Muck and Mystery
   Loitering With Intent
blog - at -
November 22, 2009

Dominant narratives seem to have little to do with reality.

America has exhausted its hydrocarbon supplies. Repeatedly.

In 1914, the Bureau of Mines said that U.S. oil reserves would be exhausted by 1924. In 1939, the Interior Department said that the world had 13 years' worth of petroleum reserves. Then a global war was fought, and the postwar boom was fueled. In 1951 Interior reported that the world had . . . 13 years of reserves. In 1970, the world's proven oil reserves were an estimated 612 billion barrels. By 2006, more than 767 billion barrels had been pumped, and proven reserves were 1.2 trillion barrels. . .

Today, wind and solar power combined are just one-sixth of 1 percent of American energy consumption. Nuclear? The United States and other rich nations endorse reducing world carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050. But Oliver Morton, a science writer, says that if nuclear is to supply even 10 percent of the necessary carbon-free energy, the world must build more than 50 large nuclear power plants a year. . .

known U.S. reserves of natural gas, which are sure to become larger, exceed 100 years of supply at the current rate of consumption. BP recently announced a "giant" oil discovery beneath the Gulf of Mexico. Yergin, writing in Foreign Policy, says "careful examination of the world's resource base . . . indicates that the resource endowment of the planet is sufficient to keep up with demand for decades to come." . . .

Today, there is a name for the political doctrine that rejoices in scarcity of everything except government. The name is environmentalism.

I should think that thoughtful environmentalists would be fully aware of the situation and so be focused on interventions that would be consistent with reality. There's lots of fossil carbon, it will be spewed into the air, so we better get good at scouring it back out of the air and putting it to good use too. Air capture of carbon and long term storage are not optional.

Note that it's carbon, not just CO2, that should be the focus. Biochar instantly comes to mind but that's not the only option.

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