My Daughter

My Daughter
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Thursday, February 03, 2005

No Hydrocarbon Left Behind

In our never-ending quest for energy to fuel the economic growth of our world, inventive humans have explored & exploited a wide variety of power sources.

The most successful of these endeavors are unquestionably hydrocarbons.

From coal & shale, tar sands & heavier bitumen, even bio-oil & methane deposits, (& plain old oil of course), the race is on around the globe to secure & develop these resources. Thousands of feet under water; locked in frigid arctic environments; strip mining the land; So devoted to the wealth of hydrocarbons, no stone will remain unturned.

Makes crack look like decaf.

Humanity seems determined to release every molecule of sequestered carbon we can find, and damn the consequences.

We hit the energy jackpot with oil over 100 years ago, and have proceeded to spend this wealth with ferocious abandon. Always with our eyes on the future, and in spite of the mounting evidence of depletion, it's always the same: What has oil done for me lately?

So, we scour the planet for this carbon energy which has skipped our species to the front of the line.

But as we reach a time of maximum production of these resources, it's becoming clear that our hydrocarbon party will begin to wind down.

Remember the childhood game of musical chairs?

All the players circle a ring of chairs while the music plays, and when the music stops, everyone sits down. Only each time, one less chair is available than before, and those left standing are out of the game. Players jostle each other for the remaining chairs. On & on until only a single chair remains.

So as our species plays musical energy, some of the players see where this is leading.

No more chairs for me.

Like the ghost of hydrocarbon past, come to show us the error of our greedy ways, depletion has become the Dickens of our time. But will we listen to the ghost of hydrocarbon to come, when he shows us our possible future? Will we ignore this wisdom until it's too late, or wake from our slumbering ignorance with fresh new eyes?

Will mankind ever emerge from our fitful youth and accept the plain truth before us, or will we simply make sure no hydrocarbon is left behind?

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