That’s the snarky bumper sticker I recall from the late 1980s and early 1990s when the monkey wrench gang known as Earth First! was in its heyday. Why not: Earth First’s unofficial motto was “Back to the Pleistocene!” The perfect slogan, I thought, for reactionary environmentalism.
I’ve been meaning for a while to make note of the total collapse of one of liberalism’s most dear clichés about energy: that the U.S. “can’t drill it’s way” to energy independence. Funny: we don’t hear that much right now, do we? Because domestic drilling is exactly how the U.S. rapidly became the world’s leading hydrocarbon producer over the last decade—all without a federal government program and all without opening up ANWR in Alaska. As I’ve said many times before, but worth repeating again, on the contrary, if Washington DC had had any clue what was happening with the fracking revolution, they surely would have done something to stop it. It reminds me a little bit of Reagan’s quip when the economy started booming in the mid-1980s: “They don’t seem to call it ‘Reaganomics’ any more.”
The collapse of the anti-drilling cliché is joined closely with the close out of the “Peak Oil” club, as it is clear that hydrocarbons are much more abundant than the doomsters claimed. Whereas we used to think we’d run out of oil and gas within the next few decades, we may well have hundreds of years’ worth. It’s widely known that there are enormous amounts of methane hydrates at the bottom of the oceans, mostly uneconomical to produce now, but with improvements in technology this will probably change. The Japanese are hard after the problem right now.
And after we run out of methane hydrates in 600 years? Guess what:
Saturn’s smoggy moon Titan has hundreds of times more natural gas and other liquid hydrocarbons than all the known oil and natural gas reserves on Earth, scientists said today.
Wait—how did a bunch of dinosaurs get all the way out to Titan? That must have been some asteroid 165 million years ago!
The hydrocarbons rain from the sky on the miserable moon, collecting in vast deposits that form lakes and dunes. This much was known. But now the stuff has been quantified using observations from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.
“Titan is just covered in carbon-bearing material — it’s a giant factory of organic chemicals,” said Ralph Lorenz, a Cassini radar team member from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. “This vast carbon inventory is an important window into the geology and climate history of Titan.”
Cassini has mapped about 20 percent of Titan’s surface with radar. Several hundred lakes and seas have been observed, with each of several dozen estimated to contain more hydrocarbon liquid than Earth’s oil and gas reserves, according to a NASA statement. The dark dunes that run along the equator contain a volume of organics several hundred times larger than Earth’s coal reserves.
Proven reserves of natural gas on Earth total 130 billion tons, enough to provide 300 times the amount of energy the entire United States uses annually for residential heating, cooling and lighting, according to the release. Dozens of Titan’s lakes individually have the equivalent of at least this much energy in the form of methane and ethane.
So hydrocarbons are everywhere. I’m guessing some entrepreneur of the future may well figure out a way to mine Titan and ship the hydrocarbons home. We really will mine the other planets.
Pass the news: ruin an environmentalist’s day.
JOHN adds: Another thing you don’t hear anymore was once President Obama’s favorite energy meme: the U.S. uses 25% of the world’s energy, but has only 4% of the world’s petroleum reserves. That was a flat-out lie, as I wrote here many times, based on the fact that most people have no idea how the Securities and Exchange Commission defines “reserves,” as opposed to how “reserves” are defined in, say, Saudi Arabia. It’s nice to see that Obama has given up that particular deception.