Monday, April 30, 2007

Inconvenient Truths 1 and 2: global warming and oil supply

On Sunday April 29, Andrew C. Revkin had an article “Carbon-Neutral is Hip, But Is It Green: An environmental movement that’s just about perfect for consumers” in The New York Times, This Week In Review, Section 4, p. 1. He discusses “carbon neutral campaigns.” There is an increasing angst over whether individual people will eventually have to face their own share of the sacrifice. Whole life style patterns can change, ranging from challenges to exurbia and McMansions for upscale families to the personal autonomy of single people (often gays and women).

Some of this possibility exists in measures of personal "carbon footprint". A UK website that discusses this is named after that. A 45 ton per year carbon footprint would be offset by a $675 "investment," according to NBC Nightly News on April 30. Conceivably, this concept raises the idea that eventually personal or family "carbon footprints" could be rationed, setting up enormous political and social controversies.

That’s “An Inconvenient Truth 1”. There is “An Inconvenient Truth 2” about the future of our oil supplies. The link between The Two Truths is, of course, consumption of fossil fuels (so graphic when one looks at a coal strip mine). A couple of recent films accentuate this. One is the 3-1/2 hour “Epic of Black Gold” from French National Television and Alliance-Atlantis, directed by Jean-Pierre Beauerenaut and Yves Billon, shown twice in the recent Washington DC Filmfestdc. The other is a brutal little film from Netflix, “A Crude Awakening,” directed by Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack, with the add-on of frank interviews of oil executives Colin Campbell, Matthew Simmons, Fadhil Chalaki, and David L. Goodstein. The film makes the point that the bell curves representing oil discovery, oil production and oil consumption all have the same integral curve areas, because they represent the same amount of oil, even though the spikes of these curves can be spaced decades apart. The film has a gloomy outlook on what could replace oil to sustain our civilization at its current population and standard of living, given the demands of China (which have exploded in the past decade – look at the cars in Beijing) and third world countries to share our consumption.

I’ve seen this before. I “came out” in the 1970s during the first Oil Crisis (the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973), and even wondered if it would be possible to bike from New Jersey to The City for my adventures.

This is all sobering. But, as with other problems (like global pandemics) we are left wondering about our research and development and investment. Can we think and produce our way out of these long term problems? The next generation of kids now in high school will inherit these issues to solve. They’d better learn their math and science well.

1 comment:

peoples-opinons-on-global-warmingikadf3 said...

Our world is in crisis - great post - thanks for your insight - together we can save our planet so future generations can enjoy it too!Thanks!P. Lanet IIIConcerned Earth DwellerIs Global Warming A Scam...? Want to learn more?