Wired On $5 Gas - No Mention Of Climate!

The most recent issue of Wired magazine carries a promising-sounding article by Spencer Reiss: "Why $5 Gas Is Good for America". The premise is that higher prices are naturally pushing for more research and development of inexpensive alternatives. Unfortunately, every one of the alternatives seriously discussed involves MORE carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, not less! Why do reporters still get things so profoundly wrong?  

Reiss has gotten things wrong before - the nuclear-pushing Nuclear Now! article for instance. These articles are targeted at a popular audience, but you'd think in this latest one the climate problem would get at least some mention, beyond a snide reference to those interested in conservation.

The bullet points in the articlle highlight what could be done at various prices per barrel of oil; almost all are concerned with ways to extract more from the ground or to create oil from coal or natural gas. Hydrogen and bio-fuels are mentioned - but without pointing out the energy input requirements those sources have themselves; of course no discussion of Pimentel's arguments on biofuel negative net energy, and there's a rather silly graphic suggesting the US has plenty of arable land to produce biofuel crops (are we seriously considering planting a huge fraction of the nation in energy crops, far more than we do now for food?)

And then there's the other major point from oiil peak gurus like Deffeyes, which oil and other energy companies are likely all too aware of: the prospect isn't for sustained high prices, but high volatility in oil prices. Anybody gambling on $70/barrel oil is very likely going to be losing money; you'll never get those 7 or 8-figure capital investments going with that uncertainty, and certainly not the 9 or 10-figure investments some approaches seem to need.

All in all, a horrible article, but with one good point - more expensive oil is a good thing; we should make it more expensive through taxation though, not just fueling oil company profits, to really get the benefits.

Created: 2005-11-23 02:35:06 by Arthur Smith
Modified: 2005-11-23 02:35:46 by Arthur Smith