Whipple's Fuel Future

Donal Fagan
by Donal Fagan
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whipple s fuel future

Whether in print or in their private thoughts, most Peak Oil believers grapple with the immediate effects of oil scarcity. They picture a scenario based on history or speculative fiction, refining their expectations as the real future reveals itself and like Kafka's ape, looking for a way out. In today's Falls Church News-Press, Tom Whipple postulates that increasingly precious liquid fuels will be allocated to aircraft and ships. Since cellulosic biofuels and hydrogen are not ready for prime time, he expects that our already available electric power grid will be the most likely ground transport fuel for the immediate future. But in Peak Oil prognostication, all solutions reveal even deeper problems. Electric cars may serve in a limited capacity, but will we have enough resources to actually build them? Will any but the very rich be able to afford them?

Donal Fagan
Donal Fagan

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4 of 11 comments
  • Bill Wade Bill Wade on Mar 02, 2008
    NBK-Boston : March 1st, 2008 at 10:49 pm A good chunk of Whipple’s article verges on the senseless. One factor totally ignored in the replies is the massive increase in vehicle ownership in countries such as China and India. Even if oil production doesn't decrease the competition for supply continues to increase on a daily basis. Our own short sighted policies are anti nuclear and utilize coal, natural gas and oil. Whipple reasoning may not be spot on but his final analysis might not be far off.
  • Mark MacInnis Mark MacInnis on Mar 02, 2008

    BTW, at what price point for oil and gasoline does the ANWR become mandatory for national security purposes, and to keep our economy from melting down?

  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Mar 02, 2008

    Autoacct, Good point. When do we tell the folks in Florida that a few oil platforms in the view are just too necessary to continue to banish by fiat. Carnick, Define soon. Otherwise, your entire point has zero meaning. Also, your comments on human nature only tell half the story. Plenty of people a panic prone, and when they hear a theory like peak oil, global warming, or global freezing they want something done about it.

  • Orian Orian on Mar 03, 2008

    I think the biggest thing (which was touched on) is that we're working with fuels/energy that are finite. We may not have tapped it all out now, but with around 6 billion people between China and India coming into automobiles and other forms of transportation it stands to reason that whatever supplies we do have are going to start being burned through much more rapidly than ever before. I recall seeing something a couple of weeks ago about the US air force using some alternate fuels experimentally in some air craft. I'm not sure if this is just some headlines for the Air Force and a company of the week or if they are actually seeking alternative forms of fuel for their air craft. If they really are seeking alternatives that leads me to believe that the government believes in a situation soon where oil/gasoline/fuel is scarce.