Saturday, May 10, 2008

Thank This Nationalist

We’re in a transition period.”
-President Bush then mentioned switchgrass

I’ve become convinced that Peak Oil is a bigger deal than people want to admit or even think about. Oil is simple and efficient compared to its proposed successors. The energy invested in converting switchgrass to fuel would exceed the energy gained from the fuel. Switchgrass will not be able to replace oil.

As our world is already straining its resources, a loss of energy efficiency would result in many world systems failing. The potential scenarios are sobering.

But North America will be able to weather peak oil better than other regions of the world for several reasons:

(1) Conservationists have effectively stored a good percentage of North American oil resources through drilling bans. This is a strategic advantage moving forward in the 21st Century. Conservationists have created a super-mega-strategic oil reserve for future use.
(2) North Americans will be able to witness the effects of Peak Oil on the rest of the world, and adopt policies to restrict the uses of their reserves.
(3) Despite the efforts of foolish people, North America is still relatively sparsely populated.

I hope the Sierra Club is successful in its efforts to maintain the drilling bans. Whether they know it or not, they are acting as nationalists.


Go Polar Bears.


George said...

Ah, the Law of Unintended Consequences. Who'd a thunk it?

George said...

BTW, Peak Oil only works as a theory if you assume that all the world's reserves have been discovered. Since new discoveries and new extraction methods are making news, I would have to assume that we're nowhere near Peak Oil. I like the econ part of the theory, but new supply will toss it back in the "not yet" pile.

BTW, we have HUGE reserves of coal here, and distillation of petroleum distillate from coal has been done for over a century, and better methods are coming on line. The Russians are much farther along in this technology than we are, in fact a member of my family has derived support from translating their engineering papers on this subject for over thirty years now.

As I understand the Peak Oil theory, the tipping point is where the price of oil drives our economy out of business. There was supposed to have been huge damage by now, damage which hasn't happened. Now it is estimated that $5 gasoline is only months away, and THAT level was mentioned in the early buzz of Peak Oil. We'll definitely survive $5 gasoline and diesel. Where is the "Peak"? If it exists, I'd guess it's probably closer to the $8-10 range, but we'll all be burning coal-fuel before then.

Bill said...

Maybe George. Sierra Pacific Power Company got millions upon millions of dollars back in the 1990s to build a coal gasification facility to generate electricity. They recently shuttered it. I’m not sure if they ever even got it to run. My money’s on nuclear.

Thanks for the comment.