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Ask Slashdot: What If We Don't Run Out of Oil?

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the humvees-for-everyone dept.

Power 663

symbolset writes "The Atlantic recently ran an in-depth article about energy resources. The premise is that there remain incalculable and little-understood carbon fuel assets which far outweigh all the fossil fuels ever discovered. The article lists them and discusses their potentials and consequences, both fiscal and environmental. 'The clash occurs when renewables are ready for prime time—and natural gas is still hanging around like an old and dirty but reliable car, still cheap to produce and use, after shale fracking is replaced globally by undersea mining of methane hydrate. Revamping the electrical grid from conventionals like coal and oil to accommodate unconventionals like natural gas and solar power will be enormously difficult, economically and technically.' Along these lines, yesterday the U.S. Geological Survey more than doubled their estimate of Bakken shale oil reserve in North Dakota and Montana to 7.4-11 billion barrels. Part of the push for renewables over the past few decades was the idea that old methods just weren't going to last. What happens to that push if fossil fuels remain plentiful?"

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663 comments

We Wish (5, Informative)

Cornwallis (1188489) | about a year ago | (#43599171)

Suggest you read this:

http://kunstler.com/blog/2013/04/we-wish.html [kunstler.com]

Re:We Wish (1, Insightful)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year ago | (#43599217)

You mean environmentalists are using wishful thinking when saying we'll run out of oil and we'll have to switch to renewable energy sources, even though the evidence now points to there being plenty of oil? Both sides are guilty of wishful thinking and selective reading of the evidence.

Re:We Wish (5, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year ago | (#43599275)

Environmentalists are not saying we're running out of oil. "Peak Oil" does not mean the end of oil. Indeed it's believed to happen when around half the oil has been extracted, and half is still in the ground. The reason production goes down is because the remaining oil gets more and more difficult to extract. Costly both financially and in terms of energy. And if it cost > 1 joule of energy to extract oil that gives 1 joule, it's not worth it.

Note that the first 50% of oil was mostly consumed in a century. Because of increased consumption, even if the second 50% were easy to extract, it wouldn't last a century.

Environmentalists ARE saying that oil is polluting, both in terms of traditional pollutants, and releasing green house gasses. And if we have to switch to renewables anyway, why not do it as soon as possible.

Re:We Wish (5, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | about a year ago | (#43599333)

And if we have to switch to renewables anyway, why not do it as soon as possible.

This question is easier to ask when you're making well-above-average computer-programmer-level salaries and quadrupling the price of electricity and fuel (or something) and the various manufactured things which depend on that price isn't going to really ding your lifestyle. But given the number of people in this world who make a trivial fraction of that, it gets more complicated.

Re:We Wish (0)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | about a year ago | (#43599491)

If there was something that made your life extremely well off, would you pay more for it if the other option was to go without?

Less pain now, or more pain later.

Re:We Wish (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43599519)

And if we have to switch to renewables anyway, why not do it as soon as possible.

This question is easier to ask when you're making well-above-average computer-programmer-level salaries and quadrupling the price of electricity and fuel (or something) and the various manufactured things which depend on that price isn't going to really ding your lifestyle. But given the number of people in this world who make a trivial fraction of that, it gets more complicated.

That sounds a lot like figuring the cost of something based solely on what you paid at the cash register.

How about this, instead? We invest in alternative energy technologies R&D now? Then when (or if, if you prefer) the cost of oil-based energy becomes prohibitive, we'll be prepared, instead of waiting until the last moment and running around like the denizens of Tokyo when Godzilla comes to town? We'll have already learned the expensive mistakes and false starts, and be able to more efficiently deploy the most cost-effective alternatives when we need them.

I realize that there is a large segment of the population that screams we're absolutely utterly helpless whenever a problem comes up that cannot be solved by invading and pillaging, but I have a little bit more faith in both Nature and the human race. If we just take some responsibility and do something instead of waiting around quivering until the oil taps run dry, we just might achieve something worthwhile.

We always seem to be able to find the money to fund wars, so I don't buy into the idea that we cannot afford to provide for our own future. What's the point of winning the wars if the country is destroyed by its own negligence?

Re:We Wish (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43599579)

you speak without looking for answers. expand your perspective to solve the rubik's cube. enron in the 2000s began a wonderful idea (which they almost ruined with their accounting scandals) and it continues to exist today. the same happened with oil. because there was such demand, people wanted to take control of the supply. today, most municipalities look to offset their carbon footprint by shifting energy payments. you have the ability to have your energy consumption at your house be powered by renewable energy. but a lot of you well-above-average slashdot-reading-level people are out there going for the cheapest possible dollar on everything except the things you care for, the environment not being one of them.

i want to switch our power to renewable. the gf says thats a bad idea because our power would never really come from renewables. and it's that mindset is why the people in any developed country won't switch and so all these other people in the world who make a trivial fraction is screwed to stay on oils or coals and risk seeing their livelyhood suffer. entire islands will disappear as the oceans rise, they can't afford to switch to renewables either. so since it's complicated, should they continue burning the oil and say fuck it, or should they ask YOU to please start paying into the renewable trend so the price can drop ?

Re:We Wish (5, Interesting)

Narcogen (666692) | about a year ago | (#43599399)

The reason why not is obvious. Oil companies have their place in the markets, their sunk costs invested in equipment, technology, business processes, and distribution networks. Their interest is not in getting off oil as soon as it is possible, or practical. It is to stave off that transition as long as possible, to make sure that extracting and refining oil remains profitable right up until the last possible drop that can be produced and consumed is produced and consumed.

Presumably at some point, if they want to remain in the energy business, they will themselves convert to something else so that when there is no more oil that can be practically and profitably produced, they will remain in the market by diversifying.

So there's the time when environmentalists say we should transition (now) and the time when oil companies say we should transition (when oil is no longer profitable, when they say so) and what actually happens will fall somewhere in the middle, very likely much closer to the latter than the former, because when it comes to resolving conflicts of interest between the energy sector and interests of ordinary citizens, most Western governments have a pretty terrible track record.

Re:We Wish (3, Informative)

sribe (304414) | about a year ago | (#43599631)

Note that the first 50% of oil was mostly consumed in a century.

Except that it wasn't. We keep finding more and more, and that 50% keeps going down and down...

Well, in this context the word "oil" is ambiguous. It could mean a very specific thing, in which case the 50% is closer. Or it could mean anything that falls under the category "petroleum", which is the way I took it.

Re:We Wish (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43599307)

The evidence is overwhelming. Burning fossil fuels reintroduces carbon that has been out of the carbon cycle for millions of years. [wikipedia.org] If we were burning corncobs there wouldn't be a problem because that carbon is part of the active carbon cycle, but instead we're releasing buried carbon back into the air that hasn't been active carbon since the earth's dinosaur-greenhouse days.

We have "plenty of oil" in the same way Social Security is fully funded and solvent... for about 30 years. The emphasis in the statement is on the "we" part, because you and I have plenty of oil but our grandkids are pretty much fucked. Claiming there is plenty of oil is the classic "fuck you, I got mine" mentality in action.

Re:We Wish (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43599475)

-5 citing wikipedia.

Really, you can't bother to locate the primary sources yourself and read them? Instead, you rely on some mouth breathing, mother's basement dwelling, socially inept loser who's life value is based on how many wikipedia articles he can create/edit?

Re:We Wish (2)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about a year ago | (#43599349)

Every side has their own utopian/dystopian visions of alternative futures. Fortunately, if the history of prognostication is any indicator, they'll all be wrong. The future will prove to be something that no one expected.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to pick up some Soylent Green from my local moonbase restaurant in my hovercar.

Re:We Wish (5, Insightful)

Albanach (527650) | about a year ago | (#43599377)

even though the evidence now points to there being plenty of oil?

So let's say we take the high end estimate. 11 billion barrels of shale oil available.

Current US oil consumption runs around 19 million barrels per day. You just discovered enough oil to last the United States for twenty months.

I guess you might be correct, for very small values of plenty.

Re:We Wish (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43599397)

why do i get that 1984 feeling here? you know, where new resources are suddenly "discovered"?

Re:We Wish (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about a year ago | (#43599411)

You mean environmentalists are using wishful thinking when saying we'll run out of oil and we'll have to switch to renewable energy sources, even though the evidence now points to there being plenty of oil? Both sides are guilty of wishful thinking and selective reading of the evidence.

If this is in response to Cornwallis' link you have it totally wrong. The link is saying that claims that we will never run out of oil are wrong

Re:We Wish (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43599627)

We'll never run out of oil - fish oil, whale oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil. It doesn't have to be crude.

Re:We Wish (4, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#43599421)

I wish we could differentiated environmentalist from the scientists and the raving hippy nuts.

Every choice has a trade off. We need to diversify our energy sources vs finding the magic bullet of perfect energy that just doesn't exist.

Fossil Fuels offer a good energy per unit ratio, they can be transported, and stored. They can be used in small affordable machines, and it is rather cheap. The down side is when spent it produces harmful gases, and creates increases global warming.

Nuclear Energy can offer a lot of energy, raw material can be transported and stored, its output doesn't create toxic gasses. However, it does create radioactive waste that is hard to manage, and energy needs to be processed at large power plants.

Hydroelectric (They don't talk about this much, I am not sure why), Good source of energy, clean (assuming you don't kill too many fish). However you will need power plants, and an infrastructure to send energy, and you need to build it around water sources, not portable. (the best location is also what people would say is prime vacation areas and dosn't want the nature in that area to be spoiled with a large building. ...

You start seeing the point. What ever energy we choose to use will have its good side and bad side. The trick is to get the right balance, and improve efficiencies where possible.

Do we put solar panels on our homes, and have a smaller natural gas or nuclear plant to cover the rest?
Can we make more efficient cars such as hybrids, or plugin electric with gas backup? Can you do this with more powerful cars/trucks people want?

Could we have a small generator in a creak powering a few local home?

They are a lot of options. The trick is to get the right balance.
 

Re:We Wish (-1, Flamebait)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about a year ago | (#43599533)

Hydroelectric (They don't talk about this much, I am not sure why)

Hydro fell out of favor with the hippie set a long time ago, because it hurts the fishies spawning cycle and constrains the noble spirit of the wild river, or some shit. It's actually the most widely implemented "clean" energy source in the country, but all the hippies want to blow up the dams so the salmon can run free, free as the wind (while dramatic music plays in the background, I presume).

Just goes to show that you can never please a hippie. Like all hipsters, the second something becomes popular, they turn against it (even if they once liked it).

Re:We Wish (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43599651)

Fucking environment, I wish we could live in a world like the Chinese where we swim in our own filth for the almighty dollar. I share your dream.

Where are all these undammed holding the US back? Go look at a map and you'll have a hell of a time finding any that don't need to be kept open for navigation.

Re:We Wish (2)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year ago | (#43599635)

Hydroelectric (They don't talk about this much, I am not sure why),

I think it's because in the US, most of the natural hydroelectric capacity is already developed. Certainly in New England, every little river seems to have its own little dam or three. Yet those meet only a small fraction of our energy demand. So, increasing hydroelectric capacity seems unlikely to be a major factor in solving our energy problems.

Re:We Wish (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#43599535)

You and the article are right. There might just be an unlimited supply of oil buried in the Earth. That's right, there's a wormhole open to another galaxy that perpetually creates oil as a spontaneous quantum magic trick.

Re:We Wish (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43599585)

The right-wing dream is about never having to change. The ideal is to spend their life on the couch complaining about taxes.

Re:We Wish (1)

moeinvt (851793) | about a year ago | (#43599653)

I didn't look at the blog, but I've read Kunstler's books, and I wouldn't characterize him as an "environmentalist". You should check out "The Long Emergency". In a nutshell, it takes time and energy to extract oil from the ground, transport it, refine it, etc. Kunstler predicts that we'll eventually reach a point where it takes the equivalent of a barrel of oil to get a barrel of oil to market. At that point, the petroleum based economy is obviously dead
I'm skeptical of the claim that there is "plenty of oil". For example, the new estimates of the Bakken shale oil reserves (up to 11B barrels) isn't much when you consider that the USA uses about 93M barrels per DAY.
These new oil discoveries are also expensive to extract, so we have a few data points to support Kunstler's prediction.

Re:We Wish (1)

epine (68316) | about a year ago | (#43599495)

Kunstler doesn't add much to the question posed. He burries the meat of his argument under this horrible diatribe:

You could call these two examples mendacious if it weren't so predictable that a desperate society would do everything possible to defend its sunk costs, including the making up of fairy tales to justify its wishes. Instead, they're merely tragic because the zeitgeist now requires once-honorable forums of a free press to indulge in self-esteem building rather than truth-telling. It also represents a culmination of the political correctness disease that has terminally disabled the professional thinking class for the last three decades, since this feel-good propaganda comes from the supposedly progressive organs of the media -- and, of course, the cornucopian view has been a staple of the idiot right wing media forever. We have become a nation incapable of thinking, or at least of constructing a consensus that jibes with reality. In not a very few years, the American public will be so disappointed and demoralized by broken promises like these that they will turn the nation upside down and inside out, probably with violence and bloodshed.

What did that accomplish, exactly? He sounds like a call-in radio host winding up his faithful windbags before opening the switchboard to a long queue of flashing lights. Did that actually help anyone think? I think not. It's just a long clatter of power words. If we had access to a time machine for a single trip, and we sent someone back to explain to Isaac Newton what the world looks like nearly four centuries later, there's about 49,850 words from a 50,000 word vocabulary that would serve far less well than "cornucopia" even before writing down e=mc^2 and explaining the energy content of a gram of matter and moreover, that we've already harnessed this, and we've very nearly harnessed this as well as the sun (which has, if he's curious, several billion years remaining of happy middle age). So then after drilling down into specifics for a week or three, he might ponderously observe "Now I understand. There was a temporary energy glitch circa 2030 which caused great consternation with ten billion mouths to feed and dime-store weapons of mass destruction ready to hand." He's underappreciated for his sharp ear and biting humour.

If we had an unlimited supply of oil (very nearly true if an efficient process is discovered to covert coal into oil) then we'd be game on for climate roulette. If we had any mostly unlimited supply of energy, then we'd have to start dealing with the fundamental problem that any good physicist would quickly identity as far more severe than an energy deficit: shedding waste heat from the hot blue marble. There's no future where we can continue to use energy as unwisely as we did during the global boom of the 1950s and 1960s.

Yet the real game changer, if we get there in one piece, is the transition from global population growth to global population steady-state. Rapidly growing populations have fundamentally different priorities than equilibrium populations. Personally, the thought of six billion middle class adults racking up 10,000 airmiles annually for mild respite from the 40/40/40 makes me shudder with disgust, so I'm mostly hoping the oil supply remains tight until we're ready to ante up to some fundamental societal change.

Re:We Wish (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year ago | (#43599497)

I did, or rather, I started to. Every time an author resorts to abuse instead of argument, his credibility gets cut in half. About four sentences in, I realized that that article wasn't worth the time I'd already spent reading it.

Then we go on just as now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43599177)

"Ask Slashdot: Will something change if nothing changes?"

I mean... d'uh?

Not quite (1)

VernonNemitz (581327) | about a year ago | (#43599637)

"Widely exists" is not automatically the same thing as "cost-effective to obtain and distribute". The main reason the Alberta tar sands are now cost-effective is simply that the overall price of oil has gone up. But that fact, however, also makes other technologies more cost-effective. So, oil and gas can only stay on top of the energy-generation heap as long as they are more cost-effective than, for example, solar panels. Will it be cheap and easy to process methane hydrates? If it was, we'd be doing it on a huge scale already!

We will (5, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#43599183)

Oil is a finite resource, it will inevitably run out eventually. In the meantime it is getting harder to get out of the ground and tends to involve us with countries we would rather not be too closely involved with.

Re:We will (1)

aleator (869538) | about a year ago | (#43599191)

isn't that already happening?

Re:We will (3, Insightful)

Lord Kano (13027) | about a year ago | (#43599205)

There is a lot of oil right here in North America, the advantage that OPEC has is that their countries tend to be brutal regimes that shut down environmental activism.

LK

Re:We will (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year ago | (#43599223)

Like North Dakota, Alaska, Canada, and the Caribbean?

Re:We will (4, Funny)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#43599309)

Canadians are one thing, but these are Albertans we're talking about.

Re:We will (2, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year ago | (#43599225)

Oil is a finite resource, it will inevitably run out eventually.

Indeed. A better headline for this story would be "Neocon Owned Magazine Presents Cornucopian Myth."

Re:We will (4, Insightful)

mellon (7048) | about a year ago | (#43599277)

Well, methane hydrates are actually a pretty plausible energy source, since if we don't mine them and global temperatures continue to go up, they will eventually wind up in the atmosphere anyway. Of course, burning them will make the CO2 situation even worse.

The bottom line is that taking refuge in the idea that "peak oil will save us from destroying the environment" is incredibly wrong-headed. If we are concerned about global warming, we need to deal with it now and not wait. Getting rid of subsidies for oil exploration would help—a lot of this stuff would be economically infeasible compared to solar if the producers couldn't deduct the recovery costs on their taxes.

Donny Deutsch (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43599403)

Watched the weirdest conversation on @MorningJoe last week while flipping my way up to CNBC-about Winston Churchill changing the British fleet from coal to oil and causing the carve out of Iraq and the eventual radicalization of islam, was the smartest thing i'd heard all week but my brain couldn't compute that it was on MorningJoe......It was the first time i realized Donny Deutsch is actually a huge brain (was between him and The Atlantic editor) of course Joe just uhmed and ahed and cracked dopey jokes.
- https://www.facebook.com/LivePoliticalChat/posts/481408365263616

Re:We will (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | about a year ago | (#43599477)

Of course, burning them will make the CO2 situation even worse.

Except that methane is a stronger green house gas than CO2.

Re:We will (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43599455)

Oil is a finite resource, it will inevitably run out eventually. In the meantime it is getting harder to get out of the ground and tends to involve us with countries we would rather not be too closely involved with.

So few people seem to be thinking about the long game when it comes to Oil, either fearmongering about how it will run out any day now (and how we shouldnt be using it anyway because global warming will catch up with us any day now), or fearmongering about how horrible it is that billions of dollars a day are shipped overseas (and the terrorist armies will overthrow the US any day now)...

Oil in the ground continues to gain value, as the demand for oil continues to rise. If we (the US) send or dollars overseas by choosing to not exploit our own oil, these are the cheap barrels we are getting in return. In 50 years, when developing nations have turned into developed nations and the global craving for oil is insatiable, THATS when we want to start bringing our barrels out of the ground.

Re:We will (2)

rossdee (243626) | about a year ago | (#43599489)

Unless of course something happens to us in the meantime.
(We could be wiped out by a meteor impact, or a gamma ray burst, and we wouldn't be using any more oil or coal.
(or a plague could wipe us out...)

Of course there is a good side - we could have a break through in fusion (or other technology that gives us lots of energy cheap) and then we wouldn't need oil either.

Re:We will (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43599503)

Feh, in the future, we'll just create jurassic park, mulch all those dinosaurs, and make more oil. Sure it might take some years, but it's infinitely renewable...

Re:We will (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43599615)

The entire premise of the article is that, while it may run out, it's not going to do so anytime soon. And then they ask the question, "what if we don't run out of oil?", soliciting comments based on that premise.

You've just essentially disregarded the entire purpose of the story so you can smugly assert "Naw...ain't gonna happen", which you have only read in various fanatical enviro sources.

So, way to go on being a useless moron and adding shit to the conversation.

Re:We will (1)

sribe (304414) | about a year ago | (#43599659)

Oil is a finite resource, it will inevitably run out eventually.

Read the article. Undersea methane hydrate is not a finite resource, and thus offers the potential to burn natural gas, and pump CO2 into the atmosphere, in vast quantities, forever.

oil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43599203)

1. I don't think declining reserves is a major reason to move away from coal/ oil. One reason, but global warming and other environmental effects are probably more important.

2. Shifting to natural gas for power generation is comparatively easy, indeed my understanding is that most new power plants are now natural.gas. Solar is another story, 'cause the sun don't always shine.

Re:oil (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#43599247)

The sun always shines, it just doesn't always make it to the ground where it's currently needed. However, we're working around that by planning huge solar arrays in places where it's almost always sunny like the Sahara and the American Southwest and then transmitting that electricity to where it's needed. Another proposal that's a little further out is to have huge solar arrays in space and then beaming it down to receiving stations on Earth (usually as microwave energy).

Personally, I'm hoping we find a way to have small, affordable fusion reactors in our basements to power the house and the car charging port in the garage. Giving each house or neighborhood its own source of electricity (assuming we can do it cheaply enough) would solve a lot of issues with transmission, etc.

Re:oil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43599273)

You're planning to power the US with solar arrays in the Sahara? Let me know how that works out for you.

Re:oil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43599301)

You're planning to power the US with solar arrays in the Sahara? Let me know how that works out for you.

Yep, because the US is the only place on earth in need of electricity... 'MURICA!

Re:oil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43599317)

Geez, you don't read so good.

"huge solar arrays in places where it's almost always sunny like the Sahara and the American Southwest"

Re:oil (1)

mellon (7048) | about a year ago | (#43599329)

Huge solar arrays in space also double as an excellent weapons platform. I wouldn't expect that to happen anytime soon, even though it's a cool idea in principle. In any case, it's not needed—we can generate what we need on the ground. Mr. Fusion would be nice too...

global warming (1, Interesting)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about a year ago | (#43599221)

what happens is we continue to convert carbon from lumps of matter stuck safely away under the ground to free floating carbon in the atmosphere and we slowly cook ourselves in a greenhouse of our own making, of the additional energy absorbed in the atmosphere doesn't cause such dramatic weather extremes that we starve/drown/fight each other to death first!

Re:global warming (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | about a year ago | (#43599645)

Don't worry about the Government denying you permission for an offshore wind farm. In a hundred years all the wind farms will be off shore :)

To answer your question with a question, (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43599229)

What if the moon is made of cheese?

Re:To answer your question with a question, (2)

Chrisq (894406) | about a year ago | (#43599443)

What if the moon is made of cheese?

Well the calorific value of cheese would give us a virtually limitless energy supply. With a supply of liquid oxygen burning cheese could probably be used to power moon to mars missions [youtube.com] .

I'm confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43599239)

Why do changes need to happen on the electrical grid?
Why not just do it at the power stations, like, you know, it is now?

Is there some huge thing I am missing here?
Last I checked, electricity is pretty damn flexible and in "three" main types of use, DC, AC and HVDC.
And while HVDC and DC are essentially the same method, the difference between low voltage and high voltage is considerable so considered different.
That is the only types that need to be exposed to the current power grid, everything else from generation to combination and final transmission is carried out at the power companies end, in whatever exotic ways they may be. Right?
The power grid was created in a similar way to the internet, but on the other side of the coin, a server-independent system, regardless of the systems they use on their ends, it would also conform to the grids pretty efficient standards. (in most large-ish countries)

Re:I'm confused (1)

mellon (7048) | about a year ago | (#43599337)

Storage is the problem. There are lots of solutions, but they haven't been implemented yet.

Roast (1, Informative)

mdm42 (244204) | about a year ago | (#43599243)

We all get to roast in the human-induced Global Climate Change that results form dumping all that C into the atmosphere. More realistically, we get to starve as our crops and farming methods fail to cope with the variability implied by climate change, aggravated by the terribly, dangerously narrow genetic diversity in agricultural varieties in use because we've allowed major corporations to "patent" and "exclusively license" the genestock that feeds us.

Re:Roast (2)

erroneus (253617) | about a year ago | (#43599271)

And it's not like the decision makers haven't been informed of the consequences. They just felt the money was better for the moment.

It's literally sickening.

Re:Roast (0)

moeinvt (851793) | about a year ago | (#43599425)

The biggest decision maker is the free market. The biggest problem in the USA is that the "decision makers"(aka central planners) in government have spent a century distorting the free market by directly and indirectly subsidizing the petroleum industry.
The best "decision" we could make as a society is to get rid of all the government distortions in the market. The price of petroleum will likely continue to increase over time. Efficiency improvements and alternatives will become more compelling. F*** the "decision makers" and their destructive attempts to micro-manage the energy sector.

Re:Roast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43599437)

"They just felt the money was better for the moment."

no they felt that what they could BUY with that money was better, or better known as Chinese, Italian and German shiny trinkets stored within large hollow piles of rocks/metal/wooden shaped boxes

Re:Roast (1)

DeathToBill (601486) | about a year ago | (#43599641)

Yes, but an interesting public-sentiment pointer that such a question can be asked on /. without mentioning climate change.

We turn the planet into Venus (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43599245)

What happens if we don't run out of oil? We continue to pump out CO2 until we turn the planet into Venus. Switching to renewables isn't just about running out of oil.

Re:We turn the planet into Venus (4, Insightful)

voss (52565) | about a year ago | (#43599357)

Thats a bit egotistical. The co2 being pumped out will only continue until a massive dieoff because the weather becomes too hot for human food crops and nature will right itself in 10 or 20 thousand years with a lot less people on it. Overpopulation and global warming solved...the hard way.

Re:We turn the planet into Venus (1)

jamesh (87723) | about a year ago | (#43599563)

Thats a bit egotistical. The co2 being pumped out will only continue until a massive dieoff because the weather becomes too hot for human food crops and nature will right itself in 10 or 20 thousand years with a lot less people on it. Overpopulation and global warming solved...the hard way.

Depends... if the place warms up enough before it starts cooling down, too much of the oceans will evaporate, and water vapor is a strong greenhouse gas so it will just keep getting hotter.

Run Out? (3, Insightful)

gninnor (792931) | about a year ago | (#43599257)

I doubt we will ever run out. What will happen is that it will become more expensive as the low hanging fruit gets used up and efficiency and alternatives become a better bang for the buck and we migrate to other technologies. I'd rather be on the early adopters end of this one.

Electric offers many advantages (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | about a year ago | (#43599259)

It's not just about supply. It's about the work you have to do to get to that supply. Deep sea mining? Compare that to an array of solar cells in the desert. Heck, compare just about anything to an array of solar cells.

We're steadily making inroads on every issue electric has (primarily generation, storage, transmission); and in the interim, the end user already has many advantages. Huge torque from initial RPM for motors (you want a fast car? Electric is your friend. You want individual wheel drive? Electric is perfect. You want efficiency? Electric motors are right up there. Etc.) efficiency for light and other applications. You want a device? Electric is what it'll almost certainly run on.

Right now, we need fossil fuels for other things: plastics, lubricants, etc. But even that will probably come to an end, assuming we can get to mining resources from outside our gravity well. That's a long way out right now, but it seems inevitable once we establish a real presence. Zero pollution, zero land disturbance, zero waste products, transport cost of "shove once"... sensors will advance so that asteroids and such can be interrogated at a distance, basically spectrometer type data, give us a good hint of where to go for what...

Eventually, tech will change everything, just as we've seen in the past. Prediction is almost always disrupted by tech. I mean, it's fun to engage in, but if you look back at various predictions from pundits, SF authors, etc... didn't turn out that way.

Re:Electric offers many advantages (3, Interesting)

Xest (935314) | about a year ago | (#43599295)

One thing I've always wondered about regarding large desert solar arrays, is what happens when there's a sandstorm? I mean, what fills the generation gap when the sky is blanked out, and how does sand get removed from the array afterwards? Are the panels safe from damage from the scraping of sand being blown about or will this damage them? Will the weight of deposited sand after a sandstorm cause them to break or collapse?

I think people assume solar arrays in deserts are a magical problem-free solution, and I understand not all deserts are prone to particularly bad sandstorms, but the sahara is and it's often cited as a place for such a solar array. Has any effort been made into researching and finding solutions to such problems?

Re:Electric offers many advantages (3, Interesting)

nojayuk (567177) | about a year ago | (#43599409)

The SEGS http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_Energy_Generating_Systems [wikipedia.org] in California near Edwards Air Force Base uses pressure washer systems to wash sand and dust off the heat-concentrating mirrors. They use water from the local desert aquifer which is running out. They also use water from that aquifer to cool the condensers on the output side of their steam turbine setup since there's no convenient river or ocean to dump the heat into.

Re:Electric offers many advantages (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year ago | (#43599395)

Dude, "electric" is an adjective [wikipedia.org] .

Most Simple (1)

willy everlearn (82796) | about a year ago | (#43599261)

If we do not get off carbon fuel we selfish parents leave a dying world to our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren.

I wish we ran out of oil (1)

erroneus (253617) | about a year ago | (#43599263)

Fact is, we are and we have put too much crap into the air. The weather is changing. With that change, the food supply is in jeopardy. But it's all pretty well timed as everything else seems to be collapsing at a faster rate not the least of which is the economy. Do you think Europe is in a bubble? It's coming for us in the US soon.

Obvious (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about a year ago | (#43599265)

Unless we find a way to sink as much carbon as we extract and convert to CO2, it should be obvious what would happen. More AGW.

Revamping form oil to gas is not so hard (1)

Andover Chick (1859494) | about a year ago | (#43599267)

Granted revamping the grid to go to solar is big. But revamping to go to methane from oil is not a big deal. Both use the same concept - super heat water until it become high pressure steam which then drives turbines. Only the burners need to be changed. My dad worked for Boston Gas as an engineers for 40 years and I remember him talking about industrial sites which had the ability to switch back-n-forth between oil/gas depending which was cheaper.

Economics (5, Insightful)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about a year ago | (#43599279)

There are a couple of economic reasons that will drive renewable adoption:

It's not the size of the reserves but the cost of extraction that will drive adoption of renewables. As long as natural gas is cheap (and prices can be hedged) utilities will build natural gas plants at the expense of renewables. If prices rise sharply, gas becomes less attractive (since much of the cost per KW is for fuel) and other energy sources become viable options.

The energy density of the energy source. If a lot of space is required per BTU fossil fuels will dominate in many places. For example, a gas plant is relatively compact compared to a wind farm of similar capacity; so it is much easier to acquire land for a gas plant. For small scale uses, such as automotive or home fuels, the ability to get a long range or have a reasonably small supply pipe vs large panels favors fossil fuels currently. The economic driver here is "what fuel source gives me the best return on my needs;" such as the ability to travel or not want a roof full of solar panels.

Economics is what limits OPEC's ability to rise prices - eventually alternatives are viable on a cost basis as well as an energy self sufficiency one.

Quite frankly, global warning is not as major concern to most people than the ability to afford fuel drive, cook, and heat their houses; so selling renewables on that basis is very difficult.

~4B barrel increase is minimal help (5, Informative)

Aaron H (2820425) | about a year ago | (#43599303)

http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_cons_psup_dc_nus_mbbl_a.htm

Last year, we consumed 6.8 billion barrels of oil. This has been a pretty consistent average over the past 5 years, all things considered (5 years prior it was 7.5B, but seems to mostly fluctuate around 7B). And this is US consumption *alone* -- not even factoring in the increased rate of Chinese consumption, or any of the European, African, Asian, Australian, South American nations (Antarctica gets a pass, because it's effing cold down there and they can use a little oil to not die while watching penguins)

7.4B to 11B barrels is 2 years AT BEST if we pare down our oil consumption. Then those resources are GONE.

Considering "oh, but there might be more than we think left over!" is pretty pointless when we alone are consuming oil at this rate. Absorbing the mild inconvenience of reducing our oil consumption should be priority #1 for all of us. It doesn't solve the problem but it will (a) give us a *little* more time to get off the sauce and (b) start altering our habits and consumption practices in a direction that will prepare us for the inevitable end of oil reserves, which are guaranteed to happen someday.

We will never run out...But (1)

ndavis (1499237) | about a year ago | (#43599311)

I had a Geologist come into my class once and state "We will never run out of oil, but it will become so expensive to extract that no one will pay for it." I think this quote is fairly true eventually oil will become so expensive that we will only use it when necessary and we will never be able to pull it all out of the ground.

Granted this could happen centuries from now but it does not mean we should not be looking to other ways of producing power so we can use oil in other ways after all we are using over 80 million barrels a day (last time I checked) and we can't support that type of production forever.

I know one thing that Won't happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43599313)

We won't say "huh, looks like we were wrong about that whole running out of fossil fuels thing. Maybe we've been too dogmatic about things we consider established scientific fact. And maybe I should apologize to those folks who disagreed with me when I said they were stupid backwards hillbillies for not believing what Science had so obviously told us about fossil fuel availability."

Two possibilities (1, Interesting)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year ago | (#43599323)

We use all that oil to make ourselves a Blade Runner/Terra Nova/Modern Chinese environment, or we save it, preserve the planet and use the massive fossil fuel reserves responsibly for space exploration.

Atlantic article a thinly veiled propaganda piece (4, Insightful)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about a year ago | (#43599341)

The major oil companies are promoting "No peak oil" stories to influence google results. They need to do this to keep asset prices up, soothe investors and keep the financing on which they depend flowing.

For a numerate look at exactly what we're facing, start here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cubic_mile_of_oil [wikipedia.org]

"Peak oil" itself is a bit of a straw man. The problem is declining net energy from hydrocarbons. Net energy from shallow easy wells that produced light sweet crude was great. Net energy from deepwater gulf wells producing heavy sour crude or oil sands where the bitumen has to be heated in order to be liquid? Not so great.

So bottom line. The absolute quantity of net energy in the first half of the oil on the plant is much greater than the net energy in the second half. Oil supply is NOT the same as energy supply.

Carbon fuels only seem cheap (1)

Gnascher (645346) | about a year ago | (#43599343)

Even if we found out we had an unlimited supply of carbon-based fuels, if you factor in all of the associated costs with burning them (production, transportation, environmental, health) ... it turns out they're not really that cheap.

Unfortunately, we don't factor in ALL fo the costs into the price of our 'cheap' fuel sources ... we're incurring a huge debt because of it, and the books are going to balance sooner or later. The environment will get its pound of flesh.

Cost of Extraction (1)

PvtVoid (1252388) | about a year ago | (#43599347)

The only reason that things like shale oil and tar sands are economically viable is because the price of oil is so high. [wikipedia.org] Bring oil back down under $50 a barrel or so, and it will be too expensive to extract. Undersea mining? Good grief!

Remarkably stupid question. (1)

sidragon.net (1238654) | about a year ago | (#43599361)

This is tantamount to taking drinks from a bottle of water, and asking yourself if the bottle will ever become empty.

Yes, if our consumption of oil and other fossil fuels continues, unabated, they will eventually run out. You can debate when that'll happen, but it's inevitable.

To the limit of absurdity... (1)

dpilot (134227) | about a year ago | (#43599363)

How much oxygen do we have, and how does that compare to the supposed quantity of fossil fuels?

The Earth originally had a reducing atmosphere, and the fact that we now have an oxidizing atmosphere is because it has been "bioformed". Biological activity yanked the CO2 and other stuff out of the atmosphere, locked it away in some other form, and released O2, leaving us with the combination of nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor, and other traces that we consider - pleasant and essential.

By burning fossil fuels we're essentially reversing that process. It's worth noting that those biological processes are still ongoing and to some extent auto-compensating. But one could make the case that by going after every last scrap of fossil fuel we would at the same time be going after every last scrap of O2 as well.

It's a rather simplistic argument, I'll agree. But we make far too many policies based on unrecognized externalities and the assumption of an abundant and inexhaustible biosphere. Most likely "using up all of the O2 with fossil fuels" is absurd, but perhaps "doing something to measurably reduce worldwide O2" isn't, and I would suspect that high-altitude nations would be as upset by this as sea-level nations are by current global warming issues.

Re:To the limit of absurdity... (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about a year ago | (#43599661)

By burning fossil fuels we're essentially reversing that process. It's worth noting that those biological processes are still ongoing and to some extent auto-compensating.

But we are actively working on stopping that compensation by destroying the rainforest, which is not only one of the most important CO2 sinks, but also one of the most important O2 sources.

Short-sightedness of the market (1)

blue trane (110704) | about a year ago | (#43599365)

If capitalism doesn't provide a profit motive to develop alternative forms of energy, government should.

We can create money to fund research into ideas that the free market doesn't immediately reward. The Fed creates money now; but it goes to the banks at 0%, who want to buy T-bills even if they only pay 2% or 3%; but the austerity-pushing Republicans want to limit the sale of T-bills. So the banks sit on the money instead*, and get interest on it if they store it with the Fed.

Instead, give the Fed's created money directly to people, in the form of a basic income. Encourage individuals to innovate on their own or through ad hoc collaborations facilitated to an unprecedented degree by the internet. (Note that the market was too short-sighted to fund the creation of the internet; AT & T felt the internet threatened their business model of telephones, for example.) In this age of MOOCs we can educate ourselves about energy [coursera.org] and work on hypotheses that business won't pursue because they are too driven by the requirement that they show a profit on next quarter's shareholder report.

---

* See http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h3/current/ [federalreserve.gov] . Current reserves are at or near all time highs.

Only the rate of production matters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43599369)

Amount of reserves is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is the rate of production, can it keep growing, and the cost of the product. At higher prices, reserves go up but at some point the price becomes too high to make extraction profitable. Add any kind of carbon tax to mitigate global warming and most fossil resources won't be worth extracting. Extracting methane hydrates from the sea floor is a fantasy like so called 'shale oil'. Renewables are already cheaper than these exotic technologies and the prices are falling fast.

We will never run out completely (1)

wiwa (905999) | about a year ago | (#43599371)

Of course we're never going to run out of fossil fuels. It becomes uneconomical to extract the stuff long before we run out. It never completely dries up, it just gets more and more scarce expensive and plays a lesser and lesser role in our lives. Take methane hydrates: we've known that there were massive quantities of energy stored in this stuff for decades, but we're only now getting to the point where anyone would think about using these incredibly hard-to-access, hard-to-process resources as fuel. Going back a few years, the same was true for shale gas, oil sands, deep-water offshore oil, etc. This is a point that Charles Mann unfortunately missed in his article: we're exploring this stuff because we're desperate.

This could be an okay thing if we replace oil with sustainable sources of energy (as the techno-utopians would predict) or a disastrous thing leading to the downfall of civilization (as the doomers would predict). I find myself in the middle camp: we will partially replace our fossil fuel use with renewables and increased efficiency, but the increasing cost of fossil fuel use will also force us to reduce the amount of energy we use and, consequently, our standard of living.

Indifferent to it being infinite, it is plentiful. (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about a year ago | (#43599381)

The oil industry has been saying this for... generations. Who is honestly surprised here? If the oil industry thought it was about to run out of oil they'd sell off their stake in it and reinvest in something with a longer future. Look at what Kraft and several of the tobacco companies have done... They see declines in previously stable industries. Junk food and cigarettes. So what do they do? They diversify and actually start selling off assets that they don't feel will last.

Oil companies though? They're doubling down. True, many of them are shutting down refinaries or getting out of the distrubution business. But that has more to do with regulations. In extraction... discovery... They're spending more on it then they ever have because they see profit in it. They wouldn't do that if they thought it was going to dry up in the near future.

I don't know how to say this without ruffling ideological feathers. Upsetting people is not my intention here. Just saying... possibly there are certain camps with obvious biases that should be taken with a grain of salt going forward and certain other camps that you should possibly trust because no one is better informed on the issue. We can disagree as to whether they're lying or not. But you can't really disagree that they don't know. Who in the end is more trust worthy? A clueless ideologue that probably wouldn't know the right answer to save their live? Or the self interested industrialist that knows full well the correct answer but might fudge the facts to squeeze profit?

Both are unreliable but only one of them actually knows what they're talking about. The ideologue can be outright ignored. He doesn't know what he's talking about. The industrialist might lie to you. But at least he knows enough to know what is and isn't the truth. That's an interrogation with purpose. Interrogating the clueless is like drinking from a bone dry well.

Interesting article..... (1)

Squatting_Dog (96576) | about a year ago | (#43599385)

Glad I had my online dictionary handy! This article may have replaced my first cup of coffee.......

Why the hate? Can't people just point out inaccuracies and have reasonable debates without resorting to name calling and finger pointing?
Too abrasive for my tastes regardless of the content.....

Meh...I'm going back into my shell.....

Stop the extremism! Let's work together! (1)

Jaxim (858185) | about a year ago | (#43599389)

I agree that the ultimate goal is to use renewable energy. But in order for us to use that kind of energy, we need it to be cheaper and more efficient than what it is now.

So let's come up with a solution that allows us to work towards that goal but at the same time allows us to use our non-renewable forms of energy that have proven to be cheaper and more energy efficient. Let's frack and drill and use cleaner natural gas all while we are trying to figure out how to make renewable energy work.

I don't know the details of the solution, but we should figure out those details together. The ultimate solution may not make us happy as we will surely have to give up a little in what we individually deem as the optimal solution. But isn't that when you know a compromise is good - when proponents of both extreme sides of the issue are not happy?

Let's stop the extremism from both sides! It will not hurt us if we continue to use fossil fuels for 10-20 years while we WORK TOGETHER on finding an optimal renewable energy source. And it won't hurt us if we move to renewable energy sources in 10-20 years even if it is slightly less efficient or slightly more expensive than fossil fuels. But the path we are on now IS hurting us. We are NOT working TOGETHER to find the renewable energy source and we're allowing enemy countries in the middle east to dictate our policies.

Can't we just get along?!

Capitalism (1)

iONiUM (530420) | about a year ago | (#43599391)

I'm sure this has been said before, but we probably won't come run out. It will just become increasingly expensive, until the point that other renewable energy becomes more attractive. As per the last 2 "oil ceilings" around $120 (one of many examples [resilience.org] ) WTI (or was it Brent? I can't remember), it would seem that currently energy prices for trucks, planes, and consumers can't support >$120 price.

So basically, this problem is going to solve itself, and we won't run out of oil, because we will (mostly) stop digging for it when it's too expensive, and use something else.

The only risk is that energy companies take the profits from oil and re-invest it in making cheaper drilling techniques instead of alternative energy, and then we really do run out before we can use oil to find an alternative (since most certainly any research is going to require it). But that's pretty unlikely, considering "oil" companies are already investing in alternative energy to become "energy" companies.

Back to the horse and mule (1)

CHK6 (583097) | about a year ago | (#43599393)

It would be an interesting sight to see morning traffic on the interstates and highways, if we all went back to the horse and mule.

Neverending is not infinite. (4, Insightful)

goodmanj (234846) | about a year ago | (#43599413)

“When will the world’s supply of oil be exhausted?” asked the MIT economist Morris Adelman, perhaps the most important exponent of this view. “The best one-word answer: never.” Effectively, energy supplies are infinite.

This is dead wrong. The economic argument says that oil production is tied to the profitability of ever-more-expensive production technologies. We will never "run out of oil" because eventually we won't be able to afford to extract it, but this will happen while there's still oil in the ground. There's a similar physics argument, based on "energy return on energy invested": fossil fuel production ends when the energy required to pull it out of the ground is greater than the energy of the fuel itself. There will still be some in the ground, and it might be useful for making expensive chemicals, dyes, or lubricants, but it's pointless as a fuel.

So no, we won't ever run out of oil. But we will reach a point where you can't have any. To characterize this situation as "infinite supply" is ludicrous.

cleaner fuel burning tech gives the morlocks homes (1)

cenerentolo (2817897) | about a year ago | (#43599449)

that new hydrogen thingy where water is separated on wafers or titanium would be a huge and easy way to access cheap energy..... if we developed the tech to safely extract shale and coal, two systems of burn per power generator if using fossil fuels, that could help with the air quality. rudolph steiner said that all the coal/oil had to come out of the ground.. it was a karmic thing or something.... but all that space opened up in the earth, MASSIVE new locations for housing, industry, etc. so we could get on to the business of making the bankers move underground and disposed to try to cull the herd of us eloi

We Have Time (2)

n2hightech (1170183) | about a year ago | (#43599461)

Yes fossil fuel will run out. Not tomorrow, Not next year, Not next decade. It will run out. What we do have is time. Time to develop an economical alternative. What we need to do is continue to support research in renewable energy sources and energy storage. We do not need to waste money on implementing uneconomical costly technology that is not competitive right now. Having the government tax low income earners so they can subsidize rich people who want to install solar, wind thermal etc is crazy and bad for the economy and our future. How much research could have been done with the $500,000,000+ wasted on Solindra and others? Keep using fossil fuels as long as they are economical. It is becoming more expensive to extract them and over time the price will rise to reflect that. Keep working on solar, biofuels, fuel cells and batteries. At some point in time the cost of fossil fuels will be higher than renewables and the switch will happen. This type of energy switch has happened many times in the past from human to animal to steam/wood to steam/coal to steam/oil to Internal combustion/gasoline to internal combustion/diesel to internal combustion/natural gas to nuclear. These technologies coexist with varying levels of use depending on economic viability. Why should renewables get any special treatment? Market forces are very good at deciding what works best and most economical. Just get out of the way and let it happen.

Stone Age didn't end because we ran out of stones (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43599471)

Former Saudi oil minister Sheik Ahmed Zaki Yamani once said, "The Stone Age didn't end because we ran out of stones."

Look at the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy (S3). People out of power for days or weeks. I'm pretty sure that most of those people would be willing to spend a little more to have locally generated power which will be available immediately after storms even if it is just during the daylight hours. I'm equally sure that everyone will be willing to pay a little less for a more reliable source of power. Once the construction cost for renewable energy, plus storage, is less than the construction cost of fossil fuel plants it's pretty much game over because there won't be an ongoing fuel cost associated with the renewables. Unless the fossil fuel companies can manipulate construction cost, or buy and kill the renewable companies, it won't really matter what they do with fuel cost.

we're not going to run out of oil (2)

buddyglass (925859) | about a year ago | (#43599547)

...but we might run out of able to be cheaply extracted and processed oil and gas. We keep picking the low-hanging fruit. Technology marches on and fruit that was previously not low-hanging can become low-hanging, but that only goes so far. Over time, the cost of extracting and processing oil and gas will continue to increase. Presumably solar will continue to become less expensive. The hope is that at some point solar will start to be cost-effective relative to oil and gas even without govt. subsidies. At that point we won't completely stop using oil and gas, but global demand will take a nosedive.

Plenty of fossil fuels- they are getting expensive (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43599607)

The issue is no longer the volume of fossil fuels. In fact, we've known that there were more than enough fossil fuels to power the world for a VERY long time. There is enough coal to power the planet three times over for 100 years in the Appalachian mountains alone.

What the issue is are the costs associated with fossil fuels.

1. Health Care (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/20/science/earth/20fossil.html?_r=0)
2. Climate Change that are very expensive.
3. Icentives needed by governments (that are simply taking the money from private individuals) to keep the perceived cost of fuels down. https://www.imf.org/external/np/fad/subsidies/index.htm
4. Military budgets needed to keep the peace.

Then of course there is the fact that the cost to extract the energy that we are grabbing now is increasing in price SIGNIFICANTLY. The blunt truth is that the price of pulling energy from the ground, to process it and then transport it globally is simply going to be greater than the costs associated with solar modules running for 50 years.

http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2013/04/30/one-of-the-biggest-challenges-facing-oil-companies.aspx

We have PLENTY of material in the ground to burn. We just can no longer afford it.

Hydroforming 101 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43599611)

Methane hydrate to methane -> methane to ethane -> ethane to n-propane -> n-propane to 2-methyl propane -> 2-methylpropane to 1,1,1,2,2,2 hexamethyl ethane aka 1-trimethyl-2-trimethyl ethane aka Jet Aviation Fuel. Octane Rating is 100: burns smoothly.

Neither the oil or automotive industries want you to know this.

It could burn great in automobiles too with the right ECM and design efficiencies to guarantee airflow along with cooling designs to handle the increased burning efficiency (i.e. more heat.)

They want you to burn the equivalent of corn-oil, otherwise JET-A would be $0.05/gallon and they wouldn't be able to afford $5000/hr Ukranian hookers to polish their golden knobs.

To paraphrase John Lennon, "Methane is all you need."

Pull my finger but if you want more methane, pull Al Gore's finger.

May run out of oil, but never run out of gas (1)

argoff (142580) | about a year ago | (#43599655)

Oil and fuel can be re factored from both coal and natural gas if necessary, so in truth, it's not a matter of amount, but a matter of price. Once the price reaches a certain level - other means of getting fuel become more economical. In fact, once oil reaches a certain price, you can literally use nuclear power (or hydro/solar) and pull co2 from the air, and reprocess it into fuel.

"Amount" of oil doesn't matter ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43599667)

Most climatologists already agree that we can only ever burn a small fraction of whats already been extracted. Companies have billions in contracted oil reserves that are essentially useless. The big question is what will happen to the energy economy of the world when this is fully realized.

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