Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

The energy crisis is really a transportation crisis

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Very interesting chart at Treehugger. The post there excerpts this op-ed by Benjamin Turon, which begins:

Those in the “peak oil” camp, who predict that we are about to run out of easily accessible petroleum, warn that the drop in global oil production will bring dire consequences. Writer James Howard Kunstler, and like-minded groups such as the Capital Region Energy Forum, predict the collapse of Western Civilization and the establishment of an “Amish Paradise.” Yet they forget history and underestimate the technology available to sustain our technological civilization.

First, much of technology is based on electricity, not oil! Computers, telecommunications, lights, industrial machinery, household appliances are electric; electricity can also cook our food and heat our homes. While the power grid needs to be expanded and modernized, North America has abundant energy resources — including coal, nuclear, hydro, tidal, wind, solar and geothermal — to keep us in electricity without depending on oil-run power plants.

There are also substitutes for oil in the many synthetic chemicals and materials that contribute to modern life. Glass, ceramics, metal and wood could substitute for plastic in many products, and much of those products can be recycled. Coal and biomass can also be used as feedstocks for plastics, fertilizers and pharmaceuticals.

We are not so much in an energy crisis as a transport crisis, a troika of increasing congestion, environmental degradation and energy shortages.

As global demand for transport and petroleum products grows as a result of population and economic growth, demand is beginning to exceed supply, leading to an inflationary spiral of prices that could cripple the economy.

The goal should be to switch our transportation from being powered by petroleum to electricity, because electric vehicles can utilize a variety of power sources, and use it more efficiently than internal-combustion engines. Electric vehicles won’t compete with the food supply, as do biofuels, and are more practical than using hydrogen fuel cells. Overall pollution would be reduced, including greenhouse gases.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

17 July 2008 at 8:40 am

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