The future of energy
Regarding your Nov. 8 cover story "Where are we headed? The future of energy," it's worth considering the lack of a level playing field in the energy market.
How are we going to change the shape of our energy markets when the government's subsidies and tax breaks to the fossil fuel industry far outweigh those to the renewable energy industry?
I appreciated the article's historical background, and consideration of future pros and cons. I would be most interested in a comparison of energy sources using the concept of embodied energy – the commercial energy (fossil fuels, nuclear, etc.) used to make, transport, and dispose of products.
This method of accounting looks at the total energy necessary for an entire product life cycle. This would give a clearer understanding of the "return on investment" of an energy source.
Your presentation was clear and correct. The citation of the work of Vaclav Smil is particularly appropriate. The "Bright Future" needs more skepticism. The general public feels some emerging technology will come along and keep the future like the past.
Richard C. Hill
Prof. emeritus, thermodynamics
Old Town, Maine
Our nation has lost several decades of a drive toward becoming more energy efficient since the initial push died down. My hope and prayer is that our interest will not die down again this time. I've cut my energy bills by a third just by turning off multiple plugs at night, having double-paned windows, and wrapping my water heater with an insulation blanket.
I was struck by the comparisons used to put the footprints of various energy sources in perspective. The breakdown helped me to grasp some of the trade-offs among these sources. We don't solve the energy problem simply by taking energy from one place over another.
Ann C. Somers
Thank you for the focus on a critical issue that will affect our national and global well-being. After reading the cover article, I note one major omission in your discussion of energy: water. The two – water and energy – are indivisibly linked.
Allen E. Fuhs
Distinguished prof. emeritus
Naval Postgraduate School