By Ronald Stein
There are extensive technical and lengthy discussions and proposed solutions, both pros and cons, about climate change, rising oceans, extreme weather events, the impact of emissions, net-zero, EV mandates, wind and solar mandates, pollution, temperature change, and energy subsidies.
The elephant in the room that is seldom discussed is the simple and easy to understand fact of life that the world is facing shortages of the same products and fuels manufactured from crude oil that were the basis of the planets’ population growth from one to eight billion in less than two hundred years.
A non-technical explanation for these upcoming shortages is that wind turbines and solar panels can only generate electricity but cannot manufacture any products for humanity.
With no backup plan to maintain the supply chain for all the products and fuels supporting the eight billion on this planet, the following should be helpful for new regulations, mandates, and laws that would restore sensible, affordable, and rational energy policies.
- Whereas, wind turbines and solar panels only generate electricity, but manufacture no products for humanity.
- And whereas, ridding the world of fossil fuels would result in a reduction in each of the following, as all these infrastructures exist because of the products manufactured from crude oil, that cannot be manufactured by either wind turbines or solar panels.
- And whereas that today, 700 oil refineries around the world are designed for specific crude oil feedstocks available to those sites, and then manufacture each 42-gallon barrel of oil into light and heavy hydrocarbon products available from that feedstock to support the world’s 8 billion on this planet that are dependent on the 50,000 jets moving people and products, and more than 50,000 merchant ships for global trade flows, and the militaries of each country, and space programs that are based on the heavy hydrocarbons for the various fuels manufactured from crude oil.
- And whereas, the future does not bode well as 20 percent of the 700 worldwide aging refineries are projected to close in the next 5 years that will result in less manufacturing with the loss of 140 manufacturing sites to meet the ever-growing demands of ships, jets, and the derivatives needed for all the products demanded by society. With less manufacturing in wealthy countries in the days ahead, further shortages and inflation of both fuels and products in perpetuity are guaranteed.
- And whereas, no new refinery has been built in America since 1977, 46 years ago, so the need for new American refinery manufacturing facilities to treat natural gas and/or coal may be a pipe dream to obtain environmental and construction permits for a new fossil fuel manufacturing site, when America is motivated to rid itself of both natural gas and coal, along with crude oil.
- And whereas those light hydrocarbons are primarily used for making the more than 6,000 products for humanity and the infrastructures that did not exist before 1800.
- And whereas, to achieve a world of only those light ends to make all the products now in society that supports lifestyles and all the infrastructures, there are thoughts among the green community that we can convert the existing old refineries to produce nothing but derivatives, and/or replace the existing refineries with derivative refineries, or just manufacturing those light ends. That may be another pipe dream as each refinery is designed for specific crude oil feedstocks available to those sites, and conversions may be technically too expensive and not even permittable.
- And whereas, a 42-gallon barrel of oil contains about 90 percent of heavy hydrocarbons for various fuels, and about 10 percent of light hydrocarbons that are the basis of thousands of products made from those oil derivatives by -products. We can’t squeeze more light-end hydrocarbons from a barrel of oil.
- And whereas, that such a switch of those old refineries to derivative refineries is a pipedream or an environmental and emissions disaster as 90 percent of that 42-gallon barrel of crude oil would need to be disposed of if not marketable as manufactured products like liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), automotive gasolines, jet fuels, distillate fuel oils, diesel fuels.
- And whereas, it was fossil fuels that made it possible for humanity to grow from 1 to 8 billion in 200 years, because they can be manufactured into thousands of usable, life-enhancing and life-saving products.
- And whereas, that “transitioning” humanity to just electricity means converting to wind and solar systems that can manufacture none of these vital products. That transition to just electricity will very likely cause the death of BILLIONS of people from diseases, malnutrition, lowered living standards and weather-related disasters, whereas projections of millions of fatalities from “carbon emissions” and climate change are based on computer models that take none of these realities into account.
- And whereas, the sites for the mining of materials required to build wind, solar, and EV batteries exist in developing countries that are under minimal to nonexistent labor, wage, environmental, reclamation, and worker health and safety regulations. The mere extraction of those exotic minerals presents social challenges, human rights abuses, and environmental degradations worldwide, but are of no significance to the wealthy countries benefiting from those “green” materials.
- And whereas, the climate cult COULD seek decommissioning and restoration standards in those developing countries down to the last dandelion, just like we have for decommissioned mines, oil, and nuclear sites in America, but the climate cult avoids the same in developing countries.
- And whereas, the life cycle for electricity from wind turbines and solar runs from design, procurement, and construction, through operations and maintenance, and repair, as well as the life ending decommissioning and disposal, but again, recycling and restoration of the landscaping back to its original pristine condition, is also not in the cards in the wealthy countries that are going green.
- And whereas, that ridding the world of oil, without a replacement in mind, would be immoral and evil, as extreme shortages of the products manufactured from fossil fuels which are supporting the 8 billion on this planet will result in billions of fatalities from diseases, malnutrition, and weather-related deaths. Shortages of fossil fuel products would necessitate lifestyles being mandated back to the horse and buggy days of the 1800’s and could be the greatest threat to the planet’s eight billion residents.
Before implementation of any policies that impact the supply chain of crude oil, a replacement must be identified that can maintain the supply chain of more than 6,000 products and various fuels that support the health and food requirements of the 8 billion now on this planet and the 50,000 merchant ships and 50,000 jets that are moving products around the world for global trade flows, and the military and space programs.
- Ronald Stein
- Ronald Stein is an engineer, senior policy advisor on energy literacy for CFACT, and co-author of the Pulitzer Prize nominated book “Clean Energy Exploitations.”
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