High oil prices have unleashed a flood of venture capital and creative genius on the problems of energy and global warming. Hardly a day goes by without another credible breakthrough in turning sun, wind, waves, water and who-knows-what into useful energy. Even if the vast majority of those ideas don't pan out, the surviving ideas will probably be enough to make oil obsolete. That's my guess anyway. And I think it will happen at Internet speed when it finally ramps up, not the usual fifty year horizons you always hear about.

The thing I wonder is whether the government has any useful role in fostering these advances, other than staying out of the way. You hear the candidates for president talking about encouraging this, or incenting that, or catalyzing whatever. But when billions of dollars of profit are on the line, does anyone need any extra incentive? I doubt it. The market should be taking care of that stuff, and seems to be moving in the right direction.

What can a president do to make any difference in the energy situation? Be specific. Discuss.
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0 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 2, 2008
I thought you were an economist?

The President can attempt to create a favorable environment for business to operate; i.e. favorable taxes, no unnecessary regulation or red tape. Basically, allowing people to act in their own rational self interest will allow them to improve the world. I think it’s called a free market. Some claim that the United States of America’s first couple hundred years or so were like that, and that it, in large part, fueled our advancement into the industrial revolution.
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 2, 2008
The President needs to do his job and accept the bribes (sorry, "funding") from the oil companies who want him to prevent products based on this work coming to market.

Oh, you mean a POSITIVE difference...
-7 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 2, 2008
10 years ago the government could have put a $4 a gallon tax on gas. That would have spurred advances in fuel economy. The proceeds could have been used to upgrade the electrical infrastructure to better support a move to a more electricity based society.

But letting the market work things out is probably the most efficient way forward.
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