That we are running out of oil is of course TOTAL RUBBISH. Just using one simple fact, from the oil industries own statistics we can prove this once and for all and without a shadow of a doubt.
The mainly Canadian tar sands and oil shales alone could supply ALL THE WORLD'S OIL FOR 100 YEARS even at projected forecasts of increasing use. We know the extent of these reserves because the figures were released long before technology had been developed to efficiently extract the oil from the sand and shale. The fact that they are difficult to extract is counter-balanced by the ease of (surface) mining, and the fact they are more polluting than crude matters not at all to the oil men.
Besides these seemingly endless reserves, vast largely untapped and new reserves ARE being found all the time. Russia not Saudi Arabia is the world's largest oil producer, but tiny Azerbaijan has more largely unexploited reserves of oil than both (most under the Caspian Sea) and its neighbouring states hold plenty too, it is estimated that roughly 15 billion barrels of oil and about 9 trillion cubic meters of natural gas lie beneath the soil of it Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
The world is in a mess, right now, the human race with close to 7,000,000,000 people has forced the fragile natural balance beyond tipping point and is causing mass extinctions and ecosystem collapse. Amphibians are suffering mass extinction now and it seems reptiles are following, coral reef ecosystems as intact biomes may have all disappeared within a generation (about 20 years). Global climate change is already out of control and if the frozen tundra is allowed to continue to melt at ever faster rates then there will be no hope or certainties at all. Even the countries with the best environmental laws in the world cannot prevent even their flagship species becoming extinct, just think of mega-fauna of the African Savannah, tigers, Polar Bears and Giant Panda, all are declining at ever faster rates. We need solutions and we need them not in 10 years time, not in 5 years time but now.
Strangely enough we have everything we need right now to prevent this epic disaster all that is missing is political will, largely due to lobbyist corruption. If Obama could push through any legislation needed to halt disaster, he could save the world within a couple of years. This article is here to show how, starting with the biggest problems first.
I do not claim I have all the answers and I have of necessity over-simplified the issues here, but I am open to constructive criticism and discussion, just email Bryan via ‘Contact Us’.
Well, what is the biggest problem of all, it is not as many people think global climate change! It is the human population growth. Think of it this way, if you made 40% cuts in CO2 over 5 years, this would make no difference to CO2 released if you did nothing to reduce present population growth and CO2 released per capita.
Population control seems to be forbidden ground, and yes I am against late stage abortion. However a great deal can be done before this stage (or before pregnancy) through voluntary family planning. This voluntary planning would best target the developing world and be inducement based. You can argue all you like about people in the first world consuming 30+ times more, but if you want to address starvation and disease to limit human suffering as well, you would do 100 times better by working in the developing world. People who argue against population control should consider what they are condemning the people (and their offspring) without voluntary access to family planning and birth control to. Millions of unwanted babies are doomed from the start, from starvation and disease, those that live may survive in appalling conditions, without access to even the basic requirements such as clean water, sanitation, food, work and homes. The hope that one child will become successful from the many in a family that will not, drives people in desperate situations to have more children as a kind of insurance policy and old age (if they reach it) care plan. If the population growth can be controlled, there should be more of (everything) to go around reducing demand and desperate living conditions and helping to alleviate (partially) the inducement for a large families.
Babies in developed countries are well fed and have good medical facilities, solutions for lowering per capita consumption will come from these countries and improve dramatically in the next few years, in short developed countries can fend for them selves. For population control then we need to work in developing countries in order to ensure their populations don’t swamp themselves, so that they have a healthier and safer way of life and so that they do not follow our wasteful development paths. This is not to say population control in developed countries should not be encouraged as much as possible, just that in these rich countries people are already informed about what they can do and have the means to do it already in place. Besides which population growth is known to drop with improved survival rates.
Vying for second most pressing environmental issue are ocean acidification and global climate change. To simplify the issues a bit, both are caused mainly by industrialisation and both can largely be treated the same way. Reducing CO2 emissions and acidic run off are the main issues to tackle here. Let us first see where the problem lies. One could almost title this article What the USA Should Do, since that country produces more power and CO2 than all the rest of the world put together by quite a large margin. But why is this? Without doubt it is because of the motor car/truck culture there (and also because electricity is cheap). This has been hugely promoted because a large country with a lot of consumer spending power can buy big trucks (pick-ups, SUVs) cheaply and run them on some of the cheapest petrol (gas) in the world.
Two-thirds of all new cars sold right now in the US are SUV (Sports Utility Vehicles) most of which do less than 20 miles per US gallon (a US gallon is slightly less than Imperial). The motor manufacturers over there actually say getting the proposed (by Congress) 35mpg is impossible (despite this already being surpassed in Europe and Japan) and unbelievably the public do not seem to care if they do or not. The reason mpg is not an issue is as we have said the very cheap fuel. Why though wouldn’t motor manufacturers want to continually improve efficiency in their vehicles as all other countries are doing. The reason is the corruption of money led politics in the USA, where private companies lobby politicians in Congress for the type of regulations they want by buying the politicians. This is done by paying them money either directly or indirectly, or by providing money incentives for politicians’ home states and counties. Yes, this goes on in every developed nation in the world, but usually it is monitored and controlled and members’ interests in private investment are stopped or limited when it comes to their ulterior motives in legislation (as in the UK for example). Nowhere in the developed world is this so open, blatant and allowed as in the US, nowhere is such a huge amount of money available and used in such a way.
Big business rules the US completely; the only thing that matters as they teach at Harvard Business School is bucks in profit. As if big business knows best, whether or not this is in the best interests of the common man and his environment, as a democracy should be. I am not making this up, but please don’t just take my word for it just ask Michael Moore if the fact that big business is controlling congress (never more so than in the Bush years) doesn’t scare you then nothing will. You only have to look at the inability of President Obama to implement the CO2 controls he wants to see how far up this goes! And if you want to see the mess big business can make just look at BP’s Deep Water Horizon leak in the Gulf of Mexico, and the company doesn’t even think this spill is such a big deal environmentally or even financially (sure it may cost £1000,000,000 to clean up but this is only one day’s profit for BP). "Who cares, it's done, end of story, will probably be fine." BP official, April 16th, 2010 (via Michael Moore website). This is just one visible example of how big business would operate given few controls, but there are far scarier, other less visible examples. Companies pollute with impunity, because if they are not allowed to they threaten to move their business out of state depriving that state of jobs and taxes. Not only this, but through these types of threats, big business avoids paying taxes. Up to 66% of big businesses in the US don’t pay any taxes at all, simply threatening to move abroad if pressed, see: Big Think and US companies tax dodge. It is left to smaller companies (without the potential to make big threats or the legal clout) and the low paid (the high paid work for the big companies) to pick up the bill.
So what is stopping straight politicians in the US tightening up legislation so that laws cannot be bought. Well it is the oil companies. Unsurprisingly they want the US to stay addicted to cheapish, plentiful oil and to this end they pay the big US car manufacturers massive amounts of money NOT to improve fuel efficiency and pay politicians to oppose any such legislation to that effect.
Contrary to what they would have you believe peak oil will NOT come in 10 years, 20 years or 30 years. The largest reserves of oil ever found (in North America) have just been located in Arctic America with similar size finds in Russia. I have already mentioned the huge reserves in other former Soviet states, above. Then there is all the untapped oil around the Falklands Islands (larger than the North Sea reserves were) and the oil of the Arctic. Of course if they do not say oil is about to run out (as they have been saying for 20 years) they would not be able to have us all willing to pay 25% more for oil based products.
GM being the biggest car manufacturer in the world (probably just surpassed in recent years) is guilty of a lot of this nasty lobbying. Despite its much hyped hybrid Volt, the company views this type of car as small beer, and at the moment they are right (see SUV sales above).
If I were President, there would be only one measure I would bring in to change this situation overnight and for good. I would triple or quadruple the amount of tax on gas, end of game.
The forced increase in gas would do all that is necessary to focus the publics’ collective mind on fuel efficiency and mpg. It worked in Europe. And look at all those lovely taxes it would raise for their treasury, the US economy would not loose out since the money would still be in the US purse. It would also instantly, dramatically cut gas consumption and increase public transport, which in turn would have a massive effect on CO2 emissions. This can be done TODAY, right now and if any one nation can afford this the US can. They still would have no reason to bleat about the price of gas either because it would only be more in line with what most of the rest of the world average price is anyway, probably still quite a bit cheaper. Besides since the US created well over 80% of all global CO2 emissions in the first place, shouldn’t they be more than willing to shoulder a good chunk of the responsibility to reduce this?
Of course this would be political suicide, but Obama said he wasn’t looking to be re-elected he was looking to do what’s right. A change of administration would never bring down the tax either, when has that happened? If there were a big war on that demanded such a tax hike, it would be done. Isn’t the threat from global environmental collapse a far larger and more really present threat, it is already costing the US people and economy more in lives and money than the war on terrorism, and this is just the first marginal effects that can only get worse with apathy. Think of it as a biological warfare; if what was going to happen/is happening to us right now was actually caused by a hostile nation or aliens would we not consider this an act of war? The threats and costs are just as real, quite apart from loss of biodiversity, there are the cost of lost croplands, severely disruptive weather, acidification of seas, cost of imports and increased taxes, deaths and diseases.
The US public are only kidding themselves by thinking not tackling climate change, not admitting the problem exists will be easier and cheaper. IT WON’T BE and they will suffer like everyone else, they will not be immune.
What else can be done right now? Well lots, as I said we already have the solutions, the problem is the delay in implementing them, or thinking if we wait just a little longer some really magic science will save us. Some brilliant science already exists but before we look at these lets look at what else the US and everyone else can do within a year.
A massive saving of CO2 can be achieved extremely simply right now, we are talking in the order of 20 to 30% of all global CO2. Its not complicated or even expensive, it does not even require a single one of us to use a single watt less of electric. It would not cost the public a penny, in fact it would save so much money there could even be tax cuts. So what is this magic cure?
Well hydrogen is the green fuel of the future, unfortunately it takes a great deal of energy to produce a little of it, even though the process of splitting water via electrolysis is cheap and simple. If only there were a plentiful supply of excess cheap power that we could use right now (just for the moment forget how this power is generated, that is by fossil or carbon neutral fuels). Well guess what there is, its called excess night power generation, and guess what every major power company in the world (please email me if you know a company that has found a good use for all its night power) does with it right now, it is earthed to ground! That’s right its just wasted, it goes into the ground just as the energy from lightning does. But do you know what that energy could be used for?! How much wasted energy are we talking? Look here: Energy Efficiency in the (US) Power Grid
“The transmission and distribution or “T&D” system losses amounted to 239 million MWh, or 6.1% of net generation. Multiplying that number by the national average retail price of electricity for 2005, we can estimate those losses came at a cost to the US economy of just under $19.5 billion. Congestion charges (the inability of capacitors to be flexible) represent another”
I can already hear the nay sayers complaining you cannot store hydrogen safely long term, well that just is not true any more Wikipedia: Hydrogen storage and besides if it were used in vehicles instead of gas, it would not need long term storage. I think $19.5 billion of free hydrogen should be enough to get anyone interested.