(Note: Commentaries do not necessarily represent the position of ASPO-USA.)
In the issues of energy, many Americans pin their hopes on far-away technology solutions that will enable the nation to continue its growth in energy consumption, while sparing the public the challenge of making common-sense changes in our lives for greater community development, energy efficiency, and resource conservation. This week, Christine Patton, Co-Chair of Transition Oklahoma City, takes a humorous look at this line of thinking by describing a fictional future event and an out-of-this-world solution to America’s energy challenges.
June 18, 2012 — CAMBRIDGE, MASS —
In a Gallup poll released today, Americans chose dilithium crystals as the “most likely” fuel to run future cars and power plants, with 84% of Americans choosing the crystals over other options including nuclear, hydrogen, corn ethanol, shale gas, and photovoltaic solar panels. Respondents indicated that dilithium crystals are popular for providing quiet, clean energy, with a proven track record of seven-hundred twenty-six episodes in four different Star Trek television series.
Professor Stephen Palmer, of MIT, claims that dilithium crystals have “literally unlimited potential” for the future of energy, reporting, “Based on my research, which includes careful observation of over ten thousand hours of Deep Space Nine and Voyager re-runs, dilithium crystals have a virtually infinite capacity for power generation.”
Palmer explains, “The crystals provide power for starship warp drives by channeling electro-plasma released by the mutual annihilation from extremely high temperatures and electro-magnetic radiation. And since Spock and Scotty solved the problem of gradual decrystalization during their time travel mission to the twenty-third century, all we have to do is harness this energy, and BAM! – we’re set for the next five thousand years.”
Results from the poll led several U.S. Senators to call for increased funding of NASA, which has languished in recent years due to budget cuts. Anthony Baden (R-NY), said, “According to several popular television shows, dilithium crystals are the fuel of tomorrow. Our only problem seems to be obtaining the crystals from the planet Rura Penthe in the Klingon Empire. If we can get hold of a warp drive, maybe from the Chinese, we can pop these dilithium puppies in our nuclear plants by the next election cycle.”
Although some skeptics called the crystals “unproven technology,” a majority of respondents identified environmentalists, big government, and big oil as the top culprits preventing the United States from switching to this low-carbon fuel. Sarah Train, a student in Massachusetts, said, “Permanently free power? Seems like a good idea to me. So I’m not really sure why we’re not using the crystals yet, but I’m pretty confident it involves treehuggers or bureaucracy. Maybe both.”
Transition US, a grass-roots sustainability group, called dilithium crystals “science fiction,” instead suggesting that communities re-localize in the face of the energy and financial crises that have plagued the U.S. since 2007. Raven Baker, spokesperson for TUS, says, “Don’t wait for the government or corporations to deliver a miracle at some undetermined time in the future. Grow some food. Build low-tech, distributed energy solutions. Conserve. Reorganize cities so travel is less necessary.”
Joe Burns, an engineer in Atlanta, scoffed at these recommendations. “Community – ha! Somebody explain how I can fill up my SUV’s 40-gallon fuel tank with community. And growing a garden, c’mon. Who do they think I am, an immigrant?”
“I need a realistic answer to my problems, and dilithium crystals seem to fit the bill. So if I have to sit on my butt while the government spends half a trillion dollars and thirty years chasing a pipe dream until every other option has evaporated … well, I’ve gotten pretty good at that.”
Christine Patton is the Co-Chair of Transition Oklahoma City: http://www.goinglocalokc.org/