Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tar Sands = Peak Oil

Tar sands is proof of peak oil -- and that should be worrying to anybody who thinks we "have" to have as much oil as we want, and that we have a "right" to use it as quickly as we want to.

Oil is finite.
Coal is finite.
Natural gas (methane from underground sources) is finite.
Uranium is finite.

So why do we humans of this particular generation -- think somehow that we can use up these finite resources as quickly as we want to?

Renewable energy all come either from the sun -- solar, wind, wave, biofuel; or from the earth's core -- geothermal; or from the moon's gravity -- in the case of tidal energy. And all of these will be here as long as the earth is here -- scientists estimate about a billion more years.
There is a huge abundance of renewable energy, all around us. It is available in an excess -- we only need to gather a tiny fraction of it, to more than meet all our needs.

None of these energy sources cause any pollution, and none cause global climate change, and no one has to pay another country to get them. No one can control these energy sources. They are there all over the world, and nobody can dominate them.

So, here's where we are at:
We have burned up a huge amount of these finite energy sources in a very brief period of time, leaving very little for all the generations of humans to come.
We have caused global climate change, that is an unavoidable result of releasing the carbon from millions and millions of years back into the atmosphere in about a century.
We have also caused myriad of more localized damage to the earth we depend on to live.

Oil is running out.
Coal is running out.
Natural gas is running out.
Uranium is running out.

It is totally possible to use renewables for all our needs.  The hardest is certainly flying, but biodiesel is coming along fine.   There is a huge abundance of energy all around us.  And we do not need to "go back to an earlier time" -- electricity and the Internet are here to stay.

Materials for PV panels are (probably) recyclable.  The energy to do this can come from ... renewable sources.  And we don't have to sit still -- there are going to be new and better ways to gather renewable energy.

Enough sunlight energy hits the earth in one hour to power ALL of human needs for one year.  Of course, we cannot gather all of it, so it might take us a week to gather enough energy for the whole year -- and that is just solar energy.  Wind power would take about a month to provide enough energy for an entire year.  Wave power might take a month, as well.  Geothermal energy can be drilled.  Tidal power in places like the Bay of Fundy are truly awesome.  Biogas (methane aka natural gas) can be produced from every sewage treatment plant in existence, and from farm waste (plant and animal), too.

There is way more renewable energy than we could know what to do with.  Energy is the least of our worries.

The true costs of burning oil and coal and gas (and nuclear fission for that matter) are way beyond what we pay for them, in money.   We cannot pay enough to make up for the true costs for these finite energy sources.  They are far more valuable than the cash/money we pay for them.

We will all pay dearly -- but we cannot afford to not transition to renewable energy.  For many reasons, truly renewable energy will be the only energy that be here as long as the earth exists.

Once wind turbines, solar installations, wave power systems -- are installed and producing power, all those jobs are guaranteed to stay local.  The profits from the power produced stays local, too.  Renewable energy is here to stay as long as the earth exists.  And they burn zero fuel and produce no pollution.

The amount of water pollution from the processing the tar sands in staggering.  It will take lots of natural gas to heat the water need to even get the tar separated from the sands, and that gas has to be fracked out of the ground, which uses even more water and causes it's own pollution.

A "growth" economy is by definition going to end. It cannot continue to grow forever, even if we humans figure out how to limit ourselves to ~7 billion.
The inevitable conclusion is that the only thing we can do is use renewable energy, if we want to continue to live as we are, here on this earth. This has been a hard lesson, and we had better pay attention.

Sincerely, Neil