G-7 Pledge: No carbon by the year 2100.

June 13, 2015

white-semi-truckThe G-7 or Group of 7 major industrialized nations at their summit this week pledged to reduce the carbon footprint in their economies, and further to completely remove all carbon by the year 2100 or 85 years from now. The G-7 includes Canada, the United States, European countries like Germany, France and the UK, and Asian powerhouse Japan. Eighty-five years sounds like a long time, but think for a moment what no carbon would mean to our society and our lifestyle expectations.

It means no carbon fuels such as gasoline, diesel or jet fuel allowed. Planes, trains and automobiles will no longer exist in our world unless they were powered by non-carbon fuels. That means no coal, no natural gas and no crude oil in any form. They’re all are carbon-based.

Hydrogen, nuclear, solar or wind power are the potential alternatives. Visualize cars and trucks adorned with sails moving on our highways much like the sailors of old. Perhaps solar panels will be much smaller and more efficient by then and drivers will have vehicles constructed of solar panels top to bottom. When the wind dies we’ll be stranded, becalmed like sailors of old, or if it’s cloudy or when night falls drivers will be unable to go further that day.

Electric cars are also an option but remember the power to charge them is generated now by fossil fuels (carbon). Proliferation of electric powered cars means more power to be generated.

Nuclear power is non-carbon but we’d have to develop compact nuclear reactors to power our vehicles. Would we really want millions of nuclear cores traveling down our highways and byways at high speed. Accidents might result in nuclear explosions or at best meltdowns and radioactive releases to the atmosphere on a routine basis. Massive amounts of nuclear waste would be generated as a byproduct.

Hydrogen is a non-carbon fuel. Best of all it can be sourced from water an abundant resource. Water is H2O, two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. Separation is an expensive process today, but could become cheap if there was a demand. The biggest disadvantage to hydrogen is his extreme explosiveness. It is downright dangerous to handle.

boeing-787-dreamliner_100416655_mAirplanes will be drastically smaller and slower powered by solar or wind power. Traveling around the world will take a vast amount of time. Tourism will become localized. Trips to faraway places will be a thing of the past.

Unless a viable non-carbon alternative fuel is discovered between now and 2100, society will be forced to live a slower pace and stick closer to home. The goods we enjoy today that come to us over long distances will no longer be available. As an example fresh fruit and vegetables in the winter will be a thing of the past.

Society will be markedly low-tech. Our high tech society will cease to exist. Carbon based chemicals are a necessary part of our computers and high tech toys and tools. Replacements don’t presently exist for those chemicals derived from carbon.

I’m not a scientist or an inventor, but I have a hard time imagining where the cheap, abundant alternative to carbon-based fuels and chemicals will come from. I’m not saying a complete phase out of carbon-based fuels and chemicals can’t be accomplished, but it’ll take a complete reinvention of our society and its expectations.

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Why We Still Need Fossil Fuel

October 19, 2014
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Car show with consumers eagerly inspecting new models. photo by Steve B. Davis

Energy and Fossil Fuels

First let me make it clear to the reader I’ve been employed in the petroleum industry for over 35 years. Like most people I consume energy to support my lifestyle. That energy for the most part is derived from fossil fuels. We all drive a vehicle, heat our home, and sometimes take airline flights all of which require the use of fossil fuels. Most items I purchase have packaging of some kind. These are derived from petroleum which like coal is a fossil fuel. When we refer to the use of fossil fuels we’re talking about a lot more than gas for your car and natural gas for your home. Society consumes a myriad of products derived from fossil fuels, many of which most of us are unaware of. In summary, our present lifestyle requires the use of energy.

Environment and Energy

Most of us will agree environmental protection is an essential part of enriching our lifestyle. My children and I love hiking, biking, camping and being outdoors. Golf is a personal passion I enjoy outdoors. The point is we all have an impact on our planet just by living. The health of our planet is affected by our lifestyle choices. Our goal should be to minimize that impact.

Lifestyle and Energy

At the present time the lifestyle we enjoy is supported in the main by fossil fuels. Over the long term sustaining this lifestyle will require humans to investigate the use of alternative and cleaner energy sources. However, we will still require reliable and affordable energy sources. Society must reduce the waste of existing resources, use energy efficiently, and make a sustainable, minimal-impact lifestyle the priority.

Impacts of Energy Use

Planet Earth is our home. We need to reevaluate our impacts on a regular basis. It’s imperative to educate ourselves in the sources and uses of all forms of energy. It’s important to be aware of where energy comes from, how it’s used, and the impacts. It’s prudent and wise to seek better ways to do things in our own lives and in society in general.

Continuous improvement for the human race is a necessity if we want to survive and not face extinction. Dinosaurs inhabited the planet for over 100 million-years, humans have only been alive for a few million-years. Throughout history creatures of all shapes and sizes have inhabited Earth. Many became extinct for various reasons. Extinction is forever. Will the human race become extinct? Solving our energy problems is one step towards ensuring our ultimate survival as a species.

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Wind farm in central Montana. Photo by Steve B. Davis

Energy Challenge

Here’s a challenge for the reader. Examine your own life. Make a list of all the things in your home and lifestyle originating from fossil fuels. To assist you I’ve listed the fossil fuels and some of the products and uses derived from them below. Once you’ve created your list ask yourself how many you could eliminate, and if any substitutes exist at the present time. I’m confident this exercise will make you think.

Crude Oil/Bitumen (Heavy Oil) from conventional reservoirs, shale and oil sands

  • gasoline for automobiles, trucks and motorcycles, lawnmowers
  • diesel fuel for trucks, trains, buses, farm tractors, ships, power generation and some automobiles
  • heating oil for houses and industrial facilities
  • jet fuel for airliners, military planes and private planes
  • plastics – automobile parts, house siding, roofing and insulation, toys, electronics, packaging
  • chemicals – fertilizers, cosmetics, food additives

Natural Gas

  • fuel for home heating, industrial heating, some buses and automobiles
  • propane – fuel for some vehicles, heating, BBQs
  • ethane and other components for chemical and plastic industries
  • power generation plants

Coal

  • power generation plants
  • steel making industry

I hope you’ve learned something from this short article. Constructive comments and questions are welcomed, just click on comments below.

 

 


Black Gold: Supply and Demand at Work

May 7, 2008

Crude oil was at an all-time high of $122.00 US per barrel this week. There are two simple reasons for this, supply and demand. This article is not an argument for or against oil company profits, nor is it an environmental rant. It is an attempt to explain the reasons in laymen’s terms. Firstly, I have been employed in the oil and gas business for over 30 years, so although I don’t claim to be an expert, I have a deep understanding of the industry.

Supply
1. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is the source of more than a third of the world’s crude oil supply. They reduced output in late 2006 to stem a fall in prices. They refuse to increase production because they say there is enough crude in the market.

2. Refinery problems in the United States have contributed. Unexpected outages have drained inventories. The United States is the world’s top gasoline guzzler, so this is a major issue.

3. Nigeria, the world’s eighth largest exporter of crude, is troubled with militant attacks on its oil industry. It has been forced to cut exports as a result. At the present time about one million barrels of oil per day (bpd) are shut-in because of militant attacks and sabotage.

4. It’s getter harder and more expensive every year to find new sources of oil. Environmental regulations and exploration costs make it more difficult to develop and produce new sources. This is not a knock on environmental concerns, just a fact of life.

Demand
1. Top consumers of crude oil such as the United States and China, are the main drivers of demand. Rapidly developing countries such as India are also contributing.

2. Demand for crude oil is at an all-time high and growing every year.

Things to Note:
– North Americans are addicted to our gas guzzling cars, SUVs, and trucks.
– Gasoline and jet fuels are derived from crude oil, as are many other products.
– Most consumer goods and foodstuffs are transported to market today by the trucking industry. Increased fuel costs to truckers logically trickle down to consumers of those goods.

Top Ten Oil Producing Nations
(in order of largest amount produced)
Saudi Arabia
Russia
USA
Iran
China
Mexico
Canada
United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Venezuela
Norway

Of these ten Iran and Venezuela are downright unfriendly nations towards the West. Two more, Saudi Arabia and UAE, are in a very unstable part of the world. Russia and China are also large consumers of crude oil, so exports may decrease over the coming years. Most of Norway’s production goes to European markets. That leaves Mexico, Canada, and domestic US crude production as reliable suppliers to the North American market. The United States uses far more crude oil than is produces so is dependent on foreign oil. 

Author’s Disclaimer:
I am employed in the petroleum industry, but remember I also like to drive, travel, and heat my home. Energy prices affect me too.


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