Let's use up all the world's oil ASAP

Because the sooner we use it up, the sooner we’ll be forced to develop alternative energy.

Tell me why I’m wrong.

You probably want to explain a) why anyone using petroleum at all annoys you so much and b) which alternative energy sources you are talking about and why you think they are more desirable for their purpose than the use of petroleum.

Anyway, sez here that oil provides only 3% of the energy used to generate electricity in the US. The top three sources of energy for electricity generation are coal, nucular :slight_smile: and natural gas. Looks like alternative energy sources already are carrying the load in that sector.

So, what’s the problem, exactly?

Whats the rush? I guess I don’t get it.


Yup, use it up, then come up with the alternative. Sounds like a plan.

How’s bout this? Let’s develop the new technology so it costs less to use than generate? *i.e. * wind, solar, hamster-wheels. Meanwhile, we start aggressively going after the resources we know exist and know how to efficiently convert to useable energy. Environmental impact? Well, if we can suddenly switch to “alternative” fuels in a few years, certainly the Caribou/titmouse/Spotted Owl/etc coalition can adapt after thousands of year’s of practice?

Nuclear energy. That’s what you’re looking for, it seems. I’m honestly hoping someday I have my own reactor charging my car and powering the house. Virtually unlimited power, non-polluting and very safe. Compare deaths attributed to oil, coal and nuclear production.
But wind sounds good. Persue that one.

The problem with nuclear technology, of course, is that while the risk of an accident is small, if one does occur it’s pretty catastrophic.

(Of course, it’s the same with flying, and plenty of people decided that while you might have a chance of dying in a spectacular plane crash, it’s better than driving 10+ hours to go to Disney or that Big Important Business Meeting.)

Care to cite the numbers of deaths from Three Mile Island? Or even Chernobyl? There was a recent report (reported on ABC News IIRC, or maybe CNN but no link) that stated the death toll was miniscule compared to what was reported at the time as catastrophic.

I’m not one for buying into conspiracies started by “Big Oil” but if there ever was one, it’s that nuclear power is dangerous. Again, care to cite numbers of deaths attributed to oil exploration/production and deaths from nuclear power plants?

Its all about risk assessment…something most people are simply terrible at.

I don’t believe dotchan either said or implied that there had been a big body count…only said that while the risk is small (especially in the US), its non-zero…and if we come up snake eyes it could potentially be pretty bad. I happen to agree with you that nuclear is clearly the way to go…I’d like to see us do a radical shift to 70 or even 80% nuclear generation in the next decade. But one has to acknowledge that there ARE risks.


Really? What is that assesement based on?

Chernobyl was as bad as any US accident could realistically ever be. In fact it was worse. Yet the total death toll was less than 50 individuals. 50 indivuslas over 20 years is fewer than the number of people killed by the coal electricity industry last year alone.

Based on that it appears that even if we do come up snake eyes it isn’t as potentially bad as continuing to use coal.

I’m always happy to acknowledge risks. What irks me is that nobody seems to want acknowledge the far higher risks of coal electricty.

Of course there are risks. There are risks in having major oil tankers pulling into harbors. There are risks of driving to work.

It comes down to risk outweighing benefit. I’m not buying into the “sky is falling” theory of the anti-nuke crowd. (And I’m not implying you are)

I understand the catastophic aftermath of a major nuclear meltdown. The problem is, it is all theory. We still haven’t seen it happen even with real life reactor malfunctions. If we’re going Chicken Little, let’s mention the chance of the goose population being decimated by flying int windmills.

:confused: Coal and natural gas are not “alternative energy sources.” They are nonrenewable, CO2-emitting fossil fuels, just like oil.

Excuse me for being a pedant in light of the posts following on from this one…

“The problem with nuclear technology, of course, is that while the **likelihood **of an accident is small, if one does occur it’s pretty catastrophic”… and therefore the risk is high.

Risk is mitigated by decreasing the likelihood of an event or decreasing the harm arising from that event.

A risk assessment is a reality check. It is gathering all the information on the **likelihood **and **consequences **of a harm event occuring and working out the most **practicable **(i.e. maximum benefit for resources) way of managing the risk.

Well they are alternative to oil. And there are no renewable energy sources (the Second Law of Thermodynamics). Nuclear fuel is also a nonrenewable energy sources. But if there are hundreds or even thousands of years of usage I think it’s a fairly safe bet that we will come up with something better by the time it’s starting to run out. Which of course doesn’t solve the problem with CO2.

Doing so will increase the CO[sub]2[/sub] concentration to at least 750 ppm. Climatologists say that 450 ppm is the most we can safely allow.

What’s the point of developing alternative energy, exactly, if not to avert possible disaster?

What Rune said. The OP did not say anything about coal or natural gas; he mentioned only oil. He did not say anything about renewables; he spoke only of alternatives to oil. I’m just asking him to define his terms a little more clearly.

a) I want us to quit groveling before every shithole third world nation with oil. Especially those in the middle east. And I want our oil money to stop fundng terrorism.

b) Mostly nuclear.

Obviously, that’s not what I meant.

I believe that our Canadian posters might take exception to your referring to their fine country as a third-world shithole. Also, I would like to hear which countries, in your view, are funding terrorism as state entities from oil revenues, and maybe what you feel is a roughly accurate percentage of US ‘oil money’ that is being used by these nations to fund terrorism.

Sorry to ask these things, but I remain unconvinced that you have the slightest idea what you are talking about here.

Well, here at least is a notion I can get behind, but it’s still not clear whether you actually understand that oil is used much more for transportation than power generation purposes, and thus that a wholesale switch to nuclear power generation may not have that much of an impact on oil demand in the US.

Using up all the fossil fuels quickly means dumping lots of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere quickly - this might actually be worse than dumping the same amount more slowly.

Don’t forget that you can’t go developing alternative energy sources unless you have energy to do it. My great worry in this is that by the time we are up against the wall we will not have enough resources to last us through the development stages and a good portion of the world is going to go pre-industrial for a hundred years or so.

Remember, we currently have NO OPTIONS. Coal, oil and natural gas all have limits, with the limits on oil coming fast. Though most people do not realize it, there are limits on nuclear as well, it is just that at our current usage levels they are very far off. If we switch to hydrogen as an energy storage system with the initial investment of energy provided by nuclear, that limit is going to come up mighty fast. Though sources such as thermal, tidal, hydro, and wind are theoretically renewable (on the scale of the human species), unbelievable innovations would be necessary for them to provide enough power for us.

The only real salvation I can see is fusion, and no one can seem to make it work yet. What we need to make it work is exactly what we are going to get; a gradual and constant decline in available resources with increasing demand. This will make for a very lean time with a great deal of international conflict resulting, but hopefully the pressure will increase fast enough that we can catch humanity. The scary thing is that we only get one chance. If we don’t come up with replacement energy sources before the current ones run out, I don’t believe we will ever have enough easily available energy to build society to the level that they can be developed.

Let’s get everyone infected with HIV, herpes, and cancer ASAP. Because the sooner we do, the sooner we’ll be forced to develop cures.

Let’s cut down all the world’s trees and turn them into toilet paper ASAP. Because the sooner we do, the sooner we’ll be forced to get serious about recycling.

Let’s run this argument into the ground ASAP. Because the sooner we do, the sooner we’ll be forced to come up with better ideas.

You know, it’s entirely within the realm of possibility that there are no alternative energies that will sustain our current lifestyle. Something we can do now is plan transit-friendly cities and build energy effcient housing.