Environment: The Price of Power

To manufacture a steel beer can with an aluminum fliptop opening takes three times as much energy as making an all-steel can. A frost-free refrigerator consumes almost twice as much electric power as a conventional model. "You use power to make ice—and then use power to melt the ice," complained Microbiologist Barry Commoner as he offered these examples last week in testimony before the House Interior Committee.

"It is," he said, "ecological idiocy." Idiocy or not, the U.S. appears committed to a constant expansion of its electricity production. Last week, in a massive survey of the problems and prospects, the Federal Power...

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