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“Fossil Fuels Have Lost. The Rest of the World Just Doesn’t Know It Yet”


“Fossil Fuels Have Lost. The Rest of the World Just Doesn’t Know It Yet”

Andy Rowell

Fossil fuels have lost,” argues Eddie O’Connor, chief executive of Irelands’s Mainstream Renewable Power company, before adding: “The rest of the world just doesn’t know it yet.”

O’Connor was speaking to the influential business newspaper, the Financial Times, in a must-read 4000 word article about the rapid energy transition that is taking place right now from cars to power plants, from solar roofs to wind turbines, affecting how we drive and power our homes and industry.


Joe Romm also reports, " The CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, Europe’s largest company, declared in a recent speech that the transition to a low-carbon economy is not just “unstoppable.” It is a necessity that “must be embraced” if an oil company like Shell is to survive and thrive. The low-carbon future, he explained, will be built around renewable electricity and electric cars." So, even big oil is finally beginning to take serious notice of reality.


Here in Alberta the Tar Sands have seen massive changes in ownership as the Oil Majors dump their assets. It is clear that at prevailing prices the Tar Sands are worthless. Similarly, the Saudis are selling Aramco because it has reached peak value. They dropped crude prices because Global Warming is not a hoax so sell the crude now, or not at all. Driving out tar sands crude does us all a favour. It is the worst crude to make a profit (the diluent used to liquify the crude is worth twice as much as the crude), the worst to refine (it needs an upgraded facility just to make it approach normal heavy crude values), the worst to pump by pipeline (it needs two pipelines to get to market - one to get the diluted crude to tidewater, and another pipeline to pump the diluent back to the wellhead for reuse), the most dangerous to move by rail (the diluent used to liquify the crude is explosive), and, the worst for pollution (CO2, petroleum coke, polluted water, and devastated boreal forest).
Yet Canadian governments support new pipelines. In what business fantasy world does increasing the supply of poor-quality crude, in a market flooded with high-quality crude, lead to increased demand and higher prices?


Hopefully I am wrong, but I think a certain Pollyannism coefficient needs to be applied to Rowell’s article. After a few years of progress, I am certainly not seeing any kind of transition to renewables or from fossil fuels in my area. I have pretty much every electric car charging station in the city to myself lately…


A world of denial is where! We progressives and the scientifically minded etc. can hardly believe that anyone can deny a melting ice cap, disappearing glaciers and year after year of warming global temperatures… but yeah …one thing can make any denial seem plausible…greed!

We tend to think that yes the greedy don’t care about anything but money but we still think that they know that their denials are false. So it shocks us when we see people who literally don’t know all that seems so obvious to everyone else. We wonder how could they not know?

And as always greed is the answer. They don’t want to know simply enough. So they avoid reading about the environment and dismiss facts with a mambo jumbo excuse now know as alternative facts. They literally don’t believe that oil ever fade from prominence. Why should they believe that it will? They don’t read about advances in solar and wind. Such advances simply don’t exist in their calculations.

Greed! They love it.


Maybe you live in the wrong area? Sometimes it is better to move to an area where growth, advancements, progress is really occurring, then to stay in an area where it is not (status quo, non-progressing).


This is good news. Always best to take all things with a grain of salt or two. None the less good news. We can hasten this by purchasing an electric vehicle (prices are going down, range is increasing and infrastructure is expanding) and getting our electricity from a provider with a renewable portfolio like Green Mountain Energy and Arcadia Power to name a few.


It sure looks like the right area to me… Uber’s world HQ for driverless car research, Google, Tech startups… and “makers”, Carnegie-Mellon University, Mayor Bill Peduto, Prof. Richard Florida (since moved to Toronto), fashionable $7 a pint brewpubs everywhere, Avocado on toast, bicycle lanes, those rent-and-drop-off bicycles (but only if you have a smart phone) small townhouses in formerly unfashionable working class neighborhoods, but now yuppie and fashionable, exploding 1000 percent in price over 10 years, young, rich, attractive nightclub-going Asian, and Indian, and upper-class USAns everywhere in the fashionable parts of town.

But few electric cars, more cars clogging the streets than ever, and declining transit ridership. Only unfashionable poor black people (not the fashionable ones from Africa or West Indies) ride the bus.


I wish it was as easy as deciding to switch from fossil fuels to non global warmth producing sources of energy. What’s involved is a major replacement of every mechanical contraption currently in use, the entire global life support system machinery. One example: How to manufacture enough clean running vehicles and get them to people and tow their old gas hog cars to — where?

How to close down the coal driven electricity generating plants and switch all electrical power over to solar, wind, geothermal sources without having to shut things down during the transition for purposes of rewiring,

Again, no matter how much we might want to, how deep and real our desire to have things be run clean and green, we are not in a position to enact this changeover by making individual choices. There isn’t enough time for social evolution to get us to that place. Not enough people even truly believe that a change of this magnitude is really necessary.

We can all do what we can in as many small ways as we can. But unless someone shows up who can lead humankind into changing how everything is done, the person I have called “Green Jesus,” causing a major transformative revival to sweep through the developed world, I have trouble envisioning how the needed changes can come about,


You are right that individual choice alone won’t be able to create such large change. Such a change will require the government to slake off their attachment to Big Oil. Unfortunately most of those currently in power don’t want to such a thing. It is the duty of Americans to vote them out. This whole problem is a mountainous issue and we very well might be unable to overcome it but we certainly will be doomed if we don’t try.


Human history will either show humanity coming together and pulling off a nick of time last minute saving of the day or there will be no history due to lack of readership.


I don’t believe global warming thoughts had anything to do with the Saudi’s flooding the oil market. Their actions put the brakes on the US (gas/oil) energy boom, tightened the screws on Russia (because of rock-bottom oil prices) while the Ukraine conflict raged, and ensured its enemy Iran would not get a big windfall as sanctions were lifted on the latter’s oil. In short, SA was merely attempting to continue its supply dominance as long as possible, and constrict its rival. Of course AGW and a transition away from oil is on their minds, but is not what motivated their recent action. This play, now abandoned, did not yield a windfall in profits, according to reporting posted here. The oil was sold at or below cost, and SA had to reach into its cash reserves to continue funding its welfare state. The most compelling motivation I see is an attempt to cripple as many competitors for as long as possible, and whatever benefit they hoped to gain would be after prices rise and they have product to sell but their competitors do not.


I don’t see renewable energy being all that significant yet. Less than 1% of the cars and light trucks sold in the US last year were electric, despite a lot of good press, free charging stations and massive subsidies. We have yet to fully experience the disappointment of the owners when the value plummets as the original battery arrays are expended. I have no doubt it will happen but I don’t think it will be very soon. Maybe towards the end of this century we’ll see the majority of fossil fuel use disappear entirely. Aircraft are currently an intractable problem.


Electric car sales are still more like 0.1%

The lithium battery systems currently being used in new electric cars are proving to be very robust and in most cases will outlast the car. They can then be used for fixed storage applications after that

But yes, right now, right now electric cars have terrible resale value - but that is not becasue of reliability of the batteries but simply because they are being rendered obsolete by the vastly improved range and declining prices of the newer models and the Federal and state tax credits and rebates available on new EV’s.


While people discuss the possibility of eliminating fossil fuel cars, let’s not ignore the danger of a disastrous side effect: total surveillance of people’s travel. This threatens democracy (see https://gnu.org/philosophy/surveillance-vs-democracy.html).

The danger is that we will have to use a driverless version of what Uber is now.

Uber requires customers to run a program that is proprietary and secret, controlled solely by Uber. Not surprisingly, the program is malware – it even tracks users’ movements before and after the ride.
(See https://gnu.org/philosophy/free-software-even-more-important.html for this general issue.)

Uber also requires users to identify themselves. You can hail a real taxi on the street and pay cash, but there is no way to call an Uber car or pay for the ride without identifying oneself.

Uber does many other nasty things – see stallman.org/uber.html. However, either of those two wrongs by itself is an injustice I won’t stand for as a passenger.

Uber is worse than merely an unjust alternative. It runs at a loss, aiming to kill off the other alternatives. If it succeeds, how then will we avoid being tracked in all our movements?

Driverless cars can be implemented in a way that respects our freedom. It’s not even difficult, not really. But that’s not what governments and companies will do if left to themselves. To get that, we have to campaign for that.