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What If We Never Run Out of Oil?
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Founded by HelpinUtah on October 14, 2009
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What If We Never Run Out of Oil?

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/05/what-if-we-never-run-out-of-oil/309294/


"......Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty in 1911. With characteristic vigor and verve, he set about modernizing the Royal Navy, jewel of the empire. The revamped fleet, he proclaimed, should be fueled with oil, rather than coal—a decision that continues to reverberate in the present. Burning a pound of fuel oil produces about twice as much energy as burning a pound of coal. Because of this greater energy density, oil could push ships faster and farther than coal could.

Churchill’s proposal led to emphatic dispute. The United Kingdom had lots of coal but next to no oil. At the time, the United States produced almost two-thirds of the world’s petroleum; Russia produced another fifth. Both were allies of Great Britain. Nonetheless, Whitehall was uneasy about the prospect of the Navy’s falling under the thumb of foreign entities, even if friendly. The solution, Churchill told Parliament in 1913, was for Britons to become “the owners, or at any rate, the controllers at the source of at least a proportion of the supply of natural oil which we require.” Spurred by the Admiralty, the U.K. soon bought 51 percent of what is now British Petroleum, which had rights to oil “at the source”: Iran (then known as Persia). The concessions’ terms were so unpopular in Iran that they helped spark a revolution. London worked to suppress it. Then, to prevent further disruptions, Britain enmeshed itself ever more deeply in the Middle East, working to install new shahs in Iran and carve Iraq out of the collapsing Ottoman Empire.

Churchill fired the starting gun, but all of the Western powers joined the race to control Middle Eastern oil........

In the 1970s, geologists discovered crystalline natural gas—methane hydrate, in the jargon—beneath the seafloor. Stored mostly in broad, shallow layers on continental margins, methane hydrate exists in immense quantities; by some estimates, it is twice as abundant as all other fossil fuels combined. Despite its plenitude, gas hydrate was long subject to petroleum-industry skepticism. These deposits—water molecules laced into frigid cages that trap “guest molecules” of natural gas—are strikingly unlike conventional energy reserves. Ice you can set on fire! Who could take it seriously? But as petroleum prices soared, undersea-drilling technology improved, and geological surveys accumulated, interest rose around the world. The U.S. Department of Energy has been funding a methane-hydrate research program since 1982........

Already the petroleum industry has been convulsed by hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”—a technique for shooting water mixed with sand and chemicals into rock, splitting it open, and releasing previously inaccessible oil, referred to as “tight oil.” Still more important, fracking releases natural gas, which, when yielded from shale, is known as shale gas. (Petroleum is a grab-bag term for all nonsolid hydrocarbon resources—oil of various types, natural gas, propane, oil precursors, and so on—that companies draw from beneath the Earth’s surface. The stuff that catches fire around stove burners is known by a more precise term, natural gas, referring to methane, a colorless, odorless gas that has the same chemical makeup no matter what the source—ordinary petroleum wells, shale beds, or methane hydrate.) Fracking has been attacked as an environmental menace to underground water supplies, and may eventually be greatly restricted. But it has also unleashed so much petroleum in North America that the International Energy Agency, a Paris-based consortium of energy-consuming nations, predicted in November that by 2035, the United States will become “all but self-sufficient in net terms.”
.......

If methane hydrate allows much of the world to switch from oil to gas, the conversion would undermine governments that depend on oil revenues, especially petro-autocracies like Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. Unless oil states are exceptionally well run, a gush of petroleum revenues can actually weaken their economies by crowding out other business. Worse, most oil nations are so corrupt that social scientists argue over whether there is an inherent bond—a “resource curse”—between big petroleum deposits and political malfeasance. It seems safe to say that few Americans would be upset if a plunge in demand eliminated these countries’ hold over the U.S. economy.......

On a broader level still, cheap, plentiful natural gas throws a wrench into efforts to combat climate change. Avoiding the worst effects of climate change, scientists increasingly believe, will require “a complete phase-out of carbon emissions … over 50 years,” in the words of one widely touted scientific estimate that appeared in January. A big, necessary step toward that goal is moving away from coal, still the second-most-important energy source worldwide.......

“Methane hydrate could be a new energy revolution,” Christopher Knittel, a professor of energy economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told me. “It could help the world while we reduce greenhouse gases. Or it could undermine the economic rationale for investing in renewable, carbon-free energy around the world”—just as abundant shale gas from fracking has already begun to undermine it in the United States..................."
7 Comments
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1530342_tn?1405020090
Why don't we just invest MORE in Solar and wind. Those are 2 things we would never run out of...
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Avatar_f_tn
Why don't we just invest MORE in Solar and wind. Those are 2 things we would never run out of...

Amen! It also makes one wonder what happens in the longterm of us stripping the earth the way we are? So much for worrying about the future of our children and grandchildren eh?
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Avatar_f_tn
Like everything, it seems to be a question of economics.
"If methane hydrate allows much of the world to switch from oil to gas, the conversion would undermine governments that depend on oil revenues, especially petro-autocracies like Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. Unless oil states are exceptionally well run, a gush of petroleum revenues can actually weaken their economies by crowding out other business."
Solar, wind, methane hydrate are possible solutions (in addition to a cut in our consumption,imo) yet not being seriously considered and we continue to ravage the land for what oil an be sucked up, then it is clear that there is not an environmental concern here or any sort of long term planning.

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Avatar_f_tn
In the middle of a swim today my thoughts on this post came back to me and I realized I missed something....(funny how that happens,eh?)

"If methane hydrate allows much of the world to switch from oil to gas, the conversion would undermine governments that depend on oil revenues, especially petro-autocracies like Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. Unless oil states are exceptionally well run, a gush of petroleum revenues can actually weaken their economies by crowding out other business."
That was a comment about how methane hydrate could be bad for the world economies but actually our freaking fracking is going to enable us to be independent of foreign sources of oil so that will have the very same effect. So I am thinking that maybe economics is not the only reason.

The end of the article actually states this:
“It could help the world while we reduce greenhouse gases. Or it could undermine the economic rationale for investing in renewable, carbon-free energy around the world”—just as abundant shale gas from fracking has already begun to undermine it in the United States..................."

So then it is not about the economy...why is it this is not being considered? Is there still a belief that carbon emmissions are not accelerating global warming?
I cannot imagine why we are not acting on this opportunity.
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Avatar_m_tn
We are investing more into wind and solar.  A few of the nation's oil and gas guys are BIG into wind farms.  There are some down sides though, and if you're concerned about the environment there is a price to pay.  There is tons of toxic waste created from the production of solar panels.  Wind farms are killing birds and displacing wildlife and there are studies being conducted on the impact of the production of the windmills themselves.  (Any plastics being used are a petroleum based product.)

Also getting a big boost lately is hydro-energy endeavors, trying to harness the power of the tides of the oceans.

Big ideas.... all potentially have some kind of an environmental impact.
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Avatar_f_tn
Oye. I didn't realize that brice. That is terrible news.
I guess (and I really am just guessing) that once a company or Government invests in fracking or alternative energies they will want to see some profit before investigating methane hydrate.
Somehow when I think of pulling stuff up from the bottom of the seas, I imagine there will be a negative impact on that environment as well.
Depressing stuff.
I really wish the world would just go back to bikes and horses. :)
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Avatar_m_tn
It really gets confusing, and some of the government rules and regulations that are supposed to help "save us" are actually some of the same things that are going to bite us in the rear end before too long.

(There is a study out there somewhere stating that the Hummer SUV (the giant gas guzzling SUV) actually leaves a smaller carbon footprint than the Toyota Prius.)  The study does a pretty good job painting a picture of complete dysfunction regarding this whole situation.

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