Sunday, February 24, 2008
While watching Saudi Prince Bandar flipping off Larry King, I was wondering: Is anybody else getting tired of all this yakkety yakking about alternative energy? And after years of endless words about it, except for ethanol, which is a bust, where is this alternative energy?
There's a wind farm a few miles from here, and that's a great idea, but wind is unreliable and insufficient to meet our needs.
The states' governors are meeting in D.C. right now, and they're talking a lot about coal. Reliance on coal is what Ken Deffeyes predicted in his book, "Beyond Oil," when he wrote: "For the five year time scale, we have a shortage of good adjectives. 'Diesel,' 'coal,' and 'nuclear' don't sound warm and fuzzy."
But as the price of oil continues to shoot up (it was up over $100 again this week), as worldwide production of the stuff flags and demand keeps rising, it's obvious that Deffeyes is right. We don't have a choice. We can generate electricity with coal, and that's what we're going to do.
The problem is, as everybody knows, coal is so intolerably dirty, and it produces tons of carbon waste. We can keep the lights on, it would seem, only if we're willing to poison dear old Mother Earth. The governors are talking about finding ways to make it burn cleaner, and Ken Deffeyes has a suggestion for using at least some of that CO2.
Talking about oil production, Deffeyes (a former geological engineer for Shell, now professor of geology at Princeton) notes that "Primary production extracts less than a quarter of the original oil (from a well). After secondary production, about half of the oil is still left in the underground reservoir." (page 27) Then he talks about several methods that have been tried for recovering that remaining half of the oil in the ground, and concludes, "The big winner has been the injection of carbon dioxide. Although carbon dioxide is soluble in water (seltzer, root beer, Perrier), it is even more soluble in crude oil. The carbon dioxide bulks up the oil droplets and they start to move again. After the oil comes to the surface, the carbon dioxide is sent back downstairs to hunt for more oil...Building a coal-fired electrical-generating plant near an oilfield that needs carbon dioxide is a possible winner." (page 27-28)
What this comes down to is the real-world possibility of using technology that already exists to solve two problems at once. Putting such a plan into effect is just a matter of finding the political will to do so.
You know, if our politicians listened to the right people, people who know what they're talking about, instead of chattering on and on about pie-in-the-sky fantasies like hydrogen cars (a unicorn from El Dorado if there ever was one), our energy troubles wouldn't end, but they'd be much more manageable. And our difficulties in the Middle East might soon be over.
Good-bye House of Saud. Good-bye Global War on Terror. Good-bye "Islamofascism," and good riddance to all that horse shit.
Looking back, it seems obvious now that the felonies and lesser crimes of the Bush Administration proceeded from the administration's total obedience to a corporate agenda, which is to say, the administration looked for solutions to all our problems from the very same people who caused those problems. And that's another way of saying they bailed on the one function any government must perform -- real attempts to find real solutions to real problems. They were as phony as a three-dollar bill from the jump, and what they did to us was nothing but class warfare, with every class except the ruling class ending up holding the shitty end of the stick, as usual. It's three and a half dollar gas I'm talking about here, among other things (see "foreclosure").
This guy Obama better be serious about all that "change" stuff. If he's not serious enough, then we'll have to get serious for him. There are solutions, but they won't arrive because the politicians "sit down and talk with" the oil companies, the insurance companies, the drug manufacturers, and all those other persons of interest.