Project FREE: The Next Manhattan Project Both Candidates Should Embrace

Posted by: eric on October 21, 2008 at 7:33 pm

Since the oil crunch of the 1970s, America’s unsustainable reliance on fossil fuels has hovered at the fringes of national consciousness. But not until this year has it taken center stage in a presidential race. Today, with gas over four dollars a gallon, a sputtering economy, oil-linked wars threatening the Middle East, and climate change heating up, voters are finally demanding action.

Unfortunately, both presidential campaigns are allowing energy issues to get sucked into the black hole of simplistic gimmicks and short-term thinking that makes most Americans disgusted with politics-as-usual. Are media-hyped spitting matches over tire gauges, a summer gas-tax holiday, and Paris Hilton’s “energy plan” really the best we can expect?

We need to invent our way out of the energy mess, and soon. But it’s not the first time we’ve faced a seemingly impossible technological challenge. In 1962, John F. Kennedy set the daunting goal of sending a man to the moon and returning him safely to Earth within a decade.

Kennedy was taking a page from the playbook of World War Two. Like the Apollo moon landing project, the Manhattan Project was an audacious technological challenge that an earlier generation of Americans had met, keeping us free by developing atomic weapons just months ahead of our Nazi enemies.

The next administration should implement Project FREE, a massive national program, like the Apollo Space Program or Manhattan Project, to innovate the next generation of carbon-emission-free energy based on hydrogen, fusion, or other technologies.

The ultimate goal is to take Americans “off the grid” in the next 15 years; to end our dependence on centralized energy in favor of power sources generated at the point of consumption—the car, home, business, or factory—thereby liberating us from the limiting factors introduced by long-distance transmission and its regulatory roadblocks.

Project FREE must be a national program driven by the president, created with cabinet-level authority, endowed with $30 to $40 billion in funding per year, and, like the Federal Reserve, independent of partisan machinations. It should be established with powers akin to those granted high-priority wartime programs, so as to remove all clearance and cooperation impediments that might otherwise slow its progress. But it should be temporary, as permanent bureaucracies tend to become special interests, intent on prolonging their own existence rather than on getting the job completed. The legislation creating the project must mandate its dismantling either upon fulfillment of its commission or after fifteen years have passed, whichever comes first.

Forty billion dollars may sound expensive. But it barely equals the 2007 after-tax profits posted by Exxon Mobil ($40.61 billion), and it’s dwarfed by the hundreds of billions being spent on the war in Iraq and the $700 billion we are currently paying foreign oil suppliers, many of which are enemies.

Project FREE is not about incremental technology, like improving the 100-plus-year-old coal, gas, and oil platforms we use today. It’s about innovations that can free us of foreign oil dependence and conflict, restore the environment by eliminating carbon emissions, make energy cheap and plentiful, and provide an incredible growth and job engine for the American economy. The United States has an intrinsic innovation advantage over the rest of the world, and we must not squander the opportunity to lead and own the most important inventions in energy.

Perhaps the most exciting possibility is energy based on hydrogen or on fusion reactions, the source of the sun’s own energy. Science-fiction fantasy? Not really. Fusion power is one of 14 “Grand Challenges for Engineering” selected by the National Academy of Engineering in February 2008, as top priorities for the 21st century.

For politicians, who are always looking over their shoulders at the next election, Project FREE would also be a winning political move. It could capture the long-term allegiance of the future’s most potent political force—the largest generation in American history, the 95 million youth often called the Millennials. According to a massive research study that I sponsored and was conducted by the respected Gerstein | Agne research organization, the Millennial generation is primed to rally around Project FREE.

Ninety-four percent of the Millennials we surveyed agreed that, “Our country must take extreme measures now, before it is too late, to protect the environment and begin to reverse the damage we have done.” Seventy-four percent agreed that, “We must make major investments now to innovate the next generation of non-fossil fuel based energy solutions.” And seventy percent endorsed the idea that America should, “Launch a concerted national effort, similar to the Apollo Program that put a man on the moon, with the goal of moving America beyond fossil fuels and inventing the next generation of energy, based on new technologies such as hydrogen or fusion.”

Project FREE is ambitious, and except for the opposition it will attract from entrenched interest groups, it is not controversial. Plus, as our study showed, it will be eagerly supported by the greatest generational power bloc of the next several decades.

Project FREE has the potential to be the cornerstone of a powerful bipartisan agenda, embodying goals both liberals and conservatives can embrace: energy independence, enhanced national security, economic revitalization, and environmental protection, all produced by American ingenuity.

Maybe it takes a life-or-death threat to mobilize a great national effort. We are at that point today. Whichever party promotes and implements Project FREE will seize the moral and political high ground from which to command the allegiance of the Millennial generation for decades to come. It’s a winning gambit available for the asking. Any takers?

7 Responses to “Project FREE: The Next Manhattan Project Both Candidates Should Embrace”

  1. Makram Says:

    Dr Makram Samaan,PHD
    Licensed Clinical (Positive) Psychologist 8868 Bluff Lane, Fair Oaks, CA95628 Transformational Success Coaching Phone (916)220-7027
    Innovative Enterprises International,LLC Fax(515)454-8427

    If they know, Racism would have been cured

    “Ye shall know the truth,
    and the truth shall make you free.”
    J o h n 8 : 3 2

    I came to understand that we are all connected,
    as a species and as a planet. We are all related,
    genetically proven to be descendants of a single
    ancestral woman who lived in Africa some 140,000
    years ago. Thus, there is no separateness of people
    from our Creator or each other. We are here to
    learn and evolve as souls, and this journey we call
    life is about having a higher purpose and meaning
    beyond satisfaction of our senses and accumulating
    possessions. Eric H. Greenberg,The We Generation,2008

    Whereas,The excavations of Archeological ,Paleoanthropologist and Paleoantiologist scientists over the last two centuries, have uncovered the origins of our humanity is in Africa. Relics dated no less than 3,000,000 years show the origins of hominids were found in East Central Africa. “Humans evolved in Africa,” Professor,Ernst mayr. The first erected human is aged about 135,000- 160,000 years, was discovered in Ethiopia (black Africa). So,too the first Civilizations 50,000 to 10,000 years ago( Egypt, Senrgal and the Dogon) were born in (black) Africa- the mother of all civilizations, including Greece,the Western and American civilizations.

    Whereas, The global gene survey that was conducted by a group of Italian Bio-scientists (1994). The genes were collected from a huge sample of people from Europe, Asia, north and South America. The results were a sounding proof that the genes go back to our single origins in Africa.
    (Sforza C, et al: the Historical Geography of Genes, 1994).

    Why are they black? You ask. Africa was and still sunny and hot. Our ancestors were equipped with the hormone Melanin, which caused the black pigment to protect their skin from the burning by the Ultra Violet Rays of the Sun .

    Whereas, our Homo Erectus ancestors moved north and migrated – around 160,0000 evolutionary years ago, towards the icy-cold climate in Eurasia, the melanin became useless and unnecessary, they lost the hormone that caused the protective blackness. The Eurasian man was bleached – so to speak—and became white. You wonder why you and I use varieties of lotions to cover our white skin from the Sun rays- while our Afro-American black brothers and sisters do not- actually to compensate for the lost melanin.

    Whereas, Racism was born only from the cruelty and greed of the white capitalists and Feudal dynasties, to enslave their brothers and sisters of Africa, for cheap labor. If we really believe in our religions, then atonement is in order.

    Whereas, if we all knew our Evolutionary history, racism would have been melted down, because we know that we are all brothers and sisters.

    Whereas, Jews, Christians and Moslems, if they really believe in their Holly Books, they would have known and believed that humanity descended from Adam and Eve, the Father and Mother of us all, all humanity according to the religious CREATION ethos, and racism would have not been born.

    Whereas, finally looking back to American modern history, we would have found that American wealth has been built on the sweat of the SLAVES, our BLACK brothers and sisters.


  2. Gregory Louie Says:

    Imagine a world where every citizen has the capability of producing his/her own carbon-neutral fuel. The choices for fuel consumption would be out of the hands of large organizations and in the hands of private ordinary citizens. How would that transform the world?

    Now consider how easy it is to grow algae. Anyone familiar with how hard it is to keep a fish tank clean will know what I mean.

    As much as 50% of an algae’s weight is oil. IMHO, local food production coupled with local algae biofuel and energy production minimizes the ecological footprint, empowers the local economy, and may even change the very nature of national politics.

    Our American history is the history of individual small farmers, inventors, tinkerers and entrepreneurs. Those individuals have made America great. What if we empowered people to be innovators, to grow their own biofuels, to optimize their own production processes and to use what they grow. The solution lies in education that leads to a renaissance in American ingenuity.

    I believe in decentralization, in sparking a thousand innovations, in empowering those individuals to generate local economies with local food and energy harvests. Yes, petition for a massive political movement, but at the same time do not depend on a failed corrupt political system to provide real solutions from above. The solutions will rise from the ground up.

    Just my two cents folks.

  3. Joel Koman Says:

    I will join you… I believe we should be trying to promote a private group..privately funded..with credible leadership that will require the attention of the government and big business; in conjunction with your idea. Please contact me …I would love to help and have some creative ideas

    Joel Koman

  4. JoshERTW Says:

    There is a non-profit organization currently operating and striving towards this precise goal, decentralized, point of use energy production. Even with limited funding, they are making progress, I have been following their news updates for months now. It is called the Orion Project, and is worth taking a look at. It is spearheaded by a scientist who has seen firsthand the suppression of promising energy technology through his work with high levels of government, and he has decided that enough is enough.

    If these guys had the funding you have proposed we would already be seeing results. They are struggling to raise a few hundred thousand right now to build a secure and technologically viable research facility.

  5. Wendy Darling Says:

    Having just written the following to the Obama transition team via their website at, I thought it would also be pertinent here:

    Please don’t overlook other new energy-source alternatives besides the currently accepted (but not very efficient) applications of wind and solar power. There are several other approaches being worked on by individuals, often without proper support such as:

    various uses of HHO gas (welding, enhanced automobile fuel efficiency)

    the low-input water-heating technique called the ‘water hammer’

    breakthroughs in cold fusion

    as well as waste recycling
    thermal depolarization (turning garbage dumps to fuel)
    Paul Stamets (recycling oil waste)

    and alternatives to chemical pesticides, etc.

    Thank you for your attention to this!
    * * * * *

    These alternatives should be of interest to all who want to educate themselves about alternate sustainable energy sources and recycling. Hopefully, it will spark interest in undertaking further research or support for these and other alternatives!

  6. Pirsey Says:

    I follow your blog for quite a long time and must tell you that your posts are always valuable to readers.

  7. Cleo Orrill Says:

    Great site, I actually discovered it to be informative. I am looking forward to visiting over again to see what’s new.