Wednesday, August 10, 2011
The Peak Oil Crisis: Technology
Let's face it! The whole fossil fuel thing - widespread use of coal, oil, and natural gas could not have happened without technological advances.
Without the steam engine, the coal age would have been limited to a handful of people living near surface coal seams and burning coal for heat and cooking, and perhaps a little metal smelting. All the rest of the industrial age - the internal combustion engine and nearly everything else grew out of some technological development coupled and the abundant energy from fossil fuels.
So entranced are we with the constant advances in technology many among us simply can't believe that we will not find a technical fix for depleting reserves of fossil fuels. Some like hydrogen powered cars, others believe that nuclear fusion will soon be viable - there are many possibilities out there. The real question, however, is whether there are developments in the offing that can be brought into general use in time to prevent the obvious catastrophe that will result from the rapidly declining availability of fossil fuels.
There are of course many thousands of scientists and engineers around the world who are working on many aspects of how we can more efficiently utilize the remaining store of fossil fuels or replace them with renewable sources. One of the best sources of information on advancing technology as it relates to our energy future is an organization called Green Car Congress (http://www.greencarcongress.com) that for the last seven years has been accumulating posting to the web announcements, studies, reports, etc. that hopefully will move us beyond the automobile-as-we-know-it to a more sustainable age. What is of interest, of course, is that many if not most of the new technological advances being announced have a range of applications that go beyond the automobile. For example, a better battery for cars could be used in many different ways to store electrical energy for later use - think solar panels and wind generators. More >>>