Summary

In this chapter, we have discussed three compelling reasons why we should stop the combustion of hydrocarbons for energy. First: the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels is a major threat to the

Nordhaus, William D„ "Global Warming Economics", Science, Vol. 294, No. 5545, November 9, 2001, Page 1283

Editors, "Global Warming. Oh no, Kyoto", The Economist, April 7, 2001, Page 73

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environment because of land damage, smog, acid rain and changes in the composition of the atmosphere. Environmental damage and atmospheric changes may soon alter the weather and climate patterns of the earth resulting in grave problems for all its inhabitants. Second: hydrocarbons have extraordinary value as the source of chemicals used to produce the goods and materials essential to a high standard of living. Finally continuing escalating competition of access to the sources of fossil fuels has the potential to lead to international wars of unprecedented extent and violence.

The message of this chapter is common sense and urgency. There are finite amounts of fossil fuels and we will stop using them when they are gone. For petroleum, exhaustion of modest cost supplies will occur in 20 to 30 years and natural gas will be gone soon after. When oil and natural gas are depleted, it will be possible to switch to coal and oil shale for as long as 100 years, but then they too will be used up. If we take the route of continued exploitation of hydrocarbons for energy, it is not clear if humanity can survive the environmental damage, the material shortages or the competition for resources. Other life on earth may not survive the environmental damage. Since we will ultimately stop the use of fossil fuels when they are all burned, it would seem wise to plan now to stop their use in the shortest possible time. This will reduce the risk of long-term world altering pollution and save the resources for higher value use.73

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Chapter 2 will review the possible energy sources that can be used to replace fossil fuels.

"Preventing the Next Oil Crunch", Scientific American, Special Report, March 1998

Guide to Alternative Fuels

Guide to Alternative Fuels

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