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October 14, 2005 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-10-14

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, October 14, 2005

OPINION

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JASON Z. PESICK
Editor in Chief

SUHAEL MOMIN
SAM SINGER
Editorial Page Editors

ALISON Go
Managing Editor

EDITED AND MANAGED BY STUDENTS AT
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN SINCE 1890
420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
We're never
going to back down,
we 're never going to
give in, we'll never
accept anything
less than total
victory."
- President Bush, speaking Thursday to troops
in Tikrit, Iraq during a White House telecon-
ference, as reported yesterday by CNN.com.

MICHELLE BIEN T ,-m BE ."RIUE
MADE ITS WAY "M ThKsMAKE
Et < < t
~a
&*IT S A MIRA -.e Ti4AT ifiJOSI Y Su&VIVES FORML.. ECptcATioA~'"

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Moving past oil
BRIAN SLADE GLOBAL CURRENTS

44

Video footage of
an oil platform
that Hurricane
Katrina blew into a bridge
was symbolic of the world's
growing energy problem. It
was on that same morning
that the price for a barrel
of oil exceeded $70, mark-
ing the highest oil price
(adjusted for inflation) in
decades. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the
high price of oil is arguably a sign of a healthy
and robust economy. Unlike past oil price spikes,
this one is not being caused by a choke on sup-
plies by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting
Countries, but rather by increased demand caused
by the industrialization of many formerly undevel-
oped countries.
The fact that high oil prices reflect record lev-
els of consumption should highlight the inherent
problems of oil and the risks to the world of its
finite supply. Now more then ever, we need to get
serious about the future of energy. Several fac-
tors are combining to increase the severity of the
energy situation and its effect on the environment.
The most obvious of these factors is the inevitable
exhaustion of oil reserves. Experts debate on when
exactly this will happen, with estimates ranging
from a decade to a half century. The development
of newly industrialized countries like China and
India is only speeding this process. The issue of oil
has also proven to be divisive between the United
States and China. The race to secure the remain-
der of the world's known reserves is stressing the
economic and political relationships between the

two countries.
Every day it becomes more and more apparent
that our dependence on fossil fuels is damaging
the environment and that global warming is a fact
rather than some liberal myth. Scientists believe
that the world is currently warming at a rate of 5 to
6 degrees Fahrenheit per century. By comparison,
the average world temperature has only increased
by 5 or 6 degrees in the past 18,000 years - indi-
cating that it probably isn't part of the climate's
natural cycle.
It's easy to dismiss a problem like global
warming that may not completely manifest itself
for decades or even centuries, but there are many
more pressing environmental concerns. Recently-
industrialized countries are literally choking to
death on the enormous amounts of air pollution
spewing from archaic factories.
While the administration has praised the
recently passed energy bill, it does little in the way
of funding renewable energy resources. In fact,
even though oil companies are reaping remarkable
profits from record oil prices, the new bill funnels
$9 billion into the oil and gas industry by way of
tax credits and incentives.
Instead, more money needs to be invested in
renewable energy: solar, wind, hydrogen, photo-
voltaic cells and others. Of these, hydrogen is the
most promising in terms of the amount of energy
it has the potential to provide. Using electrolysis
- the process by which hydrogen is separated
from oxygen in water - hydrogen can be cleanly
created with the only by-product being mundane
oxygen gas. Researchers have been able to success-
fully use electrolysis for years, but the electricity
needed to run electrolysis is still often generated

from fossil fuels - which brings back the need for
a clean energy source. Furthermore, the costs of
electrolysis currently exceed the value of the ener-
gy derived from it. The roadblock now is making
it efficient and cost effective for widespread use.
The government needs to do more to help this
process by awarding tax credits and incentives
to those companies doing the most research and
development in alternative forms of energy.
In the private sector, an infrastructure for large-
scale research already exists. The oil companies
clearly have an interest in the next generation of
energy because they'll be hard pressed for busi-
ness when the oil wells dry up. British Petroleum
has dropped its traditional name for simply BP
and in its advertising, the more forward-looking
name "Beyond Petroleum."
However, shifting from an oil economy to a
hydrogen economy will require massive govern-
ment assistance and oversight. And it certainly
won't happen overnight. But a transition to a hydro-
gen economy is inevitable. Other energy alterna-
tives simply don't have the ability to provide the
capacity of energy to totally replace oil, coal and
natural gas. Hydrogen does. Three-fourths of the
planet is covered in water. It will be difficult for
politicians to wrench themselves away from the
overpowering lobbying presence of oil interests,
which is why having the oil companies initiating
the change themselves is the most attractive path.
Gas prices exceeding $3 a gallon at the pumps
should be a loud wake-up call to Americans that
its time for a change.

4

Slade can be reached at
bslade@ umich.edu.

The 'Trust Me' president
WHITNEY DIBO ENTER STAGE LEFT

-1

The luxury to fund itself
Skyboxes would sustain Athletic Dept programs

ur athletic department needs
more money. One plan that has
been proposed is the construc-
tion of luxury boxes at the Big House.
A recent Daily editorial (Saving the Big
House, 10/10/2005) denounced the idea,
arguing, among other things, that these
boxes would ruin the tradition of our
sacred stadium. But I ask you: How
would they do that?
Luxury boxes in the stadium would
neither erase the team's 11 national
championships, nor void a single one of
its bowl appearances. Players who won
the Heisman while donning the maize
and blue would not have their award
stripped. Nor would the changes affect
the time-honored tradition of tailgaiting.
The editorial mentions that the only logo
in the stadium is the field's block M, that
there are no banners. That would still be
true, as well.
The other argument against the con-
struction of these boxes is that the Ath-
letic Department, currently operating a
"multi-million-dollar operating surplus,"
does not need the added revenue that
would be generated by the project. The
department did indeed project a $2.4
million surplus for the 2005 fiscal year,
down from $8 million the year before.
But it is important to remember that the
department was in the red when Athletic
Director Bill Martin took over and that
he has stressed that it is a struggle to
balance the department's budget every
year. Add to that the fact that there are
expensive renovations, which the Daily
has admitted are necessary for the Big
House, and it is hard to argue that the
department is guaranteed to continue
running such a surplus.
This is especially true given that the

Athletic Department is under pressure
not to renew its Nike contract when it
comes to an end in 2008. The contract
provides $2 million in cash annually, on
top of $1.2 million worth of equipment,
thus being worth $3.2 million - more
than 2005's operating surplus.
There are small club teams on cam-
pus that deserve to be varsity sports.
One example is the men's rowing team,
which has finished in the nation's top 10
multiple times while competing against
teams with full varsity funding. And,
because of Title IX, it is necessary for
the Athletic Department to bump up a
woman's team along with a men's team.
This means that the department would
have to add the budgets of two, not one,
varsity programs to its budget. It is not
simply a matter of allocation of funds.
The department would be reckless in
promising two new teams full funding
from here to eternity because it has run
a small surplus the last few years, espe-
cially considering that it was absolutely
unable to do so only a few years prior.
The Daily wants the Athletic Depart-
ment to fund a project that will cost tens of
millions of dollars through alumni dona-
tions. These alumni would be expected
to donate millions more year after year
to prop up the Athletic Department. The
department can't continue to have its
contract with Nike, it can't advertise in
the stadium, it surely can't take money
from our tuition. So, from where is it to
get money? Let it build luxury boxes,
they aren't going to hurt you.
Reggie Brown is an LSA junior, a Daily
editorial board member and has been a
member of the men's rowing team. He
can be reached at reginalb@umich.edu

'm a bit confused
about the uproar from
the right over Presi-
dent Bush's most recent
U.S. Supreme Court
y nomination. Yes, Harriet
Miers has few qualifica-
tions and little experience
in constitutional law. And
granted, maybe she isn't
the outspoken, identifi-
ably conservative nominee the right was hoping
for - but I thought we were supposed to uncon-
ditionally trust the discretion of our president.
Isn't that what the government has asked us the
past - to put blind faith in our highest office?
Despite obvious blunders and a consistent lack
of justification, conservatives have told us to just
trust him. Yet, as Bush calls upon our trust again
with the nomination of Harriet Miers, the right
doesn't seem to be in such a trusting mood. A
swig of their own medicine, perhaps, has made
them sick to their stomach.
The double standard here is obvious. Liberals
were asked to quiet their objections back in 2003
when unsubstantiated claims of "weapons of mass
destruction" instigated the invasion of Iraq. Even
though Bush could not offer any definitive evi-
dence that Iraqis were concocting such weapons,
he requested America give him the benefit of the
doubt. After all, he would never put "our boys" in
harm's way unless he was completely sure it was
necessary. He asked Americans to trust him and
to trust his elusive intelligence - but when it was
time to bring home the weapons of mass destruc-
tion bacon, America went to bed hungry. How-
ever, when the left questioned the validity of the

invasion, it was met with sharp criticism -- and
labeled unpatriotic.
Now with his Supreme Court nomination, Bush
again is asking the country to trust him. But this
time, now that conservatives have something to
lose, a mere leap of faith isn't good enough.
The nomination was a bait and switch, and
right-wing loyalists felt betrayed - perhaps right-
fully so. This was their chance to alter the balance
of the Supreme Court - to leave their mark on
issues like abortion, gay marriage and the role
of religion in public life. This was Bush's time to
reward his loyal right-wing base with the hard-line
conservative justice he had promised to deliver.
But Miers's ambiguous political views and thin
record left conservatives deflated, shaking their
heads at the missed opportunity.
Yet despite the legitimacy of their grievances,
the hypocrisy is striking. The right has consis-
tently demanded trust in the president, but the
moment their own needs aren't met, the united
front crumbles. Liberals have been chastised for
undermining the president's authority, but when
push came to shove, the right's trust proved
equally as flimsy.
Ironically, by appointing Miers, Bush is only
following precedent his party has set in the past.
Conservatives have given Bush permission to fol-
low his instincts and have even given him extreme
latitude when these instincts proved wrong. They
have made it clear that whatever Bush says goes,
so shouldn't they take their own advice and trust
their fearless leader?
The answer of course, is no. Michael Brown,
former chief operating officer of Federal Emer-
gency Management Agency, is an unfortu-
nate emblem of what can happen when we put.

unquestioning faith in the president's discretion.
"Brownie" buckled under the pressure of Hurri-
cane Katrina and proved clueless and ineffective
when the country needed him most. But consid-
ering his only qualifications prior to his 2003
appointment to FEMA head man was running
the International Arabian Horse Association
- is anyone surprised? When a president makes
an appointment, we trust at minimum the per-
son will be competent - particularly when lives
are at stake. But here again Bush let his country
down by rewarding an inexperienced friend with
a crucial federal position.
The Senate cannot set the precedent that a
Supreme Court nomination is just another reward
to be won by close friendship to the president.
Despite the obvious double standard, both parties
have a responsibility to ensure Miers is qualified
to take a position on the federal bench. If con-
firmed, this woman will shape our laws, our lives,
the lives of our children - this is no time for
blind faith. If Miers proves to be the crony many
fear her to be, both parties have the duty to reject
her confirmation.
In the meantime, the right needs to examine the
hypocrisy in its objection to Miers and the double
standard it has set for the country. Whether it is a
foreign invasion, a high-ranking appointment or a
judicial nomination, this country must operate on
a system of checks and balances - not trust. We
cannot set a standard that facts are gratuitous and
a leap of faith is sufficient. Republicans need to
remember this every day, not just when their own
party suffers from Bush's trust-me politics.
Dibo can be reached at
wdibo@umich.edu.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Maize out to defend Big
House against Penn State
TO THE DAILY:
We are at a crossroads in our football tradition.
The 2005 Michigan Wolverines set out with the
goal to win in Pasadena for the national title. As
this dream slipped away, our team and our tradi-
tion found itself lost, without an identity and little
confidence. Regardless of the opponent on Satur-
day, we are Michigan, and that means something
more than statistics, records or standings. We
cannot lose the swagger, the intensity, the fire that
more than 100 years of history has built and is the

only effective if there is 100 percent participation.
The team needs us - and we need it. Only when
we feed off of each other's energy can we come
away with the victory.
Some would argue that this is Michigan's dark-
est hour. Indeed, the situation looks grim, but
this has the potential to be our finest hour. How
we conduct ourselves in the face of adverse odds
will reveal the strength of our loyalty and serve
as a true test of our devotion as fans. Take it one
game at a time, and never forget that one game can
change everything.
We leave you with this quote from former
football coach and Athletic Director Fielding

Word search would appeal
to barely literate masses
who can't do crossword
TO THE DAILY:
For four years now, it has been my
dream to open up the paper in the middle of
class and see a word search accompanying
the crossword puzzle. By taking this inno-
vative step, your paper would have more
appeal to the masses, especially to those
who don't have the intellect necessary to
complete a crossword puzzle. Could you

"In Dissent" opinions do not reflect the views of the Daily's editorial board. They
are solely the views of the author.

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