Now, to illustrate this, imagine we just found a trillion barrels 40,000 feet down. Yeah, that would awesome, right? No more peak oil, at least for a long time, right? Well, what if due to technological considerations, we could only get a few wells installed, and the max flow rate we could get from that reservoir was 100,000 barrels per day. Oh, that's it? Well, that's nice, but it doesn't really help the overall situation, where we're experiencing roughly 4,000,000 barrels per day,per year declines in existing conventional crude oil fields. That is, reservoir size and flow rates were well-correlated several decades ago, because the stuff just flowed out of the ground so easily, but now that we have to drill tens of thousands of feet to achieve a single well flow rate on the order of 100 barrels per day/per well in the shale plays, or we even have to scoop up tarry sand in giant machines and then power wash the bitumen off of it, oil just don't quite flow quite like it used to.
There's a new relationship between reserves and flow rates, and it's a fraction of the old rate. And it's an entirely new world, and this has been missed by the less insightful analysts and commentators out there. I am optimistic about the new reserves and flows but not because I happen to think they allow us to forget about the challenges and snap back to 'how things used to be.' We're in a new regime of higher oil prices and that alone sets today well apart from the past.
We don't need any new technologies, we have everything we need right here on the shelf now to begin living a very different life. It begins with, I believe, the most fundamentally important thing we can do, conservation, at this stage.
If you look at a nighttime satellite photo, you can see that there are probably a few lights we could turn off and save a bit of electricity. There's technology on the shelf right now enabling homes, either residential or commercial buildings, to be built that use a fraction of the energy they currently use, just by tilting them south and putting windows on the right side and ventilating them. Very simple things like that that can be done. All we have to do is decide that we're going to use them, and that's missing still.
So, yes, I am very optimistic about technologies and processes and understandings that already exist. The mystery to me is why they are not being deployed. They make complete sense from economic, political, national security, ecological and social justice standpoints yet we don't use them at scale. That's not a technology problem, that's a narrative problem. Another way of saying that is I am very optimistic about technology but decidedly less optimistic that we will use it intelligently and rationally.
we're producing extracting so much domestically.
Natural gas is the safest carbon based fuel we have. Count me as another lefty who thinks hydrofracking still bests coal, undersea oil drilling, and nuclear. I love solar and wind and geothermal and hydro and conservation too. But natural gas gets us there with less damage than coal for sure.
If you are writing on an ac-powered computer while sitting in a carbon-based heated home with a gas or electric car in the driveway, decrying fossil fuels is hypocrisy.
(some environmental and ethical/political issues in the extraction of rare earth elements used in solar-electric panels)
wanted to be completely, pedantically factually correct in my statements. Kind of like saying "safer sex" instead of "safe sex" when referring to condom use, even though I'm pretty pro-sex-between-consenting-adults.
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