April 28, 2016

Oil isn't power. It's fuel — and more. THAT'S why it’s here to stay.

Bryan KapitzaRebel Blogger

Oil, particularly that produced from Alberta’s tar sands, is the liberal eco-movement’s devil in need of exorcism. However, what has been forgotten in the oil “debate” is that every form of energy has a cost: an economic, environmental, political and social cost. 

And what is deliberately overlooked and misrepresented by fossil fuel haters is what those costs actually are.

Coal, the fuel that powered the industrial revolution, is cheap, but as we have found out, produces enormous amounts of green house gas (GHG) and is gradually, rightfully, being phased out in favor of natural gas.

Natural gas, although it produces less GHG than coal, can only slow, not stop, global warming. It is at best a stop-gap measure in our drive to curtail emissions. Hydro is GHG free, but it destroys the local environment and often forces communities, aboriginal communities, to relocate, something that is political unpalatable. Nuclear power is also GHG free, but has been regulated into oblivion. Paradoxically, nuclear waste, which can be treated and contained, is viewed for ideological reasons as more dangerous than GHG emissions.

Solar, geothermal and wind are becoming affordable, but are neither consistent nor viable in all locales. The stark reality is that cities with all their inhabitants, commercial enterprises and industries cannot be powered by renewable energy. The energy density of those sources is too low. We will have to find an economically and environmentally sound compromise between the extremes promoted by self-interested businesses and environmentalist ideologues.

Oil, however, is very different from those aforementioned energy sources. Firstly, it does not power our cities, but rather it is the fuel, the blood, of our transportation system. Refined oil provides us with the gas, diesel, kerosene and bunker fuel that moves our trucks, trains, planes and ships. Those fuel products are inexpensive, easy to transport, pervasive and can do work immediately upon the filling and starting a generator or engine. Oil is responsible for delivering the produce of the US and South America, the furniture of Sweden, the clothes of India and the electronics of Japan and Korea to every city and town in the nation.

There is no source of energy that replace what oil does. The price for that unprecedented access to goods is GHG emissions.

What of batteries, some ask? We have battery powered cars after all. The fact is, batteries cannot power airplanes or locomotives or cargo ship or tractor trailers. The energy density does not compete, and the physics cannot be changed:

Gasoline produces 46MJ/liter. Cutting edge batteries (lithium-ion 18650 series) can produce 2.5 MJ/kg, but typically produce less than 1MJ/kg. In understandable terms, six litres of gasoline contains as much energy as a fully charged Tesla (which stores it charge in thousands of 18650 type cells).

And even if, for the sake of argument, all our cars were to switch to battery power, we would need to build new, preferably non-GHG emitting, power plants to charge them.

Here too, solar and wind will not suffice. How much additional electricity would we need to generate? Canadians consume 40 billion litres of gasoline a year and produce 600TWh of electricity.

After converting units, rounding up and down, taking into account gas and electric motor efficiencies and the efficiency of power plants, we would have to increase our electrical capacity by fifty percent, or an additional 13 Bruce Nuclear Generating Stations (that is, 104 CANDU nuclear reactors), or 18 hydro projects, each the size of Churchill Falls.

Secondly, and entirely forgotten, is that oil is necessary for the creation of plastics, the one product that has saved this planet from ecological devastation, because it has has replaced woods, animal fibres, and metals for many of the goods that we use. Plastics were and are central to the electrification of our nation, sterile medical environments and the explosion in electronics.

Our world, our quality of life, our civilization, is inextricably linked to oil. There is no substitute.

The issue has never been, as the environmental movement would have us believe, that oil needs to be replaced with something else, whatever that might be. The problem is the environmental movement’s opposition to solutions other than the science fiction solutions they propose.

We have clean energy alternatives, namely nuclear and hydro. Politicians need only tune out the propaganda of the few, base their decisions on fact and act to the benefit of the many.

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commented 2016-05-01 17:03:17 -0400
Bill Elder is right, This isn’t about the environment anyway, its about global social engineering, and it is despicable.
commented 2016-05-01 17:00:34 -0400
No such thing as anthropogenic climate change in amounts significant enough to have any major effect on the climate of the globe. Volcano eruptions, forest fires, decomposition of plant life far out weigh anything man could do.

China is a lame example to use against coal. They have no respect and refuse to use the technology correctly to safely burn coal. You are selling coal short. Its cheap, and when burned correctly is safe. “Natural gas, although it produces less GHG than coal, can only slow, not stop, global warming.” Sorry no prize for that comment. Natural gas is clean to extract and to burn, and fracking methods and safety precautions are changing and updating everyday.

Regarding the oil insanity in this country, if we don’t get our landlocked oil to market and continue to import ans use conflict oil from the middle east, we will be committing suicide.
commented 2016-05-01 12:17:18 -0400
There should never be too much power given to oil companies. I agree with development but everything should be in moderation. We do not want our environment to look like China’s, and it would be smart for parties to have an all of the above energy policy. I see no issues with that. What Levant wants is oil companies I feel to be given free reign over what they should do, which is not good for the environment.
commented 2016-04-29 13:28:49 -0400
John Day, I would like to explore the cost of hydro. Firstly the US and Canada must have downstream agreements with each other. For example, over the last 50 years Canada has seriously reduced water flowing into the US water basins by damning its rivers, so is it even possible to add further damns? Secondly, I can see the environmentalists getting up in arms over destroying habitats, ect…
commented 2016-04-29 13:10:26 -0400
Interesting debate and the pushers of electric vehicles conveniently never ask where that electricity comes from. Most likely by burning fossil fuels. Does it make sense to indirectly power a car that way? Why not just put the fossil fuel directly into the vehicle? Now there is hydro power, that leads electricity production in BC and PQ. But the question is how do you produce more of it to meet future electric vehicle demand?

By the way you ask too many intelligent questions that cannot be answered by the one liners the left resort to.
commented 2016-04-29 08:35:29 -0400
Stopped reading at “tar sands”…use of this pejorative indicates nothing else will be trustworthy
commented 2016-04-28 21:18:09 -0400
The current statist energy/climate/enviro push can only end in collapsing existing economic and social structures – the quest for the magic “Dilithium crystals” to save the planet is a misdirection. It’s not about energy efficiency or environment – these are just the weaponized political memes used to usher in the new feudalism, where we all live in high rise pill boxes and are reliant on government for all life sustaining commodities in miserable Neo-Luddite austerity. Wynn’s carbon plan is the impetus of this – a vast authoritarian regulatory regime to demobilize the population, concentrate them in urban centers, impose minimalist living standards and steal our last bit independence.

It really is a diabolical end game all wrapped up in pious green divinity.
commented 2016-04-28 19:30:28 -0400
There’s plenty of technology that has been floated out there that would make our lives much much easier, but patents have been bought up, lives destroyed and in many cases people assassinated all for the ugliest form of greed and power over the masses. Yet you never find the greentards go after these scum, why?, because they have been duped and funded by Rockefellers and Soros and other pathological sociopaths just like them. And btw if anyone wants to put a nuclear power plant within 900 miles from me, I will personally shoot the fuckers in the face!!!!!
commented 2016-04-28 18:00:22 -0400
So, Hydro is GHG free, but we can’t use it because some “natives” may have to be relocated?
Are we concerned about climate change, or inconvenience to a few people?
commented 2016-04-28 17:40:49 -0400
Yep, excellent article…. not to mention that due to the strength to weight ratio, it is impossible to build wind turbines without the use of oil. As well, if Canada ceased all GHG production derived from humans, our lives would be crap… this is completely unreasonable to expect.. but IF we did, the world’s total would be reduced by about 1.6% or roughly half a million KT’s…. however, if China stopped using coal in favour of Canadian LNG, the world would be spared more than 4 million Kt’s of GHG’s. (about quadruple the effect vs all of Canada completely ceasing all GHG emissions).