Friday, March 23, 2007

Peak Oil and Global Warming

How will global warming affect my lifestyle? How does Peak oil affect the Global Warming Theory?

These issues are both on America's social mind now as we are bombarded daily with the possible scenarios associated with each. I propose a new idea that connects the two issues to create a more probable scenario: Petroleum reserves will run out before the climate is substantially changed for the worse.

We have all seen the movie by Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth, and according to that idea, our use of Petroleum products is causing global warming. This idea states that by the year 2100 the sea levels will rise 110 to 770 mm (0.36 to 2.5 feet), causing widespread flooding.The world average temperature will go up by 2 to 5 degrees celsius causing widespread famine.

I see a few problems with this whole notion:

1) This assumes that we will still be using petroleum in the year 2100 when all forecasts show that oil is running out and world use of it will have to decline over the next 90 years until finally it will be too expensive and too scarce to be worth using. According to the Hubbert Prediction oil usage in the year 2100 will be about the same as the usage in the year 1930 and by 2150 98% of the world reserves of oil will be gone causing usage to drop to preindustrial levels.

As people look to other methods of energy production, petroleum will be phased out. Assuming that newer technologies and energy sources will be inherently less likely to produce CO2 and other greenhouse gases, then naturally the CO2 levels will even out and begin to drop.

2) Temperature increases of 2 to 5 degrees will actually add thousands of acres to the worldwide supply of arable farmland. This acreage is already beginning to show up in the northern United States and Southern Canada in the form of longer growing seasons and hotter summers. With a 5 degree increase in temperate these areas go from 220 frost free days to 265 frost free days. This part of the US and Canada represents vast tracks of land that is too cool for farming now, but becomes the world bread basket with just an additional 5 degrees climate change. As desert lands, already depleted and marginal, become unable to grow food, huge fresh tracks will become farmable.

3) As Co2 levels rise, temperatures rise. As temperature and CO2 increase, plant growth increases and absorbs the CO2. The higher the CO2 concentrations is the faster plants will grow. Commercial greenhouses actually supplement CO2 levels by burning methane or propane. Plants absorb CO2 continually during their growing periods in amounts equal to about 90% of the plants mass, so a plant weighing 10 pounds has absorbed about 9 pounds of CO2 to achieve that mass. A tree will absorb tons of CO2 over it's lifespan. As more land becomes capable of growing trees instead of just grass, more CO2 is locked into these long term storehouses.

Peak oil and Global Warming are intertwined in a way that each will be affected by the other. As Oil runs out more and more crops will be grown for bio-diesel. These crops will lock hundred of thousands of tons of CO2 into the green mass and will recycle the current CO2 levels back into usable fuels. Bio-diesels release 45% less CO2 than conventional fuels so the more we use the less CO2 will be released. I can actually see a point in the far future where low CO2 levels become a problem.

No comments: