Ronald Stein

Look in the mirror for climate change

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In the decades and centuries before 1900, man could travel as far as he could walk or as far as his horse would take him.  Life was dirty, smelly, difficult, - and short. There was virtually no military and the only available weapons were the bow and arrow and the single shot Muscat rifle.

In the decades and centuries after 1900, after the discovery of oil, and the inventions of the automobile and the airplane, we now have a huge military industry of aircraft, ships, and artillery, an airline industry that can take us anywhere in the world consuming 225 million gallons of aviation fuel EVERY DAY, a cruise line industry that takes us to all parts of the world consuming 30 to 50 gallons of fuel for EVERY MILE, a leisure industry of hotels, resorts, theme parks, and a transportation industry of rail, trucks and automobiles that can deliver products from around the world and take us to virtually any destination, an electronic and aerospace industry that has everyone wired and wireless, and elaborate infrastructures to support the growing populations.

All of those infrastructures did not exist prior to the 1900’s and they could not exist without the chemicals and by-products manufactured from crude oil.

Today, our leisurely lifestyles are based on all those chemicals and by-products that are manufactured out of fossil fuel energy that has been the foundation of the industrialization of civilization from the development of machinery and products for:  transportation systems, sewage treatment, sanitation systems, water purification systems, irrigation, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, genetically improved crops, agricultural productivity, dams, seawalls, heating, air conditioning, sturdy homes, drained swamps, central power stations, vaccinations, pharmaceuticals, medications, eradication of most diseases, improvements in manufacturing productivity, electronics, communication systems, and so on.

Other benefits from fossil fuel energy include the ever reduction in infant mortality and is the major contributor to the longest life expectancy in history all of which directly impacts our quality of life.

Interestingly, the primary economic reason refineries even exist is to manufacture the fuels for our military and transportation industries.  There is no economic reason to JUST manufacture the other “stuff” of chemicals and by-products from crude oil that are the basis of virtually everything in our daily and leisurely lifestyles.

The EV crusade may have limitations to replace as the internal combustion engines as current battery technology for EV’s is the lithium-ion battery which is dependent on cobalt for its energy density. There is already a worldwide shortage of Cobalt.

The unintended consequence of too many EV’s from the crusade is that a reduction in the need for manufactured fuels may incentivize closures of refineries that are also manufacturing the other “stuff” for our lifestyles and may be inflationary on all those other crude oil products if that is the primary reason for those refineries to exist economically.

One benefit of going back to those horse and buggy days is that it would totally solve the persistent unfunded liabilities to pay pensions as no one would live past 30 years!

We obviously have no desire to go back to those horse and buggy days, when we had none of the chemicals and by-products from crude oil that are the basis of virtually everything in our daily and leisurely lifestyles, thus there is a need for balance to efficiently control our use of the limited energy on earth, control our emissions, and still preserve the quality of life that we have become accustomed to. 

To support the ever growing populations, and increasing numbers of vehicles, the continuous improvements in fuel efficiencies of internal combustion engines, the continued development of EV’s, and the continued development of Hybrids will be the balance needed to control emissions and retain our lifestyles.

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True story Ronald - I think most energy experts agree that there's one one-sided simple solution here and that there's so many parts of modern 21st century relying on cheap and abundant fossil fuels. Multiple major solutions have to be found and implemented to reduce our dependence on hydrocarbons. 

Personally I think that cheap energy storage solutions will be the key to a fast transition.

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