By Seth Richardson
One of the questions regarding the global warming debate routinely asks “how is fossil fuel use sustainable?” The answer is short and sweet: “It isn’t, in the long term.” But the long term is a very long time, meaning centuries and perhaps millennia. Nothing much is going to change in our lifetimes, that is an economic certainty.
Supply and demand is the ultimate arbiter of the value of any resource. When the supply runs out, demand will naturally shift to a different resource. When it comes to fossil fuels however, there is little evidence that the supply is going to run out any time soon. That fact alone will overcome any attempts to phase out fossil fuel use worldwide.
Keep in mind that every time someone predicts we have reached “peak oil,” some oil company finds yet another massive reserve of oil, usually on the narrowest of fringes of the 70 percent of the planet that has yet to be geophysically explored for oil and gas. As drilling technology improves, deeper and deeper coastal resources will be discovered and will become available for exploitation. Add to that the massive amount of natural gas that is as yet untapped, and the time-frame for running out of fossil fuels expands geometrically.
And then there’s sea-bed methane nodules. There’s enough methane slush on the sea floor to power our economy for hundreds upon hundreds of years. We have only to develop the technology to harvest it, which will occur if and when the cheaper drilled-oil and gas reserves become too expensive to exploit.
Physics is immutable, and there is no energy source that has the energy density, storability, and portability of fossil fuels. Not sunlight, not wind, not wave power, nothing. While nuclear energy exceeds the energy density of oil, it is not portable. Envirowhackos insist that not only are we running out of oil (which is not true) but that continuing to use oil is poisoning the planet and causing global warming that will kill us all, so we must immediately (and according to the pundits in Copenhagen that means by the end of next week) “fundamentally transform” how our society operates, if there is any hope of avoiding imminent catastrophe.
Please excuse me for a moment while I process a flashback to the 1970s, when the then-young broken-record sounding envirowhackos predicted that the planet, as of ten years ago, would be a Venus-like hell of boiling lead and corrosive atmosphere. Evidently something went wrong with those prognostications, just as the wheels are now coming off the current crop of environmental divinator’s prognostications.
The hysterical, overblown “greenhouse effect” rhetoric of the 1970s is now being dutifully recycled in an attempt to once again frighten the public into beggaring the economy in the name of environmental protection. Please excuse me again if I say “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.” The lies perpetrated by the environmental leftists in the 1970s (some of whom now advise the President today) are precisely why I, and so many others, are not as credulous as we once were. “Earth Day” has come and gone as the public has become much more sophisticated and well-informed on the mendacious political and economic agendas of climate-alarmists.
The environwhackos are again trying to claim that we must, simply must fundamentally transform our society immediately, by force if necessary, to avoid yet another phantasmagorical threat to planetary survival. The problem is that their goals are as unachievable today as they were in the 1970s, even if the threat is real (which it’s not).
The very simple fact is that the entire planet’s economy and social structure is founded upon the use of oil and natural gas and it is simply not economically or socially possible to dispense with their use in any time frame less than a century, or perhaps two centuries. Nor is there any real need to rush into anything, since all the dire prognostications point to problems centuries in the future which may or more likely cannot be prevented by anything we do in the next 100 years.
The damage is done, claim some climatologists, who correctly point out that the CO2 in the atmosphere today will be there for hundreds of years, even if we end technology and all hold our breaths till we all drop dead tomorrow. So, if the damage is already in the pipeline, there’s no need to rush into anything or beggar our economy by imposing unrealistic, impossible-to-achieve, nation-destroying panic-based treaties or legislation, is there? We have plenty of time to calmly and carefully expand the science and have open public discussions that are based on science, truth, and reason, not hysterics, political manipulation and greed.
Literally all of our technological infrastructure is dependent upon fossil fuels, and will remain dependent on fossil fuels for the next couple of generations no matter what, because the investment in changing over to “renewable” energy sources, in realistic terms, requires it.
Attempting to legislate the planet away from fossil fuels can only and inevitably result in the brutal, deliberate torture and death of hundreds of millions of mostly poor people. Every time we increase the cost of energy, poor people suffer first and foremost. If there is any “social justice” to be had, the place to start is by keeping energy costs as low as humanly possible for as long as humanly possible, because every price increase first impacts the poor.
The economic facts are simple: We are not going off the fossil fuel standard any time soon. Not in our lifetimes and not in our children’s or grandchildren’s lifetimes. There is simply too much infrastructure to change over and the costs are simply too great, both monetarily and socio-politically for any society to even credibly attempt to abandon fossil fuels. People are not going to tolerate being forced back into wattle-and-daub mud huts in order to pander to the eco-guilt of a few clinically deluded ignoramuses or the power-and-control pretensions of a few pathologically insane Liberal/Progressive megalomaniacs like Barak Obama and the extremely dangerous ideologues with whom he’s surrounded himself.
When the real effects of Cap and Trade begin to hit home with the middle-class and poor, the political pendulum will reverse course and crush without a shred of mercy those who are trying to kill the poor with kindness to the planet. And that’s a good thing. Those who deliberately devalue human life in order to achieve either political power or ecological rectitude need to be crushed utterly, because they are evil.
This does not mean that we should not continue the measured, prudent, gradual process of developing renewable sources of energy without undue expense or environmental impact (and yes, “green” power has environmental impacts), so that the need for fossil fuels will diminish naturally over time, a long, long time. It does mean that we, the People, cannot and will not allow politicians and those with vested economic interests in a “green economy” to either control us or deprive us, any of us, even the poorest of us, of the economic and social benefits of an advanced technological society. Let Al Gore wear a hair shirt and live in a cave whilst eating nuts and berries if he’s so environmentally conscious.
Changes in social habit patterns and development will continue to make inroads on the fossil fuel infrastructure, and common-sense market-based iterations such as more energy-efficient houses and businesses will make more and more economic sense as the technology to achieve real energy savings continues to advance, as it only can when the technological society in which such invention flourishes is allowed to operate free of unreasonable eco-guilt-based regulation. Eventually, as society evolves and infrastructure is replaced by more efficient, less-polluting, non-fossil-fuel technology, a better balance will be achieved.
But this is not the sort of societal change that can or should be mandated by government. All government mandates do is increase energy costs and negatively affect the very free-market economies that will eventually cause the change-over through market-based incentives.
Nor is it going to happen in a short time span. This is a generational problem that will require generations to change. Ignore the panicked cries of the eco-loons, the earth abides, and we will improvise, adapt and overcome any environmental changes that might occur in the meantime, because that is what human beings do.
© 2009 Altnews