Peak Oil, Peak Electricity and how to solve the energy problems we face

What is peak oil and why worry?

About 27 years ago, a well-respected geologist by the name of Hubbert proposed a radical new theory now known as ‘peak oil‘ which basically says that at a certain point in the late 20th or early 21st century or thereabouts, the amount of easily recoverable oil on earth which had been used by humans was greater than 50% of ALL the oil on earth. He theorized that after this so-called ‘Hubbert’s Peak’ the availability of oil would decrease dramatically. Not because there was no oil, but only because we got all the things that is simple FIRST. What would be left would function as really hard and expensive to take out deep sea oil, oil derivatives mined to deposits that are unprofitable.

Whilst this does not sound too bad think about it like this: If we assume the first motor car appeared around the dawn of the 20th century then we used half the available oil in about 80 years. However, it must be remembered that for the major part of that 80 years, most of the people on earth had little or no access to motor vehicles. China for example was just a developed country for most of that time. America has little reservations of its own and uses about 25% of all the oil created on world. It is almost entirely dependent on imported oil. China’s extraordinary growth in the last ten years has seen an explosion of domestic wealth with the demand for motor vehicles increasing at an astonishing rate. With a populace of over double the U.S. there is no way that China has access to 50% of the worlds oil!

Energy Wars

Many eminent petroleum experts have debated Hubbert’s theory however, many others agree with him. Some experts say we reached peak oil in 1984/85, some 2005. However, the civil argument about whether or not we have achieved ‘peak oil’ seethes and is for the most part denied by the worldwide oil organizations. In any event, the fact is that the price of oil is steadily increasing and along with that so is the price of petroleum and almost every other product we use. Many see the problem as manifesting itself in the fight for the remaining major oil reserves in the Middle East. To the consumer like you and I, it will mean ever increasing prices with the cost of running a motor vehicle being just too high to contemplate. Another major cost for us these days, is the cost of power for your home or business. Imagine a world where the power is only available on certain days or at certain hours. Some poorer nations live with this reality right now. Its not science fiction!

Global Warming In the Age of Oil

I have read various reports that predict that the age of oil will be a very small blip on the timeline of human history. It may last for 200 years, probably not even that long. However, the debate on the environmental impact of burning fossil fuels rages almost every day in newspapers and on television around the globe. Whilst it seems that for every expert proclaiming the effects of global warming, there is another equally qualified expert who loudly decries the very same effects. It does appear however that most of us now recognize that the century of pumping hydrocarbon emissions into our atmosphere has had some form of derogatory effect on our natural ecosystem. We cannot continue to spew effluent into the air and hope it will not impact us. This is another reason why alternative sources of energy need to be developed which are renewable and have little or no environmental impact. The most obvious sources of clean green renewable energy are solar and wind power.

Well What Can I Do?

Firstly, the only thing we can do about our dwindling oil supply is to use less of it both as individuals and for the whole human race across the board! The other solution is to find much more efficient means of converting oil to energy for our cars and power stations. Another solution is to GO SOLAR! We found a ton of information on a site from one of the leading Visalia Solar Companies that blew us away. If everyone in the US were to switch to solar, we would be saving over 2B tons of Co2 emissions each year. Now that’s just crazy!

On a personal level, it would be prudent to take some steps to provide your family with some energy ‘insurance’. What I mean by this, is think about generating your own power. The basis of solar and wind power generation has been around for many years. There are commercially available solar power systems and wind turbine power systems which work very well, are well designed and will provide years of free green power. For most of us however, the initial cost of commercially manufactured and installed systems will be prohibitive. But that need not put you off. There are lots of do it yourself manuals, guides and videos on the internet which offer a much more cost effective way of insuring your family’s energy future. Shop around and if you’re keen, you’ll find that the solutions are pretty simple. It just needs motivation, a bit of handyman skill and not only can you save yourself some money but you can do your bit for a greener, more energy efficient world.

 

What is Petroleum?

Crude oil, sometimes called petroleum, is a fossil fuel that was produced deep in the earth through a process that took millions of years to complete. Millions of years later, almost all of us come into contact with a derivative of petroleum every day.

Through a process called fractional distillation, petroleum refineries break petroleum into many of its smaller components. Each of these smaller components is made up of molecules called hydrocarbons.

The world is full of products that come from petroleum. For example, gasoline, styrofoam, lubricating oils, and many other items are all derivatives of this raw material. How are petroleum and cosmetics related? The two seemingly unrelated items, petroleum and cosmetics, are indeed closely related in our modern world.

Mineral oil and petroleum are the basic ingredients in many cosmetic products today. Both mineral oil and petroleum have the same origins in fossils fuels. Cosmetics such as foundations, cleansers, and moisturizers often contain mineral oil. By locking moisture against the skin, mineral oil sits on the skin’s surface and can potentially block pores. This may cause the appearance of pimples because the skin cannot properly  breathe.

SKIN CARE

Fragrances in lotions, shampoos, and many other cosmetic products are composed of aromatic hydrocarbons. Perfumes and products containing fragrance can contain many hundreds of chemicals to produce a distinct scent. A significant number of these aromas are derived from petroleum. One popular chemical additive that carries moisture in cosmetics is propylene glycol. It is also a derivative of petroleum.

Some products that list propylene glycol as an ingredient include:

– anti-freeze

– laundry detergent

– paint

– shampoo

– conditioner

Past research links propylene glycol to serious health problems as liver and kidney damage as well as respiratory irritation or nausea if swallowed. An antiseptic, isopropyl alcohol, kills bacteria on the skin. You can find it on the ingredient list of cleansers, toners and other cosmetic products. Unfortunately, this derivative of petroleum dries the skin and may cause miniature cracks in the skin that allow bacteria to enter, potentially causing irritations or pimples.

Do these petroleum-derived products affect your health?

Your skin covers your body and acts as a physical barrier to many of the pollutants in the atmosphere. Continue reading

Does Fracking Pollute Groundwater?

At last! Scientists can now positively identify if water contamination was caused specifically by the process of oil and natural gas extraction called hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”).

Hydraulic fracturing involves forcing large amounts of water into underground shale, releasing trapped oil or natural gas.

Until now, the downside of the effects of fracking was highly controversial and lacking in scientific evidence. The oil and gas industry has always said that hydraulic fracturing is harmless to the environment, while environmentalists were quick to identify a number of water contamination problems near fracking sites that soon led to claims that the process was highly dangerous to the environment and to creatures living in it.

The development of the new detection tool, which traces the “isotopic and geochemical fingerprints” created and left behind by the hydraulic fracturing process, should remove all uncertainty and controversy about fracking and the dangers it presents to the surroundings.

Fracking causes no harm

The process of fracking to extract underground oil and gas became prevalent in 2008, but it has always been difficult to prove that any contamination of water was due to the fracking process: the oil industry is not required to disclose what chemicals they use during the fracking process, claiming “trade secrets” as their cover. The team of scientists says that their new tool can positively identify if fracking was the cause of any water pollution without any prior knowledge of the chemicals used.

The team of scientists led by Duke University geochemist A. Vengosh and comprised of researchers from Stanford University, Dartmouth College, and the French geological Survey, published their announcement on October 21, 2014, in the journal “Environmental Science & Technology”. The scientists say they can now positively identify pollution directly attributable to the fracking process by tracking the unique isotopic footprint left behind in the wastewater used in fracking. The scientists track the elements boron and lithium, which are naturally present in shale. The team says they can tell if the pollution was caused by other processes in the oil/gas extraction process over the last 20-30 years, or if it was caused by fracking. But a Yale Study recently confirmed that there were basically no connections between fracking and water contamination.

Even though fracking process uses huge amounts of water to force oil and gas to the surface, it doesn’t pollute the groundwater. When the waster rises to the surface, Dr. Vengosh says that the water has a unique isotopic footprint that is different form any other type of wastewater – even wastewater from regular oil and gas exploration. It is estimated that the oil industry generates 280 billion gallons of wastewater from fracking annually. Much of this water is dumped into rivers and streams, remaining untreated, and can easily get into our drinking water. The oil industry has persistently denied that fracking causes any environmental pollution or damage. The newly-developed tool will now be able to positively identify if fracking is or was the cause of any water pollution.

Gives you a different idea about oil and gas, now doesn’t it? If you’re convinced to invest in an oil well, we have a perfect article for you that we wrote just the other day!

The process of fracking and the perceived dangers of the process have always been controversial. This new testing process should remove all doubt and controversy from the discussion about fracking, and it will be able to finally settle the issue of whether fracking is dangerous or not.

Investing in Oil Stocks

Many investors are on the lookout for profitable oil stocks to invest in. If you are wondering how to invest in oil, then stocks are your easiest choice. Oil stocks are stocks in companies involved in trading in oil. You need to be very careful while choosing the company whose stocks you want to buy. Once you have chosen, it is rather easy to buy the stocks. They are traded in all the major stock exchanges.

Otherwise, you can open your own brokerage account and start trading.

Choosing Oil Stocks to Invest in:

You need to examine the different oil companies carefully before choosing which oil stocks to invest in. You should not be dazzled by great promises. It is best if you look for a reputable company which has a healthy cash flow. This ensures that they will be able to pay you steady dividends. Other points to keep in mind are the type of company, what products they trade in and their geopolitical situation. Taking into account all these factors, you will have to choose the most suitable oil stocks to invest in for you.

You should keep in mind that investing in oil promises great returns but they also carry the risk of great losses. For the ordinary investor, it is better not to put all your eggs in one basket and invest too heavily in oil stocks. It is true that demand for oil is increasing. These increases are becoming faster and faster as the developing countries gradually begin to use more oil for their own economic development. So the price of oil is not going to fall in recent days.

However, at the same time, oil being a fossil fuel, it is rapidly getting exhausted. Keeping all these factors in mind, it is advisable to diversify your holdings. Buy stocks in well-established healthy companies, but also invest in alternative energy.

Finally, improved drilling technologies and new discoveries of oil reserves have made oil investing highly attractive.

Types of Oil Stocks:

While choosing oil stocks to invest in, you should keep the following categories in mind. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages.

You can buy stocks in large oil companies. They generally have well established cash flow and the investors receive moderate but steady returns. Their stocks are often under-priced. So, you can be sure of moderate to high returns on your investment. However, there is one problem with the large oil companies. In view of the rising prices, the government sometimes takes punitive actions against these companies which may affect the returns. However, any such effect will be limited in scope and not long lasting.

Small oil company stocks are another alternative and they are generally exempt from such punitive action by the government. They have yielded good returns in the past, but they do tend to be more volatile than large oil company stocks.

Finally, you may consider oil service companies like drilling and tanker companies and refineries when looking for oil stocks to invest in. But in depth research is recommended.