Fossil Fuels are Abundant and Accessible
Modern civilisation has grown up on hydrocarbon fuels. Coal, oil, natural gas, and other hydrocarbons have given human societies the extra boost they needed to raise the quality of lives for their citizens.
Economic and energy history show a strong correlation between per-capita energy consumption and increases in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). If the [people of] the world are to become wealthier and enjoy the standard of living that we do, are to have clean drinking water, adequate food, and sanitary living conditions, energy will be required. The use of fossil fuels is the easiest way for them to get that energy. [ed: for now]
… In spite of concerted efforts to constrain the use of fossil fuels through an almost endless litany of problems, with [“apocalyptic anthropogenic”] climate change being the most recent, the International Energy Agency and others continue to forecast fossil fuel dominance for decades to come. While anti-fossil initiatives raise the cost of using them, their dominance continues because they are abundant, relatively cheap, and have a high energy density. No alternative can compete economically with those qualities, without large government subsidies. Past energy transitions have not come from mandates but from thermodynamic and economic principles leading to alternatives that offer substantial advantages. ___ http://www.economics21.org/commentary/fossil-fuels%E2%80%8E-stay-environment-green-07-30-2015
Intermittent and unreliable forms of energy — such as big wind and big solar — could never have lifted human societies out of poverty, and offer little, if any, hope for future improvements in the human future, despite massive cash outlays.
Max Planck economist: ‘Transition To Renewable Energy Borders On Suicide’
Leading economic experts are firing harsh criticism at the energy policy of federal super minister Sigmar Gabriel. Germany as a friendly location for business is not only being weakened, the transition to renewable energy even borders on suicide and is an unimaginably expensive folly.”
With their policy, the grand coalition is weakening Germany’s location as a place to do business. This is especially true when it comes to the Energiewende, which is bordering on suicide.”
According to the Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten, other experts are also slamming Germany’s “Energiewende”. For example Ifo Institute director Hans-Werner Sinn calls it an “unimaginably expensive folly“. Marc Tüngler director of a German financial association, calls it “a planned economy without a plan” that makes the Energiewende “unbearably expensive“. ___ http://notrickszone.com/2014/04/06/max-planck-institute-economist-germanys-energiewende-bordering-on-suicide-unimaginably-expensive-folly/comment-page-1/
Germany is setting itself up for a massive loss of industry and jobs, and massive increases in the cost of electric power. Germany’s economy will suffer as a result.
Meanwhile, fossil fuel supplies are becoming more abundant relative to demand, which is making things very difficult for oil & gas dictatorships, such as Russia.
If prices do stay in their current range of $45 to $55 per barrel—and a lot of analysts believe they will, if not fall even further—some of the world’s petro-rulers have tough decisions ahead to stave off serious political instability. In early Asia trading today, internationally traded Brent benchmark futures were as low as $53.01 a barrel.
… Putin is in trouble the longer that oil prices stay low… The oil price trouble is not only in Russia. Apart from a handful of OPEC states, including Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, no member of the cartel is positioned fiscally to withstand a long bout of low prices. ___ Steven Levine in Quartz
As regular readers know, Al Fin considers fossil fuels to be a useful bridge to clean, safe, cheap, abundant nuclear energy — both fission and fusion.
Nuclear technologies have many uses beyond the production of electricity, heat, desalinating seawater, powering space satellites and future space colonies, etc. etc. If humans commit to the continuous improvement of nuclear technologies — in terms of safety, efficiency, affordability, and other important issues — the way to an abundant and expansive human future will be more clear.
The problem we face is, of course, the Idiocracy. Stupid people in control of governments, media, academia, and other cultural institutions want to distract the public from the deep and important issues, and to immerse present and future generations in the mass delusion.
The deeper the influence of the Idiocracy, the slower the transition to reliable, affordable, high quality, abundant, versatile forms of energy. This may not be the explicit intent of Obama, Merkel, Greenpeace, Sierra Club, WWF, IPCC, and the many other usual suspects — but it is the result of their actions: past, present, and future.
It is for those who think and care more deeply for the human future, to create alternatives to the Idiocracy, and the crumbling infrastructures and delusional thinking of the conventional skankstream.
Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. It is never too late to have a Dangerous Childhood.
Update: An interesting look on “the real price of oil” from Vaclav Smil —
The first adjustment we must make—for inflation—is trivially obvious, because currency values do not remain constant. Low inflation rates of recent years (and actual deflation in some countries) have resulted in only minor annual devaluations (or even in marginally higher value) of currencies, while back in the 1970s and 1980s, inflation rates were in the double digits. In 1970, a dollar was worth about $6 in today’s money; in 1980, it was worth $2.87 and in 2000, $1.37. Expressed in today’s dollars, average oil prices rose more than eightfold, from $10.90 in 1970 to $92.10 in 2014, virtually all of which took place between 1974 and 1980. In 1980, oil averaged $108.20 per barrel in 2015 monies, and its value has fluctuated ever since.
The next adjustment is more subtle and thus often neglected. We must account for crude oil’s declining importance in all Western economies. This measure, usually called the oil intensity of the economy, traces oil used per unit of gross domestic product, and it is calculated by dividing the total national oil consumption by GDP expressed in constant monies. Before the first oil price rise of 1973–74, oil intensity had been diminishing rather slowly; afterward, its decline accelerated. __ http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/fossil-fuels/the-real-price-of-oil