This Why We Need STEM Programs
The left wants us to move directly off fossil fuels to “clean, renewable” energy. I fully support that goal—as long as we do it responsibly. Our political leaders, most who have a tenuous grasp of science and technology, just want to move there immediately. Damn the torpedoes! Full steam ahead!
The truth they do not want to tell us is that we are not ready to just pull the fossil fuel plug. We do not have the renewable sources, the infrastructure, or the technology in place. Abruptly moving off fossil fuels is already showing these problems. Energy costs are up, the economy is sputtering, and now we cannot even feed our babies.
Perhaps we need more engineers and fewer politicians and bureaucrats. I remember back to my time at West Point when we had the head of the English Department spoke to our class. He said it was easier to “humanize” an engineer than to move a social scientist to the engineering side. At least back then, West Point was still largely an engineering school, and every cadet took a great deal of math and science. We were STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I guess I split the difference with a STEM (Mathematics) and social sciences (Russian Area Studies) set of concentrations. I think there were about five of us in the class with dual concentrations (no majors at West Point then).
And boy, do we need some of those humanized engineers to get us out of this pickle. Frank Lasee, a former Wisconsin state senator, estimates that between 250 and 700 people died in Texas during a power outage. Liberal governments are shutting down coal power plants, but solar and wind plants cannot make up the difference. They are also shutting down pipelines and we see the impact every day in higher gas prices, supply chain problems, and higher prices to cover the higher fuel prices. To be honest, this is not new. The figure below shows net new generation started taper of around 2000. As demand continues to grow, generation remains flat and most of the generation comes from natural gas. The problem with natural gas generation is it is mostly expensive “peak” gas turbines. And the Biden administration and other liberals want to transition cars from gasoline to electric. Engineers can tell the administration this is a recipe for disaster, but the administration is focused on its green policy initiative vice reality.
One source—21.8% in 2021—is coal. Coal is the source liberals love to hate. But it could be a key answer to the rare earth element problem. Coal fly ash could provide a source of rare earth elements that are important to many technologies, to include electric vehicles.
Currently, China controls most of the rare earth minerals. They have stopped selling rare earth minerals at least one in response to western actions. They could readily do that again. So you would think policy wonks would be all over coal fly ash. But there is crickets. Why?
Well, coal is a four letter word—perhaps the worst four letter word for a liberal. Anything to do with coal is immediately suspect. Second, most of the liberal politicians and bureaucrats do not have a STEM background. Now I suspect the rare earth extraction will need investment in technology and infrastructure. Is that in any budget? Not that I have seen. Think about it, a technology that reduces American dependence on China and supports the newest techologies and electric cars, and crickets.
Is the goal green energy or something else? I suspect for the rank and file liberals, it is green energy. But for the others, the goal is something very different. I cannot say what their goal is specifically, but we can readily see what the effects are; the reduction of the middle class in America.