Friday, April 20, 2012

Leading Change for America's Future: Operating Between Chaos and Stagnation

Great article in Forbes on how a former Director of the CIA sees how we can break OPEC’s lock on oil prices.  And OPEC itself.  A panel sponsored by the Carbon War Room and put together by Suzanne Hunt featured Navy energy maven, Kate Brandt discussing the effect of Navy policy on biofuels prices.  In 2010, the Navy bought 20k gallons of algae fuel at $424 a gallon.  In December, it bought 450,000 gallons of fuel from algae and cooking oil for $26.67 per gallon.  There are plenty of factors surrounding that price drop, but it is change that shows DOD investment can influence a market.

As well said by John McKenna, an investment banker, “If you can make biofuels for $1.10 a gallon, that’s $42 or $43 a barrel. Tell me why (biofuel makers) can’t make money”.  Not only could they make money but they could solve problems such as India is now facing regarding energy security.   Sruthi Cottipati’s piece in the NYT describes the Indian crisis: Indonesian coal has doubled in price and domestic supplies can’t keep up.  Forests were being clear cut to mine coal.  What if forests became plantations for biofuels crops?  What needs to change?

We are a nation is stasis.  People, organizations and countries must operate in a band of excellence between the chaos of formation (and reformation) and the stagnation of staying in their comfort zone.  Everyone needs disruptive events to move between the productive states of innovation and stability within the band of excellence.  The gridlock between our Executive and Legislative branch is driving the county into stagnation.   People change for one of two reasons: overwhelming opportunity or overwhelming threat.  In the absence of that, we tend to do the status quo.  The current dominant energy providers in this county and overseas see no need to change.  OPEC likes it’s strangle hold. 

 A new energy future, lead by America, represents the overwhelming opportunity that can lead us out of stagnation.  Biofuels and renewable energy technology, developed in the U.S., could be the answer to India’s challenge….and China’s and Japan’s and……    By the same token, the coming energy crisis for those counties (our largest markets!) and the looming economic disaster in Europe represents the overwhelming threat that will cause us to change.  We cannot wait until after the election to break the deadlock.  We, the People, must act now.  Contact your political representatives at all levels and tell them that government inaction is unacceptable.   The lack of a national energy policy is driving the country into stagnation.  We do not want to wait until the overwhelming threat forces us to change.  

Senator John McCain, a man I deeply respect and admire for his service to the country, continues to harangue DOD for its effots in this area. The Senator says that the military's energy security actions are somehow at the expense of other things DOD might be doing.  Perhaps, but he does not offer an alternative to pry OPEC's hands from around our throats, just the DOD shouldn't be doing it.  Who should, Senator?  Or are the interests of the entrenched energy industry in this country sufficiently persuasive that we must continue to put America's sons and daughters at risk for the sake of those interests?  I would be happy to hear your suggested alternative, not just, "No!". 

America was the country that electrified the world in the first half of the last century.  We computerized it in the second half.  We should again lead the world in the coming new energy economy.  If we do not seek out and embrace disruptive change in the form of a national energy policy then we face stagnation and the end of the dream.  Dan Nolan


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