By Dr. Wingate Lambertson
By Wingate A. Lambertson, Ph.D., June 30, 1997
A few of us in the new energy field have been threatened and harassed. Most of us have just been ignored we have been victims of benign neglect. John Ed Pierce, a Kentucky newspaper columnist, wrote that what the children of today need the most is "benign neglect." I was struck by the analogy between today's children and the United States energy business.
We were visited recently by our youngest granddaughter and her mother. The mother said, "I think we will go to Ireland next year for our vacation." Our granddaughter responded, "I want to go to Hawaii." Her mother came back with, "You have already been to Hawaii!" How well we remember visits by our grandchildren when they said, "I am bored, what are we going to do next, Grandma?" They did not know how to entertain themselves.
We have had the energy industry with us since the discovery of oil and the Edison Electric Company formation. Emphasis on alternative forms of energy began in this country when Eugene Wigner from Princeton and Leo Szilard from Columbia University, visited Albert Einstein while he was on vacation in Long Island during July, 1939 and wrote the famous Einstein letter to President Roosevelt. This resulted in an initial nuclear grant of $6,000 in late 1940. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor this program took off, leading to development of the atomic bomb, the development of nuclear submarines, and commercial nuclear power plants. Our government's alternative energy effort today is the responsibility of the Department of Energy and is carried out through industrial contractors and a system of National Laboratories.
The crisis of World War II led to the development of a vast energy industry which, after almost 60 years, is still a child of the U.S. Government. It has been pampered and protected just as are our children of today.
Our present world crisis is of an entirely different nature than that of the expansive dreams of Hitler or of the Japanese Empire. World governments are just beginning to learn about the potential threat of global warming. Unfortunately, this time, those of us in the United States are the "bad guys," as 20 percent of pollutants blamed for global warming originate in the United States. If we wish to protect our way of life, we have to do something differently.
I have a personal interest in the global warming threat, since in 1997 tropical storm "Josephine" resulted in Gulf of Mexico waters coming within four inches of our living room floor.
The problem has gained the attention of President Clinton and in a New York speech, he described forecasts of an ocean rise of two feet or more in the next 100 years. He expects to develop a program to meet this problem in time for the Kyoto meeting at the end of this year.
Specifics given by the President are to have the Department of Energy oversee a program to install solar-energy panels in a million homes by 2010 and to prod National Laboratories to develop technologies to end reliance on polluting energy sources.
This is not very comforting to me to learn that those organizations responsible for such waste are going to save our future. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been wasted on fast breeder reactors, high temperature fusion energy generators and the super collider over the past 40 years. They have had solar energy programs for over 20 years and still need another 14 years to electrify one million homes.
Our National Academy of Science declared cold fusion to be fraudulent and has successfully prevented federal support to inventors working in the field. The U.S. Patent Office had refused to grant cold fusion patents until Dr. Patterson had one granted through oversight.
The New Energy field has grown through this benign neglect while the Department of Energy is rapidly becoming irrelevant. National laboratory scientists, those children of the explosion of research in high energy physics and those who teach that new energy research is a fraud, will find it difficult to change and embrace that which they have ridiculed.
Who are we going to select to represent us to carry the letter to President Clinton? The obvious organization to originate the letter is the Institute for New Energy
Return to the INE Main Page
Sept. 10, 1997.