Transitioning Away from Oil & Gas - Good News or Bad?

 Written by: Rod Garland


This is good news for Buggy-Whip manufacturers as horse drawn buggies will be set to make a dramatic return to popularity in the not too distant future. As petroleum fueled cars cease to be made and electric vehicles fall short as an effective replacement for them, due to the lack of efficient battery technology and an inadequate electricity grid transmission infrastructure, people will have to look to more traditional modes of transportation.

Uncertainty and the limitations of renewable energy sources including solar and wind will further exacerbate the problem for future populations, especially in the Canadian North in the winter. Daylight hours shrivel to 7 ½ hours from sunrise to sunset in Edmonton, which practically speaking, reduces the effect of sunlight to less than 5 hours to replenish the stored energy via the photovoltaic electric cell arrays; and that will only be on a clear, cloudless day without snow or ice covering the cells. Yes we have snow in Canada, last year it seemed to be on the ground for 6 months straight.

This problem gets worse exponentially the further north you go, so in those areas there could also be a revival of dog sleighs and even Moose, Elk & Caribou drawn buggies for anyone wanting to get a jump on that business opportunity for moving goods and people around the cold, frozen tundra.

Wind intensity traditionally in the winter is also greatly reduced so don’t think you will be able to rely on your wind turbine, incidentally they are largely made from petroleum products and remember water freezes in these climes so anything water powered will not be an option when and where it is most needed.

Good news for Candlestick Makers however, set to be in hot demand as the electricity grid fails. An example of this is being experienced right now with the brown-outs and black-outs in California partly as a result of the premature reliance on failing hydro-electric power generation that was supposed to replace coal-fired power plants.  Any decision to dump Oil, Gas & Coal and what is left of petroleum products in favor of alternate energy sources and products will create a scenario that will make basic comforts and needs unaffordable for the average household, lack of supply & over demand will see to that.

Candles will likely be one of the few remaining available sources of heat and light which might seem very romantic to a lot of people, however candles are not that good for cooking which will mean a steady depletion of all available wood for burning in a stove for preparation of the evening meal.

Now this could be a big problem for us, as demonstrated in many third world countries without petroleum industry products or access to electricity. Entire forests have been decimated if not eliminated for agriculture and in some regions, just for fuel to heat homes and cook food. At first it isn’t much of a problem as the nearby dead wood is gathered and consumed, then nearby living trees are harvested until villagers spend a good portion of their time just walking to and from where the dwindling wood supply remains.

This ecocide may have led to the outcome of the Easter Islanders who saw their once forested island turn into a desolate stony landscape. Not the right way to get ahead, although they did leave several giant stone heads maybe as a warning to show others that they were there and what they had done.

Of course, although wood comes from a renewable source, trees; their slashing & burning will release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and destroy an important component of the natural plant mechanism that draws in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and emits oxygen in return.

I believe this flies against the original rationale for being weaned off fossil fuels in the first place.

Many scientists and others believe that technology will be the savior to clean up, what many consider to be a polluted atmosphere, but I see no reason why these scientists should not first be focused on improving and inventing processes that remove those harmful pollutants at source, (e.g. with carbon sequestration and storage; flaring reduction, production efficiencies; coal washing and scrubbing; coal gasification etc) before those pollutants can ever get into the atmosphere or the environment.

At the same time the effort should continue with clean up where damage is known to have occurred (e.g. with habitat restoration, reforestation, ocean waste removal, better urban planning etc).

If a tap is left on and water is pouring onto the kitchen floor, rather than first grabbing towels, sponges and a mop to soak up the water, it makes more sense to first turn off the tap to remove the problem from source.

As far as good news or bad, it seems we really have nowhere trustworthy to go to accurately determine truth from fallacy. We have either to blindly accept information provided to us by so-called “experts”, or physically experience; use common sense; or see the evidence with our own eyes. Just relying on reports and views of others is very dangerous, especially when developed by those with ulterior motivation.

Our current government has a stated goal of transitioning away from the use of hydro-carbons (Oil, Gas and Coal) to net-zero by 2050 and believes in the electrification of basically anything and everything that needs energy as the answer. I find this shocking 

 

Much to the disbelief of the grandson of a friend of mine who, “really” thinks that electricity originates magically out of the outlet in the walls of his house, (he is sort of right), he couldn’t grasp the fact that the energy starts its journey from rivers, wind, sun, uranium or hydrocarbons and needs a huge network and associated infrastructure before it is delivered it to where it is consumed or stored.

 

The technical challenges required of such electrification as the sole energy source would be massive, costly and would put all energy reliance in just one basket, a particularly scary prospect.

 

I’m all for science playing a leading role with just about everything, but scientists develop their knowledge often based on theories, then test those theories with experimentation. I am not quite ready to accept all of their conclusions and solutions on experiments without having some alternative options available for when some unforeseen and unwanted event occurs. An electromagnetic pulse (emp) from a nuclear blast for example, or interference from a solar storm could both be disastrous to a future electric grid and neither are beyond the realm of possibility.

 

In the world we live in today, reasoned conversation and innovation has been replaced with polarized animus which makes reaching rational solutions to problems almost impossible to achieve. You are either a “believer” or a “denier”, you are either “for” something or “against” it. There is no middle ground, no cooperation, and no consensus.

This is now a climate of distrust, hatred and stubborn irrational opposition that vies political left against right, black against white, rich against poor, the privileged against the disadvantaged and this is the real climate that will need to change before humanity can move forward.

Before we go transitioning away from Oil & Gas as an important energy source that has improved the lives of humans on the planet in remarkable ways and in a relatively short time span, I am more inclined to look to the geologic record as an indicator of future climate conditions.

The good news may just be that if any anthropogenic warming is inadvertently extending the Holocene inter-glacial period that we are currently in, based on the geologic record and data from ice cores, this may just allow for the time needed to develop the technologies and human knowledge to a level where we will be able to cope with any future planetary climate extremes, cold or hot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Wonderful post ! I read it and then read it again. True and completely to the point ! I liked it on my LinkedIn too ! Thank you !

    Ivan Iantsevitch
    President
    Tesseral Technologies Inc.
    Proud to be a part of what once used to be Alberta oil patch

    ReplyDelete

Post a comment

Popular posts from this blog

Net zero is a moonshot, ripping apart Canadian social fabric and economy