Will our old heavy-weighted energy paradigm bring us down?

Posted January 15th, 2009 in Blog, Featured Comments Off on Will our old heavy-weighted energy paradigm bring us down?

Fostering Ecological Hope
Today from Margaret Swedish:

Oil is a finite resource.  We don’t act like it.  We pretty much focus on its price and its location as the problems we need to deal with, but there is this other reality we don’t like to admit:  the biggest oil problem confronting us in the not-so-long term (besides its assault on the planet when we drill, refine and burn it) is that it is rapidly becoming a depleted resource.

Hubbert peak oil plot - wikipedia

Hubbert peak oil plot - wikipedia

We have probably already reached peak oil, and as our ability to pump it out and get it into our economies becomes more challenging, the world will also be facing rapidly accelerating demand.

This is because of rising economies, especially in Asia and Latin America, but also because of our sheer numbers — the 2-3 billion people we will be adding to the planet by mid-century.

You’d think we would prepare better for this.

Somebody is — like the Gulf State nations, you know, those big oil producers, the ones from whom we keep saying we need to become energy independent.

So this is a post about irony.  Yesterday, the NY Times had a most interesting article describing how the Gulf oil states have set out to become the leaders in the development of clean energy technologies.  And how are they paying for it?  Well, with the money we send to them when we buy their oil.  Yes indeed, they are using their oil wealth to become oil independent.  Now who do you think will be best prepared when the oil spigot begins to run dry?

The irony continues.  Some of these states, like the United Arab Emirates, are pouring money into research centers at U.S. universities and colleges, and some of these schools, like M.I.T., are developing partnerships with these governments, even setting up campuses there.  These same institutions are not able to get research funds from our own federal government.

There’s nothing altruistic about this.  This is about seeing the dwindling future for your oil industry, the one that has made you so wealthy, and replacing it with the new energy regimen, the one the whole world will require as the oil goes dry, something that will begin in this generation.

“This new investment aims to maintain the gulf’s dominant position as a global energy supplier, gaining patents from the new technologies and promoting green manufacturing. But if the United States and the European Union have set energy independence from the gulf states as a goal of new renewable energy efforts, they may find they are arriving late at the party.

‘The leadership in these breakthrough technologies is a title the U.S. can lose easily,’ said Peter Barker-Homek, chief executive of Taqa, Abu Dhabi’s national energy company.

Now match this craziness with this article from today’s NY Times Business section:  Where is oil going next? If you read this, ask yourself this question:  how in the world could we have let our entire way of life depend upon a commodity with a market as nuts as this one?  Now add to that that this commodity is a cause of major damage to the planet! You’d think we might get serious about finding another way to get the energy we need to stay warm, to move around, to get food to the market, while helping the Earth clean up our mess.

Think about it — oil tankers are sailing ’round and ’round so as not to actually deliver their cargo in the hope that by forcing supply a bit lower, prices might go a bit higher.  Think about a market that could have us paying more than $4 per gallon one month, and a few months later a buck fifity?  Think how fast it went up to $4.  It will do this again, I promise.

Do we really want our way of life to depend on this?  Do we really want to be forced to wean ourselves from oil — out of chaos and necessity rather than forethought it seems — only to find ourselves on the bottom end of the energy innovations and technologies needed to replace it — especially right now when this kind of commitment could help pull this country towards a new greener economy, one that might soften our footprint on the planet?

I hope oil goes up again, a lot.  I hope that our new president will consider a steep gas tax and dedicate those funds towards creating the new oil-free and coal-free way of life.  Let’s get with it.  The future will be with us or without us.

Besides, just think of what it will be like in this country if the oil begins to run out and we have not prepared.  Really, think about it.  It’s actually a pretty scary scenario.

Save the planet; save our future.  Free ourselves of fossil fuels!!

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Giant oil field graph and growing oil gap graph, Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas, www.peakoil.net

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