< script type="text/javascript"> var blogherads = blogherads || {}; blogherads.adq = blogherads.adq || [];

Why Energy Independence Is So Crucial

Wesley Clark: We’ve been talking for over 30 years about energy independence.  We never got it.  We have staggered through one crisis in the Middle East after another; we’ve tried to build relationships.  I wrote a paper in 1973 saying some day we might have to put military forces in the Middle East to assure access to oil, and you’d have thought I committed treason in the Pentagon.  They were scared to death of the paper.  They couldn’t imagine that we would actually use military forces to protect access to oil.  Well, what do you think the Gulf war was about?  And why do you think we went back into Iraq?  And in an indirect way, that’s what the whole terrorism issue has been.  It’s America’s consumption of oil feeding dollar exports abroad creating petro-dollars which have enriched a lot of these other countries which have fed the resources and have created conflict.  

And so here we are in 2010 spending over $300 billion in an economy that’s struggling, struggling to get any economic growth.  That $300 billion a year is 3 million American jobs at $100,000 a year or 10 million jobs at $30,000 a year, and there’s Americans that don’t make $30,000 a year.  That’s a lot of jobs.  That’s a lot of money.  That’s 50% of the Pentagon budget.  It’s almost as much money as we pay on interest to the national debt.  It’s enough to completely fix infrastructure in this country in a very short period of time, give every child a chance to go to college and fix healthcare.  That’s the money that we are sending abroad and we can keep that money in America.  All we need is the leadership to do it.  

How do you do it?  Well, the base is to switch off consumption of gasoline because the amount of oil in America that we’re able to pump has declined.  We used to be an oil exporting country, now we’re an oil importing country.  We’re still producing over five million barrels a day of oil, but we’re consuming about 19 million barrels a day of petroleum products.  And the gap is mostly imports.  In the second quarter of this year, April-May-June, we imported an average of more than 10 million barrels a day of petroleum products.  And that’s’ simply unsustainable.  The cost of that is two percent of the American GDP.  

And how do we get out of it?  Electric automobiles?  Compressed natural gas, we’ve got plenty of it.  Biofuels?  We’re growing corn and enough biofeed stock that if we wanted to, we can create all the liquid fuel we would ever need in this country.  And we have the technology to do it.  

President Obama announced a plan to cut dependence on foreign oil by one-third by 2021. Retired four-star general Wesley Clark explains just how detrimental our addiction to oil is and posits some strategies to mitigate it.

Live on Thursday: Learn innovation with 3-star Michelin chef Dominique Crenn

Dominique Crenn, the only female chef in America with three Michelin stars, joins Big Think Live this Thursday at 1pm ET.

Big Think LIVE

Add event to your calendar

AppleGoogleOffice 365OutlookOutlook.comYahoo


Keep reading Show less

New Hubble images add to the dark matter puzzle

The images and our best computer models don't agree.

Surprising Science
  • Scientists can detect the gravitational effects of invisible dark matter.
  • Dark matter causes visual distortions of what's behind it.
  • The greater the distortion, the greater the amount of dark matter. Maybe.
  • Keep reading Show less

    Did our early ancestors boil their food in hot springs?

    Scientists have found evidence of hot springs near sites where ancient hominids settled, long before the control of fire.

    Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
    Culture & Religion
    Some of the oldest remains of early human ancestors have been unearthed in Olduvai Gorge, a rift valley setting in northern Tanzania where anthropologists have discovered fossils of hominids that existed 1.8 million years ago.
    Keep reading Show less

    A new minimoon is headed towards Earth, and it’s not natural

    Astronomers spot an object heading into Earth orbit.

    Credit: PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek/Paitoon Pornsuksomboon/Shutterstock/Big Think
    Surprising Science
  • Small objects such as asteroids get trapped for a time in Earth orbit, becoming "minimoons."
  • Minimoons are typically asteroids, but this one is something else.
  • The new minimoon may be part of an old rocket from the 1960s.
  • Keep reading Show less

    Personal finance: How to save, spend, and think rationally about money

    Finances can be a stressor, regardless of tax bracket. Here are tips for making better money decisions.

    Videos
    • Whether you have a lot of money or a lot of debt, it matters how you handle your personal finances. A crucial step when it comes to saving is to reassess your relationship with money and to learn to adopt a broader, more logical point of view.
    • In this video, social innovator and activist Vicki Robin, psychologist Daniel Kahneman, Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton, and author Bruce Feiler offer advice on achieving financial independence, learning to control your emotions, spending smarter, and teaching children about money.
    • It all starts with education and understanding. The more you know about how money works, the better you will be at avoiding mistakes and the easier it will be to take control of your financial circumstances.
    Keep reading Show less
    Quantcast