Friday, June 3, 2011

The New Age of Fossil Fuels

There's a must-read article at called, "Everything you've heard about fossil fuels may be wrong." It's amazing that it even appeared at Salon. An argument strongly in favor of fossil fuels that debunks various environmentalist predictions of doom, at Salon? As I read it I was anticipating the shrieks of outrage that were sure to greet it. Check out the comments for entertainment value. Liberals aren't fond of challenges to their cherished assumptions. Here's a couple excerpts from the article.
If gas hydrates as well as shale gas, tight oil, oil sands and other unconventional sources can be tapped at reasonable cost, then the global energy picture looks radically different than it did only a few years ago. Suddenly it appears that there may be enough accessible hydrocarbons to power industrial civilization for centuries, if not millennia, to come. ... The abundance and geographic diversity of fossil fuels made possible by technology in time will reduce the dependence of the U.S. on particular foreign energy exporters, eliminating the national security argument for renewable energy. And if the worst-case scenarios for climate change were plausible, then the most effective way to avert catastrophic global warming would be the rapid expansion of nuclear power, not over-complicated schemes worthy of Rube Goldberg or Wile E. Coyote to carpet the world’s deserts and prairies with solar panels and wind farms that would provide only intermittent energy from weak and diffuse sources.
The whole article is definitely worth reading.


  1. "Liberals aren't fond of challenges to their cherished assumptions."

    Oh, you are cute. How about:
    People aren't fond of challenges to their cherished assumptions.
    Or as Tolstoy said:
    I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conlcusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.

    You exhibit the common and pernicious idea that everyone who disagrees with you is either an idiot or ill-informed, and that you represent an island of intelligence and rationality in a sea of ignorance and superstition. Perhaps you should consider the idea that people might look at the same data as you, be just as intelligent as you, but disagree with your conclusions.

  2. There are some inaccuracies in the article:

    "The majority of renewable energy consists of CO2-emitting biomass -- wood and dung used for fires by the world’s poor"
    While burning these things releases CO2, it is CO2 that is already in the carbon cycle. It is not unlocking CO2 that was buried deep inderground, and hence does not contribute to the climate change.

    "nuclear energy [produces] no greenhouse gases."
    While a nuclear plant itself may produce no CO2, we still have to mine, refine, transport and dispose of the ore, which consumes fossil fuels at this point in time. It is, of course, still vastly preferable to burning coal! (both in terms of CO2/kWh and in the net amount of nuclear material released into the environment.)

    "But if natural gas is permanently cheaper than solar and wind, then there is no reason, other than ideology, to combine it with renewables"
    Except for the possibility of climate change, which the article has ignored.

    It's an interesting article, although I would call it an opinion piece (nothing wrong with that).