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Take this opportunity to unite our country, not divide it

Nothing - no one energy source - is a "panacea" in itself. Can't we all agree on that? Nevertheless, we seem to continue to publish commentaries and papers that insist on attacking a premise that no one asserts! Namely, I'm not familiar with anyone, not even Boone Pickens, who says that natural gas will solve all our energy challenges. Yet, the first premise attacked by most critics is that someone has said that natural gas is a panacea, or that natural gas can make us energy independent. Likewise about additional drilling - it's not a panacea, and it won't ever make us energy independent, but we need to do it!

We need to develop every sensible energy option we have - even fossil fuel ones - while we work on ramping conservation, researching and developing alternatives and transitioning our how we live, work and eat. It will take a while - Dr. Hirsch said 10 to 20 years. Why must we continue to develop fossil fuels, and even deploy natural gas in vehicles in the meantime, during the transition? Because vehicles and fossil fuels are too ingrained in every thing we are, and in every thing we do. We just can't change that overnight - we can't stop using them one day, and shift to alternatives the next.

In the meantime we've got to develop oil and gas reserves faster in order to compensate for the smaller discoveries that characterize the right hand side of Hubbert's Curve. "Saving" the reserves for a rainy day is noble thought, but not realistic with the serious situation we face. So if we choose to marginalize and destroy our oil and gas infrastructure - we will see what "Hubbert's Cliff" looks like, due to accelerating depletion. I suspect that the accompanying scenario would make Mr. Kunstler's novel look like a walk in the park.

Let's take this opportunity to unite our country, not divide it with a "fossil fuels bad, only alternative energy good" mentality. We'll be more "postcarbon" with every passing year - but we need to get on with the transition, quit bickering and pointing fingers while we continue to wisely develop and use the resources we have to get there as soon as possible.

The Future of Natural Gas: An Interdisciplinary MIT Study

MIT Energy Initiative
The Future of Natural Gas is the third in a series of MIT multidisciplinary reports examining the role of various energy sources that may be important for meeting future demand under carbon dioxide emissions constraints. In each case, we explore the steps needed to enable competitiveness in a future marketplace conditioned by a CO2 emissions price.

The first two reports dealt with nuclear power (2003) and coal (2007). A study of natural gas is more complex because gas is a major fuel for multiple end uses — electricity, industry, heating — and is increasingly discussed as a potential pathway to reduced oil dependence for transportation. In addition, the realization over the last few years that the producible unconventional gas resource in the U.S. is very large has intensified the discussion about natural gas as a "bridge" to a low-carbon future. We have carried out the integrated analysis reported here as a contribution to the energy, security and climate debate.

Our judgment is that an interim report on our findings and recommendations is a timely contribution to that debate. A full report with additional analysis addressing a broader set of issues will follow later this year.
(25 June 2010)
I know you are interested in diverse viewpoints, so the MIT paper is worth mentioning. -MP

Video of the BP relief well effort">
Relief Well Operations Overview - Kent Wells and Relief Well Team

(27 June 2010)
Currently there are many fine men and women working real hard, using billions of dollars of state-of-the-art equipment and techniques to control this blowout. Take a look at this video regarding the drilling of the relief well. -MP

Editorial Notes: Martin Payne is an Energy Bulletin contributor. Mr. Payne is an "upstream oil and gas professional with over 25 years of experience. Past Chairman, Houston Chapter of the American Petroleum Institute (API). Member of American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), American Solar Energy Society (ASES)." His blog is Peak Opportunities. UPDATE (July 5, 2010) Jan Lundberg, EB contributor and editor of Culture Change writes:
I see the author is basically an oil man and in good standing with API. But just because such a person acknowledges peak oil, does that make his statements worthy when they have no ecological sense or concern for the climate? He's also close-minded to life-style change. I know that it's foolish to believe people cannot go car-free overnight. Also, if fossil fuels are "part of what we are," then we deserve to drown in a BP blowout. The blurb you put on the home page for the article looked intriguing, although the title of his piece obviously pegged him as someone not subscribing to collapse likelihood. He doesn't get Hirsch. Hirsch did not say we have 20 years for a transition (Payne says "during the transition"). Hirsch said that we had 20 years before peak.
(Jan's comments were originally just to the editor, and not meant as a public rebuke of Mr. Payne. He later gave my permission later to have the comments published.) EB editor BA replies:
Energy Bulletin tries to cover a spectrum of views, as long as they are reasonable. I think Martin speaks for a number of people, including quite a few fossil fuels professionals, who have done excellent work researching and publicizing peak oil, for example at The Oil Drum and ASPO-USA. Just because an article appears on EB doesn't mean that the editors agree with the viewpoint. It means we think that it is reasonable and worthy of attention. I had thought of writing a response to Martin, for whom I have great respect in spite of not agreeing with everything he says. Just as I respect your work, without agreeing about collapse! If we compare the agreements (e.g., peak oil) with the differences (e.g., the importance of culture change), I think we'll find that we still have a lot of goals in common, and a basis for joint action.

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