“The Stone Age did not end for lack of stone, and the Oil Age will end long before the world runs out of oil.”
Ironically, that quote did not originate with some dolphin hugging Green Peace member. Sheikh Zaki Yamani, a Saudi Arabian who served as his country’s oil minister three decades ago, uttered it.
Florida Power and Light (FPL) generates its electricity using a variety of energy sources: oil, 11 percent; coal, 28.5 percent; nuclear, 14 percent, and natural gas, 32 percent. The balance comes from biomass (organic substance burning) or from methane, according to the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC).
However, “the outlook for fuel diversity in Florida is somewhat uncertain at this time,” says PSC Chairman Braulio L. Baez. Baez said in a recent statement that FPL “is currently seeking to address these uncertainties by comparing natural gas-fired to coal-fired alternatives.”
That’s the least of FPL’s worries, according to President George W. Bush. The President has joined a growing chorus around the world who’ve agreed to confront that the world’s looming energy crisis is not about Chicken Little and the sky falling. The end of the Oil Age is in sight, Bush has said, “and what people need to hear loud and clear is that we’re running out of energy in America.
Global supplies of crude oil will peak as early as 2010 and then start to decline, ushering in an era of soaring energy prices and economic upheaval – or so said an international group of petroleum specialists at a recent two-day conference on oil depletion at Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden.
“There is no factual data to support the general sense that the world will be awash in cheap oil forever,” said Matthew Simmons, a conference attendee and international investment banker who helped advise President Bush’s re-election campaign on energy policy. “We desperately need to find a new form of energy.”
The American Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) puts it more simply and more starkly: At 2003 consumption levels, there are 44.6 years of oil and 66.2 years of natural gas remaining – that is, remaining in the entire world, the SPE says.
On the other hand, some say the worry has begun too soon. The Energy Information Administration (EIA), a branch of the DOE, estimates that in 2025, the world will still have more than 900 billion barrels of oil remaining to be discovered. EIA estimates total world oil resources at more than 2.9 trillion barrels of oil – enough to take the world well into the next century.
“And then what?” says a retired nuclear plant manufacturing supplier living in Boca Raton. “Just call me Ivan,” he told the Boca News, explaining that a previously held top secret security clearance prevented him from being identified. “And if we don’t do something,” Ivan grimaced, “and do it soon, you can turn out the lights, because the party is over.”
What about other options? What’s available beyond oil?
Hydrogen fuel cells are among the most likely alternatives for generating individual power supply needs, notably vehicles, according to the DOE. Hydrogen is a fuel that, like electricity, can be made from a variety of sources. Every major carmaker is now looking at fuel cell powered cars.
A second alternative is “bioethanol.” Many cars already run on a mixture of gasoline and ethanol. The problem is cost. That will change when biotechnology delivers new enzymes that can make ethanol efficiently from just about any sort of plant material
Most experts agree that solar, wind, thermal and a variety of other more exotic energy options are either not financially feasible, or not capable of accommodation by most societies without an unacceptable sacrifice of individual options, i.e., communal living versus individual home ownership in order to make solar energy economically viable.
The remaining primary energy source is, ironically, the energy source from which all other energy is ultimately derived – nuclear energy. “That’s where it all comes from,” Ivan said. “Either directly or indirectly, the sun creates all energy.”
He laughed. “And what is the sun? It’s a giant thermonuclear reactor that’s far enough way that we can benefit from it, instead of being fried by it.”
The Atomic Energy Commission (now the Nuclear Regulatory Commission-NRC) made a projection in 1962 that the United States would have 40 GW (one GW equals one million kilowatts) of nuclear-generated electric capacity by 1980. With enthusiastic support from President John F. Kennedy, those projections were revised upwards in the late ‘60s to 2000 GW by 1980.
It’s nearly 2005, and in the United States there are only 103 operating nuclear plants – producing 93.25 GW annually, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI). About the size of the State of Maine, “the nation of South Korea by comparison currently has 19 operating nuclear power plants,” Ivan says with a wry smile.
What about nuclear
Ivan rolls his eyes. “That’s so overblown that it makes me sick. In fact we’re the only nation on the planet that doesn’t store its waste above ground.” He paused, and smiled broadly. “I think we ought to be putting the stuff in rockets and shooting it to the sun.”
He shifts on his seat and leans forward: “Look, Chernobyl exploded because the Russians were trying to make weapons while also generating power, and created an unstable environment. Three Mile Island’s problems resulted from poorly trained operators who, and rather than let the system handle what would have been a routine problem, took over manual control and created a partial meltdown of the core.”
The Big Picture
“U.S. energy policies to date have failed to address three great challenges,” according to the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations. “The first is the danger to political and economic security posed by the world’s dependence on oil. Next is the risk to the global environment from climate change, caused primarily by the combustion of fossil fuels. Finally, the lack of access by the world’s poor to modern energy services, agricultural opportunities, and other basics needed for economic advancement is a deep concern.”
Ivan lights a cigarette, and after exhaling, sighs. “All of that’s true,” he said. “Now let’s figure out a way to keep the lights on while we work on these things – and when all is said and done, nuclear energy is where we’re headed – and so why don’t we do it while we’re still in charge?”
The natural resources are the most important things for us to live in this world and we can discover here about it. Because, it helps us in many ways and without those new sources, it is difficult for the human beings to live. Water is the main resource which is used commonly by all. But now, water scarcity has developed so much in all cities due to deforestation and building taller construction. This makes all the lakes and ponds with no water. So, we should at least ty to tell our children about the importance of natural resources and how to use it in a well manner.