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Some time soon, maybe in the next few years—the particularly pessimistic say we've already reached it—we are likely to encounter peak oil. That is, we will have used precisely half of the reserves of the stuff left on the planet. Oil is used around the world in far greater quantities than when technology first started to be developed to make use of it, and much of the remaining half is prohibitively difficult to extract, so estimates of how long we have from peak oil to running out of usable oil seem to hover around the 30 to 50-year mark—estimates, that is, from people who are neither employed by oil companies, who just don’t want to hear about it, or politicians, who generally subscribe to the model that the rest of us subconsciously do:

NB - “????” can also be “*shrug*” or “*puzzled Scooby Doo noise*”

At a time when we’re facing peak oil and an exciting precipitous decline in available energy, then, BP’s “Keystone Cops” approach to its oil leak is providing some welcome light relief:
U.S. officials said Tuesday that BP PLC was collecting so much oil from its broken well a mile under the Gulf of Mexico that it didn't have a big enough boat to hold it. [Wall Street Journal]
Specifically, in a 24-hour period the company captured 14,800 barrels of oil. They’re going to need a bigger boat.

What’s more, they intend to get rid of this oil with an “Evergreen Burner”, which burns oil and gas without creating smoke. At the point where we should probably be hoarding our remaining oil quite carefully, British Petroleum is destroying a large quantity of what oil it’s been able to salvage from the enormous amount that’s pumping uselessly out into the sea. This is inspired slapstick—exactly the kind of chucklesome frolics we need to lighten the mood.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 9th, 2010 06:38 pm (UTC)
an “Evergreen Burner”, which burns oil and gas without creating smoke

Chinny reckon.
Jun. 9th, 2010 06:56 pm (UTC)
I was shown a variation of that graph when I did a course in economic geology about twenty five years ago. The lecturer thought nuclear power was the ????, but since that is also limited by stocks of uranium, there will be another ???? to succeed nuclear power. He didn't know what that would be, but it WILL HAPPEN because YOU CANNOT QUESTION THE RELENTLESS FORWARD MARCH OF TECHNOLOGICAL PROGRESS.
Jun. 15th, 2010 08:02 am (UTC)
If it's any consolation, they're actively thinking about alternatives:
The magnitude of the looming energy and environmental problems is significant enough to warrant consideration of all options, to revisit a concept called Space Based Solar Power, first invented in the United States almost 40 years ago. The basic idea is very straightforward: place very large solar arrays into continuously and intensely sunlit Earth orbit, collect gigawatts of electrical energy, electromagnetically beam, it to `Earth, and receive it on the surface for use either as baseload power via direct connection to the existing electrical grid, conversion into manufactured synthetic hydrocarbon fuels or as low-intensity broadcast power beamed directly to consumers. A single kilometre-wide band of geosynchronous earth orbit experiences enough solar flux in one year to nearly equal the amount of energy contained within all known recoverable conventional oil resources on earth today.

US National Security Space Office, Space-Base Solar Power As An Opportunity for Strategic Security, 2007
Don't worry, I'm sure they're all over the implications of massively ramped-up levels of intense microwave radiation...
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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