Does anyone else think the Canberra Times’ idea of producing a 40 page ‘Earth Hour’ magazine sort of misses the point of the exercise?
Deano, good post, but I knew all that already (I presume you were explaining it for those who don’t).
Hydrogen, electricity, etc, as you rightly point out, have to be manufactured. As you said, the energy does not appear out of thin air. And if you want to run the world’s vehicle fleet on electricity, for example, you’d have to increase the global generating capacity by in excess of 100%. How are we going to do this? And more salient, how are we going to do this renewably when we currently can’t even generate 10% of our electricity renewably (through solar PV or thermal, wind, geothermal, tidal)?
I still think the scale of the problem, and the fact that there is no curbing of consumption of oil or electricity (or anything else for that matter) in sight (consumption of both continues to increase 2-3%pa in Australia alone) give rise to reasonable concern.
I did not seek out any of the information I have come across to “confirm beliefs” – I did just the opposite, knowing very little about this stuff up until this decade. In fact, I wish I didn’t know what I know because I’d sleep better at night.
And I am not a Luddite. I believe in progress, but not as it is currently constituted. We as societies need to address the rampant market failure of our current economies with regard to the environment and enact a triple bottom line philosophy. That might actually bring about the change we are talking about before the skyrocketing oil price cripples the world economy.
Bah why did this have to turn into a debate about global warming. This was far more fun when we were discussing the irony of the issue.
I was all for the bonfire until I read the scary prospect of the debster dancing naked around it – shudder with fear. The chance of a trip and fall is enticing though.
Anyhow, I’m all for earth-hour.
It will demonstrate the stupidity of the smug attention seekers.
Not that carbon dioxide, an inert trace gas essential for the plant growth, should in any way be curtailed, but the cessation of breathing by all the hippies and climate activists would benefit all of us.
They could practice what they preach and the real people wouldn’t have to put up with their crap.
RuffnReady, my apologies for lecturing you but this environmental ‘the sky is falling’ shrill really gets up my goat.
First, let me challenge your statement that “the oil will be GONE in roughly 40 years”. No – we will never run out of oil. It will however become so expensive that we will stop wasting it by burning it in inefficient engines and making plastic pieces of crap. That process is happening right now. Remember when petrol was less than $1.00 per litre only a couple of years ago? We will never see prices like that again, ever.
Technologies do exist right now that are either a replacement for oil as a fuel or as a replacement for the internal combustion engine. Hydrogen is a replacement for oil as fuel. Yes, hydrogen is really just an energy storage mechanism (just like oil) that needs to be manufactured in a process that requires energy. The energy to make hydrogen has to come from somewhere but the advantage of hydrogen is that it can be made from energy sources that are impractical to have in your car like solar, hydro, nuclear or geothermal.
The other angle is to replace the internal combustion engine completely. Electric motors for powering cars exist right now. Have a look at what Mercedes Benz is doing with their ‘smart’ car in the area of purely electric powered cars. Again, electricity is just an storage and transport mechanism for energy that has to be produced elsewhere.
There are three abundant sources of energy available to us on this planet – nuclear (including solar, which is just a large nuclear reactor that isn’t even a safe distance away from us), geothermal, and gravity (incorporating hydro, wind, tidal). To date oil has been the most convenient method of collecting and using nuclear energy from the sun.
You are absolutely right that there are currently no substitutes for oil that are comparable in price. It is not a matter of the price of substitutes to come down to match oil but for the price of oil to increase until the substitutes become economically attractive. Once that happens, we will see a wholesale shift away from oil, the start of which I believe we are seeing right now. In time the price of these substitutes will drop to similar levels of oil today for exactly the same reason that we have cheap oil now – economies of scale. As consumption of substitutes increases, the costs of production will fall. Competition will see the development and introduction of new innovations that will result in even more cost reductions. It won’t happen overnight but it will happen and this will be the basis of the next modern miracle.
My reference to the Luddites is this implication in the environmentalist argument that if society continues to progress it is doomed and the only solution is to stop where we are right now. I suggest you research much wider for your answers and seek out solutions rather than confirmations of your beliefs.
Deano, please enlighten us as to this heretofore unseen engine that will power the transport of the future global economy the way that cheap oil has. Does it produce motion from nothing? Bravo! Also, when are we going to start replacing the fleet?
The modern industrial miracle has been founded on cheap energy, and particularly cheap oil and coal. At the moment, there are no substitutes for oil on the scale that oil is consumed and at a comparable price or we would be using them.
I have not been “indoctrinated” by anyone. I ask my own question and research the answers from a wide variety of sources, so please don’t lecture to me like I don’t know what I’m talking about.
One hour, once a year, surely we can do better than that? I have a habit. Every time I walk out of a room, the lights go out. No front porch light in this house, solar powered lights do the job there. You can buy one of those solar candle-flicker effect lights from Marnet Mart – real pwetty! Oh, and the power points go off when “stand-by” items are not in use. Having OCD helps a lot!
Allow me to stick up for the Luddites.
I think there would have been a way to manage the industrial revolution that didn’t result in 17,000 steet kids around Liverpool city in the mid 19th centtury, for example.
There was an industrial revolution which resulted in big things – good and bad. Those particular impacts on people’s lives were not inevitable.
We can handle change well as a society or we can handle it badly. I suggest we should aim to handle it well.
Lets analyse this piece of environmental shrill for a moment:
I predict that the next car you purchase will be the last one you will own that is powered by oil.
oil will be GONE in roughly 40 years at predicted rates of consumption. Thus, we must replace 1,000,000,000 (and rising) internal combustion engines with a comparable technology that is yet to be developed.
Good to see you have accepted your environmental indoctrination so well.
Yes, oil will run out in the relatively near future. Whether it is 40 years or 100 doesn’t make much difference to the argument.
Yes, we will need to replace 1,000,000,000 or more internal combustion engines in that time.
But, very few internal combustion engines will last for 40 years, even 20 years is a long stretch. So, all of those internal combustion engines will have to be replaced anyhow.
Comparable technology has been developed for engines. It just isn’t as economical or the necessary supporting infrastructure hasn’t been implemented just yet because there is no demand.
Yes, we will ‘evolve’ to our changing environment but it will be a technological evolution instead of a biological one. I predict that the next car you purchase will be the last one you will own that is powered by oil. The change is starting already. Declining oil supplies and growing demand will see the price of oil increase to such a level that alternate technologies will become economic to use – after all there was a reason we moved from horses to oil in the first place.
A lot of this environmentalist propaganda is no better than the Luddite views that wanted society to oppose the industrial revolution.
The main idea is to get people thinking about saving energy – which seems to be working.
It isn’t up to China to save the world. Every country should do their bit. And China is more likely to get on board if everyone else is.
Thumper, thank you for recognising resource depletion as the single greatest threat this civilisation has faced. So few people even think about it.
As for “coping with climate change”, the last Ice Age was pre-12,000BC, and it took 3000yrs (ie. to 9000BC) for the change that became the current interglacial (warm) period to occur. At the time, humans were hunter-gatherers and there were an estimated 10 million of us. We didn’t start to settle down and get into agriculture until some time between 7500-5000BC.
Now compare that with today – 7 BILLION people and rising with little space if any for migration, monoculture agriculture set in place (what about shifting rainfall patterns, etc. – we’ve seen what they do to Austn agricultural production) and entirely reliant on FOSSIL FUELS (fertilizer, her and pesticides, machinery and transport are all reliant on OIL)… and that’s just a short summary forgetting sea level changes.
10 million hunter-gatherers can “adapt” (and did by settling and planting crops). 10 billion consumers? A bit more of a task.
Sorry for the doomsaying, but I’ve read a lot about all of this and the outlook for this civilisation is not rosy.
That being said, humans will survive as a species as long as we don’t nuke the planet. There are too many of us for the whole lot to die. The question is what we will leave for future generations..?
‘Adapt’, not ‘evolve’…
Humans will evolve to cope with climate change (if it actually exists), note the last ice age.
However, we are seriously in trouble when (not if) we run out of oil, coal, ettc.
in my book it’s natural resource depletement that is the worlds biggest threat.
Besides, until China decides to do something it’s all a waste of time, given they are a third of the worlds population.
I too plan to turn on every light in the house during ‘Earth Hour’ in protest at its stupidity and self-righteousness. Then, like RuffnReady, I will continue to save energy as best I can and achieve a practical outcome without pointless dramatic gesetures.
Deb Foskey runs naked around bonfires. You have been warned.
I think I’ll run a bonfire night for global warming, er, sorry, climate change.
I wonder if the Stanhope government will sponsor it?
Wide Boy Jake, you don’t know what you are talking about. The science is robust and global warming is a reality. The current rate of warming is 10-100x the natural rate observed between glacial and inter-glacial periods. I am not going to debate you about it here, but you are WRONG. Try reading the science, then tell me how thousands of the world’s top minds are wrong but you and your conspiracy theory are right.
Even if you don’t believe in global warming, there is a big problem called resource depletion that the world is soon to face. The international Energy Agency, using oil supply curves from the world’s oil deposits, predicts that the oil will be GONE in roughly 40 years at predicted rates of consumption. Thus, we must replace 1,000,000,000 (and rising) internal combustion engines with a comparable technology that is yet to be developed. Moreover, neither natural gas nor coal will last out this century. The world population will reach 10,000,000,000 by 2050, and everyone wants to live like us. How exactly is the world going to find replacement energy sources to facilitate the scale of the transition necessary unless something is done now? It won’t. And how do you re-direct the market – you use carbon cap and trading, amongst many other things.
As someone who has studied energy sustainability, and is soon to begin a career in it, I think symbolic gestures like this are a bad joke. They make everyone feel like they are doing something when actually they are not.
Turning your lights off for an hour won’t make a lick of difference. Why are the lights on every floor of many office buildings left on anyway? Don’t the cleaners only need lights in the immediate area they are cleaning?
Token efforts make me want to puke. I’ve changed my lifestyle in small but significant ways and thus reduced my electricity consumption by 60% in a year, without any investment in new technology. I now consume about 6kWh/day (vs 18kWh/day Australian average) despite living alone, so this is something everyone can do with little effort. But no, let’s all turn the lights off for an hour and then forget about it… oh, and while we’re at it, let’s all buy MORE SH#T WE DON’T NEED! Let’s do lots of that! Let’s totally ignore the embodied energy that goes into producing, transporting, displaying and selling it… fark, do not get me started.
Another bit of greenie wankery. I’m going to commemorate Earth Hour by turning on every light and appliance in the house. Global warming is a natural phenomenon – nothing Man can do will either stop it or slow it down. In the same way as the world experienced ice ages in the past, so to we are entering a period of slightly higher temperatures. Let’s hope we are not roped into joining a carbon trading scheme – the financiers’ version of the virtual world on the Internet.
Somebody calculated that the plan by King O’Malley’s to use candles during Earth Hour would actually release more greenhouse gasses that they would save by not using electric light. Particularly if some pisshead knocks over a candle and burns the place down!
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