What to Do When the Oil Runs Out
Everything Frits de Wette says in his letter “The Sun is a Wild Card”
, January, 2010] is valid and sensible, but heating due to anthropogenic activities is nevertheless possible, even likely if you look at the combustion of about one-half of Earth’s stored oil in about fifty years. Should there be an anthropogenic threat, dealing with it will get more difficult year-by-year.
The best arguments against a solar cause are the steepness of the increases and the physical changes in the planet. Tree records do not show such past steepness.
This is an extremely complex question, and we may not have good answers for a decade or more. Further, we may not be chasing the right question. If the increase is solar as per de Wette’s letter, are we going to sit back and watch our agriculture severely damaged, our environment altered, and do nothing?
The proposed solutions are to increase efficiencies and to find new renewable, non-solar trapping, energy sources (or if not renewable, more plentiful.) Since we have used approximately 50% of the stored oil in less than 100 years, and since our usage is ever increasing, a day of reckoning comes, when the soda straw will suck air. Recovery techniques get better every year, and there is still some oil to be found, but this only has to do with the date of the day of reckoning–not its certain arrival.
When the oil runs out, we are going to need nuclear. Wind, water, thermal, and solar, even coal (with caveats) are all good, but no way we power Earth with them. Using the US as a standard, most of Earth is extremely underpowered right now. Our nuclear reactors take forever to build and approve, create too much radioactive waste, are not safe enough, and do not breed new fuel. We need a new design. We have about a decade or two to get a new reactor design done, tested, and approved and another decade to build reactors. This has to do with post-oil power, not with global warming, but the design of all new energy must address global warming.
Let’s get on with solving the problems.
Richard A. Karlin