NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 2, 2005

Energy experts Peter W. Huber and Mark P. Mills, in their new book, "The Bottomless Well: the Twilight of Fuel, the Virtue of Waste, and Why We Will Never Run Out of Energy," contend that energy is not a "problem," but a "solution."

To "waste" energy horrifies many people, but not Huber and Mills, who argue: It is only by throwing most of the energy away that we can put what's left to productive use. "Everything we know about 'running out of energy' isn't just muddled and wrong; it's the exact opposite of the truth. The more energy we capture and put to use, the more readily we will capture still more," say the authors.

Moreover, they do not foresee an immediate end to oil and gas consumption but suggest environmentalists should cut their ties to the anti-nuclear power movement and realize that clean, plentiful energy can be produced.

  • Post-Three Mile Island the gap between meeting a rising demand for energy and the environmental opposition increasingly to rely on nuclear power was met by burning coal.
  • However, nuclear power is cleaner and safer than other fuels, a record which should appease the environmentalists' concerns about global warming.
  • Solar and wind power cannot meet all of our anticipated energy needs over the next two decades but it should be part of the energy mix.

We may have to work hard to develop energy resources but the authors lay down the maxim that "energy begets more energy," which means we have increasingly become able to produce energy by using innovative technology. Pessimists believe that if we need energy to find energy there will be less energy. The view advanced by Huber and Mills holds that stockpiling energy or surplus will let us discover more energy resources, including alternative ones.

Source: Paul M. Weyrich, "Energy Myth: Nary a Scarcity with Such Standards," Accuracy in Media, April 27, 2005; based upon: Peter W. Huber and Mark P. Mills, "The Bottomless Well: the Twilight of Fuel, the Virtue of Waste, and Why We Will Never Run Out of Energy," Basic Books, January 18, 2005.


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