Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Page 5 of 5 FirstFirst ... 4 5
Results 101 to 119 of 119

Thread: What are your thoughts on the "peak oil" debate?

  1. #101

    Great discussion

    Greetings all! I enjoyed rading all of the posts about this topic; it is one I feel strongly about. I have a few comments on ethanol...
    Right now, almost all ethanol produced in the U.S. is made from corn, which is a starch. But ethanol can also be produced from cellulosic biomass, which includes things like the stalks from corn, cotton residues, paper waste, paper sludge, fast growing poplar trees, switch grass, forest residues like deadfalls, and municipal waste, just to name a few of possible sources. A company named Bluefire in Orange County, CA is even making ethanol from post-sorted materials like paper and cardboard that would otherwise end up in landfills. Almost all of the sources mentioned are end products that otherwise go unused.
    The problem as I see it is that people think of trash as waste and not a source of energy. If we could think of waste as food, then we can capitalize on an unused resource and help save primary resources. Even using grey water from buildings and houses for irrigation.
    In addition, many useful byproducts are created by making ethanol, including gypsum, which is an excellent fertilizer and could replace the use of petroleum based fertilizers. Distiller's dry grain, an animal feed, is also produced as is corn syrup and xylithol (wood sugar). The leftover dry mass from ethanol is known as lingin and can be burned to fuel the fermentation process. There's an ethanol plant being built in New York that estimates enough lingin will be produced on site to make the plant energy self-sufficient.
    There is a snag, though more like an ironic twist. First, cellulosic ethanol requires a different enzyme as a catalyst during fermentation and it is relatively expensive to mass produce. The irony is that this is exactly the place our country was in one hundred years ago. The problem then, just like now, was that most ethanol was made from corn and not enough could be produced to meet the demand. The discovery of oil meant that ethanol was not likely to be the primary fuel source but ethanol could be used as an additive to increase octane and eliminate engine knocking. Again, the problem was that it was intensive to produce so alternatives were sought; thus, the intoduction of lead in gasoline. It accomplished similar results as ethanol and at a much cheaper cost. The point is that scientists were trying to develop cellulosic ethanol but the process requires a different enzyme that was, and is still today, expensive to mass produce. So, the same technology that could have changed the course of our history was stifled. But, many groups are working in the field of ceullulosic ethanol. For examle, Honda announced a recent breakthrough. Very soon the break-through will come and ethanol will take off.
    Finally, ethanol has many proven qualities such as increasing fuel octane, cleaning engine deposits, and only releases a CO2 gas which is neutral gas and does not contirbute to greenhouse gases
    See, the problem as I see it is that people think of trash as waste and not a source of energy. If we could think of waste as food, then we can capitalize on an unused resource and help save primary resources. Even using grey water from buildings and houses for irrigation.

    Check out noojournal.com and send in an article to be published! Don't for get to check out noo.

  2. #102
    Member
    Registered
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Sydney, New South Wales
    Posts
    12
    I feel that the main problem is that the majority of the world's oil reserves are controlled by inefficient state owned companies, that are unwilling or able to increase the supply of oil rather than the world running out of oil quickly. Either way alternative sources of energy are likely to play a greater role in the future.

  3. #103
    Cyburbian safege's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Golden Valley MN
    Posts
    716
    Ethanol is not an answer. Transitways, park n' rides, overhead suspended light rail, and in some cases traffic avoiding standard light rail (and other slow electric modes) are the answer. See link below.

    http://www.asianwildlife.com/product...rain/candp.asp
    Psychotics are consistently inconsistent. The essence of sanity is to be inconsistently inconsistent.
    -Larry Wall

  4. #104
    I don't see how increased biofuel production is not part of the solution. First of all, what is going to power trains in the future? Electricity? Some type of fuel? Since it is unlikely that the use of coal will not stop in the near future, why not co-fire power plants with biomass? As for fuels, biodiesel would be an ideal way to power fuel-driven trains since it can run in any diesel engine. And what about the vast regions of our country where mass transit would not be feasible? We need ethanol and biodiesel to fuel vehicles so we don't have to rely on oil, the price and future of is incredibly volitile. I agree with you, mass transit systems are the way to go in dense urban areas, but that is only one part of the solution. Even biofuels is just one part. There is no single resource or technology that will cure everything. Instead, conservation, first and foremost, and investment in new technologies and resources are the winning combination.

    And let's not forget smart urban planning, which is applicable to this site. Builders and planners need to focus on limiting urban sprawl, or at least creating shopping centers and other facilities in central locations that limit the amount of travel necessary. Bring back neighborhood stores instead of building non-descript, industrial warehouse, cinder-block monstrosities. And, like you said, incorporate better transit systems that allow people to move about without a personal vehicle.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 04 Dec 2006 at 10:35 AM. Reason: double reply

  5. #105
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Colchester, IL and Ft. Wayne, IN
    Posts
    58

    Model Sustainable and/or Hydrogen City

    I first discovered "Peak Oil" in the summer of 2005. Since then, I've been researching both the problems and possible solutions. The book "Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution" has contributed significantly to my understanding. I have scanned the previous posts in this thread for opinions on hydrogen as a possible energy carrier. Like there is in discussions elsewhere, some see hope and others see hype in the proposed hydrogen economy. Perhaps we could test the idea by developing model sustainable and/or hydrogen cities as prototypes for innovative urban planning. Please see my "Model Sustainable/Hydrogen City" post under the "Post carbon cities" thread in the "Environmental Planning" forum for my thoughts. or see this link to this forum cyburbia.org/forums/showthread.php?t=32512 I would appreciate your thoughts.

  6. #106

  7. #107
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Land of Confusion
    Posts
    3,827

    Bump

    How foolish does Kunstler look now in light of the major breakthroughs in oil and natural gas drilling technology that have occurred in recent years? According to OPEC the U.S. has so much in oil and natural gas reserves that it could become energy self-sufficient by 2035.

  8. #108
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Gale Crater
    Posts
    2,889
    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    How foolish does Kunstler look now in light of the major breakthroughs in oil and natural gas drilling technology that have occurred in recent years? According to OPEC the U.S. has so much in oil and natural gas reserves that it could become energy self-sufficient by 2035.
    Listen to his podcasts and you will learn how he critiques the data that purports the imminent energy self-sufficiency of the U.S. I'm a regular listener of his podcasts. Not always my cup of tea, but certainly thought-provoking and insightful. I'm not saying I agree with everything he and his guests talk about, however, I do believe his skepticism is warranted.

  9. #109
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Promoting synergies...
    Posts
    3,602
    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    How foolish does Kunstler look now in light of the major breakthroughs in oil and natural gas drilling technology that have occurred in recent years? According to OPEC the U.S. has so much in oil and natural gas reserves that it could become energy self-sufficient by 2035.
    Kunstler discounts innovation and the innate ability of man to solve problems. For me, peak oil never gets past the point that once oil reaches a certain cost other alternatives become financially viable, which is exactly what is happening with all of the oil sands and shale. It is not profitable when oil is at $50 a barrel but at a consistent $90-$110 then it makes sense all day long. No one wants a truck that get 12 mpg...now they get 18-20.

    He is a compelling speaker and wirter...and his arguments are well fashioned but the research and understanding of behaviorial economics is fundementally flawed. In my mind he ranks with Rush Limbaugh, Nancy Grace and Glenn Beck....all sizzle and no steak.
    "You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it,..." -Bane

  10. #110
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    10,066
    I am no fan of Kunstler. As has been intimated, he lets his own biases and desires get in the way of reason. Hey, it sells book.

    I think the jury is still out as to whether the expanded reserves can be tapped to the extent the oil companies state. Some evidence is coming in that suggests the wells may slow their flow faster than anticipated. On the other hand, we are finding new reserves and new technology may address any problems that are encountered. I won't get into questions of environmental and safety issues. Ultimately, though, oil is a finite resource. The supply is shrinking, even if new exploration is showing us that the supply is bigger than we thought. Peak oil will come some day, and long before that, the cost will go painfully high.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  11. #111
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Where Valley Fever Lives
    Posts
    7,693
    Blog entries
    1

    Yeah but.....

    Everyone has known for a long time that there is plenty of oil left.....we still know that now.....1.5 trillion barrels alone in the Colorado Basin Oil Shale deposits that hasn't been scratched yet. The reason it does get exploited will because of price, politics and a complete lack of care for environmental concerns. So if you go by the price alone, we have plenty of oil to last us and our kids lifetime, since the cost will always go up over time, and money drives politics, we can only anticipate attempted development in the future. What Kunstler should be doing is focusing on environmental issues and not supply questions.

    Check out some of the propaganda:

    http://www.eccos.us/

    http://www.centerwest.org/publicatio...otnotes.php#61
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

  12. #112
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Where the weak are killed and eaten.
    Posts
    6,247
    What we most need to be concerned about is the international supply of oil. We currently export more oil than we import. (I don't fully understand why we import any if we are exporting so much, but that is another topic).

    Places like China, S Korea, and India are adopting the car culture at a huge scale and if the past several years is any trend they will be the ones in the driver's seat for oil prices. It is no longer just N America, Europe and Australia that are big car markets. This is why it is so important that we do move towards more alternative modes of transportation as well as looking at technology to reduce the demand for oil.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  13. #113
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Where Valley Fever Lives
    Posts
    7,693
    Blog entries
    1

    What if......

    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    What we most need to be concerned about is the international supply of oil. We currently export more oil than we import. (I don't fully understand why we import any if we are exporting so much, but that is another topic).

    Places like China, S Korea, and India are adopting the car culture at a huge scale and if the past several years is any trend they will be the ones in the driver's seat for oil prices. It is no longer just N America, Europe and Australia that are big car markets. This is why it is so important that we do move towards more alternative modes of transportation as well as looking at technology to reduce the demand for oil.
    What if our oil companies have dreams of becoming the next Saudi America to the world? Wrap your mind around that one
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

  14. #114
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Promoting synergies...
    Posts
    3,602
    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    What we most need to be concerned about is the international supply of oil. We currently export more oil than we import. (I don't fully understand why we import any if we are exporting so much, but that is another topic).

    Places like China, S Korea, and India are adopting the car culture at a huge scale and if the past several years is any trend they will be the ones in the driver's seat for oil prices. It is no longer just N America, Europe and Australia that are big car markets. This is why it is so important that we do move towards more alternative modes of transportation as well as looking at technology to reduce the demand for oil.
    From my understanding is we expert petroleum products and not oil. The sour crudes that come from oil sands have shorter chemical chains meaning they make less gas but more of other types of products like plastics, tar etc.
    "You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it,..." -Bane

  15. #115
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    New Town
    Posts
    3,952
    It seems to me that the peak oil catastrophe scenario assumes that there is no other viable way to create fuel for all the things that use it. I just donít buy that. I think the technology to diversify fuel supplies into a range of different types is there, but short supply along with a few other factors are what are going to kick that development into high gear. And there are other alternatives being developed for the creation of things like plastics and other non-fuel petroleum-based products. But until the market pressure is there, its probably not going to develop very quickly.

    Diesel fuel can be made from non-petroleum products, for example, so thatís a production shift that does not require new engines or cars be manufactured. And all over Europe people drive high efficiency diesel vehicles (many of which are the same cars we buy here, except for the engine). And they donít have to be powered by petroleum based products. Add to that hybrids, electric cars, trash burning cars, etc. and I think there are a range of options still to be explored before we all go off living in caves again.

    No one fuel source will replace petroleum based ones. I think more likely we are going to see a wider diversity of fuel sources emerge and cars, etc. that run off of them.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  16. #116
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Back in SE Texas
    Posts
    1,734
    Quote Originally posted by The One View post
    Everyone has known for a long time that there is plenty of oil left.....we still know that now.....1.5 trillion barrels alone in the Colorado Basin Oil Shale deposits that hasn't been scratched yet. The reason it does get exploited will because of price, politics and a complete lack of care for environmental concerns. So if you go by the price alone, we have plenty of oil to last us and our kids lifetime, since the cost will always go up over time, and money drives politics, we can only anticipate attempted development in the future. What Kunstler should be doing is focusing on environmental issues and not supply questions.

    Check out some of the propaganda:

    http://www.eccos.us/

    http://www.centerwest.org/publicatio...otnotes.php#61
    BINGO, the technology has advanced that more oil is able to be extracted, but at what cost? The oil that is being explored now requires more invasive drilling techniques, fracking etc. A report just last week showed that oil exploration and fracking may be connected to "induced" earthquakes that have been plaguing places like Central Oklahoma and North Central Arkansas. Of interest to planners should be these boomtowns that are springing up in North Dakota, in places that aren't used to the population and traffic that oil exploration brings. I am glad that the US is producing more oil, it should help eventually protect us from some of the volatility of the world oil market. Still we should keep moving forward with way to use the oil that we have more wisely.

  17. #117
    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Where the Wild Things Are
    Posts
    2,412
    What happens when the oil shale runs out? What other methods are being explored out there? There will still come a point eventually when big business and technological wherewithall cannot compenstate for the resistance there will be by populations once they recognize the large scale environmental degradation that will become necessary in order to extract most of these underground natural resources.

    Eventually, assuming our collective societal memory allows for it, there will come a point when the global population can no longer be sustained at a certain expected standard of living (to tie in with that other thread/poll on population). There will have to come an acceptance of a "new normal" (that popular recent term among the economic "gurus"). That new normal will have to occur if there is any hope of a sustainable human society. That new normal will be achieved with the acceptance of a lower standard of living as the sacrifice for worldwide safety, on the basis that everything else we have tried has not worked. That would imply that humanity is capable of progressing to such a high level of moral consciousness, which is a stretch (as history would indicate).

    The alternative future is much more bleak. That's the one where as too many nations attempt to achieve "First World" status and go through their growing pains, there leaves little choice but for those nations with the might and means to do so to either exploit economically or take by force the few remaining bastions of cheap labor and resources. This would come at great environmental and human peril - at a much larger scale than ever before in history, if only for the fact that there has never been this level of technology, this amount of people to be fed and appeased, and so few natural resources available in world history. There may be a few nations left standing when it's all said and done, but there would be so few resources left by that time that whomever is the "victor" will achieve a very short lived prosperity anyway.

    As resources are exhausted for building civilizations, civilization would again revert to a more primitive and localized version of itself once again. Of course, this could be 100, 200, or 300 years into the future. I wouldn't expect it to take much longer than that given how much society has changed even in the past 100 years, and how the rate of technological change and environmental strain has been increasing almost exponentially with each passing generation.
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

  18. #118
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Colo Front Range
    Posts
    2,563
    Quote Originally posted by rcgplanner View post
    BINGO, the technology has advanced that more oil is able to be extracted, but at what cost? The oil that is being explored now requires more invasive drilling techniques, fracking etc. A report just last week showed that oil exploration and fracking may be connected to "induced" earthquakes that have been plaguing places like Central Oklahoma and North Central Arkansas. Of interest to planners should be these boomtowns that are springing up in North Dakota, in places that aren't used to the population and traffic that oil exploration brings. I am glad that the US is producing more oil, it should help eventually protect us from some of the volatility of the world oil market. Still we should keep moving forward with way to use the oil that we have more wisely.
    First, the single-% increase in world crude production won't do much to mitigate volatility.

    We also know that aside from groundwater contamination, fracking involves the air as well. We are still quantifying the amount of fugitive emissions (e.g., my wife's sinuses and my eyes are not precise quantification) but it may end up that fracking is a net zero for emissions if current findings continue. So just saying of more important interest to planners is the public health issue.

    Second, it is early yet but it is starting to appear that oil companies' trumpeting of output may be problematic (again), in that individual wells play out quickly, leaving a scarred landscape. Anyone flying out of Denver to the west knows this.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  19. #119
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Ocean to the east, land to the west
    Posts
    1,129
    Peak Oil is, to me, a distraction from the real issue. As has been mentioned here before, we can extract more and more oil, at increasingly high impacts on the natural environment and increasingly high greenhouse gas impacts. The same is true for natural gas. Eventually the cost may outweigh the energy produced, but technology seems to be able to keep that from happening for a while, at least.

    So the question isn't when it peaks, but when it starts to hurt so much that people decide to embrace alternatives, including conservation. That will probably only be when sea level rise and climate change are so obvious no one can argue with them- which will be pretty late in the game.

    I get a little frustrated with environmental activists who decry hydro, wind, and even solar. I know it sucked to flood the gorges in China, but would it have been better for them to generate all that energy with coal? Off shore wind farms won't win any beauty contests but is it better to have off shore windmills than to watch all of Cape Cod go under?

    The only wildcard in this is nuclear. If we had a common, coherent policy on what to do with the waste I might be OK with it. But given our inability to be mature about that issue, I don't see a role for nuclear in helping.

+ Reply to thread
Page 5 of 5 FirstFirst ... 4 5

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 30
    Last post: 09 Dec 2008, 7:48 PM
  2. Fascinating "Post-Peak" Essay
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 0
    Last post: 05 Oct 2005, 8:23 PM
  3. Replies: 8
    Last post: 11 Apr 2005, 1:53 PM
  4. Replies: 6
    Last post: 12 Jan 2005, 9:04 PM