Fossil Fuels and their Global Impact.rtf

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					                                    Energy - Fossil Fuels

•   Our endless quest for fire is as old as human endeavor
•   Consider the myth of Prometheus, who brought mankind the gift of fire…

•   How ironic that this primal spark, the gift of fire, should now threaten to destroy us
•   Fire was supposed to make us great, give us dominion over all of creation

•   The promise of Prometheus has certainly been fulfilled
•   Our ability to harness many forms of energy has allowed us to create a vast industrialized
    civilization that dominates the biosphere

•   For most of our history, our use of energy was limited to fire itself
•   Most of our energy requirements were filled by animal labor, including domestic cattle and
    human slaves

•   Medieval Europeans made use of wind energy
•   Modern industrial economy didn’t emerge until the invention of the steam engine in the late

•   The steam railroad revolutionized transportation
•   By the end of the 1800’s coal had become the dominant fuel in homes and industries
•   Coal held sway until World War II - I grew up in a house with a coal furnace…

•   Seeds of our modern energy crisis were planted in the 18th Century
•   First internal combustion engine was patented in England in 1794 by Robert Street
•   Clumsy engine - had to have piston pumped by hand to start the power stroke

•   By the 1850’s first modern internal combustion engines were being designed in labs in England,
    France, and Germany
•   By 1909, first Model T’s were bouncing along the first rugged American highways

•   Within 20 years of the invention of the Ford automobile, crude oil and gasoline had replaced
    coal as the dominant fuel
•   Oil and gas remain the dominant home and industrial fuels today
•   Today we rely on the “big three” fossil fuels
     > Coal
     > Oil
     > Natural Gas

•   Fire itself (combustion of wood etc.) still provides a small percentage of our energy needs in the
•   In many parts of the world combustion of biomass (wood and dried animal dung) remains a
    primary source of energy

•   2 billion people today still rely on burning biomass for energy
•   2 billion have limited access to electrical power grid - often only electric lights
•   Remaining 2 billion make extensive use of electric power for a variety of reasons

•   Barely one-third of humanity is currently consuming nearly all the remaining energy reserves
    on Earth
•   Richest 20% of the planet’s population now accounts for over 58% of the world’s use of energy!

•   Americans have set the standard for casual consumption of energy
•   US accounts for barely 5% of the global population, but uses over 25% of global energy output

•   Our endless quest for fire has levied a heavy toll on our ecosystem
•   Pollution from millions of cars and trucks has already turned the air of many cities into a serious
    health hazard

•   Strip mines and oil spills have devastated ecosystems worldwide
•   Combustion of oil and other fossil fuels has altered the chemistry of our atmosphere
•   Fossil fuel emissions are starting to change the temperature of the entire planet

•   We have depleted global energy reserves to the point where remaining fossil fuel reserves are
    less than the equivalent of 11 days of sunshine!!
•   Our hydrocarbon based civilization is in big trouble….

•   World energy consumption has skyrocketed since World War II, and shows no signs of leveling
•   Global energy use has increased 10-fold since 1900, quadrupled since 1950!

•   We can’t sustain this level of consumption for another century
•   We are totally unprepared to meet the power needs of the 9 billion people who will be questing
    for fire by 2050
•   Most US power generation is from coal
•   Natural gas runs a distant second in the US, oil less than 20%

•   Rise in consumption is steady except for a brief leveling off around 1975-90
•   Scientific American 1989 - head of the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment said:
    “The US has reduced its energy intensity by growing economically without consuming more

•   You can see how long that trend lasted…
•   OTA must have inherited its crystal ball from the Captain of the Titanic!

•   Let’s take a closer look at our use of coal, oil and natural gas…
•   Coal is no longer king, but still accounts for ~ 30% of global energy use
•   Coal has been used directly as fuel for thousands of years, now often used to generate electricity

•   Most commercial electricity is generated by use of a turbine
•   Fuel is burned to heat water
•   Water turns into steam
•   Steam turns the fan blades of a turbine

•   Turbines are large machines that rely on a spinning shaft which rotates coils of wires through a
    magnetic field
•   Faraday discovered in 1831 that if you move a coil of wire through a magnetic field, electrons
    would flow through the wire

•   All modern generators rely on this basic principle
•   Main difference is the type of fuel used to boil water - coal, oil, gas, nuclear fission

•   Wind, water, and geothermal power sources turn the turbine shaft directly

•   Coal provides ~ 42% of global electricity in developed nations, and (until recently) ~ 50% of
    electricity in the US
•   Good news - global coal reserves are in relatively good shape, compared to other fossil fuel At
    current rate of consumption, global coal reserves should last ~275 years
•   US (27%) and Russia (17%) together control ~ 44% of global reserves, China is the biggest

•   At current rate of consumption, global coal reserves should last ~275 years
•   US (27%) and Russia (17%) together control ~ 1/4 global reserves
•   US reserves should last us about 400 years!
•   Unfortunately, coal is extremely dirty
•   Strip mining devastates the landscape
•   Coal sludge from mining destroys local habitats

•   Deep mining is very hazardous - cave ins, explosions from trapped gases
•   Black Lung disease, from inhaling coal dust, has claimed thousands of lives

•   Coal burns with a very low conversion efficiency – efficiency with which one form of energy is
    transformed into another
•   Most efficient technique is fluidized bed combustion - conversion efficiency of about 33% -
•   Thin stream of burning coal particles suspended in a stream of air - burns cleanly

•   Takes ~ 8,000 tons of coal per day to fuel a single 1,000 megawatt power plant
•   Equals a train of coal cars one mile long!
•   Single day of coal combustion at such a plant generates 1,600 tons of ash, 800 tons sulfur
    dioxide, 20,000 tons of carbon dioxide, enormous waste heat

•   Synfuels (synthetic fuels) - convert coal into a liquid fuel, more efficient burn
•   Tried synfuels in the 1970’s - too expensive
•   Cheapest synfuels only competitive if oil reaches about $65 per barrel

•   Waste gases from burning coal are hazardous to humans, ecosystems
    > CO2 emissions far greater from coal than oil or natural gas, contributes to global warming
    > SO2 is one of the primary causes of acid rain

•   Coal fumes are directly harmful to humans
•   China relies on coal as its dominant fuel – provides 67.8% of China’s electricity
•   Estimated 178,000 premature deaths per year due to coal combustion fumes

•   2009 estimate by US Nat. Academy of Science – burning fossil fuels (coal and oil) adds ~$120
    billion in health costs due to air pollution
•   20,000 premature deaths per year in the US

•   2007 feds imposed $4.6 billion fine on American Electric Power
•   One of the largest federal fines in history
•   AEP is largest power generator in the US

•   AEP plants didn’t incorporate pollution controls as required under the Clean Air Act
•   AEP must also reduce emissions by 69% from its coal-fired power plants

•   Natural gas is much cleaner than coal
•   ~23% global power generated by natural gas, 19% in US
•   Deposits of natural gas are usually associated with deposits of oil

•   Estimates of US gas reserves – up to 75 year supply, global = ~ 80 years (MIT)
•   Louisiana is a national leader in natural gas production
•   Recent advances in shale natural gas extraction boosted supply estimates 35%!

•   Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” lets us extract oil and gas from soft and porous shale
•   As a result, by 2015 ~20% of coal-fired power plants may close, reducing amount used to
    generate U.S. electricity from 50% to an estimate 39%

•   ~ 70% global natural gas reserves controlled by Russia or middle-eastern nations
•   US currently imports ~ 16 % of our natural gas each year

•   Natural gas burns cleaner than coal or oil
•   Limited supply is a problem
•   Transportation is difficult - need natural gas pipelines (LA is covered with them)
•   Can pressurize it into a liquid, LNG - liquified natural gas, highly volatile!

•   Fuel of choice for the last several decades has been oil and fuels derived from crude oil,
     > Gasoline
     > Kerosene
     > Diesel oil, heating oil
     > Aviation fuel

•   Where do fossil fuels come from?
•   Remember the “deep phase” of the carbon cycle?
•   Fossil fuels are formed from the deposition and compression of plant matter over hundreds of
    millions of years

•   Unfortunately, it takes far less time to extract it and vaporize it than it does to make it!
•   Recent estimate of world oil reserves = about one trillion barrels before mining
•   We’ve already used up ~ 800 billion barrels….

•   At our current rate of production, oil will peak around 2010, then start a precipitous decline
•   Oil production will hit rock bottom around 2100!!
•   80% of the oil fields in use today were discovered before 1973
•   Global oil production has increased less than 10% in the past 20 years

•   Our entire global economy rides on a carpet of oil
•   We use ~ 25 million barrels per day to run our TV sets, stereos, computers, electric
    toothbrushes, air conditioners, autos…

•   Remember the lesson of Forbidden Planet?
•   An endless thirst for more power doomed an entire alien civilization to total destruction…

•   Will our endless quest for fire cause our own civilization to collapse?

•   We owe our modern fixation on oil to an unlikely source - Winston Churchill
•   Churchill decided in 1917 to switch the British navy from coal to oil, thus creating the first big
    international market

•   Oil industry quickly became a monumental monopoly, thanks to John D. Rockefeller
•   Rockefeller’s Standard Oil company was the epitome of monopolistic ambition

•   Later broken up into four sizable chunks - Chevron, Exxon, Mobil, and Amoco
•   Now merging back together - Exxon/Mobil, Chevron/Gulf/Texaco, Amoco/BP….

•   Most recent attempt at global oil monopoly is due to OPEC - Organization of Petroleum
    Exporting Countries
•   OPEC turned off the tap in the 1970’s to force up the price of oil
•   Oil went from $2.50/barrel to $10.50/barrel, eventually reached $35/barrel

•   Arab Oil Embargo in 1973 - purpose was to pressure nations that supplied arms to Israel
•   Drove the global economy into a two-year recession
•   Unbridled greed of OPEC nations has so far prevented a successful repeat of the embargo

•   Long lines formed at gas stations all over the world - tempers were as volatile as the gas itself!
•   America got religion - belatedly started to think about fuel economy, conservation

•   Reduced demand and conservation dropped US oil consumption by about 3 billion barrels per
•   By the 1980’s we were awash in oil again
•   Increased exploration, conservation, created huge domestic surplus
•   Alaskan Oil Pipeline kicked in, carrying thousands of barrels per day to fuel our increasing

•   Attempts to conserve oil were quickly forgotten in the 1980’s, 1990’s
•   Take a look around any parking lot today to see how short-sighted we are
•   All those SUV’s are a tribute to our continuing ability to live in a fantasy land of infinite energy

•   Minivans, sports-utility vehicles (SUV’s) and light pickups accounted for ~ 55% of the car
    market in 2003/2004
•   Now dropping rapidly - GM reported 27% decline in truck/SUV sales in May ‘08

•   Even recent increases in gas prices has not deterred this suicidal impulse to buy gargantuan
    vehicles - like the Ford Exploiter, the Chevy Suburban Subdivision, and the Canyonero

•   To see how short our national attention span has become, examine this graph of oil imports after
    OPEC’s embargo
•   We took a giant step in the right direction, stopped to scratch ourselves, and promptly forgot all
    about conservation…

•   Struggle for control of energy is nothing new…
•   12th Century medieval peasants clashed with feudal lords over control of the wind
•   Invention of the windmill put power to grind grain into the hands of the peasants

•   Farmers argued that no one owned the wind
•   Lords didn’t want to relinquish control over milling of grain, the heart of the medieval economy
•   Farmers won in the end, but the fight goes on and on…

•   20% of our annual balance-of-trade deficit, about $12 billion per year, goes solely to purchase
    imported oil!
•   One of the results of our love affair with oil has been a global redistribution of wealth

•   Thanks to the rise of big oil, much of the world’s wealth is now concentrated in a very few deep
•   1997 revenues of General Motors alone equaled the combined national economies of Peru,
    Ecuador, Chile, and Bolivia!

•   Our quest for fire has caused massive environmental problems
•   Like Prometheus, we are paying a big price for our theft of fire from the gods

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