Jim Owen's In My View was published for a second time within a week in Bend's daily paper. The second printing (Jan. 14) is titled "Recent oil crisis demonstrates the need for nuclear energy." An odd title in that Owen doesn't really make a case for nuclear. But I thank him for bringing up "Peak Oil."
But first let's talk about nuclear energy. Owen neglects to inform us that as a resource (uranium) it's finite like fossil fuel! The U.S. only has 11 percent of the world's exploitable sources. U.S. annual consumption is about 62,000 tons. If consumption stays flat, our uranium would last about 57 years. However, if we double, triple or quadruple production, we'd run out in short order, and with a bad investment. Fission produces only electricity, less than 40 percent of our energy needs. And, the source of the remaining 60 percent? Another problem is disposal of radioactive waste.
"Peak Oil" is when production reaches its max and starts a downhill decline, never to recover. For example, oil production peaked in the U.S. in 1970, and has declined ever since. Today we import 73 percent of our energy needs. The "peak" Owen mentioned is a world production peak, a potential world disaster. I quote an "Abstract" from http://www.dieoff.com/synopsis.htw. "Petroleum geologists have known for 50 years that global oil production would 'peak' and begin its inevitable decline within a decade of the year 2000. Moreover, no renewable energy systems have the potential to generate more than a tiny fraction of the power now being generated by fossil fuels. In short, the end of oil signals the end of civilization, as we know it." It's scary. And Owen is right when he suggests "Green Energy" has no chance of replacing 85 trillion barrels/day of fossil fuels, worldwide.
From Howard T. Odum's book, Environmental Accounting, it states that to be "renewable," an energy system must produce enough net energy to "reproduce itself." When systems are evaluated, both inputs and outputs must be examined to determine the net energy. Odum's calculations demonstrate that solar cells consume twice as much solar eMjoules (sej) as they produce. Over the long haul, they are not sustainable. Calculations show the alternative energies that can survive fossil fuel depletion are muscle, burning biomass, hydroelectric, geothermal and some wind electrical generation. No other alternatives are sustainable. In short, there is no way out!
"Society cannot survive on alternative energy because windmills and solar panels cannot run bulldozers, elevators, steel mills, glass factories, electric heat, air conditioning, aircraft, automobiles, etc., AND still have enough energy left over to support political systems, armies, etc." Amen! (Another source: Lindsey Grant, NPG Forum)
Bob Bates, Bend