Posts Tagged ‘energy policy’

An Energy Protection Force

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

I have been reading and researching more intensely about and the intricacies and intrigues of U.S. energy policy. I found an excellent resource in the comprehensive blog , as well as , and the . It was at The Oil Drum that I came across this video of Bill Moyers from June of this year. Moyers ties a few things together, and makes some assertions that are worth serious consideration:

Oil Power Contrasted Against Human Power

Monday, July 21st, 2008

put together a really interesting piece for that captures a number of perspectives on the value of human labor power as compared to the power generated by a barrel of oil, and goes some distance in explaining why oil is such an efficient energy source, and why we are addicted to it. The post is fascinating, especially as the conversation gets increasingly complex, so definitely read it. Here’s a quick overview of some of the calculations that inform the comparison:

  • One barrel of oil is equivalent to about 25,000 hours of human labor, which is about 12.5 years at 40 hours of labor per week.
  • The average American uses about 60 barrels of oil or oil equivalent (coal and gas) per year. This is about 360 billion joules of energy.
  • For a human to generate labor equivalent to the energy created by a barrel of oil would take an average of 10,000 hours would cost about $200,000 at $20/hour.
  • A barrel of oil generates 1,700 kwh. A human averages 150 kwh per year.

I suppose a subtext of this discussion is the hard reality that we are still very challenged to offer serious, viable alternatives to oil as an energy source. This reality, coupled with a history that has seen industry, and by extension our economy, establish and refine an oil based energy infrastructure over most of the last century, perhaps explains why we still struggle with energy policy and change. Oil has become an integral, integrated part of not only our economy, but also our culture and society. Creating change in this situation is analogous to turning the proverbial freight train.

The Price of Oil

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

The price of oil from 1990-2008

The graph above and the recent editorial by intersect with some grim realities. The steadily rising price of oil has created petro-authoritarian states that no longer see the United States as a nexus of power in the world. In fact, they actively work to counter American interests globally, and do so fairly effectively right now. Huge amounts of money is flowing into states like Venezuela, Russia and Iran, and power and influence follow money. Energy and security expert testified to Congress last week and pointed out that as oil approaches $200 a barrel, OPEC will have amassed the wealth to:

“…potentially buy Bank of America in one month worth of production, Apple computers in a week and General Motors in just three days.”

Gal Luft

In his editorial, Thomas Friedman points out that the really startling issue here is that despite the confluence of so many negative catalysts around oil for our nation, and catalysts that will have long term socio-economic implications for us as individuals AND globally as a nation, we still do not have an effective energy policy in place that moves us past this desperate reliance on oil. What is it going to take?