Bush should implement innovative national energy policy, fuel cells not enough

To the Daily:

I’d like to thank the Daily, Fuel cell energy proves clean alternative to oil (02/18/03), for making fuel cells a front page issue. I look forward to the day when our transportation and energy systems are free from pollution and fuel cells offer a great step in the right direction. However, the hydrogen used to power fuel cells should not be considered a fuel. Despite the abundance of hydrogen in the environment, it can only be used for energy storage, not generation.

As Prof. Yohan Schwank pointed out, hydrogen must be generated using electricity. This is the only process that can be scaled up to the level of production needed for a national hydrogen supply. The problem lies in the fact that electricity must be used, and the process is not 100 percent efficient. The electrical power must come from power-plants, so now the source of the problem has been moved from the roads (in the case of fuel-cell powered cars) to the power-plants. President Bush has failed to adequately address electricity generation issues. The current national energy policy (www.energy.gov) already shows we are entering a electrical energy shortage, so trying to support a national hydrogen infrastructure from the current power-plants will not work.

Now we hit the bigger problem, we need to build a new electrical infrastructure focusing on nuclear fission. There have been profound advances in nuclear power-plant design over the past two decades. Newer technologies, such as pebble-bed reactors, are inherently safe, cannot melt-down, cannot release radiation, produce very little waste, and are cheap to build. Other waste-management technologies can reduce the 38,000 metric tons of nuclear waste we have stockpiling in the United States while eliminating the risk of the proliferation of weapons material and generating electricity.

Unfortunately, although Bush recognizes the advances in nuclear technology, the national energy policy is directed to building over 1,000 new coal and natural gas power plants over the next two decades while leaving nuclear options to hang in the wind. If fuel cells are really to be the environmentally friendly panacea we want it to be, we need to build a sensible source of energy. I would like to see the Daily follow up on national energy policy as it relates to these issues.

James Glettler

Engineering senior

Paul’s column right to address education reform, but wrong to think reform will stop war

To the Daily:

I’m writing this letter regarding Ari Paul’s column in Weekend Magazine, Be all that we’ll let you be (02/20/03). First let me start by saying that I agree that education must be reformed, and soon, I might add. However his statement at the end of the article, “Education reform will stop war,” is the most asinine thing I have almost ever seen written. Can Paul really believe this? If we finally do achieve education reform in this country, will this stop all the Islamic terrorists from hating us? Will this stop North Korea from wanting to turn every city of the U.S. mainland into rubble? Will they see our improved test scores and realize, hey, they ain’t so bad after all? The answer is no, education reform will not stop war. The truth is that there is nothing that will ever put a stop to war. As long as people of different colors, different languages and different beliefs on the planet, people will be willing to kill each other to prove theirs is the best. Sometimes the world isn’t as idealistic as some believe a single solution to a single small problem will stop all war forever.

Chris Joseph

Engineering junior

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