Thursday, May 20, 2004


Cafe Hayek summarizes why we are not running out of oil and why we are not likely to. And Michael Kantor has some sarcastic comments on Krugman's latest bleat about oil shortages. See also my post of 2nd. about oil NOT being a fossil fuel.


The Leftist Mother Jones has a surprisingly good article on using hydrogen as an alternative fuel to petroleum products. It first notes that some unlikely characters are behind this bit of pandering to Greenie hysteria:

"Last Tuesday was a good day for fans of a hydrogen-fueled future. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham announced federal funding of $350 million for research projects to establish a hydrogen economy-a follow-up to Bush's statement in the State of the Union address last year that he would set aside $1.2 billion for hydrogen study, making hydrogen the clean fuel du jour --and California's Gov. Schwarzenegger announced plans to build a "hydrogen highway" of 200 fueling stations in California by 2010.

Both Schwarzenegger and the federal government are preparing for a transition to hydrogen-fueled cars, perhaps within ten years. Schwarzenegger said that by 2010 he also hopes to see at least 500,000 hydrogen-fuel vehicles on California roads"

The article then notes just one of the major problems with hydrogen:

"The most serious argument against hydrogen, though, is that the process for extracting it may cause more pollution than gas-run cars, some experts say. Because hydrogen is bound up in molecules of water or hydrocarbons like natural gas, a great deal of energy must be used to unbind it.

The most common method for "mining" hydrogen involves treating natural gas with steam. But with rising prices and declining domestic reserves, natural gas is not the most ideal candidate. Electricity can separate hydrogen atoms from oxygen atoms in water, but this method is expensive and dirty. Hydrogen may also be extracted from coal."

No doubt human ingenuity will make hydrogen-fuled cars a reasonable proposition if we ever really need them, but, in the unlikely event that oil ever runs out, the easy and obvious alternative is ethanol (industrial alcohol). It can be used and is used in the sort of cars we have now, its raw material is natural and highly renewable sugar, of which the world has a chronic surplus, and its cost is only a little above the cost of the stuff we use now. And Australian sugar-cane mills use cane waste (bagasse) as their major fuel. So producing the sugar does not require big external energy inputs. And turning the sugar into alcohol is not energy-intensive either. Little bugs (yeast) do all the work.


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else.

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