[Coral-List] CO2 risks for coral reefs - and achieving "the shift (off petroleum) much more rapidly."

Durwood M. Dugger ddugger at biocepts.com
Mon Aug 24 16:40:25 EDT 2015


I think Gene is more right than you think and for a lot of good reasons.

"we can be more pro-active and achieve the shift much more rapidly”

I note you don’t suggest how this shift can be made more rapidly. You seem to think a slow transition off petroleum is just an option that we chose not to take. It isn’t an option, it is an impossibility.

This kind of statement about a more rapid shift off petroleum is usually not based on an in depth understanding of the complexity of our global petroleum dependence economics - both physical or fiscal. That perspective does put you among the vast overwhelming majority of people on the planet. That isn’t good news for any of us.

Not understanding that currently we are closing on 95% of the world’s food supply being absolutely petroleum dependent (as Asia has moved from manure to the western NPK ag. production model - depending on who makes the estimates) - is usually the basis of this inadequate understanding. Additionally, it is not understanding that the petro-chemical industry (2% of petroleum production) of which NPK and high production ag. management chemicals are not just a physical supply dependence on petroleum resources, but are an economic dependence on the global petroleum energy industry's economy-of-scale cost efficiencies. Economic dependence in that the current economy-of-scales for the petroleum energy industry are necessary to create the cost efficiency of non-energy petro-chemcial production on which the current global food supply critically depends.  

Current scale global food production dependence on petro-chemicals would be grossly more expensive if the petro-chemical industry suddenly became economically responsible for all the costs of their petro-chemical feedstocks - exploration, discovery, drilling, field development, storage transport of crude to refineries - are all scale dependent activities. All the stuff petro-chemical producers currently purchase directly from the petroleum energy industry refineries. 

More expensive so much so that very little of the world’s population could afford food if the petro-chemical industry suddenly became a stand alone industry. The international chaos from food shortages (from increased food pricing - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_riot <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_riot>) has already been experienced at comparative micro-scale. Until we can figure out how to displace petroleum energy industry scales and effectively disassociate and isolate its economics from petro-chemical production - again - all without disturbing current food production economics - any quick shift off petroleum is absolutely extremely limited if not impossible. 

Additionally, consider that to date - alternatives such as at-scale biofuel production are actually dependent on many of the same petroleum dependent ag. chemicals as our food production - like NPK. At-scale biofuels don’t move us off petroleum, they actually make us more dependent on it. Yes, you can produce biofuels on wastes - but not at the significant scales needed to get us off petroleum and we need to realize that those wastes being counted on for waste-to-biofuel production… are being produced with current petroleum dependent inputs. Waste-to-biofuel is a recycling process and like all recycling processes it needs resources to recycle. The natural phosphorus cycle limits are far, far, below where are with NPK. Natural production schemes such “organic” and or “permaculture” are all limited by the natural phosphorus cycle and couldn’t be significant food production techniques without having NPK ag. wastes to recycle.

While wind and sun alternative energy sources don’t have a lot of consumables that are petroleum dependent, the production of equipment for both types of energy devices (wind generators, solar panels, inverters, switching and batteries) have large amounts of petroleum industry inputs. Primarily in plastics, but other organic chemical products that can’t be produced in significant quantities… which would negatively affect their costs without the substantial economies-of-scale offered by the current global petroleum industry. Yes, one day maybe we will be able to make plastics from the CO2 in the air as some research suggests today, but that technology nor its economics are not here today.

The reality is that despite all of the money spent, the hope and the hype by alternative energy promoters that current alternative energy technology will replace petroleum - it’s just that hope and hype - and wasted money. “ asted" because basic mass balance analysis had predicted the lack of sufficient net energy yields and inadequate economic viability (ROE) long before most of this alternative energy research was ever accomplished. No one listened.

Unless something like Locheed Martin's compact fusion reactor - and or others bragging about also having a near free commercial fusion energy source actually happens as predicted - in 5-10 years, we aren’t going to fill either the energy or the economic gaps necessary to leave petroleum, and or stave off a near future massive resource depletion/economic and or resulting population crashes. Over population pressures being another related resource management problem directly tied to excessive CO2, but not being dealt with honestly or straightforwardly.

No matter how great the environmental need, the idea that we can make a quick shift off of our petroleum economy is not well founded in physics or economics and consequently poorly conceived - and dangerous. We don’t use petroleum products because they are easy to find, cheap to process, safe to work with, smell good or just fun to have around. We simply don’t have a viable replacement at this point in time that can replace petroleum without creating global chaos. What ever global plans we make and expend remaining resources taking action on - those plans need to be firmly based on the reality of our current petroleum dependence and its economic interdependent complexities - to have any meaningful chance of positive future impacts. 

I have no relationship with any petroleum related companies - beyond being a fuel and utility consumer. If I had the ability to end global dependence on petroleum tomorrow without creating a bigger problem than its negative CO2 and other impacts - I would, but I don’t.  I’m stuck dealing with petroleum’s current dependence realities, but at least I am aware of them.

Best regards,

Durwood M. Dugger, Pres.
ddugger at biocepts.com
BCI, Inc. <http://www.biocepts.com/BCI/Home.html>

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