Assuming that the technological challenges can be overcome, focus fusion will provide a source of energy greater than anything the world has yet seen. The question on this website seems to be, “When we do it, what do we to then?”
The answer can be found in looking through history for similar occurrences with other economic phenomena, and in recognizing that, in creating focus fusion, we are creating wealth.
Wealth is not money. Money is a token that represents wealth, but it is not wealth. The US has been running trade deficits for as long as I can remember, but I live in a better house than my parents ever had, and I am more wealthy. According to the concept that “money is wealth,” the US should be drained of wealth, and I should be broke. But it isn’t that way, because the US generates so much wealth that it virtually spills from the country into the economies of other countries, spurring their economic growth. America borrows, trades and invests with and in other countries, and they in turn do the same and with each other, and the flow of capital provides the grease for the flow of wealth worldwide.
A prime example of this wealth-creation is the Internet. Back in the ’60’s and ’70’s the US Defense department wanted a computer and communications network that could withstand a large-scale attack and not break down. The work done on this became the Internet. In the ’80’s, leaders like Al Gore saw the potential of this network, if developed and opened to everyone worldwide. Through the efforts of Gore and others, the doors were opened to make the Internet available to all, and the massive advancements made in computer and networking technologies in the last 25 years have brought near-magical capabilities to average people, and given millions around the world the opportunity to live a better life.
Think of this, wherever you are from, what would it have taken for you in 1975 to call someone on a different continent and talk to them? Would you even know someone to call? What would be the charges? How about writing that person a letter? How would you find out about them to know where to send the letter? How much would be the postage? How fast would it get there?
Now, on the ‘net, finding someone from another country is as simple as going to a web site with a forum such as this one. Talking to them via text or email is so cheap that the service is all you can eat for a monthly fee. Talking to them with sound and video is as simple as downloading a chat client and signing up for a screen name. A person with a joe-job who has a cheap PC and broadband can do things now that only the rich thought of a few decades ago. That is wealth.
So who were the winners and losers in the internet saga? Just about everyone won, but there were a few losers. Telecom companies lost. Internet Service Providers themselves were not big winners, which is important to remember. Postal services lost a bit (but all the internet buying generates a lot of shipping charges). People who made speculative investments simply because they were internet-related (pets.com investors are a good example) lots their shirts when they over-inflated stock prices for these poorly-thoughtout businesses. But places like India won big-time. Suddenly, avenues of wealth opened that were once closed by time and distance. Those countries willing to give up a bit of control to open themselves up to the internet saw huge gains that are still growing as we speak.
Focus fusion is going to be like the internet. It is a research project that, if and when it fulfills its goal, will generate a massive amount of wealth in a short period of time that will raise the living standards of every person on the planet who lives in a country smart enough to let it do its thing. The keys to making personal wealth and to getting the benefits of this new power source to all lies in infrastructure, deregulation, and value-added services.
Many people believe that the best economic times in the West came about in the 1950’s-1960’s. This was because of two factors. First, after blowing each other up for almost a decade, the countries of the West needed rebuilding. Secondly, they already had the mindset and skills to build a modern economy, they just needed to repair and rebuild. The US reaped huge rewards helping the economies of the West (including its former enemies Japan, West Germany and Italy) rebuild. The US was largely untouched by the destruction of WWII, and had the resources to offer.
Same thing happened with the Internet and the Information Revolution. Investments made early on in these areas reaped huge rewards. Your PC may have come from China or Singapore, but the processor and the operating system were designed by US companies. The US gains a lot of wealth from this, but so do many other places, which is all to the good.
The point of this is that, when there is a need and there is a way, there is growth, and growth is where wealth is generated. There is a need for ultra-cheap, unlimited energy (understatement of the century), and focus fusion may be the way. The growth is in the building (and in developed countries, the rebuilding) of the infrastructure to provide the energy to everyone, and in the new avenues that will be opened once focus fusion becomes wide-spread.
More in the next post.
(Edited to add a missing word.)
Focus fusion, as everyone reading this is likely aware, will change the fundamentals of providing energy. Because of its cellular nature, focus fusion will provide, not only cheap energy, but local energy.
From what I have read, the current idea is to sell licenses for the technology once it is finished. This may be a good idea, but it raises a few problems. First, licensing usually is synonymous with litigation. Those who don’t want to license will try to develop their own, ripping off the people who spent their lives making it happen in the first place. In order to protect the license, you must litigate, which means that money that would have otherwise be spent on R&D and in helping those who can’t afford the technology to get it will be spent on defending patents. Second, will licensing allow the owners of the technology proper control over its use? Here is an example.
Let’s say I own a glass factory. Glass is energy-intensive; in fact, the modern use of fossil fuels can be traced to the use of coal in glass factories in England a few centuries ago, before the steam engine. I now pay the local power utility lots of money every month to fire my furnaces. Then comes focus fusion. Now, will I simply change my operation so that I get my energy from the local utility at a new, mildly cheaper rate? Or do I build my own fusion power plant and get of the grid, and buy a few pounds of decaborane a year instead?
I work in printing. Back in the ’80’s, full-color “commercial” printing was a labor-intensive, highly expensive process that was much an art form as it was a science. Artists created art boards and mechanicals, with FPOs and lots of notes showing what and where screen builds should be dropped in by craftsmen called film strippers. Images were color-separated from transparencies and prints using special cameras ran by special camera operators. Preparing artwork for press was so expensive and hard that most printing companies did not do the process in house, but relied on special service bureaus called “color houses” to do the work for them. This made publishing color materials too expensive for all but the richest of clients, usually large businesses.
Then came desktop publishing, and specifically, Postscript from Adobe. Using Postscript, PC’s could be used to generate artwork with the color built into them. The artwork could then be sent electronically to the printer. The printer, not having to have expensive cameras and teams of highly-trained strippers on staff, could generate the color separations directly to printing plates (or in the case of digital printing, send it directly to the press), and, not only save a truckload of cash, but print the job faster, with less error. All the printer needed was a few technicians that could repair digital artwork, and run the machines, and buy upgrades and service contracts to keep up with new technology and keep the machines running smoothly.
The losers were the big color houses that, in effect, controlled the industry. The winners were everyone else. By using technology to do an end-run around the color houses, more people can now afford to publish their works, and even small businesses can have quality printing.
Back to the glass factory. I, as the owner, see the profit potential of making my own energy. What I need is for someone who knows what they are doing to build me a power plant, train some of my employees to run it, and sell me a service contract for its maintenance and spare parts.
If I can:
1) By change of regulation, be allowed to make my own power,
2) By change in tax law, be allowed to take some of the cost of the power plant of my tax bill,
3) By amortization, show how over a 3-5 year span how much I will save vs. paying the power company,
I can justify moving off the grid and start generating my own, clean energy, and undercut my competition, thus increasing my market share and profits.
So what does the company selling focus fusion get from this? What should it offer?
It should offer a turnkey solution for building and installing a fusion power plant, offer the choice of having the plant ran by the plants owner through the employ of certified technicians or “By Our Highly Trained Technicians,” and offer a service plan (possibly a mandatory one, backed by government regulation, for safety issues) to do maintenance and provide upgrades.
Now, back to licensing. Lets say that, instead of selling the technology in a more local manner, it is sold via licenses to existing power companies. I live in a nice two-story home in a rural area, set on about two acres of land. But half of my property I can’t use. Why? Because the power utility, LG&E (now part of E-ON) has a major power artery running through it, and the one-time lease/easement does not allow me to make any improvements on half of my land. That big power line is a major asset of that company; it is part of their total value as a company. Focus fusion, with its more granular nature, would make that power line, and all like it, obsolete. In fact, much of what a modern power company has as assets would be suddenly useless to them, if they deploy focus fusion properly. Would LG&E be willing to do a rapid rollout of focus fusion plants, and take the hit of massive restructuring and asset obsolescence? No, they won’t. They would deploy just enough to satisfy the license (and they would negotiate that license very well) so as to cause minimum disruption to their balance sheet. Instead of moving quickly to bring down the cost to the consumer and to cease using fossil fuels, they will deploy only when and where they can make a buck with it. The only way to force them into a real rollout would be through regulation, and as everyone knows, energy companies have great lobbyists.
The key thing to recognize is this: focus fusion will revolutionize not only how power is created, but where, and by whom. Licensing give the tech to those least likely to deploy it.
So, what should be the goals?
The over-arching goal should be securing the energy future for mankind practically indefinitely. Broken down, this means that everyone on the planet should benefit, not just the current winners. It means that new possibilities should be opened that were not even thinkable before. It should also, by shear force of its existence, be a positive change agent in the lives of everyone around the world, in fact, every thing living on it.
It is important to set your goals so that you can see the obstacles in your way of achieving them. Here is my set of goals. See how they compare to yours.
1) Elimination of fossil fuels as an energy source. (Really obvious one, here)
As Eric Lerner has written, oil is actually a really important resource. Think of all the things we do with petrochemicals. Plastics, lubricants, medicine, you name it. We need this resource to last as long as possible and we need to recycle it as much as we can. Instead, its going up in smoke. It is also driving us to slit each others’ throats.
Here is a good book to read, if you are here simply out of curiosity and still haven’t gotten that sense of urgency: The Coming Economic Collapse, by Dr. Stephen Leeb and Glen Strathy. Leeb is a psychologist and financial analyst who usually writes investment books. It was in his research on future trends that he found something very disturbing about the future and oil. He also found that the oil companies knew all about it, but they see themselves as the winners and care nothing about solving the huge problem we face. Important stuff.
2) Cessation and reversal of global warming and global dimming.
Tied to the first goal, global warming is a planet killer. A lot of people are panicked over this. I am myself, but I am a bit more optimistic than others.
The reason why is that, as a college student, I worked for the university as a graphic designer for the Media Resources department. My job was to help professors publish their research. I got a good indoctrination to the politics of research, and to the motivations of researchers. One of the best things I did there was a powerpoint presentation for Dr. Thomas Coohill, who was involved in the effort to rid the world of CFCs that were depleting the ozone layer. This presentation was used by Coohill to travel to the various capitals around the world and show the danger we faced to world leaders. When he came back, he seemed pretty happy, and felt that his work had done some good. He even told me about about how the graphic I made of the “smoking gun,” with a Colt 45 with smoke snaking out the barrel, elicited gasps from the audience, since most places around the world don’t let people own firearms.
A few years later, CFCs were banned globally by international treaty. Recently I read that the ozone layer has now stabilized, and by the time my future grandkids get out of college, the ozone layer will likely be back to where it was before. I am not saying that I saved the ozone layer, by any means. I am just saying that it really feels good to know I did my share, and that we humans can solve our problems if we put our minds to it. It is also means that any contribution, no matter how small, helps.
As a side note, it was this experience with researchers that convinced me that the focus fusion project is real, and is based on real science, and is worth the effort.
3) Reducing global poverty
In my previous posts in this thread, I made the point that the success of the focus fusion project would mean the creation of sudden, vast wealth in the form of practically free, clean energy. This wealth must be spread, and the best way is to make use of market forces to defeat the current energy winners and let everyone else win. Focus fusion energy is cellular, and can be afforded by small communities and entrepreneurs who formerly could not hope to break into the energy market. At the same time, who will put up the cash to let the poorest get the benefits of this technology?
The common theme is for rich Western countries to give money to poorer countries to help them develop their energy infrastructure. The problem is, the west has been giving handouts to the governments of poor countries for years, and in general, it has not worked. Why? Because the mindset of the leaders of poor countries is to enrich themselves, and give just enough to their people to keep themselves in power.
Another solution must be developed to side-step, yet again, the current winners and let everyone else win for a change. A good book to read is The Future of Freedom, by Fareed Zacharia. It will explain the relationship of liberalism, democracy, taxation, and resources, and how they play in explaining the problems faced by people around the world. Between the lines, it also explains the problems faced by anyone trying to attack poverty.
I think the answer is to give locally in countries. Come into a community and offer to build a plant and a grid, no charge, using profit from selling the technology in the West, where we can afford it. This bypasses a lot of red tape, and if the community is denied by government officials above them, it will create a shockwave that will embarrass the government into letting it happen.
(Remember too that poverty is a relative term. “Real” poverty is not being able to sustain your basic existence. Food, shelter, cooking fuel, clean water, basic hygiene. Anything above that isn’t poverty, it is keeping-up-with-the-Joneses. My kids think we are poor because I couldn’t rush out and get them a new XBox 360 when they first came out. Like they need another video game.)
(Cont. in next post)
4) Fostering of new technologies, and allowing existing technologies to florish.
Ever seen a video of one of those maglev trains in Japan? Pretty awesome. People on a train going at airliner speeds. Why don’t we have them everywhere?
I bet its because the infrastructure and energy costs are so high that it doesn’t seem worth it to places like the US where airports are common. But airplanes use fossil fuels, and contribute greatly to both global warming and global dimming. Maglev is a technology in need of another one. Focus fusion could be the solution.
If the train company owned its own power plants, it could afford to build Maglev lines to all the major destinations currently being served by jets. It could offer luxuries that can’t even be offered on jets like the new Airbus jumbo jet, and could even let you load your hydrogen-powered car on board so you didn’t have to rent a vehicle when you got there.
That hydrogen-powered car would finally be possible because of focus fusion. All the major car manufacturers have at least a toe in the water, waiting for this tech to have its day. They also see the future oil calamity, and they are hoping someone will solve it before we go back to horses and bikes.
Capital made in selling focus fusion tech, assuming it pans out, should be invested into these kinds of technologies. It will provide further capital to fund a global rollout.
5) Using energy as a weapon to fight the degradation of the environment.
Much is written on this site on this subject. All I will say further is that the owners of focus fusion should not only foster the development of this tech by providing the energy necessary to make it happen, but invest in its development with money earned from selling focus fusion technology, which leads to my final goal…
6) The enrichment of those involved in the development of focus fusion, and hopefully a Nobel Prize.
If focus fusion works, all the researchers should get a Nobel Prize in Physics, and a standing ovation at the UN. That said, its really up to the Nobel committee who they choose every year, and you can’t count on it.
However, I am reminded about two people in all of this. Philo T. Farnsworth, and Bill Gates. Farnsworth invented Television (and the Farnsworth Fusor); Gates invented Windows. Farnsworth was a nice guy who just wanted the current winners in the media world to give him his proper due. Gates was a ruthless poker-player of a businessman, and did not trust the current winner in his field, IBM, and side-ran them with Compaq, Dell, and Intel to create a virtual monopoly. Farnsworth died a broken man, and most do not know of him. Gates is now retiring, and is not only the richest man in the world, but the worlds largest philanthropist. He and his wife intend to spend most of their wealth in finding cures for the worst diseases mankind faces before they die, and to use their clout and business acumen to see that it gets done. Farnsworth never had the money for such giving, and never had any clout.
So, what will it be for the scientists and backers of focus fusion? Will they be able to use their invention to set the course of their own futures, and change the world in the way they envision? Or will it fall into the hands of the current winners, who will use the tech only to serve their needs, on their own time schedules? Who should steer this great wealth?
When LPP, Inc. mentions licensing, it means licenses to market or possibly to manufacture focus-fusion reactors. LPP and any licensee would be selling to whoever wants them, not just established utilities.
Dealing with the utilities is a political problem. In the US, they control the distribution of power, down to the house level. They would try to buy reactors, but then continue to charge high prices for power.
One solution is setting up municipal, state or Fedral power companies, like TVA, to produce power with focus fusion, and forcing existing utilities to share acess to the distribution network. In other countries, undoing privatization of utilities and forcing the government to charge prices reflecting current costs would be another political battle.
Ultimately, focus fusion only makes possible much lower energy costs. Actually getting them , I think, means people being willing to fight for them politically, as a mass movement.
Hmm. The TVA. One of the best government programs ever. Gives me some thoughts. I’ll have to think on it for a while.
I am glad to hear that licensing will be for construction. Developing partners for the construction of power plants shouldn’t be that hard once most of the major obstacles are overcome; in fact, there should be people tripping over themselves at the opportunity once PFF starts to prove its viability. I am sure you already have a few in mind.
As for the distribution networks… due to the nature of focus fusion, I think it would be best to go to municipal power companies first. The one in Austin, TX, Austin Energy, comes to mind. They are small, and could easily adapt to focus fusion. Also, they are already heavily involved in alternative energy, such as wind, so they don’t mind change. I am sure the company and its citizen/owners would greatly appreciate massively lower energy costs than the rest of the country, and it would be an enormous PR win. It could be a good candidate for the US testbed.
Don’t put too much trust in the Nobel Committee. By the time they discover Focus Fusion, the project doesn’t need the fame any more. It’s like the money, it will be pouring in when no longer needed. Going after an eccentric billionaire with a physics degree on his CV is probably the best.
As for the economic logic of the grid, we have a rather hopeful situation here in Scandinavia. There’s a legislation for socalled micro- and minipower stations, allowing small producers to feed their surplus on the lines. Also the last mile in the grid is the property of local operators often owned by the county itself.
As for the prospect of global peace, love and understanding, I’m afraid the biggest challenge after Focus Fusion would be climate control. Even if the GH gases can be controlled by abandoning hydrocarbonpowered transport, there’s already so much of them that the solar constant will have to be reduced by large space panels ….
The real global geopolitical challenges will be : how to teach 1 billion young angry moslems to use the new energy source, other than oil, to green the desert and cultivate the steppes in the Stans and in Siberia
I agree about climate control being next. However, eliminating most of the greenhouse gasses being blown into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels, via focus fusion, would be a great start.
One thing to consider is this: focus fusion, if successful, won’t just replace our energy generation capacity with something new. It will greatly augment it. It will usher in a new age. This new age won’t be about free gas at the pump. It will be about humans doing the miraculous. Perhaps the god-like.
Join the refinements in our understanding of the universe at the lowest and highest levels that will be achieved in the coming decades, the increase of computing power that will follow along with that, and the ability to harness near-unlimited energy at will, and you have the makings for a global golden age, if we are smart about it. I don’t think greenhouse gases and climate will be the real problem. I think it will be if we as humans have grown up enough to handle the responsibility of our new-found power.
Imagine that some disruptive energy device, something like the Borax garage Megawatter, manages to make it to the mass market despite the conspirations of the major oil and grid companies. Of course I subscribe to all the wonderful descriptions of the future dream society. However, going back to cheap oil is not going to make the unstabilities in the moslem world any easier. We’re talking geopolitics and civilisational evolution here, factors that regerattably determine human action and the flow of history much more than technological advance.
The catch is that even with abundant energy to provide clean water and fresh food, we need the collaboration of all the regions to fix the climate. The Russians need to dim the sky so that methane does not leak out of the taiga. The Canadians and the Aussies need to keep the poles on ice. And the Maghrebs and the Arabs may need to green the Sahara and the Empty Quarter. Even with cheap, non-proliferation technology, it remains to be seen if such a global sharing of tasks is indeed possible. Let’s hope that the world has moved from settling disputes with big armies to playing it out on the soccer arenas. But the world has never been truly cooperative, even when resources were plentiful. A pattern of struggle always emerges. I’m sure the Egyptian press will sell the Borax Megawatter as just another sionist plot. The Chinese machiavellians will never yield to foreign dependance to clean their environment. Do you think the Iranian maniac will accept the foreign energy source so as to give up his excuse to make the bomb ?
We actually think pretty much alike, I just may be a bit more optimistic. To add to the list of problems, I would put in the vast fields of methane clathrates on the Gulf of Mexico, which are heating up and bubbling to the surface as we speak. Talk about runaway greenhouse effects.
To address a few things, if you have vast energy on tap, you can do a few things that are impossible today, such as building towers to sequester and breakdown greenhouse gasses. It can be done today, but its too expensive. If you took energy out of the equation, then suddenly it gets more attractive. Same applies to robotics and other technologies waiting for the last piece to fall into place.
The Middle East is similar, in the sense that a lot of the problem is oil, or more precisely, who controls the oil. Oil money keeps the governments of the Middle East from having to answer to their citizens, because citizens who don’t pay a lot in taxes do not have much leverage. Also, the concept of liberalism doesn’t have many supporters in the Middle East. This is one thing I feel that is wrong with Iran’s democracy. Without liberalism to balance “mob rule,” you have the tyranny of the masses.
In comparison to focus fusion, oil will never be as cheap, as it has to be pumped, refined, and transported in large quantities to compete with the small amounts of decaborane needed for focus fusion, which can be made anywhere, and whose supply is nigh-infinite. The “sudden” impoverishment the oil barons who control the governments in the Middle East will force political change in those countries, but more importantly it will remove the leverage that these countries have had over the West. The West will no longer have to bend its ethics over the fantasies of Middle Eastern oil tyrants. America and Europe can get back in the business of defending and promoting freedom (liberalism) and democracy, insisting that those who seek to trade and prosper with us treat their citizens with due dignity and respect, and do not engage in or tolerate terrorism.
Ask yourself this question: Why doesn’t Saudia Arabia build cars? As a supplier of fuel for vehicles, it would seem a no-brainer to get into the business of making those vehicles. Car manufacture requires lots of other industries, and also requires a society to educate its citizens so that they can take advantage of all the employment opportunities. Is it a lack of natural resources? Japan doesn’t have a lot of natural resources, but they make pretty good cars, so that isn’t an excuse. So why are there no Saudia Arabian cars being sold in the United States and Europe?
Some problems are beyond the purview of this research project. The problem of Israel and Palestine is not solvable directly via the wealth of energy from focus fusion (although a lot of the problem is linked to lack of resources for everyone in the region; just ask Jordan about Israel’s adherence to water-rights agreements). These things fall into the “are we grown up enough” category. I am no Middle Eastern scholar. However, my readings on the subject tend to make me think that one of the problems in the Middle East is that people there tend to value history more than any other set of people on the planet. This may seem like a good thing, but if your thinking is jaded by what one group of people’s ancestors did to to your ancestors, then it is hard to forge a new, better future.
I think it is one of the things that America does pretty well. I hold no animosity towards Britain, Germany, Japan, or Russia. In fact, I want to see all those places do well. There comes a point in time that you need to set aside the past and look at the future. Freedom, once achieved, must be utilized, and old grievances and debts of honor must be written off, and a new future with former enemies must be forged. This is what I speak of when I say whether or not we humans have grown up enough to properly use our new-found power. Adults forgive; children bicker. Adults learn from their mistakes; children fight change. A society’s process of growing up is continuous and painful (look at the lessons America is learning with our current government). Societies which seek to avoid this pain by avoiding change have worse fates, however.
So why doesn’t Saudia Arabia make cars? Because it is ran by a family of rulers who get all they need from oil revenues, and they don’t need the people to do anything but follow orders and help pump the oil. That is why they haven’t looked towards the betterment of their people. They give the people enough to get by, a few choice government subsidies and programs, and they pay for religious training. They seek to maintain a solid-state society, with themselves on top. The decrease in oil revenues may make them start thinking of other ways to make money, ones that require more from, and more given, to the society at-large.
If focus fusion can be a catalyst for this change in humans, well, good. Lets get it started.
Great postings !
Yes there’s no excuse for not getting started no matter how cynical your world view is. Humanity records wonderful accomplishments paired with the worst destructive atrocities.
Spectacular use of FF could provide the critical momentum for universal recognition, like a couple of orange plantations in Alaska or a Kalahari water plant. The skiing slope in Dubai of all places gained notority.
I’ll tell you why Norway doesn’t make cars. German producer Opel looked for a suitable plant location around Oslo in the 70s. Everything was ready until some treasury bureaucrat dug out some dusty legislation simply banning car production whole sale in the country! Also, we have a never-ending story about prototyping a LNG electricity plant. Straightforward as it would seem for a small concensus country with too much money and too little industry, governments have fallen over whether this plant should be profitable under the current floppy energy prices or if it should be zero in C02 emission. Dubya is so dug in with big oil that movies like The Genesis Code and Syriana feel more like reality than fiction.
I would think that FF inherently promotes a libertarian political agenda. Libertarian in the good ole 40 acres and a mule sense.. The GOP would not favour FF because it shorts out big corp. And just utter the word nuclear to your average German or Swedish green liberal..Scandinavians are early adopters of new mobile phone gadgets. Traditionally purists or luddites when it comes to energy, however ripoff oil and electricity prices have forced upon us a better acceptance of the nuclear industry.
I guess Eric is right when he predicts that serious political change must preceed the adoption of FF.
Elling wrote: I would think that FF inherently promotes a libertarian political agenda. Libertarian in the good ole 40 acres and a mule sense.. The GOP would not favour FF because it shorts out big corp. And just utter the word nuclear to your average German or Swedish green liberal..Scandinavians are early adopters of new mobile phone gadgets. Traditionally purists or luddites when it comes to energy, however ripoff oil and electricity prices have forced upon us a better acceptance of the nuclear industry.
I guess Eric is right when he predicts that serious political change must preceed the adoption of FF.
The GOP probably would not favor development of focus fusion, at first. Focus fusion has a lot to offer them, however, and I think they will begin to see it.
First off, take the example of the glass factory in one of my posts above. Focus fusion should bring energy production down to the industrial level; right now it is in the hands of large utilities and government agencies. An industrialist can look at the technology and see where he can cut his costs tremendously by getting off the grid. He will give to the campaigns of pro-business GOP candidates and incumbents, and request that they “consider” eliminating the regulatory roadblocks in the way of him building his own power plants. He will also look at lobbying. Never doubt the power a big donor has over needy politicians in the US; it is our biggest shame, and I think it is tantamount to bribery. But it can also get things done. If enough industries see the potential of in-house power generation, energy companies may not have enough resources to stop it.
Second, alternative energy and nuclear fission are gaining traction amongst GOP conservative thinkers as a way of combatting terrorism. They have finally put three-and-three together in the links between Middle Eastern oil, Western dependence on it, and Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. They have even done something that no administration (even President Clinton’s) has done since Carter, in coming out with an actual energy policy. (One could debate its effectiveness, but its a start.) They know how important it is. But they also know that they have rich oil buddies. The late Ken Lay of Enron was once the GOP chairman. Its going to be hard for them.
I think the worst part for the GOP, assuming the next administration is Republican, and the focus fusion project achieves its goals in the time frame currently given, is explaining why this project, once funded and worked on in the US, had to be rescued by the people of Chile. If achieved, it will be one of the major turning points in history, like the steam engine, powered flight, or the internet. America had it in its hands and it was given away because of lack of vision, not lack of funds. That could be a big issue in a future presidential campaign.
The presidential hope for the future from us outside the US is probably Condi. I’m afraid she’s too busy with diplomatic courtesies and geopolitical schemes to see the oil problem up front. And she’s been on the boards, creating doubt about her independance in economic policy. Maybe Giuliani has the zeal to carry the message. McCain being an eccentric maverick, I can’t see any Dem up to the challenge.
Y’all might be interested in these:
Excellent points. If we can get a solution to the coming energy problems, we can fuel a huge increase in our production, which will also bring a lot of wealth to a lot of people who are now on the margins. The mechanisms for this growth are already in place (and have been in place); they are just waiting on something like focus fusion to let it happen. Another reason this is all so important.
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