The End of Oil ?  

Posted by Big Gav

Technology Review is now talking about the end of oil. Hopefully the surge of publicity in the US and elsewhere will stimulate investment in renewable technologies and restructuring the developed economies to become less energy intensive.

Because 15 years ago we failed to begin developing the new energy sources and technologies we need now, Deffeyes argues, in the immediate future we’ll have to rely on what we’ve got. In Beyond Oil, he examines how we might optimize the use of our geologically derived energy sources.

Deffeyes suggests that coal will make a comeback and that Fischer-Tropsch conversion—the process by which the Nazi regime turned coal into gasoline to keep its Panzers running during WWII—might become commonplace. He grants that there’ll be an outcry over the ecological costs of burning coal; similarly, there’ll be much agonizing as nuclear power plants are again rolled out. But Deffeyes believes that M. King Hubbert, whose 1956 paper predicting the U.S. oil production peak is titled “Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels,” was right: nuclear power will be part of our response to decreasing reserves of oil and natural gas, as necessity overrides any political opposition.

Ultimately, says Deffeyes, we may just have to resign ourselves to relying more on coal, wind, and nuclear fission for ­electricity and switching to high-efficiency diesel and hybrid automobiles in order to ration our remaining oil reserves for as long as possible. Abundant energy from fossil fuels was a one-time gift, Deffeyes concludes, that lifted humanity up from subsistence agriculture and has led to a future based on renewable resources.

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