"Fossil Fuel Fundamentals" - A Khan and B. Eichler; "Life in the Boom" (six-part series); "Grappling with the Age of 'Tough Oil'"

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I am hoping that my comment on the Mill City Museum was saved... after I clicked submit, I do not see it in the comments! Anyway, I'll re-write if necessary.

This section strikes a big chord with me because I hate the way the world uses fossil fuels, especially this country. As Michael Klare said in the radio broadcast, money needs to be invested in alternative energies and the big oil companies need to stop putting all of their funding into new ways to extract. How can we ever begin to pull away from fossil fuels, when other ways are not being adequately explored and researched. I fully believe that with all the neat do-dads we have in the world (like laser printers, cloning of animals, and you name it internet capabilities, we should be capable of coming up with a new way to produce energy other than fossil fuels. The new ways that are in existence are not getting nearly enough funding or visibility. Sadly, these already existing technologies are not enough to make a large impact on this crisis (alone that is) anyway.

I hate to sound like a pessimist, but it is hard not to think that we humans will continue to use every last drop of fossil fuels until there is mass panic because there is no more. Along with the panic, the Earth will be so destroyed by that time that it will be like a giant wasteland and uninhabitable to humans (obviously this is in the immeasurable future). I wish that humans would wake up and see the numbers for what they are. We need to pull away from fossil fuels, and therefore we must be forced.

As for the story of the driller who lives in Wisconsin and commutes to North Dakota to drill, I hear about this all the time lately. I know a few people in my own circle that do this. I am torn on the topic of fracking personally. I have done a lot of research about it, and I actually think it is a descent means (if we must stick with fossil fuels for a while) of extracting fuel. Natural gas is the lesser of all evils when it comes to fossil fuels. If the environmental impacts can be controlled and less damaging, then I think I am still for fracking in the long run. Off shore drilling, however, is the bane of all existence. It has been proven time and time again that oil drilling in ocean waters is devastating to the ocean ecosystems. We are fools if we think events like the Deepwater Horizon and the Exon Valdes are not going to continue happening.

Erica

After reading this I realize I was never all that well-versed on the numbers of our energy consumption. I read that the world consumed 83 million barrels of oil in 2004, but I don’t really know if that’s only slightly above a healthy limit or if that’s an extremely unsafe amount. What caught my eye the most in this reading were predictions on how long fossil fuel energy sources will remain available. There was a prediction saying that global oil reserves could be depleted in as soon as 44 years, and that natural gas will be here for only 60 more years. It’s really weird to think that I may see our world divested of oil in my lifetime. I guess that’s a comment on how much we take these things for granted if the fact that these kinds of things aren’t infinite is surprising. I just hope we have our research done on other energy sources when that time comes.

-Andrew

Grappling with the Age of Tough Oil left me feeling more confused and a little uncertain about how I felt about the oil industry. While I was reading I could not help but laugh as my mind went back and forth between the positives and negatives of the oil industry. The Star Tribune shared both sides so subtly that I was not one hundred percent sure what their stance on it was (which is fine I just found it interesting). One minute I was thinking maybe I should get a job life Klefstad's because he is getting paid good money and he never even went to college. The next minute I would be thinking how bad it was that he has to leave his family and that he has to go clean up oil spills at night when he gets a call. The stuff that was brought up in this article just reassured me that I still feel split on my thoughts about the oil industry.

- Hannah

As technological advancements and economic activity increases, supply and demand for oil increases. Throughout the years, we have depended upon fossil fuels as sources for energy to make these advancements possible, and a shortage would be quite devastating to our growth. With the amount of unequal distribution among resources between countries, prices will significantly increase in order to obtain these resources.

Even though beneficial to our technological development, the emission of fossil fuels in use leads to environmental disaster. Although I do not know what will happen 10 or 20 years from now due the increased use refined fossil fuels, I am convinced that it will not be good. Oil leaks and CO2 emission have contributed to eliminating various sea life as well as global warming. As these emissions continue, the ozone layer will continue to degrade and UV rays will continue to seep through. As the temperature rises, melting polar ice caps would contribute to natural flooding.

However, we are able to counter this if we depended less on the use of fossil fuels. Small solutions have been developed – although not as popular as it should be – such as the use of electric cars and cleaner fuel have not made an impact on environmental sustainability yet, but if people were more inclined to follow that path, the planet would live a little longer.

Vien

I have family members who are just like the individuals featured in the Star Tribune pieces. My oldest brother found success as a directional driller first for Schlumberger, and now as an independent contractor working primarily in Kuwait or Equatorial Guinea, depending on who's paying the most at any given time. Additionally, my employment on the railroad was due in part to coal cars coming east from the powder basin in Wyoming/Montana. On the flip side, though, I also have two close friends who are heavily involved with MN350, and I hold their opinions and their environmental knowledge in high regard. It's hard in my day to day life to reconcile my experience with both camps, and that's why I enjoyed the Kahn and Eichler piece. I know that it is six years old now, so some of the information is dated, and I know that neither author have credentials in the environmental sciences, so a lot of this is probably fluff, but I really enjoyed the even tone of the article. I especially liked the few times we were reminded that technology continues to improve the efficiency of fossil fuel use and is continually guiding us down a road that could, potentially, make fossil fuels much less attractive as energy producers. This fact, in my experience, anyway, seems to be either ignored or shunned by both oil(and coal/natural gas/nuclear)-backers and my hippy-ass best friends.

The Fresh Air clip was pretty okay, too. In addition to being an advocate for technological advancement, I'm also a free markets kind of guy, so I don't see it as terribly frightening that the age of “easy oil”is over. It's actually sort of exciting in a certain way. I want different technologies to take center stage, and I think the best way for that to actually happen is for the status quo (meaning cheap oil and expensive wind/solar/whatever else) to be less attractive to their consumers. Difficulty and expense can cause supply to drop and/or overheard to increase, meaning an increasing cost to consumers. It's when this happens when stubborn uncreative people like my baby boomer parents will quit complaining about how ugly windmills are (when they've never once mentioned the power lines on the landscape).

-Andrew

Listening to the NPR, I paid close attention to understanding the difference between the easy oil and tough oil era. In this time period, we depend on oil, and in order to retrieve this oil, we have to cross boundaries, which makes it tough. Oil has its advantages and disadvantages and the Star tribune talks much about both side, nonetheless, oil is an abundant resource more many reasons.
We also depend on gas. According to the Fossil Fuels reading, the energy consumption in the United States was 22.93% of all energy. I remember when I was a kid and gas prices were much lower than they are today. I’ve learned about a plan called CAFE Standards, which President Obama talked about during his first term in office. The plan is not to lower gas prices, but to increase vehicle’s MPG, which is exactly what’s happening. Nevertheless, there will always be that question as to how much fossil fuel is left on earth.

Abdifatah

The NPR podcast about tough oil was very thought-provoking. I was it interesting how journalist Michael Klare defines the term “tough oil”. When I first heard the term, I envisioned that it meant oil that was located hundreds or thousands of feet underground. Klare’s definition includes oil that yes, is deep underground but also oil that is far offshore, and in countries where harvesting the oil would be dangerous. That makes it less scary when people say that all of the easy oil has been depleted from the earth because there still is oil that is close to the surface, just not in convenient places.
I found it interesting that in some parts of the Arctic Ocean there are artificial islands erected for the sole reason to reduce the chance of massive icebergs crashing into the drilling platforms. To me, that is astounding that individuals will go that far as to erect islands to harvest more oil. Is there any limit as to how far individuals are willing to go in order to harvest oil?

-Davika

I remember the constant coverage during the Deepwater Horizon oil leak. Streaming video feeds from underwater cameras showed the perpetual flow of oil after the explosion and in the following weeks of recovery efforts. When the incident happened I would never have guessed it would take so long to stop the flow of oil. It didn’t even occur to me that we would be able to perform this sort of drilling, but be unable to swiftly resolve a leak. Yet even after bringing in countless experts and executing numerous ploys—“junk shots”—it wasn’t until months after the initial leak that the well was finally sealed off. No one was prepared to handle this event.

To hear Michael Klare say that we now have exploratory drilling in arctic regions in preparation for future drilling operations is alarming. The deep-water oil leak in the gulf was a nightmare to resolve, I can only imagine the fate a similar situation would have in an arctic region far away from the many support resources the Deepwater Horizon had within reach.

-Daniel

I liked the way Michael Klare described the definition of easy oil and tough oil. Easy oil is the oil that is easily reachable whereas tough oils are oils that are embedded far within he earth or in places that is very difficult to reach. Therefore, oil companies these days have invested a lot of money in building platforms, pipelines and machines to retrieve tough oils. It is really sad to see them investing all this money in trying to dig for tough oil instead of investing money to search for other alternative energy source. I guess it makes sense from both points of views. Oil companies already invested tonnes of money in this industry and it would be a big waste if they stop doing it. In my opinion, sometimes people just have to lose something in order to gain something. That being said, oil companies have to stop what they are doing and invest money in alternatives. This would really bring down the economy but it would definitely safe us from self destruction one day. I know this is really unrealistic due to the nature of human beings. We will use all the resources that we have until it is almost depleted in order to gain money. For me, right now, I really do think that MONEY drives the world today.

Josephine

A little thing in the Khan reading that caught my eye me is that renewable energy was ~8.4% of U.S. total consumption in 1972 and 7.6% in 1997. I wonder what happened during that slight decline. Otherwise, there weren't really any surprises -- developed countries consume the most fossil fuels, the environment is going downhill as a consequence of this usage, and oil has been the root of numerous power struggles. I do wonder how much exactly has happened since this book was published in 2008, with respect to the U.S.'s dependency on oil. The oil industry has constantly remained deeply rooted in big money, yet it is such a dynamic industry stemming countless consequences and narratives (as evidenced in the Star Tribune readings).

Margaux

Reading the star tribune six part series was a great article to read that helped gain an understanding of how the oil situation works. Based on talks I've had in the past with relatives that work in careers related to oil and from what I have seen in the news about how we target other countries that have a lot of oil, my overall outlook on oil has been negative. There are some benefits that come from oil, but there are also a few negative ones. The main one would be the fact that we try to gain oil from other countries. I'm not positive if this has a direct impact on gas prices, but with the prices getting higher compared to what they used to be it does make me wonder how much it affects them.

Energy and Technology has been a subject that I've always been interested in but never really cared to do anything about it because its all just politics in my head. Companies, agencies, and political officials all have their views and opinions on energy and how the future will handle it but, I am not sold on anything. For me to make a change on how I use energy, you'll probably going to have to make me do it. Checks and Balances are very necessary in the world we live in each and everyday of our lives. The more and more technology in regards to energy consumption develops, the more regulation and monitoring we need. Stats are just stats and nothing really happens unless something is done. When the public is informed about the usage and wasteful energy that goes down on a day to day basis, they freak out and find other ways to conserve energy while not realizing they are wasting it. I stick to the movies. I never worry about the future because I've seen plenty of images and portrayals of the future and believe me, nothing is too farfetched.

Energy and Technology has been a subject that I've always been interested in but never really cared to do anything about it because its all just politics in my head. Companies, agencies, and political officials all have their views and opinions on energy and how the future will handle it but, I am not sold on anything. For me to make a change on how I use energy, you'll probably going to have to make me do it. Checks and Balances are very necessary in the world we live in each and everyday of our lives. The more and more technology in regards to energy consumption develops, the more regulation and monitoring we need. Stats are just stats and nothing really happens unless something is done. When the public is informed about the usage and wasteful energy that goes down on a day to day basis, they freak out and find other ways to conserve energy while not realizing they are wasting it. I stick to the movies. I never worry about the future because I've seen plenty of images and portrayals of the future and believe me, nothing is too farfetched.


Abukar

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This page contains a single entry by Capper Nichols published on February 26, 2014 2:00 PM.

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