Energy Issues: How the Public Understands and Acts
The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs research, with funding from the Joyce Foundation, conducted a nationally representative household survey with 1,008 adults to measure the general public’s opinions, understanding, and awareness of key energy issues in the United States. The survey reveals that the U.S. public accepts some responsibility for the country’s energy problems, but most place responsibility with the energy industry and want the government involved in finding a solution. The survey is an in-depth look at modern energy problems, and how Americans are responding. –http://www.apnorc.org/
From the Research Highlights Report, we find that most Americans believe that the energy industry is responsible for increasing energy efficiency and savings:
When asked how much of the responsibility different groups share for increasing energy savings in the U.S., 65 percent say the energy industry shares a very large amount or a lot of the responsibility, which is a significantly higher percentage than the percentage who say the U.S. government (58%) or individuals (57%) share a very large amount or a lot of the responsibility. In particular, Democrats, college educated individuals, and adults under 50 years of age are the most likely to look to the industry as the responsible party for increasing energy savings in the U.S. –Research Highlights Report [.pdf]Americans expecting an energy industry ruled by fossil-fuel interests to increase efficiency will be waiting for quite some time. The energy industry spends just 0.3% of their sales on R&D, significantly less than any other major industry.
Indeed policymakers in the federal government, often former fossil-fuel executives and hot fusion proponents, have actively pursued keeping the one viable alternative energy from development.
Cold fusion was announced to the world on March 23, 1989. By November of that year, the Energy Research Advisory Board ERAB, formed to determine the federal response, decided that cold fusion was not real and therefore not worthy of funding. [ERAB brief .pdf]
They based their conclusions on faulty reports by the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as well as early null results from a group at the China Lake Naval Research Lab. Later analysis showed there was shoddy experimental workmanship in Caltech’s technique and a mistaken or deliberate shifting of data in MIT’s results. While the China Lake team got no results for the first five months, and reported that to the ERAB, they began to see excess heat and helium shortly thereafter. Their positive results were ignored. Thus, a mere eight months after the announcement of a revolutionary breakthrough in energy science, the case was closed.
Thus, Department of Energy funding for the development of ultra-clean nuclear power from water was denied, and remains so to this day.
Indeed, the current U. S. Under-secretary of Energy is Steve Koonin, former CalTech hot-fusion proponent and Chief Scientist at BP Oil. On May 1, 1989, less than two months after the initial announcement of Drs. Fleischmann and Pons, Koonin smugly remarked at a special session of the American Physical Society that “We are suffering from incompetence and perhaps delusion of Fleischmann and Pons.”
This is tough to watch, but the first few moments are enough to witness our current Department of Energy Under-secretary Steve Koonin as BP Oil’s Chief Scientist pontificating on future energy trends in 2007.
It’s little wonder Americans have no energy policy save “Drill, baby, drill“.
An Associated Press (AP) news story about the recent poll results highlighted the differences along political party lines in Republicans, Democrats at odds over energy issues [read]:
— Three of four Democrats surveyed report that a major reason for the county’s energy problems is that industry does not do enough to support clean energy. By comparison, 43 percent of the Republicans questioned believe that.
— Three of four Republicans in the poll cite government limits on drilling as a major reason for energy problems, compared with 34 percent of Democrats.
Also, 85 percent say it is a serious problem that the United States needs to buy energy from other countries, but there’s disagreement about why. Among Republicans in the poll, 65 percent say the U.S. does not produce enough domestic energy to meet demand. Yet just over half the Democrats say people use too much energy.
Even on areas where there’s majority agreement, a partisan gap remains. For instance, there is broad backing for programs to help consumers learn to make more energy-efficient choices, but the support is 81 percent among Democrats and 57 percent among Republicans. –AP
Some graphic highlights of the Poll are shown below:
While Republicans are clearly supportive of the fossil fuel industry and care little for the environmental damage it causes, it has been Republicans who have spoken out the strongest for cold fusion. The only Democrat who has worked towards developing this technology is Bob Kerrey from Nebraska who helped to bring Energetics Technologies to their new home at University of Missouri. I wonder what he’s doing for the University of Nebraska?
Where is the Green Party, and the Libertarians (minus LaRouche), on this issue? Efforts to alert the constituency fall on deaf ears, making a strong third party in the U.S. unlikely. When no communication is possible, a critical mass of support has difficulty taking hold without a viral meme like cold fusion will be.
Third parties are missing a huge opportunity to get in front of the most critical issue facing both Americans and the world – clean energy. While Democrats and Republicans as a whole have done little to move a coherent 21rst century energy policy forward, the chance for a third party to fill the vacuum is propitious. No other issue has as much importance, for all other issues are dependent on energy, including the economy and environment.