Edwin Black: Historian-journalist now taking on the energy crisis





If you’ve been watching television, reading newspapers or magazines, or are a regular visitor to automotive and political websites, you’ve heard about T. Boone Picken’s plan to help move America away from its dependency on foreign oil. The Pickens Plan calls for the substitution of foreign oil with domestically produced compressed natural gas and wind power. As much as I admire Boone Pickens and support The Pickens Plan, compared to the proposition laid out by Edwin Black in THE PLAN, it’s merely one narrow lane of Black’s all-encompassing /super-highway/ proposal (to use an apt metaphor).

I don’t know if Boone Pickens and Edwin Black have a personal relationship, but if their altruistic intentions for advancing their respective plans-of-salvation can be trusted (and there’s no reason why they can’t be) then the two should get together; they’d make a formidable team.

I first met Edwin at the 2006 Alt Car Expo in Santa Monica, California. He was scheduled to speak in the middle of two days of noteworthy lecturers and industry spokespersons, such as former CIA Director James Woolsey, California Cabinet Secretary Terry Tamminen, Actor/activist Ed Begley, and incoming California State Senator Fran Pavley. As informative and inspiring as the other speakers were, Edwin’s presentation “HOW WE BECAME ADDICTED TO OIL AND HOW TO BREAK THE ADDICTION RIGHT NOW” was all that, and more: it shocked the audience. It shocked because he talked about historical episodes that, frankly, I hoped wasn’t true. Information that sounded on the face of it as anti-American, anti-business rhetoric; and if I’m anything, it’s pro-American, pro-business.

As the presentation went on, and detailed reference sources were revealed, it became clear that like-it-or-not, I was hearing the truth. Later, after I had the chance to do some fact checking on my own, and find out more about Edwin Black, I realized that he’s neither anti-American nor anti-business, he’s just a damn good investigative journalist. Moreover, his revelations are not intended to destroy America or cherished business folklore but to illuminate the past and warn of a future that we may face, if we don’t take care now.

Edwin Black’s latest book, THE PLAN, sets up a realistic scenario in which the west and America must confront a catastrophic crisis (versus the “mere” escalation of oil prices to oppressive levels) in which foreign oil is cut off due to “petropolitical” design or terrorism. According to Edwin, the United States has no comprehensive plan of dealing with this kind of an emergency, other than buying our way out by agreeing to whatever economic and political demands are made by the antagonists.

THE PLAN spells out how and why catastrophe could occur, and it lays out who the global players are, both past and present. Remarkably, we learn that many of the most significant players were (until now) unknown, even to other significant global players.

Edwin and his team has amassed incredible statistics and details that illustrate the alarming depths to which past and present government and corporate conspiracies have enslaved to us to oil (foreign and domestic) and outmoded transportation vehicles that won’t allow us to escape from oil.

Over the past few years, when I have had occasion to write about the insane rise in oil and gasoline prices, I often received criticism from someone who thinks that it’s just the /laws of supply and demand/ at work. I guess they took an economic class in high school. When you read THE PLAN you realize that it’s not supply and demand to blame for high prices, it is manipulation and greed.

The historical data contained in the first three chapters alone make the book invaluable because this one-stop repository of information would be virtually impossible for anyone with less of a research staff to compile.

Beginning with Chapter 4, Edwin proposes “the plan” to get America out of a catastrophic oil crisis. The plan is a multi-stage deployment of actions, which, as the author readily admits, are not without severe restrictions and societal limitations. However, he points out that we’ve had to endure many of these same restrictions, in one way or another, during other times of emergency and that we’ve always come out to the better.

The plan recognizes the importance of American natural gas, as an immediate answer to rising gasoline prices, to staving off a catastrophic event from ever occurring in the first place, and as the primary bridging fuel source should a catastrophe occur. And like the comments made by Boone Pickens during his keynote speech at The Future Is Green Conference last week (when he stated that he’s for all solutions to the problem, as long as they’re American solutions), THE PLAN’s plan envisions using all fuel and mechanical solutions, with consideration given to regional availability, as long as the solutions free us from foreign oil dependency.

Other than the incredible intellectual benefit from the content in THE PLAN, there are three things that I really like about the book. First, it’s non-partisan: As far as I can tell, the book blames neither the Republicans nor Democrats more than the other. As an aside, I think they’re at fault and should be equally horsewhipped along with their industrial co-conspirators. THE PLAN offers no suggestion as to which party would do a better job at implementing the suggestions, so regardless of which candidate is elected in November, either could adopt the plan without the stigma that he’s using the other guy’s program.

Second, the solutions set forth in THE PLAN are not magical or unattainable. They’re really just good common sense suggestions (as the author himself states). Moreover, most of the plan could and should be put immediately into play by the new President (during the traditional Congressional “honeymoon” period), regardless of who wins and regardless of whether we have entered the catastrophic stage of the energy crisis. It would be far better to do it now before we’re counting the days until the foreign oil in our storage tanks runs out.

And the third aspect of THE PLAN that I thought was terrific is its timeliness. Owing to modern publishing methods, books no longer have to be finished many months in advance, with their information becoming stale. THE PLAN is not only hot-off-the-press, some of the information is now, literally written just a few days ago. THE PLAN includes developments in the auto and energy industries that just occurred.



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