Selfish Hippies in the late Jurassic period

I write for a humor blog with two friends, James Malins and Cherie Michiko, called Misusing Big Words. This post was originally published here:
http://misusingbigwords.blogspot.com/2008/04/selfish-hippies-in-late-jurassic-period.html
We could learn something from the dinosaurs. Well, something besides how best to eat a human in two bites.

I was in the Natural History Museum in Mesa, AZ, not far from Phoenix, and I saw something peculiar. Actually, I saw more than one peculiar thing, but I’m not even going to get started on feathered dinosaurs. No, the peculiar thing I saw was a description of a stegosaurus that said the plates on their back were thought to soak up heat in the cold seasons and give off heat in the warm seasons to help regulate the body temperature. And even though this idea is apparently heavily debated in the scientific community, it got me thinking.

If the dinosaurs were using solar energy, couldn’t we be using it, too?

Ever since I got a solar-powered calculator for school many years ago, I’ve always wondered why we couldn’t use the same technology to power our cars or our houses or our world. Since then, I’ve realized some of that may be flights of fancy: after all, if you are working outside and some clouds come in, with a calculator all you would lose is the ability to do big-numbered math problems, but with a solar-powered car, when the solar power goes away you may be stuck out in the middle of Middle America, with no civilization within a thousand miles.

But the idea is still sound. I still don’t understand why people are getting government funding for these “biofuels” like ethanol when we could spend a few extra bucks today to make a fleet of electric cars, then another few bucks to cover every rooftop in any sunny city with solar panels so that we could have power to charge those electric cars. Heck, we could even just cover a bunch of the desert with solar panels. That exact idea was suggested on an episode of The West Wing a few years back. The only major problem was manufacturing enough solar panels. Bust out a good tax incentive and I’m sure we’d see plenty of innovation and rapid manufacturing.

The main point behind all of this business is that I don’t get why we’re freaking out about saving the world and conserving energy when we’ve got a sun that’s crazy hot and that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, constantly providing enough energy to power the country, or the world. Let the government go a little bit deeper into debt today and we’ll be reaping the rewards in cashmoney savings for years.

Do we really want to be looked at as stupider than the dinosaurs or Transformers? Let’s take a cue from the solar-powered stegosaurus, start thinking large scheme and long term, and keep saving money while saving the world.

PS Happy Earth Day, everybody.
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