Paolo Chiocchetti tomjoad82 at libero.it
Tue Aug 12 14:09:47 MDT 2003

Xenon Zi-Neng Yuan wrote:
>hydrogen is not a source of energy.  it is only a form of storage, one with
>a net loss of energy at that.

True. I was referring to the projects of fuel cells or other hydrogen-type
engines, who (if developed) could probably consume many time less energy
than the oil-type engines.

>oil is a concentrated and easily manipulated (compared to coal) form of
>energy.  there is no replacement for it in the foreseeable future.  oil is
>originally the solar (and geothermal?) energy accumulated over *hundreds of
>millions* of years.  please show me how barges, trains, and airplanes will
>run on solar or any of the current or hypothesized "alternate"
>sources.  and how will 6.5 billion people be sustained with
>non-petroleum-based agriculture?  and what about plastics and the
>dependence of modern industry and medicine on them?

My thesis is that the future rising cost of oil would exactly:
1. lead to a growth of (economically and technically) exploitable oil
2. lead to oil-saving techniques to be used in industry, transportation,
agriculture, etc.
3. lead to the substitution of other energy sources (which will be developed
and perfectioned)
4. lead to new applications and technologies, which will be run better by
sources other than petroleum (like the transformation from the steam engine
to the fuel engine)

Some sectors will obvuiously continue to be run by oil for a good while (es.
airplanes, plastic...), but at that level of consumption the problem of
scarcity will be delayed for some centuries... Nowadays, a century after the
rise of petroleum, coal represent still 20% of the whole energy production,
and don't seem to become scarce!

As comrade José Perez pointed out, the problem with oil is not its scarcity
(at least for a century or so) but the its pollution effect. The same is to
say about the nuclear power, a possible heir of oil, perfect from the
energetic point of view but with big problems of security and pollution.

And I'm a bit more pessimistic than José: in my opinion capitalism tends to
follow short-term and individualistic interests, and the victory of an
enlightened line (about environment just as about welfare state...) almost
always require major and present dangers or a mounting pressure from
below... Otherwise, the option is usually to keep going, externalizing the
problems over the feeble (peripheral regions, powerless classes or


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