Ben Blumberg, Power Systems Program Manager in Sunnyvale, Calif., has a solution to the energy problem that should be followed up.
Blumberg wants to supply the entire country with pedal machines, similar to stationary bicycles, and have Americans produce their own power while they are doing something else.
He says, "A 150-pound person walking up a flight of steps in 10 seconds produces power at the rate of 200 watts. A person can easily produce the same amount of energy riding a bicycle.
"If each person in the United States was given a pedal machine connected to a generator, the total energy output would equal 40 nuclear power plants.
"Operation of these machines for just four hours a day would save 100 million barrels of oil burned to generate electricity each year.
"Since everyone over 14 years old would be getting one it would only cost the government $10 a machine."
Blumberg advocates putting machines in schools, where children could generate their own electricity while they were learning. The machines would replace desks and the children would be getting much needed exercise from which they would all benefit.
Local, state and federal employes would also be required to generate electricity while checking out forms, and white-collar workers in the private sector would have to produce their own heat and air-conditioning before they could have their first coffee break.
The Blumberg Energy Plan would also include the housewife. With a few simple changes in oven design, a homemaker could cook meals while exercising. By eliminating heat loss from an oven, a five-pound roast could be cooked medium rare in about two hours after preheating the oven. If the housewife wanted to go to a movie she could, of course, pedal faster.
Blumberg advocates a plan whereby each family would be solely responsible for the amount of energy it produced. Everyone's meter would be set to zero as soon as they received their pedal machines.
If they produced more electricity than they needed (a family of four who pedaled every night while watching television could easily do it), the government would buy the excess energy from them and sell it to someone who didn't want to pedal that week. This would be an incentive for families who would like to earn extra spending money while doing something together.
Blumberg is aware that this would not fulfill the country's total energy needs, but he feels that if everybody receiving unemployment insurance is required to pedal five hours a day before collecting their checks, it will take care of most of the country's industrial needs.
"We waste two-thirds of our present fuel when we burn it for electricity now. But pedal-produced energy, which goes directly into a generator, is 97 percent efficient. It is clean energy produced by one's own perspiration, and it is cheap energy since it doesn't require costly equipment and repairs."
Blumberg knows he will face opposition from the lobbyists and fuel companies who could lose if Americans go for his plan. But he is prepared to fight for it.
"Once people discover they can make their own electricity instead of buying it from someone else, they will demand their pedal machines and the Department of Energy will have to supply them. A whole new industry will be born, and this nation, which has gone soft physically and metally, will soon have a population of men and women and children with the strongest legs in the world."