Totally off topic but curious what other ww'ers here know and think about
the "peak oil" thing. I'm reading a book, "The Long Emergency" that paints
a very grim picture of the future after the era of cheap oil. Seems finding
decent lumber will be the least of our worries. Maybe I should be learning
those hand tool skills after all! I know there is a wide spectrum of folks
here and would like to hear some opinions on it.
Since you asked for thoughts, I'll toss out a few, in mostly random
We're using oil a LOT faster than it's being formed, therefore oil (or
coal, or nat gas, or any carbon-based fuel source and their
derivatives) will only get rarer and more expensive. Therefore, we
should strive to conserve what we do use, and use alternatives when
The only continual input of energy to this planet is sunlight. Oil etc
is stored energy from sunlight that hit the earth many many years ago,
and though it's the easiest way to get energy right now, it obviously
won't last forever at today's rate of use. I've seen conflicting data
on exactly when we will (or did) reach a peak in oil production, but
unless we do something drastic, we will eventually run out, or far more
likely, oil will get far more expensive than alternatives. I don't
think it will be a sudden point causing a societal crash, but probably
more of a gradual increase in prices and a distinct shift to
alternative energy sources. I've heard various and conflicting
opinions on how grim the future will be after oil gets too expensive to
be practial, what will happen to our industrialized societies, etc.
One quote I've heard suggests that just as the stone age didn't end for
lack of stone, the oil age won't end for lack of oil.
At the moment, more sustainable alternatives (i.e. energy comes more
directly from the sun) include biomass, geothermal, passive solar for
heating, wind, hydro (rivers or wave/tidal systems), and direct solar
(photovoltaic). Nuclear has it's own set of pros and cons, which I
think are somewhat distinct from the rest of that list. There are lots
of conflicts on which of those are the best/most efficient/most
practical, but we'll need to move away from oil somehow.
Many of us (including NY and several other states) now have the option
of buying electricity from "green" sources, which is an excellent and
easy way to offset our use of oil without making sacrifices other than
a few cents per kilowatt hour.
Another thing to think about in terms of practical everyday
conservation choices is food - it takes a lot more grain to make a
pound of beef than a pound of chicken, and a lot more grain to make a
pound of chicken than a pound of veggies/bread/etc. All that grain
requires land, planting, pesticides, fertilizers, irrigation,
harvesting, transportation, and all the oil needed to run all those
processes. I'm not a strict vegetarian, but we need to remember that
our food choices have an affect on the earth too.
Overall, I'd say the most significant things for individuals to
consider in terms of oil conservation are personal transportation and
home appliances/heating - there are a variety of ways to conserve in
each of those areas, some easy and some requiring more sacrifices. As
for woodworkers, the amount of wood used in most of our projects and
the amount of electricity used for most of our tools is probably pretty
insignificant compared to the amount of energy used by our vehicles or
air conditioners or furnaces. I love hand tools, but energy
conservation isn't a primary consideration when making a purchase or
creating a project.
Phew - sorry that got long-winded. Thanks for the post - whatever gets
people thinking is a step in the right direction.
Don't forget wind power. Of course, environmentalists are now against
wind power now that it's becoming viable in certain parts of the
country. Birds sometimes fly into them, they take up land, etc. Same
thing happened with hydroelectric power. Environmentalists where all
gung ho, now claim that it interferes with Salmon. I'm sure it would
happen with Solar if we had acres and acres of solar panels. Some
habitat would be destroyed.
Hydrogen, when burned, produces water vapor, which in turn can be
changed back into hydrogen.
At which time the alernatives will take over, and people will buy
products that use them since it will be cheaper to operate. The market
While that may be true, don't forget to add "how many people get to
eat" into whatever equation you're coming up with. That's not exactly
a trivial thing.
Distributed PV is ok since it can occupy existing roof space. Tidal /
wave generation systems aren't bad since the energy density available is
so high that they don't need to occupy large areas. Nuclear is also a
good option since while it is not "renewable", it is safe, compact,
efficient, long lasting and unlike fossil fuels pumping pollution into
the atmosphere every day, the waste is compact and can be readily
returned to underground where it originally came from.
Hydrogen is essentially an energy storage medium, not an energy source.
You need to find a power source to power the hydrogen production first.
What are you saying here? My neighbor is for the 3rd time overseeing the
construction of a hydrogen producing facility in South East Texas. This
being the 3rd that he has worked on I suspect that a power source for
producing hydrogen has been accomplished.
| > You need to find a power source to power the hydrogen production
| What are you saying here? My neighbor is for the 3rd time
| construction of a hydrogen producing facility in South East Texas.
| being the 3rd that he has worked on I suspect that a power source
| producing hydrogen has been accomplished.
I think he's alluding to the fact that it takes more energy to produce
the hydrogen than can be recovered when it's used as fuel.
The point is that hydrogen isn't a source of "free" energy. It's a way
of storing (most of) the energy used to produce it.
We need to be careful what we wish for. If we had a fundamental
breakthrough that made "free" energy available to all, the absolutely
certain result would be extinction of all life on the planet.
DeSoto, Iowa USA
Well I don't see your logic there unless you are referring to the second
coming, but I do believe that if it happened all of a sudden that the world
economy would be totally devastated, which could lead to the extinction of
all life on the planet. ;~)
Also, ;~) big oil would never let "free energy " happen.
You're probably right about that, but considering the increasing need for
energy I can't see any single company being able to hold onto the rights to
free energy for a sustained period. There's too many people around the world
who don't subscribe to patent law. Even in countries that do, use software
piracy as an example. Once the cat's out of the bag, it will never be in
Hopefully that is true however we will probably watch the rest of the world
prosper as a result. Although the rest of the world probably pays cheap
prices for software by disregarding patent laws we still pay the price for
that technology. I suspect that we will pay the price for cheaper fuel
Actually "Big Oil" is doing their part to facilitate the developement of
alternative energy sources by raising their prices. Kind of like what
Comcast is doing to facilitate me getting a satellite dish...
"Then said I, Wisdom [is] better than strength: nevertheless the poor
Leon (in DbTMf.17379$ email@example.com) said:
|| We need to be careful what we wish for. If we had a fundamental
|| breakthrough that made "free" energy available to all, the
|| absolutely certain result would be extinction of all life on the
| Well I don't see your logic there unless you are referring to the
| second coming, but I do believe that if it happened all of a
| sudden that the world economy would be totally devastated, which
| could lead to the extinction of all life on the planet. ;~)
Global warming would be too mild a term for the result. Imagine the
consequences of limitless free energy ending up as atmospheric heat
(put there by billions of happy consumers)...
| Also, ;~) big oil would never let "free energy " happen.
If the breakthrough actually happened, I'm not sure that anyone could
prevent its use. :-(
DeSoto, Iowa USA
Not a problem.
Meaning no disrespect to you personally but that statement
illustrates a profound ignorance of the causes of global change.
Hopefully that statement was made in jest.
If the Earth's albedo stays the same then a sllight rise in global
temperature would result in the excess heat radiating off into
space at a slightly higher rate. So long as the Earth's albedo
stays the same the equilibrium temperature stays the same.
But if the Earth's albedo drops due to a change in the composition
of the atmosphere, say for example, by increasing the carbon dioxide
and methane then thermal equilibirum will only be achieved at a
higher temperature--the aptly-named greenhouse effect, so the
Earth's temperature will rise to that higher equilibrium temperature.
The energy we liberate from storage or otherwise create and dump
into the atmosphere is unimportant as it jas no effect on the
Global warming is predicted by the observed changes in atmospheric
composition and NOT by historical trends in temperature. Most
people do not understand that because most people do not understand
the principle of conservation of energy.
| Morris Dovey wrote:
|| Global warming would be too mild a term for the result. Imagine the
|| consequences of limitless free energy ending up as atmospheric heat
|| (put there by billions of happy consumers)...
| Not a problem.
| Meaning no disrespect to you personally but that statement
| illustrates a profound ignorance of the causes of global change.
| Hopefully that statement was made in jest.
Not jest - just plain and simple ignorance with a dose of uncertain
| If the Earth's albedo stays the same then a sllight rise in global
| temperature would result in the excess heat radiating off into
| space at a slightly higher rate. So long as the Earth's albedo
| stays the same the equilibrium temperature stays the same.
(Oh well - off-topic for a penny, off-topic for a pound.) I thought
albedo had to do with the reflection of energy not originating on/in
the planet - and I thought I understood that albedo could be altered
significantly by small planetary temperature changes causing shrinkage
or enlargement of our ice caps. What did I miss (or misunderstand)?
| But if the Earth's albedo drops due to a change in the composition
| of the atmosphere, say for example, by increasing the carbon dioxide
| and methane then thermal equilibirum will only be achieved at a
| higher temperature--the aptly-named greenhouse effect, so the
| Earth's temperature will rise to that higher equilibrium
I can understand that. Are you also saying that androp in albedo can
_only_ come about as a consequence of changing the composition, or are
other causes also possible?
| The energy we liberate from storage or otherwise create and dump
| into the atmosphere is unimportant as it jas no effect on the
| equilibrium temperature.
I'm having difficulty accepting this - mostly because I can imagine a
scenario in which heat is created faster than it can bleed off...
| Global warming is predicted by the observed changes in atmospheric
| composition and NOT by historical trends in temperature. Most
| people do not understand that because most people do not understand
| the principle of conservation of energy.
Hmm - ok. I tend to think of it as the principle of conservation of
mass /and/ energy (although I don't think anyone has yet figured out
how to convert energy into mass.)
DeSoto, Iowa USA
Albedo is the ratio of reflected energy to incident energy. The
energy not reflected is absorbed, raising the temperature of the
body. The rate at which the body radiates energy is proportionate
to the fourth power of its temperature. So the temperature of
the body rises until the energy it radiates away is equal to
the difference between the incident and reflected energy.
At that temperature there is equilibrium between the rate at
which the body absorbs energy and the rate at which it
Ice snow and clouds also affect albedo.
As you noted, ice and snow affect albedo and so do clouds. But
ice snow and clouds change rapdily. The concentration of Carbon
dioxide and methane in the atmosphere changes much more slowly.
Then the temperature would, indeed, rise. However it would
only have ot rise a little to radiate off that excess heat.
The total solar energy incident on the Earth is orders of
magnitude higher than how much energy we use. I would
be astonished if a 1% drop in albedo would not raise the
Earth's temperature more than a hundredfold increase in energy use.
*Tips hat to Mr. Dovey.*
Hydrogen is being used as a political football. The new buzz-word of
But I do see its uses. Build a few healthy heavy water nukes, and
electrolysis will give us an abundance of low-cost, transportable
hydrogen.. but.. but.. the by-product of electrolysis is.. *gasp*
oxygen!! Too much oxygen makes people light-headed and silly!
That stuff can turn you into a football player!!
Body-checking at the grocery store check-out!!
This cannot be tolerated!!
Oxygen will kill us all!... AND the spotted owls!!
GOD, what have we done?
*fades to black*
Btw... even though it is 20+ years old... it is one helluva read:
The Health Hazards of Not Going Nuclear.
On Tue, 28 Feb 2006 01:25:28 -0600, Morris Dovey wrote:
And the interesting thing about Hydrogen is that it likes to combine with
stuff which can make it somewhat problematic to store. The nice thing
about gasoline is it's ease of storage. I think I heard they've got some
solutions to distributing and storing Hydrogen as a fuel. Question is how
good are these solutions compared to gas? What's the cost trade off?
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