Fracking and Falling Resources
Probably shale oil extraction is going to be the only way the world can survive in its current form. I remember discussing shale oil extraction with my economics teacher nearly 50 years ago, and he was of the opinion that it would never become viable because of the cost. Due to the last 50 years and dwindling resources it has now become viable. At our current rate of consumption, we probably have 100 years for the economic shale fields, and 500 years for the currently non-economic ones, 10,000 years for the really uneconomic fields, then we might have to go for super-deep deposits. The idea that shale is pretty unlimited, or 10,000 years worth, is based on some sources needing more power to extract than you get from them. For gas due to its take-over of power we probably have 50 years worth. Wind, solar and wave is only useful if you have large local storage, of which there is none. At the end of 2019 there was no wind or wave power that generated even 1% of what was required for 5 solid days. Solar at night was 0% for that period and 2% of the daytime requirement. This is not uncommon for a few days, nuclear and gas providing all of the power, and gas is starting to show signs of restriction. Due to lack of foresight and cost, and market forces and profit driving down the resilience we get virtually all our gas from pipelines with a very small country stock, the last of a number of big storage facilities closed down a few years ago. If there is disruption on the continent I wouldn’t be surprised if in winter it goes to the highest bidder, and we have at most 5 days before running out. Think of how much our society runs on electricity to power everything, and gas for heating and power generation, and you see the looming problem. How do you run your central heating system without electricity? No power, no charging laptops or phones and no TV, Netflix or social media and no heating, even heat pumps failing. Water is normally purified by similar means to fracking, and we don’t live in a high stress zone for faults, but too much and even less stressed ones may suddenly slip, hopefully not too near a nuclear facility. I fear we are still backing ourselves into a corner.