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Jeff's Afghan Diary: Progress, Energy, and the Taliban
June 11 , 2007

      I am amazed at how much diesel fuel we consume out here.  We have a medium-sized (by Army standards) 60 Kilowatt generator at Doa China, which runs continually.  It runs our electric lights, our electric fans, our freezers, our refrigerator, our communications equipment, and our laptop computers.  It burns up 30-40 gallons of JP-8 diesel fuel each day.

      Back in Waza Khwa, we have two 120 Kw generators, which burn up about 150 gallons of JP-8 each day.  This runs the FOB, which houses somewhere over 300 Soldiers (Polish and American), a very small village by US standards.

      I can only imagine how much gasoline, coal and natural gas we use back home to generate electricity.  It staggers my mind.

      While I don’t want to create a political debate about energy, it seems pretty plain to me that when the rest of the third world countries start consuming energy like the US does, we will quickly deplete whatever supplies we have of fossil fuels.

      Here in Afghanistan, the average person consumes almost no fossil fuels, at least outside any major cities.  In rural areas like Doa China, people cook by using firewood.  They drive small motorcycles, which hardly use any gas.  They have no electricity.

      The more rural Afghans become exposed to a better standard of living, the more they want the comforts and amenities that we have in America, and reasonably so.  Decades from now, I can imagine power lines running to many of the villages I pass by on our patrols.  And something will be generating their electricity.

      Afghanistan is fortunate to have untapped sources of natural gas within its borders.  Right now, the problem is distribution: there are no roads to ship supplies easily.  Roads will take time to make, and first the country must become secure.  But I believe that day will come, not too long from now.

      I was talking to the ABP Commander last night, and we discussed whether the Taliban would be successful.  He believed not, saying he thinks the Afghan people want progress, but the Taliban oppose it.  Eventually, progress will prevail.

      Progress includes better standards of living, which requires energy.  I hope we learn to use it wisely, as good stewards of the Earth’s resources.

-- Jeff Courter

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The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and Executive Director of
He is the author of God and Science (John Knox Press, 1986).  
A revised and expanded version of the book is appearing here.
God and Science (Hypertext Edition, 2005).
He is also editor of a new book, featuring articles by world class scientists and theologians, and illustrating the leading views on the relationship between science and religion:
Faith, Science and the Future (CrossCurrents Press, 2007).

Charles also tracks the boundry between the virtual and the real at his blog: Next World Design, focusing on the mediation of art, science and spirituality in the metaverse.  

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