Peak Oil : Participate in “The New Game for Humanity”
The peak oil phenomenon is one facet of the coming crisis humanity is facing. There's really an interesting tension between this peak oil issue and the carbon buildup that's leading to climate change. If we're going to be running out of oil soon doesn't that affect the models of climate change?
Anyway I just listened to an interesting podcast interview on Living Green Effortlessly. She interviewed André Angelantoni, founder, Inspiring Green Leadership .. he has a coaching business working with businesses to redevelop themselves into a more sustainable mold which can survive decreased availability of oil.
He referred to a wikipedia page about Oil Megaprojects which shows that very soon, perhaps in 2011-12, there really will be a decline in oil production and it will be the first time oil demand outstrips supply.
Links are below.
For while I was hoping that peak oil would "save" us from the AGW problem, but fat chance.
There is still a lot of non-conventional oil to exploit, plus plenty of coal, each of their respective Hubert-curve peaks are still well in the future. Regionally, coal is peaking here in Appalachia, but still plenty in the huge coal fields of Wyoming and Montana.
Coal can be converted to liquid fuel for cars and trucks. It is very high CO2 emitting process.
The dynamics of the particular way this crisis wil unfold will be complex, and sometimes suprising as the mass of the worlds population may not react in a sensible or predictable way.
I read a magazine recently that pointed out some things that are happening now. Using corn as an ethanol feedstock to use as a gasoline stretcher isn't the end-goal, but corn is convenient for now. Supply and demand has raised the price of corn, making it more profitable, so many farmers this year have converted some of their soybean fields to corn.
You guessed it, there is a brewing shortage in soybeans. The new low-sulfur diesel fuel uses 5% soybean bio-diesel as a fuel pump lubricant now that the lubrous sulfur has been removed. Brazilian farmers have "slash and burned" more rain-forest this year compared to last year in order to plant...soybeans. Less carbon-absorbing forest as an unintended consequence of switching to greener fuels (plus, China is still burning unfiltered-exhaust coal at a rate that suggests they are trying to win a prize for it).
Engines can be built to use any octane of gasoline you make. If you are willing to restrict yourself to the more expensive premium gasoline, you can build an engine with an 11:1 compression ratio and get more horsepower from the same size of engine, so have you ever wondered why 87 octane (in 9:1 CR engines) has been so prevalent since WWII?
Crude oil is heated into a vapor and passed up through a tower. It passes through temperature controlled chambers and the various components condense in the chamber of their set-point and are routed away. Methane has one carbon, propane 3, butane 4, gasoline 8, diesel ~15.
Pure 8-carbon iso-octane (100-octane) is hard to get. Using simple affordable processes you'll end up with some C7 and C9 mixed in, and you can consistently get a lot of...87 octane. A high percentage of useable fuel per barrel of crude. You can combine shorter molecules, or split (crack) longer molecules to make up for supply/demand for a particular product, but every time you handle or modify it, it adds to the cost.
The "low-hanging-fruit" concerning oil has been picked. The new oil find in North Dakota might slow the arrival of peak oil, but the fact remains that fuel will continue to rise in price due to supply and demand from oil commodities auction markets (and the difficulty of pulling "deep oil"). There's a lot of oil in tar-sand/shale-oil, but its much more expensive than just pumping up liquid crude.
Also, the inability to build more new refineries means an increasing amount of US fuel will be refined elsewhere, with transportation costs added to the price.
All known alternative fuels will always be more expensive than the current price of simple-distilled 87-octane gasoline. If everyone could buy all the $2/gal ethanol/bio-diesel they wanted, new refineries would start making these due to demand, and oil refineries would convert any excess material into chemical industry feedstocks (they won't go out of business if everyone stopped buying gasoline).
The biggest problem to achieving a sustainable societal model using renewable-but-limited resources is the rapidly growing population. Desperately poor people in India were offered free vasectomies to prevent further pregnancies, and they refused. China's forced abortions for their "one child per family" policy resulted in voluntary female fetus abortions so the first child is male, leading to a female shortage. Plus, city women would "visit" their country village for a year, to birth their second and third children.
AND, they all yearn for a gasoline burning motorcycle or car as soon as they can afford one.
If we're going to be running out of oil soon doesn't that affect the models of climate change?
The climate is a big ship and it takes a long time to turn. Even if all humans stopped producing greenhouse gasses tomorrow the planet would still be in for a period of global warming. Just because we can't make it much better, however, doesn't mean we can't make it worse. In this I don't see anything happen until there is a fundamental attitude shift. Less people using less resources. Peak oil might help stimulate this change in thinking, but peak oil in and of itself won't change much.
There's really an interesting tension between this peak oil issue and the carbon buildup that's leading to climate change. If we're going to be running out of oil soon doesn't that affect the models of climate change?
You are half right. Peak Oil means that we can't turn Earth into Venus if we consume all the oil that is left in the ground, and the current IPCC climate predictions take the limited supply of oil into account (with some pretty broad error bars).
However, there is enough coal in the ground to really mess things up badly, something like 1000 times more carbon trapped in coal than in oil. And if anybody manages to get GTL technology up to the point where we use it to convert coal into liquid fuels, we are gonna be really screwed.