Monday, January 07, 2008

I had never seen this guy before, and he looks really intense and maybe even weird. His name is Robert Zubrin, and he popped up on my TV screen on C-Net on Jan. 6. His topic was simple: how do we break the monopoly power of OPEC? That's the relevant question of the 21st century, and I had never heard of anyone give such a detailed analysis of how to get there. Well, he simplifies the process in the extreme: mandate flex fuel engines on all cars sold in the United States, and let the market provide the cheapest, least-polluting alternative. It wouldn't be more expensive than requiring seat belts in every car. Maybe $100 per: you'd reprogram the fuel injection computer, and make the engine more resistant to corrosion. Then you'd lift the embargo on imports of fuel from, say, Brazil -- once all the cars can accept a wide variety of fuels, we'll need way more fuel than we could produce. Say it's a trillion dollars a year: half of that could come from the third world, especially Africa. This is what would break the stranglehold of the financiers of terrorism. I'd love to hear other people's opinions about this guy.

By the way, the only presidential candidate who has a coherent policy on this is Hillary, but he finds her approach a little too timid. The fastest way to progress is to mandate all cars to have these engines, and then the market will provide the pumps and the multiple possibilities of fuels that compete with oil very well indeed. Hydrogen and plug-in hybrids are more expensive. Biofuels are here now.

His talk on C-Span is here:

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