Monday, February 13, 2006

Energy

There's been much talk of "Peak Oil" lately, namely that world oil production has just about reached its maximum and will begin to decline, just as the growing economies of Asia (not to mention our own) need it ever more desperately, leading to declining standards of living and increased conflict as prices skyrocket.

And we ultimately expire, drowned in our own Malthusian wastes.

Well, somehow, we got through "Peak Woodburning" and "Peak Whale Oil".

It should be obvious now that the professional eco-greenies who are blocking exploration and production in the Gulf and Alaska are really anti-modernists who wish our civilization to collapse so they can live out their "harmony with Gaia" fantasies on a simpler -- and vastly depopulated, by the way -- planet.

Because these are the same people who opposed nuclear energy.

Some say they can be traced to the anti-Vietnam war movement -- they had to do something after it was over -- and ultimately to the KGB as a communist-driven plot.

But I digress.

We really have lots of energy alternatives.

There's a good post here at Bernoulli Effect.

Be sure to also read the comments, as the first one is by Yours Truly:
Another interesting point was in Thursday or Friday's [i.e., Feb 2 or 3, 2006] Wall Street Journal: whereas we have lots of coal and nuclear reserves, they can really only be used for electricity generation, and can't be shifted to power cars and trucks, which consume a large part of our oil needs.

But Natural Gas can and should be shifted from electricity production (and heating) to power trucks and buses -- we already have natural gas-powered vehicles. Doing that on a wide scale, and taking up the electricity slack with coal and nuclear, would be a very, very significant reduction in gasoline usage, and it's doable TODAY.
We can also extract oil from North America's vast oil sands -- currently an expensive process, but becoming more affordable. And when done in earnest, economies of scale and engineering advances will make prices fall.

Oil-like substances can also be extracted from coal. Pennsylvania's coal reserves, I believe, are measured in centuries.

And ethanol and methanol can be used more to dilute gasoline and make it go further, as will hybrid-electric vehicles.

The alcohols, however, are not a total solution, as their energy density is much less than that of gasoline, and it takes lots of energy to produce them. Den Beste also wrote on this, perhaps more pessimistically, some time ago.

Just don't hold your breath for the Hydrogen Economy, or for any significant impact from wind or solar. They just don't scale.

But we probably won't need them if we shift our electricity to nuclear and coal, and make more use of the alcohols and natural gas in vehicle fueling, as well as exploiting the oil sands.

And of course, there's an outside chance this wild theory might just be right:
The hypothesis of abiogenic petroleum origin (synonyms: abiotic, abyssal, endogenous, inorganic, juvenile, mineral, primordial) holds that petroleum is formed by non-biological processes deep in the earth's crust and mantle. It contradicts the more widely-held view that petroleum is a fossil fuel produced from the remains of ancient living organisms. The constituent precursors of petroleum (mainly methane) are commonplace and it is possible that appropriate conditions exist for hydrocarbons to be formed deep within the earth. This hypothesis dates to the 19th century, when the French chemist Marcellin Berthelot and the Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev proposed it, and was revived in the 1950s.

The theory stands in contrast to that of Peak Oil, which presumes a fixed and dwindling supply of oil that was formed through biological processes.
The fact is, we really don't know much about what's going on inside the Earth.

Or even this one:
The existence of cold fusion remains a controversial issue. It has been dismissed by some as an example of pathological science, and an idea that would not go away, long after the majority of scientists in the field dismissed it as wrong. Despite this opposition, a number of researchers continue to work on the basic concept, and have reported improved results over time. While there is little mainstream acceptance of the field today, thousands of peer-reviewed cold fusion papers have been published.
You never know!

At the very least, in a few years, the oil dollars that finance this wave of jihad will dry up.

It's inevitable.

And don't miss this post at The Futurist, which is a very fascinating blog!
Some people say ethanol is the answer. Others say solar. Still others say wind, while yet others say that more sophisticated technology in the car itself and big light-emitting-diodes in the home can reduce oil consumption to the point that it doesn't matter.

Will any one of them revolutionize the world in ten years? Probably not.

The point is, there is not just one thing being worked on to kill the monster of US oil dependency, but many. The monster will be killed by a thousand cuts.

5 Comments:

Blogger Indian Yuppie said...

The question is no more of US dependency of Oil.The booming economies of India and China will milch the last drop of oil.An alternative has to be found or movies like Mad Max will be a reality.

2:14 AM, February 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your encouragement. I am the author of The Futurist, and saw that you had linked to my blog.

I started just 18 days ago, and am very pleased with the audience interest that has come by.

Thanks

7:05 PM, February 13, 2006  
Blogger RDS said...

Indian Yuppie,

Yes, I agree, it's a world-wide problem. Thanks for reading!

9:57 PM, February 13, 2006  
Blogger RDS said...

Futurist,

You're welcome, and I suspect I will be quoting and linking to you a lot! Kudos on a great blog, and thanks for reading.

RDS

9:58 PM, February 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RDS,

Thanks. By all means, stop by and suggest topics you feel are worthy of research, and I will see if I have enough ideas to write about them.

The Futurist.

12:45 AM, February 14, 2006  

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