As I noted here earlier this week, there is growing interest in alternative energy efforts that could end up competing with space exploration for federal funding—even as alternative energy advocates use the Apollo program as a model for their efforts. Now there are a couple more examples which demonstrate this trend.
An editorial in Wednesday’s Houston Chronicle made the case for an “Apollo-scale” program for alternative energy (in addition to increased offshore drilling):
If President Bush and Democratic leaders in Congress wished to show responsible leadership worthy of the public’s growing concern about high energy costs, they would together craft legislation that would encourage domestic energy production and begin a national research program – on a scale of NASA’s successful race to the moon – to develop clean energy from renewable sources such as wind and sunlight; superefficient batteries in which to store it; and alternative fuels such as hydrogen or some source not yet envisioned.
Then, yesterday, former vice president Al Gore made a similar call for alternative energy development:
Just as John F. Kennedy set his sights on the moon, Al Gore is challenging the nation to produce every kilowatt of electricity through wind, sun and other Earth-friendly energy sources within 10 years, an audacious goal he hopes the next president will embrace.
Such large-scale programs, if implemented, would be expensive, just as Apollo over 40 years ago. Where would that money come from, particularly if the presidential candidates are serious about reducing budget deficits? Lots of other programs would probably be under pressure, and it’s hard to see how NASA would be exempt.