The Manhattan Project, which began as a small research program in 1939, eventually employed more than 130,000 people at a cost of nearly US$2 billion ($24.4 billion in current dollars). Research and production took place at more than 30 sites, some secret, across the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada.
We had no qualms about coming up with the money to build weapons of mass destruction. The effort that went into it is astounding. Yet, we shuffle our feet and find excuses as to why we can’t do the same to extract ourselves from the addiction to fossil fuels. It seems that we have no problem funding multiple wars, defense contracts, new weapons, and sending billions of shrink-wrapped dollars overseas to be lost in the desert. Yet, to come up with a new way to light our homes, heat them, or power our transportation system, we find every excuse under the sun why not. Not only that, but we actually go even further and give subsidies to the very companies that we should be extricating ourselves from all while they are making billions in profits!
What I propose, as an American citizen, is that we stop funding bombs and weapons, and paying mercenaries and war lords and bring that money home. Reinvest in the research needed so that we don’t have to pretend to go to war for altruistic purposes knowing full well that we are there for the resources we can garner as cheaply as we can. When you look at the proposed 2012 budget for defense related spending, just the core DOD spending is around $707 billion dollars. Add another $21 billion for the Energy Departments DOD spending, i.e. nukes. Add another $46 billion for Homeland Security. All of that money, and more when you add in the FBI, NASA (satellites), and the State Department. I mean the core DOD is almost a trillion dollars on its own! Yet, we can’t slice off a small portion of that to create a new Manhattan Project for energy independence. I mean, most of the wars lately are over oil. If we have no need for it, then we have no need for wars.
Okay, so say someone actually has the cajones to push this through. Say someone like, um, the President? Where do we start? Well first, we glean the brightest minds at MIT, CalTech, WPI, and the many other schools we have. We bring all these great minds together. I have all ready heard that, I think it was CalTech, may have come up with a solar wafer that can create energy in moonlight. In moonlight! So we have the brilliance. We have the minds! They just don’t have the money to really do the research because we squander it on making bombs and killing people.
And what of all the inventions of the past? It is said that Tesla had some great inventions but at his death, all his documents were taken by the government and proclaimed Top Secret. What if the government all ready has the answer? Where else could we find a treasure trove of ideas? How about the US Patent Office? Most of Teslas’ ideas were patented. Within the Patent Office are the diagrams and designs for many inventions. Beyond Telsa, what of others who had invented new methods or devices for energy? What secrets have been locked in the Patent Office so as to protect the fossil fuel industry? We have all heard rumors about patents being bought up by energy companies and then the product never created, or the design never implemented. Could we not make a change in the laws that states that any attempt to use the Patent Office to hide an innovation that may help society, in order to protect the profits of the industry, would then become a null patent and become public domain? Then these designs/ideas/innovations could be turned over to the new Manhattan Project teams to use as either a foundation for new ideas, or to be implemented if they are deemed viable.
The point is that America has fallen so far, that the only thing we are still number one in is making war and weapons. Germany is ahead of us in green tech. Maybe we should take a lesson from the space race of the 60’s when we had to beat Russia to the moon. Maybe we need that competitive challenge. Okay, so I challenge the US to come up with a new, clean, and safe energy source that is cheap and plentiful, and hopefully renewable. Let’s do it before Germany does it! We have, or at least, used to have, some of the most brilliant minds in the world. We have some of the greatest technical schools. Let’s stop giving subsidies to fossil fuel companies, let’s skim a little off the defense budget, let’s bring together the most brilliant minds in this country, and let’s solve this problem once and for all. Let’s make America number one in free, safe, environmentally sound, and renewable energy.
My heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit.