I was only 7 years old when President John F. Kennedy challenged the nation to think of the possibilities of space and launched the nation onto a journey reaching to the Moon. He stated:
“Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolution, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it–we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding. Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world’s leading space-faring nation.
We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war. I do not say that we should or will go unprotected against the hostile misuse of space any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours.”
So how does our President plan on dealing with these extraordinary challenges?
Drill more. Just keep on doing the same thing over and over. In today’s radio address, President Bush stated:
“Last month I called on the House and the Senate to lift this legislative ban, so we can allow States to have the option of opening up OCS resources off their coasts.”
Drill on the far reaches of the outer continental shelf.
John McCain isn’t supposed to be a clone of Bush but as reported:
“…he called for a lifting of the federal moratorium preventing states from exploring for oil off of their coasts. “They have to be lifted so that states can make those decisions,” McCain said. “I’m not dictating to the states that they drill or they engage in oil exploration, I am saying that the moratoria should be lifted so that they have the opportunity to do so. By the way, I would also like to see perhaps additional incentives…in the form of tangible financial rewards if the states decide to lift those moratoria.”
“Second, we should expand oil production by tapping into the extraordinary potential of oil shale.”
McCain as reported:
“For long-term energy needs, McCain said “all options” are on the table, including exploring oil shale deposits in the western states of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. “It becomes more and more affordable as the price of gasoline goes up and a barrel of oil goes up,” McCain said of the expensive oil shale extraction process.”
“Third, we should expand American oil production by permitting exploration in northern Alaska.”
McCain, to his credit, has resisted drilling in ANWR.
And finally, Bush explained we needed to refine more oil as well.
“Finally, we need to expand and enhance our refining capacity. It has been 30 years since a new refinery was built in our Nation, and lawsuits and red tape have made it extremely costly to expand or modify existing refineries.”
Where is McCain on refineries?
“Sen. McCain: “At the very least, one might assume, America had surely been building new refineries to achieve a more efficient delivery of gasoline to market, and thereby to lower the prices paid by the American people especially in the summer season. But the policymakers in Washington haven’t got around to that, either. There’s so much regulation of the industry that the last American refinery was built when Jerry Ford was president.”
Bush and McCain—Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum. Just the same old same old I guess.
But what about Obama? Is he offering anything new in the picture?
“The senator announced no new proposals as he laid out his plans for a new energy policy, including support for research and development into alternative fuels and raising fuel efficiency standards, and highlighted his differences with McCain on energy in general and on specific issues like the gas tax holiday proposal to offshore drilling in particular.
Obama slammed McCain for voting against clean biofuels, solar power, wind power and against an energy bill that represented the largest investment in renewable sources of energy in the history of this country and mocked the Arizona senator’s recent remarks that Washington had done little over the last 30 years to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil, noting that McCain has been in Washington for about 26 years.”
The contrast couldn’t be greater. On the one hand we have a Senator who asks us to do what we have been doing all along but more of it.
And then we have this upstart who calls upon us to use our imagination, to apply our research and development skills for new energy sources, clean biofuels, solar power, and wind power.
The echoes of 1961 are clear. Americans are at a cross-road. We can search for new solutions to old problems or we can apply the same old and tired attempts at temporizing a national challenge.
America is hopeful, optimistic, and looking to the future. Our solutions to our problems lie within our imagination and natural curiosity in finding new approaches to old problems. It has never been the case that more of the same will deal with a problem that hasn’t been already solved by the same old same old.