...the obstacles will all disappear! Jeff over at Damnum Absque Injuria links to a particularly Pollyannish post at The Richmond Democrat that begins:
We cannot drill our way out of the current crisis of higher gasoline prices. Why? It is a simple matter of supply and demand. While the supply of oil is finite, the demand for oil is ever expanding. No matter how many holes we drill, we will never catch up to the global demand for oil-based motor fuels as they are currently used.As Jeff asks, "WTF part of 'supply and demand' don't you understand?"
Trying to drill our way out of this crisis is a little like chasing the Sun on a bicycle: you can pedal all you want and you may even feel like you are making a little forward progress, but the Sun will inevitably pull away from you. The demand for oil will inevitably pull away from the supply, and the more the gap between supply and demand widens, the higher the price of gasoline will go. We cannot address this crisis on the supply side of the equation because the available supply--even if we were to drill as many holes as we could--is both finite and insufficient.
But it gets even better. This guy swoons over hydrogen fuel cells, hybrid cars and new battery technologies. Hell, for him hydrogen is the fuel of the future!
The other possible technological solution I mentioned, the hydrogen fuel cell, is extremely promising for one reason that ordinary Americans would do well the consider: the technological problems associated with fuel cells are almost entirely concerned with the fuel cells themselves and not with the fuel source!He does make faint mouth-noises that none of this is a free lunch:
Hydrogen is everywhere and the technology for extracting it from our environment is relatively simple. Gasoline is extracted from crude oil, which is rare and therefore expensive (supply and demand again). Hydrogen can be extracted from water and water is everywhere, covering three-quarters of the Earth's surface, and is cheap, cheap, cheap. In fact, the stuff falls out of the sky as rain, free of charge. When you use gasoline as fuel it is gone for good, becoming more and more scarce and therefore more and more expensive. When you use hydrogen in a fuel cell, it becomes water again. The same hydrogen molecules, the "H2" in H2O, can be used over and over and over again. Hydrogen will never become scarce: you cannot corner the market on hydrogen.
Batteries could be recharged with electricity generated by coal, nuclear, hydroelectric, geothermal, solar, wind or some other technology yet to be invented. The United States has access to all these sources of power.But nowhere in this wonderful paean to The Future! does he acknowledge that hydrogen isn't a fuel. It's just another not-very-convenient or efficient way to store energy converted from some other form. So I wrote a comment. His comments are moderated before being posted, and none had been posted at the time I wrote mine, so I saved a copy. Here it is:
Hydrogen is everywhere and the technology for extracting it from our environment is relatively simple.He did let it through moderation along with several others, kudos to him for that. Then he replied that we "didn't read his post." I have another comment pending moderation. We'll see if that one goes through.
Yes. All it takes is energy.
Hydrogen is not a fuel source. It's just another way to store energy, and the amount of energy you can get out of hydrogen you "extract" from other compounds is less than the amount of energy it takes to do the extraction.
This is fine if you have abundant excess energy, but one of the problems we have today is that such excess does not exist. The simplest way to extract hydrogen is through electrolysis of water. That requires electricity. Most of our electrical generation plants burn oil, natural gas, or coal. There is excess capacity - the plants don't run at full load at night, for example, but you still have to burn fossil fuels to run them, and the amount of energy required to crack water into H2 and O2 is more than you get back by burning the H2 and O2 back into water, even if you use the H2 in a fuel cell.
Plug-in hybrids? Again, where does that electricity come from? Are you advocating a massive building program for new nuclear generating stations?
The less oil we use, the less oil will cost.
Only if everyone uses less oil. Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that oil is used worldwide for fuel, and for feedstocks in the manufacturing of plastics, lubricants, and other vital chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides. Sure, it's possible to reduce our use, but China and India are ramping up their use, and they're not alone, so the laws of supply and demand will remain in force. The world usage of oil will continue to increase. We'd better start drilling where we know oil is to try to keep supply somewhere near demand as long as we can.
Will new technologies help? Certainly. But new technologies take time. Hydrogen fusion power has been "20 years away" for as long as I can remember. We're making great strides forward in battery and supercapacitor technology, but again, where does the electricity come from? Solar and wind have the drawback of not being dependable, or very energy dense. Wave and tide power could be promising, but I'm waiting for the environmentalist crowd to start protesting the construction of anything near a shoreline.
Hell, I'm waiting for the environmentalists to shut down mines where the metals necessary for those hybrid batteries and fuel cells are dug up, and the plants where they are refined. Nickel, lithium, lead, copper, titanium, aluminum, all that stuff comes out of the ground, and the byproducts can be nasty. There's a proposed copper mine near where I live that they're bound and determined to prevent the opening of.
Plug-in hybrids and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles are NOT a solution. The energy to charge the batteries or crack the hydrogen needs to come from somewhere.
Face it: The only technology that's going to help any time soon is nuclear power. (More mining.) It can help ease the transition away from oil - but in the near term we need more OIL, and we'd better start drilling SOON.
And I DARE you to approve this comment, unedited. (I'm posting a copy, BTW, with a link.)
I would ask how in the world did people get to be so clueless, but I've already answered my own question.
UPDATE: It did.