In this whole global warming – I mean climate change – debate there are a determined few who would like to set energy policy for our grandchildren. You know, tell them how much oil they can use, carbon they can pump into the atmosphere etc. Here is something that caught my eye: National Review Online… The author, Climatologist Patrick J. Michaels, asks us to “Imagine, as a thought experiment, if the Senate of 1925 were to dictate our energy policy for today.”
Let’s see, there were price wars over gasoline in 1925. In some places it was as low as 18 cents a gallon ($1.30 in 1994 dollars). In Time Magazine in October of 1925 the merits of steam turbine vs. diesel engines were being discussed. Steam turbine propulsion was less than 30 years old at the time. The Time article ends with this paragraph:
Until the introduction of the oil-combustion motors, no power unit approached the steam turbine for efficiency, economy, and simplicity of operation. Lately the trend has been toward Diesel type motors for all but the largest of ships. The Denny experimental ship, plying as a ferry on the River Clyde, will be closely observed to see if steam has caught up with its rival.
We are a prideful people aren’t we? Could the smartest people in 1925 extend their vision out 25 years to peer at ships using steam turbine engines driven by nuclear power? We look at ourselves and see the pinnacle of humanity. We look into the future and we see ourselves – only in shinny, biodegradable clothing and possibly bigger brains.