There is a great article in the April 7 issue of Rolling Stone, The End of Oil, which I strongly suggest should be read by anyone who owns/drives a car. I get into a number of discussions with treehuggers every now and again about the fact that there is no such thing as a free lunch when it comes to fuel.
Of all the evils you can imagine, a world plunging into the dark ages in terms of transportation is one of the worst… especially for Americans. The article linked above talks about the very strong possibility that the world will run out of “cheap” gas by 2010 and what might (most likely will) happen when the world’s industrial civilization finds itself with an empty tank. Oil is used not only to create gas, but to heat homes, make plastics, make electricity, and power farm equipment (to harvest foodstuffs) among other things. If we run out of oil, frankly, we’re fucked.
The article also discusses the rather piss poor promise of cheap renewable fuels like hydrogen. While on the surface it seems like an answer to our oil-dependent culture, hydrogen-fueled cars are nothing more than slightly less evil sisters of the gas guzzler. See, the current crop of hydrogen fuel cells are produced by burning natural gas… a fuel who’s reserves are in worse shape than those of crude oil.
I’m not saying hydrogen isn’t a viable solution, but here is where the treehuggers will get their hemp thongs in a bunch: The other way to make hydrogen is through electrolysis of water using power from hundreds of nuclear power plants. No such thing as a free lunch remember? Maybe the Berkeley hillbillies are ready for a world without the automobile, but are they prepared to live without their I-Pods filled with their bootleg Grateful Dead mp3s?
Personally I’m all for the world collapsing upon itself. I’d like nothing more than to see the world’s oil-fueled economy fail. What will happen when the world’s oil producing nations no longer have the threat of oil embargoes to blackmail the US into doing their dirty work? It should be quite a explosive event let me tell you.
None of the current “green” energy options (solar or wind) will provide enough power to keep the industrialized world from goosestepping beyond 2020. For just a moment today, think about all the wonderful things man’s ingenuity has produced over the last 30 years (coincidently, around the same number of years since the last major decline in oil reserves). Computers, DVDs, CDs, MP3 Players, digital cameras, the Internet… now imagine what the world will be like without them. Pretty soon you won’t have to imagine that world, because it’s going to happen in our lifetimes. I’m not prophesizing about the doom of civilization, but instead a return to a less materialistic economy. One based on the common goal of survival instead of comfort. Are you ready?