Nobody’s Fuel

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:

  1. Sometime between now and 2040 we will start using more oil than we are producing.
  2. Two fifths of all fossil fuel is used to generate electricity, one fifth is used for transportation.
  3. There is a direct relationship between income and energy usage.
  4. Energy conservation helps, but not much.
  5. Improving energy efficiency helps, but not much.
  6. Ethanol is no good (it costs 1 unit of fossil fuel to make one unit of high grade ethanol).
  7. Kyoto doesn’t really work (much).
  8. The world uses over 450 exajoules of energy per year and rising.
  9. Over 380 exajoules of that comes from fossil fuels
  10. 1 exajoule = 28 billion litres of gasoline.
  11. Renewable sources provide less than 40 exajoules/year.
  12. Owning an SUV is the equivalent of owning four dogs.
  13. 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.

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