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View Diary: Oil Shale-the energy density of a tater tot (60 comments)

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  •  Exactly my point (0+ / 0-)

    Your facts are correct. I concede that. It's your frame that troubles me.

    You can't simply say "no" without proposing an alternative. Often, that alternative will be even worse than what you oppose. Do you really want what would have been extracted from shale oil to come from liquified coal?

    I imagine seawater and wastewater would be perfectly suitable for the project; and even if they aren't, what is extracted from the river can be replaced with desalination plants fed from the Pacific, which I imagine would be necessary anyway if your climate forecast is accurate.

    In the end, our way of life involves the use of energy, and any extraction of energy will disturb the environment. It's impossible to extract energy from the environment and not affect it. Remember that humanity comes first, and the environment second. We need to preserve the environment for our benefit, not curtail our energy use for the environment's benefit.

    •  I disagree with your frame (1+ / 0-)
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      We are of the environment.  Trashing it will cost far more in the long run, harming humans too.  The ideas that humans can modify the environment without end to its own purposes carries--always--unintended consequences. The precautionary principle suggests we tread with care.  Trash your own state, don't trash mine.

      The externalities of oil shale make it uneconomical.  If the oil companies can keep those cost externalized, its worth it to them but we bear the costs.  There is no sea in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

      •  Environmentalism (0+ / 0-)

        Yes, we are "of the environment". What does that platitude even mean, however?

        We tinker with our environment all the time. We've been doing that for over 10,000 years in the form of agriculture. We've been "genetically modifying" our livestock for about the same amount of time. Early humans in North America wiped out its megafauna.

        Over most of the course of human history, we've had no clue what the long-term effects of our policies would be.

        Yet the world has failed to end.

        Of course we can modify the environment to our own ends. The more we study biology, physics, and chemistry, the more effectively we can do that.

        We should nurture the parts of the environment that benefit us. But the parts that don't, we are right to modify or destroy. I don't have to worry about contracting malaria from some undrained swamp (err, wetland.) I don't have to worry about being attacked by wild animals. I no longer entertain the notion of actually starving to death. These miracles were all unimaginable to our ancestors 10,000 years ago, and they're the direct result of modifying our environment.

    •  Water Is A Deal Breaker (0+ / 0-)

      You clearly do not understand the water issue in large parts of the western U.S. - nor the scope of the water that would be needed.

      There is not enough waste water available.  Transporting waste or salt water also would require a lot of energy (that will put more carbon into the atmosphere), expensive infrastructure and environmental damage (salt???).

      As would the absurd plan to divert water from the Great Lakes, which would stir up over a century of heavy metals and unknown toxins in the sediment.

      Vicious water wars of the past will be nothing to what we're going to see in the next few decades.

      Technology IS part of the energy/climate solution - for more efficient technologies, solar and wind power generation, and better power storage and transmission.

      For the real technology lovers, consider solar power satellites, which more distantly will move the waste heat generation of terrestrial power out of the ecosystem.

      Don't place your hopes on energy technologies that divert resources and make our problems worse.

      McCain not Principled, just Wrong!

      by VA Gal on Mon Jul 28, 2008 at 11:55:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree (0+ / 0-)

        I agree. This oil shale scheme is a terrible idea. Like I mentioned, continuing to extract fossil fuels is a losing proposition.

        My objection is that the way the original author debunked the scheme doesn't help us any. The original article is merely a litany of evil. There is no context, no comparison with other energy extraction schemes, and no proposed alternative.

        I am sick and tired of hearing environmentalists scream "no! no! no!" to proposal after proposal without presenting any alternatives. It's just like how Republicans scream "no!" to any social program, but don't propose any method alleviate suffering.

        My ideal world is a sustainable one based on nuclear, solar, wind, and hydroelectric power. Solar power satellites would be great, but I suspect NIMBYism will doom them.

        However, on a pragmatic level, I don't think we'll see significant investment in renewables until fossil fuels are all but exhausted. The economic forces arrayed in favor of fossil fuels are too strong.

        The reason we continue to extract fossil fuels is that they're cheap. All sustainable alternatives involve harnessing either radioisotopes or solar energy, and in the case of fossil fuel, solar energy has already been harnessed and concentrated for us.

      •  Grr (0+ / 0-)

        I hate replying twice, but I forgot to make a point.

        Bringing in saltwater from the ocean, or replacing water taken from the river with water desalinated elsewhere, is possible technologically. You must concede that.

        It may or may not be economical right now. However, as the price of fossil fuels increases, it will become economical eventually, even if that means building a water pipeline over the Rocky Mountains.

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