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Alternate Resources Must Be Found

liberal1

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Looking at the resources we use today, how much longer will they last. Oil, coal, lumber etc. are all being utilized much too fast, and will soon run out. Earth's population is an exponent, there is no stopping it. The future looks bleak, do we use birth control like China is doing, do we use alternate resources? What do you think is a solution?
 
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FireUltra 98

liberal1 said:
Looking at the resources we use today, how much longer will they last. Oil, coal, lumber etc. are all being utilized much too fast, and will soon run out.
We're not running out of any of these resources.

liberal1 said:
. . . do we use birth control like China is doing, do we use alternate resources?
You mean abortion? Chinese have been aborting females for decades and now their one child policy has created a shortage of females. Brilliant.
 

bazlyx

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Quote:
Originally Posted by liberal1
Looking at the resources we use today, how much longer will they last. Oil, coal, lumber etc. are all being utilized much too fast, and will soon run out.

We're not running out of any of these resources.
I've read that at our current rate (and rate of increase I believe) that our oil supply will not last til 2100.

Coal I'm not sure about supplies but it is a non-renewable resource so eventually it will be gone.

Lumber however we can replant and we actually are doing a good job of that in the US.

Some companies are investing in alternative (renewable) energy sources (corn oil, hydrogen) which makes me optimistic... though we can't efficiently utilize it yet.

Earth's population is an exponent, there is no stopping it.
Well there is, unfortunately it ends in starvation.
 
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FireUltra 98

I remember during the energy crisis of the late 70's, we were suppose to run out of oil in 25 years. Technology has allowed us to grab more energy than ever before and will continue to do so, it has only proven that fact every single year.


Coal is a huge asset of the midwest and eastern mountain states, and with the newer clean burning technology, we get more btu's per pound of coal than we ever have. Expect technology to keep advancing clean burning coal in the future.

Timber . . .well that's a crop.

Alternative energy sources, all too expensive to maintain the consumption needs the world has today. There isn't enough solar power, wind power or corn power to light up a small size city consistently. Now all that said, technology will help in this area too. Believe me, if there's a way to get as much energy from those more earth friendly sources, the capitalist market will allow for someone, or some company and its investors to become universally rich. So there's incentive there.

Now there is one alternative energy source that is powerful enough to support our consumption needs . . .nuclear (nucular for you Texans). France has been doing it for decades and there's no reason the US can't do it too. Problem there, NIMBY's. NIMBY's and congress make it extremely difficult and cost prohibitive to build nukes. Heck, throw in refineries, gas plants, LNG terminals and gasoline pipelines in that statement too while we're at it.

As far as population control, I'm still not on board with the good old Chinese system. One child policy is a crime against humanity . . and murder.
 

bazlyx

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As far as population control, I'm still not on board with the good old Chinese system. One child policy is a crime against humanity . . and murder.
I'm not a fan of 'killing' anyone and I think it can be avoided.
But we will need to consider how we are going to deal with an excess of population (eventually), the US should be safe for awhile.

I remember during the energy crisis of the late 70's, we were suppose to run out of oil in 25 years. Technology has allowed us to grab more energy than ever before and will continue to do so, it has only proven that fact every single year.
And we will probably continue to do so (e.g. hybrids) but evenually the estimates will be right and we will run out. We need to consider alternatives. I suggest getting them sooner rather than later - not just to beat a possible loss of a resource but also free ourselves from foreign energy sources and become more self-sustaining.
 
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FireUltra 98

bazlyx said:
And we will probably continue to do so (e.g. hybrids) but evenually the estimates will be right and we will run out. We need to consider alternatives. I suggest getting them sooner rather than later - not just to beat a possible loss of a resource but also free ourselves from foreign energy sources and become more self-sustaining.
I agree, we need to focus on new technology and alternative sources. The good ideas that are economically viable will be enabled, produced, distributed, sold, bought and profited from. But as long as we have the "we're running out soon" crowd out there, there will always be a floor price on energy products. Fear contributes to price increases, and I for one have no problem with those types . . .they help push prices up, which helps me.;)
 

Kandahar

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Honestly, the amount of hysteria originating from the luddite movement is truly unbelievable...

liberal1 said:
Looking at the resources we use today, how much longer will they last. Oil, coal, lumber etc. are all being utilized much too fast, and will soon run out.
None of those will "soon" run out, and none of them are fundamentally essential to our continued economic progress anyway.

liberal1 said:
Earth's population is an exponent, there is no stopping it.
Umm, if you had bothered to research any statistics at all before making this assertion, you would see that population growth reached a peak in the mid-70s and has been leveling off ever since. Most statistical models indicate that the world population will level off at 9-12 billion sometime during this century. So yes, there IS stopping it, and we don't even have to do anything other than continue to prosper economically and technologically.

liberal1 said:
The future looks bleak, do we use birth control like China is doing, do we use alternate resources?
What are you talking about? The population growth from births in the United States is virtually zero. Why would we have to implement any draconian measures?

liberal1 said:
What do you think is a solution?
To ignore hysterics like you.
 

UtahBill

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Conservation is the first alternate "resource" that should be implemented. We can do it now, for cheap, and sometimes even for free, but most of us don't. Why is that? We don't feel the financial pinch required to force a lifestyle change on us, not yet.
When fuel costs get too high, we will have to conserve. There will be no choice for many of us, if not most. There are no alternate energy sources in our near future, at least not in the amounts needed.
We can easily supply more electric power thru Nuclear power plants, but that won't run our cars. Battery technology is still far behind where it needs to be to make electric or hybrid cars viable. Those who own them now are in for a shock when the batteries need to be replaced. And most of your local mechanics are not trained to work on them.
Fuel cells and hydrogen are horribly expensive to make, and there isn't enough farm land in the USA to feed us and a certain portion of the rest of the world and still be able to grow enough ethanol producing crops to make a dent in the problem.
And the tract home builders are still using building materials and methods that meet too easily achieved minimal standards for reduced energy usage homes.
I think that we will get there, but it will be not be painless.
 
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FireUltra 98

Interesting point made by UtahBill in that last post regarding farm grown alternative fuel sources. As correctly stated above, there isn't enough suitable farm land and enough harvest turnaround time to turn corn and soy into ethanol or biofuel. Those fuel types are of course more friendly to the environment, but like hydrogen, you need another source of energy in order to produce it . . . most likely a fossil fuel. We'll burn fossil fuels at an equal or higher rate than the energy provided by ethanol and biofuel.

Another issue with biofuels and ethanol is purely economic. As I've mentioned before in other threads, the market will always take care of itself and its no different with alternative fuels. Seen as an environmental alternative for gasoline, these earth-friendly fuels also tout their lower feedstock cost compared to crude oil while at the same time decrease our dependency on foreign sources of fuel. However, as the popularity for such fuels increases, so will the demand for the feedstock used to create them. As such, we will need to import raw corn and soy and/or finished ethanol and biofuel as demand increases from, you guessed it, foreign sources.

The result? The demand for soy and corn crops will be based on new energy demand dynamics, in addition to the dynamics already associated with the crop's traditional use, human consumption. Companies, co-ops and state-owned operations around the world will have to invest capital in infrastructure, processing, transportation, storage, distribution and marketing of corn/soy & ethanol/biofuel. The globally priced products will go up and down based on supply and demand, taxes will be applied for the consumption, companies/investors will expect to get a return on their investment in the infrastructure and the earth's surface will be ravaged with miles, acres and hectors of crops as far as the eye can see.

Now of course I'm taking the "let's move to alternative sources now" all the way to its logical end. Of course we would have to use these sources as a compliment to our fossil fuel needs in the future. I just wanted to play this scenario out so folks understand that a promise of lower cost, more environmentally friendly energy today, could result in the exact consequences we face now with fossil fuels. Both scenarios will be driven by market forces-supply/demand, producers, wholesale, customers, investors (401K, pensions, etc). Sure crop-based fuels will release less emissions than fossil fuels but they will consume way more land and most likely, fertile land (i.e. rain forests) than our current energy set up.

Comments are of course welcome.
 

UtahBill

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Brazil has an ideal situation for alternate fuel for vehicles. They are in a milder climate with lots of rain, and have more than enough green stuff to convert to ethanol. Their sugar cane crop waste products get used to make ethanol and they even use the stalks for fuel to power the process. They also make biodeisel from soy beans.
We don't have the best climate and the millions of extra acres of land, so it is a given that the more land we use for fuel, the less we will be able to use for food.
But then, we are a bunch of fatties, are we not?:2wave:
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ethanol15jun15,0,3313642.story?track=tothtml
 

kcasper

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liberal1 said:
Looking at the resources we use today, how much longer will they last. Oil, coal, lumber etc. are all being utilized much too fast, and will soon run out. Earth's population is an exponent, there is no stopping it. The future looks bleak, do we use birth control like China is doing, do we use alternate resources? What do you think is a solution?
Sure there is.

Let's start with lumber. There is fields of newly planted woods for the purpose of future lumber. Paper can be made out of industrial hemp instead of wood. Industrial hemp is a variety of hemp that makes you sick instead of High if you smoke it. Industrial hemp can grow 6 times the volume per acre that wood can be for material. The only problem is first we have to convince the federal government that it should be legal. Currently law makers are under the delusion that you can't tell the difference between regular and industrial hemp.

Now oil. The big two are Thermal Conversion and Biofuel. Of course there is the world's largest tar?(can't remember what they are called) flats in canada that can be and are being turned in to oil, but that isn't an alternative fuel so I won't go there.

Biofuel would be ethnol and bio-desiel. Unfortunately these two hold little hope for producing enough volume. So far the focus is on turning the seed or 1% of the plant into burnable fuel. Also there is the cost, but these days of high fuel prices are making these more competitive.

Thermal Conversion, my favorite topic, takes any carbon based material and turns it into crude oil and natural gas. Still very much in developement, but has one active plant that turns left-over animal guts from meat processing into crude oil. The good side is this creates more fuel than it uses. Only uses 15% of what it creates. Theoretically it could recycle much better than 50% of our trash into oil. Also if we put 100% of one year of our crops through this process including the normally discarded stuff (example corn stalks) then we would have enough fuel to last the US years. Unfortunately they are also suffering from an expense problem that should lower with better technology.


more alternatives to come:

Did you know that inserting just a bit of hydrogen gas into gasoline causes it to explode more efficiently? Three different companies in canada are putting the final touches on devices to increase fuel efficientcy by 10 to 40 percent. I have a feeling that you might see these introduced in two or three years in canada. -- of course since all three companies got the idea from the same sources they are also in a legal battle.

sterling engine - a queit running engine invented many many years ago, could replace the gas engine as it produces more forces using the same amount of fuel when compared to a desiel engine. It uses heat as fuel rather than explosive forces. I find it interesting that you could explode the gas in a gas engine and transfer all of the heat to a sterling engine and produce twice as much force. Also using solar heat to power a sterling engine to turn a generator produces 2 to 4 times as power as a solar paneling can. There is a large solar farm in california that is going to use these.

I'm all talked out right now. bye everyone.
 

tlranger

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Diversity = survival

Peace T L Ranger
 

Columbusite

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Take a look at how much the US consumes keeping in mind we have a population of 300 million out of 5-6 billion. Alternatives to oil isn't going to be enough. We need to change the way we live. New urbanism is going to have to be implemented all over the country otherwise we are going to run into a brick wall.

 

UtahBill

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Columbusite said:
Take a look at how much the US consumes keeping in mind we have a population of 300 million out of 5-6 billion. Alternatives to oil isn't going to be enough. We need to change the way we live. New urbanism is going to have to be implemented all over the country otherwise we are going to run into a brick wall.

Nice chart, but it doesn't tell the whole story. The rest of the world includes low and non-producer nations. We export a lot of food to the rest of the world, especially to places that don't have the right climate to produce adequate food crops for themselves. That takes oil to run the tractors, make fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides, etc.
Our midwest portion of North America is one of a few "bread baskets" in the world. Ukraine is another.
It is much more complicated than that, but still, the chart only tells a very small part of the story.
 

Columbusite

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UtahBill said:
Nice chart, but it doesn't tell the whole story. The rest of the world includes low and non-producer nations. We export a lot of food to the rest of the world, especially to places that don't have the right climate to produce adequate food crops for themselves. That takes oil to run the tractors, make fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides, etc.
Our midwest portion of North America is one of a few "bread baskets" in the world. Ukraine is another.
It is much more complicated than that, but still, the chart only tells a very small part of the story.
The chart is basic but does that matter? We aren't going to be exporting like we are now and we are going to have to go back to trains instead of trucks hauling goods across the country. Without the cheapoil none of that is possible and add to that all the driving that Americans do compared to other countries. Go to Europe for example and you will find they build their city "suburbs" (different than the American version) smarter than we do.
 

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Columbusite said:
The chart is basic but does that matter? We aren't going to be exporting like we are now and we are going to have to go back to trains instead of trucks hauling goods across the country. Without the cheapoil none of that is possible and add to that all the driving that Americans do compared to other countries. Go to Europe for example and you will find they build their city "suburbs" (different than the American version) smarter than we do.
Europe is very densely populated compared to the USA, so the average American travels more to go to work, shop, etc. And most of Europe's villages were built long before oil became in short supply. A lot of Europe is the same as it was 100 years ago, excepting the portions that had to be rebuilt after a few major wars.
If we get to the point where we don't have enough oil to grow EXTRA food, we will stop exporting, and then the rest of the world will have a whole new reason to hate us, while they slowly starve to death.
Additionally, there are NO large volume alternatives to oil on the horizon, except for that part of oil that is used to produce electricity, which is minimal.
We have to firstly use less where we can, then increase the amount of oil we extract from coal.
Trains burn diesel, same as trucks, and the tracks don't run everywhere.
 

kcasper

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UtahBill said:
Additionally, there are NO large volume alternatives to oil on the horizon, except for that part of oil that is used to produce electricity, which is minimal.
We have to firstly use less where we can, then increase the amount of oil we extract from coal.
You need to stop being so depressing.

Actually the oil industry has choosen another direction. There are no large volume alternatives to oil on the horizon, but there is another very large source of crude oil. Oil Shales are getting new attention. The US has a trillion barrels of oil in shales and Canada has nearly 200 billion barrels of crude oil in oil shales according to wikipedia. At our current usage rate that adds 30 to 40 years of oil to a market that has around 30 years after the drilling crude oil industry peaks.

In order of expense to process right now would probably be: drilling crude oil, oil shales, coal to oil processing , TCP (conversion of any organic matter, including coal, to crude oil )

As shown with recent advances in oil shales research, each of these technologies will suddenly find ways to become less expensive just a few years before they are needed. I know TCP research is claiming it will come down in cost over the next two decades significantly. I would bet coal to oil is also.

There is likely enough oil for the rest of my life (I'm 28 by the way) and more than enoungh time to switch to other technologies such as hydrogen over the long term. I would rather focus on switching to new technologies for their enviromental and long term benefits rather than worry about how soon we will run out of oil.
 

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kcasper said:
You need to stop being so depressing.
Or more like realistic? Emerging countries like China and others are now serious competitors for oil, so the price is not likely to ever be low again. The good side of that is that it may just get us off our complacent butts and find ways to use/need less of it and at the same time find alternative sources.
Back in the mid 70's, about the time you were born :2razz: , I first got interested in alternate energy, even took a class in college night class called alternate energy technology. We studied them all, and made comparisons, and summed the situation up in a discussion type final exam. We decided that we can easily replace coal with nuclear to make electricity, but oil is a harder nut to crack. Cars will be using gasoline for a long, long time, and the best we can do for now is convert to diesel as a primary fuel.
One point that I like to make in topics like this is that when congress mandated cleaner burning cars, and better fuel economy, they should have also done the same for building standards. We might be 30 years ahead by now, instead of another 30 years behind.:doh
 

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here goes the alternate....people need to walk more...there you go....:2wave:
 

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Loxd4 said:
here goes the alternate....people need to walk more...there you go....:2wave:
New urbanism helps accomplish this. By having mixed-use buildings you can walk to the grocery store/restaurant/hardware store/shops/clubs. European cities already have this and a good number of American cities are starting to follow suit. Even here in Columbus which is a perfect example of a suburb dominated city you have a Kroger grocery store that is going to open soon just next to downtown not to mention more places to live in or near downtown. It's a good start.
 

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I am helping an electrician friend wire a house that is about 1.5 Million dollars in cost. It would be a lot more if on acreage, but the lot is just barely big enough for the house and pool. (If it was mine, I would want a bigger lot and smaller house) Nothing in this house says energy conservation, it is just the opposite. Even the children's bathroom has a jacuzzi bathtub. Electrical work alone is around $17,000, and that does not include the fixtures or appliances.
This is in-your-face conspicuous consumption, and these are not people who are really rich, just a little rich.
We need to shed ourselves of this "look at my success and wealth" attitude.
The truly rich are not happy unless they have a stable of luxury cars and their names in Forbes magazine. It is good for the economy when the rich spend, but couldn't they spend some of their wealth with conservation of resources in mind?
Just like during the depression, the middle class will suffer if we have a serious energy shortage. The rich will still be able to afford it, and the poor won't notice the loss of what they didn't have to start with.:(
 

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We're not running out of any of these resources.
Correct. We're just about to cross an inflection point beyond which the remaining resources will not be enough to sustain life for everyone, however. Actually, thanks to innate human competitiveness, we've already crossed that point.

I've read that at our current rate (and rate of increase I believe) that our oil supply will not last til 2100.
At our current rate of consumption and rate of increase (assuming no extraction constraints), URR's (ultimately recoverable reserves) will actually run out in the next few decades. But that won't happen; we'll never extract it all.

Coal I'm not sure about supplies but it is a non-renewable resource so eventually it will be gone.
There are estimated to be a total of 495 short tons of coal in place in the United States. If we were to use all that to immediately and completely replace oil, it wouldn't last long (a few years). But that's a moot point; in fact, it will never be economical to extract coal at significantly greater volumes than we do now; and it will never be an adequate substitute for oil.

Some companies are investing in alternative (renewable) energy sources (corn oil, hydrogen) which makes me optimistic... though we can't efficiently utilize it yet.
It was recently calculated that, per year, the world uses 400 times the energy available in the entire biomass present on planet earth--assuming that biomass were to be converted to ethanol. This is simple chemistry; the laws of nature dictate that we will not be able to replace oil with ethanol or biodiesel.

I remember during the energy crisis of the late 70's, we were suppose to run out of oil in 25 years.
That's a significant distortion of the reports from the 70's I have seen. People were expressing significant concern that early. But the earth had not been as fully explored as it is now.

Technology has allowed us to grab more energy than ever before and will continue to do so, it has only proven that fact every single year.
Only trivially correct. Ultimately recoverable reserves have grown thanks to technology, though no significant new technology has been developed since the 80's. But once a field enters decline, no existing technology changes that.

Coal is a huge asset of the midwest and eastern mountain states, and with the newer clean burning technology, we get more btu's per pound of coal than we ever have. Expect technology to keep advancing clean burning coal in the future.
True, but again only trivially so. The efficiencies that have been found will not significantly extend our supplies of coal if we turn to extracting them as a replacement for oil.

None of those will "soon" run out, and none of them are fundamentally essential to our continued economic progress anyway.
How do you figure?

Umm, if you had bothered to research any statistics at all before making this assertion, you would see that population growth reached a peak in the mid-70s and has been leveling off ever since.
The population has continued to grow since the 1970's. Do you mean that the rate of growth reached a peak then?

What are you talking about? The population growth from births in the United States is virtually zero. Why would we have to implement any draconian measures?
Because there are too many people and not enough energy to support them all.

Conservation is the first alternate "resource" that should be implemented. We can do it now, for cheap, and sometimes even for free, but most of us don't. Why is that? We don't feel the financial pinch required to force a lifestyle change on us, not yet.
Interesting connundrum, this. The fact is that most people in the world, and especially in the United States, make their living on the waste that our society generates. Once we are forced to conserve, lots of people will be out of jobs.

This is called demand destruction. How do you destroy demand for an inelastic resource? By collapsing the economy that consumes it. People who are starving and homeless don't drive SUV's, they don't buy strawberries from Chile, they don't fly on 747's to summer in Europe.

Brazil has an ideal situation for alternate fuel for vehicles. They are in a milder climate with lots of rain, and have more than enough green stuff to convert to ethanol. Their sugar cane crop waste products get used to make ethanol and they even use the stalks for fuel to power the process. They also make biodeisel from soy beans.
We don't have the best climate and the millions of extra acres of land, so it is a given that the more land we use for fuel, the less we will be able to use for food
1) We best hope that Brazil doesn't use those millions of extra acres for sugar cane production. Those millions of extra acres are the Amazon Rain Forrest, which currently produces some 38% of the world's oxygen. The soil is not really suitable for farming; right now what happens is they slash and burn, grow one season's worth of crops, and then leave it as a giant mudhole where nothing will grow. Very little life will survive with 38% less oxygen.

2) See my remarks above on bio fuels. Except on a very small, local scale, they're not viable, period.

Thermal Conversion, my favorite topic, takes any carbon based material and turns it into crude oil and natural gas.
I'm not aware that the pilot plant in Missouri produces natural gas. They do produce 400 barrels per day of something that resembles crude oil. However, once natural gas is no longer a viable fertilizer feedstock, it will be difficult to produce inputs for thermal depolymerization. Additionally, the plant cost 20 million to build so it's not a process that's attracting significant investment. At an assumed maximum of 500 barrels per day (CWT claims that they could get up to 800 barrels per day eventually, but they've been running a couple years and have continually to turn away offered feedstock), we would need to build 44,000 plants at the low low price of 880 billion dollars. If we're talking about world consumption, at current levels, we'd need to invest 3.4 trillion. Not impossible, but unlikely to happen. It's not clear that the inputs would be available at that level.

Actually the oil industry has choosen another direction. There are no large volume alternatives to oil on the horizon, but there is another very large source of crude oil. Oil Shales are getting new attention. The US has a trillion barrels of oil in shales and Canada has nearly 200 billion barrels of crude oil in oil shales according to wikipedia. At our current usage rate that adds 30 to 40 years of oil to a market that has around 30 years after the drilling crude oil industry peaks.
No one is looking seriously at developing the Utah Shale Oil deposits. The little blurb in the news about that was because Orin Hatch (who is normally smarter than this) made the statement that there was "another Saudi Arabia" there. Of course, it's his home state, so it may have been his way of directing money there.

Anyway, extraction of oil from the Shale Oil deposits is a process that uses more energy than it consumes. The Athabascan Oil Sands in Alberta will max out at 10 million barrels per day, which is less than 1/8th current consumption levels worldwide. Additionally, Oil Sands require natural gas to extract, so given the supply constraints that will be occurring in the next few years with NG, I doubt the oil sands will be in production long. They are, however, looking at other processes, but so far none of them look promising.

As shown with recent advances in oil shales research, each of these technologies will suddenly find ways to become less expensive just a few years before they are needed.
I'm afraid I disagree. That's completely not what reality is.

I know TCP research is claiming it will come down in cost over the next two decades significantly. I would bet coal to oil is also.
Thermal Depolymerization, Thermochemical Conversion, and related processes are not taken very seriously by anyone either. They're very simple processes, but they've got a very low production rate. Too low for anyone to be seriously interested. The stuff you find on the internet about them is mostly hype.

There is likely enough oil for the rest of my life (I'm 28 by the way)...
Certainly...not that you will (or anyone will) be using any of it very much longer.

...and more than enoungh time to switch to other technologies such as hydrogen over the long term. I would rather focus on switching to new technologies for their enviromental and long term benefits rather than worry about how soon we will run out of oil.
Too late. We will switch from oil back to food as the primary energy source, and there won't be nearly enough of that, it appears.
 

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I believe that hydrogen is the is the best alternative to gas. Isn't the problem with hydrogen that it is extremely explosive and that they are trying to paccify it and turn it into a solid?
 

ashurbanipal

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I believe that hydrogen is the is the best alternative to gas. Isn't the problem with hydrogen that it is extremely explosive and that they are trying to paccify it and turn it into a solid?
No, the problem is that it takes more energy to produce a fuel cell than you get out of using the fuel cell. Also, though I have not confirmed this, it is now rumored that one reason they haven't yet started mass production is that the engines only have a life of about 200 hours. If that's correct, of course, fuel cell vehicles become more or less useless.
 
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