Memo to Ben Stein: It's The Efficiency, Stupid


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Economist-comedian Ben Stein was uncharacteristically rational in his Sunday NYT article about America running out of oil, until he came to his conclusion about what we have to do:

We need to turn coal into oil into gasoline, to use nuclear power wherever we can, and to brush aside the concerns of the beautiful people who live on coastal pastures (like me). And we need to drill on the continental shelf, even near where movie stars live. This must be done, on an emergency basis. If we keep acting as if the landscape were more important than human life, we will make ourselves the serfs of the oil producers and eventually reduce our country to poverty and anarchy.

As an economist, one might have thought that he would be familiar with the concept of "externalities"- the carbon dioxide and pollution all of that drilling and gasifying. Might we suggest Ben have a look at efficiency- the extraordinary amount of energy that is wasted simply because we transform our energy sources into useful work so badly because it was so cheap. There is more energy to be found here than in all the continental shelves and shale oil fields in all the world. ::New York Times

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