Thorium Cures the Free Market
By Staff News & Analysis - September 01, 2010

Obama could kill fossil fuels overnight with a nuclear dash for thorium … If Barack Obama (left) were to marshal America's vast scientific and strategic resources behind a new Manhattan Project, he might reasonably hope to reinvent the global energy landscape and sketch an end to our dependence on fossil fuels within three to five years. Dr Rubbia says a tonne of the silvery metal produces as much energy as 200 tonnes of uranium, or 3,500,000 tonnes of coal … Dr Rubbia says a tonne of the silvery metal – named after the Norse god of thunder, who also gave us Thor's day or Thursday – produces as much energy as 200 tonnes of uranium, or 3,500,000 tonnes of coal. A mere fistful would light London for a week. Thorium eats its own hazardous waste. It can even scavenge the plutonium left by uranium reactors, acting as an eco-cleaner. "It's the Big One," said Kirk Sorensen, a former NASA rocket engineer and now chief nuclear technologist at Teledyne Brown Engineering. "Once you start looking more closely, it blows your mind away. You can run civilisation on thorium for hundreds of thousands of years, and it's essentially free. You don't have to deal with uranium cartels," he said. – UK Telegraph

Dominant Social Theme: Just another energy solution?

Free-Market Analysis: We have lost track of the new energy solutions being offered on the Internet, which is certainly large energy companies' worst nightmare. Solutions abound from cars that run on water or natural gas to more obscure and less immediately comprehensible presentations (many on Youtube) that involve the Universe's deeper "secrets." None of these seem to make an impact somehow, though at least a few of them are evidently and obviously workable, even on a mass scale, if given the chance. The dominant social theme here seems to be "don't look now," as the major media gives alternative energy short shrift unless it is the green kind.

And that is the point in our view. The energy conversation in the West has been badly compromised. First of all Western energy supplies are dominated by a handful of hyper-sized oil companies. Second (in our view) energy supplies have continually been manipulated via the Green movement itself; there is considerable evidence (as we have tried to show in past articles) that the oil companies helped fund the "conservation" movement of the 20th century in order to limit supplies and places to drill. This created a kind of artificial scarcity and reduced known supplies of oil. It also created barriers to entry as many big finds are discovered offshore these days where only the lagest entities can afford to drill.

The manipulation of the market in the 21st century saw the rise of yet another movement that we may refer to as Peak Oil – the idea the world was running out of fossil fuels and would soon starve in the dark. These movements, the conservation movement and Peak Oil were among some of the most perfect power elite dominant social themes every floated. They were highly-tuned, fear-based promotions designed to drive believers into waiting arms of elite-created, authoritarian solutions, many of them globalist in nature. Eventually, these two movements would be joined by a third promotion called global warming.

Together, these three promotions constituted an intellectual backbone for a rigorously authoritarian command-and-control structure. In fact, the "Smart Grid" concept that the Bell has reported on is a response to the hysteria over energy consumption. Smart Grid seeks to monitor every aspects of a homeowners energy consumption and the idea is to acquire a comprehensive data base of the person's energy habits and general lifestyle. The result is supposed to be a more efficient use of energy at the consumer level; in practice Smart Grid will simply create even more legal intimidation and new kinds of criminalization.

Those involved in these fear-based memes are still trying to move ahead with them, though they are having a difficult time, in large part due to Internet-based exposures, especially of the faulty figures underlying global warming. Just yesterday another expose of bad global warming science hit the mainstream media. Here's how the UK Daily Mail covered it:

Climate change lies are exposed … The world's leading climate change body has been accused of losing credibility after a damning report into its research practices. A high-level inquiry into the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found there was "little evidence" for its claims about global warming. It also said the panel had emphasized the negative impacts of climate change and made "substantive findings" based on little proof. The review by the InterAcademy Council (IAC) was launched after the IPCC's hugely embarrassing 2007 benchmark climate change report, which contained exaggerated and false claims that Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035.

The panel was forced to admit its key claim in support of global warming was lifted from a 1999 magazine article. The report was based on an interview with a little-known Indian scientist who has since said his views were "speculation" and not backed by research. Independent climate scientist Peter Taylor said last night: "The IPCC's credibility has been deeply dented and something has to be done. It can't just be a matter of adjusting the practices. They have got to look at what are the consequences of having got it wrong in terms of what the public think is going on. Admitting that it needs to reform means something has gone wrong and they really do need to look at the science."

The global warming promotion has been so badly battered that the mainstream media cannot avoid covering the falsehoods anymore. But the larger problems associated with these promotions remain; most important is the significant reduction in understanding how a large marketplace works. The energy market itself is so deep and complex – worldwide – that almost certainly a solution would emerge were a clear energy drawdown to actually occur.

In fact, there are plenty of unused and under-utilized solutions, as this latest report on thorium would tend to show. If thorium can be used as an efficient power source, then many of the current energy scarcity problems that are being perceived might tend to go away. But reading the feedbacks to this article posted at the UK Telegraph is a useful exercise. We see already arguments mustering against it.

There are posts that mutter darkly about how even if thorium proved to be an extraordinarily successful fuel, it would only be applicable at a power-station level, leaving the utility of oil (and growing lack of product) untouched. One can only conclude from such statements that almost no free-market venture is going to be considered an anodyne for energy scarcity. For Peak Oilers, the market is a static environment that provides problems such as pollution but not solutions.

Thorium is not the only potential solution to energy problems. But it is hard to be overly optimistic about how quickly it might penetrate the larger energy grid – assuming its promise was realized – given the choke-hold of modern energy companies. Ironically, from our point of view, the energy conversation is one that is most easily resolvable via education about free-markets and supply and demand. It is a sad testimony to Western public education, that generations of otherwise intelligent individuals have grown up understanding so little about economics.

Note: The Daily Bell, being free-market oriented does NOT endorse a "Manhattan Project" for thorium. The point in citing the article was only to show that there are plenty of energy solutions that have not entered what is actually in some sense a state-controlled and manipulated energy market. The Bell would be in favor of comprehensive deregulation that in our view would be an effective way of ensuring these additional solutions were offered.

After Thoughts

There are plenty of solutions to energy issues (were there problems to begin with) that can be brought to bear. The free-market is a wonderful tool even though modern-day citizens of the West have been taught to fear its putative "greed and waste" via meretricious elite fear-based promotions. It is only when people begin to reach a consensus about the corporate manipulation of energy supplies and the benefits of the Invisible Hand that the conversation itself will grow more comprehensible and, ultimately, rewarding.

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