Anything Less Would Be Uncivilized

Excerpted from August 1996 issue
A smelly ad

    Propagandists at DOE

    ... regard conservation as a source of energy

    Efficiency is a good thing

    Physicists can't stomach nuclear fission?

    In the pockets

    ... you will find magic

    ... like "indigenous resources"

    Let them eat cake

    But Rousseau wast he wiser.

At best, our product is the lowest acceptable product!” is an invitation not to buy the product. Its logical equivalent, “Anything less would be uncivilized,” evidently sells deodorant to a public that can't smell a bad argument. 

Advertising agencies are master propagandists, and are routinely sought out by patent-medicine manufacturers and politicians. But governmental scientific agencies like the Department of Energy are different, right? 

Right. DOE doesn't need an advertising agency, because its propagandists are first-rate. At a joint meeting of the APS and the American Association of Physics Teachers, Arthur Rosenfeld, senior advisor at the DOE, touted efficiency, the hydrogen economy, and solar toys to be exhibited at the 1996 Summer Olympics. He mentioned the laudable high-tech ideas of energy efficiency, triple-pane windows, cooler roofing materials, photovoltaics, fuel cells, and alternative-fuel vehicles. Evidently nobody asked him why he imagines conservation to be a source of energy. 

Nobody, of course, is opposed to efficiency. In Europe in the late 1700s, Count Rumford improved heating efficiency with his famous Rumford fireplace, improved cooking efficiency by inventing the outdoor grill seen in national parks, and improved heat retention by the use of tightly woven fabrics. The Franklin stove, invented in the same era, was more efficient than the Rumford fireplace, and both are markedly inferior to modern wood-burning stoves. They, in turn, are not nearly as efficient as modern oil- and gas- burning furnaces. Fiberglass and Styrofoam are strictly modern inventions. It is precisely because of steadily increasing efficiency that US citizens use only about 3.5 times as much energy annually per capita as our forbears in 1800. 

And why, except for leftist politics, was there no mention of nuclear fission at this gathering of physicists? And where does the fuel come from for fuel cells and alternative-fuel vehicles? Has somebody discovered hydrogen wells? 

Presumably, the good folks at the DOE have plans for solar-powered rickshaws for China, workshops to educate the citizens of Chad to use less energy, argon-filled triple- pane windows for Calcutta, and cool, white pavement for Egypt. 

Cartoon characters can always reach into their pockets and pull out anything they want. DOE pulls out “renewable energy” and “indigenous resources”: 

[To minimize adverse environmental impacts of fossil fuels, DOE's Allan Hoffman] “predicts a gradual transition to a global energy system that is largely dependent on renewable energy within 100 years...” 

    “... said Hoffman. `If we are to minimize adverse local and global environmental impacts from the inevitable powering up of developing nations, renewable forms of non- polluting and non-greenhouse-emitting systems must be widely used.'”
    “John Sheffield from Oak Ridge National Laboratory postulated that with the likely depletion of most fossil fuels by 2100, alternate energy resources will be developed according to the region's indigenous resources...”
"Energy Alternatives Vital to Meet Future Demands”
APS News, July 1996
    “At length I recollected the thoughtless saying of a great princess, who, on being informed that the country people had no bread, replied, `Let them eat cake.”
John Jacques Rousseau
Confessions [1781-1788]
The difference between APS News and Rousseau is that Rousseau recognized that the princess was thoughtless. 

Let the developing countries use the sunbeams and chicken manure they've always had. Anything less would be uncivilized. 

Excerpted from August 1996 The Energy Advocate
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