Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham's letter (Nov. 16) regarding the Bush administration's supposed efforts to address greenhouse gases is an affront to rationality. Abraham claims that we can either abandon the use of fossil fuels and thereby usher in economic Armageddon or we can continue to pollute the planet by burning these fuels until "breakthrough technologies" save us.
And what technologies are these? Abraham offers us the "Freedom Car" and President Bush's pathetically underfunded hydrogen fuel initiative, both of which are designed to lull the American public into a false sense of hope that all will be right someday. Meanwhile, America's automobile and aircraft manufacturers have announced huge new deals with China that will ultimately flood that part of the world with millions of new cars and planes, effectively sealing the fate of the biosphere once and for all.
Physicists tell us that fusion technology may never be commercially practicable, and there's no hope whatsoever that it can be developed within the next 50 years. Other more theoretical energy sources will remain the stuff of science fiction for a much longer time. However, a hydrogen-based economy, utilizing large-scale solar power as the prime energy source, is both technically and economically feasible. Its implementation would require only the will to do it coupled with the conservative use of our remaining fossil fuels until it is realized. (I've long favored a "Manhattan Project" approach for this effort.)
We do have a choice, though not the one envisioned by Secretary Abraham -- short-term profit, guaranteed global pollution and wishful thinking or real innovation and sustainable clean energy.
After reading Abraham's letter, I felt much better about our progress in reducing both greenhouse gases and foreign energy dependence. That is, until I remembered that, contrary to his claims, this administration has reduced investments in renewable energy, opposed renewable energy portfolio standards, worked with auto manufacturers to undermine California environmental laws, opposed increased fuel economy standards, increased federal tax incentives for the least efficient vehicles and opposed California's right to set air pollution and greenhouse gas emission standards in our state.