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Re: [carfree_cities] Re: Unlimited Oil? Yeah right..

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  • J.H. Crawford
    I don t think we want to get very far into this. Gold published _Power from the Earth_ in the late 1980s, as I recall. It s a serious book that proposes a
    Message 1 of 5 , May 31 11:32 PM
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      I don't think we want to get very far into this. Gold published
      _Power from the Earth_ in the late 1980s, as I recall. It's a
      serious book that proposes a thesis as revolutionary as plate
      tectonics. He believes that there is a lot of deep methane and
      that petroleum was formed when outgassing methane reacted with
      buried plant material. The thesis would tie up a lot of troubling
      problems in geology if it's correct, and I suspect that it is.
      If he's right, there's a fair bit of methane deep in the crust.
      I've never seen any kind of rebuttal to Gold's work--as far as
      I am aware, it's been ignored. (I'm no geologist, though, and
      don't follow this stuff closely.)

      The problem with any of this is, of course, that we have GOT to
      stop burning fossil fuels, and fairly soon. We've also got to
      stop killing our children, keeping them off the streets, ruining
      our public spaces, wrecking our societies, and turning our cities
      into garbage heaps. Whether the gas/oil is there or not.

      Regards,


      >That was a bizarre article, particularly it calling methane a mineral
      >and "one of the central building blocks from which matter was
      >formed." The author seems to have escaped exposure to a basic
      >science education.
      >
      >If the abundance of fossil fuels isn't too far off topic, maybe
      >someone can answer a question I've had for some time. Earth's
      >primordial atmosphere is believed to have been composed of a
      >relatively chemically reduced mixture, with ammonia, methane, CO2,
      >and water vapor. The evolution of organisms that photosynthesize and
      >produce O2 as a bi-product eventually changed that, giving us an
      >oxidized atmosphere we can breath. On the other side of the reaction
      >that produces the oxidized product, O2, are the reduced products,
      >which might consist of elemental metals as well as petroleum products.
      >
      >The bottom line is that
      >1) if the original atmosphere was reduced and
      >2) reduced chemical products haven't been selectively leaving the
      >planet and
      >3) oxidized compounds haven't been entering the planet
      >then it should be possible to consume all the oxygen in the
      >atmosphere with reduced chemicals stored in the Earths crust and
      >perhaps mantel.
      >
      >In a mass balance sense, oxygen, not fossil fuels is relatively
      >scarce. Economically, fossil fuels are scarce because they cost
      >human and natural resources to extract. Oxygen, on the other hand is
      >free to be combined with whatever flamable material one chooses to
      >put a match to. That isn't a problem yet, but the unlimited fuel
      >prospectors would eagerly take us to that point if they could. We
      >would actually be dead from the toxic by-products long before
      >asphyxiation could occur, presuming no perfect pollution cleanup
      >technology.
      >
      >You stated that it currently costs a dollars worth of energy to
      >extract a dollars worth of oil. For that to be correct, someone must
      >be giving the oil companies the energy because they would elect not
      >to produce if their costs exceed revenues under current prices.
      >
      >Bill
      >
      >--- In carfree_cities@y..., "enjax" <mattlyons@c...> wrote:
      >> Just found this through Planetizen.. It's a Detroit News story
      >> written by a 'fellow' from a libertarian think tank claiming we may
      >> never have to worry about oil again(as if the supply of oil were
      >our
      >> only concern!).
      >>
      >> http://www.detroitnews.com/2002/editorial/0205/29/a11-500860.htm
      >>
      >> I question the science behind this article, especially considering
      >> they seem to believe that petroleum is extracted from the earth's
      >> core when in fact it extracted from the earth's crust(which is
      >about
      >> 30km thick). The mantle, much less the core, is the last place you
      >> would find petroleum. Incidentally the deepest wells ever drilled
      >> were about 6km deep. Typically most normal oil wells are drilled
      >to
      >> about 3 to 5km. While its possible there are deep crust petroleum
      >> deposits, that's still far from the infinite supply of oil that
      >this
      >> article infers.
      >>
      >> Even worse, there's a quote from libertarian poster boy Bjorn
      >Lomberg
      >> at the end:
      >>
      >> "In short, even if the new scientific evidence about oil is wrong,
      >> one can still say the world will never run out of it. Higher prices
      >> will always bring new supplies to market. As Bjorn Lomberg points
      >out
      >> in his new book, The Skeptical Environmentalist (Cambridge
      >University
      >> Press), $40 per barrel oil will immediately increase world reserves
      >> from a 40 years supply to 250 years because vast known oil shale
      >> deposits will become economically viable."
      >>
      >> $40 per barrel is economically viable??? Currently, according to
      >the
      >> article, it is priced around $15 a barrel. That means that in the
      >> U.S. that $40 a barrel would basically triple the cost of gas at
      >the
      >> pump to around European levels. Extracting oil from oil shale may
      >> increase the supply of oil, but it does nothing to reduce how much
      >it
      >> cost to extract the oil in the first place. Currently it costs
      >> around $1 worth of energy at today's prices to extract $1 worth of
      >oil
      >> (again at today's market value). Not exactly a bargain. Oh
      >> nevermind Americans already drive twice as much as Europeans on
      >> average due to the sprawling nature of our cities. Cheap oil is
      >what
      >> drives the American economy and what makes Wal-Mart Supercenters
      >and
      >> suburban McMansions economically viable.
      >>
      >> Enough preaching to the choir..
      >>
      >> Cheers!
      >>
      >> -Matt Lyons
      >
      >
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      >
      >


      -- ### --

      J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
      mailbox@... Carfree.com
    • enjax
      ... must ... Bill, I was referring to the current costs of extracting oil from oil shale, which involves the additional cost of mining and extracting the oil
      Message 2 of 5 , Jun 4, 2002
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        --- In carfree_cities@y..., "dubluth" <dubluth@y...> wrote:
        > You stated that it currently costs a dollars worth of energy to
        > extract a dollars worth of oil. For that to be correct, someone
        must
        > be giving the oil companies the energy because they would elect not
        > to produce if their costs exceed revenues under current prices.
        >
        > Bill

        Bill,

        I was referring to the current costs of extracting oil from oil
        shale, which involves the additional cost of mining and extracting
        the oil from the shale. This additional costs roughly translates
        into $1 spent on extraction to recover $1 worth of oil at today's
        prices - not exactly a bargain. The extraction process isn't
        particularly environmentally friendly either as it makes drilling for
        oil in ANWR look benign by comparsion.

        Earlier I wrongly stated that the price of gas would triple in the
        United States if the price of oil rose to $40 a barrel. I didn't
        factor in the static costs such as refining, distribution, and taxes
        which explains the error. Incidentally, The last time we had
        sustained prices of around $40 a barrel in the U.S. was during the
        severe recession of the early 80s after the whole Iranian fiasco. The
        price of gas back then, adjusted for inflation, was around $2.50 a
        gallon or about twice what we pay today. Hardly insignificant if you
        remember the double digit inflation and interest rates of the era.

        -Matt
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