Wednesday, January 30, 2008

uranium anyone?

At the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, Shell's CEO announced the world demand for oil would outstrip supply within seven years.

Seven years?! Holy crap!

Well my driving-in-the-minivan-listening-to-NPR-dropping-kids-off-at-school ears completely perked up. [Important note: when Marketplace's Scott Jagow or Kai Rysdall talks, I'm all ears!]

Well since Scott couldn't get access to this particular CEO -- for direct confirmation of this crazy statement -- Scott was stuck having to get the scoop from some European correspondent named Stephen Beard. Stephen's take on this whole dramatic pronouncement is that basically every country is going to have to majorly resort to alternative/renewable energy sources [i.e., bring on the windmills and solar panels] or be prepared to dig up pristine/protected habitats in sub-arctic regions [to get at those untouched oil reserves] because soon we ain't going to have much expendable fuel sources at our disposal. Like no go-go, no click-click, no zoom-zoom.

And obviously all of this has to go down in under seven years! Yeah, that's going happen.

I see a couple of things coming out of this newest development in the "As the Oil Well Dries Up" energy drama:

1. Nuclear power plant lobbyists are going to break out and embrace this "sanctioned" opening as an opportunity to push even more aggressive development plans onto a wary post-Chernobyl generation (but wait a minute - what about nuclear waste! "What nuclear waste? That's not our problem. We got you what you wanted - fast and convenient energy!"

2. Petroleum lobbyists are going use this same opening to whine and wheedle Legislators into letting them stick their smelly drills into the tundra of Alaska in order to prolong the inevitable.

3. Coal. I'm not even going to comment on that. Yikes!

So, unless I manage to figure out how to get my hands on that nifty Mr. Fusion energy device for my car and eventually get desperate enough to chop down the neighbors trees for the winters to come, I guess I'm going to have to take an ole' "wait and see" attitude with this particular drama.

In the meantime, and playing it safe (hah! hah!), I guess I should keeps tabs on the going Black market rate for fuel-grade uranium. Surely I can find an online build-it-at-home reactor kit for all my personal energy needs.


Jeni said...

Then again, maybe folks will buy into the deal of converting what ever it is that has to be converted to use frying oil to run their vehicles. You can even get the used oil from restaurants -for free, as a matter of fact -and it will work. Saw this on the news the other night. Now, what is it they use to make frying oil out of anyway?

Omega Mum said...

Without being cynical, you don't think statements like this might be contributing to Shell's fabulous profits, news just out today - they've been making just over a million pounds a day, if I remember the figures aright.

Baby Sister said...

Okay - first, I'll say I love you very much. Second, we are so on the opposite sides of the political spectrum.

The fact that the world oil demand is/will outstrip supply is actually well-known and documented (by academics, actully). Maybe what's not a well-known and documented fact is the regulation of energy producing industries to minimize environmental impact is very rigorous(I'm speaking from authority b/c I actually prepare air - and hazardous waste at one time - permits for industry and I know the scrutiny that the applications are put through before being allowed to operate).

Realistically, there are no energy options which do not have some impact on the environment. At this point in age of man, we have decided to have cars, electricity, fun plastic toys, clothing, a safe and plentiful food supply, etc., etc., etc. New energy sources - whether from fossil fuels, nuclear energy, wind, solar power - must be developed. I know of no person that is willing to regress to the days of wood stoves (you wanna talk about pollution!!!!!), whale oil lamps and homespun cotton.

I guess my point is this: Please don't buy whole sale into the doomsday predictions presented in mass media. I truly believe energy alternatives will be devloped that will be satisfactory to maintaining our way of life that will be reliable and safe. I believe that man will not, in our lifetimes or our children's lifetimes, be willing to give up the lifestyles that have created.

And, I really, really, really believe people should not rely on the nightly news, the History Channel, CNN, FoxNews and even NPR for their ultimate source of information. This information is generally skewed to serve the purposes of the source - - not the public. A better source of information is peer-reviewed journals which report research performed by scientists (okay, you gotta make sure the research wasn't "sponsored" by a bias party).

And, I am conservative. I am not greedy and I am not bigoted. I consider myself a conservative not because I am pro or anti abortion; not because I don't believe people should have opportunties for help when needed; and definitely not because I'm a religous fanatic. I am conservative because I believe in personal responsbility; people deserve help when they are willing to help themselves; I believe I work hard and I want to enjoy the fruits of my hard work (we will be paying about $44,000 in federal taxes alone this year - - very painful - - and we definitely will not be receiving any rebates); I believe the government has a role and we should support it through taxation - but that role is not to be the moral decider of the people.

At any rate, I'm sorry to rant. I just kind of wanted my opinion out there - - even though it is really no more right or wrong than anyone elses.

Hedy said...

This was an incredibly informative post, plus comments. Thanks. On the train most mornings, we pass or are passed by freight trains taking hundreds of cars filled to the top with coal. It's fascinating to me because I thought coal was kinda dead as an energy source. Where is it coming from? Who uses it?

Baby Sister said...

Hedy - Coal is still a major source of fuel used to generate electricity - - they burn it to boil the water to generate steam to turn the turbines inside the magnetic loops to create electricity. Boiling water to create steam to turn turbines is the heart of generating electricity. There are many different ways to create the energy needed to boil the water: coal combustion, natural gas combustion, combustion of fuel oil, wind, nuclear fission. Coal is very plentiful in the US and a majority of the eletric generating plants were built to use it. While not the "cleanest burning fuel", the emissions created are closely tracked and monitored in the US - - more so than any other modern or developing country.

Because coal combustion is a major source carbon dioxide emissions (a "greenhouse gas"), there is current regulation which will further limit the amount an eletricity generating facility can emit. These additional regulations will/are "fueling" the drive to develop alternative fuels for generating electricity.

The Department of Engery has fairly complete statistics on this topic.

molly gras said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
molly gras said...

Everybody and all -

Obviously I opened a can of whoop ass when I decided to post on this particular subject.

I sometimes forget my chemical engineer, ex-Exxon-working lil sis tends to lurk around the corners of my blog.

However, she made some pretty good points: regulatory aspects of the energy industry, our present/future lifestyle options, highly biased public journalism, our government's right (or not right) to step in and tell us how to live -- all good stuff.

But seven years!! I mean, come on!! And Omega Mum has a good point -- Shell is raking it in hand over fist because of this dramatic pronouncement. So typical -- the sky is falling, the sky is falling, time to buy a bomb shelter"

Regardless of Shell's tacky tactics, I took the opportunity to trot out my Mr. Fusion fantasy-made-reality dream. Wouldn't that be so cool!

I know, I know, lil' sis -- scientifically improbable -- but wouldn't it be so cool if they could make it happen! I bet the Disney people could do it ... they can do ANYTHING!!

babt sis said...

Believe me, I'll be the first in line for the Mr. Fusion!!! I think it would be a great solution. Now where did I put those erlenmeyer flasks and beakers!!!

molly gras said...

Lil' sis -
Stop it now ... it'll never do. You have to work for DISNEY to make this kind of technology a reality.