kids play at beach
The Tar Sands oil production facility in Alberta Canada out of sight out of mind?

Here are some facts about this unique, inefficient, oil production process:

Oil sands mining is licensed to use twice the amount of fresh water that the entire city of Calgary uses in a year.

At least 90% of the fresh water used in the oil sands ends up in tailing ponds so toxic that propane cannons are used to keep ducks from landing.

Processing the oil sands uses enough natural gas in a day to heat 3 million homes.

The toxic tailing ponds are considered one of the largest human-made structures in the world. -The ponds span 50 square kilometers and can be seen from space.

Producing a barrel of oil from the oil sands produces three times more greenhouse gas emissions than a barrel of conventional oil.

Conventional drilling for oil in environmentally sensitive areas only perpetuates the problem. We will still run out of oil eventually.

And the argument that oil production keeps the economy going is a weak one. Shifting the focus to oil alternatives will require just as much R&D and ongoing commerce.

Fixing the environmental problems we've created will require a huge amount of innovative technology, and humans like to solve problems.

Drilling a hole in the ground to find crude oil gushing up did not require genius. Time to move on.

Goobye Fossil Fuel!
via Steve

Now I used to think I was cool runnin' around on fossil fuel, until I saw what I was doin’ was drivin' down the road to ruin.” –James Taylor

As I write this President Obama approved oil exploration in the arctic, giving Shell the green light to drill two oil exploration wells 70-miles off the Alaskan coast: short-sighted policy deepening the country's commitment to oil. The focus must be on alternatives to fossil fuels.

Everyone needs to understand that fossil fuels are a finite, temporary, energy source. When the last drop of oil is pumped up from the Earth, that's it, no more is being created. Your gasoline powered car's fuel gage will be on empty with no way to drive it.

BP estimates we have 53-years of oil left based on known reserves and current consumption levels. The Institution of Mechanical Engineers estimates we have 40-years remaining. A key statistic is that only 6% of the world's population owns a car (surprising but true). As the population in many countries becomes more affluent they will buy cars and so the need for fuel will increase.

Oil production may have already peaked. As I write this (July 2015) fuel prices have declined in the US and that seems like good news, but how long will it last? Experts agree oil will become progressively more difficult to find and pump as reserves drop. So the rule of supply and demand will dictate price as supply declines and demand increases. Fuel price may be out of reach for many going forward as reserves become depleted.

Big oil likes the current situation, as do the owners of giant tankers and pipelines. Finding oil and bringing it to consumers is very profitable and relatively easy money. So over the short-term status quo will prevail until oil begins to run out and companies have no choice but to reinvent themselves—or ironically—go the way of dinosaurs.

Vehicles can run on ethanol, a plant derived fuel, but it requires a huge amount of soybeans or whatever to make, so a choice between feeding humans, or 'feeding' cars is a conflict. Biomass is a great source, ostensibly fuel from garbage, but again requires so much substrate to make that for now it's impractical.

Hybrids and 100% electric cars [EVs] are available and that helps reduce dependence on oil, but where does the electricity come from? Much of it comes from burning coal, another finite resource that contributes to increasing atmospheric CO2 levels. Check out the link above under "ENERGY" > "Calculate EV Emissions" to see the sources of electricity in your area.

I drive a 'clean' diesel that runs on modern low sulphur fuel, with up to B10 (10% biodiesel). It gets 40mpg city, and has gotten 62mpg highway, but diesel is not the answer. In Australia many vehicles run on low pressure LP gas, also not a solution to the problem. Fracking for gas is a disaster for the environment...but that's another article.

So how do we reduce our dependence on oil in the short-term? Drive less; carry more passengers for each trip; drive the most fuel efficient vehicle possible; take public transportation; ride a bike; walk!

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