In a dispatch here, with links back to several previous items, I quoted a reader who said that it was a fundamental conceptual error to compare a national push for clean energy with previous all-out efforts to go to the moon (Apollo Project) or build the atomic bomb (Manhattan Project). The technological challenges were different; the economic pressures and tradeoffs were different; the political realities were different -- and so on, to the extent that, according to several readers, we're better off not even mentioning the comparison.
A reader who blogs at Fabius Maximus writes now to somewhat different effect:
Have you read the Congressional Research Service report "The Manhattan Project, the Apollo Program, and Federal Energy Technology R&D Programs: A Comparative Analysis", by Deborah D. Stine (30 June 2009)? Esp note the comparisons of their size (funding).
Well, now I have! And I see, for instance, this chart, comparing spending patterns for each of the efforts. The red lines are "constant-dollar" (ie, fair) comparisons among the three, showing the wartime concentration on the Manhattan Project, the somewhat more-sustained and much more expensive investment in the Apollo Project, and the longer-run but lower lever of investment in energy programs, after the bulge of the Carter energy initiatives of the late 1970s: