- Familiar Arguments of the Anti-Hydrocarbon Energy Activists
- “We are in danger of running out of natural resources”.
- C.J. Campbell, Author of “The Coming of the Oil Crisis” notes (1998), “The world is using up its geological endowment of oil at a prodigious rate”… Further he states, “The imminent peak of oil production would mean that we would be out of the cheap, abundant supply on which we have come to depend”.
- “The combustion of fossil fuels will result in a human-induced climate change of epic and catastrophic-proportions”.
- “We need to go GREEN”!
- “We need subsidized renewable energy technologies with a little sprinkling of “political will” to replace the polluting output of oil firms”.
- Are We Running Out of Natural Resources?
Economist George Reisman argues that, “The world is made out of natural resources extending from the upper limits of its atmosphere to its very center, four thousand miles down. This enormous quantity of chemical elements is the supply of natural resources provided by nature. Of course, in and of itself, this supply of natural resources is largely useless. The supply of economically useable natural resources is always only a small fraction of the overall supply of natural resources provided by nature. It expands as man advances in science and technology and improves and enlarges his supply of capital equipment”. Those who scream, “We are running out of natural resources”, fail to grasp the physical nature of the world and the progressive nature of man (Knowledge via scientific and technological advancement). Reisman states that, “the problem of natural resources is strictly one of making a greater fraction of nature’s virtually infinite endowment accessible and economically useable”. In other words, man needs to know what the different elements and combinations of elements nature provide are good for, and then to be able to actually get at them (via man-power, equipment), and direct them to the satisfaction of his needs.
The important ingredients of making “nature’s virtually infinite endowment of natural resources accessible and economically useable” as stated by Reisman, is the state of scientific and technological knowledge and the quantity and quality of capital equipment available. For instance, Petroleum, which had been present in the ground for millions of years, did not become an economically useable natural resource until the second half of the nineteenth century, when uses for it were discovered.
Peak Oil Theory
“Fossil fuels are also abundant. Over the past 30 years, while some people have been promoting the theory of peak oil, we’ve seen the world’s proved reserves of oil and natural gas increase roughly 130 percent to 2.5 trillion barrels. Our resource base keeps expanding because our technology keeps improving”. Chevron C.E.O. John S. Watson (October, 2011).
Harold Hotelling’s 1931 paper “The Economics of Exhaustible Resources” shaped perceptions of oil supply ever since. Hoteling’s fundamental argument was that the future price of oil is an inclining curve, largely because the volume of oil in the ground is a finite and fixed stock. Therefore, as each barrel is produced and consumed, remaining barrels become dearer and more expensive. Hotelling and others who share this view are Energy Depletionists. Depletionists subscribe to a bell curve view whereby global oil, gas or coal output increases, peaks and then declines. This model assumes a fixed supply-or really fixed technology and unchanged knowledge applied to the resource base. However, Morris Adelman of M.I.T. points out that instead of fixed stocks of resources, there are only flows of reserve-additions. On one hand, oil is consumed which diminishes reserves. On the other hand, the oil industry spends billions of dollars each year exploring for oil and, in the process, adding to reserves. Adelman goes on to say that the industry’s objective is to maintain a volume or reserves that is equal to at least 15 years of production, a reserve-to-production ratio of 15 (Sarah A. Emerson, 1997).
“As long as the price of oil exceeds the cost of exploration, development, and extraction, companies will continue to invest in adding to their reserves. The main factors pushing costs down are increase in knowledge and improvements in technology. The resource scarcity argument, therefore, only works if additions to reserves dry up. This will only happen if the industry stops investing, which will only occur if replacement costs exceed price. To believe that replacement costs will exceed price, one must bet against technological innovation” (Sarah A. Emerson, 1997).
3. Hydrocarbon Based Energy & Modern Civilization
“Energy is the lifeblood of the world’s economy, the underlying means by which modern societies function. Oil, coal, natural gas, and electricity are needed for virtually every important function in industrial societies-from growing and cooking food, to manufacturing, heating and cooling buildings, and moving people and goods. The interruption of supplies by storms, earthquakes, wars, or other events quickly demonstrates how totally dependent we have become on the energy-consuming machines”. James Mackenzie, World Watch Institute March 1996.
Products That We Use On A Daily Basis From Petroleum:
- Food Preservatives
- Contact Lenses
- Bubble Gum
- Dishwashing Liquids
- Heart Valves
Oil & Consumption of Food
Oil is used to manufacture commercial, nitrogen-based fertilizers; operate field machinery, package, refrigerate and transport food to stores. Oil fueled farm machinery rapidly increased food production in the middle of the twentieth century.
Oil & Plastics
Plastics are derived from hydrocarbons found in oil. Polyethylene is used to make milk jugs, shampoo bottles, and plastic bags. Polystyrene is harder and used to make casings for appliances, and Styrofoam products.
Oil & Transportation
Transportation accounts for about a fifth of the World’s Energy Use. Before gasoline-fueled automobile, horses and oxen powered most vehicles. Animal power turned city streets into filthy breeding grounds for disease, reeking of manure and urine and swarming with flies.
4. Renewable Energy Sources
Activists want us to adopt renewable technologies such as solar, wind, tidal, geothermal and biomass because they are “GREEN”! They assume that these energy sources are environmentally friendly. Are these energy sources really “GREEN”? According to a leading Environmental Activist, i.e. Rockefeller University’s Jesse Ausubel, the use of renewable energy is wrecking the environment. He published his findings in the July 2007 International Journal of Nuclear Governance, Economy and Ecology. Ausubel calculated the amount of energy produced by various renewable energy sources- including hydroelectric, biomass, wind, and solar power-in terms of power output per square meter of land disturbed. In addition to land misuse, Ausubel identifies other undesirable consequences of renewable energy sources. Wind power produces low-frequency noise, blights landscapes, interferes with TV reception, and chops birds and bats to death; dams kill rives; and solar power would require large areas of land be essentially “painted black” with photovoltaic cells. The infrastructure of a wind farm uses five to 10 times the amount of steel and concrete used in a 1970 vintage nuclear power plant.
Shannon Love argues that, “alternative energy is really Weather-Dependent Energy and it has all of the hazards posed by being exposed to the vagaries of the weather. Solar panels only generate significant power in certain locations, in certain latitudes, in certain environmental conditions. It only generates significant power in the daytime, only during certain hours in the day, and random weather conditions like thunderstorms, ice storms, sandstorms can knock it offline completely. Wind turbines only generate power in certain locations, within certain speed ranges and only when the wind blows in the specified speed range” (Why Alternative Power Is and Will Remain Useless, February 2010).
Furthermore, the herd ignores the fact that it requires the use of hydrocarbons to make renewable energy. For example, it takes hydrocarbons to make biofuels. Biofuels depend on hydrocarbons based energy for inputs into its production. These inputs are herbicides, insecticides, electricity, transportation, irrigation, machinery, fertilizers, processing plants. Biofuels have a negative net energy, meaning that it takes more energy to make them than they provide when burned.
It is an undisputable fact that no alternatives can compete with the convenience, portability, efficiency, or cost of oil, gas, and coal. These hydrocarbons displaced most renewable energy sources in the nineteenth century because of greater quantity, density and reliability.
5. Concluding Points
- We are not running out of natural resources because the world is made out of natural resources (natural resources is one and the same with matter & energy in the universe). Our problem is to make a greater fraction of these resources accessible and economically useable.
- Peak Oil is a FARCE based on a depletionists view of energy that ignores human ingenuity applied to the resource base.
- Hydrocarbon based energy has made a significant contribution to modern civilization. It helped increased food production, it gave us countless products that we use on a daily basis and it enabled faster movement of people and goods.
- Renewable energy sources are not environmentally friendly and they are unreliable, intermittent energy sources.
Remember Ladies and Gentlemen to always CHALLENGE EVERYTHING, ASSUME NOTHING! THANK YOU!
Posted by Shane J. Pantin
By The Intelligent Radical (Keegan Bharath)
I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones”. – John Cage.
I recently attended a panel discussion organized by U.W.I. History Society and the The Guild of Students at the University of the West Indies. I decided to attend because the topic for discussion was of national significance. The panelist weighed in on the topic: Stagnation or Progress? Perspectives on 50 years of Independence and Considerations for the Future. During the panelists’ presentations, I plucked out some statements that warrant further scrutiny. Arnim Hughes, graduate from The University of Toronto, encouraged the citizenry to adopt a "love of country focus". This comprise of two components: "respect for others and respect for the environment". He happily quoted newspaper columnist, Sunita Maharaj, and agreed with her idea that, "effective local government will solve our problems". Next up Ifeula Gooding, First Year Representative from The History Society, continued on the statist bandwagon by expressing her "pride" in a country with state subsidies in education, government controlled health care, state provision of housing, and the "political accomplishment of having a female Prime Minister". However, Gooding felt that the benevolent welfare state had more work to do. She notes that, "much more need to be done to promote our citizen’s social welfare".
The Intelligent Radical Response
Hughes suggested that one of the ways to instill a “love of country focus” was to institutionalize volunteerism in the education system. Statist intellectuals have a habit of seeing the “education system” as a sitting duck where the implementation of their grandiose plans would help to “transform” society by targeting young people. Institutionalize volunteerism would not work because it would be viewed by the students as another run of the mill activity within the education system. The true spirit of volunteerism is only encountered in civil society. People in their communities must instill the values of voluntary cooperation among young people. They need to participate in groups like the Trinidad Youth Council, civic associations, community based groups, faith based groups etc.
Ms. Gooding promotion of the welfare state reflects the pro-statist curriculum fashioned by statist intellectuals at the University of the West Indies. I asked a student who completed his degree in economics if he ever heard the name, Ludwig Von Mises. He said, “No”. When I asked him about the name F.A. Hayek and the Austrian school, he said, “They were just mentioned briefly not studied in depth”. However, when I told him that I am sure you studied Karl Marx and J.M. Keynes, he replied with an emphatic “Yes”. Students at the University of the West Indies, especially in the Social Sciences are fed a diet of pro Marxists, Socialists, Statist, collectivist ideologues, while Individualism, Capitalism, and voluntary cooperation are largely sideline and branded as ideological tools of Western Imperialism. These students then use these bankrupt ideologues to inform their views on sociopolitical issues. Then they appear as “panelist” promoting the welfare state.
The U.W.I History Society deserves some credit for hosting an important discussion on our country 50 years of Independence. However, the discussions lacked real penetrating analysis that forces people to think deeply about our ideas and how they influenced the way we have dealt with social problems for the past 50 years. We have allowed statist intellectuals to monopolize the conversations that are important to build societal consciousness on the issues that affects our country. It is high time we abandon this cultic devotion to statism and allow ideas to be freely contested.
Visit Keegan's bog at http://Keegesweet.wordpress.com
Keegan Bharath "The Intelligent Radical"
“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death”.
– Albert Einstein
Celestine Chua the writer behind the Personal Excellence Blog developed the wheel of life model that comprise of 10 key aspects of our lives. These areas are business/Career/Studies, finance/wealth, health/fitness, social/friends, family, romance/love, recreation/fun, contribution (giving back to society stupidity), personal growth, and spiritual (connection to higher power, God). On the surface this model appears to capture the diverse areas of one's life where most of our activities are channeled on a daily basis. But the wheel of life model does not mention the importance of cultivating one's intellectual life. Chua and other writers in the field of personal development ignore the importance of an intellectual engagement of the world of ideas as it is essential in understanding how human beings relates to the world in which they live. The time these authors devote to thinking, reflecting and constructing 'wheel of life models' for people to discern the areas in their life is indicative of their intellectual life in full blossom. An intellectual life is not exclusive to the privileged few but it is an essential aspect of everyone lives.
The Intellectual & ‘Idealism Doh Pay’
Vaclav Havel (2002) defines an intellectual as "a person who has devoted his or her life to thinking in more general terms about the affairs of this world and the broader context of things. Their principal occupation is studying, reading, teaching, writing, publishing, and addressing the public. It leads them to embrace a broader sense of responsibility for the state of the world and its future.” In my intellectual life under the sobriquet of the “Intelligent Radical”, I have addressed the public on various issues such as the need to simplify our discussion on economic issues, highlighted the importance of economic freedom to prosperity, debunked global warming alarmist fallacies, and emphasized the fundamental role of the state to preserve and secure the inalienable rights and freedoms of individuals as its primary responsibility. I have been criticized for being too idealistic and I was told during a conversation about my articles that "idealism doh pay"! This idiot failed to understand that my articles represent a personal reflection on the state of affairs of the world and my desire to share this perspective with my fellow human beings. I have no intention of being drafted into the camp of 'eat ah food' court intellectuals who are looking to be fed by the state. They are content with 'singing for their supper’ to earn a living by spreading state propaganda. I am in the business of advancing the cause for a free society. It is high time that we rescue discussion of socio-political issues from the dominance of socialists, fascists, afro-centrist, indo-centrist and the general collectivist mindset whose discourse undermine the virtues of individual liberty, private property, voluntary cooperation, capitalism, and the rule of law.
Two Books That Enhanced My Intellectual Life
1. Basic Economics A Citizens Guide to the Economy. Thomas Sowell. 2004. Basic Books: New York.
The book is a very good introduction for anyone new to the study of economics. It emphasizes the significance of economic analysis and it provides relevant examples that elucidate economic concepts in action. Also it does a good job of simplifying basic economic issues while it simultaneously debunks several misconceptions related to economics. Sowell defines economics as “the study of the use of scarce resources which have alternative uses.” Economics is not about the financial fate of individuals. It is about the material well-being of society as a whole. It shows cause and effect relationships involving prices, industry and commerce, work and pay, or the international balance of trade – all from the standpoint of how this affects the allocation of scarce resources in a way that raises or lowers the material standard of living of the people as a whole. The book features chapters that discuss the role of prices, the rise and fall of businesses, the role of profits-and losses, productivity and pay, controlled labour markets, the mystique of labour, investment and speculation, the role of government, international transfers of wealth etc. This book will certainly enhance your grasp of economics. So take ah read!
2. The Poverty of Historicism. Karl Popper 1960. Routledge & Kegan Paul: London.
At the University of the West Indies, I have been involved in heated discussions with the collectivists’ mindset cult on various issues. This campus is infected with unapologetic Marxists, Socialists, Black Fascists, Afro-centrist lecturers and students. These collectivist know that when they confront the Intelligent Radical I immediately attack the validity of their flawed philosophical assumptions then work my way up to discuss the substantive issue. The discussion is heated because I realized from the beginning that an intelligent conversation necessitates that the issues at hand start with those underlying assumptions. The Poverty of Historicism is one such work which deals with underlying philosophical assumptions. Popper dedicated the book to all those “who fell victim to the fascist and communist belief in inexorable laws of historical destiny.” He, like the Intelligent Radical, understood that philosophical ideas have implications for how the human being relates to the world in which they live. Popper set out to refute the doctrine of historicism which for him combined anti-naturalistic and pro-naturalistic elements. He defines historicism as an approach to the social sciences which assumes that historical prediction is their principal aim, and which assumes that this aim is attainable by discovering the “rhythms” or the “patterns”, the “laws” or the “trends” that underlie the evolution of history (think about Marx bogus materialistic conception of history where the dominating factor in history is economic, and history is viewed as merely the record of class struggle). Historicism is refuted by logically following the course of this argument:
- The course of human history is strongly influenced by the growth of human knowledge.
- We cannot predict, by rational or scientific methods, the future growth of our scientific knowledge.
- We cannot, therefore, predict the future course of human history.
- There can be no scientific theory of historical development serving as a basis for historical prediction (again think about the bogus Marxian doctrine of ‘scientific socialism’).
The Intelligent Radical salutes Karl Popper for this great book. So my dear friends it is time for you to get busy with your intellectual life. So Read!
You can visit Keegan’s own blog at http://keegesweet.wordpress.com/ as well as email him at email@example.com