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Untouchable: The Cimate Case Against Arctic Drilling


Untouchable: The Cimate Case Against Arctic Drilling

Hannah McKinnon

When you think of the Arctic, you may picture vast glaciers, frigid waters, miles of ice, and probably the quintessential polar bear. The Arctic has been the final frontier for centuries: the ends of the earth.


"Proven reserves" will be used in one grand game of liars' poker in some upcoming and yet-to-be-defined climate "deal". Big Energy knows this and is scrambling to piss on whatever it can claim to find. It knows they can't be burned, but do make excellent hostages. The hunt we see now is largely a prequel to what Big Energy sees as the "Greatest Show on Earth" (holding humanity hostage). The real question is whether or not THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH (nonlinear climate change) will render the former moot.


Bernie Sanders is drawing large enthusiastic crowds to his campaign speeches. Hilary might NOT win the primary.


That bit about fundamentalist sermons just confirming the arguments of atheists is laughing out loud hilarious. Too true.


Conventional pollution is a great argument against coal. Once coal is picked off, it becomes harder to justify leaving oil and gas in the ground based on strictly money arguments about the cost of putting up with oil and gas against the cost of replacing oil and gas with renewable energy and paying off the too big to fail oil and gas firms for their loss of sales to a direct government attack on them.


CO2 capture from ambient air is technically feasible and the closest thing to a technical fix we are likely to get. If federal government decides to scrape up money to fund engineering level R&D to try to get from technically feasible to economically feasible, it might be able to get from around $200/metric ton for CO2 captured from ambient air and compressed to about 11 atmospheres to use as base for fracking/hydraulic/heat-transfer fluid for enhanced geothermal systems down to about $50/metric ton (probable minimum cost end of 2014 price levels) and ask our too big to fail oil and gas firms to beta-test it for us in West Virginia which has almost border to border geothermal resource withing 10 km of surface but mostly at 150 - 175 C minimum usable temperature. Geothermal is sort of renewable, can be dispatchable much as hydro, would last twice as long between original drilling and first drilling of new hot rock reservoir 1 km below the first if both utility and firm doing the drilling and fracking could be persuaded to use it as dispatchable power 40% to 50% of time instead of 90+% of time. Also with re-drilling and use as dispatchable power, it might be feasible to keep drilling down another km every 12 years instead of usual 6 years long enough for the topmost hot rock reservoir to reheat enough to reuse. And enhanced geothermal system can hold as much CO2 as 15 coal-fired generators of same size. Conventional pollution is a good enough argument to destroy the coal industry and force too big to fail coal firms to settle for payments from the electric utilities to pay them something towards their loss of sales to renewable energy from equipment placed by federal government with utilities to replace their use of coal. It will be harder to argue that federal government should force too big to fail oil/gas firms to settle payments in lieu of being allowed to sell their products on the world market. Extreme inequality of income is depressing commodity prices, making it much harder for oil/gas firms to justify exploiting hard to reach, extract, and refine marginally exploitable oil and gas deposits. That should slow them down. It was only a major advance in technology that made many of those deposits exploitable while oil prices exceeded $100/barrel. With oil prices down around $50/barrel, it is not economically justifiable even with current oil and gas subsidies from federal government.


The second law of thermodynamics pretty much puts the kibosh on carbon sequestration technologies--unless they were to be powered by the sun. Then why not just use the sun to do whatever is to be done in the first place?