Free Energy is all about freedom:
Power to the people -- literally and figuratively



 "Free Energy" 

News XML
- PESN Specials
- About
- Pure Energy Blog
- Daily FE News
- Features
- Free Energy Now
- This Week in FE
- Newsletter
- How you can help
- Submit  
- Subscribe

 

Directory
Energy Topics

• Alt Fuels
• Anti-Gravity
• Batteries
• Betavoltaic
• Biofuels
 - BioDiesel
 - BioElectricity
 - Biomass
• Body Electric
• Brown's Gas
• Cold Fusion
• Conservation
• Electrolysis
• Electromagnetic OU
• Fuel Cells
• Fuel Efficiency
 - Electric Vehicles
 - Engines
 - Hydroxy
• Fusion
• Geothermal
• Gravity Motors
• Human Powered
• Hydro
• Hydrogen
• Joe Cells
• Lighting
• Magnet Motors
• Nanotechnology
• Nuclear
• Nucl. Remediation
• Oil
• Piezoelectric
• Plasma
• River
• Salt Water Mix
• Solar
• Solid State Gen.
• Tesla Turbines
• Thermal Electric
• Tidal
• Vortex
• Waste to Energy
• Water
 - Water as Fuel
• Wave
• Wind
• Wireless Electricity
• Zero Point Energy
• MORE . . .

Open Source
• Freddy's Cell
• Bedini SG
• Safe Haven Villages
• MORE . . .

Resources
• Awards
• Conservation
• Conspiracy
• Directories
• Investment
• Kudos
• Legal
• Organizations
• Plastic and Energy
• Recycling
• Suppression
• Tools
• Trends
• MORE . . .

Mingling
• OverUnity Forum
• Employment
• Events
• Humor
• Magazines
• Movies
• Newsletters
• Discuss. Groups

Shopping
• Store
• Buyer Beware
- - - - - - - - - -
- Donate
- Contact

 

 

 


/2008/11/05/9501498_Renewable-Hope-in-Hard-Economics/
You are here:
PureEnergySystems.com > News > November 5, 2008

OPINION:
Hope for Renewable Energy During Market Turmoil

Maverick technologies financing expert, Len Hartkemeier, has a positive outlook for renewable energy, despite the present market turmoil.  Fueled by the oil-backlash-assisted green momentum, the sector has reached escape velocity.

PLAY

Download Interview Audio File ( 14 Mb; mp3) - on Oct. 25, 2008, Sterling Allan conducted a 1-hour interview Len Harkemeier as part of the FreeEnergyNow.net radio show.


Len Hartkemeier and Sterling Allan had a meeting in Los Angeles on June 6, 2008 prior to the Environmental Hall of Fame where Sterling received an award on behalf the the New Energy Congress.

Jim Murray and Paul Babcock's 4790% SERPS Presentation

Ignition Secrets DVD by Aaron Murakami 

A&P Electronic Media


Magnetic Energy Secrets, Paul Babcock, Parts 1 & 2

Battery Secrets by Peter Lindemann

 


On Oct. 25, 2008, Sterling D. Allan conducted an interview with Len Hartkemeier as part of the Free Energy Now radio series. The following is a transcribed and edited excerpt of that interview.

Biography

Sterling Allan: We're interviewing Len Hartkemeier. He is an associate of mine who's helping us with our business plan over at the New Energy Congress. He and I were having a conversation yesterday about the market and what's going on with investing in renewable energy. He had such an interesting take, I was wishing I had a tape recorder going, so he agreed to come on this show so others could have a chance to consider and benefit from his perspective. 

Len is a private venture capital consultant on the west coast, very well respected among those who are familiar with his work. He's been in the industry for about a couple of decades, and very well-versed and well connected. What I especially like about Len is he's got an optimistic outlook in what tends to be pessimistic times. He has a very keen insight into market forces, especially as they relate to renewable energy. Len, perhaps we could start out with you giving a brief overview of your background.

Len Hartkemeier: I started out in the industry as a stock broker with Smith Barney many years ago, actually in the late ‘70's. I migrated toward venture capital and placing private capital in the early 80's because I had clients who liked what I was doing and I was bored with being a stock broker. I would say that I've been doing some form of renewable energy or other since the early ‘80's. I financed some wind farms in both the Altamont Pass and the Palm Springs area, and did some solar projects -- at the time, the largest residential solar installation west of the Mississippi, at UCLA on dormitories and student housing. So I had some familiarity with doing energy audits and stuff like that. Most of the money I raised has been in high-tech over the years, but there's always been an appreciation -- a desire -- to do more in the renewable area. 

Credit Crunch

The subject we were talking about yesterday, Sterling, was my feeling for why things weren't as gloomy as some might have us believe. 

Number one, people have got to live and work, and we have essentially a strong economy. Admittedly a lot of it's members are reaching retirement age, but they continue to go to work everyday.

We're seeing a period of time where there're an election taking place, and unfortunately, rather than discussing the issues, both parties tend to want to blame the other for some problem that exists, when the blame is probably mutually shared in most cases. We have a Congress that's virtually even in its representation from the two parties, and they've been at it for a while. I happen to be a Republican, so some of my bias may go toward that side, but I try to be evenhanded in these things. The Democrats want to say everything that's going on is Bush's fault; and the Republicans want to say, Well, the Democrats haven't been doing enough. And you've got to find enough problems to blame to try and gain votes. So, both sides have been doing a fairly good job of dumping on the economy.

Meanwhile, everybody's in their car every morning or in the subway or on the bus going to work. 

Number two, the Bill that was passed to bail out financial institutions was a good one. I mean, there are things that I would not have liked in it, and some others I would, but we're getting our arms around the problem. [Editor's note: I realize that many of you in our audience will take issue with that sentiment.]

You know, we suffered a horrible lack of liquidity. Basically, the modern economy in the western world is dependent upon credit. Nobody wants to have a whole bunch of money sitting around and not doing anything, just to be able to say they have it. They want to have lines of credit. They want to borrow for day-to-day operations, borrow to fulfill orders. Individuals want to borrow to be able to go on a trip for business or pleasure, and get paid back later, either out of salary or out of revenues from business. So consequently, you need a lot of credit to function.

We basically saw, in the last year, a whole lot of liquidity leave the western market place for OPEC countries in the form of over a trillion dollars that we weren't expecting to have to pay (well some of it we were but not all of it), fled out of our economy.

At the same time, we were seeing the bill come due on some really stupid 10 year old policies of the government to let anybody borrow to buy a house. And -- basically when you create, or legislate that a government owned warehouse for mortgages can buy loans, where the borrower doesn't have the money to make the payments, hasn't put a down payment down, and has bad credit – you're going to have a problem. And, that's been building since the 1990's, and the bill finally came due because liquidity left the market place, the home ownership market was pretty saturated

We've gotten up to over 68% home ownership, and we have a problem. So, liquidity was taken out, and since the economy functions on liquidity and it had to be put back in it one way or another. And it has been, or it IS being put back in, and it's going to take a while for all of this to happen. 

We're not going to be out of the woods for some time, but this sort of resulted from the thought of "will there be money for my venture capital for sustainable energy and renewable energy in the future." 

Renewables Have Strong Base

Meanwhile, the alternative energy area is much stronger, and the venture capital market for these kinds of investments is much stronger than it was in the 1970's when OPEC stuck it to us the last time. Venture capital is better established as a marketplace and a place to put investment money, and alternative energy investments are far more accepted and invested in than they were back then. 

The other thing is we basically didn't lose that body of alternative energy research after it wasn't invested in heavily once oil prices went down again from the ‘70's surge because a whole lot of people continue to work on it in the garage. 

I'm sure, Sterling, you've seen in the technologies on your list that you study, that a lot of the people who've done this, or put those things on your list, are career alternative energy folk. They have developed these over time. Yes, they had to do it on a tight budget, in their garage, but they've been working on this since the ‘70's or earlier or a little bit later. And so, the body of knowledge and approaches is bigger. 

The venture capital community has come to accept these as logical, intelligent ways of investing money, because the future is going to require these types of technologies. And venture capital itself, by the people who give the money to the fund, is considered more mainstream than it was in the ‘70's. 

All of these things lead to my conclusion that all is not dead and falling apart for the financial side of alternative energy. 

We've got a German bank committed to $500 million for a waste-to-jet fuel and energy, or electric power project, east of Gilroy in Northern California. We've got venture capitalists putting money into algae projects in Mexico, put together by companies in the eastern U.S. 

It's not the crazy weird person in the street yelling: "you have to change the way you're living your life," you have a whole lot of very well-backed companies succeeding in moving forward in their research, and demonstrating what they can do, and on top of that, you have a whole lot of government and industry wanting to make this happen. 

That has sort of been my take on what's going on. Yes, we're going through on of the worst financial crisis we've gone through since the Great Depression. But we're not acting too hastily to shut ourselves off from the world. And, we have a fairly strong economy -- not as strong as it was a few years ago, but people are still making money , profits are still there, money is being put in traditional places. Yes, a whole lot of money got sucked out by higher oil prices, but that's past income going away. Future and present income is still being made now. 

Second Hit from Oil Industry

Sterling Allan: Let's talk for a minute about the whole oil thing. I liked how you put it yesterday, something to the effect that: they burned us in the '70's, and when they did it to us again, this time, as the prices have dropped back down in the last couple of months, people aren't saying: "Okay, now we can relax and forget about renewables.”" They're not going to do that this time. 

Len Hartkemeier: They're not! Almost any change in society requires a critical mass, and we didn't have it in the ‘70's. We didn't have a lot of money available to venture capital in the area. Alternative energy was looked down upon. And, there were political forces who said, "Just don't pay any attention to those people. Do it the old way." Well, all of the people saying that were the big oil companies in the U.S. – the major refiners and drillers. And while they, to some degree, have been as surprised about what's going on as everybody else, there are more refiners than suppliers these days, at least domestically. 

They don't like seeing the oil prices go up either. So, you're not going to see as big a lobby for "let's go back to the old way of doing things" from the oil companies as you did back in the ‘70's. 

Number two, you know, it's happened to us twice, and people in many areas have a long enough memory to remember the '70's and now this. And with Ahmadinejad and Chavez yelling how evil the U.S. is, every night; and "let's cut back oil production even more", it makes it obvious that we just can't go back to depending upon petroleum from abroad. It leaves us vulnerable economically, it leaves us vulnerable defense-wise, and it's just plain old expensive. So, it's not going to happen. 

Also, the government has invested far more money and created far more programs to help alternative energy, or to do outright research and help entities trying to develop it. The Defense Department really hates the fact that they have to pay as much as they do for jet fuel. So, DOE and DARPA are spending money on a number of different sources of alternative fuel for aircraft. 

Also, there's a critical mass here [in Silicon Valley], basically. Venture capital is looking in the area very hard and making investments. Major banks are seeing the contracts and the revenue potential on this and are jumping through and financing things.

The entire industry is much more mature than it was in the ‘70's. Like I said, a lot of these people who are developing wonderful technology just went into the garage and kept on working, and we're seeing the fruits of those many years of labor coming out of obscurity now. There are good technologies that people have brought along much further that you can make a good argument for in front of critical investment bankers. 

Sterling Allan: Let's talk also expand on the idea of OPEC taking a trillion dollars out of our economy, and then going: "Oops,!" -- the head and shoulder shape curve that you were describing.

Len Hartkemeier: I don't know all of the human reasoning behind it, but there's something in the charting world called a classic head & shoulders pattern, where a prices increases, stays that way for a while, and then goes into a much higher peak, like a bug climbing up your shoulder, across it and then up over your head and down the other side. There's a fairly symmetrical pattern and it's easy to recognize. 

That seems to be what has happened to oil, except that, combined with the credit crunch, that other shoulder has been much smaller, and prices have fallen off more than one would have expected. But, that's not surprising considering what else is going on in the world. They sucked a lot of money out. A combination of the countries and sovereign funds, and just aggressive hedge fund traders have taken a whole lot of money. I think that OPEC, in its collective wisdom in the Middle East, which is still pretty much in charge of OPEC, recognizes that they went too far this time. You know, it may not have been their plan, and events like world growth, and need for oil, they may not have accurately predicted. But they know if they go too far, we all will go and figure out a way around them. And I think they are beginning to realize that's what's happening. 

To some degree they don't go along with the extremists like Chavez and Ahmadinejad for a much bigger cut in production, because they realize that that would anger folks even more, which is why Ahmadinejad and Chavez only got a smaller cut in production. And, the basic fact is, OPEC sort of stays together by agreement -- kind of. Whenever one of those decreases is announced, there were plenty members of OPEC and others who were willing to produce more, to get more money for themselves. Nigeria is the classic example over time. I'm not sure they ever followed OPEC quotas for their own production. I think they've always overproduced and that they've used times like this as opportunities to produce and make more money. 

Momentum Toward Green

Sterling Allan: I was reading an article, a piece in a banking periodical that was talking about the oil industry and why it is against their best interest to have prices get too painful, because what it will do is drive people into alternatives, and they don't want that because that works against their own interest. If people find another solution for energy, and they don't need oil, they've shot themselves in the foot.

Something else I wanted to bring up is that another point of maturity that was not in existence in the ‘70's is that many of the oil companies themselves are publically saying: "We're going green!" They're investing in alternatives. They're looking at other ways to generate electricity to bring energy to the planet. They're actually diversifying their portfolios (so to speak) in supporting various renewable initiatives. We have that in the ‘70's, did we? 

Len Hartkemeier: We had a little bit, but not like we do now. There's been a combination of the environmental movement, which is part of the renewable energy movement, but the pure environmental movement has matured more, has more influence and power and money and can move legislation. I mean, we had a Bill for carbon cap & sale program moving through congress. Both presidential candidates support it in one form or another, and that's going to happen. That means it's even more important for the energy industry in the U.S. to be onboard, and have forms of fuel that have a smaller carbon footprint. 

That's another reason why this is important. Some sort of cap & trade system is coming to the U.S., and everybody can see, especially those oil companies that are on both sides of the Atlantic, like Shell. That is what the restrictions are like, what the marketplace is going to be, and what they have to do. And those who've signed the Kyoto Accord, and other countries like those in Europe that have other rules that have been put in place, have got to do something. They have to lessen their carbon footprint, they see what OPEC is going to do at least every 20 or 30 years to us, and they don't want to be a part of that. 

The next time will be even worse. And if it happens to coincide with an economic downswing, it will look a lot like that last few months have looked. So, they have to do something. 

Plus, remember, more & more of our oil is coming from abroad. I mean, our dependence on foreign oil is larger than it has been in some time. And, to some degree, those energy companies are more refiners than they are suppliers. And if you're more a refiner, and less a supplier, you want those prices to go down. And, one of the best ways of doing it (I'm sure in their minds) is to have a healthy component of green. They may not want to go all the way green, but go green enough so that there's some ability to mitigate these price increases when bad things happen. 

A lot of the business plans I see in the alternative energy area do calculations of revenue for them if the mix of green and petroleum just change a little bit. We're not talking about replacing all of it, although we can certainly do that, probably in 15 or 20 years -- just because of the time it takes to invest and build everything. But they recognize in the more mature alternative energy industry we have today, that we don't have to talk about changing society in dramatic ways in very short periods of time. But if we just get started, a number of promising technologies can start to have an influence over time – and that's what's really important. 

Lots to Choose from

No one technology's going to change everything, and no one technology should be depended upon to change everything. But if we learn how to make fuel and food products and chemicals from algae, if we have more efficient solar and wind technology – and I could go through the entire list, which I don't need to do because people can find them all listed on your website – then we'll start to solve this problem. We will have a smaller carbon footprint. We will have less CO2 released into the air. 

Some of our technologies will go abroad, and help to mitigate natural gas venting and flaring abroad -- which will make Al Gore very happy. 

Some of the technologies being developed integrate well with our existing infrastructure. There are folks working on not only efficiently and quickly producing biomass from algae, but also about being able to convert that biomass into green crude that can go into existing refineries. So, infrastructure expenses of the past are not wasted, and you have refineries that are much cleaner because they don't have some of the minerals and metals in green crude that you have in petroleum. So, I think there's a more mature approach on both sides. There's financing to make it happen. There's the greed factor, because it'll make everybody money, and it'll make us a stronger economy. 

Basically, the price of oil, & the price of energy is in every product. We see it in every service we receive. So, if you could take oil or gasoline, or whatever you want to call the bio-derived fuel that you're using, and back down to 50 cents a gallon, you can wipe out inflation, and you can have a more stable base for an economy. 

A couple of heavy shocks from the OPEC boys have woken up a lot of people over the last 30 years, and put us in a position where we can more realistically proceed forward without too much hate, blame and judgment. It's just something we all have to do. 

I tend to take the approach in life that people who preach absolutes are virtually always wrong, and the guys who said: "let's improve things by doing this, that and that," are usually the ones who are right and accomplish important changes. 

The investment community, in its thought process, while not taking that position, takes [an attitude of] "well, how can we make money, how can we gain market share, how can we succeed?" And, to some degree, that's the same set of answers as you would have to the question of: "How do we make things better?" And, consequently, green has enough of those right answers now -- making things better, lowering cost, cleaning the environment (both air, water & ground), and moving forward. And, helping to lower costs, helping to do everything that we want to do, even if we're not thinking about it, and helping us to basically have a solution rather than a reason to argue and yell at each other.

Meltdown?

Sterling Allan: What about the case of a cataclysmic collapse where we get below a certain threshold where people are not going to work, people are not able to buy the basic needs, like a food shelter; and you start having rioting and looting and you have a total meltdown -- a martial law type of scenario, where you've got military in the streets and life as we know it basically comes screeching to a halt; where the value of the dollar almost goes to zero. On the other hand, just in the last week, we have had a flurry of major breakthroughs, and it's almost as if this little extra time we're being given is being put to very good use to give us a buffer – to give us some hope that we don't have to completely collapse, that there is a new thing coming along – an abundance of energy that can make life much more easy, affordable and that we can salvage society. We don't have to go to a major meltdown scenario.

Len Hartkemeier: The world is very different than it was at the time of the Great Depression. There is more international trade than ever before. 

I happen to be a believer in free trade. It allows where something that can be most efficiently and inexpensively produced to be made there and traded somewhere else, so that one fights inflation and lets people do what they do best. I know all of the arguments against that, but I think that it's a very good model. 

One of the greatest mistakes we made after the market fell in 1929 was to destroy free trade and to break up investment banks and commercial banks. And, we're actually doing the opposite of that this time. We are putting back commercial banking and investment banking back into one entity, with brokerage firms buying commercial banks and vice-versa. 

Number two, we are not trying to end free trade. There are people who have to play the game more fairly. We let their things in with no tariff and they don't let ours in, but that's a problem to be solved, and not a reason to destroy free trade and make things be produced in the most inefficient place by the people who would least like to do it because they can't get it from somewhere else. 

Number three; we're a far more integrated world than we were before. 

Number four, I think we have a better understanding of what happened in the Depression. 

Bernanke is a student of that and has written an excellent book on it, which I really think everybody who wants to understand what's going on ought to read. So we have some really good people, like Bernanke and Paulson overseeing this problem. 

But like I said before, different elements caused it. We didn't have the liquidity that we do now. Even though we've suffered a big loss of liquidity, we still have far more available on a per capita basis than we did in 1929. So consequently, we're in a better position to be able to weather it. Also, people are more important in an economy than anything else. If people have some confidence, they're going to continue to work and produce and you won't have a problem. 

Lower tax rates, which we've had since the ‘80's, have allowed people to be more economically stable individually. You can argue about how they spent their money, but they've gotten what they want. And a happier person is the more stable person, which for some reason, people still don't get. 

This economy is made up of the work of 200 odd million working people and the interaction that increases the value of what they're doing. And, you can not substitute anything else for that. Big government and huge welfare programs just don't solve the problem. It's people getting up every morning and wanting to go to work and do things they enjoy that makes it all work – and we have that. 

Fixing the Financial Mess

We're putting back together a financial machine in this country that will be stronger than it was before. I mean investment banking and commercial banking ought to be together.

Sure, there has to be good regulation and division of responsibility, and I know there are a lot of people who don't like this bailout package because they view it as socialism. I think those people ought to go back and read the definition of socialism and get a few good books on it, because then they'll realize it isn't. 

Unfortunately, the government is going to have to fix this problem because they helped cause it by telling mortgage companies or banks that they would buy through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages on houses owned by people who couldn't make a down payment, couldn't make the regular payments and didn't have adequate credit. The federal government caused this problem, mainly in the 1990's and Barney Frank and Bill Clinton went along with it. And so, I don't think it's unreasonable in a world where we (at least in western society) put a great degree of importance on individual responsibility for the government if it screws up – to have to fix it. 

So, that's my position on the bailout package. It probably never would have been necessary if the government had not made a mistake to begin with. 

As far as alternative energy in this climate, thank God for thousands of people who have spent time in their garages perfecting what they started thinking about because of the crisis with OPEC in the 1970's. We are much more further along not because of government programs, although there have been some useful subsidies and credits here and there, but we're basically in a better situation to capitalize, and closer to maturity because these guys did it. And that's a large percentage of the folks who regularly look at your webpage and contribute. So they've done that – both from academia and from the garage, and from people just coming up with good ideas. So, it's the strength, intelligence and endurance of those individuals that's going to make all of this succeed. 

Also, even though venture capital is cut back on its spending because it has less money to spend, because fewer capital have come to them, they are making the investments. And as we get a way out of this mess, they'll make more. I mean, my principal fear has been tax policy going in the wrong direction after the election, because whether we like it or not, no matter how much we like to ridicule and criticize the wealthy, the majority of venture capital comes from the wealthy – either wealthy individuals or wealthy companies. 

You know, they've got to make sure they've got the reserves; they've got to make sure they have the money to operate; they have to update things; they have to move forward; they have to pay health benefits, but if they've got profits over and above what they would normally plan for – whether you be GE or a wealthy Silicon Valley entrepreneur, then you think about venture capital because, though it's the greatest risk, it's the greatest potential for reward. 

Sure, plenty of them will fail. I've forgotten the standards that everybody uses, and they've probably changed in the last two months, but nobody ever expected over 25 percent of their venture capital investing to succeed. But one success makes up for all the losses, and makes good money, and they're willing to do it. 

If we increase the taxes on the "wealthy," Barack Obama's favorite 5% target these days, venture capital dries up, and that's what we need – although it won't dry up completely. I mean, there's no absolutist's position there, but it will decrease in quantity and therefore there will be less money to invest in these new venture capital ideas. Now, I was happy to hear the philosophy on start-ups from Obama was no capital gains tax on start-up young company investments. Now, who knows whether that will ever find its way into a Bill. I know a lot of stuff is spaghetti being thrown at a refrigerator door right now to try to get an extra two or three voters on their side, but one of the other great things about the period since the ‘80's in tax policy has been relative stability. Yes, Bill Clinton raised some taxes. George Sr. raised some taxes, but not much. And, George Bush lowered taxes, but not a whole lot, and there was more money around to do these things – and that has been good. 

I don't want to get back into a cycle of administrations changing every four years and tax policy changing radically every four years. What this economy needs is stability more than anything else. And talk of big change always scares folks, and that's why I think the solutions being taken right now to stabilize the economy are good. Let's put money back into where people are used to seeing it; allow banks to make loans; make sure the lending is there for all the big companies, then we provide some stability with which to move forward. Radical change usually scares people – reasonably or unreasonably – depending upon the issue. But if you bring some stability; yes, you're going to be able to borrow; yes, you're going to be able to sell your commercial paper to a bank and get the money to do business; yes, your banker will still be there; yes -- all of that -- that tends to calm things. Big change scares people, and if the government overreacted and put draconian laws in place, that would scare people even more, which is a lot of what happened in the early 1930's. 

So, I think that as long as the guys who've made the progress in alternative energy can get the investments, government subsidies, tax credits – whatever, and move forward, and the economy will relatively stable because a lot of money has been pumped into it, we can slowly move out of this. Like I said, it's not going to be overnight, but it's not going to take forever.

Define "Recession"

Sterling Allan: Maybe you can help me understand something that doesn't make sense to me. There's all this talk about "are we in a recession? are we headed to recession? " when from the ground, it looks like "no-duh! Of course, we're in a recession and we're not only in a recession, we're close to a depression." I understand that some of that is politics and posturing on the part of the part of the government to not scare people, but where I especially scratch my head on it is when you hear, in a stock market context, that the stock market drops in the triple digits because of reports that Britain might be going into a recession. I would think that people in the stock market would be a little more rooted and a little bit more resilient and not so flighty -- they almost act like a school of fish, all going swimming on one direction, because everyone else is. Maybe you can help us understand why that's the case.

Len Hartkemeier: Well, basically, recession has a generic definition of: things are getting worse, but not as bad as a depression. But there's a technical definition; and that's a decreasing GNP for a number of quarters. The technical definition is 2 quarters. We haven't had that. Our gross domestic product has continued to increase, albeit by not as great a rate as it did last year or the year before. So, you've got a technical definition which we have not fallen into, and we have a "do I feel better [off] than I did 4 years ago or not" campaign phrase from 1980. So, the technician will tell you we're not in it, but obviously, depending upon the definition you have as an individual, you may or may not be. And if there are enough people having problems, they're going to feel it, and they're going to say it. 

Now, there's the political aspect of "do you feel better off than you felt 4 years ago or 8 years ago," which Barack Obama is using right now in his stump speeches. The problem is that people have more things to complain about. Gas prices are higher; it's harder to get credit; you can't get a house as easily as you could a year ago or two years ago, and there are a lot of people who will complain and say "that means we're in a recession." 

But we're still producing more, and we're more efficient, and high tech led to that. You know, the computer and all the various technologies that came from the personal computer, and its greater manifestations in companies, have made everybody in the economy more productive. And, because work that we would have delegated to another person that was menial is now being done by the computers, you are more free to do more yourself, so the individual can produce more today. 

That's one of the great reasons our economy has become as resilient as it is, because everybody is more productive. Individuals may not feel as well-off, but remember everybody's going through this. We still pay less for gasoline than they do in Europe, and I could give you a host of reasons like that. 

So yes, there's a technical versus a general feel of people; and you have politicians who want to gain office or change policies, who are going to sit around and repeat every bad example of the story they've heard to try and make you feel that things are truly horrible and a great change is needed, so you'd want to vote for them. So, we are suffering from a duel attack. Some bad things have taken place, results from previous mistakes are coming back to roost and they've got to be fixed, and we've got some economic downturns we don't like, and the politicians are running for office. 

There was a great speech in the Michael Douglas's president movie – I've forgotten the name of the movie, where he comes to the press room and gives a speech to all of the press about how you win an election. I'm a Republican, he's a Democrat, I happen to agree with that speech completely. You generally try and make things look as worse as you can to get elected, and when you have that combined with a couple of other things, and a slower economy than you've had before, it's really easy to make that pessimistic speech and get everybody to believe it because nobody seems to have a memory past six months ago.

Where are Renewables Headed?

Sterling Allan: I want to end on a note of: "What is renewable energy going to do? What does it have the potential to do in terms of salvaging what's happening?" 

Len Hartkemeier: Well, I think that a lot of the technologies are close enough to implementation that we can start doing this. I'm not going to say that it's going to solve everything in six months. I don't know of many things that are. But, renewable energy is far enough along, and big enough amounts of money have been invested in it, that it's beginning to provide jobs in significant numbers, to build testbed facilities, pilot plants, and stuff like that. 

It promises lower energy costs in the future, which will do a decent job, I think, keeping OPEC in line for a while, because they realize that if they let the prices go up again, they're truly dooming themselves. 

Right now, the question is no longer: "Do we do alternative energy or not?" The question is: "How much do we do?" And if OPEC lets prices go up again, we do more and marginalize them more.

# # #

Acknowledgement

Special thanks to Matt Imber for transcribing the above from the radio interview.

See also

Page composed by Sterling D. Allan Nov. 11, 2008
Last updated December 24, 2014
 
 
 

Ads

 

 

"It is harder to crack a prejudice than an atom." // "I'd rather be an optimist and a fool than a pessimist and right." -- Albert Einstein

ADVISORY: With any technology, you take a high risk to invest significant time or money unless (1) independent testing has thoroughly corroborated the technology, (2) the group involved has intellectual rights to the technology, and (3) the group has the ability to make a success of the endeavor.
Schopenhauer
All truth passes through three stages:
   First, it is ridiculed;
   Second, it is violently opposed; and
   Third, it is accepted as self-evident.

-- Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

    "When you're one step ahead
of the crowd you're a genius.
When you're two steps ahead,
you're a crackpot."

-- Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, (Feb. 1998)

Submit • Privacy • About • Contact

PESWiki Departments:
Latest • News •XMLFeed • Directory • Congress • Top 5 • Open Sourcing

PESN.com
Copyright © 2002-2015, PES Network Inc.