Fossil Fuels Are the Future

You can imagine a world in which energy sources like solar, wind and biomass are the best and most efficient available. But here on planet Earth, fossil fuels are our best source of energy. Happily, as a recent Congressional Research Service report concluded, the country that has the largest total fossil fuel resources is not Russia or Saudi Arabia. It is the United States. In fact, the United States and the world have plenty of petroleum and coal to last more or less forever at what would be–absent atrocious government policies–declining prices.
Michael Lind sums up the implications of the development of extraction techniques that open up vast new petroleum resources in “Everything you’ve heard about fossil fuels may be wrong.”

Are we living at the beginning of the Age of Fossil Fuels, not its final decades? The very thought goes against everything that politicians and the educated public have been taught to believe in the past generation. According to the conventional wisdom, the U.S. and other industrial nations must undertake a rapid and expensive transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy for three reasons: The imminent depletion of fossil fuels, national security and the danger of global warming.
What if the conventional wisdom about the energy future of America and the world has been completely wrong? …
The U.S., Canada and Mexico, it turns out, are sitting on oceans of recoverable natural gas. Shale gas is combined with recoverable oil in the Bakken “play” along the U.S.-Canadian border and the Eagle Ford play in Texas. The shale gas reserves of China turn out to be enormous, too. Other countries with now-accessible natural gas reserves, according to the U.S. government, include Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Chile, France, Poland and India. …
Two arguments for switching to renewable energy — the depletion of fossil fuels and national security — are no longer plausible. What about the claim that a rapid transition to wind and solar energy is necessary, to avert catastrophic global warming?
The scenarios with the most catastrophic outcomes of global warming are low probability outcomes — a fact that explains why the world’s governments in practice treat reducing CO2 emissions as a low priority, despite paying lip service to it. But even if the worst outcomes were likely, the rational response would not be a conversion to wind and solar power but a massive build-out of nuclear power. …

As is so often the case, our biggest problem with respect to energy is that our political class lags far behind scientists and businessmen in understanding that America’s energy future will rest on fossil fuels.

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