American Technology: Physical and Intellectual Isolation's End
American Technology: Physical and Intellectual Isolation's End
The era of the 1860s through the 20th century was full of political drama, warfare, violence surrounding civil rights and economic problems. Despite all of these pitfalls, America still had times of prosperity and hope. One of the areas in which the United States of America saw evolution and growth, despite all the socio-economic/socio-cultural issues, post-war wake, and man's inhumanity to man, was in the sphere of technology.
Technology propelled the nation through these tumultuous times, and the ripples from this century and a half of America's history are still felt strongly today in the American market. The government's involvement in researching alternative methods of power has had a positive effect on the environment and, with time, the U.S. will increase its influence around the world. In addition to the political influences of technology, the commercial economy has also been enhanced through the research of various innovations, and individual families have been affected by advancements in healthcare, which is heavily dependent on the latest high-end machinery. Without a doubt, technological innovation is the cornerstone of the foundation which supports America's end of physical and intellectual isolation and the country's continuing involvement with technological evolution.
Because finances and human resources are scarce, government must decide where the funds will have the greatest impact. The effectiveness of government support for civilian technology has been noticed in previous decades. A crucial area of federal investment in technology development involves research and development (R&D) at federal laboratories and innovations research sponsored by the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency. The prospective roles of the organizations strengthen the United States in addition to supporting private sector technology development and commercialization (National Academies Press, 1992). Government grant funding is crucial in the area of alternative energy as America consumes an incredible amount of energy per year. It is imperative for both the environment and the people of America to invest in and benefit from the production of alternative forms of energy.
According to the National Research Council — regarding large-scale impacts from life-cycle assessment (LCA) — the renewable forms of energy are wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, tidal, bio-power, and storage. The LCA closely monitors the effects of greenhouse gases of carbon dioxide as well as non-carbon greenhouse gases, such as methane and nitrous oxides. All of this data is compiled in the form of net energy ratio (NER). Renewable energy sources generally have a greater energy ratio than energy from fossil fuels. As stated in the National Research Council's Electricity from Renewable Resources, “... renewable technologies tend to be higher than conventional energy ... they consume fewer resources” (National Research Council, 2010). This gain offers a positive argument for the funding of alternative energy and should not be overlooked.
Political and government funding in the form of grants offers energy companies the opportunity to further their R&D of renewable energy sources. However, there is a common misconception surrounding government funding, specifically in the form of grants. As the term is defined per grants.gov:
"Grants are not benefits or entitlements. A federal grant is an award of financial assistance from a federal agency to a recipient to carry out a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by a law of the United States. Federal grants are not federal assistance or loans to individuals."
With this oversight corrected, a completely new door of understanding and reasoning opens up in the minds of Americans: The future communities of America will depend on their respective environments.
The interests of the U.S. government concerning alternative methods of power have been molded in present-day America, with its beginnings during the end of the 19th century through the 20th century. Environmentally-friendly companies receive government grants for public services as well, which increases political favor amongst the people as they feel their governing authorities have their families' best interests in mind. As it is written in Apollo's Fire, “Today in American towns ... we are failing to invest in our people and in the places we call home, and many communities are hurting.” This statement is a beacon for government funding research to further improve the community, especially in America's post-twentieth century. As Inslee and Hendricks continue, “Even amid growth and prosperity, we are failing to invest in the basic infrastructure that makes our cities function” (Hendricks and Inslee, 2007). This failure to act could lead to the collapse of the nation, the economy, and the overall well-being of its people.
In accordance with the American Society of Civil Engineers, investment rates are declining, and they gave America a rather unsatisfactory grade of “D” for an estimated $1.6 trillion in infrastructure needs that were not met for the fiscal year of 2005. Population, gross domestic product (GDP), and demand has increased markedly in the last twenty years, but investment per year in electrical transmission mechanics took a sixty-percent plunge. This resulted in a complete pitfall in total capacity between the years of 1972 and 2000 (Inslee, Jay, & Hendricks, pg 133). The people of the country will need to be more aggressive and ambitious when it comes to investment in long-term aspects of social, political, and economic growth.
There is already an organization in place for America's blooming field of alternative energy. In 2007, the America's Energy Future (AEF) project was initiated by the National Academies. This project was created in order to facilitate a productive, ever-changing, malleable debate over the future of the country's energy (National Academies Press, pg. 329). Reputable, accountable, and responsible organizations such as the AEF are specifically being created to cradle and monitor the production, usage, and evolution of energy technologies. Without a doubt, the impact of these affiliations will have great consequence on the supply, demand, and reappraisal of dynamic energy technologies. The people of the country, as well as the environment, will benefit from the over-watch of energy production from the AEF and its subordinate industry.
In the near future, both the average consumer in the United States, as well as the investor looking for a positive net gain in the market, should feel more comfortable putting their time into this relatively new and promising field of alternative energy research, development and production. This will pave the way for a "resource-based economy", molding a better way of life for America's coming decades, and preserving the very land in which it thrives.
Aspray, W. and Campbell-Kelly, M. (2004). Computer: A History of the Information Machine. Westview Press. Boulder, CO.
GRANTS.GOV (2011). What is a Grant? Retrieved from http://www.grants.gov/aboutgrants/grants.jsp
Inslee, Jay, & Hendricks, Bracken (2007). Apollo's Fire: Igniting America's Clean-Energy Economy. Island Press.
National Academies Press (1992). Government Role in Civilian Technology: Building a New Alliance. National Academy of Sciences. Washington, DC, USA.
National Research Council (2010). Electricity from Renewable Resources: Status, Prospects, and Impediments. National Academies Press. Washington, DC, USA