In his letter “There’s no reason to change energy consumption” (March 11) Dean Carlson asserts that there is no reason to “radically change our use of energy and the world’s economic structure” simply because it can’t be proved that human activity causes global warming. To that I say: so what? It makes no difference whatsoever if the science is flawed or not. The world supply of crude oil and coal is finite and will eventually be exhausted. The global economy has become totally dependent on fossil fuels, especially petroleum, and we’re fresh out of dinosaurs to make more.
We talk about “energy consumption” in terms of powering vehicles, generating electricity, and heating buildings because that’s the lion’s share of it. But what about the hundreds of thousands of products we use every day that derive from petroleum? Where do those come from after we’ve pumped the last barrel of oil?
Once a gallon of gasoline or a ton of coal has been burned, it’s essentially gone for good. It’s possible to recycle certain waste products into the equivalent of light crude, but in 2005 there was but one plant operating in the U.S., producing a paltry 400 barrels per day. The United States alone consumed 20.7 million barrels of oil per day in 2005.
If the world supply of coal will be gone by 2065 as some folks estimate, we’re only one generation away from a very radical change in lifestyle. And there won’t be much choice in the matter.