Sunday, May 22, 2005

Natural gas shortage: Will the cure be worse than the problem?

Searching for the Truth has a piece on unconventional sources of natural gas, some of which are thought to occur in amounts that could be scores of times larger than conventional reserves. These reserves even have the potential to move the United States to a self-sufficient natural gas powered economy, assuming they can be tapped at reasonable prices. The problem, of course, it that they cannot currently be economically tapped.

But, let's assume for a minute that they could be. The Searching for the Truth piece mentions the work of Dutch economist Peter Odell who predicts that the world will be running primarily on natural gas around mid-century or a little bit later. If this turns out to be the case, then because of the continuing influx of greenhouse gasses global warming will likely have accelerated to the point of no return. That is, we will be doomed to a self-reinforcing warming trend that will end with the extinction of land mammals including us and possibly much worse.

Is the natural gas cure to our energy problems worse than the problem?

(Comments are open to all. See the list of environmental blogs on my sidebar.)

1 comment:

Cameron said...

The danger in any culture whose behavior in a given area (cutting down trees on Easter Island to move statues, for example) is dysfunctional for the longer term, overall health of the culture (e.g. once the forests were gone, the island's soils were decimated by erosion, and the islanders also lost their ability to make sea-going vessels), is that as long as it is possible to continue the 'old' way, a culture will do so. Thus if we find economically profitable ways to obtain and utilize natural gas from the mining of solids, etc., we will. But in our case, the equivalent to Easter Island's 'deforestation' is the 'overloading of the earth-island's atmosphere with greenhouse gases'. It makes me wonder, is every culture's story doomed to end as a trajedy?