Why we won’t run out of fossil fuels and why that’s a problem

This is my first post… I guess started because of a comment on the previous post by Jon. I was in the middle of writing a long comment, then decided to flesh it out and add some references.

I used to almost buy into the Peak Oil idea, the idea that we’ll run out of oil someday and face an energy-starved Apocalypse. I never believed that last part because I’ve always been a big believer in nuclear power and realized America had vast amounts of coal (which can be converted into oil products via the Fischer-Tropsch process which was used extensively by Nazi Germany and then later by apartheid South Africa). But I figured that it would at least mean we’d eventually be forced to use renewable energy and nuclear power at some point.

But then I learned about Oil Shale (not to be confused with fracking) or kerogen shale, basically rock that has semi-solid organics inside that can be extracted into oil. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_shale

Turns out the US has the biggest such deposits in the world. Much more such oil than Saudi Arabia has traditional oil. Like 4 trillion barrels of oil shale (in place). More than ten times the size of the in-place reserves of the Bakken formation (shale oil… tight oil… basically, oil that is extracted by fracking). Of course, this is expensive to extract. But as technology improves, and the price of oil is high enough ($50? $100? $200/barrel?), it can be extracted, just like the tar sands of Canada.
I’m a techno-optimist. I think technology will allow us to continue getting better and better at extracting carbon from the ground. We have hundreds of years of coal (at least in the US) using current reserves and methods. Total estimates of the amount of proven reserves of coal are just under 1 trillion tons, of which the US has over a quarter. To put that in perspective, the atmosphere contains about 3 trillion tons of CO2. But remember that burning carbon combines it with 2 atoms of oxygen, meaning that if you burned all the world’s proven coal reserves right now, you’d literally double the atmospheric concentration of CO2. (Note: if you burn it slowly over decades, about half is absorbed, i.e. by the ocean in the form of carbonic acid…)

Using more advanced tools, we have tens of thousands of years. Basically all of northern Alaska has coal underneath it (thin layers, but still): http://groundtruthtrekking.org/Issues/AlaskaCoal/HowMuchCoal.html

How much coal is there?

http://groundtruthtrekking.org/Graphics/HowMuchCoal.html

The total amount of in-place coal in Alaska is something like 5 trillion tons. This is a much larger estimate than decades past. Yup, about 5 times the proven reserves of the entire world! Burn that immediately, and we’d multiply the atmospheric concentration by roughly 6x. Who knows how much is underneath northern Canada or Greenland or Russia… Or countless other places in the world.

We keep finding more carbon underground. The Shale Revolution is proof of this. Tar sands in Canada is proof of this. Oil Shale is proof of this. We. Won’t. Run. Out.

But the problem is that, given current climate models (which no doubt most of you have problems with) we can’t even afford to burn all of the currently proven reserves of coal, let alone ten or a hundred times that much as technology improves. That would put as much CO2 in the air as there was when the Sun was significantly less bright (young stars like the Sun are a little dimmer than stars the Sun’s age), meaning the climate would be FAR warmer than it was last time the atmosphere had that much CO2.

http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11798&page=70

We’re not talking about 4 degrees F difference, we’re talking 20 degrees F. Probably much more (depending on how good we get at removing coal from the ground …and depending on poorly-understood but possibly-disastrous feedback mechanisms). Even if you think the climate’s sensitivity to carbon dioxide concentration is much less than what the models suggest, at some point, technology will allow us to burn enough fossil fuels to STILL dramatically change the Earth’s climate. The Earth doesn’t have quite as much carbon as Venus, but if you include all subterranean sources of carbon, it’s a lot closer than you might think.

The atmosphere of Venus is 90 times more dense than that on Earth and it is made of 96.5% of CO2 and a 3% of nitrogen. This means that both planets have the same amount of Nitrogen on their atmospheres. Surprinsingly the CO2 on Earth is stored on calcite type rocks and if we would convert the CO2 on these rocks into atmospheric CO2 it would amount to the same amount of CO2 that there is on Venus’ atmosphere.
http://www.ajax.ehu.es/VEX/Venus.Earth/Venus.Earth.html

This is why it’s critical to develop carbonless energy sources AND intentionally move away from fossil fuels: technological progress will pretty much guarantee we won’t run out of fossil fuels. The physics of CO2 insulating the planet is well-understood from the spectroscopy of gasses and fundamental physics, but the feedback mechanisms are not well-understood (if you’re going to be skeptical of the models, this is where you should look). But even if you neglect ALL feedback mechanisms, you’re still talking about perhaps 10-20 F increase in temperature plus a large increase in atmospheric circulation (i.e. weather) if you burn all this CO2. Throw in some feedback mechanisms (melting and degassing of permafrost, methane clathrates), and who knows.

Luckily, energy is everywhere. In the wind, in the water, in sunlight, in the Earth, and even in atomic bonds. We can easily find better ways to harness useful energy than burning things. And of course, we aren’t going to find another planet nearby which has vast amounts of both oxidizer and fuel, so if we’re going to expand to the cosmos, we need to solve these problems anyway. This post is to provide motivation for some later posts, where I discuss all the various ways we can produce abundant energy.

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30 Responses to Why we won’t run out of fossil fuels and why that’s a problem

  1. Chris,

    Good nuanced first post. I’m with you on where my skepticism lies–the feedback models. I too agree that at some point CO2 emissions are likely to swamp any countervailing feedback mechanisms, I just don’t see a lot of evidence that we’re close yet. To me my bigger issue with coal is that the cheap coal power most of the world is using to industrialize with is extremely dirty. Coal in the US is far less bad, but India, China, and future developing countries can’t as easily afford all of the tech needed to make coal clean. That is why I’m a fan of finding an affordable and cleaner alternative to coal. I’m just a whole lot less of a fan of non-nuclear alternatives to coal and other fossil fuels.

    Even with energy storage, I can still see realistic situations where wind or solar energy could leave people stranded without electricity, which means you end up having to have fossil fuel energy backups anyway. You just don’t get the benefits of using it frequently enough for it to be cheap anymore. This is why I’m so much more a fan of nuclear (fission and fusion) than solar, because of it’s much steadier availability. I just wish our nuclear regulatory regime was better thought out–right now it is biased towards assuming safe == doing it the same way we’ve always done, which just doesn’t work when you have newer inherently safer reactor designs. This doesn’t hurt the fusion efforts, but it does hurt Thorium reactors, which I think are also a perfectly viable candidate for the “cheaper than coal, CO2 free, steady availability” power source the world needs.

    ~Jon

  2. Chris Stelter says:

    Jon,
    Yeah, I’m going to address those things. And yes, fossil power plants are responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in the US alone: http://www.catf.us/fossil/problems/power_plants/

    I’m a huge, unapologetic nuclear fan (which I’ll address some, but honestly you all know a lot about that), but I’m also a huge renewables fan(no pun intended, heh). I will address the concerns about storage at some point soon. To summarize, the key to making renewables viable without requiring ridiculous amounts of storage (and without power outages) is to significantly over-size the renewables and make certain adjustments to where and how you install the resource. Co-locating multiple power sources is also part of it. Also, what do you do with the big exclusion zones around active nuclear power plants? Well, it’s a perfect place to install solar panels. I will explain in later posts.

  3. Robert Clark says:

    A well-reasoned first article. As a technology optimist you should appreciate the view of Ray Kurzweil, that solar power will become the predominant form of energy production in just a few decades – and Presidents, and Gores, and UN’s will have nothing to do with it:

    Futurist Ray Kurzweil isn’t worried about climate change.
    By Lauren Feeney
    February 16, 2011
    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/environment/futurist-ray-kurzweil-isnt-worried-about-climate-change/7389/

    Bob Clark

  4. Chris Stelter says:

    If Ray Kurzweil is right, then we basically can’t know anything about what the future will be like in a few decades, post-singularity, except that it will be really, really weird.

  5. Peterh says:

    The greenhouse gas models supported by the IPCC et all are utter rubbish, with zero predictive power. Convection, evaporation, and cloud formation, none of which those models get right, are all far more important factors for Earth’s temperature than CO2.

  6. Egad says:

    > Convection, evaporation, and cloud formation

    All of which are the feedback factors Chris mentions. They are, indeed, quite complex, but changes in the absorption of solar energy stands at the top of the causal chain. And that’s driven by CO2, at least for now.

  7. born01930 says:

    I worked as a nuke operator for many years, so I my bias may show…I am all for more fission. I have changed careers, and as I type, in the background I hear steam wisping from the deaerators of a conventional coal fired steam plant.
    Coal provides cheap energy and cheap energy is what drives innovation. Cheap energy improves the life of the poor, cheap energy saves lives.
    The emissions from a convention coal fired steam plant are negligible. Am I for unregulated emissions? No, of course not but the ESP’s or bag houses we have today make them essentially benign. I do not buy that CO2 is a pollutant. It is a vital gas for plants…where did the carbon come from in coal? The air…

  8. Andrew_W says:

    Nice first post. I agree with you and I’ve followed a similar path with a worried eye on both peak oil and climate change.

    While increasing GH gases does undoubtedly lead to a warming planet, so far the rate of warming is at the bottom end of predictions, and the dreaded 2C rise in temperature looks quite a few decades away. That said, I’m still worried that regional climate changes will be far more dramatic, which could prove to be a problem on an increasingly crowded planet.

    Ultimately we will need to stop adding CO2 to the atmosphere, we’re increasing the concentration by nearly 3ppm/yr and with more people worldwide becoming affluent that rate is likely to increase with BAU, we’re at 400ppm, up from the natural 280ppm, I wouldn’t like to see the effects of 1000ppm, which I’m sure we could achieve early next century if we had the entire world emitting the stuff the way a small fraction of 7, 8, or 10 billion people have been doing for the last hundred years.

    A mix of energy sources, including renewables like solar wind and geothermal, is probably sensible simply because (a) they’re there, and (b) even if nuclear is technologically 100% sound, the diversity is probably a good idea for human reasons – like a strike by nuclear power station technicians, or any other all-your-eggs-in-one-basket scenario.

  9. Andrew_W says:

    born01930: “I do not buy that CO2 is a pollutant. It is a vital gas for plants…where did the carbon come from in coal? The air…”

    I look at it differently – anything can become an environmental pollutant if its concentrations are high enough, salt, phosphate, potassium, iodine, selenium, even N2, all vital to a balanced ecology, each a killing pollutant if there’s too much.

  10. Joshua says:

    “which no doubt most of you have problems with”

    I, for one, do not. When you write on the internet, you get all sorts reading.

    I look forward to reading your future posts. As you say, energy is everywhere.

  11. gbaikie says:

    I don’t think “we should” burn all the coal. Nor do I think we could, even if we wanted to
    or were required to.
    China is burning a lot of coal, and China will continue to burn a lot of coal, until it runs out just as England and France have run out- essentially. Or both France and England could not burn as much coal as China is doing presently, or even how much Indian plans of burning by 2020.
    Coal has fundamental problem, it’s not as bad as wood is, but coal become increasing uneconomical the further you ship it. So basically most of coal in Alaska is going to stay in Alaska, just because of th shipping problem and not counting all the other problem
    related to mining it. Though I suppose maybe one could convert the coal in-site converting to energy easier to transport and operating high energy needs manufacturing in Alaska and exporting the higher value products.

    But main reason US is not burning much coal is due to transportation cost and compared to cost of natural gas [very cheap to transport via pipelines].
    I am pretty fine with idea of burning all the natural gas we can get, and there is a lot
    to get. And of course natural gas can be used for transportation. And when burn natural gas the main emission is water [CH4]. One might even fly planes with natural gas- particularly if it was cheaper.

    No the rest of the world [developing world with billions of people] are going to use coal if they have coal reserves- if they have to solely import coal, they won’t use coal.
    Fracking to get natural gas and oil is option widely available- China could do it. And if the Chinese were competent, they could switch to using more natural gas [though they probably use coal to until they are scraping the barrel, then massively switch over to using natural gas [it’s somehow sane, if one has insane political forces which could make it difficult for them].
    The bigger issue with natural gas is making minable from the ocean. If one can do this
    it would quickly globalize natural gas use. Or if one could do this within say 10 years, it
    could reduce Chinese and Indian future plans to burn huge amounts of Coal.
    Mining methane hydrate from the ocean can be bigger than fracking in terms of the developing nations. Japan and US are researching it- but US and japan have been researching fusion for decades. I think need more involvement by private sector, and perhaps more nations in the world becoming involved.
    But it could be that fracking will lead to more natural gas infrastructure, and such infrastructure could lead to further interest in getting natural gas from the continental shelves.
    But the ultimate long term solution is getting energy space environment- if one looking at centuries into the future.

  12. Dave Salt says:

    Thanks for the thoughtful post Chris.

    I’m in complete agreement with you about the current threat posed by CO2 (i.e. it’s real but far from catastrophic). However, I do wonder about the potential for massive amounts of future warming because of the logarithmic impact of its concentration on forcing, as discussed here…
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/03/08/the-logarithmic-effect-of-carbon-dioxide/

    I suspect that a civilisation capable of economically accessing all the Earth’s fossil fuel reserves will also be capable of economically accessing space based resources, allowing the migration of most heavy industry into space (i.e. processing extra-terrestrial materials using solar power and exporting the end-products down to Earth or wherever else they’re needed, like O’Neill colonies), thereby off-loading this burden from the planet’s surface.

    This is also why I think space launch is so important to the future of mankind… assuming ‘singularity’ doesn’t get us first 🙂

  13. CS says:

    I would like to comment on a few misconceptions here:
    1) Peak oil is not about oil running out. It is just an observation that every commodity has a peak production, and then the production only goes down. Peak “something” is a result of supply and demand law at work.
    2) CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 is needed on Earth, but the problem with CO2 is that the CO2 cycle is being disturbed – more CO2 is being emitted than is being absorbed in geological and biological processes. The amount of CO2 on Earth needs to be “just right”. A situation when there would be too little CO2 would be equally catastrophic as too much CO2.

  14. Robert Clark says:

    Thanks for that link that discusses the logarithmic effect. I wondered if the “hiatus” might be an indication of the leveling off we would expect under a logarithmic curvE.
    In that case we would expect actually much larger increases in CO2 to give the 2 degree temperature increase that was proposed.

    Bob Clark

  15. Chris Stelter says:

    The logarithm-curve-fitting argument reminds me of these two Akin’s Laws of Spacecraft Design:
    “5. (Miller’s Law) Three points determine a curve.

    6. (Mar’s Law) Everything is linear if plotted log-log with a fat magic marker.”

    I don’t think we can comfort ourselves about the future results of our unintentional geoengineering experiment by abusing some curve-fitting routines. And even assuming it were true, it does nothing for the ocean acidification. Let’s just get on with better forms of energy generation.

  16. born01930 says:

    Ocean acidification is not a concern: (info below borrowed from here: https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2014/02/09/co2-makes-the-ocean-more-alkaline/ )

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alkalinity

    Alkalinity can be measured by titrating a sample with a strong acid until all the buffering capacity of the aforementioned ions above the pH of bicarbonate or carbonate is consumed. This point is functionally set to pH 4.5. At this point, all the bases of interest have been protonated to the zero level species, hence they no longer cause alkalinity. For example, the following reactions take place during the addition of acid to a typical seawater solution:

    The key point there being the pH 4.5 point. So adding CO₂ to sea water at present does NOT “increase acidity” as the ocean is not acidic, it is basic (being pH bigger than 7 toward the 8 basic side). More importantly, adding CO₂ also does not make the ocean “less alkaline” either! Yes, it’s true!

    Addition of CO₂:

    The addition (or removal) of CO₂ to a solution does not change the alkalinity. This is because the net reaction produces the same number of equivalents of positively contributing species (H+) as negative contributing species (HCO₃- and/or CO₃²-).

    At neutral pH values:

    CO₂ + H₂O → HCO₃− + H+

    At high pH values:

    CO₂ + H₂O → HCO₃ ²- + 2H+

  17. Chris Stelter says:

    Interesting to know that climate “skepticism” is now expanding to chemistry “skepticism.”

    Yes, dissolving CO2 in water does indeed increase its acidity. This is because CO2 reacts with water to form carbonic acid (H2CO3), which is indeed acidic. Fundamental chemistry, here. Rain water, for instance, is slightly acidic because of dissolved atmospheric CO2 (right now most of which is naturally occuring) in the form of carbonic acid, same thing that makes carbonated beverages taste slightly tart (and which disappears from the beverage in the form of carbon dioxide as the soda goes flat). Adding that to ocean water does not magically have no impact on the ocean’s Ph level (part of the confusion here is that alkinity is not the same as Ph level).

    (I removed my snarky remark 🙂 and edited for clarity)

    For reference:
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/redondoself/3410136073

    http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/co2/story/What+is+Ocean+Acidification%3F

    Anyone who has ever drank soda.

  18. johnhare John hare says:

    Chris,

    While I am probably not in agreement with you, I’ll
    Read and think before arguing the points. Very informative discussion so far.

  19. DougSpace says:

    Hi Chris. Do you have a rough estimate of what percentage of your posts will be about climate vs space vs other? Thx.

  20. Chris Stelter says:

    Doug: I wasn’t planning on posting climate posts until I started this one (which started out life as an over-grown comment on my introduction), but this does introduce some motivation for my later posts which will probably be a mix of energy and space… often both, as solar power and nuclear power are your best options on Mars, followed by wind and geothermal… You’ll probably see more Mars colonization stuff from me than Moon and Venus and orbital and free space stuff, as I’m a Mars cadet at heart.

    As all of the power options on Mars are non-fossil-fuel, there’s a large overlap between my energy posts and space posts. In fact, a lot of the reason I’m so interested in renewable energy and nuclear energy in the first place is because it enables space settlement.

    In general, I will try to keep at least one foot in the space side of things, as that’s a really useful perspective on all of these sorts of issues that most people don’t include in their mental model.

  21. gbaikie says:

    ==Chris Stelter says:
    August 27, 2015 at 11:31 am

    Doug: I wasn’t planning on posting climate posts until I started this one (which started out life as an over-grown comment on my introduction), but this does introduce some motivation for my later posts which will probably be a mix of energy and space… often both, as solar power and nuclear power are your best options on Mars, followed by wind and geothermal… You’ll probably see more Mars colonization stuff from me than Moon and Venus and orbital and free space stuff, as I’m a Mars cadet at heart.==

    I would say that if can “geoenginner”/terraform mars to stop global dust storms and lower dust in general that Mars is much better place to harvest solar energy as compared to earth.
    It also seems unlikely one will have much Martian settlements without harvesting solar energy from Mars orbit- you get twice as much energy.
    And basically we don’t harvest solar energy from earth orbit because of the cost to ship it from Earth in space. And Martian are coming from space. And if you imagine solar panels made on mars [rather than in Mars orbit or the moon or earth] then cost to ship from Mars surface is cheaper than the cost to ship from Earth surface to earth orbit.
    So it seems to me- mars settlement result is harvesting energy in orbit for Martians at surface. Of course if don’t do anything about the dust, then one has even more incentive to get the solar power from Mars orbit.
    Now just in terms of public perception, if martian are harvest energy from orbit, it seems earthlings are going to want it.
    So I think there is connection between Mars settlement and Earthling getting solar energy from their orbits.
    I also think their is connection between lunar mining and Mars settlements.
    And only reason to mine the moon is to mine lunar water- to make rocket fuel. And once you have a commercially viable lunar water mining, then one can get other lunar mining, and lunar bases, and lunar telescopes- etc.
    And there another connection between lunar water mining and Earthling harvesting solar solar energy from their orbits. Because if one mine lunar water to make rocket fuel, you begin a market for electrical power in space. And having electrical market in space allows you to make stuff. So it seems one make solar panels on the moon and ship them to Mars. And shipping them to Mars orbit is cheaper than shipping the to Mars surface.
    So I see the correct path to Mars exploration, starting with the exploration of the Moon to find where and if there is commercial minable lunar water. So NASA just focuses on finding the lunar water. So no NASA lunar base. maybe Europe or other countries will have lunar bases, and if NASA finds minable water, and parties invest
    capital to commercial mine lunar water, one probably get some lunar bases- which can use the rocket fuel and use water for other crew uses.
    So within 10 years, NASA first establishes an operational depot in LEO, and then uses depot for robotic exploration [of moon and elsewhere] and finishing lunar exploration with some crew landing and lunar sample returns. Then it explores Mars.
    And while it explores mars, the exploration done of the Moon can be examined and decisions about investing in lunar mining can to made based upon what is discovered from the NASA lunar exploration.
    So part of why lunar lunar water mining could be doable is because NASA is exploring Mars, after it’s explored the Moon. Crew going to mars might use lunar rocket fuel- perhaps just LOX, and/or lunar water for crew use to go to Mars [and returning from Mars]. If commerical lunar mining is started, then this will provide political support to continue exploring Mars. I think Mars will require decades of crewed exploration.
    Mars is big- lunar pole are small. Then also the time getting to Mars also means it will take longer to explore. And got to set up bases. And probably build a number of different base in different locations Mars, etc.
    And if one has lunar water mining, it seems that this will effect mars settlements even more than NASA exploration.
    And all of this leads to Earthlings harvesting solar energy from Earth orbit, which is a lot more important to having some people living on Mars.

  22. Andrew_W says:

    Chris Stelter: “You’ll probably see more Mars colonization stuff from me than Moon and Venus and orbital and free space stuff, as I’m a Mars cadet at heart.”

    No prob, we’ll educate you.

  23. Dave Salt says:

    Chris, I don’t think those logarithmic plots were derived in the way you suggest.

    Here’s a link to a paper that derives the basic expressions for radiative forcings, based upon radiative transfer models, that were used to derive those curves…
    http://go.owu.edu/~chjackso/Climate/papers/Myhre_1998_New%20eatimates%20of%20radiative%20forcing%20due%20to%20well%20mixed%20greenhouse%20gasses.pdf
    …which I believe were based upon the “best estimate” alpha values defined in Table 3.

    Concerning the development of better forms of energy generation, I fully agree that this is important. However, I also agree with people like Judith Curry and Bjørn Lomborg, who regard scare stories about imminent ‘thermageddon’ as a dangerous distraction from far more important problems… like improving third-world health.

  24. Chris Stelter says:

    Dave:
    I looked at the paper you linked to. It appears to be a pretty bog-standard climate science paper. Possibly in addition to incorrect data (hard to tell because that random blog post is poorly referenced), the graph you pointed to about the logarithmic effect (which, for the record, does seem to be a decent assumption, but I fully disagree that it means we have nothing to worry about) seems to be a case of fairly intentionally misleading graph, i.e. by squeezing the data down into a small portion of the curve, it makes it appear that even large changes in CO2 will only have small effect, even though the scale of the graph is large enough to include enormous swings in temperature. Might as well post temperatures in Kelvin, as that way it doesn’t seem as bad, right? But of course, a few degrees DOES make a large difference in local climate, and may lead to release of methane from melting permafrost. Feedback effects are very important, even if the error bars are large. ESPECIALLY because the error bars are large.

    As far as there being other important problems like health in the third world, this is an example of the Fallacy of relative privation. And, as it so happens, Africa is the very best place in the world to install solar power (plus Australia and parts of South America).

    In much of Africa, you’re talking literally 3 times as much power produced (and more consistent power) for the same solar equipment as in Germany, which means a third the cost per kWh. So if you’re looking at 9c/kWh in Germany, it could be just 3c/kWh in much of Africa, not counting the lower labor costs in Africa.

    …which is good because the interior, poorer part of Africa suffers from a lack of infrastructure needed for regular fossil fuel power plants, such as lack of railroads and navigable waterways (so you can’t burn coal unless you find it there… shipping it via truck on central Africa’s questionable roadways is not a viable solution) and lack of natural gas pipelines, as well as even major powerlines. Much of Sub-Saharan Africa is reliant on generators, which means they are ripe for a household-scale or (even better) village-scale solar power plus battery solution (which would be cheaper than running a generator which requires fuel to be shipped in at great cost). Being right on the equator means you don’t get this big dip in average power consumption in the winter, so all you need to do is over-build the solar arrays so you are still producing enough power on cloudy days and a day’s worth of storage, and you have baseload-quality power (heck, much of Africa’s fossil powerplants suffer from extended outages or rolling blackouts). And if you do start building a little infrastructure, you can start tapping into the enormous hydropower potential that Africa has, giving you very cheap storage/dispatchable power (Africa is one of the only places in the world with such a huge quantity of mostly-untapped hydropower potential), which is a perfect fit for large amounts of variable renewable energy.

    (I’ve planned on making the second part of this comment a post at some later time… but I want to do some space-oriented stuff first.)

  25. johnhare john hare says:

    I did an Innocentive concept for cheap local hydro power in the Amazon. They weren’t impressed. I may resurrect the concept in a post if I disagree with you strongly enough about African power sources.

  26. In conclusion, if markets are allowed to function freely the supply of oil will never run out, in a physical sense, though it s quite likely that in the future gasoline will become a niche commodity. WON T THERE BE A COST TO THE ECONOMY?

  27. Any change has several costs to the economy.

    Lets hope the replacement for gasoline produces net benefits. Musk has started with cars that use batteries. Recharge the batteries with solar electricity made in the deserts.

  28. Alice Finkel says:

    This blog is exceptionally valuable. Too valuable to fall prey to fraudulent science. But one cannot blame a blogger for not wanting to go against the “consensus.” Thar be dragons!

    Climate is too complex for current climate models, which omit over 90% of the most important climate drivers and climate modifiers and feedbacks. Base your expectations of the future upon current climate models at your own peril. 😉

    Ocean acidification might be worrisome if one were completely ignorant of marine biology. Over geological timescales, Earth’s land and ocean species evolved under much higher regimes of CO2.

  29. Andrew_W says:

    “Climate is too complex for current climate models, which omit over 90% of the most important climate drivers and climate modifiers and feedbacks.”

    An example of the Pull-a-number-out-of-the-air-and-state-it-as-fact technique.

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