If you noticed the tagline for Eve of Reduction, it’s “where reducers are producers.” In previous posts I’ve positioned that in upcycling projects, clutter control, debt reduction and stress relief. All of which amount to less consumption, and consuming less of any material good means consuming less fossil fuels. Oil consumption is tied to everything we do and consume. The answer is not doing less, though. It’s reducing waste and producing sustainable products and lifestyles which include progressive alternatives to fossil fuels.
We’re coming up on the time of year when we’re at peak heat usage in our homes and we have the busiest travel days of the year. This is a double whammy for fuel consumption, which is a problem that’s been passed on to every president since we hit peak oil in the US in the mid 1970s. Looking at it now, the US consumes 25% of the world’s oil and produces only 2%. Most of our oil comes from the Middle East. But there is so much more going on than that.
Here’s what isn’t as well known about the fossil fuel crisis:
1. Former boomtown oil fields look like ghost towns. When we say that resources are non-renewable, rarely do we see what that looks like. Images of prosperity and production are everywhere, but what happens when it’s dried up? Because guess what, there are places that are dried up. It’s not like there are just no longer gushing black geysers. These places are done. Have you seen images of Baka, Azerbaijan, (yes, it’s pictured above) Maracaibo, Venezuela or McCamey, Texas lately? These were the largest oil producers of the 20th century. I’m not saying they have not moved on, but their oil vigor has.
2. The US has a 100 year supply of natural gas, but we’re on the road to exporting 39% of it. It is estimated that the US has a domestic supply of 2,400 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and uses 2.4 t cf per year. However that does not account for the growing popularity in cars fueled by condensed natural gas. The increasing number of natural gas vehicles in the US is now estimated at 250,000. But that’s the good news. New legislation has issued permits to three LNG export terminals in the US this year. And there are now 19 other applicants for export terminals lined up behind the three already approved. If all those go through, the US will be exporting 39% of its current production. Carpooling anyone?
3. Used cooking oil can be made into bio diesel that results in a 78% reduction in CO2 emissions. Hotels and restaurants in the United States generate 3 billion gallons of waste cooking oil per year. This amount could fill tanker trucks arranged bumper-to-bumper from San Francisco to Washington D.C. and back. However, most of our cooking oil is not used for bio fuel production. Some of the grease is used to supplement feed for farms and for making products like soap. One thing I want to bring to light – our country is not at war for animal feed or soap…
We are at war for oil.
4. Our deserts are producing alternative energy. Well, not the deserts themselves as much as the available space in the desert. This open space is ripe for harnessing solar power. An Arizona solar thermal power plant, located in the desert, uses concentrated solar power (CSP) technology to collect the sun’s heat. It can then store the sun’s power for six hours via thermal energy. What else is going on in the desert? Algae farming. Shallow pools are being built in deserts to grow algae used for bio fuel. The most impressive undertaking is happening in Australia, but Hawaii also has a 6-acre facility that is on track to begin commercial production by 2014.
Are you ready for alternatives to fossil fuels?
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