As someone in the energy biz, I thought Mr. McEwan's was a very good article. Staying away from the global warming bit (my expertise there is limited), I found he managed to answer most of the "but…" questions forming in my mind. Maxine has since pointed out to me he never mentioned nuclear (my area of expertise) - I didn't even notice. But I think you're right on the politics. He notes that “the costs will be enormous, the benefits will not be immediately obvious to many consumers”. In the last thirty years such things have been political suicide in the US, as living on credit for the moment has come to be viewed as almost a national right. Perhaps the new Prez is the man to move past that – I hope so – but it’s worth remembering he only got 53% of the actual popular vote, and many members of his own party are facing re-election in two years and need to make the public feel better right now.My one quibble on the McEwan article reflects my (often repeated) complaint about the current discourse on energy - the public stage is almost entirely occupied by those without practical experience. (Mr. Friedman from a previous article you linked is another example.) I believe Mr. McEwan got the state of carbon capture right (a nice change) but his discussion of solar is a bit over the top. One reason we haven't harvested solar and wind with great effect is intermittency, which we may be able to get around (batteries, etc.) But we can't get past the fact that solar and wind are very, very, very diffuse energy sources. Its much harder to deal with energy in that state. Think of how you feel warm and cozy by a nice fireplace. Now spread an hour's worth of that heat evenly around your whole house. You won't see that much of temperature change (unless you live in a cabin). Same amount of energy, but a different amount of usefulness, depending on concentration. And now try re-concentrating that heat back into the fireplace -- that is a good parallel to what solar and wind power generation try to do. It’s a tough chore. Gathering up energy that way in a magnitude close to what we generate now by traditional means is a truly mammoth task. (On the plus side, the energy itself is free and environmentally benign.) To end on a positive note, the cheapest, cleanest energy is that we don't use. So conservation should always be number one in any energy plan. Keep walking when possible, Frank!
'But having persuaded everybody else, he [Obama] may be doubly persuaded himself. This aura will be his empowerment, as numinous as good luck, as permanent as spring snow.'It certainly sounds as though McEwan doesn't believe it himself. He does rather like his irony.