Here we are, importing roughly 60% of our oil from foreign countries that, more often than not, are politically unstable or quite unfriendly. The United States is pulled in so many directions on the issues of alternative energies and energy independence that we are hardly able to move forward. I feel as though we are at a slow crawl, splitting funds between all possible options, hoping like fools for one silver bullet; we are indecisive (kept uninformed or bribed by oil barons) and are unable to invest all efforts into progressing as a nation, on a united front.

We need a plan – first to take us towards alternative fuels (begone, foreign oil!) and then to ease us into the overarching goal of energy independence by steadily transitioning towards truly renewable energies (from carbon-free sources). Bio-alcohols, solar, wind, hydroelectric, natural gas, nuclear, geothermal…whatever.

Right now, I just don’t feel like we have implemented any serious legislation. Hm, I wonder which candidate will deliver?

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Brazil : Grows all the sugarcane & canola needed for processing their own biodiesel and ethanol. Three decades ago, the country imported 80 percent of its oil supply. But since the 1973 Arab oil embargo, the Brazilians have invested massively in their sugar-based ethanol industry and created a fleet of vehicles that can run on the resulting fuel. According to the Sugar Cane Industry Union (Unica), 90 percent of the new cars sold this year in Brazil will be flexible-fuel vehicles that cost an extra $100 to make but can run on any combination of gasoline and ethanol.

China: Beijing’s unofficial goal is to have 100 gigawatts of wind power by 2020, a ten-fold increase from today [and is] already on track to become the world’s biggest maker of wind turbines next year, the Global Wind Energy Council says. And like Brazil, China has decided to replace gasoline with alternative fuels. But unlike the United States and Brazil, where the favorite substitute is ethanol, China has embraced a different alcohol: methanol. Several provinces in China already blend their gasoline with methanol, a clear, colorless liquid also known as wood alcohol, and scores of methanol plants are currently under construction there. The Chinese auto industry has already begun to produce flex-fuel models that can run on methanol.

Denmark: With increasing concerns over fossil fuels, the country is now being closely monitored by energy planners and funders worldwide. This country generates more wind power per head of population than any other country in the world. Its 5500 wind turbines, including the world’s two largest offshore wind farms, generate 16% of national demand (as of 2005). Yeah, wind FARMS.

France: Nuclear power provides 77% of France’s electricity, according to the government, and relatively few public doubts are expressed in a country with little coal, oil or natural gas.

Iran: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, worried that a comprehensive gasoline embargo could cause enough social unrest to undermine his regime, launched an energy-independence program designed to shift Iran’s transportation system from gasoline to natural gas, which Iran has plenty of. His plan includes a mandate for domestic automakers to make “dual-fuel” cars that can run on both gasoline and natural gas, a crash program to convert used vehicles to run on natural gas and a program to convert Iranian gas stations to serve both kinds of fuel. According to the International Association of Natural Gas Vehicles, more than 100 conversion centers have been built throughout the country: Iranians can drive in with their gasoline-only cars, pay a subsidized fee equivalent to $50 and collect their newly dual-fueled cars several hours later. Ahmadinejad’s plan, which has been largely ignored by the West, means that within five years or so, Iran could be virtually immune to international sanctions.

Then there’s Iceland, Germany, Spain, Yemen, etc…need I go on?

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*Why I probably chose not to follow science blogs in the past: I read one(!) post and wound up so sidetracked in thought I had to make a post of my own. Entertainment blogs are so much easier on the brain: today I learned what a cat looks like when its swimming. Sort of like a sea otter.

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