Monday, July 28, 2008

What Would You do With $700 Billion?

I hate to admit that yours truly is very much in the dark regarding that energy crisis everyone is banging about these days. I've noticed that gas prices are rather high and I've sort of made peace with the fact that we're all serfs to OPEC, but that's as far as my understanding of the issue goes.

Lucky for me, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman brought me up to speed on two figures who are likely to curb the path of the energy storm, provided their governments don't get in the way.

In a column that ran yesterday titled "Texas to Tel Aviv," Friedman writes about two men who are working feverishly to ween the world from its dependence on oil. One of them is oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens , who is funding a movement to create American-produced energy resources. You may have seen Pickens' commercials (he's invested a lot of money into publicizing a massive wind energy project called Pickens Plan) on TV or on YouTube, where he's getting tons of hits on his easy-to-understand video explaining how easy it is to switch to cleaner and more cost effective energy sources. Check it out here:

Boone's argument is pretty simple: "We import 70 percent of our oil at a cost of $700billion a year." And you wonder why Hugo Chavez can poke fun at our President at the U.N. and the Saudis can blow up skyscrapers with impunity - it's a matter of "bitch, what you gon' do about it?"

It should come as no surprise that another country who really wants to stop paying for Middle Eastern oil is Israel. Friedman profiles Shai Agassi, who has started a company called Better Place, which aims to become Israel's answer to ZipCar, only with a full fleet of electric cars. Instead of gas stations, drivers will be able to recharge their cars anywhere in Israel at any time.

Not sure if I can see that concept flying here in the States, where cars are literally an extension of self. Just imagine a family of four fat Americans squeezing into an electric Smart car on the way to the county fair...

Still, it's this sort of progressive thinking, that can be easily understood by plebes like me, that we need to get people talking about energy. It's a real issue, as real as the war on terror, and we need to start coming up with solutions. What say you, Barack, John?

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