Oil: The Real Green Fuel
A rolling "dead zone" off the
Alas, I'm not talking about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. As terrible as that catastrophe is, such accidents have occurred in U.S. waters only about once every 40 years (and globally about once every 20 years). I'm talking about the dead zone largely caused by fertilizer runoff from American farms along the Mississippi and Atchafalaya river basins. Such pollutants cause huge algae plumes that result in oxygen starvation in the gulf's richest waters, near the delta.
Because the dead zone is an annual occurrence, there's no media feeding frenzy over it, even though the average annual size of these hypoxic zones has been about 6,600 square miles over the last five years, and they are driven by bipartisan federal agriculture, trade and energy policies.
Indeed, As Steven Hayward notes in the current Weekly Standard, if policymakers continue to pursue biofuels in response to the current anti-fossil-fuel craze, these dead zones will get a lot bigger every year. A 2008 study by the
Of course, that's just one of the headaches "independence" from oil and coal would bring. If we stop drilling offshore, we could lose up to
But wait a minute -- isn't that precisely why we're investing in "renewables," to free ourselves from this vicious petro-cycle? Don't the Billy Sundays of the
This is infuriating and dangerous nonsense, as
As for wind and solar, even if such technologies were wildly more successful than they have been, so what? You could quintuple and then quintuple again the output of wind and solar and it wouldn't reduce our dependence on oil. Why? Because we use oil for transportation, not for electricity. We would offset coal, but again at an enormous price. If we tried to meet the average amount of energy typically used in America, we would need wind farms the size of
If you remove the argument over climate change from the equation (as even European governments are starting to do), one thing becomes incandescently clear: Fossil fuels have been one of the great boons both to humanity and the environment, allowing forests to regrow (now that we don't use wood for heating fuel or grow fuel for horses anymore) and liberating billions from backbreaking toil. The great and permanent shortage is usable surface land and fresh water. The more land we use to produce energy, the less we have for vulnerable species, watersheds, agriculture, recreation, etc.
"If you like wilderness, as I do," Ridley writes, "the last thing you want is to go back to the medieval habit of using the landscape surrounding us to make power."
The calamity in the gulf is heartrending and tragic. A thorough review of government oversight and industry safety procedures is more than warranted. But as counterintuitive as it may be to say so, oil is a green fuel, while "green" fuels aren't. And this spill doesn't change that fact.
- Senate Challenge to EPA Climate Change Authority
- Oil: The Real Green Fuel
- BP Oil Spill: First, Do No Harm
- BP Gulf Oil Spill Could Spur Energy Bill
- Wave Power Could Reduce Dependency on Oil
- Americans Becoming Global Warming Skeptics
- Extreme Environmentalism
- Global Warming, Ethanol, DDT and Environmentalism's Dark Side
- Paying the High Price of Food Waste
- Do You Love Mama Earth?
- Obama's Climate Czar Working Toward National Energy Policy
- Obama's Offshore Oil Decision Has Political Dimension
- Climate Change Debate and The Future of Energy
- Dirty Truth About Air: Pollution's Effect On Heart Health Obesity and Fertility
- Climategate Shows There's No Global Warming Consensus
- Climategate Reflects Changing Debate over Global Warming
- Global Warming Fact Denial Won't Change Climate Back
- Watch What Obama Says Not What He Does on Cap and Trade Off-Shore Drilling
- Energy-Efficient Updates Help Homeowners Save Cash
- Going Green Is Good Business
- Small Town Grapples with Legacy of Chemical Byproduct
- Side by Side in Need for Green Growth: China and America try cooperation
- Jolt for Energy Innovation: Government Investing
- National Power Grid That Thinks
- Exxon: Slow Evolution of an Oil Giant
- Stuttering Start for Electric Cars
- Going the Extra Mile
- Front Line of the Climate War
Environment - Oil: The Real Green Fuel
(c) 2010 Jonah Goldberg