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Quantifying, and Dealing With, the Deepwater Spill 343

Posted by timothy
from the nothing-nice-to-say-so-speak-up dept.
Gooseygoose writes with a link to this analysis by Boston University professor Cutler Cleveland. "Some reports in the media attempt to downplay the significance of the release of oil from the Deepwater Horizon accident by arguing that natural oil seeps release large volumes of oil to the ocean, so why worry? Let's look at the numbers." Read on for a few more stories on the topic of the Deepwater Horizon spill.
theodp writes with some information on the remote-controlled efforts to stanch the oil's flow: "The work Tito Collasius does sounds a little like science fiction: Men on ships flicking joysticks that control robots the size of trucks as they rove miles beneath the sea in near-freezing depths no man could hope to reach. But BP's spill efforts rest in the hands of underwater remote-operated vehicle (ROV) pilots, who 'fly' the ROVs from command centers aboard ships, joysticks in hand and large banks of screens in front of them offering a view of the challenges they confront in the waters below. ROVs are typically used for commercial (as in the oil industry), oceanographic (science research and exploration), and military (mine reconnaissance and recovery) missions. If you're interested in joining Tito, training's available." Even if BP were to effect a perfect block for the oil, though, there's still quite a bit of it swirling in the Gulf — you've probably seen some gut-wrenching pictures of the affected wildlife. Reader grrlscientist writes "Some people claim that we should euthanize all oiled birds immediately upon recovering them. But I argue it is our ethical responsibility to protect, clean, and save these birds, even after they've been oiled, just as we should preserve and clean their habitats."
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Quantifying, and Dealing With, the Deepwater Spill

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  • All natural (Score:5, Funny)

    by Veggiesama (1203068) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @09:38PM (#32472394)

    See? The oil spill is all natural. Nothing to see here, folks. The catastrophe was all in your minds. You can go back to driving SUVs, voting Republican, and burning rubber tires for fun again.

    • Re:All natural (Score:4, Interesting)

      by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @10:02PM (#32472500) Journal

      I first heard this line of reasoning on Fox News and my first reaction was "scale, people." What's funny is that our local Fox affiliate [myfoxla.com] keeps sending reporters up to the beaches of Santa Barbara where there's a fairly large natural oil seep as if to say, "See? It's no big deal..."

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sumdumass (711423)

        The reasons we are probably seeing things like this is to undo or mitigate the damage to the coastal tourism that is already being seen in the gulf area as a reaction to the spill. This will go more common as more and more industries away from the spill are hit with less and less business from the consumers on the beaches.

        This will hit hard around election time if something can't be done to curb the expected negative growth in the economy caused by this. Expect the idea to get really popular in the next cou

      • Re:All natural (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sjames (1099) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @10:56PM (#32472748) Homepage

        It's not THAT hard to understand if anyone tries to present it. Quick, everyone in the world drip one drop of oil wherever they may be. Tiny problem, no big deal.

        Now, drip 6 billion drops of oil where you're standing right now (about 300,000 Liters) and see how much trouble it is!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jandersen (462034)

      The oil spill is all natural

      - just like strychnine and arsenic. Enjoy.

  • ...Those people of the effected gulf states will begin to believe it...

    Maybe the media can even convince themselves they errored telling everyone its the worse ecological disaster in US history.

    Lots of oil and gas are still leaking into the gulf, and the 6000 barrels being captured is not enough especially when you add it to the supposed natural leakage.....

    • ...Those people of the effected gulf states will begin to believe it...

      BP and some of our corporate-owned politicians are doing everything they can to keep people from believing there's any problem. BP has reportedly bought $50,000,000 of media outlets for maintaining their image. Also, reportedly, local police are turning photographers away from places where there's coated wildlife to be seen, and saying that they're doing it at BP's behest. (Since when did your local cops work for a corporation?)

      Governor Haley Barber is skipping meetings about the problem and telling the

  • Heh, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Saturday June 05, 2010 @09:50PM (#32472454) Homepage Journal

    Reader grrlscientist writes...it is our ethical responsibility to protect, clean and save these birds, even after they've been oiled, just as we should preserve and clean their habitats

    I love it. The BP executives should themselves be forced to help clean birds and other wildlife. It's the grown-up equivalent of writing "I will not pollute the ocean" ten million times on the blackboard.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by caseih (160668)

      But of course we all share the blame for this disaster. The root cause, after all, is our collective demand that BP drill for oil and sell it to us. Of course it's likely there were specific things that specific individuals did or did not do that precipitated this disaster, and yes they will have pay for their errors. But I worry about vilifying BP too much. It is almost as if we're trying to assuage our own consciences by mistakenly thinking that if we can just get BP to take the blame then everything

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Darkness404 (1287218)
        No, the root cause was that the government decided to put liability caps in the 1990s on oil drilling thus allowing BP to take a gamble and not have to worry about any real liability. There are safe ways to drill, the other oil platforms that aren't gushing barrels of oil left and right into the ocean are proof of that.

        We can place the root of the blame on our congress for failing to allow for the free market to have prevented this.
        • Re:Heh, (Score:5, Informative)

          by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @02:39AM (#32473536)

          For the umpteenth time, only economic liability is capped to 75 million dollars. And that is only if BP cannot be found to be at fault for the spill. Even if it is found to be completely faultless though (rabid dolphins sabotaging the BOP, for example), BP is responsible for every cost associated with the clean-up.

          We can place the root of the blame on our congress for failing to allow for the free market to have prevented this.

          What? "failing to allow for the free market to have prevented this"? Ohhhh.... I get it. Even if the government regulation is a net positive, it's all because it's actually the free market at work. So if it's good, it's the free market working, and if it's bad, it's the government interfering. Got it.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by AGMW (594303)

            For the umpteenth time, only economic liability is capped to 75 million dollars. And that is only if BP and/or Halliburton and/or Transocean cannot be found to be at fault for the spill.

            Fixed that for you ...

            ... and whilst we're at it, let's have a quick look at the time a US company (Union Carbide) screwed the pooch on foreign soil (Bhopal [wikipedia.org]) and perhaps use that as a yardstick for what the US deems a reasonable cleanup. From the linked page ...

            "Some 25 years after the gas leak, 390 tons of toxic chemicals abandoned at the UCIL plant continue to leak and pollute the groundwater in the region and affect thousands of Bhopal residents who depend on it ..."

      • Re:Heh, (Score:5, Insightful)

        by camperdave (969942) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @11:19PM (#32472840) Journal
        I don't remember ever asking BP to drill for oil. I don't remember ever asking anyone to drill in an unsafe manner. No, BP has to take the blame for this themselves. They tried to take a short-cut and failed. There are plenty of other oil rigs that are chugging away just fine.
        • Re:Heh, (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Mspangler (770054) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @02:04PM (#32476750)

          "I don't remember ever asking BP to drill for oil."
          Actually you did, unless you live a life without using oil, plastics, non-organic food, paper, a good many medicines, and no metals or lumber. Oil is everywhere.

          "I don't remember ever asking anyone to drill in an unsafe manner."

          Now that statement is entirely reasonable.

      • Re:Heh, (Score:4, Insightful)

        by MadUndergrad (950779) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @01:21AM (#32473286)

        Screw that. I've told anyone who will listen that we need to get off oil and tried to do so myself. I resent being lumped in with all the "drill baby drill" yahoos as part of the problem. Some of us are at least trying to be part of the solution.

    • Maybe after watching all the birds they cleaned die from ingested oil, they'll feel some pang of guilt for all the lives and livelihoods they destroyed.

      Maybe... but probably not. Probably would suggest they're just pining for the fjords.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Idbar (1034346)
        Probably after watching all these losses, they will just raise the price per gallon so they can quickly recover from their economic damage. Wait were you talking about guilt for the birds or the oil? Ah... the birds... yeah... I don't think so.
    • by FooAtWFU (699187)

      You know what? The execs should volunteer. Heck, you know what else? Obama should go there and help with the cleanup - and not just for a quick PR stunt, either, but invest a little in it, do it for a whole day - or even two. People would really respect the guy for it.

      (There's talk that people are seeing the Prez as powerless and ineffective, full of hot air over the issue, but I'm not sure whether that's broad-spectrum or mostly just conservative windbags. Either way, it would shut most of them up prett

      • by fyoder (857358)

        I wonder if Obama has too much integrity for his own good. As President, he's got more important things to do with his time than volunteer to clean birds, yet you're right, politically that would go a long way. Likewise, one resident of the area I heard on radio was convinced that he wasn't doing anything because there weren't a lot of military and coast guard ships out there. Sure, there wouldn't be much for them to do since BP is the entity dealing with the problem, but it would create the appearance o

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Bing Tsher E (943915)

          "Making a good impression" would sort of imply Obama would have to retroactively cease being the single politician who has received the largest financial contributions from BP, though, wouldn't you think??

  • The Usual Suspects (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @09:55PM (#32472466) Homepage Journal

    Slashdotters are better than the general public at understanding that this BP rupture's quantity of spewing oil is very serious and damaging, even where it isn't obvious on Gulf Coast beaches.

    So you should look at who is downplaying it. And then remember next time they tell you something how seriously low their credibility is. That they cannot be trusted. Their usual lying isn't usually as obvious as it is here.

    • by slick7 (1703596) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @10:22PM (#32472576)

      So you should look at who is downplaying it. And then remember next time they tell you something how seriously low their credibility is. That they cannot be trusted. Their usual lying isn't usually as obvious as it is here.

      Let's start with all the D.C. politicians who conveniently remain quiet. Why? I hear more clamoring from the governors of the states being affected than from the voter elected senators and representatives. Why?
      How many of the voter elected politicians are on the oil industry payroll? Why? What happened to safety administrator who abruptly "retired" when this whole fiasco blew up (no pun intended). How many oil executives and oil lobby politicians switch roles when things get dicey?
      If there ever was a call to separate Business and State, this is it.

      • by girlintraining (1395911) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @02:21AM (#32473496)

        If there ever was a call to separate Business and State, this is it.

        I'm undoing a lot of mod points to say this, but separation caused this mess: A lack of regulatory oversight and trusting that the private industry was putting in adequate safeguards. Business and State need to be working in a partnership -- it's a necessity. There was a disconnect; The people making the laws and doing the regulatory oversight didn't have the training or knowledge to know what measures would be effective (and what was just window-dressing). What we need to look at right now is how that relationship can be structured to best serve the public interest, rather than private interests as it has until now.

        I would start by putting people who design and work with these systems in front of Congress and coming up with effective measures the government can take to prevent private interests from causing this amount of damage again.

        • by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @05:28AM (#32474004)
          I'm undoing a lot of mod points to say this, but separation caused this mess: A lack of regulatory oversight and trusting that the private industry was putting in adequate safeguards. Business and State need to be working in a partnership -- it's a necessity. There was a disconnect; The people making the laws and doing the regulatory oversight didn't have the training or knowledge to know what measures would be effective (and what was just window-dressing).

          I think the two of you are saying the same thing in the opposite way. There were lots of experts working on the regulations. Unfortunately, they were all experts working for businesses. They knew they were putting in loop holes. Government and business worked together to screw the people in a manner that looked like they were working together for the betterment of everyone.

          What we need to look at right now is how that relationship can be structured to best serve the public interest, rather than private interests as it has until now.

          See, there was an involvement between the two. They just worked really hard to make it look like they were being helpful while harming the people. Whether it's the banks, the oil companies, or the automotive cartel shooting themselves (and the American people) in the foot in the long term to try to get next quarter's profits up, they work really hard to pretend to be helpful while giving the expert advice and guidance to make some of the worst legislation possible.
    • by Phroggy (441) <{moc.yggorhp} {ta} {3todhsals}> on Sunday June 06, 2010 @12:34AM (#32473114) Homepage

      But I'm not sure how helpful it is to actually quantify it. The amount of oil spewing into the Gulf doesn't really have any impact on the efforts to stop it; it simply must be stopped at all costs and BP is doing everything they can to try to make that happen. If the leak were twice as big, or half as big, the appropriate response would be precisely the same.

      So next we have the issue of cleanup of beaches. The amount of oil reaching the beaches is good to know, but not necessarily directly correlated with the amount of oil gushing out of the well - there's a lot of coastline, and the amount of oil hitting each spot will vary.

      As for the amount of oil that remains in the gulf itself, it seems to me there's not a whole lot we can do about that at this point. So while there's certainly value in understanding the nature and scope of the problem, in purely practical terms I don't really see how it matters.

      When you say "you should look at who is downplaying it," do you mean people who are saying this isn't really that big a deal, and it's not really that much oil? Or do you mean people who are saying the exact amount of oil isn't relevant to the task at hand? If the former, I agree with you, but if you mean the latter, you may want to reconsider.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Xyrus (755017)

        As for the amount of oil that remains in the gulf itself, it seems to me there's not a whole lot we can do about that at this point. So while there's certainly value in understanding the nature and scope of the problem, in purely practical terms I don't really see how it matters.

        One gulf hurricane in the area will demonstrate pretty effectively why it matters. A hurricane is capable of churning up deep water which means not only would an area need to worry about the oil at the surface but also any of those deeper oil plumes below the surface as well. There's a difference between weathering a hurricane and needing to evacuate due to toxic contamination.

        Given that it is expected that this year will be a hyper-active hurricane season it is very important to know the extent of the spil

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by kencurry (471519)

        ...Or do you mean people who are saying the exact amount of oil isn't relevant to the task at hand? If the former, I agree with you, but if you mean the latter, you may want to reconsider.

        Here's the thing. We want the answer. We don't have to justify why. BP is responsible to us, and we want the fucking answer.

        If they had hit my child in a car, and I asked 'how fast you were going,' and their answer was "what does it matter let's just call the ambulance" I would destroy them right then and there. period. Irrational or not. I deserve the answer and I don't need to justify why.

  • The Exon Valdez (Score:5, Insightful)

    by b4upoo (166390) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @09:55PM (#32472468)

    Take a look at the site of the Exon spill in Alaska. Although it has been about 30 years the beaches are still a total wreck and the area still can not be fished.
                  Coral reefs may be the worst injuries as they kill easily and may take hundreds of years to rekindle. It is obvious that financially damaged parties will continue to be damaged for decades.
                  And the large view is even worse. Human population is exploding and we are now absolutely confronted with the fact that oil driven technologies are a horror story. And we are jumping to adopt newer technologies with no way to estimate the great harm that they may generate. After all, only the lunatic fringe believed that oil driven advances were aproblem until the 1970 era.

    • The PolyagmousRanchMom, told me that the PolygamousRanchBrotherInLaw knows how to stop that oil well.

      Ok, he is a Phd in nuclear chemistry, and works for ExxonMobil. And earns his bread through patents. So this solution to the problem we will see . . . when ExxonMobil has their next accident . . .

      The PolygamousRanchSister said . . . stay tuned . . .

    • by rrohbeck (944847) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @12:02AM (#32473006)

      We're past Peak Oil, so oil use will drop as oil becomes more expensive. In a few more decades large scale oil use will be a thing of the past.
      Until then ever more difficult, risky and expensive oil production methods will be used, so this will not be the last major accident.

  • Rather than relying on electrical or mechanical activation of the blowout preventer (which failed to occur), why can't they be made so that they activate automatically with the loss of an electrical signal?

    I guess you might get some unwanted activations, but it might have saved their bacon with something like this.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      why can't they be made so that they activate automatically with the loss of an electrical signal?

      They can and are, and this one was. Additionally, some can be remotely triggered by, in essence, sonar pings at a certain frequency. I've read conflicting reports on whether this particular BOP had that capability. None of this really matters, because the crew on the rig hit the button to trigger the ram shears while they still had contact to the BOP and they didn't activate, at least not completely.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by sumdumass (711423)

        My understanding is that a rubber bushing essential to the operation of the BOP was damaged a few days before during a test of it (or something related) and this damage contributed to the massive failure of the BOP.

    • by rrohbeck (944847)

      There are failsafes and they may have activated. Remember that not even the ROVs could activate the BOP. The hydraulics are broken or stuck.
      What they should have is a shaped charge of explosives that can pinch the well bore shut. No hydraulics, just a very primitive electric ignition system needed.

  • by hoytak (1148181) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @10:08PM (#32472524) Homepage

    See, for example: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/green/detail?entry_id=64864 [sfgate.com] or http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2010/06/02/2010-06-02_the_hidden_death_in_the_gulf.html [nydailynews.com]

    I am sure BP is doing everything it can to stop the oil gushing out, despite what all the (sometimes idiotic, very amusing) armchair engineers are saying is the "obvious" thing to do.

    However, it seems the real battle that will have the greatest impact on the future of this is over who controls the media now, and that's where BP needs to get its hands tied.

    • I am sure BP is doing everything it can to stop the oil gushing out, despite what all the (sometimes idiotic, very amusing) armchair engineers are saying is the "obvious" thing to do.

      However, it seems the real battle that will have the greatest impact on the future of this is over who controls the media now, and that's where BP needs to get its hands tied.

      BP does have a big incentive to get the leak stopped, since some damage awards will be proportional to the amount of oil leaked.

      Of course, they have the same incentive to make potential jurors think there's less leak than their actually is, and this intervention may be cheaper than intervention at the well head.

  • The Shaka Plan (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ShakaUVM (157947) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @10:14PM (#32472544) Homepage Journal

    That's why we need the Shaka Plan for Energy:
    1) Replace all coal power plants with nuclear
    2) Replace all gasoline imports with coal gassification

    Cost-neutral on the price of electricity, price of gasoline at the pump will go down, the influential senators from coal states are happy, and no more funding terrorism in the middle east.

    • by goodmanj (234846)

      "Cost-neutral on the price of electricity, price of gasoline at the pump will go down, the influential senators from coal states are happy, and no more funding terrorism in the middle east."

      I've seen worse plans. It's definitely realistic about politics. #3 and #4 are good points, but [citation needed] on points #1 and #2.

    • by copponex (13876)

      Why do you think replacing one form of finite energy with dangerous byproducts is superior to another form of finite energy with dangerous byproducts?

      Nuclear can be a useful bridge, but we need to learn how to deal with the limitations of the energy that the sun provides on a daily basis, or harness the thermal energy of the Earth's core. Everything else is ultimately unsustainable.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Nuclear power is far, far, far cleaner than fossils. What would you rather have? A concrete box of toxic nastyness, or a mist of global warming inducing toxic nastyness all over the place. I agree that we should move to solar and other sources (by the time nuke runs out, I think we'll be flying around the galaxy on zero point energy modules). I actually don't think the suns energy is "a limitation" it is actually far, far more than 15 billion Americans would use. Continuing on the GP's theme, I think the mo
  • by X0563511 (793323) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @10:28PM (#32472608) Homepage Journal

    Just what is a "joy stick" and why would sailors be twiddling them?

  • TFA (the last link) makes some reasonable points about why a blanket euthanization policy for all birds could be extreme. But then it goes too far and wants to save everything. From the conclusion:

    Because all people use oil or oil-related products in some form, I maintain that it is both ethical and responsible to try to save as many oiled birds and other wildlife as we can. [...] I think that each life is intrinsically valuable and that each animal is deserving of care and protection. In a world where life is not always respected and valued, I think that saving the life of even one bird sends an important message.

    Awww... you want to save the animals? Every life is sacred! Well, you can start by saving the life of the tapeworm that took up residence in your body, or perhaps that mosquito that just bit you and gave you malaria. What? You see a breeding ground for those disease-ridden mosquitoes and want to dump the wat

    • by rrohbeck (944847)

      One problem is that a significant percentage (can't remember the number) of birds die even after cleaning because they ingested oil or oily food.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      > but it simply doesn't make sense to try to save every
      > possible bird here,

      What harm is there in trying?

      > from either a monetary or moral perspective.

      Oh, right, you're really just worried about the cost. Of course. But hey, if you add "or moral" in there, it makes it seem like you really thought this out and that you're not really just a greedy miser. You should (do?) work for BP, it's great thinking like yours that got them where they are now.

  • Given time nature will readjust and reach a new equilibrium. Things like this happen occasionally in nature, and the earth has yet to be critically damaged. The nuclear industry often cites the example of an area where a natural nuclear disaster occurred. The earth has been hit with meteors and survived. It is not the earth or the creatures we are protected. It is us.

    Even with no damage, Florida tourism is suffering. There is no real reason why we should care that people are going to lose their jobs

  • ...there would be at least as much reason to worry. There just wouldn't be any way to stop it.

  • by Auto_Lykos (1620681) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @11:26PM (#32472878)
    BP has been providing live feeds of all the ROV missions to the wellhead for the last few days. For those who are curious, here's a pretty decent site hosting all the feeds from the ROVs. [mxl.fi] Pretty fascinating to watch all the work going on around the BOP, occasionally you can follow a few of the ROVs as they wander off to find old pipelines or prepare the Q4000 direct connection. In a tragic way it almost feels like watching the Titanic discovery all over again.
  • so NIMBYs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday June 05, 2010 @11:38PM (#32472926) Homepage Journal

    you won't have nuclear reactors with modern technology. france and japan have been relying on reactors for decades. but not in your backyard, no. you know, electric cars, less air pollution, no more funding of geopolitical nightmares, etc.

    so instead you'll have thousands of acres of your shoreline turned into a befouled environmental calamity, you'll fund wahhabi madrasas in pakistan through all the money you're giving saudis to drive your SUVs, you'll send your sons, daughters, fathers, mothers to die in pointless wars, you'll fuel global warming, you'll make your cities unbreathable...

    but remember, its nuclear power we should be afraid of

    read NIMBY's, and reverse your idiotic mental block:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power_in_Japan [wikipedia.org]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power_in_France [wikipedia.org]

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by evilviper (135110)

      you won't have nuclear reactors with modern technology.

      so instead you'll have thousands of acres of your shoreline turned into a befouled environmental calamity

      Unless they're putting nuclear reactors directly in the SUVs, oil is completely orthogonal to nuclear power.

      france and japan have been relying on reactors for decades.

      Oh, I'm sorry. How has uptake of electric cars been going in France and Japan? What percentage of the overall automotive market do they make up?

      I'll wait...

      • wait for what?

        $10/ gallon gas?

        or $20/ gallon gas?

        india, china, brazil... they're using more and more oil. the sources are only getting deeper and more expensive

        at what point do you see the need for change?

        but thanks for the shortsightedness. thanks for the belief that oil is going to last forever and has no downsides. you're mental stagnation and acceptance of a sucky status quo is a huge help. i love well-funded islamic fundamentalist nutjobs and i love choking on fumes

        thanks for your ignorant complacency

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DigiShaman (671371)

          We will wait for a crisis. We always do. At best when the oil gets really expensive, expect rationing to occur. At worse, expect civil and global warfare over this precious resource.

          Individually, we are very smart. Collectively, we're fucking dumb as shit!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rhakka (224319)

      double the cost of electricity. do it nearly all renewably. accept that doubled electricity costs are the costs of SAFE, SUSTAINABLE, CLEAN power. and call that the baselines requirement of civilized power generation. If it's too expensive to do with safe, clean, sustainable power, it's too expensive to do, period.

      oil is for plastic. and less and less of that as time goes on.

      it can absolutely be done.

      nuclear power in a best case scenario still leaves us guarding a pile of dangerous material (not just t

  • by adolf (21054)

    TFA [theoildrum.com] is a good example of why everyone should have the Readability bookmarklet [arc90.com] handy.

  • by lotho brandybuck (720697) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @10:32AM (#32475214) Homepage Journal
    There's plastics that are coal derived... Melamine can be synthesized from coal products... Phenolic... other stuff.. Steel uses iron ore, coal, and limestone. Ceramics? Don't need petroleum for those, been doing it for 1000's years.

    I'm getting sick of people saying that modern life is dependent on petroleum. Sure.. things won't be as easy, but we can make all sorts of things, and won't be giving up all the technological developments of the last century just by switching feedstocks!

    This will not drive us back to the middle ages, in the middle ages, we didn't have electricity!

    Reducing petrol use in transport, even by only 50% will increase the amount of "easy oil" available for use as chemical precursors for the stuff that can't easily be made from coal or fresh biomass.

    Agriculture scares me the most because modern ag pretty much involves turning diesel into meat. But we can make changes here, too.. there's no reason we cant farm electrically, we're already using electricity for irrigation. What scares me the most is a ill-considered switch to biofuels as we could quickly starve ourselves trying to grow massive quantities of fuel from food crops.

    This stuff isn't rocket science and I'm getting more and more angry about the lack of political will to start adapting rather than burying our heads in the sand.

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