RE: Energy Policy / Junk Science Environmentalism

From: Tjalle T Vandergraaf <>
Date: Mon Dec 19 2005 - 12:18:27 EST

A few comments on Al Koops' comments:

No matter how optimistic one may be, it's tough to beat the laws of
thermodynamics. Hydrogen is not the answer because elemental hydrogen is not
found in nature. Therefore, hydrogen is only an energy carrier and must be
produced. The only reason I can see for producing hydrogen is to transport
it and that, too, raises a number of problems.

It's not that we are running out of energy. We are supplied with more solar
energy than we need but the energy is too dilute for most applications. In
today's newspaper, there was (yet another) article on wind power and a
proposal to double the size of the 99 MW wind farm currently under
construction. Cost of the initial 63 turbines is ~200 M C$ and availability
is ~40%. In effect, 5 C$/watt. The real estate needed is 50 000 acres. The
total installed capacity of our provincial utility, Manitoba Hydro, is 5200
MW, 95% produced in hydroelectric dams. So, the 63 wind turbines on the 50
000 acres of land will increase the capacity of Manitoba Hydro by close to
1%. You can see that harvesting the wind is not going to be cheap!

There is no doubt that prices for oil and natural gas will continue to
increase. What I find frustrating is that "we" all know that this will
happen but "we" don't seem to want to face the upcoming reality. "We"
continue to build large houses, large churches, big box stores at the
fringes of cities, multi-lane highways. No point in pointing the finger at
China or India or other OECD countries. A Chinese, an Indian and an African
have as much right to the oil as we do to achieve the lifestyle that we have
become accustomed to. (After all, "we" have been telling the world, through
advertising, that consumption brings happiness. "Things go better with

I can well imagine our grandchildren asking us, when the over-mortgaged
homes are getting too cold for comfort, and the family chariots sit idly in
the garage, "didn't you see this coming?"

Chuck Vandergraaf


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Al Koop
Sent: Sunday, December 18, 2005 10:13 PM
Subject: Re: Energy Policy / Junk Science Environmentalism

Based on my last three years or reading articles and books on this topic, I
would basically agree with much of Glenn's comments on oil depletion.
Let me address several other points.

During my reading I have literally read hundreds of articles by those who
claim there is no need to worry about any immediate oil depletion. As best
I can remember, only one of these articles has ever resisted the urge to
trot out a litany of the various people who have predicted oil peaks in the
past (and obviously they have all been wrong). For reasons beyond me, all
of these authors seem to find this to be compelling evidence that everyone
who now predicts an oil peak will also be wrong. Except for a few
mavericks, most fossil fuel experts consider fossil fuels to be a
nonrenewable resource, and believe we will eventually deplete our supplies.
It seems to me that that day is getting closer all the time, and that as
more and more people warn of its imminence, the likelier we are to be
reaching a point where we can no longer satisfy the usual demand and there
will indeed be an oil peak. For me, I get more concerned as more and more
oil geologists warn of peak oil; I get !
little comfort from knowing that in the past some people have been wrong.

The second theme promoted by the optimists can be described by the phrase:
The Stone Age did not end because we ran out of stones. We also no longer
shovel coal into steam locomotives either. Several scientifically educated
people I have encountered find this phrase cute and compelling. But I think
this is not the positive development that the optimists make it out to be.
We switched to other materials BEFORE we depleted these resources, not as a
result of not having enough stones or enough coal. This is what makes our
current oil and natural gas situation one of concern; we seem to have no
answer for when we no longer have adequate supplies of gas and oil, we have
not been successful in finding another adequate source before depleting the
one we depend on today as we did previously.

The third point made by the optimists is that new technologies will be
brought in that will rectify the energy situation. This idea at least has
some merit. I don't think anyone can rule out any incredible breakthroughs,
but I don't think that we can say that right now there is some solution to
fossil fuel depletion that only requires that we get behind it and spend
enough money. Hydrogen and biofuels right now are not the answer. Moreover,
even if such a breakthrough did occur, it would likely take a considerable
amount of time to put in the infrastructure to switch to this new energy
source, and the transition would be at best a difficult time if the oil peak
happens soon.

With the incomplete data available from all the governments and oil
companies about their energy production and with the uncertainty involved in
the exact time of peak production of individual oil fields and the
variations in decline rates, I don't think anyone can say with much
certainty when peak oil will occur. But if populations continue to grow and
places like China and India increase their demand for fossil fuels, it sure
cannot be too long before we reach a peak in the amount of oil we can
produce. Only the very most super optimistic person could put that time at
more than 20 years.

Now what will happen when that oil peak happens is very much of a hot topic.
It is reasonably possible that if everyone started to conserve and use less
energy, we could live at a standard not severely lower than now for some
time. People could reduce reproductive levels, travel much less and could
ride bicycles and mopeds for many trips, grow their own food instead of
lawns,etc. and eat plants rather than animals for starters. But will those
in China and India and other less developed countries be willing to go back
to living like they did 10 years ago while the US and Europe live better
than they do, and will OECD countries really be willing to conserve and
throttle back their way of living to accommodate less energy, and live with
the considerable economic fallout that would accompany significant changes.
Or will these countries start wars for resources and use some of their
energy for conflicts with others to try to capture energy resources for
themselves at the expen!
se of others on this planet?

Exponential growth cannot go on forever, and I think we are near the point
on this earth when the growth that has occurred over the last several
centuries will cease one way or another.
Received on Mon Dec 19 12:22:16 2005

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