Why are We Still Depending on Oil?

This video raises the question of why we continue to depend on oil when clear alternatives exist and could be developed to bring on sustainable and renewable energy. Watch, learn, and advocate for better energy policy in the US, before we all go broke and ruin the world by pigging out on oil.

3 thoughts on “Why are We Still Depending on Oil?

  1. If only the world were a rational place, and if only the Cold Fusion experiemnts were not scams, or the later and real hydrogen fusion research worked–we would be able to provide all the energy the world needs with less than a gallon of water! But controlling thermonuclear reactions is much more difficlt than can be imagined, not nearly as easy as “simple” nuclear power plants. But some folks don’t want nuclear power, even though it is clean, safe, and economical and most of the world is rushing to build more facilities. Wind energy needs wind, and the only steady supply of flatulence and hot air is in Congress or on the campaign trail. Wind has some issues that are insurmountable except on Jupiter, where the wind blows all the time (at 600 miles an hour or so). Then too the Kennedy clan was not impressed by green wind power facilities where they sailed their yachts–environmentalism has some limits I guess. And wind generators kill birds, lots of them–remember the Hitchcock moveie, “the Birds”–they will get their revenge. Sun power is practical at a price, and with lots of tax breaks and rebates, and with lots of repairs as the sun damages the passive collectors or the electrical cells and the lead-acid storage batteries emit toxic stuff, and if one is content to operate a home with not enough power to do hair driers, microwave ovens, computers, TV, stereo, videogames, etc. We can of course turn corn into ethanol and eat less meat or pet food for Rover (perhaps like many cultures, we can eat Rover). We would need to make vehicle fuel tanks bigger, since ethanol produces less energy and is less efficient than gasoline. Ethanol uses lots of water, growing more corn means more fertiler running off into streams and rivers, and ethanol plants produce lots of CO2. Of course hydrogen fuel cells are neat. They produce lots of energy. But remember the Hindenberg–hydrogen makes for great explosions. One can imagine a hydrogen fuel cell car with perhaps 2000 pounds of armor around the cell (just in case) and high speed collisions and big explosions. Biodiesel is also available. We can turn McDonald’s grease into fuel (where does the catsup go?) but we are told Big Macs are bad for you..a quandry. Of course soybeans yield lots of oil, but then there goes another food item into fuel tanks and food prices go higher and where will we get out Tofu? What about hydropower? Well, some folks think dams are not good and want to let rivers run free and certainly not build more. Tidal power is interesting and the French have a functioning facility, but running America on the tides will not work–there go the beaches and there are biological consequences.

    I guess my point is that everything has a price. Innovative technologies need time to mature and become economical. In the meanwhile oil, coal, “traditional nuclear, natural gas, work and are not in short supply. There is enough untapped U.S./Canadian oil for perhaps 800-1000 years; enough coal for a 1000 years and no one knows how much natural gas is ready to be found. There is endless nuclear potential. What is in short supply is the Congressional will to let the market place work. Yes, drill, drill, drill will reduce prices, increase supply and free us from dependence on Hugo Chavez or other characters.

  2. Two problems:

    The Canadian tar sands require a lot of energy to extract. It’s not just the cost per gallon in terms of dollars (or loonies) per gallon(or litre); the issue is that it takes most of a gallon of gas to create a gallon of gas.

    Coal is fine: if you don’t mind grey skies and particulate matter. Even “clean” coal is very dirty. China has been relying on coal for a lot of its growth, and polluting its skies and rivers at an alarming rate. Many athletes are very concerned about not getting to Beijing a moment earlier than necessary to avoid the grey skies. One Marathon runner from Kenya has dropped out because of the pollution.

    It’s not a simple matter. There is no easy solution. All alternatives–and even gas and oil–have costs. But difficulties also provide opportunities for innovation, which creates business.

    One solution is gov’t-mandated standards. If everyone has to face the same cost, then there is no competetive disadvantage to adopting newer, more expensive technologies. Of course, GW Bush, in his infinite stupidity, decided that the US does not have to play by the rules agreed to by most of the civilised world and opted out of the Kyoto agreements. This set back the cause of alternative energy by a decade or more.

    Of all the ridiculous policies implemented by this mis-begotten administration, histor may judge that to be the most deleterious in the long run.

  3. Excellent points, however it does get a bit more complicated. Firstly, America has conserved. Our use of barrels of oil is just about unchanged since 1981 because of conservation, coal fired power plants and oddly, better automobiles. The problem is we import 60% of our daily needs now because our production has been drastically reduced. Our production is so much lower because oil companies are not allowed to drill new holes off the East Coast, West Coast Gulf Coast, Artic, or the Western U.S. and the old wells are depleted, hence the need for imports. There is no shortage of oil reserves known and undiscovered but indicated. An example is Florida off shore where only the Communist Chinese are drilling because they have permits from the Cubans! American companies are not allowed to drill.

    Tar Sands are in the U.S. and Canada, and virtually untouched. New technologies are much better now at extracting oil. Oil shales are widesprea and an additional cost. There is more oil in tar sands and oil shales that all the oil in the Middle East combined, and virtually unused.

    Coal can be used for many things: as coal to fire boilers to make electricity; as coking coal to make steel; as coal to change to gas to use, or to liquify as another fuel sourcs; as a stock fopr plastics and chemicals. American coal is miserably unused.

    As I suggest, the lack is not in potential supply, it is in political will to do what needs to be done to make the nation secure.

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