Investing in Energy
By Michael Applebaum, MD, JD, FCLM
On August 14, 2003, shortly after 4 p.m.
EDT, power outages started, heralding the largest blackout in U.S. history. Over 9,300 square miles were affected including 80% of New
York state, parts of New England, Ohio and Michigan and the cities of
Toronto and Ottawa, Canada’s largest and capital cities, respectively.
Politicians quickly began finger pointing,
a dangerous thing to do in the dark since its always fun until someone gets
poked-in and loses an eye. Still,
in typical politician fashion, each claimed the prophetic ability of the Delphic
Oracle, and let the rest of us know that they “told us so.”
Funny how future-sight and hind-sight get confused when the lights go
Their consensus: money needs to be thrown
at the problem to fix it. Some
estimates have put the cost of bringing the power grid up to date as high as $56
Where will the money come from?
Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, appearing on CBS' "Face the
Nation,” told us. "Ratepayers
obviously will pay the bill because they're the ones who benefit."
This 56 billion dollar figure has shocked
many. Especially the ratepayers,
which means us.
As I look at the numbers, several
questions come to mind:
is the cost per capita if only those directly affected are paying?
is the cost per American?
does $56 billion compare to some other costs we incur?
were the resources for upgrading the energy grid that day?
The blackout affected 50 million people.
If each person involved anted up the dollars necessary to fix the grid,
it comes to $1120 (US).
If each American contributed, the amount becomes roughly $203.64 (US).
Compared to other costs we incur, the $56 billion fix looks like this:
It is 4.3% of the amount we spend on U.S. National Health Expenditures
It is 9.1% of the amount we spend on Diseases Related To Overeating and Inactivity
It is 36.3% of the amount we spend on Pharmaceuticals
It is 140% of the amount we spend Dieting
It is 165% of the amount we spend on Health Foods
It is 187% of the amount we spend on Alternative/Complementary Medicine
It is 329% of the amount we spend on Dietary Supplements
It is 409% of the amount we spend on Athletic Shoes
It is 459% of the amount we spend on Fitness Clubs
It is 7466% of the amount we spend on Cryonics (the Ted Williams Treatment)
The numbers show that the money we spend
killing and disabling ourselves from eating too much and exercising too little
is 11 times more than the cost of upgrading the entire nation’s electricity
During the blackout the resources to upgrade the energy grid were stored
as fat in the bodies of the 60% of American adults and 15% of children who are
"overweight" or "obese," including the approximately 500,000 persons who will die
prematurely from overeating and inactivity.
In the US, on average, each of us ingests
more than twice the number of calories we need.
This gluttony is killing and sickening us.
It is also breaking the national bank.
Rather than invest in our own health and
lives by preventing disease, we have chosen to squander resources on palliating
these avoidable problems. Resources
once consumed are gone forever.
Perhaps the real energy crisis was not the
one on August 14, 2003. Maybe it is
the one that keeps the light bulb from going off in our heads.