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Friday, October 15, 2010

Turning Oil into Salt

Until the 19th century, salt was one of the most valuable commodities in the world because it was the only way to preserve food. Countries even went to war over salt. Then, with the advent of canning and refrigeration, salt lost its strategic importance and became just another inexpensive commodity.

Recently I interviewed a scientist named Dr. Gal Luft on my Saturday radio program. He says that oil now has the strategic importance that salt once had in the world because it underlies our entire transportation system and our very way of life. We rely on oil to move food from farm to our homes, to go to the doctor, to deliver the mail, and to take the kids to school. Our dependence on oil makes us highly vulnerable to unfriendly dictators who control 80% of the world's oil reserves.

Dr. Luft is a leading advocate of energy-independence. He says that we must break oil's monopoly as a fuel source. He uses salt as a metaphor and says our task is to "turn oil into salt." Dr. Luft explained that we cannot achieve energy independence through consuming less oil or drilling more oil. That is because the OPEC nations, mostly in the Middle East, control the sources of oil and how much they pump out of the ground. Any time they want, they can respond by reducing production to keep oil prices higher, or increasing production to make oil prices lower. The solution for us to create a competitive fuel market by making cars that can run on fuel alternatives. Dr. Luft believes that it is possible to give Americans a fuel choice right now.. With a minor modification that costs about $100 per car, auto manufacturers can build flex-fuel cars that run on any combination of gasoline and/or various alcohol-based fuels, including methanol, ethanol, and butanol. Creating a competitive market for fuel at the pump would reduce gas prices and make oil much less important on the world market. It's something to think about.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

Book: Turning Oil Into Salt: Energy Independence Through Fuel Choice


Anonymous said...

We must be careful, in using crops that are also food crops. This will drive the cost of food up. Find a way to use Kudzu as fuel source, we have plenty of that stuff in the southeast.

Susan said...

Excellent info and very thought provoking, with a practical twist! Doesn't get better than that Phyllis!

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