Which alternative energy source is the best?
Michael T. Klare is the Five College Professor of Peace and World Security Studies (a joint appointment at Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst), and Director of the Five College Program in Peace and World Security Studies (PAWSS), a position he has held since 1985. Before assuming his present post, he served as Director of the Program on Militarism and Disarmament at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. (1977-84).
Professor Klare has written widely on U.S. defense policy, the arms trade, and world security affairs. He is the author of Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America’s Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum (Metropolitan Books, 2004), along with many other books. He is also the defense correspondent of The Nation, a Contributing Editor of Current History, and has contrbuted to numerous publications.
Michael Klare serves on the board of directors of the Arms Control Association, and the advisory board of the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch; he is also a member of the Committee on International Security Studies of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Question: Which alternative-energy source is the best?
Michael Klare: We, have to face a short term problems of liquids, because especially in this country we are so dependent on motorize vehicles that is the short-term crisis. We are running out of oil for cars and trucks and buses and planes and everything else. We need a liquid alternative. So people tell me, well lets have more wind power and more solar power, which is very appealing. Some people say nuclear power too, but none of those are going to solve our short-term crisis of liquids, and so for liquids I think the most promising is second generation Ethanol. Not Ethanol derived from food crops like corn, but Ethanol derived from the corn stocks and woodchips and other biomass using enzymes what’s calls cellulosic ethanol. This was very promising to me, but we do not have a single functioning cellulosic ethanol plant in commercial scale, cellulosic ethanol plant in this country at this time.
Question: What would it take to get us there?
Michael Klare: A lot of money, a lot of investment too. I mean the technology is ready, no, I shouldn’t even say that, its on a laboratory scale we have this technology, but we have to move it to commercial scale production and a lot of investment money has to be put into this. This I think is the priority, so that’s the short term crisis of liquid the transportation fuels I think is bio - developing nonfood crop bio fuels. Looking into the future the most promising strikes me is solar power, because I think that’s where the most progress is being made to harness the power of the sun, but there is a mismatch between where the sun is strongest in the American Southwest and where they need is greatest which is in Northern California, in the Midwest and in the Northeast and we don’t have the transmission lines and the infrastructure and so on, so there too, you need a lot of investment and so forth.
Klare is intrigued by solar energy but says that we are still far from making it an economically feasible alternative.
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