The thousands of young climate change activists in more than one hundred countries that played hooky to march to save the climate on March 15th were vague on their definition of “renewables”. The mass hysteria among politicians, the press, and environmentalists is a constant bombardment about renewable energy and the goal of the Green New Plan for a super renewable grid.
The renewable term in all these cases is not energy in its totality, but just “electricity”. Wind and solar farms can only produce electricity, and even that is intermittent, as we need the wind to blow or the sun to shine, or both continually as far north as Oslo and as far south as Christchurch. It is a given that this is not going to happen. Electricity alone has its limitations about being able to energize (no pun intended) the societies around the world.
Until we find that alternate energy, the magical elixir that replaces current reliable energy sources, we will have to admit EVERY industry and infrastructure that relies on energy from the deep earth minerals/fuels to “move things and make thousands of products” in support of global economies are increasing their usage each year of those energy sources, not decreasing it. The longer it takes to “discover” this new energy source the harder it will be to ween the world off what has become the standard bearer.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the world energy growth projected through 2040 reflects the populations of India and China joining an energy society that continues to decrease its coal usage and increase its use of electricity from renewables of wind and solar. This new energy society has yet to find an energy replacement for petroleum and natural gas. As populations grow the world’s fossil fuel needs continue to increase, albeit slowly, along with their expanding economies and improved lifestyles.
The constant drive for more fuel efficiencies and conservation has slowed the use of energy, as reflected in just a slight uptick of the EIA curves for those deep earth mineral/fuels even with the billions of people from India and China beginning to enjoy the lifestyles like those in developed countries.
The automobiles of today are much more efficient that those clunkers from the early 1900’s and those gas guzzlers from the late 1980’s. That’s the good news. The bad news is that we have many more cars and trucks on the road now moving many more people and products.
The alternative is electric vehicles (EV) which are hyped as being “green” because they have no tailpipes. It is common knowledge they use electricity to charge the batteries that make them run. What isn’t common knowledge is they use products and chemicals manufactured from deep earth minerals/fuels to actually make those vehicles. And, by the way, for the tailpipe that is not on the EV, it is located at the power plant that makes the electricity to charge the car, and at the refinery facilities manufacturing the materials needed to make the cars in the first place.
Electricity can charge my iPhone, light up my TV, and turn on my computer, but cannot manufacture the products and chemicals required to make those phones, TVs, and computers.
Electricity allows us to see on our iPhones, TV’s, and iPads, the progress being made in the space program and our military operations, but electricity doesn’t launch spacecraft nor move the planes, tanks, and vehicles of the military.
Electricity can turn on the lights in your cruise cabin, but the cruise liner industry uses around 80,000 gallons of fuel per day, per liner, to accommodate 25 million passengers annually, with that number increasing every year.
Electricity can turn on the traffic lights, but road and air travel dominate most people’s lives in industrialized countries and emerging markets. Airlines are conducting more than 100,000 flights a day around the world. Commercial aviation, with 23,000 commercial airplanes worldwide is consuming more than 225 million gallons of aviation fuels EVERY DAY to move almost 10 million passengers and other things every day. Like the automobiles that have improved efficiencies tremendously, the airlines today are very efficient, but we have more of them to accommodate thriving world economies.
Any “super grid” of electricity will be unable to support the two prime movers that have done more for the cause of globalization than any other: the diesel engine and the jet turbine. Both get their fuels from oil. Without transportation – there is no commerce. And by the way, locations for those wind and solar farms that require huge acreage, are being rejected by local citizens with a profound statement: not-in-my-back-yard!
When we look at the energy used in the last couple of centuries since man has risen from prehistoric and horse & buggy days, the subject always arises about the impact of emissions from our current primary energy source on climate changes.
There is no definitive proof of emissions being the major cause as climate change has only been studied for sixty or so years and the planet has been here billions of years with mankind only having been here for the last million or so. In that time the planet has changed climates, so far as we know, at least five times with four of those times having occurred before humans and their kin were even around. Obviously, natural forces greater than humans and fossil fuels caused the previous warming cycles that melted the ice, so can humans’ minuscule presence on earth be the cause of the next warming cycle?
Two prominent organizations may have come up with the answer, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the United States National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) as according to both:
The SUN heats the earth’s oceans and land,
Then, the EARTH heats the atmosphere. The atmosphere is not heating the earth.
Oceans and land heat the air, not the reverse.
Increasing air temperature always increases sea surface temperature.
With the facts presented to us we can draw the conclusion that the one constant on earth is that the climate is ALWAYS changing.
Granted we need to continue to pursue greater efficiencies and conservation in our daily lives. While we in the developed countries with thriving economies continue to seek out an “alternative energy” that can maintain our lifestyles, the billions of people in undeveloped countries are starting to enhance their lifestyles with the most abundant and cost-effective energy source available to them today; coal. As those billions rise out of poverty and develop modern economies, maybe, by then we’ll have a better grasp on a real alternative to those deep earth minerals/fuels that renewable intermittent electricity cannot facilitate.