[Coral-List] Sustainability - getting off of oil.

Durwood M. Dugger ddugger at biocepts.com
Mon Jun 29 12:05:12 EDT 2015


Your perspective of getting off of oil is shared by the majority of people. However, it is incorrect. You assume the energy problem is technically limited - like Elon Musk, but the primary limitations to getting off of oil are economic/critical resource limited. The technology is the easy part - especially if you ignore the economic ramifications.

Consider again that 95% of the global population is dependent on NPK for food production. The N is produced from natural gas which is in part a bi-product of petroleum fuel production. If you stopped the production of petroleum fuels you would seriously impact the economics  of natural gas production - and N for fertilizers (not a technical problem at all, but solely economic). Even more sensitive to the economy-of-scale of the petroleum fuel industry is the petro-chemical industry. 

Only about 5% of all petroleum produced goes to the petro-chemical industry. The petro-chemical industry however, produces the chemicals necessary to process and refine both phosphates and potassium (and make them bio-available) used in NPK - and it produces almost all of the ag. management and pesticide chemicals that western food production technology has become dependent upon. Additionally, all the new energy technologies and their economic feasibilities that you mention above are predicated on those technologies being produced with petro-chemicals that are being supplied under current petroleum industry economic scales and cost structures. Change the cost structures of the petroleum industry and other energy technologies are impacted as well.

What I’m saying again is that if you eliminate the 95% of petroleum that goes to fuels - then the 5% needed by petro chemical industry suddenly becomes the sole economic burden of the petro-chemical industry. The petro-chemical industry would then have to do the exploration, drilling, transporting, refining of the petroleum - which they simply now buy at global market prices. In the absence of a petroleum fuel based industry economy-of-scales for petroleum production - the petro chemical industry scales to accomplish the same are dramatically smaller, the efficiencies proportionately lower and the result would be untenable prices for petro chemicals, the many products it produces that we take for granted price wise - and most important those unseen ag. chemicals (by consumers) used more and more in global food production. 

The spider web of economic strings attached to the petroleum industry as we know it today are far more complex than most people realize and the impacts of getting off of petroleum fuel far more difficult than just turning off the valve, capping wells and closing the related refineries. Consequently, to get off of petroleum, we need to address the related economic impacts in advance and be sure that we (globally) can not only afford them, but have work-arounds for our absolute dependency on the petro-chemical industry and the price structures it currently exists under. I’m seeing none of these economic being considered at present, so I think that the estimate of being off of oil in “15 years” is naive and not well considered economically.

Just so you know, I have absolutely no connection to any petroleum company interests, are not defending their negatives, but you can’t take and in depth look at critical resource economic webs and not become familiar with their interconnections with petroleum economics. To say that modern society currently eats oil - maybe metaphoric and over simplistic, but its far more apropos than we might think. 

Best regards,

Durwood M. Dugger, Pres.
ddugger at biocepts.com
BCI, Inc. <http://www.biocepts.com/BCI/Home.html>
On Jun 29, 2015, at 7:30 AM, Risk, Michael <riskmj at mcmaster.ca> wrote:

Hi Doug.

I suggest that, as usual, events are moving faster than mindsets can change. Naomi Klein's new book, "This changes everything", outlines how we (globally) could be off fossil fuels in 15 years if we started right now. (She cites the research.) Then, post-publication, we have the game-changers of Elon Musk's Power Wall and the Stanford single-electrode battery that generates Hydrogen for peanuts. So anyone saying we cannot get off fossil fuels just isn't up to date.

However. There is very little good news.

Should we in fact start now to wean ourselves off that oily tit, say it would take 15 years...in that period of time, the world will have lost another (3%/yr) say 40% of already-depleted reefs. And there is no reason to believe that the great drivers of reef decline will have backed off.


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