Advise and Dissent: Harvey Monaghan


What would you like to tell president-elect Barack Obama? Advise and Dissent features opinions on what the new president should be thinking and doing.

Dear President Obama:
America needs a dream and a person to sell the dream. Thankfully, in you, America now has the person, and inimitable hope that there will be positive change in the country’s financial, social and political direction.

America, however, still needs a dream that will galvanize its citizens – a goal that is intellectually elite, but simply stated; one that is ambitious and far reaching but within our grasp; and one that will reclaim America’s place as world leader in ideology as well as action.

Harvey Monaghan is an Australian who is now living and working in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, P.R. China. Jennifer Holder is a Minnesotan who also works in China, and edited this submission.

I suggest that that goal should be, “To secure energy that is efficient, sustainable and affordable, and moreover independent of oil rich nations.”

America has allowed itself to be distracted by roller coaster oil prices since the 1970’s. It’s time for America to say, ‘enough is enough; we will not be at the mercy of others.’ America needs to say with determination, ‘we will develop energy supplies for the people at affordable prices for the future, and without destroying the environment.’ That needs to be our goal.

The application by which America can achieve this goal is with the use of technology. America has proven in the past it’s brilliance in the development of sophisticated technology. American technology won World War II, for example in the speed and quality of ship building, among other war equipment and machinery.

Two decades later, the power of America’s technological genius was again demonstrated in the development of the exceedingly successful space program, which is the pride of all Americans, and can even be described as the envy of other nations. President Kennedy set a goal to put a man in space and despite other challenges, such as the Vietnam War, America achieved that goal.

Now is the time for America to rediscover its technological brilliance, by focusing on an energy program that can not only improve national security, and reduce its dependence on other nations, but also help to alleviate the fears many people have about the country’s energy supply. People are nervous about energy. In fact, one could say it’s a real fear – heating their homes in the winter, cooling them in the winter, and filling their vehicles with gas.

America has abundant solar energy throughout its territory, but not the technology to use it effectively and efficiently. There is abundant geothermal energy, but again, the problem is, the technology to harness that source of energy it is not currently available. Solar energy and geothermal energy are two energy sources that I think are in excess supply in the country right now, and I am sure there are many more.

President-elect Obama, I encourage you to set the goal that the U.S.A. will have a solar panel that is 80% efficient rather than the current 5% efficiency. Set the goal that the enormous geothermal energy of the Yellowstone National Park region will be made useful before it becomes destructive to America.

If that goal is set, America will be on course to be truly energy independent and be a role model once again for developing nations, which it arguably has not been for the last forty years.

I am not officially a citizen of the U.S.A., but I have studied American history, visited your country many times, and have worked with many Americans. I am convinced that America has the incredible ability to transform itself. I believe America is at a crossroads and is not only ready, but anxious, for a rebirth. President-elect Obama, as a citizen of the world, I wish you and your country much success.

Harvey Monaghan
November 25, 2008
Hangzhou, Zhejiang, P.R. China