Top Ten Reasons Fracking won’t Last Long

Proponents of natural gas fracturing and oil drilling are delirious with joy over the ability to recover shale gas, which has brought down world gas prices and made the US a major player again. Likewise, North Dakota wells are set to produce up to 800,000 barrels of oil a day soon. (Although, since the world uses roughly 89 million barrels a day, and the US uses a fifth of that, and demand in Asia will likely spike in coming years, the ND addition is just not that much).

Fracking is dangerous to ground water purity, and both oil and gas, as hydrocarbons, contribute to global climate change, which is a dire threat to human well-being in coming decades and centuries.

But oil and gas triumphalists have another think coming. It is that the cost of generating electricity by wind and solar is falling rapidly. However hard they try to suppress government funding and tax breaks for renewables, Big Oil and Big Gas are doomed to lose, and in only about 4 years. At that point where it is just cheaper to generate electricity with renewables, no one is going to invest in hydrocarbons. Even with a price advantage it will take decades for renewables to displace hydrocarbons (the electricity grid, transportation, batteries, all have to be redone). But it isn’t a matter of “if.” It is a matter of when. All the anti-climate-warming propaganda and pro-hydrocarbon advertising is intended to slow this process; even Big Oil and Big Gas are not so stupid as not to see the writing on the wall. But if their delaying tactics can make them billions in the meantime, they have every reason to go for it, especially if they are moral cretins who don’t care about the health of the planet.

Here is some of the writing on the wall in today’s news:

1. Scientists have found that solar photovoltaic cells could be producing electricity at less 50 cents a watt by 2016, four years earlier than other projections. At that point, it would be crazy to use hydrocarbons to generate electricity. As for those solar panel companies that keep going under after getting Federal support? Some go under, others thrive. The industry is changing with breakneck velocity, leaving some competitors in the dust. The same people that wax lyrical about how the market creates efficiencies by creating winners and losers seem to just about have a fainting spell at the idea that a solar company failed. The industry is highly dynamic and has the momentum of rapid technological breakthroughs and rapidly falling prices.

2. Germany is on the verge of producing more solar energy than wind energy, the first major industrialized country to reach that milestone. Germany wants to produce 35 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2020, only 8 years from now.

3. Researchers at UCLA have created a solar-power-generating window. If all those glass box skyscrapers in southern California could be put to work generating electricity, it would probably power the whole state.

4. The British government has given the go-ahead for two huge offshore wind farms off the coast of Norfolk (the eastern coast). Together, they will have the capacity to produce over a gigawatt of power (roughly one nuclear power plant’s worth). Britain is the leader in offshore wind energy generation.

5. With Japan’s nuclear energy plants being phased out because of public fury over the Fukushima disaster, the country is trying to move quickly to renewables. It is placing a big bet on offshore floating wind platforms. Japan has been in the doldrums in many ways since the bubble burst in the 1990s. But its scientists and engineers are among the best in the world, and I wonder whether research on wind and solar energy might have the potential to revivify not only the economy but also the national spirit.

6. Scientists have concluded that it is perfectly practical to provide 2/3s of US electricity from solar over the next decades. The main problem is not electricity generation or having enough land to put the cells on, it is the poor electrical grid of the US, which will have to be redone.

7. Algeria wants to go solar, aiming for 650 megawatts of solar energy by 2015 and a massive 22 gigawatts by 2030. The Desertec Foundation has big projects in Egypt and Morocco, and Algeria, an oil producer, has decided to join in. Theoretically, a small portion of the Saharan desert could power the entire world. Desertec plans to turn North Africa into a clean electricity-producing zone that could meet nearly a fifth of Europe’s energy needs. Algeria is eager to turn to renewables because its rapidly growing population is using more an more of its petroleum production, which is declining.

8. Some 750,000 Australian homes have solar panels on the roof, heading toward 10% of the 8 million households in the sun-drenched country. The present rooftop panels generate about two nuclear power plants worth of electricity.

9. China is going to make a major push for solar energy after 2015, aiming for a mind-boggling 50 gigawatts worth by 2020.

10. The Egyptian gas pipeline through the Sinai to Jordan and Israel has been blown up 15 times since the Jan. 25 revolution. Egyptians are angry that the government of deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak had sold the gas at substantially below-market prices to Israel. Because of the interruptions, Jordan’s government is more eager than ever to move to solar and wind power. A sign of increased international interest in the nascent Jordanian renewables sector is that a Chinese company wants to invest $200 million in a solar project. Jordan has a goal of getting 10% of its electricity from renewables by 2020, though that may be an ambitious timeline. If its government were smart, it would go all out and double that goal, and try to meet it.

44 Responses

  1. People like you always talk about the cost of generation, what you never talk about is the cost of storage. Until you can solve that problem your solar dreams will remain just that, dreams. Unless your energy source can deliver power on demand (baseload generation) you are chasing a fantasy.

    • That’s what solar thermal is all about.

      Ever read about solar towers? They use the sun’s energy to melt sodium, and then that hot mass gives off heat energy to turn turbines around the clock.

      • You can also use hydropumps, pumping water uphill when there is juice and then letting it run back down when there isn’t. This technique is already used in conjunction with nuclear power plants.

        Portugal gets 45% of its electricity from renewables, up substantially from the 1990s. It can be done; don’t listen to the trolls.

        • No doubt, there will have to be “peakers” – plants whose output can be ramped up in short order during demand peaks – and those will probably have to be gas or nuclear.

          But there is absolutely no technological reason why renewables can’t take up a big chunk of the base load.

        • “Portugal gets 45% of its electricity from renewables”. True. But that is almost ALL from hydroelectric (815GWh/year vs ~4GWh/year for wind and solar combined). Those of us who point out how far away we are from having a predominately solar & wind based electrical grid are not trolls, we’re just good with numbers. ;)

        • Yeah, and a portion of the hydroelectric was added since 1999, and the 4 gigs of wind was all added since 2007, with another gig of solar in the works shortly and much more wind.

          You don’t get it that the past isn’t important. It is the future that is important. In five short years since Portugal gave up its concentration on natural gas, it has added the equivalent of 4 nuclear plants worth of wind. It has innovated in using hydropumps and computer mixing of energy inputs. What will it do in the next 5 years? In the next 10?

          If a country can get to 80% of its electricity being from renewables in 10 years, even if a lot of that is hydroelectric, it is a game changer. A lot of countries have hydroelectric potential, along with geothermal. Hydrocarbons are doomed in our lifetimes. And if we were smart we’d do multiple Manhattan projects to doom them in a decade.

    • Why do you want so badly for it to remain forever a fantasy instead of doing something to help out those working on a solution? I can tell by the tone of your remarks (“people like you”, “just that, dreams”) that you feel threatened by even the pursuit of this goal.

      • @Joe 8:12: Nuclear reactors, at least the current designs, are very much unsuited to act as “peaker” plants. Nuclear is exclusively base load.

        And no, renewables, except hydro, can’t take up a big chunk of the base load. They reason is that they are intermittent, and thus by definition not base load. Very little can be relied upon even with strengthened grids.

        You can combine intermittent sources with dispatchable hydro and gas to create a base load combination, though. But then you can’t rely on being able to balance demand shifts with the hydro and gas capacity you’ve tied up with balancing wind. Solar,of course, can be useful to match air conditioning and thus shave off some peak load in warm countries. But that’s a niche role.

        • “You don’t get it that the past isn’t important. It is the future that is important.”

          I do get it. The things that you have listed are important. And progress in this direction is a good thing. But “Fracking won’t last long” because of solar/wind?

          The numbers just are not there as much as I (and you and many others) would like to see it. Wind accounts for only 3% of US power. Hydoelectric is something like 11-12% (US). There aren’t very many more rivers to dam. So no need to get snippy :) Even us overeducated doctoral types can be a bit off on occasion.

          “Hydrocarbons are doomed in our lifetimes. And if we were smart we’d do multiple Manhattan projects to doom them in a decade.”

          I would like to see that. But hydrocarbons aren’t going away soon. (Prove me wrong world – I dare ya)!

  2. I’ve often argued that the ongoing replacement of the American coal-fired energy fleet with new gaso-powered plants is a major step forward. Natural gas-fired power plants release half – literally, half – the greenhouse gases per unit of energy that coal-fired plants release. The ongoing turnover is a big reason why the United States had the biggest reduction in CO2 releases of any country in the world last year.

    However, it is just a transitional step. It’s probably going to take a generation to roll out alternatives (and ramp up conservation) – not because of cost, but just because of the scale of the project. During that transitional period, natural gas is going to be a major part of the energy mix.

    • The ongoing turnover is a big reason why the United States had the biggest reduction in CO2 releases of any country in the world last year.

      If true, what a purely fortuitous effect of the “economics” of a dump in methane prices.

      What’s needed is a different driver for the whole shebang, one based on surival rather than short-term profit maximization, the continued spewing of external costs onto the most of us, and the long slow or maybe not so slow death of the habitable planet.

      Coal gets cheep again, and the canaries will be gasping once again. And on behalf of my grandkids, let me say that it is no answer at all to just parrot “But that’s the way it is…”

      “It” got that way by choices and decisions and policies and legislation and what happens when guys in expensive suits build themselves big edifices and multiple mansions.

      • If true, what a purely fortuitous effect of the “economics” of a dump in methane prices.

        What, you think the drop in natural gas prices is unique to the United States? Keep looking…

        Coal gets cheep again…

        …and the industry, which has exactly zero new coal-fired power plants scheduled to be built, and which has been closing down its old ones, still won’t be able economically ramp back up the coal-fired power plants, because the Clean Air Act rules promulgated by the Obama/Jackson EPA have written that industry’s death warrant.

        The wingnuts got something right: Barack Obama came into office and started using environmental regulations to wage war on the coal industry. “You can still build a coal-fired power plant; you’ll just go bankrupt” indeed.

  3. #7 is the big one. Once the power grid goes across the Mediterranean, you’re talking about a lot of time zones, which spreads out demand peaks. Germany would be better off moving all its solar panels to North Africa where they would generate a better return.

    But the issue that, as usual, everyone fails to grapple with is the difference between electricity demand and liquid fuel demand. Not only do our cars require the latter, but Americans seem to have zero tolerance for spending extra to get cars that can run on anything other than gasoline.

    The cheapness of US natural gas has all the signs of an overproduction bubble; companies will go broke as they try to produce more and more to offset falling revenue. Then production will be shut in and we’ll find what the real market price of gas is in the fracking era.

    • Germany would be better off moving all its solar panels to North Africa where they would generate a better return.

      I wonder about this: what about the transmission loss?

      • I think if the newest technology were used, the transmission losses would be small compared to the terrible waste of capacity caused by Germany’s normal weather versus the Sahara. Furthermore, as a form of 3rd-world outsourcing, you would get lower labor costs for installation and operations – though it is exactly the fact that solar and wind create more labor demand than nonrenewable fuels that might have made Germany so enthusiastic about them.

    • Liquid fuel demand is a big one, but if our electric grid were powered largely by renewables (say 70%, as opposed to today’s 8%), that would be pretty dramatic, no?

      And battery prices are dropping – not as quickly as solar panels, but pretty surely. There’s a ton of research going into battery improvement right now. See this article for some projections on how that might affect our adoption of electric cars: link to washingtonpost.com

      I too wish people’s decisions were affected more strongly by what’s good for our grandkids than what’s good for this year’s budget, but at least if that’s the way it is, the economics are going in the right direction.

  4. There is more to figuring out the CO2 output of natural gas than simply looking at the generating plants.
    First, as Mr. Cole points out, their is the cost of water. Clean water is valuable; not much work has been done on the economics of it. The following is a link to a beginning: Valuing Ground Water: Economic Concepts and Approaches (Free Executive Summary) link to nap.edu

    It takes a lot of hydrocarbons and hydrocarbon based energy to extract natural gas.
    Then, there is the CO2 cost of the sand proppant. In one town in Wisconsin along the Mississippi, there is an average of one diesel truck every 15 seconds hauling sand through towns. Also, there is a CO2 cost for bulldozing forests and farm fields that would normally absorb CO2. Then there is the CO2 cost of washing and drying the sand-the drying and processing plants use huge amounts of electricity, which is produced from plants that give off lots of CO2.

    The hidden CO2 costs of natural gas from hydro-fracking probably make it as bad as coal, once you add up everything.

    And, most natural gas is processed at refineries on or near the Gulf coast of Louisiana and Texas, because the refineries are placed near ports.

    The Japanese had the calamity of Fukushima. Louisiana already was devastated by Katrina, which was only a cat 3 hurricane.
    1 bad hurricane, wiping out just one of these refineries, and there will be an enormous spike in natural gas prices. When that hurricane hits, no one knows. It will come. New Orleans and Galveston know about it.
    Have we learned anything?

    • Excellent points, Mary!

      Add to the cost of water the cost of contaminating groundwater and aquifers, which can make their water unavailable to the population and to agriculture.

      Add to carbon emissions the amount of gas that just leaks out of the ground and is lost, as a result of fracking. Methane is a major greenhouse gas. Even before you burn the stuff, you don’t want it getting into the atmosphere.

      Why have environmentalists (such as ourselves) been so bad at combatting misinformation from BigCarbon?!

    • But of you’re going to add in the CO2 cost of natural gas production, you need to work in the same production cost of coal generation. You mention diesel trucks running in sand. What do you think involves more trucks running around: moving coal and rock, or drilling? How about transporting the goods to the power plant: coal on trucks/rail cars vs. natural gas through a pipeline?

      Any way you look at it, natural gas is much less carbon-intensive than coal.

  5. Oil & gas are here to stay – do you realize all the products that come from ‘oil’? Plastics, medication,etc. How do you think delivery of ALL the items you use daily reach you? By Plane, boat truck or car. Solar will not get a plane off the ground. Elec cars will only run a few miles before needing hydrocarbons or a battery recharge.

    Alternative methods are a must and even the oil companies are developing the same. There is plenty of room for ALL methods of power gen. Only when the solar, wind, water power is perfected, at a much lower cost, will the oil companies feel the pain.

    • “Plenty of room for ALL methods of power gen”?

      I guess you must live someplace where a 20-foot rise in the ocean level and some degrees of global temperature rise won’t bother you.

      Too bad for the rest of us, right?

      And you conflate the manufacture of (maybe) products from petrochemicals with impulse rides on private jets, megayachts that get 50 gallons to the mile, joyriding in Escalades, stuff like that. What I bet you would call “freedom,” except that it’s “free” only in the sense that other people, in other places and times, will be paying a horrific bill for your indulgence (and mine) in your short-termery.

  6. Just give the entire military budget to NASA and task them with alternative energy development. The military should be working on this as a matter of national security instead of invasions for oil resources.

    • They’re doing both, of course. Only as a way of extending the arrant idiocy that is the Grand Networked Battlespace, of which this is one tiny Policy/Marketing Document: link to docstoc.com (Note the links to a buttload more documents in the same vein — which looks to me like a large-bore IV in our collective subclavian vein, draining, draining, draining.

      And what is that Grand Networked Interoperable Trans-National Battlespace Thingie, for all the trillions of dollars spent on expensive offices for contractors and Procurement Generals and all the rest of the giant bloated blood-sucking monolithic unitary parasite that is the World MIC.

      Which, if you have not been paying attention, is eating a quarter, and a growing share on top, of the globe’s wealth, and returning not ten cents’ worth of “security,” just more “threats” for that whole freakin’ bunch of self-inflating cheats and thieves to use as the excuse, the “rationale,” the sucker-baits, for still MORE “threats” and counter-threats and counter-counter-counter-counter-counter….threats. More “arms” to stir the world’s hot pots, and of course in this area at least, USA is Number One!

      Hoorayuh, BOO-yah, for US! You can trust that “they” are working on it. And here is one stupid round of applause for what they’re up to: link to bryrehertzogcomp4.wordpress.com:

      The economy could also benefit, and maybe improve for once, if the US invests more in the usage of solar and natural gas energy. They’re more expensive than fossil fuels and oil, but they have much better and more efficient effects in the long run. Overall, I only encourage the military further to utilize solar energy,and perhaps eventually the entire country will follow.

      Just take a moment to follow the money from your pocket to somewhere or other, to see what it all means.

      Now isn’t THAT special…

    • The Department of Defense is actually a leader in alternative energy research. If nothing else, they know how much a big fuel supply costs.

      • Some folks just never met an externality they didn’t like.

        The War Machine, seeing in some of its crazed parts that maybe the host organisms are getting a little weak to support the blood-sucking at the current rate, and wanting to extend its ability to “fight in any time and place” and ensure its covert hegemony, is putting some of OUR wealth (not as much as into more F-22s) into “alternative energy.” Lots of ways to spin that “initiative”: link to consumerenergyreport.com

        Since the Brass Hats drive much of policy by their procurements (“fight the war with the army you’ve got”), and political interference on their own and (same thing) their contractors’ behalf, what a surprise that there would be an alt-energy “initiative.”

        Too bad these dorks keep trying to force-fit a definition of the universe onto the rest of us, against all evidence, for their own benefit. Just blowing huge holes in the world’s actual residual security and stability, while proving again and again what the Afghan villager said to the Marine gunny who was telling him that this week’s doctrine required the villagers to move back into towns where “the Taliban” had driven them out: “You people, with all your military power and technology, cannot even defend yourselves against the [asymmetric fighters.] How can you say that you will defend US? You will be gone soon anyway, and we must stay here and try to live.”

        So the Shootin’ Battlespace moves on, and the “fully burdened cost” of getting petrofuel to “the front” will continue to include bribes to “the Taliban” and various warlords and “government officials” not to blow it up and burn it before it can be used in the latest frontal fiasco.

        How stupid can we Game of RISK!/CallofDuty humans be?

  7. Base load is a canard and can be addressed with large and flexible enough grids (a major handicap in the US when compared to Europe).

    The more problematic challenge is peak demand and fluctuations. That is what will keep natural gas in business unless more storage technologies are available.

    Pumped hydro is ideal in this regard but at least in Europe most geological suitable sites have already been developed (not sure about the US).

    There are some bold visions for storage technologies but some of these ideas will require a Manhattan Project like effort. E.g. such as the Hydraulic Hydro Energy Storage idea.

  8. Prof Cole, I worry that a naive stance on energy may detract from the credibility you have in your areas of expertise.

    50 cents/W solar won’t help much – solar PV would still be far too expensive to produce and won’t generate much revenue, since it creates negative spot prices when there is good sun. The odd report here and there that a lot of intermittent integration is “practical” is not really mainstream science, and storage is very much an unsolved problem. Sure, pumped hydro is great, but is limited by geography and does not scale.

    Also, you seem to consistently confuse average energy production and peak power. One gigawatt of wind is NOT equal to a nuclear reactor. Germany having comparable wind and solar capacity does NOT mean solar energy is comparable (wind averages almost twice the energy output per installed watt). 50 GW of Chinese solar is NOT mind-boggling, and produce only as much as 10 or so big nuclear reactors (they have 26 of them under construction right now).

    Rosy wind and solar outlooks serves as alibis for continued expansion of fossil fuels, especially in Germany. These also hinders the deployment (and even promotes the dismantling) of the only AGW solution known to us (the one that the French has been demonstrating full-scale since the early 90-ies).

    • When you and those who hold your position started calling me naive in 2002, you did not foresee what has happened in Portugal and Germany (not to mention Iowa!), where renewables are now playing an unprecedented role in electricity generation. Even as we speak, pv cell and wind turbine prices are dropping rapidly and efficiencies are increasing. All of the problems you point to are solveable.

      Moreover, I don’t know why simply linking to bona fide news is so objectionable to you. You don’t knock down any of the assertions made in any of these stories.

      Journalistic shorthands like a gig of electricity generation being roughly equivalent to a nuclear plant are for the purpose of conveying information. I’m not sure why you think it matters so much. The new Norwegian wind turbines are huge and not expensive compared to a nuclear plant. People will just add more of them and they will replace coal, gas and nuclear plants over time. You or someone with your position actually tried to argue last year that Fukushima’s 6 nuclear plants could simply not be replaced by wind and and solar. But they can be and will be.

      Those of you committed to hydrocarbons or nuclear solutions have been consistently proved to underestimate their external costs and to overestimate the difficulties of going green.

      Finally, if you read more carefully you would see that I cautioned that the transition will take some time because of infrastructual considerations. If I’m still around in 2040 (a little unlikely but not impossible), I’ll bet you the world looks more like I am predicting than like you are predicting. But it will be *hot.*

      • I did foresee, roughly, what has happened in Germany and Portugal. Wind and solar had real good growth rates, and I assumed that that would slowly grind to a halt due to intermittency and costs, just like in Denmark, between 10 and 20% penetration. That is what is happening, if you look at year-to-year growth rates in wind.

        Yes, 20% for each of wind and solar would be great. Of course Fukushima can be replaced by wind and solar, especially in a rich country such as Japan. But Germany’s and Japan’s CO2 emissions from the electricity sector rose sharply in 2011, even though Germany had a mild winter. And despite Germany spending some $30 billion on subsidizing renewables in 2011 and having double the electricity prices of France.

        I’m not committed to nuclear – I work in the telecom industry. I would love for wind and solar to be cheap, solve intermittency and push everything else out of the market. But as it is now, wind and solar pushes out nuclear by government subsidies and nuclear regulation, with intermittency unsolved. And fossil use for electricity generation keeps going up. This overall policy lose us ground in fighting climate change. The politics responsible for this state of affairs is partly bedazzlement with numbers and promises of a rosy green future, which your post contributes to. And here lies the problem with confusing power and energy – it makes wind and solar look 3-5 times as good as they really are. Furthermore, wind turbine costs leveled out in 2005 already (although small improvements in different areas of wind certainly continue), while solar PV may never become as cheap as wind.

        Actually, fracking is a perfect partner to wind and solar, as a lot of dispatchable power is necessary to balance intermittent sources. This is what I think we will see in OECD in the next two decades – replacing coal with fracked natural gas and a smaller amount of wind. That is good, but doesn’t go nearly as far toward rescuing our climate as a nuclear rush would. But nuclear is more or less dead in the US and large parts of Europe, so I’ll pin my hopes on the BRICS nations to show the way and create momentum in nuclear. Meanwhile we’ll just have to hope humanity can endure the changing climate.

        • Germany’s CO2 emissions did not increase.

          If we made the decision to stop subsidizing hydrocarbons, and, indeed, to penalize them the way we do cigarettes, and went for broke into geothermal, wind, wave, and solar, and did the grid right, and had the right computer programs for mixing sources, we could move rapidly to solve the problem.

          I’ll bet you Germany isn’t done.

        • Germany’s overall emissions did not rise, but its emissions from the electricity sector did rise.

          I agree Germany is far from done. Its decision to prioritize dismantling most of its carbon-free electricity generation over the next decade guarantee that it won’t make meaningful progress in emissions in that time frame. France was done 20 years ago.

  9. Juan- like you, I’d be happy to see greater adoption of solar, but we have to be realistic, and your characterisation of the situation in Australia is questionable. The three-quarters of a million homes is reliable, and an installed capacity of 1.7 GW is ok, but you can’t equate that installed solar capacity (measured in Watts) to the output (measured in Watt-hours) of two nuclear plants- they’re apples and oranges. Setting aside issues of maintenance downtime, solar in Australia operates at about the equivalent of 5.6 hours full production per 24 hour day, so it’s only producing full output for about a quarter of the day, whereas the nuclear plant will be producing rated output for the full 24 hours (the sources only refer to installed capacity, not to production).

    And while there are many places in Australia that can be called ‘sun-drenched’(including Ballina, NSW, the ‘Melanoma capital of the world’), you can’t generalise. There are many parts of southern Australia that would welcome a bit more sun-drenching. For example,Hobart, the southern-most state capital is about the same distance from the Equator as Boston.

    • Nuclear plants take years and billions to complete, and are offline more often than you suggest.

      The energy crisis we now face could only be solved if we built a nuclear plant a day for the next 50 years. Not going to happen. That solar can solve the problem, however, is certain over time.

      • Solar PV is at least five times more expensive on a levelized energy cost basis than nuclear, even before intermittency mitigation.

        In the end, the size of the task comes down to costs. Also, time is money. Costs dictates that nuclear is a much easier and faster way, by a factor of at least five.

  10. If there’s really a four-year window until this stuff becomes profitable, there’s no need for government subsidies. In our current phase of low interest rates, private companies should be able to raise money hand over fist.

    There’s no need for federal subsidies for the feckless egomaniac’s pals.

    • I’ll tell you what. Take all the subsidies away from Big Oil, Big Gas, and Big Coal and make it a level playing field and you’d be on firmer ground.

      But the other issue is that government subsidies accelerate the pace of technological innovation and the rapidity with which prices fall, which is desirable given that CO2 emissions are increasing so much.

  11. Aren’t you concerned about the all the birds killed by the wind turbines? You can have it both ways.
    If you really want to hurt Big oil, why don’t you & all your ‘green’ friends turn in your gas powered cars for battery powered only. And STOP using any mode of transportation other than ‘green’. If you want to take sides – then make a stand. All your dialogue & jargon don’t prove a thing.

    • Recent scientific studies find that the taller wind turbines don’t tend to kill birds or bats. It was a problem with the first generations of the technology, which were too short.

      I drive a hybrid, though I don’t drive that much. I would like to drive an all-electric car but they don’t have sufficient range at the moment to be all-purpose. If everybody got the in-traffic mileage I do, half our oil problem would be solved. I bike to work most of the year; if I ever buy myself a commuter car for the bad weather, it will be electric. I can bike to work because I deliberately bought a house in biking range of my work. It cost me significantly in mortgage and in Ann Arbor taxes over the years, but that was my commitment. I think you will find if you look into it that people who care about the environment do in fact make various sorts of sacrifices for it.

    • Wait a second. I thought the right wing slam against environmentalists (and feminists and gay-rights activists and peace activists) is that they are too absolutist and too extreme and want to dismantle the American way of life. You’re attacking Prof. Cole for being none of those things?

      Besides, according to Jevon’s Paradox, any energy that individual citizens save as a matter of principle simply leaves more, cheaper fossil fuels for all the pigs to waste. So we either do it collectively, as a society, or we die anyway.

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