneously including hydroelectric, wind, coal, oil, and gas with solar energy.

Although I had never given this subject any previous thought, I almost cried out loud, "Wait a minute! The president's right!" When I mentioned this to my dad, he said, "Doesn't oil come from dead fish!" So my dad's right, but how did the "fish" manage to live and grow in the first place, in order to become dead?

Mankind has been living throughout its history on stored solar energy! The sources of energy on which we depend the most, the fossil fuels, are finite. When we've used all the oil and coal, they'll be gone.

Perhaps gas continues to be manufactured naturally through the decomposition of our waste, but in no way to the extent it was with the decomposition of prehistoric animals which died in abundance.

All the "fossil fuels" are products of solar energy, and I had never thought of that before, but the president did!

Hydro power, which is created by the solar driven process of water being evaporated from the oceans by the power of the sun, and dropped on the land, being carried by rivers back to the oceans, can be converted to electricity by running the water through turbines to drive generators. That makes it solar energy, because without the power of the sun, it wouldn't happen. The same with wind power. It is the action of the sun throughout the day that causes the winds to move the air. It doesn't happen without the motivating power of the sun.

When I wrote a letter to Time Magazine telling them that the president was not "erroneous", and explaining why I believed that, I got a very nice little letter from a junior editor saying that "most people think of solar energy as being solar panels". Yeah, that's right! But Jimmy Carter was NOT WRONG!

At the time I wrote my letter, back in the late '70s, solar panels were just beginning to be taken seriously, and that's how people visualized "solar energy".

I look back on the 30+ years that we have been absolutely positive that our fossil fuels were becoming more scarce, and that as other countries began to want to develop to the standards set by the US, these fuels would be depleted at an accelerated rate.

So, Amy, you little junior editor from Time Magazine, I think you have it right, although you didn't say it in just this way.....our imagination is far and away too limited to really tackle the problems that face us.

After these 30+ years of so very little innovative thinking, it's time to look outside the box! I'd like to see some of us right here in the good ol' USA to really begin to "think outside the box", but will it be US, or will it be some of those from a "developing" country, who really "takes the bull by the horns".

Having heard numerous comments from fellow citizens condemning the extremely sensible "Cash for clunkers" program, I tend to suspect that it won't be US who has the imaginative ideas.


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