Energy & Security

Energy runs as a common thread through all we do. For a simple example, consider a loaf of bread. It takes energy to grow and harvest the grain. It takes energy to ship the grain to the bakery, and energy to bake and package the bread. Then more energy is used to transport the bread to stores where it is sold. And finally we use energy to go to the store to purchase the bread.

Look at our homes. It takes energy to power them – energy for heating, cooling, lighting, and all home appliances. Nearly all this energy is generated in centralized power plants. It is transmitted on longdistance power lines spanning hundreds of miles before being distributed to homes. Let’s face it – we’re strung out on energy. We cannot carry on our lifestyle without it. We consume energy in everything we do. Energy is vital to our economy and to our national security. So vital that we are prepared to go to war, and have gone to war, to ensure our energy supplies. The recent terrorist attacks have clearly demonstrated how delicate and vulnerable we are. The United States has become hyperaware of our security. This awareness is focused on protecting what we have and maintaining our lifestyle – a lifestyle rooted in energy. Electrical Energy Our electrical energy infrastructure is a far more delicate and vulnerable target than either the World Trade Center or the Pentagon. Consider the tens of thousands of miles of transmission lines, most of which are located in uninhabited areas. Then there are hundreds of centralized power plants. If a terrorist group can successfully attack New York City and Washington, DC, they can also shut the power off in large sections of this country. Terrorists have attacked the American symbols of wealth and power – the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But much more damage would be incurred if they attacked the infrastructure that enables this wealth and power – our electric power grids. Transportation Our transportation system runs on energy supplied by oil. As long as a major portion of this oil comes from the Persian Gulf region, we will be vulnerable. The supply lines are long and difficult to secure, in spite of the some 60 billion dollars the Pentagon spends every year to protect our Persian Gulf oil supplies. Added to the difficulty of securing these oil supplies is the fact that the monies we spend on this oil are being used to attack us. The terrorists may be funded by our oil dollars. In fact, every time we pull up to the gas pump, we could be aiding and abetting the very people who want to attack us. The New War President Bush tells us that we are now involved in a new type of war – a war that will last a very long time. A war in which we really don’t know who we are fighting or where they are. A war that must be conducted in secret. In such a war-time climate, hysteria and violence may flourish. Nowhere in all the media attention focused on this new war, do I see some simple and basic questions being asked.Why are these terrorists attacking us? Could their motives be somehow related to our military actions in the Persian Gulf over the last twenty years? Could our thirst for oil have sown some of the seeds of this new war? What Can We Do? If we look to governments to end this war and to ensure our security, I fear that we will be disappointed. If we are going to resolve this situation without huge loss of life and property, we must do it ourselves and for ourselves. We can help to ensure our security by eliminating one major cause of such conflicts – imported energy. First, put your home on renewable energy and intertie it with your local grid. This will protect your home from the effects of possible terrorist attacks on our electric grid. And it will help lessen the inherent vulnerability of gridbased electricity. The only way to make our electric grids more secure is to adopt distributed generation. Make each building an energy producer and an independent energy unit. The only way that this is practical and sustainable is to use renewable energy sources. Sunlight, wind, and falling water can neither be attacked nor eliminated. These fuels are freely delivered everywhere daily. Renewable energy is not a commodity to be fought over. Second, use less oil. When you replace your vehicle, make fuel efficiency your prime criteria. Drive less and drive smarter. Carpool, use public transport, and eliminate unnecessary trips. And finally, keep your eye on the emerging electric vehicle technologies – these cars can be fueled with sunshine. Peace, Please! In the 56 years I’ve been on this planet, I’ve lived through five wars. In every case, these wars have been caused by greed and a lust for power. Energy is freely and democratically delivered to all of us every day; we just need the hardware to intercept it. When each home and business has its own renewable energy system, we’ll have one less reason to wage war. I can only hope that this latest war ends quickly, with little loss of life and damage to our planet. Author Access Richard Perez Home Power PO Box 520, Ashland, OR

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