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Peak Oil and what it means for our way of life

Columbusite

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I'd like to start an intelligent discussion on Peak oil, so the ignorant need not apply, ie those who say "we have alternative energy, so no need to worry". I want people who are at least relatively knowledgeable on the subject to give input.

The fact is, alternative energies presented so far will not be a viable alternative to oil. In this country, the majority of people live in spawling suburbs where cars are a necessity, not an option, and China and India are rapidly industrializing, so that even if we did have real alternatives, they'd be consumed at such a high rate that they are not the solution. The USA accounts for about 5% of the world population, yet consumess 25% of oil used the world over. Whether we peak in 5, 10, 20, or 40+ years is not the point. The point is that in this country we need to do some serious overhauling in our living arrangements & transportation, otherwise we are setting ourselves up for a doom & gloom scenario. We need to take rail seriously for transporting both goods and people, while sprawling suburbs are going to have to, where possible, be turned into walkable towns. A small number of suburbs are already wakable/bikeable and therefore exempt. This endeavor will take decades so the time for this to start is now. Some alternative energies will act as suppliments, but most certainly cannot replace oil the way we are consuming it today.
 

Billo_Really

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I don't know why we can't do what their doing in Brazil.
 

Columbusite

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Billo_Really said:
I don't know why we can't do what their doing in Brazil.

Their population is 186 million vs 300 million and people there can't afford ubiquitous sprawling suburbs. Instead, they walk, bike, and take public transit in cities and towns, again not car-dependent suburbs. In other words, they aren't consuming 25% of oil used worldwide. If it could work putting aside whether it takes more energy to make that ethanol than what you get out of it, where could we grow all that sugarcane and/or corn? How are we going to increase AND sustain suburban sprawl with that along with expanding highways for transporting people and goods? That may aide us, but it cannot make-up for the extraordinarily high amount of oil the average American consumes everyday.
 
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ashurbanipal

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The problem with "doing what they are doing in Brazil" is that what they're doing in Brazil is not sustainable. They're burning through the Amazon rain-forrest for farmland that lasts a few years to grow the sugarcane necessary to produce so much ethanol. Eventually, the land will run out. Right now, they are a net importer of food (but only just, as I understand it). And that only provides 40% of their total fuel consumption.
 

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Columbusite said:
Whether we peak in 5, 10, 20, or 40+ years is not the point.

I would say that this is almost the whole point. If we peak in 5 years (which I consider somewhat likely), the word "cataclysm" doesn't really capture the situation we will find ourselves in a few years later. If we peak in 40 years, we have time to effect mitigation.
 

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Supply and Demand has a way of working things out. I don't think energy is an exception. As oil supplies dwindle, the cost of fuel will rise, resulting in significantly more money being invested in alternative sources and solutions.

Hybrid cars have been available but, prior to a few months ago, it was rare that you'd see one on the street. The American Public offered very little incentive to the Auto makers to pour billions into a stagnant market. Don't underestimate the Industrial Might of the US or the ability of our Researchers.

1977-79:

General Motors spends over $20 million in electric car development and research, reporting that electric vehicles could be in mass production by the mid-1980s.

1980-97:
Various automobile companies, as well as independent inventors continue to improve upon the theory of Hybrids, creating many proto-types and plans. These years are considered to be important in Hybrid history because the computer started to be used in Hybrids to help increase their efficiency.

1992:
Toyota Motor Corporation announced the "Earth Charter," a document outlining goals to develop and market vehicles with the lowest emissions possible.

1997:
Toyota Prius went on sale to the public in Japan. First-year sales were nearly 18,000.

1997 - 1999:
A small selection of all-electric cars from the big automakers—including Honda’s EV Plus, GM’s EV1 and S-10 electric pickup, a Ford Ranger pickup, and Toyota’s RAV4 EV—were introduced in California. Within a few years the enthusiasm was again dropped.

Link



Here is an excerpt from a US Geological Survey that is highly regarded by Industry expects and the Government.




Will the world ever physically run out of crude oil? No, but only because it will eventually become very expensive in absence of lower-cost alternatives. When will worldwide production of conventionally reservoired crude oil peak? That will in part depend on the rate of demand growth, which is subject to reduction via both technological advancements in petroleum product usage such as hybrid-powered automobiles and the substitution of new energy source technologies such as hydrogen-fed fuel cells where the hydrogen is obtained, for example, from natural gas, other hydrogen-rich organic compounds, or electrolysis of water. It will also depend in part on the rate at which technological advancement, operating in concert with world oil market economics, accelerates large-scale development of unconventional sources of crude such as tar sands and very heavy oils. Production from some of the Canadian tar sands and Venezuelan heavy oil deposits is already economic and growing.

In any event, the world production peak for conventionally reservoired crude is unlikely to be "right around the corner" as so many other estimators have been predicting. Our analysis shows that it will be closer to the middle of the 21st century than to its beginning. Given the long lead times required for significant mass-market penetration of new energy technologies, this result in no way justifies complacency about both supply-side and demand-side research and development.

link

The East Coast has a very effective Public Transportation system. In fact, the majority of people living in Manhattan do not own a car and only about half own a car in the NYC area.

Houston, where I live, has a reasonable Public Transportation system that could be upgraded to handle heavier traffic as well.

In short, as oil prices rise from lack of supply, Hybrids and Public Transportation will rise resulting in better Public Transportation Systems and improvements in alternative sources.
 

Kandahar

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The fact is, alternative energies presented so far will not be a viable alternative to oil. In this country, the majority of people live in spawling suburbs where cars are a necessity, not an option,

Even if I accept your premise that cars are a necessity, that doesn't automatically translate into oil being a necessity. Alternative energies will come to market whenever there is enough demand for them. There will be more demand for them as the price of gasoline increases.

Columbusite said:
and China and India are rapidly industrializing, so that even if we did have real alternatives, they'd be consumed at such a high rate that they are not the solution.

If they were in such high demand, they'd be very expensive and therefore companies would scramble to supply as much alternative energy to the market as they possibly could. That would, in turn, lower the price.

Columbusite said:
The USA accounts for about 5% of the world population, yet consumess 25% of oil used the world over. Whether we peak in 5, 10, 20, or 40+ years is not the point. The point is that in this country we need to do some serious overhauling in our living arrangements & transportation, otherwise we are setting ourselves up for a doom & gloom scenario.

No we aren't. The idea that we're going to continue using the amount of oil we're currently using until we suddenly run out is implausible. The price of oil will necessarily increase as the supply decreases. We'll never use up the last barrel of oil.

Columbusite said:
We need to take rail seriously for transporting both goods and people, while sprawling suburbs are going to have to, where possible, be turned into walkable towns. A small number of suburbs are already wakable/bikeable and therefore exempt.

How exactly are we going to do this? Economics already provides us with a sort of evolutionary mechanism: People will naturally move to more walkable cities, and abandon the less walkable cities, if they feel its in their economic interests to do so.

Columbusite said:
This endeavor will take decades so the time for this to start is now. Some alternative energies will act as suppliments, but most certainly cannot replace oil the way we are consuming it today.

Why not?
 

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A couple random points (due to lack of time):

1) The USGS survey is fatally flawed. They developed three cases for each basin studied-the p5, p50, and p95 cases. That means that in the p95 case, they determined it was 95% likely that some given basin contained x amount of oil, the p50 case was that it was 50% likely that it contained x+y amount of oil, and the p5 case was that was 5% likely that it contained x+y+z amount of oil. The p95 case is, by definition, the most likely total reserves (the aggregate p95 case from the USGS survey matches what other mainstream researchers believe is the URR for the world)--but to arrive at their numbers, they took a mean of the p95 and p5 case. It's worth noting that in the nearly 6 years since the infamous survey came out, they've been wrong in all six by orders of magnitude for the amount of oil they thought would be discovered. They're way off base according to other third party firms--even CERA doesn't trust their numbers.

2) There are serious scalability issues with alternatives--they will not, in any combination (except possibly nuclear) be brought to market in a way that will come remotely close to replacing the energy base that oil gives us.

3) Classical economists did not foresee situations where a finite resource would become the principle currency of any given economy. Once oil becomes too expensive to produce at its present rate, the usual laws of supply and demand will become null and void.
 

Kandahar

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There are serious scalability issues with alternatives--they will not, in any combination (except possibly nuclear) be brought to market in a way that will come remotely close to replacing the energy base that oil gives us.

Nuclear power can supply us with all the energy we need. But why don't you think that other forms of power could also do it?

ashurbanipal said:
3) Classical economists did not foresee situations where a finite resource would become the principle currency of any given economy.

Money itself is a finite resource.

ashurbanipal said:
Once oil becomes too expensive to produce at its present rate, the usual laws of supply and demand will become null and void.

Why? If gas-guzzlers are more cost-effective than hybrids at $2 a gallon, people will buy gas-guzzlers. If hybrids are more cost-effective than gas-guzzlers at $4 a gallon, people will buy hybrids. Same logic applies to anything else that requires energy.
 

ashurbanipal

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Kandahar said:
Nuclear power can supply us with all the energy we need. But why don't you think that other forms of power could also do it?

1) Nuclear has certain limitations--it doesn't seem possible to build a nuclear airplane, for instance. Or, for that matter, have nuclear automobiles. You can use nuclear reactors to power electric automobiles, but at least right now, electric automobiles have to be fairly small and light, and do not have the kind of range that gas-powered vehicles have. All of this could be resolved, but to build the infrastructure that would be necessary to support it, we need a lot of energy. Where is that energy going to come from if we also have to use it just to keep our economy going?

2) If you do the math on the amount of gasoline we use in this country per year and then determine how much ethanol can be produced per acre of a given crop, you discover that we would need nearly all our available arable land to produce ethanol. Worldwide, the situation is roughly the same. This is not to say that we can't produce some ethanol, but we will never produce very much.

3) Wind and solar simply aren't scalable--there's not enough of the necessary materials in the world to build wind or solar farms capable of supplying more than a little of the world's energy needs.

4) The biggest issue with all these alternatives is that per unit of energy invested, they do not produce nearly as much energy in return as oil does. Oil has been a huge bonus for homo sapiens partially because of this. Right now, we have to burn 1 barrel of oil to get roughly 45 barrels out of the ground (on average--each field is different). With ethanol, however, when we invest one unit of energy, we only get a little less than 2 units back, and some analyses have concluded that it is a net energy loser. Wind and solar fare only a little better (thanks mainly to maintenance costs). Nuclear is something like 1:10 IIRC, so it's the best alternative, but it's still nowhere close to oil's ratio. Switching over fully to a combination of alternatives (which will not happen very soon) will be a huge blow to the world's economy. Frankly, I don't expect very many people to survive it.

Kandahar said:
Money itself is a finite resource.

Well, I spoke a little imprecisely in that what I meant to indicate were renewable/ reusable resources. The foundations of all previous economies except one were on renewable resources--usually on land and agricultural products. If there's only so much wheat in the storehouse, you don't have to worry so long as it's enough to get by for one year because you can (at least in principle) grow more for next year. You consume the wheat knowing that this is the case.

But oil is different--once used, it doesn't get replaced for millions of years (if at all). This is unfortunate because oil is really what underpins our economy. I have trouble thinking of any economic activity that doesn't rely either directly or indirectly on inputs of oil or natural gas. Without oil, food production would plummet, most transportation would stop, extraneous retail outlets wouldn't get inventory, restaurants would close, etc. etc. Adam Smith and David Ricardo didn't really think this sort of situation would ever develop. They assumed that supply constraints could be handled by market forces--but this is geology. We will get to a point where, no matter how much money we invest, we just won't be getting as much oil out of the ground. That point may have occurred last year, though I think it more likely that production will plateau out to about 2012.

Ash:Once oil becomes too expensive to produce at its present rate, the usual laws of supply and demand will become null and void.

KandaharWhy? If gas-guzzlers are more cost-effective than hybrids at $2 a gallon, people will buy gas-guzzlers. If hybrids are more cost-effective than gas-guzzlers at $4 a gallon, people will buy hybrids. Same logic applies to anything else that requires energy.

I'm not sure I understand your reply. The available supply of goods and services depends on the availability of oil, at least in the U.S. and in most of the world. Food gets harvested by machines that burn diesel fuel, transported to warehouses and then to stores with trucks that burn diesel as well. Those warehouses were built and are maintained by machines that use oil as a source of energy. People drive 50 miles or so to their places of business in cars that run on gasoline. Those cars are made of metals mined by machines that run on gasoline and diesel, or plastics which are petroleum products. Retail items are very often made of plastic or other materials whose production also depends on oil.

The problem of peak oil is quite simply that, no matter how much money is invested and no matter how great the demand, there will come a point where we will be producing as much oil per unit of time as we will ever produce, and from then on production will decline. Most often, economists believe that an increase in demand will drive an increase in supply as the price increase causes investors to put their money into producing and selling the in-demand product. But this will not be the case with oil--dwindling supplies will make everything more expensive, not just filling your car up on Monday morning. This includes the very components of the infrastructure that we use to extract oil to begin with. It's not going to be a matter of buying more cost-effective cars. While that will initially save some oil for other applications, it's not clear that production of automobiles would be able to continue at the present rate; so not everyone suddenly gets a hybrid anyway.
 

Columbusite

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Even if I accept your premise that cars are a necessity, that doesn't automatically translate into oil being a necessity. Alternative energies will come to market whenever there is enough demand for them. There will be more demand for them as the price of gasoline increases.

You don't have to accept that premise, but it's true for the majority of Americans. When you have large distances between your house and where you need to shop you need a car. It is not an option in a sprawling suburb and this is why every individual in any given home there has their own car. Just one problem with alternative energies, not one, not even a combination can replace the oil we use. What magical energy source are we going to use? Because it's going to have to be magic since nothing from ethanol to hydrogen can do what oil does.

If they were in such high demand, they'd be very expensive and therefore companies would scramble to supply as much alternative energy to the market as they possibly could. That would, in turn, lower the price.

And what if the price of oil is being kept artificially much too low? In other countries oil costs twice as much as it does here. Considering how utterly dependent we are on oil, it should be more expensive.

No we aren't. The idea that we're going to continue using the amount of oil we're currently using until we suddenly run out is implausible. The price of oil will necessarily increase as the supply decreases. We'll never use up the last barrel of oil.

I never said we'd run out. In fact, that's the whole point of peak oil. Once you get the to the half-way point you'd better be ready for less oil and we're no where close to being ready.

How exactly are we going to do this? Economics already provides us with a sort of evolutionary mechanism: People will naturally move to more walkable cities, and abandon the less walkable cities, if they feel its in their economic interests to do so.

It most likely will happen faster than we can keep up. How is the majority of Americans choice for home, sprawling suburbs, going to all be turned into walkable communities? And is light rail just going to pop up too? This is all going to take a long time. You can't just wait till gas is too expensive and then just expect all of this to happen at once. The sheer cost of that would be so staggering. That's why need to at least be relatively prepared and have decent mass transit in our cities.



They're not cheap. There's not one alternative energy source that is cheap like oil and to think we can just switch over to some other one and keep consuming the amount of energy we do today is just plain crazy. It's just wishful thinking. If you know of an energy alternative that can replace oil I'd like to hear about. Here's a hint, it's not hydrogen.
 

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I would say that this is almost the whole point. If we peak in 5 years (which I consider somewhat likely), the word "cataclysm" doesn't really capture the situation we will find ourselves in a few years later. If we peak in 40 years, we have time to effect mitigation.

Well, yeah you're absolutely right. The point I was making is that we've got to start seriously preparing now so that whenever, not if, it does happen we'll be somewhat prepared. If it does happen in 5 years we're pretty much ****ed. I think that term sums up just how dire a situation we'd be in.
 

Columbusite

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Supply and Demand has a way of working things out. I don't think energy is an exception. As oil supplies dwindle, the cost of fuel will rise, resulting in significantly more money being invested in alternative sources and solutions.

Hybrid cars have been available but, prior to a few months ago, it was rare that you'd see one on the street. The American Public offered very little incentive to the Auto makers to pour billions into a stagnant market. Don't underestimate the Industrial Might of the US or the ability of our Researchers.



Link



Here is an excerpt from a US Geological Survey that is highly regarded by Industry expects and the Government.






link

The East Coast has a very effective Public Transportation system. In fact, the majority of people living in Manhattan do not own a car and only about half own a car in the NYC area.

Houston, where I live, has a reasonable Public Transportation system that could be upgraded to handle heavier traffic as well.

In short, as oil prices rise from lack of supply, Hybrids and Public Transportation will rise resulting in better Public Transportation Systems and improvements in alternative sources.

Unfortunately, tar sands are a joke. Hydrogen is a joke. Tar sands have to be heavily processed and even then they're unusable until some chemicals/elements are added. You basically use more energy to produce it than you get out of it. And then hydrogen, well just look at what that article says we're going to need; natural gas. Natural gas is dwindling and we want to rely on a resource that is becoming much rarer as the days go by? How are people going to heat their homes with natural gas, which is already expensive, and use it to replace the vast amount of oil we use? Not gonna happen. Mass transit will go a long way in slowing the coming of peak oil (if we haven't already peaked) but only if it's up and running. Columbus is going to spend $850 million on fixing a highway split. The same amount could have payed for one light rail line and an extensive streetcar system for downtown and surrounding neighborhoods which would have taken cars off the road and lowered oil consumption. The big problem is that the media does not talk about any of this. When was the last time you saw this being discussed on the local news or CNN or MSNBC? One of the best things we could do now is allocate much more federal/state funding for mass transit instead of the paltry amount it is currently being given.
 

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It's pretty much a "given" that if you use a limited resource at an ever increasing rate that eventually you'll run out. I can't claim to know much about oil sand, shale oil, or any other of those technologies though.

I really think Hydrogen is our future. I don't want to drag your "peak oil" thread off topic, and I'm not ready to start a hydrogen thread, so that discussion will have to wait for another day.
 

Maximus Zeebra

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Their population is 186 million vs 300 million and people there can't afford ubiquitous sprawling suburbs. Instead, they walk, bike, and take public transit in cities and towns, again not car-dependent suburbs. In other words, they aren't consuming 25% of oil used worldwide. If it could work putting aside whether it takes more energy to make that ethanol than what you get out of it, where could we grow all that sugarcane and/or corn? How are we going to increase AND sustain suburban sprawl with that along with expanding highways for transporting people and goods? That may aide us, but it cannot make-up for the extraordinarily high amount of oil the average American consumes everyday.


Get a decent public transportation system...
 

danarhea

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Supply and Demand has a way of working things out. I don't think energy is an exception. As oil supplies dwindle, the cost of fuel will rise, resulting in significantly more money being invested in alternative sources and solutions.

Hybrid cars have been available but, prior to a few months ago, it was rare that you'd see one on the street. The American Public offered very little incentive to the Auto makers to pour billions into a stagnant market. Don't underestimate the Industrial Might of the US or the ability of our Researchers.



Link



Here is an excerpt from a US Geological Survey that is highly regarded by Industry expects and the Government.






link

The East Coast has a very effective Public Transportation system. In fact, the majority of people living in Manhattan do not own a car and only about half own a car in the NYC area.

Houston, where I live, has a reasonable Public Transportation system that could be upgraded to handle heavier traffic as well.

In short, as oil prices rise from lack of supply, Hybrids and Public Transportation will rise resulting in better Public Transportation Systems and improvements in alternative sources.

I also live in Houston, where the Gulf freeway has been under construction since 1955 - LOL.

Seriously, I think the rail system is a disaster. Not only does it make for more of a nightmare when driving downtown, but more buses could have been put into service, thus doing the same job at a fraction of the cost.
 
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I want people who are at least relatively knowledgeable on the subject to give input.

Then, apparently, you don't qualify to post in your own thread. There are MANY viable alternative fuels.

The fact is, alternative energies presented so far will not be a viable alternative to oil.

The fact is that there are. The first is nuclear power to generate electricity for homes buisinesses, etc. We could already have this oil dependency solved if people would stop being such big babies about it. The second is solar/electric for vehicles. The Tesla motor company has created the most promising solar/electric model called the Tesla Roadster. I'd take a look if I were you because that baby is exponentially better in appearence and performance than most of the scrap heaps on the road today. There would be a higher demand of such vehicles and they would be cheaper and produced in greater numbers if the Washington pinheads would spend less time salivating over the feet of the Saudi royal family and more time promoting and dedicating tax dollars towards research.


The point is that in this country we need to do some serious overhauling in our living arrangements & transportation, otherwise we are setting ourselves up for a doom & gloom scenario.

The problem isn't finding viable alternative fuels because we already have them. The problem is that almost everything around us is made from a byproduct of petroleum. What we're going to do about that in less than 49 years, which is when we will see the peak oil marker, is still a mystery.
 

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NN said:
Then, apparently, you don't qualify to post in your own thread. There are MANY viable alternative fuels.

Viable in what way--what do you mean by that?

NN said:
The fact is that there are. The first is nuclear power to generate electricity for homes buisinesses, etc. We could already have this oil dependency solved if people would stop being such big babies about it.

And how are we going to build enough nuclear reactors in time? Building reactors takes energy.

NN said:
The second is solar/electric for vehicles. The Tesla motor company has created the most promising solar/electric model called the Tesla Roadster. I'd take a look if I were you because that baby is exponentially better in appearence and performance than most of the scrap heaps on the road today. There would be a higher demand of such vehicles and they would be cheaper and produced in greater numbers if the Washington pinheads would spend less time salivating over the feet of the Saudi royal family and more time promoting and dedicating tax dollars towards research.

Do you have a study that shows that this will be a viable option? Most of what I've read indicates it couldn't be.

As for research; I think it's really too late for that. Oh, we should do it. We shouldn't hang our hopes on it, though.

NN said:
The problem isn't finding viable alternative fuels because we already have them.

Viable? Sure. Scalable? No, not remotely.

NN said:
The problem is that almost everything around us is made from a byproduct of petroleum. What we're going to do about that in less than 49 years, which is when we will see the peak oil marker, is still a mystery.

49 years? The only estimate I'm aware of that puts peak out that far is Michael Lynch's--and he's an economist, not a geologist. The most optimistic date by geologists is from the USGS, but the USGS 2001 study was obviously flawed; see my remarks earlier in this thread for a summary. Other dates disagree by a few years. Deffeyes put peak last year (so far we've never exceeded production in Q4 of 2005, but it's too early to call it). Campbell and Laherre put it at about 2010. Bahktiari put it this year. Various other dates run between 2008 and 2015; I tend to like a field by field analysis performed by Torjus Gaarden that puts peak at 2012; his methodology was meticulous and didn't take anything for granted.

Anyway, most of the news that's been coming out over the last couple of years is pretty bad. I'm not terribly optimistic, if you can't tell.
 

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It's pretty much a "given" that if you use a limited resource at an ever increasing rate that eventually you'll run out. I can't claim to know much about oil sand, shale oil, or any other of those technologies though.

I really think Hydrogen is our future. I don't want to drag your "peak oil" thread off topic, and I'm not ready to start a hydrogen thread, so that discussion will have to wait for another day.


There's no need for another thread, hydrogen is totally relevant to peak oil. If you have broadband pause this video, let it load and start it at 51:07. It's the part of the interview with James Howard Kunstler which deals with hydrogen and the problems it faces. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4878856748297910182
 

Columbusite

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Then, apparently, you don't qualify to post in your own thread. There are MANY viable alternative fuels.

Depends on what you mean by "viable" and in what context. I mean it regarding the replacement of oil. You could list all alternative fules in existence and they cannot and will not replace oil, not at the rate we are consuming them now.

The fact is that there are. The first is nuclear power to generate electricity for homes buisinesses, etc. We could already have this oil dependency solved if people would stop being such big babies about it. The second is solar/electric for vehicles. The Tesla motor company has created the most promising solar/electric model called the Tesla Roadster. I'd take a look if I were you because that baby is exponentially better in appearence and performance than most of the scrap heaps on the road today. There would be a higher demand of such vehicles and they would be cheaper and produced in greater numbers if the Washington pinheads would spend less time salivating over the feet of the Saudi royal family and more time promoting and dedicating tax dollars towards research.

I'm for nuclear and so are you. However, we're a small minority and the majority really needs to come around on this issue, and fast. Problems with a solar/eletric car are twofold. The biggest problem is that the living arrangement for the majority of Americans necessitates a car. Those big parking lots in front of big-box retailers are there for a reason, virtually no one is within walking distance of them. Secondly, without changing that living arrangement, the average American lifestyle, you're going to need a good deal of oil to produce those solar panels for suburban homes everywhere where Ma, Pa, & both kids need a car for transportation and they're going to be using a lot of electricty for all those cars to run, nevermind heating, etc. That electricity has to come from somewwhere and people aren't keen on nuclear so it'll be lots of heavily polluting coal.

The problem isn't finding viable alternative fuels because we already have them. The problem is that almost everything around us is made from a byproduct of petroleum. What we're going to do about that in less than 49 years, which is when we will see the peak oil marker, is still a mystery.

Well there you go. Just remember that goods that need petroleum for production aren't the only things dependent on it, alternative fuels are too. Or natural gas, but we're running very low on that too, so it makes little sense to make ourselves heavily dependent on a high consumption of alternative fuels that need natural gas. What we should be doing is starting a large-scale change in where we live and how regarding energy consumption, because we're going to need all the time we can get to find out how to get the most out of energy without using so much of it since we won't be able to for that much longer.
 

Columbusite

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I also live in Houston, where the Gulf freeway has been under construction since 1955 - LOL.

Seriously, I think the rail system is a disaster. Not only does it make for more of a nightmare when driving downtown, but more buses could have been put into service, thus doing the same job at a fraction of the cost.

Rail is what will save us from disaster. Have you been overseas in industrialized countries? The benefits of rail are enormous. The problem with traffic is that you're dealing with a transition period to a more balanced transportation system. If you don't want to face traffic driving downtown, live there or live somewhere near a station where you'd face minimal traffic, otherwise it's a part of the suburban package, so suburbanites can't complain about traffic since they bought into a lifestyle which makes it inevitable and copious. As for buses, who honestly takes the bus? In many American cities the people who ride the bus have no other choice, there's plenty of stigmas and negativity associated with riding the bus. Nevermind the fact that a bus system uses up a lot more energy than a rail system and they don't attract mixed-use higher-density urban development like rail has been shown to do. There is not a single successful, vibrant downtown in any large city that is easy to drive in. Period. If it is easy to get around in by car, it's probably not a city worth visiting and was probably left for dead by its citizens decades ago. You should take heavy traffic downtown as a good indicator and as a sign that you should use other forms of transportation unless you like sitting in heavy traffic.
 

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There's no need for another thread, hydrogen is totally relevant to peak oil. If you have broadband pause this video, let it load and start it at 51:07. It's the part of the interview with James Howard Kunstler which deals with hydrogen and the problems it faces. The Long Emergency: Surviving Catastophies of the 21st Century - Google Video

I actually agree with much of what he said. (regarding hydrogen, I didn't watch the whole thing)

2 points I disagree on...

the claim that a truck that would haul 20,000 tons of gasoline would only haul 800 kg of hydrogen is misleading. I might be true in a strict literal sense, I'm not sure, but comparing the mass of a liquid vs. a lighter that air gas is not meaningful. You need to compare the energy value, not mass. Looked at that way I've read that it's about 10 to 1. The number i read was that a typical gasoline tanker can haul fuel for about 800 cars, but would only haul hydrogen for 80 cars. While that still sounds bad what you need to realize is that using trucks is about the most inefficient way to transport it. The best way to transport it is through pipeline, which would be way more efficient. But even better still is that hydrogen lends itself to local production, even on site in some places, so transport is not a major concern.

The second point I disagree on is his believe that people think that you can just "pop it into" the same infrastructure as gasoline. I know that's not true. I know that probably the only similarity a hydrogen gas station will have to the current one is the guy behind the counter. It will be a big change, no doubt about it.

his claim about problems with tanks and seals is true but the same is true about most types of fuel. Every fuel type is different and requires different materials for tanks and seals.

The biggest problem with hydrogen is that we don't have any. There's no hydrogen mines, no wells, you can't grow it, you have to use a different type of energy to get it.

The good news is that there's many ways to do that. Any source of electricity can be used... wind, solar, hydroelectric, conventional, nuclear, whatever you have. You can get hydrogen from any fossil fuel, oil, natural gas, coal. You can get it from any type of plant life, agricultural wastes, landfill gas, or dedicated fuel crops. So never again would any country or group of countries control the world supply.

BTW heres an article on hydrogen that discusses some of these issues in more depth: The Truth About Hydrogen - Popular Mechanics
 

brewmenn

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Rail is what will save us from disaster.

Rail can help, but it can't save us. You can't use rail to plant and harvest crops. You can't use rail for moving everything. rail can't go to every farm, factory, and store. No matter how many new rail lines you build you won't reach everywhere.

I live in a city with no light rail transportation and live about 30 miles from my work place. But I'm not worried about how I'll get to work if we run out of oil.


I live in Detroit and work in the auto industry. If we run out of oil there will be no job to go to, and transportation will be the least of my concerns. :crazy3:
 
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Rail can help, but it can't save us. You can't use rail to plant and harvest crops. You can't use rail for moving everything. rail can't go to every farm, factory, and store. No matter how many new rail lines you build you won't reach everywhere.

I live in a city with no light rail transportation and live about 30 miles from my work place. But I'm not worried about how I'll get to work if we run out of oil.


I live in Detroit and work in the auto industry. If we run out of oil there will be no job to go to, and transportation will be the least of my concerns. :crazy3:

Electricity from uranium and sun will save humanity (I hope) and your job (I believe).
 
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