What if we stop producing fossil fuels?
So many people have been wrapped around the axle about "climate change," AKA "global warming." Our kids have been brainwashed in school about the perils of greenhouse gas (G.G.) adverse effects on the environment. The target G.G. of their ire is carbon dioxide.
As the "war in Ukraine" has evolved, there is a new clamor from the leaders in Washington, D.C. to accelerate the implementation of AOC's Green New Deal. But what happens if we cease using fossil fuels in the United States? I will focus on oil and gas production in this article.
When oil is produced from wells, the fluid that arrives at the surface is usually a mixture of petroleum, gas, water, and sediments. After initial treatment to remove water and sediments, petroleum is shipped to refineries to make various products such as gasoline, diesel, and aviation fuel. The gas, which is predominantly methane, also has gas liquids such as ethylene, propylene, and butylene. The gas is often sour and contains hydrogen sulfide and maybe some nitrogen components that have to be "sweetened" prior to shipping the methane to market.
Gas liquids mentioned above are but a tiny fraction of the hydrocarbons from oil and gas production. However, they are the building blocks for plastics, synthetic fibers for clothing, synthetic rubber, paint, resins, glues, containers, insulation, packaging, home cleaning products, and a myriad of other products.
What does it mean if we do not have these hydrocarbon building blocks? We return to natural fibers for clothing. Containers will be made from paper products or glass. As a kid, I enjoyed searching for tossed soda bottles to get the deposit money from the local supermarket. Some states who charge an exorbitant fee for plastic bottle disposal might not appreciate the lost revenue. Maybe we will increase aluminum production for containers. Aluminum requires a sizeable amount of power per pound of production. I guess we will return to waxed paper wrapping for children's sandwiches for school lunches. Forget about all those plastic containers. How about tires for cars? Someone had better get those natural rubber tree plantations going again. What about diesel-engine-driven trains? What about airplane travel?
One of the "bottom of the barrel" products from oil is asphalt. According to the National Asphalt Pavement Association, about 350 million metric tons of asphalt are produced annually from 3,500 plants. About 94% of all roads in the U.S. are asphalt-based. This industry will be terminated and probably replaced with concrete. Have you ever watched how long it takes to construct a concrete paved road versus asphalt? What about the cost differences, let alone plant replacements?
The cost of building products will soar, or we will revert to cinderblock construction similar to what you see in former Soviet Union countries. Companies like Under Armour are likely to go out of business. We will not manufacture hosiery, but we will be able to buy silk stockings from the largest producer of silk: China.
One of the main products made from methane is urea. This is the main source of nitrogen in commercial fertilizers. How are we going to produce food in the quantities required for a nation of 330 million-plus?
The rough value for oil and gas production in the United States at $50-a-barrel oil and being self-sufficient at 20 million barrels per day is about $0.4 trillion. Granted, this is only about 2% of annual GDP but think of the negative multiplier effect to all associated service industries down to the tanker truck driver and service station attendants.
If fossil fuels were completely replaced by electric power, the increase in transportation costs would be very high. Where are all the new green energy power plants going to be built? We know the NIMBY case of the proposed wind farm in Nantucket Sound that was killed by some of the same virtue-signaling politicians who like to sail their yachts there.
To implement a Green New Deal without a viable master plan is a fool's folly. There are plenty of them in Washington, D.C. that exemplify this trait.
Is carbon dioxide really the culprit that the global climate change alarmists claim it to be? Call me a skeptic, and Washington, D.C., stop using my tax dollars to promote this foolishness.
Image via Picryl.