Monday, July 5, 2010

W.W.W.D. What Would Widgets Do?

Oil spills – yuck. Its one of many, many problems I hear about each day in the news. I normally turn off CNN when they start their reporting. It is getting so bad a guy can’t enjoy the Sunday paper without seeing headlines on coal mines, the economy, the Middle East or, pollution. I just want to read the Sunday comics. There are allot of problems we face, and it is hard to see how most of them are connected; and how they could all be solved together. That’s right America, together. Here is my solution: the Widget.


What are Widgets, you say? Widgets produce cheap, clean, abundant, green electricity. A Widget costs five million dollars, is about the size of a gas station and runs on water. I am going to build one next year - just so I can go back to reading the Sunday comics in peace. I plan to make a fortune selling and servicing my Widgets. I am going to build a big factory in your town and hire all you unemployed workers out there, to make my Widgets. We’ll put Widgets in every city in America. Those big coal fire plants in Texas - shut them down, we got my Widgets. We’ll put a big Widget in New York City, right next to the Brooklyn Bridge. We’ll put a Widget at the foot of the Space Needle in Seattle. We’ll even put a Widget inside the superdome in New Orleans. Yes, my Widgets are going to sell.

Now, I know what your thinking… won’t that put people out of work? No fear, I will hire all you people to operate my Widgets. Work for an oil company? Come work on our Widgets. Widgets will single handedly end coal mine accidents. No need for coal - we have my Widgets. Three Mile Islands will be a thing of the past, now that there are Widgets. Widgets can make so much electricity, that electricity will be as cheap as dirt. Pretty soon everything will run on electricity: stoves, grills, snowmobiles and, cars. I mean, if a gallon of electricity is 8 cents, who would want to use gas?

Imagine a fleet of electric cars running on Widget power. We could put Exxon out of business. Of course, I will hire them all for Widget work. We will definitely still need oil for lots of other things, but I’ll bet the Sunday comics, we will need a lot less of it. Think of it. No more oil spills. No more drilling in Alaska. No more strip mining in Alberta. No more drilling in Kazakhstan. Also, if we stop having to buy oil then we will stop sending money to mean people in the Middle East. A dictator cannot hurt his people, with no money to spend.

I bet my Widgets could stabilize the region. Not only that, I bet my Widgets could make clean water. That’s right America: clean water. A Widget can make lots of energy and, hooked up to a desalination plant, can churn out cheap, clean water. We will put desalination plants across the Islamic countries. We will pump clean, cheap water into Cairo, Mexico City and, Tel Aviv. Widgets will solve California water problem, end the shortages in Phoenix and, stop the draining of the Colorado River.

While we on it, I will license my Widgets across Africa. The UN will install small Widgets in African villages across the continent. Widget electricity will raise the standard of living. It will give many people something better to do, rather then fight each other. I bet you Africans will stop cutting down so many trees for fuel too. When you can create cheap, clean, abundant energy, you can power all kinds of changes.

All of these changes will make America the wealthiest, cleanest and most respected nation on Earth, end global warming and solve the energy crisis. Widgets can do it! So my friends - look for my Widgets next year. I am going to get right on that and, maybe some of you will join me. Then, hopefully, we can all get back to enjoying the Sunday newspaper in peace.

4 comments:

  1. "Now, I know what you are thinking: won’t that put people out of work? No fear, I will hire all you people to operate my Widgets. Work for an oil company?"

    Repetitive, your right. It is on purpose. My point is, a "silver bullet" energy solution, would change the economic landscape. First it would pickup the newly unemployed, they would be the first to be hired. Next, and separately, it would start cutting into the oil and gas market. Now the American Petroleum institute will tell you that: "1 in 7 jobs in the US is related to oil and gas" and they are right. They might also point out that a large % of the oil & gas stock holders are huge pension funds like Calpers and NYSLRS, which contain the nest eggs of literary millions of middle income workers. Not to mention hedge funds who own huge chunks of Exxon, Haliburton, Transocean, BP, ect... They will, rightly, argue that, if you cut into the oil and gas market, the economic ripple effects would be bad and, huge. A widget -- a silver bullet, clean, cheap, electricity
    producing machine -- could do that.


    "Think of it. No more oil spills. No more drilling in Alaska. No more strip mining in Alberta."

    The Bush administration tried to open up ANWR to drilling FOUR times. In April 2002, the house passed it, the senate rejected it. On March 16, 2005 the senate passed it, the house rejected it. On December 15, 2005, Ted Stevens (who was later indicted by a federal grand jury) tried to sneak it into the defense bill. On June 18, 2008 Bush gave a speech where he tried to get it passed again. Ever since the 3rd grade I have been fascinated by the Alaskan wilderness -- ANWR cannot be opened. Now the Alberta Tar Sands is basically strip mining of Canada. Though it has been around since 1967, it only really got going in 2003, when the price of oil got high enough to make it economically viable. It covers a vast track of land, about 54,000 sq miles (THAT'S SIX TIMES the Adirondack Park). Widgets could save that land. Incidentally, economics is what is driving my widget argument. We have to make widget electricity at a cheaper price point per kilowatt hour. This is what I mean when I say: "I mean, if a gallon of electricity is 8 cents, who would want to use gas?"



    "We will definitely still need oil for lots of other things, but I’ll bet the Sunday comics that we will need a lot less of it. "

    One 42 gallon barrel of oil become 19.4 gallons of gasoline. About 6% of that barrel ends up becoming things. Things like medicine, Hairbrushs, Umbrellas, Yarn, Refrigerant, Soap, Dentures, Ect... A National geographic photographer, did a great picture somewhere which spells this out. He went to an average home in Ohio, with a mom, dad and three kids and took everything in their home which was made from oil, and put it out on their lawn. It took almost 2 days. The picture is the family smiling on their front lawn surrounded by, basically everything they own. The Point: a Widget would not stop oil usage.

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  2. "I will license my Widgets across Africa. The UN will install small Widgets in African villages across the continent. Widget electricity will raise the standard of living."


    Today, one and a half billion people in the world, do not have a light switch. The worst place is in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 74% of people don’t have access to electricity. Unfortunately, energy poverty is not a “sexy” cause, like HIV or clean drinking water. But these problems are interconnected. You put in Widgets across Africa, you will fight the clean water problem – a billion people worldwide do not have clean drinking water. Each year 1.8 million people die from unsafe water. Widgets + desalination or evaporation plants could save 1.5 million of these people each year. Just take one sub-Saharan country, and explore what a Widget would do. Take the Republic of the Congo. 10% of the Congo’s economy is driven by Oil extraction. Most (70%) of the Oil market is owned by the French Oil Company Elf Aquitaine, not by a local company. Much of the profits from the sale of that oil end up in the authoritarian
    government which is lead by Denis Sassou Nguesso. This leader would be stripped of his power if the oil money dried up. The Congo is still in turmoil as a faction lead by Pastor Ntumi fights with the government for control. The latest incident in this struggle was the destruction of a Congo oil tanker which killed 220 people on June 3rd 2010. Again, imagine what effect widgets would have on this situation. No more oil dollars means no more oppressive leader, it means no more off-shoring your wealth.


    "The nation, organization or group which can produce cheap, clean, steady, green electrons will be the wealthiest, have the strongest economy, have the cleanest environment and will be the most respected politically in the world. I want America to be that nation" – Thomas Freidman

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