|Posted by Zane Hunker on March 21, 2013 at 10:40 AM|
There is much talk in the world about changing our energy dependence from oil to electricity, natural gas, biofuels and other sources. While transportation is a big consumer of fossil fuels, industry, agriculture, electricity generation and heating are also big consumers of that energy, more so collectively than transportation. Though it isn’t responsible for most of the consumption of fossil fuels by itself, transportation presents unique energy challenges through the obvious fact that vehicles move. It’s much easier to reconfigure power to something that is stationary than to a machine that has to move and meet various speed, range and capacity requirements.
Oil is a miraculous substance. It’s energy potential was built up for millions of years under the Earth’s surface crushing all those dead plants and animals just for us to extract it, refine it a bit, and then burn it off quickly soon after. Once located it takes only about 2% of oil’s energy to pump it out of the ground, at a production cost of $2.00 a barrel. An equivalent of a teacup of oil can lift a ton 9 feet. When John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil was first refining kerosene for lamps, the byproduct gasoline was thought of as merely a dangerous, useless substance. Rockefeller saw that danger as energy potential. Today many industries use oil as well as cars, trains, ships and airplanes. Plastic uses 10% of all oil extracted. We are living in the oil age.
We will have to diversify our energy portfolio, not only for environmental reasons but economic as well. Those 2% energy and $2.00 production cost figures are disappearing the more we have to drill and shake the earth’s guts to get that black gold. The toothpaste tube will have to be squeezed harder and harder. We will never run out of oil, it will just get prohibitively difficult to extract.
Co2 is a greenhouse gas but not as harmful as carbon monoxide. Trees and plants eat Co2 and crap oxygen. Even if the planet warmed a little bit, those trees and plants would enjoy it as much as they did at the time when the dinosaurs where running around before they all died and got turned into this thing called oil. The rainforest full of trees and plants produces a lot of oxygen, but it uses a lot of that oxygen, it’s the mineral and material discharge from the Amazon into the ocean that feeds the plankton that really produces a lot of our oxygen. If the ocean warms up, then we’ll have to rely a little more on those trees and plants for our oxygen.
Cars, trains and ships will be more easily converted to electricity than airplanes. The mere principal of a jet engine doesn’t exist without fossil fuels. In the future, high speed trains will carry more people and goods on the ground. Short range electric propeller planes will continue to connect us to nearby cities and otherwise inaccessible locations. When we do need to hop over to the other side of the planet, space planes will be launched upward quickly by magnets and deliver us to our destination within the hour. For that short time in space we will be able to look down on our big blue planet full of trees and plants and feel good about how we’ve preserved life for ourselves and progressed a little as well. Then we will brace for re-entry, land, depart our globe hoping craft and go on with our lives.