Last night I went to Macdonald Campus for the first of eight “Food for Thought” lectures about energy and fuel. The lecture was delivered by Douglas Lightfoot, a retired Mechanical Engineer and a member of the Global Environmental and Climate Change Centre at McGill.
Here are some things I learned:
- Sometime between now and 2040 we will start using more oil than we are producing.
- Two fifths of all fossil fuel is used to generate electricity, one fifth is used for transportation.
- There is a direct relationship between income and energy usage.
- Energy conservation helps, but not much.
- Improving energy efficiency helps, but not much.
- Ethanol is no good (it costs 1 unit of fossil fuel to make one unit of high grade ethanol).
- Kyoto doesn’t really work (much).
- The world uses over 450 exajoules of energy per year and rising.
- Over 380 exajoules of that comes from fossil fuels
- 1 exajoule = 28 billion litres of gasoline.
- Renewable sources provide less than 40 exajoules/year.
- Owning an SUV is the equivalent of owning four dogs.
- There is no viable alternative to fossil fuels at this time, except maybe nuclear fission.
Those statements are mostly based on solid scientific data, but 3, 4, 5, 7 and 13 are partly opinion based.