Re: salvation from tar pits?

From: Al Koop <>
Date: Mon Jun 28 2004 - 14:58:52 EDT

Wally wrote:

Although I used hyperbole in my post, I see 2 things worth noting.

1.) Even something that is a fractional % of the world's demand should
not be
discouraged. If that logic were followed, then one should shut down
individual oil
wells one at a time.

2.) The point behind the article at Wired was that people are working
the problem
and there is some hope to increase production if technological
innovations can be

Rather than abandon hope in such things, are they not worth pursuing?

AK: Not necessarily.
There are additional costs in obtaining energy other than just the
direct financial costs. As Don wrote: Do you want the area to look
like a moonscape?, which it does after the mining of the tar pits. What
is the value of maintaining an area in its natural state? As Glenn
pointed out, this process does use immense amounts of water and will
generate polluted water as a byproduct. Maybe this water could be put to
far better uses and we would not have huge lakes of polluted water all
over the place. As Ken pointed out we are increasing air pollution and
likely contributing to global warming while getting only a small amount
of oil for our effort. How many diseases are caused by this polluted
air? These are all costs that are not strictly financial, but one could
reasonably argue that a slight increase in the amount of oil is not
worth all of these changes. Furthermore, we would be wise, in my
opinion, to be saving petroleum for feedstock for numerous products like
plastics and pesticides that will be needed in the future rather than
burning these hydrocarbons to ride around in cars now. All sources of
oil are not equally efficiently produced, and it may be appropriate to
be pumping small amounts of oil from old wells while not getting oil
from tar pits.

Right now the projections are that production from heavy oil will triple
in 15 years. It just requires huge amounts of energy and processing of
immense amounts of matter, and therefore it seems highly unlikely that
there will be some incredible breakthrough that will make these tar pits
produce the amounts of oil we will need to meet current demand.
Furthermore, right now there are many conservation steps we could take
now that would cause fairly minimal changes in our standard of living
while preserving petroleum energy sources for a 50 years or more of use.
 Simply passing some laws that increased fuel mileage in cars would help
greatly. We could tax energy use and use the proceeds to initiate all
sorts of new projects on renewable energy that might be far better spent
than trying to increase the production from tar pits. It is dead
certain that we could cut down energy use significantly and that
technology is more likely to uncover uses of renewable energy that will
be far more useful over the long term than using our technological
output on tar pits. But our leaders have no vision and no will to think
long term; they are probably hoping that they will be out of office
before trouble comes.
Received on Mon Jun 28 15:29:46 2004

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