Helping the U.S. Become Energy Independent
Ben and Jeanne Overman Distinguished Speakers
Mon., April 26, 7 p.m., Weber Music Hall
“I want my children and grandchildren, as well as the billions of others who live on this planet, to look into a future as bright and bountiful as the future that beckoned me for most of my life,” said Joseph M. Shuster. Shuster, author of Beyond Fossil Fools: The Roadmap to Energy Independence by 2040, will present a lecture on Monday, April 26, at 7 pm in Weber Music Hall, UMD campus. The lecture, “Energy Foolishness to Energy Independence”, is presented by the Ben and Jeanne Overman Distinguished Speakers lecture series and made possible by the Ben and Jeanne Overman Charitable Trust. The presentation is free, and the public is invited.
For the past 35 years, Shuster has been sounding an alarm about U.S. reliance on fossil fuels and what he terms the “energy foolishness” inherent in our unmitigated use of these fuels. He stresses the idea of working toward a fuel-efficient way of life for future generations, outlining ways that he sees to do this. The 76 year-old Shuster is a retired chemical engineer.
Shuster's book has been called a landmark work on the energy crisis, and a book every citizen should read. According to Shuster, if things don’t change, and fast, the U.S. is irreversibly headed toward a future of expensive and scarce energy with unending international conflicts over limited fossil resources. He states that we face a grave problem of national security.
Shuster is the founder or co-founder of nine companies, including Teltech and Minnesota Valley Engineering, headquartered in New Prague. He has served on the board of directors of over 20 businesses, organizations, and international firms. In his past, he predicted the oil embargo of 1973 in a paper he wrote to the U.S. Congress and has testified in front of Congress promoting a national technology transfer program. His life’s work has been based around providing energy solutions and averting was he says are energy disasters that loom in the near future.
Shuster was born in Hibbing, Minnesota during the Great Depression of the 1930s. He graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1954 with a degree in chemical engineering. After graduation he worked in New Orleans for Freeport Sulphur Co., but later returned to the Iron Range where he worked as a project manager for McKee & Co. In 1962, He has received numerous awards which include: the University of Minnesota Founders’ award (1992), the Minnesota High Tech Association President’s Award (1994) and the Beatrice Food Company Hall of Fame Award for Management.
Shuster's book and lecture do not simply list the many problems this country is facing, but explore the possibilities and then offer logical solutions to what he believes to be “the single most important issue of this century.” He considers himself hopefully optimistic, yet presents a wake-up call and a plea to change energy consumption. He will lay out what he considers the major problems with dependence on fossil fuels, including pollution and resource depletion.
Shuster provides a vision for how the U.S. can become less dependent on most fossil fuels in 30 years. He considers electrifying automobiles to help reduce dependence on oil a major step to energy independence, along with using renewable resources like wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal. Shuster asserts that other than renewable resources, nuclear energy will be vital in solving our energy problems because of its ability to provide a more reliable source of electricity. Because of current research on nuclear power plants that run on reprocessed nuclear waste and will not produce waste that can be reprocessed for nuclear bombs, his plan calls for 42 percent of U.S. electricity to come from nuclear power in 2040, up from 20 percent today.
Written by Mandee Kuglin.