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Justin does Dallas!

Justin Rowlatt | 18:34 UK time, Friday, 6 March 2009

Sweetwater, Texas - Travelling by train was once the American way to travel. The railroads shaped and formed this country in a much more profound way than the car ever has.

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In Europe railways were built between existing towns and cities. In America the railroads brought towns and cities into being. Tracks were laid out into the great open unpopulated spaces of this country and people poured along them, seeking their fortunes.

The vast westward movement of people that was fostered by the railroads led, in 1890, to the US Census Bureau declaring that the frontier (that great symbol of America's boundless potential) had ceased to exist. There was no longer a line that marked the end of civilisation and the beginning of the wilderness.

"The United States", says John Steele Gordon in his history of the American Economy, An Empire of Wealth, "was now a continental nation in geopolitical reality as well as nominal geographic fact".

In that sense the railroads made America.

Farmers and ranchers followed the railroads out west, opening up huge tracts of new land and vastly increasing America's agricultural output. This, in turn, provided the industrial centres in the East with the cheap food they needed to keep on growing.

Gordon describes how what had been a patchwork of local markets was laced together by the railroads "into what was increasingly an economically cohesive whole".

It was the creation of a single market on a continental scale which allowed the great leap forward of American industry and finance.

In 1865 there were 30,000 miles (48,280 kilometres) of track and America was essentially an agricultural nation. By 1910, one generation later, the network covered 350,000 miles (563,270 kilometres) and the United States was the greatest and most modern industrial nation on earth.

I've been thinking about railways because, as the BBC's Ethical Man, my producer Sara has ordered me to keep my environmental impact to an absolute minimum. We have been travelling to Texas and instead of flying we took the train.

It is a long journey, two whole days. We've rattled all the way from the snowy streets of Washington to the warm Dallas spring, stopping in at a wintery Chicago along the way.

justincameramanarrivecaption.jpg

People say that the problem with travelling by train is that it takes so much longer than flying, but actually that is the great pleasure of taking the train.

We have had time to relax and meet some interesting new people. Yes, that was Daryl Hannah in the photo in the last blog. She is worried about global warming and wants to reduce her impact on the environment. It was our good luck that she just happened to be on the same train as us.

Travelling by train gave me the time to read Gordon's book and as I read it struck me that the transformation of American society brought about by the railroads isn't that different in scale from the technological revolution that is needed to transform America and the world to a low carbon economy.

The scientific consensus is clear. We in developed nations need to cut carbon emissions by at least 80% by 2050. But, since the world really began to wake up to the dangers of global warming a decade ago carbon emissions have not fallen, they have risen. It does not encourage confidence in our ability as a species to deal with the problem.

In my last blog I discussed how the change in policy here in America has dramatically increased the chances of a global agreement to cut emissions.

But even if an agreement is reached some people argue that there is not enough time for our societies to make the profound and fundamental transformations needed to move to a low carbon economy.

But there is reason for optimism. We have come to Texas, the oil capital of America and the most polluting state in the Union, because an energy revolution has already begun here.

We have come to West Texas, what was once the great American frontier. This was Comanche territory. The vast open plains stretch from horizon to horizon and only buffalo hunters and a few intrepid ranchers would ever venture here. Until, that is, the railroads came.

The mighty Texas and Pacific Railroad pushed through West Texas in 1881 and along the way gave birth to the town of Sweetwater.

Sweetwater was a pretty wild place then. Saloons and bordellos lined the streets, serving the cowboys and later the oil men.

But the glory days of Sweetwater came to an end years ago, and the town went into a long, slow, decline. When the oil price collapsed in the mid-Eighties it looked like Sweetwater and the towns around it might actually shut down completely.

gregworthammayorofsweetwatercaption.jpg

The Mayor of Sweetwater, Greg Wortham, described to me the terrible drought that almost bankrupted the last few ranching families here. Many had sold their cattle, their children had moved away and they were just about ready to call it a day.

Then, just a couple of years ago, Sweetwater discovered it was on the boundary of a new frontier, a new energy frontier.

In a decade the prospects of the town have been reversed. Billions of dollars have been invested here to create an energy industry that leads the world. The boom times are back for Sweetwater, but not the bordellos or saloons, this is strictly a clean energy revolution.

I've got to go out and take a look at what has been happening in Sweetwater now but I will write more about the energy revolution here in the next blog. Click on the funny orange "feed" button in the left hand column and the BBC will tell you when it is posted up.

In the meantime tell me if you think I am right about the scale of the transformation that is needed and whether you think my comparison with the railroads a good one.

Please comment now.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Daryl Hannah, eh ?

    Not quite sure you need to bother with a 'suit and tie' - a 'smart casual' look would be just fine by me...

  • Comment number 2.

    "In the meantime tell me if you think I am right about the scale of the transformation that is needed and whether you think my comparison with the railroads a good one."

    That depends on how the transformation is measured. If only technological advances are counted, then no. We already have all the tools we need to combat global warming. The high-speed trains, efficient bicycles, solar panels and wind-turbines that were around in the 1960’s would be enough to stop man-made climate change, if only their use were mandated (or their fossil-fuel-ish alternatives were banned)

    If only human effort is measured, then again no, but for the opposite reason. In 1890’s America, everyone wanted more and better trains. If anyone shouted from a soap-box that California didn’t exist, or that railroads couldn’t possibly be built across the continent without bankrupting the nation, no one took them seriously.

    Today, getting everyone to believe that electric cars are needed, seems like a wise and difficult path. But it may not be a wise path at all. Someone needs to do the math, because private motor vehicles are the least efficient and most dangerous form of transportation in use today. Hospitals have a large carbon foot-print and a huge economic and human cost. If Japan can move 4 billion passengers with zero fatalities due to derailment, (because the bullet trains run on segregated track), then a car-free America could function with nearly zero transport deaths, and be healthier too.

    But if the solution is to electrify all the private motor vehicles, then Americans will still get fat, the steel smelters and car factories will still spew pollution, more coal fired power plants will be built to charge everyone’s batteries and the hospitals will be choked with crash victims who didn’t hear an electric car coming.

    Building more trains, may be popular, but building enough trains to ban private motor vehicles entirely, will be about as popular as an 1890’s politician that claims ‘we can put a man on the moon by the end of the century’, but it might be the only way to make enough change.

  • Comment number 3.

    The trains are so cool, and one of the best kept secrets, and as you had a compartment it means that all of your meals were included.

    How many millions more people in the US will hear of and watch your forthcoming BBC productions if Darryl Hannah is presented?

    - after all, she's not a tourist, she lives here!

    You will see and be shown that there are a lot of wind generators in parts of Texas and many of them adjoin or share land with the nodding donkeys and anyone would feel convinced that "it's happening" after such great emphatic and technologically historical evidence

    It is also true that the gearboxes and generators within existing wind generator nacelles can be updated or replaced and produce more and more power with the same footprint and set of blades

    It is also true that in 2009 the Crown Estates is not only leasing sites but also addressing partnering developers of offshore wind energy

    Fact is, every time you actually meet clean technologies they have a real impact, raise optimism, and tend to shed doubts - but keep looking and researching and finding out how replicable these amazing leaps are all over for peoplekind and being realistic and informed about how the pace of change is addressed, return to sober - it is a big country on a small planet and needs the whole, open and true economic costs to be in the limelight all the time. And loads more of these things

    We need to have guidance along with applied examples how energy efficiency is manifested in the kind of working home we would want to live in, translated into things we can grasp and appreciate, and evidence that clean power is still okay power.

    We need comparative costed examples of things that actually happen already, regularly

    We need honest explanations and sensibly presented graphics that show how the money that might be spent on one kind of power producing installation might be spent on another, and how they look, aside each other

    Explaining the authentic Greek source meaning of the word we translate today as economy - would be doing all of us a favour. Big Time.

  • Comment number 4.

    Yea, I agree with post 1, why are you so formal?

  • Comment number 5.

    There is a perception of environmentalists being scruffy hairy hippies. Everyone (particularly the smart affluent upper income workers) should become Ethical Man and Justin is a role model for that. As D

    Poorer (scruffier) people probably already travel by bus (both in Europe and US) and that is already a low environmental impact.

  • Comment number 6.

    Trains need to think forward. I would be happy to travel by train for business anywhere: just give me some "business class" suites like British Airways, with a power and internet wiring so I can work on my laptop and watch the landscape, between 2 good meals, no airport pushing or delays, and a small locker for locking my valuables and laptop when I go to the lounge for a drink... a dream....

  • Comment number 7.

    JeanLouis, in the UK many mainline stations have first class lounges already. Virgin and Arriva Cross Country have laptop points in all classes not just first class on their modern trains.
    NXEC has free wifi in both first and standard class. Virgins wifi roll out is er... somewhat delayed, but planned. Southern trains offer wifi on selected London-Brighton line services (which they charge for).
    Business travel by rail in the UK is practical, economical and enjoyable - I regularly travelled this way in preference to flying. It was less stressful for me and more cost efficient for my employer - much easier to be productive while travelling by train than air!
    It's a well kept secret though, don't tell anyone else....

  • Comment number 8.

    The challenge of getting the unemployed back to work and to resuscitate the economy is huge. Part of the solution is a charge into alternative energy sources with all the engineering, science, technology and journeyman work needed to launch us forward into a fossil fuel independent world. The world's fossil fuel resources should be saved for cautious uses by future generations.

    The despair of the 30's was changed into the forward movement of the 50's and later by the horrible war of the late 30's and 40's.

    Let us not kill people and sink ships to jumpstart the economy.

    Let us do it by charging forward to a new world of rational use of unrenewable resources.

    Thank you.

    Uncle Knickerspopper

  • Comment number 9.

    I'd love to travel by train rather than air, but...just try it in Indianapolis, capital of the state of Indiana. Would you like to board at 1 AM, or 6 AM? No other times are available, for the single passenger train that passes through this Crossroads of the Midwest. Would you like to go south or west? First you must travel a hundred miles north to Chicago. Of our regional "interurban" rail network, nothing remains but a few street names taken from former rail stops. Everywhere disused tracks are being ripped up to make room for jogging trails.

    For business travel, the train makes no sense. It costs the same as air, or even a bit more, and takes days longer -- and those days cost the company more in per diem. For that air-competitive fare you'll be sleeping in a chair amongst fifty strangers.

    Our railroads have made themselves impractical, as our governments have made them almost impossible to find. To reverse that will take a national decision, and the will to stick to it in the face of short-term economic arguments.

  • Comment number 10.

    We do have the tools and technology to a sustainable renewable energy and clean earth, It is dependent on a different mind set. No way can we continue competing in a society where we have a few hoarding the wealth generated by a consumer society that is bent on being first up the ladder and an economy that depends on a three tier world wealth system. production and the management of the everyday running building and maintenance of the world needs to be shared not waist fully competed for, this would also give the added bonus of more time for the human to enjoy some of it's life time on earth. Like traveling on a train. Once Britain had a network that covered the whole of the UK.but with short term solutions on economic dips they were thrown out . and that is what we are in danger of today . Is that we cannot see a better way of life outside our short term bank balanced life of credit and debt even the government is in the short term because there short term of office breeds a short term policy,

  • Comment number 11.

    Maybe Sweetwater is at the helm of the clean energy revolution. But referring to global warming here doesn't make sense, atleast to me. Just recently I saw a documentary called "The Great Global Warming Swindle", which proved that global warming is a figment of imagination of environmentalists(No offence). I think it's a BBC documentary.

  • Comment number 12.

    In Europe the trains are powered by electricity, so they have zero emissions. We could do the same, but the oil companys run this nation. A automoble is the worst invertment you can make, it cost you every day you own it.

  • Comment number 13.

    The problem with rail is that traveling by car or by plane is faster. The solution is to not fight by plane... long distance travel will always be dominated by airplane; the train needs to beat the car. Building long distance routes my look nice and are helpful for some, but trains should be building shorter networks where they can push up the speeds needed to beat the car on travel time. This is why rail is more used in the Northeast than in other areas in the country. I also think California got the right thinking on building a state-wide network. You gotta beat the car first on cost and travel time; normal people don't ride a train for two days in this day in age unless doing a report for the BBC.

  • Comment number 14.

    @ rkarthik No.11: "The Great Global Warming Swindle" documentary was shown by Channel 4 - not the BBC. The documentary which started out to debunk Global Warming has itself been debunked. Google the link: http://www.durangobill.com/Swindle_Swindle.html
    and make up your own mind.

  • Comment number 15.

    You are on the right track, both trains and wind power are key to making America Kyoto-compliant and maybe even a net exporter of oil.

    America now imports 60% or so of the oil it uses. Theoretically if we were to all migrate to hybrid cars (getting better than twice the average MPG of the American fleet) along with pouring more investment into Wind and other Green power sources, and increasing the number of trains, it would put a serious dent in our need to import oil, and meet Kyoto or Copenhagen climate agreements at the same time.

    The previous commentator (Bicycle-Fan) seemed to imply that a single solution, more trains, will not get everyone out of cars, but that’s not the point. Better trains are part of a package that will help reduce the need for the level of car usage we now have and that’s the goal here, not the elimination of cars.

    Many American cities are making progress in building better rail systems. A prime example is Los Angles which I believe is on your itinerary. Local and regional trains meet a subway and light rail at one of that city’s architectural landmarks, LA Union Station. You might want to stop there and see how car-centered Los Angeles is adopting to daily train usage. It is quite a change from 20 years ago when I lived there, and their Mayor wants to do more. And Amtrak is quite a survivor story in itself, almost every administration has tried to kill it since Nixon created it, but that magic of train travel has created some strange bedfellows in Congress supporting it (Trent and Frank comes to mind), I can’t wait to see if Obama will really support its expansion.

    Eastridge

  • Comment number 16.

    To power a train, ship or aero plane requires energy far in excess of any wind or solar energy source can ever hope to produce. To drive the QE2 would require at least a 7 mile sq solar panel and that’s just in the hours of good daylight.
    Let’s get some realism and at least say that we should not be making these journeys in the first place. Especially if it’s your Joe public family SUV.
    Now why do I have this feeling that we are being suppressed? Travel is after all an enlightening experience and cannot be allowed for the masses. We will lose control!! Therefore we need to regulate.
    Cheers......

  • Comment number 17.

    I agree with most of what the posters have said. I especially enjoyed the article that was very well written concering the trip from D C to texas. The "thread that runs so true" thru the posts is, what is the present adminatration going to do to get a lot of people out of their 4weeled conveyances and make use to the "iron horse". I in particular, love to take the train whenever I can. The most common reason I don't, is that the railroad doen't go where I want. In some cases the tracks are there, but in such bad condition that a train can't use them. Perhaps, Mssr.Obama could put people to work fixing the railroads, like the CCC or WPA, which would be a big boost to the economy in the short term, and the long term. IMHO

  • Comment number 18.

    @ timjenvey No.16 - Wind and Solar are not the only non-fossil sources of energy. What about nuclear power (and the existing hydro-electric power)? Electricity from this can certainly run the trains. Bio-diesel, which is carbon-neutral, can run ships and aeroplanes. I know there are issues with the disposal of nuclear waste, but they are not insurmountable.

    You talk sarcastically of travel being an enlightening experience not for the masses, but then give the example of QE2 - which only the very affluent COULD(sic) afford anyway. Just so as you know QE2 has now been sold to a hotel group in Dubai. The new owners are going to run it as a floating hotel - not a cruise liner (for which there is no MASS market?!).

    It seems you are another one of those gullible people who get taken in by the conspiracy theorists. Where is the evidence that someone is trying to control the masses? Who is this someone? One can only LOSE control, if one has it in the first place. Can you enlighten us as to who is in control now?

    Your feeling of being suppressed is probably just paranoia induced by disinformation.

  • Comment number 19.

    "It seems you are another one of those gullible people who get taken in by the conspiracy theorists. Where is the evidence that someone is trying to control the masses? Who is this someone? One can only LOSE control, if one has it in the first place. Can you enlighten us as to who is in control now"
    It's quite easy for the "gullible to to be taken in by the conspiracy theory, When the worlds 90% wealth is possessed by 1% of the worlds population! You must agree that in this position they have great power into which way the policy of a cleaner world goes and how fast. The power and direction is going in the direction and pace that suits there pockets they profit from the waves of boom and bust and are the only sector that can plan for two three even five decades ahead,. with this power there is a possible damping down of progress in a bio sustainable world in the interest of profit. Old money hoarded and stolen in the past history by the aristocracy, is without a doubt forming the direction and speed with which the world is traveling at the moment. and there is nothing that the everyday educated man can do even in putative protest or election. whatever Great politician is voted into office , His/Her revolutionary ideas to turn the world around will always be vetoed by the cooperate concern of a large return. Travel to which we have gotten used to,in modern day society, especially amongst the "minions" will be available only for as long as it generates profit,. and not until it is a money spinning tool will an alternative be available. Billions of £'s/$'s were invested into Nuclear power And minuscule (in comparison) into alternative resource of energy. Because of the easy buck philosophy. In Britain public transport is a joke. communication covers the biggest part of every corner of the isles but a nightmare for the poor soul that hasn't studied it and keeps up to date with the different admin. travel and time information. can be a deflating experience, when traveling a one off across country.

  • Comment number 20.

    Railroad travel is only useful for certain population distributions, where there are large metropolitan areas within relatively close proximity to each other. Otherwise, it either takes too long to travel, or a car will be far more useful for the close distances needed to travel. Europe, with its high population density, is well suited toward using rail travel. So are many parts of the US. However, much of the US is not suited for rail travel.

    There's also the problem of having a lack of flexibility with railway travel, or just public transportation in general. You're highly dependent on these services to take you where you want to go, and often it doesn't conform to your schedule or destinations. Once you arrive at a location via major transportation (railway, airlines, etc.) how do you then get to the specific destination? Taxi? Bus? Often those are expensive or do not have a direct route.

    So I don't see the railroad making huge inroads into society here. Perhaps light rail or better city public transportation, but inter-city rail transportation is still not flexible or useful enough to deploy.

  • Comment number 21.

    I love travelling by train, but a recent visit to Aberystwyth in Mid-Wales was a nightmare journey. It is a 3 hour journey and the train left Birmingham with 4 full carriages and 3 toilets. 2 toilets were locked for the whole journey and the third was overflowing. I complained to the guard at Shrewsbury (1 hour into the journey) and was told that I was mistaken! I told him to go and check for himself, he did so after the train had left the station, he then told me it was too late for him to do anything about it. No wonder people don't want to travel by train! I was glad to get to my accommodation at Aber - the toilets in the train station were locked! Global warming or not - people do not want to be herded like cattle - we expect the basic amenities to be available - we want more than the barest service available - we want more - we expect more.

  • Comment number 22.

    To: leoworldcitizen #18:
    Thanks for the psycho analysis. Looks like I’m a hopeless case. I think you should recommend starting a program of asylum building as the numbers are increasing rapidly.
    Really sad to hear about the QE2. It’s Joe masses like me who save for that sort of experience for 40th wedding anniversaries and 60th birthday specials. In my experience luxury cruises are just that. Your “very affluent” have usually got their own boats and tip their cocktail glasses to us as they pass.
    Well, I have not got a Niagara in my backyard and the local council will not let me build a dam because of re-housing Mr. Ratty (perhaps my pet beaver could get away with it as that would be natural after all). So hydro is out. I thought that bio-fuels were old hat now when it was calculated that flying from London to Amsterdam would take 3 million coconuts and would most likely freeze and block the fuel system.
    However, I’m so grateful for you graciously allowing me to go nuclear. In fact, when the wind stops blowing your turbines and the sun does not shine for you solar, I will offer my home for you to plug in your life support system.
    As for those that want to control I guess you are one of their merry band of civil disobedient folk who shut down power stations and runways. Your controllers are those who incite you who are worryingly getting away with it.
    Oh dear, I’m starting to twitch and froth at the mouth. They will be along with the straight jacket and the needle in a few minutes and I will feel happy and contended again. I’d check out about that nuclear business with your controllers if I were you. They might think you are shifting away from the dark side and put you in here with me. Let me know and I’ll see if I can fix it to share the room.
    Cheers………..

  • Comment number 23.

    To: leoworldcitizen #18 again. Just remembered:
    You being a psychologist would be interested to read this little article:
    http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/6320/
    Cheers……………

  • Comment number 24.

    It appears that some assume, because American train service doesn't currently meet their needs, it never will.

    If half the resources that are currently dedicated to roads and private motor vehicles, were instead used to build rail, rolling-stock, cargo-bikes and pedal-cabs, America would quickly be moving towards an efficient almost-free transportation utopia.

  • Comment number 25.

    @ timjenvey #22:
    If one has to save for over 40 years for a once in a lifetime experience on the QE2, it cannot be that popular and hence not for the mass market. It just proves my point about it being a bad example to illustrate the 7 mile square solar panels.

    In your posting #16, for reasons best known to yourself, you only mentioned Wind and Solar as though there were no other alternative sources of energy. It is for this reason I reminded you of Nuclear, Hydro and Bio-fuel. There are other sources too such as Wave, Tidal and Geo-thermal etc.

    Leaving aside your sarcasm about me graciously allowing you the use of nuclear, it seems you do agree that Nuclear (fission) is an alternative to fossil fuel. In France three quarters of its electricity comes from nuclear reactors. This buys time for more research into Nuclear Fusion and the development of Thorium based nuclear reactors which are safer (no possibility of meltdown), inexpensive and produce less radioactive waste.

    Hydro supplies about 17% of the world's electricity needs; and you do not need a Niagara in your backyard either. National grid takes care of the transmission. So Hydro is NOT out.

    As regards bio-fuels, ethanol production from sugar cane is now a significant part of the transportation fuel in Brazil. Algae has been proved as a credible source of biofuel. Those who use coconuts oil for cooking can relax. It is not the only source of bio-fuel.

    Instead of answering my questions in #18 (which I suggest you read again) all you could come up with is "I'd check out about that nuclear business with your controllers if I were you".

    I do not need controllers to understand the following:

    1. World population has doubled in the last 40 years resulting in at least the doubling of demand on earth's scarce resources such as food, water and not least energy (which comes primarily from fossil fuels).
    2. Fossil fuels i.e. Coal and Oil are finite resources.
    3. Oil will run out in less than 40 years – we need to start thinking now about alternative fuels for ships and planes.
    4. Coal will run out in about 150 years (at current usage rates) or much sooner once the Oil runs out. This is only an option for those who believe Coal does not contribute to GW and want to carry on using Coal as a primary source of energy.

    May I remind you that you it was you who said "Now why do I have this feeling that we are being suppressed?" It was in response to this that I mentioned paranoia.

    Finally the site that you referred to in #23 is interesting indeed - although the fact that the group had only 42 members says something. I do not treat all sceptics as mentally ill. Paranoia as in fear, suspicion or mistrust is not necessarily a mental illness. If I thought it was, I would not be wasting my time writing this to you.

  • Comment number 26.

    To leoworldcitizen #25:
    Wow, you seem to have a problem with us masses. I'm sorry that we are a bit of a nuisances to you.
    There are a lot of us you know (masses means lots by the way) that the few thousand passengers on a cruise ship does not even dent our numbers. Therefore there’s only space for the odd trip. And very memorable they are to.
    17% hydro is fine if you have Niagara in your backyard. Electricity does not travel well as you must know. Efficiency is proportional to distances.
    Hey, I’m beginning to like you. 150yrs of coal to burn. I’ll start investing now and leave a lasting dowry to my great, great, great (whatever) grandkids. I’m sure this will buy them enough time to come up with a solution and I will not break the bank with crippling subsidies on funny energy in the mean time. And not forgetting all that natural gas as well. Wow, I feel better already. Thanks.
    I definitely think you need to check in with your controllers. They will have you in with me before you know what’s happening. Oooppps, the twitches and drooling are coming back, time for the straight jacket and needle. It is a very happy place here.
    Thanks for wasting your time. Cheers………

  • Comment number 27.

    @ timjenvey #26
    As you have avoided responding to my questions, there is no point in me wasting any more time on discussing this further with you. You timjenvey need not read any further. The following is for the benefit of others who may be following this thread.

    @ Other readers following this thread:
    I do not have a problem with masses per se. If these masses (that includes me) increase at the same rate as they did over last 40 years, the world population will be well above 12 billion in 40 years' time.

    The 150 years of coal reserves are estimated at current usage rate. With the increasing world population and an increasing life expectancy, these reserves will not last much longer than another 40 years after Oil runs out. Natural Gas will have run out well before this. With life expectancy in the US at about seventy-five years, for someone born today, it will be his kids (not even grand kids, let alone great grand kids), who will be facing these shortages.

    I am not an anorak wearing, long-haired modern day hippie who goes on protests to shut down power stations or runways. Quite the contrary. In fact I did say in my last comment #25 "Oil will run out in less than 40 years - we need to start thinking NOW about alternative fuels for ships and planes".

    It is the research scientists, technologists and engineers (not the armchair sceptics and cynics) who will find practical alternatives to the next generation of energy sources.

  • Comment number 28.

    On a serious note:
    Just did a quick read of the thread and I have referenced/answered all your questions/points. I do apologies for the flippant nature of some; you just encouraged me with your responses?
    I have been working with AMT in Santa Clara on their solar project to improve efficiency. I also have a solar panel at the top end of my garden which runs a pump in my well for irrigation. Works brilliantly. I’m all for energy (and every resource) conservation and practice it wherever I can. I admit I do get irked by this mania for alternative energy, especially when my taxes go in huge subsidies on what I class as ‘fads’ and an apology for not taking real action. That’s for another time.
    Who are all these “armchair sceptics and cynics” that you mention. You have an unfortunate way of expressing yourself. Thanks for further wasting your time.
    Cheers………….

  • Comment number 29.

    Justin:
    Congrats for taking the trains....And, I hope that you had a nice time in Dallas....
    ~Dennis Junior~

 

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