Monday, May 12, 2008

Worth Fighting For

The domestic agenda can be properly understood only in an international and historical context. Carl Bosch provides a vivid example of the intersection of science, capital, and politics. He came to prominence with the discovery of a procedure to make ammonia. By facilitating the production of the key element in fertilizer, the Haber-Bosch process would advance human well-being. But just as important was its role in producing explosives and chemical warfare agents.

In the 1920s, Carl Bosch was predicting peak oil. He turned his agile mind toward developing synthetic fuels. The capital requirements were so huge that IG Farben, the company Bosch founded, turned to the Reich for help. The program of self-sufficiency dovetailed nicely with Hitler's massive military rearmament program.

Currently, the alternative fuel industry is burgeoning. Citizens are enticed with dreams of maintaining luxurious lifestyles which incur less financial and environmental cost. The power politicians see a Leviathan unbound from the physical constraints of fuel imports and critics complaining about domestic burdens of foreign intervention. Overall, any advance on the energy front is likely to exacerbate global conflict.

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