Just cruising some of the green blogs this evening and thinking about the following idea that comes up a lot: sure, alternative energies do fine when oil prices are high, but they'll crash and burn again when oil and natural gas come back down.
Isn't it, though, becoming more and more obvious that we ain't in the '70's no more? Just because solar crashed after the last oil crisis, doesn't mean it's going to lather, rinse, repeat. Since the 70's two just slightly important issues have come to the forefront, and aren't going away: peak oil (or at least more expensive oil extraction) and, more significantly, global warming.
Take a look at what Joel Makower is saying over at Two Steps Forward about insurance companies realizing the mega billions they've had to pay out due to increased catastrophic climatological events. Are the insurers worried about the price of pumping oil, or more about the carbon that oil pumps into the atmosphere, I ask?
And check out The Oil Drum's reporting on news that Mexico has discovered a new very big oil/gas field very beneath the ocean floor and Afghanistan huge reserves of natural gas . . . This would have been awesome news in the 70's--more sources of oil, cheaper, problema solved!
But this precept no longer works, that cheap and plentiful oil solves the problem. We're in the "carbon footprint era", and I can only hope that environmental impact is perceived as serious enough to develop clean alternatives, even if we find the mother of all oil fields and peak oil is all a huge fantasy dreamed up by oil companies who like the idea of short supply and high prices.
Maybe it'll just come down to economics in the end. The question is who will win: oil drillers as they find "new" big reserves and say we can buy oil to our hearts' content, or the insurers who say, as the Cal grad student said in yesterday's post about solar break-throughs: "Dude. We're running out of atmosphere. Even if fossils are "cheap", it's plenty expensive for us!!!"
Alternative energy development is now more directly linked to carbon and the health, safety and economic situation of us all, not exclusively to the price fluctuations and supply/demand of fossil fuels.
Categories: solar, energy, renewable, oil, sustainable, peak, oil, whatsnews