Periodically we are assured by the “environmentalists” that we have reached the “peak oil” stage, and, henceforth, production will decline as economically recoverable reserves are exhausted. We must depend, they say, on the energy of moonbeams and gentle breezes, and, to this end, use our taxes to subsidize costly and inefficient wind farms that chop birds to mincemeat and solar towers that incinerate the feathered creatures in mid-air, built (and this is surely a coincidence) by companies that have donated heavily to Demoncrap candidates. These are the same people who prophesied that the world would end due to environmental collapse in the seventies, eighties, and now in just another 12 years. Our dependence on fossil fuels is, they say, “unsustainable,” and that includes coal, which produces the horrible plant food CO2.
Yes, it is a plant food, good for agriculture and the ecosystem. And the US has proven economically recoverable coal reserves of some 253 billion tons, enough to last us, at our current rate of use, for 325 years. If we tripled our use of coal, powering cars and everything else with electricity from coal-fired power plants, we would still have over a century’s worth.
The coal can be burned in a number of ways that produce almost no pollutants other than the CO2, and there is not an atom of proof that man-caused global warming is anything other than a tower of lies. For one thing, there is the old coking process, which involves heating coal in a closed container, driving off the gases, coal tar, and other volatiles, and leaving a residue of coke, almost pure carbon, which can then be burned as fuel, with the fly ash filtered out. As for those volatiles and any sulfur compounds, one man’s pollution is another man’s treasure, and these are used in the chemical industry and to produce dyes and other products. All this and stimulated plant growth? God forbid.
As for the “peak oil,” this, too, was going to happen years ago, and was predicted over and over, but new deposits keep being found, and new extraction methods for oil and gas developed, like fracking. It was noticed some years ago that exhausted oil and gas fields, once abandoned, would often slowly refill over decades, as more oil and gas seeped in…from where? We are told that petroleum and natural gas are organic, the results of heat and pressure acting on the residues of prehistoric marine algae, but Swedish researchers drilled into igneous basement rocks far below any sedimentary rocks that could contain oil of biological origin, and found oil and gas, though not in an economically recoverable concentration. Coal is undeniably at least partly of organic origin, with fossil tree ferns found in coal mines, and deposits of peat (plants decaying in wet soil) slowly being buried and turning into lignite (brown coal), then soft bituminous coal, and, finally, hard anthracite coal. But a number of researchers, including American astronomer Thomas Gold, began to suspect that most oil and gas may be abiotic in origin, trapped in the crust and mantle when Earth formed, or produced at depths from water and other materials, and that our reserves may be enough to last many thousands of years. Much of this may have been altered, but not produced, by anaerobic extremophile bacteria deep in the planet’s crust. Methane is common in the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, in comets, and in carbonaceous chondrite meteors, as is water, which is how Earth got its H2O…and researchers have recently discovered vast quantities of water in Earth’s mantle.
Experiments duplicating the heat and pressure in the mantle have shown that water can react with minerals to produce hydrocarbons. And then there are the vast amounts of methane in ocean floor sediments, trapped as methane clathrates (a.k.a. hydrates) in icy lattices. This methane totals an estimated 1.2 million cubic miles (at one atmospheric pressure), with more energy than all conventional oil, gas, and coal deposits combined. There is disagreement as to whether this is of biological or abiotic origin, but, either way, if we can economically tap even a small fraction of this, it could literally energize our economy.
But of course the phony environmentalists oppose coal mining because of imaginary global warming, and they oppose fracking due to the danger that it can cause earthquakes and their stated belief that it poisons groundwater and can lead to flames issuing from water taps in homes (I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried). And, sure enough, earthquakes have become more common in Texas and Oklahoma, where a good deal of the fracking takes place. But they have caused no fatalities, no serious injuries, and no major property damage. Even with fracking possibly allowing faults to move, there had to be faults to begin with, and it can even be argued that the minor tremors relieve stress and may prevent less frequent but truly catastrophic earthquakes. But, as always, the leftist agenda serves to impoverish the commoners and make us helpless and dependent on government.
Naturally the “environmentalists” oppose nuclear power, which normally produces no pollution at all, not even the deadly CO2. They point to disasters like Three Mile Island but that accident killed no one and did not permanently irradiate the area downwind. Chernobyl killed only people working in the plant, and the still-evacuated area downwind is covered by healthy-looking trees, shrubs, and grass and abundant wildlife, and the meltdown resulted from a badly designed and poorly maintained and operated plant; that design is no longer in use. Even Fukushima has not yet become the world-ending disaster some of my fellow patriots kept predicting it would be, year after year.
I live on the West Coast and have gone on cruises since the accident, and salmon runs have been fairly good of late, and I see plenty of sea birds over the shoreline and the ocean. The fact is that there are a number of inherently safe designs for nuclear plants that simply cannot meltdown or release radioactive wastes, like the molten salt thorium breeders that can use the element thorium, far more common than uranium. As for the “problem” of nuclear wastes, these substances can be re-processed to allow us to use the remaining fuel they contain, and, eventually, only a tiny residue of radioactive isotopes remain, which could safely be stored in deep caves in the Nevada desert.
But the “environmentalists,” via rulings by the almighty courts who rule us, have prevented this, ensuring that large amounts of liquid wastes remain, stored at the nuclear facilities that produced them, increasing the chances for real (if limited) disasters. But such disasters would serve the leftist agenda by allowing them to clamor even more loudly for an end to nuclear power. You might think there would be some energy source that actually works that they would be for…but they are for nothing. They are “againsters,” the ultimate nihilists. And so we have barely developed yet another clean and safe energy source that could supply us with all our power for decades to come.
Of course, advances will be made with wind and solar power technologies. Perhaps we could use direct wind power to desalinate sea water. Passive solar space heating is already a good idea, and advances are being made with cheaper and more efficient photovoltaic systems and with the all-important energy storage technologies. Fusion power is an always exciting but ever-receding dream; it has been just about to be realized for sixty years now. But advances are also being made in the area of oil and gas recovery and atomic fission. And most of the real innovations come, not from government programs and mandates, but from private companies operating in a free market…or what is left of our free market. And that is the last thing the “environmentalists” want.
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