You know, Mary is so close to making a positive contribution to this blog. I’m going to show you how.
As I’ve made clear when I posted this, I intend to have a serious, grownup discussion about energy — without the pointless partisanship, rancid ideology, and ad hominem childishness that has plagued this blog, and held it back from broader participation, since the beginning.
So I made an example of "Mary Rosh," unpublishing two of her comments. I hesitated to do it, because she was actually on topic, although her ideas… well, I’ll let you decide how constructive they are. But since they had violated the higher standard of civility I had set for this post, in the hope that some of our more serious and fastidious participants would warm up to it, they had to go.
But here they are, translated into normal, sane, grownup language (and Doug or anybody else who wants them — I’ll still e-mail you the originals). Glean from them what you will.
These thoughts were posted on Friday (in slightly different form):
I think it’s time to get realistic. It’s just not going to be that easy to replace Middle Eastern oil that can be gotten out of the ground for $3.00 per barrel. There’s a lot going on right not with respect to conservation and alternative energy sources, but all these crash course, consequences-be-damned proposals (are in vain).
… For example, build nuclear power plants as fast as safely possible. First, that’s been done. No nuclear power plant has been put on line since the Three Mile Island accident, and that, as it happens, is as fast as is safely possible. Second, electricity generation mostly doesn’t use oil.
Drilling in ANWR wouldn’t get a significant amount of oil…
Light rail is just (impractical) unless the population is dense enough, which it isn’t in most cities in the U.S.
The $2 per gallon gasoline tax wouldn’t bother me much, but it would be economically crippling to a lot of people, especially in a place like South Carolina, where there aren’t too many alternatives to passenger cars, and where the incomes aren’t that high….
That was it, boiled down to basic concepts. Here’s the one from today (Saturday):
1. The nuclear energy idea is (unwise), because
a) the plants are dangerous and expensive.
b) electricity generation uses relatively little oil. TWO PERCENT of U.S. electric generation in 2001 was oil-fired.
So (we would) waste vast sums of money and … expose the population to considerable danger, and create waste that will last for hundreds of centuries, without saving any oil to speak of.
2. The light rail idea is … too expensive and too inconvenient unless the population is pretty dense, which is not true in most American cities. Imagine light rail in South Carolina, for example. You have to get people from their houses to the station, and you have to get them from the station to their destination. That’s a huge pain, requiring bus transfers at both ends, unless the population around the train station is dense enough to support the train, and the workplaces and other destinations at the other end of the line are clustered around closely enough.
3. The $2.00 per gallon gasoline tax wouldn’t bother me, but it would devastate a lot of people, particularly in South Carolina and other conservative states where the income isn’t that high. It would create an insurmountable hardship for millions of people, and be borne by those who could least afford it.
4. Drilling in ANWR wouldn’t supply a significant percentage of our needs….
5. … Any energy policy should be analyzed in terms of what our needs are and what is the best way to supply our needs.
6. I don’t object on principle to the idea of developing new technologies, including hydrogen. The main problem with hydrogen, though, is probably distribution. And it’s vitally important not to use technological initiatives simply as mechanisms to transfer federal money. For example, any hydrogen fuel initiative carried out in South Carolina is likely to amount to nothing more than a simple transfer of federal money to South Carolina, because South Carolina doesn’t have the educated population necessary to carry such an initiative through to success. [Editor’s note: Even if Mary tried another pseudonym and stopped the sore-thumb practice of calling me "Warthen," we would know her by this signature obsession. It’s like a nervous tic. But despite the implied insult to 4 million people, it doesn’t really break the rules.]
7. It’s not going to be easy to develop an economical way to replace 100% of the oil that lies under sand and costs $3.00 per barrel to get out of the ground. We need to concentrate first on managing our demand so that we avoid shortages that drive the price way up. Sometimes shaving 2% or 3% off of our demand will do that. There’s no need to lurch into some crash program to replace 100% of our imported energy, without considering the alternatives and consequences of doing so.
8. … There are, of course, plenty of ways for us to provide for our security without trying to change the Middle East by military force, or by devoting excessive resource or accepting excessive negative consequences in order to achieve an arbitrarily set goal of complete energy independence. Using diplomacy, for example. For example, when Iran offered in 2001 to help us pursue al Qaeda, and offered numerous other overtures of friendship and assistance, we could have talked to them instead of making threats.
That’s it. Oh, one other thing. Just for fun, I’ll give you an edited version of a still-published comment from Mary. Weirdly, it was one in which she was trying, in spite of herself, to give positive feedback, however ironic — but it just stuck in her craw. Here’s the cleaned-up version (see how much time she could save, if she dropped the hostility):
Actually, it’s not that bad an idea….
Of course, there’s the distinct likelihood that she meant NOTHING positive at all — in other words, that the insult was the point, rather than a cover-up for her embarrassment at saying something positive. But I like to give people the benefit of the doubt.