Enthusiasm is Great, So Long as it’s Based on Facts

Many out there who care about energy, or the economy, or their stock portfolio are pretty excited about all of the effort going toward the development of our energy resources here at home (read natural gas via “fracking” and oil from shale). Tom Whipple, who has written about the eventual drying up of our conventional oil resources for years wrote recently, “… For the next few years, all the optimism to which we have been subjected lately will probably play out and U.S. domestic oil production from tight (“shale”) formations will probably increase, provided oil prices stay high enough to support this expensive way of extracting oil.” He goes on to say. “…Optimists almost never mention the increasing rates of depletion taking place in conventional oil fields as an ever-increasing share of global production shifts from land to deepwater. The cost of producing unconventional oil is almost never mentioned amidst discussion of how much will be technically recoverable with advancing technology. Cost must be measured both in terms of how much energy is required to produce more energy, and the price of oil in relation to an economy’s ability to pay the price.”

So what, you may think to yourself, we have so much natural gas we are bursting at the seams with the stuff. Well, yes, but check out what Anthony R. Ingraffea a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Cornell University wrote in the Op-Ed section of the New York Times recently, “…As a longtime oil and gas engineer who helped develop shale fracking techniques for the Energy Department, I can assure you that this gas is not “clean.” Because of leaks of methane, the main component of natural gas, the gas extracted from shale deposits is not a “bridge” to a renewable energy future — it’s a gangplank to more warming and away from clean energy investments. Methane is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, though it doesn’t last nearly as long in the atmosphere. Still, over a 20-year period, one pound of it traps as much heat as at least 72 pounds of carbon dioxide. Its potency declines, but even after a century, it is at least 25 times as powerful as carbon dioxide. To read the whole article, and you should, go to: