Vail Daily’s Don Rogers: We’re smarter than we think |

Vail Daily’s Don Rogers: We’re smarter than we think

Don Rogers
Vail, CO, Colorado

An undercurrent tingled, at least for me, through most all the presentations and panels at the Vail Global Energy Forum last month.

The optimism about our ability to solve our energy challenges crackled. That was obvious to all.

But I’m not so sure the participants clearly understood why they felt this so strongly.

Even George Shultz, the former secretary of state and current Stanford academic at age 92, obviously still the smartest guy in the room — any room — missed this one.

The main reason for the bright outlook for America reaching that carbon-free, cheap, domestic nirvana for energy production is our unparalleled ability to innovate and invent.

No other country touches us.

Now, we’ve managed to give away our gains in the lab to countries like China, which then apply those innovations big time in the field — as with solar.

But that’s a whole different issue.

Today and for the past 30 years we’ve easily led the way in energy innovation, especially in the past few years while gas prices rose and grabbed our attention. I’d like to say it was fear of carbon, but, well, nah. It’s the price at the pump that did this.

Speaker after speaker at the forum brought up our innovations, our inventions, our incredible imagination in delivering results in the lab.

And then everyone nodded, worried to death, when Shultz ended the forum complaining about how far American has fallen in the past 30 years in education.


I know I’m supposed to jump on that train, a near archetype now, which follows rather suspiciously along the “Soviets have more nukes than us” path.

But this just does not compute. We don’t lead the world in energy innovations for the past three decades with a truly “broken” educational system. This is nonsense, even with the real need to improve.

Editor and Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at or 970-748-2920.

I understand that we love to terrify ourselves, and that our hold on relative greatness or exceptionalism or whatever lies in large part on the strength of our schools.

But obviously, while we lose ground in the inconsequential war of test scores, we win in the actuality of people who want to learn in fact learning, and learning to think.

Our fault, and it’s not really, lies in our philosophy of trying to educate everyone. This is America, after all, where everyone gets a chance.

I believe this is precisely why we’re still great, and better educated as a whole than ever before.

So, really, we should know better.

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