looming energy crisis?

These days it is stories like these that keep me awake at night.

* “China – An Energy Timebomb?”:http://alt-e.blogspot.com/2004/08/china-energy-timebomb.html
* “Basic Choices and Constraints on Long−Term Energy Supplies”:http://www.aip.org/pt/vol-57/iss-7/p47.html

Basically: We’ll run out of oil in my lifetime; long before that, it will be expensive, and then rationed. Alternative sources simply can’t fill the gap; we do not have the capability to replace just our electricity needs with renewable energy, never mind our other energy needs. Even if North America switched to nuclear power, we’d run out of fuel in 35-58 years, a mere band-aid for the problem.

Meanwhile, SUVs are the fastest growing market segment in China, and GM is actively marketing them.

I haven’t the faintest idea what we’re going to do about this looming crisis; I do know that our current technique (hiding our heads in the sand) isn’t going to cut it.

posted at 6:38 pm on Friday, August 20, 2004 in Current Events, Science and Technology | Comments (5)


  1. Greg Wilson says:

    When OPEC turned the screws in the 70s, the market responded very quickly. Within five years, German and Japanese compact cars had made significant inroads into the American market, American manufacturers were downsizing their vehicles (as well as their plants) in response, and energy-efficient appliances were coming onto the market. As energy becomes more expensive over the next 20 years, I expect the same market forces will have the same effect. The real question is whether any of our elected leaders will be forward-looking enough to push us that way ahead of the rest of the planet, so that we can sell to them the way the Germans and Japanese sold to us 25 years ago. Reducing income taxes, while increasing sales tax on both fuel and fuel-inefficient machinery (factories and cars in particular) would be a revenue-neutral way to do it…

  2. Jeff K says:

    “Forward-looking” “elected leaders”? Hell, I hope you like horses!

  3. Harry Neff says:

    One statement and 3 responses to this crisis…. That should show us the real apathy around this country on the subject…. When we’re out of reserves, fule is $8+ per gallon and we’re all buying/riding horses or bicycles, maybe the collective will wake up.
    My grandchildren (now 1 – 7) will be left to solve this, I’m afraid.

  4. Jeff K says:

    I think even saying it is our grandchildren may be optimistic. I’ve read a number of books on the subject, and they all think that military might will protect the oil reserves for the western world. Unfortunately, might is not always right, *money* often trumps, and if China needs fuel to produce goods for the rest of the world, a worthy task, the people paying for the goods coming from China will be driving up their own fuel costs. My guess is that it would be less than 20 years before we’re making serious choices in the west to our personal transportation in order to keep the economy running efficiently because production is in Asia, not here. I’ve met people who said 3 years ago they couldn’t pay $1/L for gas. I often pay close to $1/L now for 94 octane gas… For some people then, the future is *now* (although, I’ve noticed these same people still buy the gas)

    Anyway, there is risk to any planning. I think the plan should be to estimate the cost and time to electrify suburban & inter-city rail, build the nuclear power-plants to power them, eliminate the tax on diesel fuel and ban the use of diesel in personal autos and ban the use of natural gas in power-plants. Then the plan should sit on a shelf waiting for the crisis to become more obvious to the stupid.

  5. Jeff K says:

    Btw, on Thu or Wed the National Post ran an article about the worsening crisis. Apparently not only do we have to worry about China, but the U.S. may want to reduce its dependance on mid-east oil, thus increasing its desire to buy Canadian oil. I think in the long run that’s fine, but there’s a lot of construction that has to be done before supply can meet demand in that situation, I believe.

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