13 April 2008

Same old story

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports that the billions of dollars spent on research and development into alternative fuels by the Department of Energy (DOE) has done little to lessen the country's dependence on fossil fuels:
Some US$ 60 billion has been invested in R&D on so-called advanced energy technologies by the U.S. DOE over the last 30 years, but consumption from traditional fuels has remained relatively stable: today fossil fuels supply 85 percent of U.S. energy consumption compared with 93 percent in 1973. The growth of nuclear power in the 1970s and 80s accounts for most of the difference, according to the GAO. Source
It's a familiar story; the only unusual feature is that there was an official attempt to monitor performance - and that it became public knowledge. On a similar theme, a cartoon in Friday's International Herald Tribune, (which I cannot find on the web) amidst a discussion of rising world food prices shows a couple of starving wretches about to approach a stocky American filling the tank of his capacious car from a pump with a biofuel sticker. 'Sorry guys', he says 'I'm busy saving the planet.'

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