Thursday, November 01, 2007

Peak Stupidity Theory

Judging by the price of crude these days it seems that people are beginning to accept the peak oil theory of fossil fuel supply. Supply is on the way down, demand is on the way up and prices are soaring and are likely never to go substantially back down again. Canada has a domestic answer since we have billions of barrels of oil trapped in the Tar Sands of Alberta. The American response to peak oil also seeks out a domestic solution with their recent focus on bio-fuels. America can produce a lot of corn very efficiently and some have decided that corn would make a nice replacement for fossil fuels.

Something is very misguided here. We're looking for alternative sources of things to burn rather than looking for alternative methods of power generation, or better yet, ways to radically reduce usage. Oil is running out and it happens to be a very dirty and toxic way to create energy. Rather than finding truly creative sustainable solutions we're going to make the net effects worse while dangerously delaying what we'll eventually have to do anyway.

The amount of energy required to extract oil from sands in Alberta is staggering. You have to dig out 2 tons of sand and apply copious amounts of energy to process it to arrive at just 1 barrel of oil. Similarly you have to harvest tons of corn then apply energy to process it to produce some combustible to put in your tank but at the cost of removing acreage from the inventory of land that could be used for food production. Meanwhile food prices rise because of the shrinking availability of arable land. How are these good solutions to peak oil?

No comments: