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John Holdren Describes Energy as “Indispensable,” “Reliable,” “Affordable” (Part VI in a series on Obama’s new science advisor)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- January 14, 2009

From time to time, John Holdren has acknowledged that plentiful, affordable, reliable energy is vital to human well being. Indeed, there is no going back to an energy-poor world. (Remember: caveman energy was 100% renewable.)

When Holdren or Obama advocates policies that risk making energy artificially scarce or less reliable, these words can be used to argue for nonregulatory approaches to energy policy:

“Virtually all of the benefits that now seem necessary to the ‘American way’ have required vast amounts of energy. Energy, in short, has been our ultimate raw material, for our commitment to economic growth has also been a commitment to the use of steadily increasing amounts of energy necessary to the production of goods and services.”

 

    –  John Holdren and Philip Herrera, Energy (San Francisco: Sierra Club, 1971), p. 10.

“When energy is scarce or expensive, people can suffer material deprivation and economic hardship.”

    –  John Holdren, “Population and the Energy Problem,” Population and Environment: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, Spring 1991, p. 231.

“Energy is an indispensable ingredient of material prosperity. . . . Where and when energy is in short supply or too expensive, people suffer from lack of direct energy services (such as cooking, heating, lighting, and transport) and from inflation, unemployment, and reduced economic output.”

    –  John Holdren, Population and the Energy Problem,” Population and Environment: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, Spring 1991, p. 232.

“Supplying energy to the economy contributes to the production of a stream of economic goods and services generally supportive of well-being.”

    –  John Holdren, “Coal in Context: Its Role in the National Energy Future,” University of Houston Law Review, July 1978, p. 1089.

“A reliable and affordable supply of energy is absolutely critical to maintaining and expanding economic prosperity where such prosperity already exists and to creating it where it does not.”

     –  John Holdren, “Memorandum to the President: The Energy-Climate Challenge,” in Donald Kennedy and John Riggs, eds., U.S. Policy and the Global Environment: Memos to the President (Washington, D.C.: The Aspen Institute, 2000), p. 21.

“Affordable energy in ample quantities is the lifeblood of the industrial societies and a prerequisite for the economic development of the others.”

 

     –  John Holdren, “Meeting the Energy Challenge,” Science, February 9, 2001, p. 945.

Judging from the above, John Holdren is a candidate to join the master resource club. Now, can he come around to view energy and climate in non-alarmist terms so that government does not pick winners and losers at the expense of taxpayers, ratepayers, and consumers?

5 Comments


  1. Garry G  

    Thanks for the post – and have been enjoying the RSS feeds.

    I would welcome your thoughts on energy storage – and its role in creating an energy-rich economy.

    We’re seeing steady improvements in batteries, but also a clear ceiling on performance given the bad chemistry of batteries. Next generation storage systems via fuel cells and capacitors are on solid paths of development.

    It seems that energy storage is the key missing ingredient. It holds the most potential for disruptive business models –
    e.g.
    – Asia leapfrogs into building Electric drive cars via lower threshold of modular manufacturing
    – Electricity grids revenue models challenged by energy storage… (cannot help avoiding a regulatory battle with utilities)

    – Reaching untapped markets by selling high density energy packets (e.g. solid H2) via retail shelf sales rather than transmission lines.

    I see new forms of energy storage, not production as the real game changer– and would enjoy some of your insights.

    Best,
    Garry Golden
    Editor

    The Energy Roadmap.com
    http://www.theenergyroadmap.com

    Reply

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  5. Christopher Flavin (Worldwatch Institute) on the Benefits of Electrifying the Developing World (quotations from the past to challenge prospective CO2 caps) - Master Resource  

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