The Age of the Airplane

I’m a airplane nut. Certifiable. I went to airplane Mecca in July – Oshkosh, Wisconsin. AirVenture is the week long celebration of flight at the headquarters of the Experimental Aircraft Association.

IMG_3438While there, I watched an incredible movie about airplanes and how they have revolutionized our lives in just a short amount of time. In about 100 years, one century, flight has progressed from fantasy and dreams to a common, everyday thing.

The Age of the Airplane, is narrated by Harrison Ford, and even if you are not an airplane nut, I think you will find the film fascinating. The cinematography is fantastic, with a lot of great shots of airplanes and beautiful vistas.

The film tells of how roses grown in Kenya end up in Alaska just 36 hours after being cut. The film explains that this is only possible because of the airplane.

However, I would add that there is another necessary ingredient, hydrocarbon fuel and lots of it. Airplanes, as much as I love them, are like a penguin without fuel, stuck on the ground.

I just want to be clear that the unprecedented high standard of living that you and I enjoy, is possible only because of inexpensive energy supplies, like coal, natural gas, gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. If these heretofore relatively abundant supplies of inexpensive fuels become less abundant and therefore more expensive, our standards of living will decline, maybe even precipitously.

That is why I promote nuclear fission energy, especially from the actinide element, thorium. There is enough energy in thorium and enough thorium for all of humanity to enjoy the energy rich standard of living that I currently do, for many millennia into the future. That includes the 3 billion people on this planet that currently do not have access to electricity.

If we pass up the opportunity to tap into the energy stored in the nuclei of thorium, uranium, or plutonium because of radiation phobia, Malthusian hand ringing, or rent seeking crony capitalists and the fossil fuels run out, my hangar could become a barn for draft animals and flying will become, once again, a dream. (And lots of people will die of starvation, too.)

bwr

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