The Energy in Science Fiction

September 30, 2017

E.E. Smith (1890-1965), American food engineer and science fiction writer

By Anthony Caldarelli, volunteer chairman of Pennsylvania Vets4Energy.

Like most Americans I have been following the coverage of the devastation wrought by the hurricanes in Texas and Florida and the food, potable water and gasoline shortages which stretch far beyond the areas impacted by the storms.  It triggered a couple of memories. 

As a kid I loved reading Science Fiction, like the novels of E. E. "Doc" Smith.  Smith was a Chemical Engineer and the characters in his stories always seemed to be searching for more energy to . . . do something . . . solve a problem . . . create a better situation.  At the time it seemed odd to me, this preoccupation with energy. 

Fast forward to me as a young Infantry officer studying WW II.  One of the pivotal battles of the European Theater, the Battle of The Bulge was very much shaped by (pun intended) the ability of each side to get fuel to the battle.  Although the allies certainly had issues in this area (GEN George Patton famously raged that he would “shoot the next man who brings me food. Give us gasoline; we can eat our belts.”), the Germans lost the fuel supply race, and the battle and ultimately the war.

Well, now I understand.  We need energy to . . . do something . . . solve problems . . . create better situations. 

It takes energy to move food, potable water, medicine, building supplies; everything they need in Texas and Florida to start putting lives back together.  It makes me wonder why people work [protest] to stop pipelines, new refineries, and other energy infrastructure.  I understand and applaud our collective concern for the environment but, for example, the Keystone XL Pipeline was proven (by five, yes five environmental impact studies) to be more environmentally friendly than the alternate methods to transport that oil so, where is the sense in stopping it? 

Like Doc Smith's characters and Patton's 3rd Army, people today need energy to solve problems and create a better situation. Why would you interfere with that for no good reason?


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