There seems to be a vocal segment of the population that has this perception that fossil fuels are the sole cause of anthropogenic (man-made) climate change. Of the three primary fossil fuels; coal, oil and natural gas which provide 89% of the worlds energy, coal is the most widely used and contributes the most to the concerns of climate change and all that entails. Oil and its refinement into diesel and gasoline for transportation fuels would have to be the next most widely used fossil fuel. Internal combustion engines are utilized in every segment of the world population. It doesn’t take much thought to realize how much fuel is burned with exhaust pollutants released into the atmosphere since the invention of the engines that power our world.
We should never forget that the oil industry, whatever its problems, is the single most vital industry in the world. Like I said about the coal industry, look around and see what you have that is made from oil or your activities that are based on cheap, plentiful, reliable, portable fuel. You have to credit human ingenuity to find solutions to solve the challenges to continue to provide clean, safe and efficient energy that we all depend on.
In recent years the oil industry has come up with innovative ways to extract gas and oil through the use of horizontal drilling and pressure treating the rock to release more gas and oil, known to the general public as fracing (aka: fracking). Fracing has resulted in resetting the peak oil criteria while natural gas is having a ‘boom’ period right now and making good profits for a lot of property owners. In fact, cheap plentiful natural gas has caused several (143) coal fire generating power plants to shut down and several (5) nuclear power plants to shutter early because they got to expensive to continue operations. Is this what a free market will do to our energy industry or did new government regulations cause these recent shut downs?
When concerned environmentalist groups, like Greenpeace, Sierra Club or 350.org, voice their strong opinions about how damaging burning fossil fuels are to the environment and wanting to ‘ban’ there use, you have to wonder; what are they thinking? Very seldom will these groups being up the fact that oil also has many by-products that we use every day. There are entire industries based on petrochemical products derived from oil. All one has to do is just look at their personal footprint from the medicines you put in your body, the foods you eat, the cloths (and shoes) you wear, the homes you live in, the autos you drive, and lets not forget that 60” flat screen TV or your iPhone. This list could go on and on, but you get the point. In the developed world, where we live, petroleum and its by-products provide most of our comforts in living. The developing nations are striving for the same comforts. As the population continues to grow, so does the use of fossil resources. Today the world uses 39 percent more oil, 107 percent more coal, and 131 percent more natural gas than it did in 1980. So, what does the fox say about that?
Let me throw out a disclaimer here. I am pro-energy and I support all the energy sources we have today. But, here is a monkey wrench in my perspective; it has to be cheap, eco-clean, eco-safe and more efficient then what we have today. Nuclear power (fission) and natural gas fit that bill for me already and Solar PV and nuclear fusion have some promise for the future. What about all the other sources of energy? To be continued…