Net Energy-what Captain Cook didn’t know

We are not quite out of gas yet in the United States. But we keep steaming down fjords without outlets, turning randomly from one blind alley to the next in trying to adapt to our energy quandary. In Captain Cook’s case, he was exploring with zero information, so there was a good chance of failure. But when it comes to energy alternatives, we can avoid dead ends, since we have what Captain Cook didn’t have, information on the best alternatives. This post is about the science of net energy regarding those options.

Heroic Endeavor: NRDC Community Fracking Defense Project

Abandoned by the state of Pennsylvania and drilling company Rex Energy after the state’s testing found no evidence of groundwater contamination, distressed residents (whose well water is discolored and reeks, and whose families have suffered rashes and other ailments) had nowhere else to turn for clean water but their community. That’s when a group of area churches, including the Presbyterian church where my dad is a pastor, joined together to supply jugs and bottles of clean drinking water to affected families.

The energy-water nexus

The principal challenge of this century, in my view, will be adapting to a life without abundant, cheap fossil fuels. It has been the lifeblood of our society, and turns out to have some really fantastic qualities. The jury is still out as to whether we will develop suitable/affordable replacements. But additional challenges loom in parallel. Water is very likely to be one of them, which is especially pertinent in my region.