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The Forum > Article Comments > Fossil fuels versus renewables > Comments

Fossil fuels versus renewables : Comments

By Kurt Cobb, published 25/1/2012

The key arguments that environmentalists are missing

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The answer to your question is obvious, Kurt!

The transition will be chaotic and marked by violent swings in the economy as the world lurches from one energy-induced crisis to another.
Posted by Dunc, Wednesday, 25 January 2012 7:42:53 AM
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Unfortunately we have become dependent on the profligate energy use created by once-cheap fossil fuels. We need coal fired electricity to power appliances including the computer you are reading this on. We need oil fuelled cars, tractors and trucks to get to work and to grow and distribute food. I haven't seen any realistic alternative plan that explains how this can be done with renewable energy. The dreamers claim that gas is a bridge to an all-renewables future but I suggest gas is actually a crutch. Without gas turbine generators that can fire up at short notice we wouldn't be able to use the fickle output from wind farms or solar. When gas is all used up we will have to store surplus electricity in batteries or similar for when the wind stops blowing. Start thinking electricity prices three times what they are now.

An interesting point about Peak Coal is that if China the world's biggest coal user is about to run short then we have the signals all mixed up. Each night on Australian TV business analysts tell us the good prices for export coal are a sign all is well. Maybe it's a sign all is not well since coal imports can never maintain Chinese output. It could mean before long China imports less iron ore, copper, alumina and so on.

In my opinion we should stop subsidising unreliable renewable energy and allow nuclear power in Australia. Retain carbon pricing after getting rid of numerous loopholes and see what happens. Let renewables find their own level.
Posted by Taswegian, Wednesday, 25 January 2012 7:57:29 AM
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The answer to Kurtís opening question is correct. None of the above.

The astonishing thing about this article is the complete absence of any discussion about the one energy option that can be sustainable for thousands of years - nuclear power using fast reactors. Itís like this option does not even exist! Hard to imagine that a man of such knowledge about energy isnít aware of these nuclear options.

Kurt may be right about the demise of fossil fuels. But if he thinks that we have the technology today to make a wholesale shift to renewable energy without any fossil fuels or nuclear power he is delusional.
Posted by Martin N, Wednesday, 25 January 2012 10:32:03 AM
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The most remarkable thing about this essay is the complete absence of any reference to nuclear energy. This omission renders the whole article to the "of no consequence" bin.

David
Posted by VK3AUU, Wednesday, 25 January 2012 10:55:11 AM
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"Though natural gas produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions per unit of energy than coal or oil when it is burned, it still contributes mightily to climate change. "

What a bold assertion!

The author appears to be from the school that simplistically claims that as atmospheric CO2 and/or methane parts per million have been showing a rising trend, they must be the drivers of global warming.

Regardless, he should back up his claim with compelling scientific evidence that shows the measurable relationship between the anthropogenic components of these two gases and global warming.
Posted by Raycom, Wednesday, 25 January 2012 11:06:21 AM
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Guys,

Just because the article does not mention nuclear does not invalidate the arguments presented.

Back to nuclear power. We would need to building plants now -- which we are not. Anyone want one near their house? No? Why ever not? Surely one or two accidents aren't going to put anyone off?

How do we decide who gets nuclear power? The U.S is pretty jumpy about the Iranians and their reactor. Would we want more nuclear material about in an energy hungry world?

Without reprocessing there is about 35 years with of uranium (sorry I can't remember where I read that; I may well be wrong).

Nuclear would only be a stop gap. While we would could generate electricity our current infrastructure is setup for liquid fuel. I can't imagine Australia running a viable road transport system using electricity. Rail yes (maybe) Road no; Air travel? Definitely not! Sea travel? Probably not.

Really there is little alternative to oil for our current way of life.
Posted by Charger, Wednesday, 25 January 2012 11:16:40 AM
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