I am--to no effect, but still--demanding a moratorium on the use of the phrase "We need a manhattan project for [energy independence/renewable energy/global warming]." I submit the following observations:
- The Manhattan Project had a relatively simple goal, blowing things up. We knew this goal was possible, because the sun was already doing it.
- At that, it consumed approximately 100% of the top physical science and engineering talent in the United States.
- The primary problem of renewable energy is finding a transmission/storage mechanism that is efficient enough to time-shift, or location-shift, somewhat unreliable energy sources that tend to be most powerful in places that no one wants to live because they are very windy mountaintops, or 100 degrees deserts. While the light battery we all ardently desire may exist somewhere out there in the platonic engineering ether where new devices waiting to be born, it also may not.
- Even if we found some magic device that would let us live without foreign oil, we would still be affected by changes in price of same because our trading partners use it.
- Energy independence and environmental soundness may be inversely correlated; the fastest and surest way to achieve it would be to convert our economy back to running on coal.
- The Manhattan Project was dedicated to producing a product of which the government was the only natural consumer, few other large capital aggregators being in the market for a device that would allow them to incinerate tens of thousands of potential consumers in one convenient dose.
- The spending of huge amounts of money on researching something does not actually guarantee that you will get the desired product out of your research. You wouldn't think it, to listen to various activists, but often all you get out of research is proof that something you hoped was possible, isn't.
- If we could, merely by being willing to spend unlimited sums, guarantee the production of the desired useful product, then we should stop messing around with renewable energy, and start researching a perpetual motion machine, which would cut our energy consumption by 100%.