The Free Trade Cultists’ chant of "It will all be better, by and by" and
claims that objecting to what passes for free trade today means that you’re
advocating no trade are untrue and, worse, counter-productive.
What needs to be done is to deal with the issue of sending jobs
off shore with some intellectual honesty.
Once that is done, we can start to address what might be solutions.
One area that should be addressed is the high cost of energy.
That’s one of the large costs of doing business in America and
one of the reasons for moving industries off shore. That cost is climbing
today and will continue to do so even more rapidly as China’s energy demands
increase exponentially (as they expand the manufacturing we off-shored).
Oil is not the answer, and even drilling in ANWR wouldn’t help
much since we have only about 3% of the world’s oil reserves.
But we do have about 250 years worth of coal reserves.
It’s not a good solution now because burning coal produces sulfur
(think acid rain) and huge amounts of carbon dioxide (think global warming).
Carbon dioxide sequestration is being studied (seeThe
Myth of the Hydrogen Economy) but it’s not here, and burying it underground
gets it out of the atmosphere for now but it’s still there. [Wired news
lists some recent articles.]
A claimed breakthrough in clean coal may be part of the answer:
All Fired Up Over Clean Coal
One environmentalist says his system can zap coal-plant pollution. Skeptics
Dr. Robert R. Holcomb … calls his technology the Electron
Stream Carbon Dioxide Reduction system. But that’s a misnomer. The system
also targets sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). And it doesn’t
just reduce them — it eradicates them by splitting the polluting molecules
into benign atoms. CO2, for example, gets carved up into carbon and oxygen
Scientists say this portion of Holcomb’s
scheme is possible. But they scoff at one of his claims: that the technology
the pollutants into atoms using just a small portion of a coal-fired generator’s
energy output. Holcomb asserts that by recycling the heat and recovered
oxygen back into the coal furnace, "the CO2 converter would use only
10% of the energy generated" by a power plant. [Business
It may be "pie in the sky" but if
it does prove out in planned tests, it could be a breakthrough that contributes
to solving the
jobs problem. (If we can figure out how to get at the coal without knocking
off the tops of all the mountains in Appalachia and filling in streams and
polluting East Coast water supplies.)
And we could be spending a lot more on exploring alternative, renewable
energy sources (no, damn it, not
hydrogen – that’s not an energy source).
It’s probably a more productive move than arguing.