By Kelpie Wilson t r u t h o u t Columnist
Friday 05 January 2007
In 2005, Americans woke up to the reality of peak oil, the predicament first described by geologist M.K. Hubbert in which world oil production would reach a peak, followed by an inevitable decline. Three things worked together to set off the alarm.
First was a steep rise in gas prices. Although gas prices had risen before, they had always been followed by a drop as production rose to meet demand. 2005 was different, because respected oil analysts such as Kenneth Deffeyes and Matt Simmons spoke up to tell us that not only were the super giant oil fields of the Middle East slowly petering out, but the pace of new oil discoveries was down as well.
What finally opened many eyes to the likelihood of peak oil was the growing realization that the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with WMDs or the war on terrorism. And if it wasn't about those two things, then why else would oilmen Bush and Cheney have conned us into the Iraq adventure? It had to be because they were desperate to control one of the last places in the world where cheap oil could be had.
With the rise in peak oil awareness came a desperate search for a silver-bullet solution - proponents of nuclear power, ethanol, coal, tar sands and oil shale all argued that these energy sources would fill the gap left by declining oil reserves and keep the American way of life intact. Too many people, deep down, agreed with Dick Cheney's assertion that the American way of life was "not negotiable."
But there is no negotiating with a hurricane, either. Hurricane Katrina, whipped into ferocious strength by a warming ocean, convinced many that the warnings about global climate change were to be taken seriously. And taking climate change seriously means that tar sands, oil shale and coal are off the table as solutions to the energy crisis, because these fuels are all far more carbon-heavy than the crude oil we currently rely on.
So in 2006, we started seeing more attention to the two paths that can lead us forward: energy efficiency and renewable energy. As Democrats take over Congress in 2007, promising action on energy and climate change, it is important to look critically at the available options. The news about climate change looks grimmer every day, alerting us to the fact that we have no time to waste and we can't afford to invest precious resources in false technology promises and energy dead-ends.
Fortunately, a lot of brilliant minds are at work on these problems, and a number of good ideas have surfaced in 2006 that are worth further investigation. Below I list five technologies that seem especially promising. I'll be keeping an eye on these technologies to see where they go in 2007.'
Lees verder: http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/010507A.shtml