The need to move away from fossil fuel while we still have some chance to prevent runaway global warming is critical. Current proposals, including widespread use of wind power and solar arrays, are dwarfed by the demand for energy worldwide and ignore the vast amount of energy needed to build them.
In my 75-year lifetime, energy consumption by humanity has risen by a factor of 70 times and remains on an asymptotic upward rise. Folks in the developed world want ever more stuff; those in the underdeveloped world want what we have, and the world population is still climbing.
All of this means that even leveling off of energy use is unlikely and reduction all but impossible. The universe is powered by hydrogen fusion, but we get our energy secondhand by burning fossil fuel built by plants from sunlight illuminating earth over millions of years.
Clearly, a new approach is needed. The next president should announce and implement a Kennedy moonshot-like program to perfect hydrogen fusion generator design, and American industry ramped up to build and install fusion generators. Unlike uranium-fission plants, these would produce no radioactive waste and pose no contamination risk.
We should dramatically scale up the electric grid so that we can produce and distribute enough electricity to heat our homes and businesses, power industry and make possible the switch from vehicles powered by internal combustion engines to all electric transportation — with the possible exception of aircraft, at least until a new generation of much higher energy density batteries can make practical even electric aircraft.
A little oil would likely continue to be extracted for plastic manufacture and chemical production, but not for burning to generate heat, produce electricity or to power transportation.
The industrial might of America could be harnessed to build and sell this new technology worldwide.
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