Future not bleak on energy front

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Harold Morgan’s article entitled PNM turns profitable is interesting and thought provoking. It’s good news hearing that PNMis  profitable again.
Harold aptly pointed out the technical, environmental and political difficulties when supplying enough electricity for the wants/needs of New Mexico’s population, service, manufacturing and agricultural industries. Obviously PNM and its investors deserve profits.
Historical DOW indexes reveal that share values and profits for most major energy-producers are cyclic, rising and falling by as much as 80 percent.
Mostly their sheer commercial necessity has created an upward trend during 1-15 year periods. The main reason is because most were relying on non-sustainable, readily available resources such as coal, oil, natural gas and sustainable ones such as hydroelectric and nuclear power.
Unfortunately, during this time the world’s population has increased dramatically and with it the demand for energy, food-supplies and other life-necessities has risen accordingly. Humans have also become more aware of their own and the energy supply industry’s effects upon the environment.
Recently, all these readily available non-sustainable energy resources have become depleted. The nuclear industry is beset by storage of its waste products problems and historic association with nuclear-weapons production.
The oil/gas/exploration industries drill deeper into the earth (fracking), often through fragile water tables; thousands of feet below ocean beds or extract oil/natural-gas from vast global shale-deposits.  This is extremely complicated, utilizes enormous quantities of water and is expensive to remediate environmentally. Therefore, the price of all energy supplies, like-it-or-not, will continue to rise.
As currently the world’s largest energy consumer, producer, exporter and energy supplier, the future for us and the rest of the world is not entirely bleak. Long-term planning and a realistic set of energy and materialistic expectations are required from the population however. In Europe, where energy prices have always been considerably higher than ours, conservation adjustments in lifestyle such as house sizes, car size, public transportation etc. has always been applied. Happily, Europe is still able to gain Happy National Populations in most world surveys.
In sunny/windy New Mexico, with PNM’s help, sustainable-energy resources derived from solar, passive solar, wind-generation and recycling are expanding. Globally, add tidal generation. Liquid biofuels are also being generated in growing quantities derived from pond-algae, fermenters and cellulosic wood/paper waste etc. Exxon Mobil has committed $600M+ to such efforts. The automobile industry is also utilizing the electricity and biofuel generated. Energy-storage problems associated with 24-hour supply requirements are being fulfilled with relatively simple battery/heat-storage devices (sodium/sodium sulfide/molten salt etc.) and improved transmission lines. Accelerators generating atomic fusion/fission to generate energy are also being actively researched.
The nuclear industry’s future is unpredictable. Small compact town-sized generating stations are being developed and more attention is focused on siting future conventional generators. Sadly, waste-storage and nuclear-weapons/materials getting into irresponsible hands are of concern. Research and analysis of the above sustainable resources promises increased efficiency and productive/sustainable employment generation for the future.
Finally, when reviewing Al Gore’s cautioning energy-supply comments it should also be kept in mind his background, education and vast experience. These include an education at Harvard; in spite of being eligible for deferment in 1969 drafting into the Army incorporating a 1971 period in Vietnam. From 1977-85 he represented Tennessee in the U.S. House of Representatives and 1985-93 the U.S. Senate. He was always respected by a majority of his voters and colleagues. From 1993-2001 he was the nation’s Vice-President; during which time he was accredited with accommodating Republican and Democrat Congressional members to create the Federal budget surpluses handed on to the Bush Administration in 2001.
In 2001 he won the nation’s popular Presidential vote, but not the Electoral College’s. Subsequently he turned his energies towards environmental improvement efforts, sustainability and understanding our planet’s complex weather patterns. He published the best-seller “An Uncomfortable Truth,” won the 2007 Nobel Peace, Grammy and Emmy Awards and a Webby Award in 2005.
 Obviously many eminently qualified scientists, the media, politicians and industrialists support his views. They deal with far-far future environmental situations that its generations will have-to-cope-with. Enough said.
Los Aamos resident Gerald B. Ansell PhD, has been retired after a 52-year career in chemical/materials science research,program management and teaching with government,industry and universities in England and the United States.