In early March a sign in front of a Citgo station read Regular/Unleaded: $3.19 per gallon, and I told my companion, “That’s absurd! Why would anyone buy gas there?” We’d just left a “cut-rate” station where it cost “only” $2.98 per gallon.
A modern society such as that in the United States requires personal transportation — cargo trucks, planes, and cars — to make a market economy work. Any serious effort to move our country to mass transportation, such as trains and buses, for everyone and everything all the time — or even most of the time — would destroy not only our economy, but the American way of life.
A nuclear power plant is arguably the most extraordinary product of engineering and scientific know-how in the history of mankind. Once every 18 months or so, a truckload of metal is delivered to the nuclear plant. The metal is uranium, which has been processed to increase the proportion of the isotope known as Uranium-235. This fuel for the power plant is not dangerous and can be held in one’s hands without risk. Only a few decades ago, its primary use was to impart an orange color to ceramics such as Fiestaware.
In 1943, when Germany had virtually no sources of petroleum to fuel its Luftwaffe, U-boats, and Tiger tanks, its scientists (arguably among the best in the world at that time) didn’t turn to solar and wind power. Evil does not equate to naïveté. Hitler’s technical advisers turned to another energy source to keep their Wehrmacht running steadily for several years without petroleum. They used the Fischer-Tropsch process to convert coal into diesel fuel and employed the Bergius hydrogenation (or liquefaction) process to convert coal into aviation gasoline and high-quality truck and automobile gasoline.