NC Media Watch

A quest for reason and accuracy in letters to the editor, guest editorials and other issues of interest to the citizens of Western Nevada County.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Peak Oil debate continues at NCFocus

Anna at NCFocus has an active discussion on the Peak Oil issues. She asked me the following question:
Russ Steele, a question: what consequences might you face if you were to change your mind, shift gears, and argue publicly that peak oil is a serious problem facing our community, country and world, and that we need to prepare for it?
First off, I do not accept the notion of a near term peak, as we really do not know how much oil we have in the world now. To have a peak we need to know the parameters. We have national oil companies that are not part of the capacity discussion, from Saudi Arabia to Venezuela and Mexico. We really do not know how much is in ANWAR, and the shallow Arctic sea to the North that global warming will provide us better access. We do not know how much is off the Coast of California or Florida. According the Oil Drum discussion, we do not know how much Brazil has off shore. Yes, some day we will have to address an oil in decline, but it will be most likely be a plateau, followed by a slow decline.

The price of oil will increase, and it will become economical to harvest the oil sands and oil shale, which combined has a 500 year supply of carbon fuel. More than enough time to develop alternatives. I just finished The End of Oil, and it is clear that alternative energy sources will be hard pressed to meet industry needs. While solar offers a huge potential, the efficiency of capture technology must be greater than 10 percent, and an effective over night storage method must be developed. Huge challenges. Using current technology, we would need three times the area of all roof tops in the nation covered with solar cells, according to a Cal Tech Professor. Hummm...

What consequences would I face. None! I will be long gone before we reach a peak in a 100 to 200 years, plenty of time to prepare. Starting survival gardens now reminds me of the Y2K panic, which never happened. If the earth continues to warm, the ski season will be bit shorter, but then again my knees are complaining the season is too long now. My water comes from a well that was charged several hundred, if not thousands of years ago. As natural gas prices go up, I may return to burning wood from our three acres like we did for ten years from 1982 to 1992. Right now we have turned down the thermostat, installing low energy neon bulbs, and have installed an on demand hot water heater. But, I still need my GMC 2500 HD diesel to pull our travel trailer. Oh, by the way, when traveling I carry a clip on light and 75 watt bulb, so I can read in the motel bed. The low energy lights, give out less light, and my old eyes need a bright light to focus on small text.

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