Fossil Fuels

The Future of Energy: The history of human energy use


Today’s guest post by Whaleoil reader Bruce Alan Forbes is part of an article he wrote called The Future of Energy with predictions for 2040. As it is an in-depth analysis I have divided it into six posts so that we can discuss each part separately. Subjects to be covered are:

  1. The history of human energy use
  2. Wind power
  3. Solar power
  4. Renewable energy subsidies &?Options for Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions
  5. Nuclear, Gas and Coal-based Generation
  6. Man-made Global Warming and the Great Policy Error

The History of Human Energy Use – from Roman Times to the Present

For thousands of years, human economic and social development proceeded slowly, primarily owing to the lack of an adequate, low-cost supply of energy. In Roman times, the primary sources of energy were manpower and animals. There were some water mills and windmills, but only one known example of a power-driven mass production factory. This lack of large-scale, low-cost energy meant that anything that needed a large power output was extremely expensive and this in turn limited economic and social development.

This situation remained more or less unchanged until Thomas Newcomen built the first practical steam engine in 1712. This was used to pump out the Conygree mine in the United Kingdom. This engine, with an efficiency of less than 0.5%, started the Industrial Revolution. Ever since that year, engineers have strived to improve efficiency. Today?s steam turbine power stations, with up to 100 times better efficiency, supply low-cost electricity to people all over the world.

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Rodney Hide on the Greens’ peak oil conundrum

Rodney Hide gives James Shaw a good shellacking over his ‘peak oil’ craziness.

Let?s start the New Year on a happy, glorious note.?That means Green co-leader James Shaw.?He is the best thing to have happened to Parliament in years.

I could not make him up.?No one would believe me.?But there he is, a walking, talking political leader.

He is the best of fun but, sadly, too often his best gems disappear into the internet unreported.

I fear you missed his delightful 14 January press release headed, ?Cheap oil gives the opportunity to start exiting from it.?

That?s right. Oil?s cheap. So now?s the time to swap it for more expensive alternatives. Genius. That?s the power of corporate green speak.?Complete bollocks can be headlined by a political leader and go completely unremarked.

Imagine if oil right now was expensive. Would Mr Shaw declare that now is not the time to be swapping to alternatives?? I don?t think so.

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Oh why does God hate us so? ex-Green Taliban leader, on the way out to become a professional eco-terrorist, gets the last laugh


Russel Norman is buggering off shortly to eco-terrorist group Greenpeace, but not before leaving a landmine of his own behind.

Restricting public investment in fossil fuel companies, allowing beneficiaries more part-time work and the creation of a new watchdog to oversee intelligence agencies – a new tranche of members bills are set to go before Parliament.

Four members’ bills have been drawn from the ballot which decides which bills are considered by Parliament. ? Read more »

Fossil fuels are saving the world

Don’t listen to the Green Taliban…fossil fuels have actually saved the world.

Matt Ridley explains in the Wall Street Journal:

The environmental movement has advanced three arguments in recent years for giving up fossil fuels: (1) that we will soon run out of them anyway; (2) that alternative sources of energy will price them out of the marketplace; and (3) that we cannot afford the climate consequences of burning them.

These days, not one of the three arguments is looking very healthy. In fact, a more realistic assessment of our energy and environmental situation suggests that, for decades to come, we will continue to rely overwhelmingly on the fossil fuels that have contributed so dramatically to the world?s prosperity and progress.

In 2013, about 87% of the energy that the world consumed came from fossil fuels, a figure that?remarkably?was unchanged from 10 years before. This roughly divides into three categories of fuel and three categories of use: oil used mainly for transport, gas used mainly for heating, and coal used mainly for electricity.

Over this period, the overall volume of fossil-fuel consumption has increased dramatically, but with an encouraging environmental trend: a diminishing amount of carbon-dioxide emissions per unit of energy produced. The biggest contribution to decarbonizing the energy system has been the switch from high-carbon coal to lower-carbon gas in electricity generation.

On a global level, renewable energy sources such as wind and solar have contributed hardly at all to the drop in carbon emissions, and their modest growth has merely made up for a decline in the fortunes of zero-carbon nuclear energy. (The reader should know that I have an indirect interest in coal through the ownership of land in Northern England on which it is mined, but I nonetheless applaud the displacement of coal by gas in recent years.)

The argument that fossil fuels will soon run out is dead, at least for a while. The collapse of the price of oil over the past six months is the result of abundance: an inevitable consequence of the high oil prices of recent years, which stimulated innovation in hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling, seismology and information technology.

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James Cameron – Climate Hypocrite

? Not PC

James Cameron was welcomed as a land investor by Labour because he was not Chinese. But he is also a climate hypocrite, openly opposing Proposition 23 in California, all the while expecting “other people” to sacrifice, hoping no one will find out about his extravagance.

Prop 23 would suspend California’s AB32, Global Warming legislation which would require energy companies reduce their carbon output to 1990 levels.

James Cameron has donated $1m to oppose Prop 23, even though he hypocritically lives a carbon intensive lifestyle.