Earth Day Open Thread

I hope everyone had a good Earth Day!
President Touts Hydrogen-Powered Cars

From what I've read, hydrogen used in fuel cells is not an energy source, but an energy carrier.  And it currently takes more energy to separate hydrogen from water, or remove hydrogen from nat gas, than the end product.  One option was to use nuclear power to hydrogen from water, but that would be decades off, no?
Think of a hydrogen fuel cell as being like a battery, basically. In fact fuel cell cars run off of electric motors, like electric vehicles.  The reason for a fuel cell vehicle instead of a pure EV is because EV's currently don't have the range that drivers usually associate with gasoline powered cars.  A fuel cell powered car has a greater range. However, the cost of fuel cell cars is currently enormous.  Although I expect the cost will come down some eventually, I think fuel cell vehicles will continue to be cost prohibitive for most people, and I therefore expect that they will always be a niche vehicle, mostly for large, already expensive vehicles like trains, buses, semis, etc.  I recall reading that NYC is taking possession of some 500 fuel cell buses this year.  Plus, with advances in battery tech, perhaps eventually EV's will reach a range that they will be acceptable to Joe Commuter.  It appears to be a race against time at this point, however.  

As to your point about nuclear, there are a number of ways to produce hydrogen.  There is some flexibility there.  Nuclear is certainly in the mix.  It may not matter that much if fuel cells remain a niche vehicle.

That still doesn't provide an energy source. Where is the energy going to come from to separate hydrogen from water? I'm not going to mention nat gas because we're going to be hitting that peak as well.

I quote LATOC:

Alice Friedemann weighs in:

The laws of physics mean the hydrogen economy will always be an energy sink. Hydrogen's properties require you to spend more energy to do the following than you get out of it later: overcome waters' hydrogen-oxygen bond, to move heavy cars, to prevent leaks and brittle metals, to transport hydrogen to the destination. It doesn't matter if all of the problems are solved, or how much money is spent. You will use more energy to create, store, and transport hydrogen than you will ever get out of it.

If we could very, very efficiently harness solar, wind, & hydro power, then fuel cells could be a possibility.

Just a few ponts, after years of studying hydrogen, (remember, the most abundant element in the universe (!)

First, folks say, "hydrogen is only a carrier of energy."  Well, they actually have it a bit backwards...hydrogen is THE ENERGY, but it is aways bound to a more stable carrier on Earth, meaning it has to be detached from it's carrier to be useful as energy/fuel.

Secondly, where hydrogen can come from...again, due to it's abundance, it can come from just about anywhere...even you, when you pass from the mortal coil, will leave what will sooner or later be pretty much a cloud of hydrogen (methane) as will all living things...hydrogen can come from waste, from oil, from natural gas, from coal, from water, from uranium or Uranus or Jupiter!

Thirdly, On Earth, almost all hydrogen used for fuel or chemical industrial purposes has come from natural gas.  It's the cleanest and easiest way to get it (and has formerly been the cheapest way), but not the only way.  Some hydrogen has been extracted from oil and more importantly coal, but not a great amount. It is agreed that hydrogen from fossil fuels is a dead end.  If it is extracted from coal or oil, you still have the Carbon (CO2) problem (and greenhouse gas issues), if it is extracted from natural gas, it is cleaner, but we still have the limited supply and price issues.

Fourth, it is true that hydrogen can be extracted with renewables.  This is not science fiction and has been demonstrated by some very important research and by some major firms.  
Some fascinating links to get you started:

 Residential photo voltaic hydrogen production and use in a single family home:

 Xerox CAN Clean Air Now project, using PV cells to produce hydrogen for trucks, bus:

 An integrated approach:

 More efficiency analysis:

Lastly, take a look at Honda Motor Company's very well developed concept for the car, refueling, and solar PV hydrogen production:

The Honda work is stunning in it's forward thinking.  

Fifth, fuel cells do have a market, but it is limited at this point and may remain so.  The idea place for them is where there is ready supply of reasonably clean excess (cheap) hydrogen, and in a stationary application, and to make it even better, where their power to produce excess heat is put to use.  Of course, this would be the conditions found in sewer plants and landfill "gas" capture.  The ability of the fuel cell to use waste methane that would otherwise be a danger or an annoyance is great.  
In fact, if a large hotel, hospital, etc, uses it's sewage waste gas to feed a fuel cell, it can produce CHP (Combined Heat and Power) in great efficiency on site.  This is the as yet unexplored and fantastically promising world of Distributed Energy.  Decentralized, redundant, flexible, and efficient and clean, it could save America hundreds of billions of dollars in wasted energy simply by reducing "line loss" and transport costs of energy, and using waste and renewables in imaginative new ways.  There will be billionaires made in this industry IF it is true that fossil fuels are "peaked" or ever more difficult to recover.  

And lastly, the big picture, I mean the BIG picture:  Every energy industry, beginning with sailing ships (using the wind from the heat of the sun, itself hydrogen powered) to draft animals (fed from plants grown by the sun, hydrogen powered), to steam trains (coal, burning the hydrogen and discharging the carbon, hydrogen powered), to gas and oil (hydrocarbon fuels, burning the hydrogen discharging the carbon, hydrogen powered) to nuclear (enriched uranium to create heavy elements, and then collide the atoms together to release even the atomic force in hydrogen (they didn't build a "hydrogen bomb" and call it that for nothing!) hydrogen powered.

So will hydrogen power ever take off?  Well so far, there has been NOTHING ELSE.  The great possibility implicit in going directly to renewable hydrogen is simply cut out the waste of time, money, and resources that all the intermediate steps go directly to what sooner or later, MUST become the only possible path to the future, and the only one, that for all practical human civilization purposes is DEPLETION PROOF.
That is why Honda and others are trying to end run the game, and why, in the LONGER VIEW, President Bush, for one of the few times in his career, is right on the hydrogen future, OVER THE LONG VIEW.  They say even a stopped clock is right twice a day.  This may be President Bush's time, he deserves to get credit even if all he did was stumble blindly into the truth.

Great post.
ThatsItImout -

I'm afraid I don't share all this recent enthusiam for hydrogen. I sometimes feel like I'm the only person in a room full of laughing people who doesn't get the joke.

First of all, in terms of the possible role of hydrogen as a fuel, it is totally and completely irrelevant that hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. However, what is relevant is whether hydrogen, in the form in which it exists on the surface of planet Earth, has any available free energy to give up. That is the only thing that really matters.

But unfortunately, the surface of planet Earth is largely an oxidizing environment. Consequently, the vast majority of the hydrogen on the surface of planet Earth is water, which is basically what you get when you 'burn' hydrogen in the presence of oxygen. All the trillions of tons of hydrogen in the waters of the world do not have a single BTU of chemical energy to freely give up.  Ergo, water may be a source of hydrogen but it is not a source of chemical energy.

Now, as you have indicated, reduced hydrogen is present in both fossil fuels and biomass. But from a energy source standpoint, that too is of little relevance. If you separate hydrogen from either fossil fuel or biomass, you will not have a single BTU more than when you started, and in fact you will have significantly less because of the energy losses inherent in the hydrogen extraction process. Therefore, I do not view the hydrogen content in fossil fuel or biomass to be a separate energy source - just a different form of the energy that was already present to begin with.

In this oxidizing environment we exist in, the only way to get free gaseous hydrogen, i.e., hydrogen that can give up its free energy, is to make it. As you know, this can be done by electrolysis of water or through some of the more high-tech membrane separation processes. And that requires an amount of energy that has to be at least as great as will be released when the hydrogen is used as fuel.

So even in this sense, hydrogen cannot be legitimately be considered an 'energy source'. Rather, it is  a form of energy the was converted from some other energy input, or more simply, a means of energy storage.

If say we build a dedicated nuclear power plant that uses all of its energy output to manufacture hydrogen gas, the 'source' of the energy is the uranium and the 'form' of th output energy is the hydrogen. Such a scheme may have many benefits, but one cannot really say that we have converted to a hydrogen energy source.

In conclusion, one cannot talk about hydrogen without first talking about what energy sources you are going to use to make it.  

Thank you!  I sucked at chemistry, but I got enough out of it to be thinking along these same lines - I just didn't feel comfortable responding.  I did not see the connection between the abundance of hydrogen and the concept of it being the source of all energy.  

I will buy that for all practical purposes, the hydrogen "burning" in the sun is the source of all of our energy (maybe not nuclear power) - but this is not of any real importance, as hydrogen is not the form in which that energy arrives on earth.

If it is accepted that the ultimate source of energy is the sun then what we are trying to do is shorten the period from receipt of that energy to being able to use it. Fossil fuels are probably still being laid down but we do not want to wait the necessary millions of years before we can use them. Electric cars powered by PV cells achieve the instant transfer (sun - use) but are not efficient enough to do what we want and of course use up resources and energy in their creation. The Honda piece uses solar power, stores the resulting hydrogen which is then fast transferred to the car to be used. This is a great principle - the solar cells work away continuously then you come by to pick up the result - but the scale required is what, with current technology, defeats this as a viable substitute on the scale we think we need. All roads lead to less energy intensive lifestyle.
(Warning:  This is an involved post of some length but inclusive and wide ranging in what is covered.  There was no other way to do it, and explain the ongoing debates to my own satisfaction, debates on energy theory I have been attempting to resolve and to understand in an applied systematic way for over 30 years.  I think it is worth the read, but I speak as a biased observer, of course! :-)

First, thanks for a very interesting and thoughtful reply.  Great food for thought...

I only aim to clarify my thinking here, not argue with your major points, which I see as essentially correct:
Your first sentence,
"I'm afraid I don't share all this recent enthusiasm for hydrogen."

I am not sure I have great "enthusiasm" for hydrogen, it would be better defined a long time fascination with what has been a technical and scientific mystery.  You speak of a "joke", and I sometimes think that nature is playing a "joke" on us humans, and laughing at how hard we are trying to figure it out, it's like one of those "Chinese puzzle" toys with interlocking links, that look so easy but turn out to be very difficult, until you figure out that ONE twist of the pieces!  

Here we are, surrounded by hydrogen, bathed in sunlight, wind blowing our houses apart, lightning spitting out more energy in a month than we have used in our modern fossil fuel history and we can't find enough energy!
The jokes on us!

Nature goes one better.  It manages to "lock" hydrogen, or "bond" it to other chemical elements almost as a second hand operation right in front of us, and then de-lock it if it so chooses!  Think of the lowly fish, with it's magic "membrane", the gill, that splits hydrogen off water to get it's oxygen, talk about your "high tech membranes", or the leaf on a tree, a giant machine for converting energy from sunlight and carbon and spitting oxygen back at us, right in our yard.

Your remark that " is totally and completely irrelevant that hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe.", is in one way correct, but then...not exactly so.  That it is there and we are there also, makes the technical mind look at the possibility....but, you are again correct when you say "However, what is relevant is whether hydrogen, in the form in which it exists on the surface of planet Earth, has any available free energy to give up. That is the only thing that really matters."  True indeed.  If we then assumes that the amount of hydrogen is great (per our first discussion point "the most abundant element") and that it does contain great energy potential (and again, we assume it must, since all energy consumed by man to this point has been hydrogen based, as well as the example, the great poetic ones, of nature), then it becomes essentially a technical, not a theoretical problem.

Further down this string, I accepted with gratitude a clarifying way of talking about the energy supposedly in hydrogen from a TOD fellow poster called Step Back.  His more elegant and correct definition of the energy is and I quote:
" The energy is stored in the chemical bond" between hydrogen and the carrier, not in the hydrogen or other element it is attached to.  That of course is exactly correct, and much better than the way I and others here are trying to define the situation!

Thus, the whole effort must be in breaking the bond, but this is not as hard as it looks when dealing with fossil fuel, is it?  We just set it afire and burn the bond breaks, we get the destabilized energy, the hydrogen burns, the carbon goes off into the atmosphere as that not at all helpful greenhouse gas (CO2) and we have energy, usable energy!  What it took the sun millions of years to do, undone in a second!

 And of course, that's the issue. Another TOD poster, Jamie,  in this string said, "All roads lead to less energy intensive lifestyle."  

That of course goes without saying.For those who may see hydrogen as a road ahead to allow the prodigious waste of energy in the world I  would like to warn them that they will be sorely disappointed, and are just wrong.  If hydrogen as a "useful" form of energy is ever to occur, it will be, at least for the fist several decades a hard, expensive, and technically challenging route to go, and will not yield enough for DECADES for anyone to even think of wasting it.  All analysis indicates it will be VERY EXPENSIVE FUEL.  It holds the promise, however, of at least being usable energy, as the cheap dirty stuff gets harder and harder to find.  It offers a way to salvage modern technical culture to be carried on until a possible more prosperous future can take hold, and stability returned.

You say, near the end of your post, "So even in this sense, hydrogen cannot be legitimately be considered an 'energy source'. Rather, it is a form of energy that was converted from some other energy input, or more simply, a means of energy storage."  Again, that's true, but of course that's true of any energy source.
Even oil and gas are only "potential" energy until you go out and find it, gather it, transport it, refine it, design and build an engine to convert it or a burner to burn it, and a way of converting it's heat energy to mechanical energy.  It has taken almost two centuries and trillions of dollars, and even tens of thousands of human lives to do it. (and it is to be noted that as successful as fossil fuel has been, it still is not used but a great percentage of the world population in any real way.  Automobiles and electric power are reserved for the comparatively wealthy of the world)
So, oil and gas looks easy at the user end, with the infrastructure already built.  Back at the front end, no sane person could have bet on the whole venture (industrialism, the fossil fuel age) having any chance of success.  (Such it is now with hydrogen)

But fossil fuel had a great advantage.  Nature had done us a favor (or cursed us, depending on how you want to look at it!) by making the "bond" between the Carbon and the Hydrogen rather weak in fossil fuel.  Coal, Oil, and Natural gas can be "destabilized" very easily, with the millions of years of hydrogen "bonding" being undone simply by burning.  And with high hydrogen content (compared to say rock or dirt) it gave humans a "booster shot" of energy.

The issue we are now facing is that the "weak bonded" easy burning, and relatively clean burning  fuels (think of natural gas, just enough in the world to get us addicted to the sweet easy, to taunt us, and then...(:-(

So we began the mad hunt.  We used natures "energy batteries"(Alvin Toffler's great term in "The Third Wave") as we outpaced what the sun could do (grow trees, drive wind, grow food for out beast of burden) and tapped the reservoirs, first coal, dirty, too much "C" (carbon) not enough "H" (hydrogen) in the hydrocarbon mix, but it burned and was plentiful, then oil (a bit better on the "C" vs. "H" scale), then light sweet crude oil (pretty stuff, good "H" content, not so much "C",  sweet is the word!), and then this century, natural gas, the environmentalists darling for a while, closest to clean "H" on the scale, not nearly so much of the "C" problem....and we RACED through it, the light sweet and the natural gas went like crazy.  But now, they are expensive, getting rare:

We must go one of two directions:  back down the scale, looking for fuel even though it is "dirty", high "C" content stuff:  Heavy oil, tar sands, peat, and the hardest to "unbind", shale oil (which, as a technician once explained, is misnamed, having no shale and no true is essentially attempting to burn rock!), and back to coal, which although it is filthy, at least the "C" vs. "H" can be easily unbound, but at potentially horrendous cost on the "C" side, with tons of CO2 to try dispose of (a GREAT technical challenge).  

Or, we go to the top of the scale, and leave out the middle steps:
Try to unbind the "H" in water, where there is no "C" component, just release the oxygen "O".

Is it doable?  yes, we know it can be done.

 Is it viable?  We don't know, that will rely on the technical ability and the concentration of the effort.

 Will it be difficult and expensive?  YES.  IT WILL NOT BE  A FUEL THAT CAN BE WASTED.   It will be one of the greatest technical, economic, and organizational challenges in the world history.  

Should we start?  In small ways, we already have, and are now starting to unlock what can and cannot be done.


So, should we develop hydrogen using renewable energy?


While that is not exactly an "enthusiastic" endorsement of hydrogen, it is my view of why, in the end, we will move more and more in the direction of developing it, IF we hope to have anything resembling a modern technical state, with any hope of forward progress in making humankind at least "human" in that we are different that the animals, who know a future of only birth, struggle, breeding and death.

  In the longer view, all of what we now call "civilization", art and culture may find this struggle as the only way forward.  We are now preparing, in our small ways, to leave the "Carbon" age behind.  This is one of the biggest steps in human history.  There is no guarantee of success.  It is what Alvin Toffler saw and published in 1980.  We thought at the time he was exaggerating for effect, and engaging in hyperbole when he said it will be a change on the order of magnitude equaling when man developed agriculture, or birthed the shock of the rampaging, destructive and creative forces of the "Industrial Revolution".  This, he claimed, was the dawning decades of an era that would leave nothing unchanged.  The death of the Carbon age, and the carbon chase, and the birth of a hydrogen age, for the moment, seem the only path forward.

Sorry to go so long, and thank you for allowing me to expand in a real way just how I came to be, if not "enthusiastic" about the hydrogen economy (I was one who laughed at it myself only a few years ago) at least a thoughtful student of how it potentially could, and in fact, must be done.
Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

"Think of the lowly fish, with it's magic "membrane", the gill, that splits hydrogen off water to get it's oxygen, talk about your "high tech membranes""

Fish gills don't dissociate water.  Rather a fish combs the oxygen that exists in its free state between the water molecules.  This is known as dissolved oxygen (DO) and is what gets consumed in fertilizer driven algal blooms leading to fish kills, etc.  The gill is an impressive apparatus, but it is no magic membrane.  

Yup.  And that's why fish can suffocate.  The dieoffs you see when there are algae blooms, or when some clueless would-be fishkeeper puts too many goldfish in the tank.  

If fish could really break the bonds of H2O, the would never suffocate as long their gills were underwater.  But that is not the case, as any fishkeeper can tell you.

You might as well argue that we are going to run our economy off hydroelectric power.  After all, water is extremely abundant.  All we have to do is pump it uphill so we can run turbines with it when it comes back down.

I trust you see the error in this plan.  It will always take more energy to pump the water uphill than we get back from it.  

This doesn't mean it's not a useful technique.  We use it sometimes, basically to store energy during times of low demand for use during periods of high demand.

But it's not an energy source.  Because of that, we cannot scale it up very much.

O.k, I see I may have a bit of a problem with "terminology" here....Let me ask a few questions to see if I can kind of get re-acquinted with the version of reality I am finding here:

  1.  Do we agree that hydrogen would be a chemical element?
  2.  Do we agree that hydro-carbon fuels are essentially a mix of the two main chemical elements, hydrogen and carbon?
  3.  Do we agree that it has been a long standing practice to find, gather and refine the hydrocarbon chemicals and use them as chemical fuel?
  4. Do we agree that the use of the term "fuel" refers to a relatively useful burnable chemical, and that it is the hydrogen that burns that makes it such?
  5.  Do we agree that until the fuel is burned, it is only potential energy, whether it be wood, oil, gas, peat, tar sand, or whale blubber?  This is why we would regard tar sand as potential fuel, and at this time, limestone is not.
  6.  So when we say that hydrogen is only a "energy storage" not energy source,  that is also true of any "fuel".  Until it is gathered and in some way processed, it is not a power source?
  7.  If we need energy, and do not have any "liquid fuel" source, can assume then that we can only use solar, wind, tidal, or other forms of sun driven power directly, or is it possible that there is a way to extract a usable liquid fuel from a common element on Earth?
  8.  Can we assume that if we have NO readily available liquid fuel, water is a common store of hydrogen, which may be able to be extracted using some renewable energy imput, to make a desired liquid fuel?
  9.  Can we assume that if that's the only way to get a portable liquid fuel, then humans have two choices:  Either sit around on their lazy arse and say it cannot be done, and go back to Ken Deffeyes awaited "stone age by 2030", or get off our lazy arse and at least try to do it?

TENTH and final point:  I am just glad some of your guys were not around at the birth of the industrial age.  We wouldn't have had to worry about it's effects because you guys could have proved that IT COUND NEVER BE DONE.

Point 9. is becoming of extreme importance:  Here is the cutting edge of the discussion:  If you believe for moral or philosophical reasons, that modern technical society SHOULD not exist, then the pursuit of hydrogen or any alternative is inmoral and incorrect.  But this does not mean that it is a fanciful dream, or that it somehow violates the known laws of physics.  
I would in short like to deal directly with Leanan's sentence:

"You might as well argue that we are going to run our economy off hydroelectric power.  After all, water is extremely abundant.All we have to do is pump it uphill so we can run turbines with it when it comes back down."

I trust you see the error in comparing extraction of a chemical element from common materials (the birth of all chemistry in history) as different in not only degree but in kind from a perpetual motion machine, which is what you  are describing.  I am not an idiot, and appreciate least of all condenscending attitude, and will reply to such in like fashion.  I will go ahead and recognize your insult, but do feel compelled to let you know that I am fully aware of it's intentionally non useful nature to this discussion.  
Roger Conner  known here as ThatsItImout

Hydrogen does work as a vehicle fuel, but both making the hydrogen and making the fuel cells is currently very expensive.  Also, there are many unsolved practical problems with storing hydrogen in fuel cells.  

If they can vastly improve fuel cells, I could see hydrogen becoming the portable energy of the very rich.  I can't see it being cheap enough for the average person, or even for a break-even transit system, except in places like Iceland, where they use cheap thermal energy to make hydrogen.

A lot of energy that could go towards heating homes could be diverted to making negative-EROEI hydrogen, just as NG is now being used to make synthetic oil from bitumen.

One underlying point that I disagree with, that we need "liquid transportation fuels" in order to support an advanced, modern society that si quite livable.  It is NOT a necessity !

The Swiss got by in 1945 with enough oil to keep the US going for 19 minutes.  A long stable democracy, good standard of living and quality of life.

A better way than liquid fuels to provide energy for transportation is via a wire.

Limitations in several specific areas (farm tractors, fishing trawlers, airplanes going accross bodies of water (hard to rail more than 35 miles underwater) but methanol will do just fine for those limited requirements if we totally run out of oil.

Hydrogen is 1) not a necessity and 2) not a very good choice.  Methanol works much better for a "synfuel/energy carrier".

hello ThatsItImOut, I hope you don't mind but I've reproduced your comments about hydrogen on the comments section of the guardian after George Monbiot's article about hydrogen, I've only credited your screen name but I put a link back to this thread.
Thanks for the really helpful information :)
...and the article is here

No, I don't mind, and thank you for the interest and consideration, I have posted on UK TOD several times and enjoy the idea of a British audience! :-)
Roger Conner  ThatsItImout

(By the way, using only the screen name is fine.  My logic for beginning to attach my real name to my writing is that I feel we have let the "protective" anonymous nature of the web allow many to say things without having to take responsibility for what they said.  Think of it as a free way to "take charge" of at least a small portion of one's own life! :-)

Well, that clears everything up. I only have one question. Who is Roger Conner?

I am afraid that question is too philosophical.  I myself ask that question often enough.  Right now, just think of me as the person who has tried to break the TOD habit on repeated occasions, due to my extreme dislike of pessimism, but keep coming back for the fascinating and involved discussions, and then can't help getting embroiled in the debates myself!  :-)
Roger   ThatsItImout
Well, they actually have it a bit backwards...hydrogen is THE ENERGY, but it is aways bound to a more stable carrier on Earth, meaning it has to be detached from it's carrier to be useful as energy/fuel.

IOW..."Hydrogen is only a carrier of energy."

Energy is neither created nor destroyed.  When we "use" energy, we don't destroy it, we turn into different forms of energy.  Generally, far less useful forms.  That's the problem we face.  Not scarcity of energy, but scarcity of useful forms of energy.  

..hydrogen is THE ENERGY,

Interesting way of trying to say it ... but not correct.
The energy is stored in the chemical bond, more specifically in the C-H and C-C bonds which break in the presence of heat and oxygen to produce lower energy CO2 bonds (O=C=O).

Coal has little or no hydrogen. It is mostly carbon. Yet it is a source of what we refer to as "energy". The reason is because we live in an oxygen rich atmosphere and coal (C-C=C-...) has its higher energy bonds broken and converted into lower energy O=C=O bonds during burning of coal, this releasing excess energy in the process ... this being otherwise known as an exothermic chemical reaction (one that releases thermal energy rather than absorbing it).

step back, your exactly on!  I give the point on how to define, because your choice choice of words and structure of definition makes so much sense, and beats the "hydrogen is carrier"-something is energy", "hydrogen is energy-something is carrier" way of trying to think of it hands downs,
"The Energy is Stored in the chemical bond."  This defines exactly the way it works....break the bond, which gives up what the hydrogen is attached to, and destablize the hydrogen (by burning, or shaking those pesky little electrons loose through a fuel cell, and by jove, you've done it, energy!
Good job, and thanks for giving a much better semantic way of saying it!
This defines exactly the way it works....break the bond, which gives up what the hydrogen is attached to, and destablize the hydrogen (by burning, or shaking those pesky little electrons loose through a fuel cell, and by jove, you've done it, energy!

Not if it took more energy to break the bond than you ever get back.

Which the laws of nature and thermodynamics suggest will be the case. There's a reason why all that hydrogen is bound in the first place.  

For those people who want a more detailed refresher on their basic chemistry (energy of disassociation and formation of bonds), take a look here.
Damn second law of thermodynamics.
But we have such a wonderful opportunity, now that our government is not "reality based", to repeal the second law.  I am absolutely positive that some of those K-Street lobbyists can come up with something better!
Copper and aluminum wires are M*U*C*H more efficient carriers of energy (electricity makes hydrogen; Hydrogen Fuel cells make electricity, why go through the extra steps ?  And carry around that extra weight for a fuel cell & hydrogen ?))

Just use wire to deliver power directly to electric trolley buses, light rail, commuter rail and Rapid Rail (AKA subways).

Simple, efficient, VERY well proven technology.  Start building tomorrow with plans already in motion.  Miami is already committed and funded a plan to put 90% of the population within 3 miles, half within 2 miles, or a Rapid Rail station in the next 25 or so years.  1/2¢ sales tax just to build.

In color open or in active planning.  Darker brown is rest of plan.

Build all 103 miles in 8 years, not 25.  Repeat in city and city.

went to the main Earth Day gathering in central Tokyo yesterday. I've being going every year for the last 10 years and this was the most disappointing and least inspiring one yet. It used to be much better with many more environmentally conscious people. Now it just seems like another excuse to eat, drink, shop and watch a few live bands...So much for PO and GW!
Unfortunately I have to agree. Lots of hippy hats (that look like they've been made from the dreadlocks of real hippies!!) over packaged organic soap, new age jewellery, and plenty of bearded folk... but after the sign saying "EARTH DAY TOKYO" the messages about GW / PO / environment & conservation were a bit lost. :(
I went to an EarthDay gathering in Austin, TX today.  Our honorable Mayor, Will Wynn, gave a 30 minute speech about how great we are doing in Austin, holding the record for using the most renewable energy of any city in the nation for four years in a row.  He is currently the sitting Chairman of the Americna Council of Mayors Energy Policy comittee.

He noted that Austin has a commitment to meet 20% of all its energy needs with renewables by 2020, but hinted that it could be bumped up to 50%.

The Austin City Council approved on Thursday, April 6, two requests to purchase new power sources that will enable Austin Energy (Austin's municipality-owned electric company)to double its renewable energy supply and to proceed with plans to retire the Holly Power Plant next year.

One contract involves the purchase of the annual output of electricity for the next 20 years from 225 megawatts (MW) of new wind generators to be built in West Texas. That request is for up to $685 million of spending authority for that purchase. The new wind power will bring Austin Energy's renewable energy portfolio to 450 MW of capacity, 11% of its total generation demand and well on its way to its goal of 20% renewable energy by 2020. The contract with RES AMERICAN DEVELOPMENT INC., of Austin, requires the contractor to build the wind turbines and have them producing power by December 31, 2007.

He also mentioned that he has directed the city auditor to conduct a "Sustainability Study" for the city of Austin, specifically that pertains to energy, which should be ready soon.

He's up for re-election next month -- I wonder what will happen?

I am a wind supporter and your mayor is full of it.

Take those nameplate ratings and multiply by 0.21 to get actual average output (lower in summer unless from South Texas coast).  Without hydro or pumped storage, Austin will have problems keeping the lights one without buying power from others if they get 20% of their energy (about 3,500 MW nameplate of wind turbines).

Unfortunately wind can reduce use of Holly, but it simply cannot replace it.  Especially in summer when wind is at a minimum.

BTW, where is Austin's Light Rail (or Heavy/Rapid Rail ?)

Not that diesel powered commuter train to teh sprawl subrubs, but a useable rail system for the City of Austin ?

Oh, you voted it down in 2000 and forgot about it ?

Austin, is in the bottom half of US cities for "renewable Living",  Sprawl and freeways and soon tool roads EVERYWWHERE !
Once great potential, now lost.

BTW: I used to live there.  Could not stand the way Austin was becoming Phoenix.

I dunno about you all, but it sure seemed like everything on every network today was about oil and gas prices...right?  CNN especially, but a lot of other networks' lead stories, etc., etc.

Does it matter?  We'll see how it plays next week.

Prof. Goose,

Yes, you are correct. Lots on every station and in the papers about the price of gas.

Well I just had to laugh:

$4/gallon.... Nail in the coffin?

For the first time I have come to the conclusion that my beloved George Bush is blowing his Presidency. For quite a long time now, I have resisted and explained away every inaction on his part. It breaks my heart to see a guy who is so genuine and has worked so hard, and done so much good is incapable of communicating his accomplishments to the American public.

Now with an approval rating of 33%, and gasoline headed towards 4 bucks a gallon, the next poll will likely show him dropping further into the 20s...

ok. this is only humor.but methinks that's whatweneedeths.
those who love the bush,,,wait, those who can't get enough bush,wait, you know what I mean, if you like bush you won't like this . that doesn't make sense either
high speed only
I wish I had something constructive to offer to this site. please keep the data coming. I really do appreciate it
there's a e-mail going around that i'm sure everyone has gotten from multiple people on boycotting exxon etc. honor of earth day i sent a reply to all e-mail to as many as i could,saying:
please....exxon doesn't set oil prices , they only control 1% of the market...not buying from one company and then going across the street and buying from another changes nothing....want lower prices?....use less gasoline! peak oil and get an education!
Because oil is fungible you are obviously correct- but at the margin, we could make short temr profits slightly higher at BP, that is somewhat more open and environmentally friendly than Exxon and that, again at the margin, might stir the pot. Lee Raymond, though clearly not to blame for our situation, is not someone I would wish further riches on.
Farmers Step On Gas

A week after blockading food distribution centres, local farmers are ramping up their protest against the feds, saying they could block access to Ottawa's fuel distribution centres as early as today.

 Farmers had mused about targeting beer and liquor stores to keep the heat on the feds for beefed-up farm aid, but yesterday organizers said choking off the city's fuel supply could give them the short, sharp hit their cause needs.

Last night, organizers were keeping their plans under wraps but they were considering blocking access to Ottawa's fuel distribution depots on Merivale Rd. by this evening.

"Within hours, we can move," said organizer Paul Vogel of the dozens of tractors that would stop fuel tanker trucks from moving gasoline to area service stations.

If the farmers lay siege to the city's fuel supply, motorists could be seeing "out of gas" signs hanging from the pumps within 12 hours.

HA HA! Too Late!

We do apologise for fooling you into thinking gasoline could go on being provided.

Pawning for gas money "There's some irony in it also. People are actually pawning their rims and wheels for gas money," said Dio Barroga, another pawn broker.

I woke up later than I wanted to so I used my car to get to the bank in time, then took the train to the Makers Faire, that was pretty fun although with few exceptions it was an unconscious ode to cornucopianism. I did see a veg-oil VW van and an electric-only Prius, and a smart car, smart cars are those small ones right?

And Segway polo, #64 was Woz.

All in all paid about $20 to see some stuff I mostly knew about, get a bumper sticker and a set of chopsticks, and learn about a new metals supply shop I had no idea existed.

What's funny is, I'm living in the San Francisco area and have heard nothing about earth day on the radio or anything - the only reason I knew it was earth day was from reading this here.

Some of us spent the day in the woods doing a walkthru and completely forgetting about peak oil, global warming, etc..
I'm sure other people have already done a better job than I could, but I've written a critique of the Economist article on Peak Oil at my blog here.
I'll be sure to read it.  Like I said in HO's post devoted to it, the public debate on Peak Oil has moved to a point where these kinds of cornucopian fallacies need to be refuted in painstaking detail.
Generally a very good overview, and well researched and reasoned,  you make a compelling case, but you did drop one small bombshell confessional paragraph in there yourself:

"The sense of this depends upon the peak being far enough off that we have time to prepare - which is the gist of the Hirsch report, which argues that it will take twenty years of determined effort to switch fuels. The Economist is assuming that the USGS figures give that length of time. If they're right, then we really don't have anything to worry about. I don't think they are though."

Now I have gotten chewed out for saying, here on TOD and in a few other places, taht if Peak does not occur before 2015 to 2020, then the average schmoe on the street will never even know that it had occured, it will be about as noticable as the change from rotory dial phones to digital push button ones, or the older transition from silk stockings to nylon ones....a bit of a change in the user interface, a bit of old style class lost, nothing else.

The technical advances on reduction of fuel consumption are at this moment STAGGERING, and can be ramped up VERY QUICKLY once they are seen as competitive in the market place:
Electric Hybrids, Diesel electric hybrids, Hydraulic hybrids, extreme high mile per gallon commuter cars by way of extreme efficiency, witness Volkswagen's work: the_1-litre_car__.standard.gid-oeffentlichkeit.html

The car they already build, 78 miles per gallon:

The full elcetric 120 plus mile range fully developed prototype by Volvo:

The work by the Calcars group on plug hybrid "gridable" cars opens up stunning possibilities:
The major advances are underway in solar electric development, now moving even faster by way of "nanotechnology" mean that the "peak oil" problem, which is currently a "liquid fuels" problem would then become de displaced a great deal by "stationary renewable power."

If we can get under way NOW, and stay on course, we have the next 10 to 15 years to get through this transition.  By then, development on renewable hydrogen (which I explained in detail on another thread (the "Happy Earth Day" thread) will be at the front of it's growth period.

Your sentence again, referring to the amount of time the USGS projections give us.... "If they're right, then we really don't have anything to worry about. I don't think they are though."

I don't think the USGS numbes are right either.  They have seldom been in the past, so why would we trust them now?

But, with a concerted effort at conservation, clever fuel switching, Distributed Energy, waste recapture, we could still make the time frame that the wrong USGS projections give us productive, and use those years as the great transitional bridge period.  One thing we know:  We are NOT going to go down to the horse and buggy without putting up one h#ll of a kick arse fight! :-)  

One thing we know:  We are NOT going to go down to the horse and buggy without putting up one h#ll of a kick arse fight! :-)  

That is what most worries me.

About Hybrids, there was an interesting news item a while back -- Hybrids Consume More Energy in Lifetime Than Chevrolet's Tahoe SUV

For example, the Honda Accord Hybrid has an Energy Cost per Mile of $3.29 while the conventional Honda Accord is $2.18. Put simply, over the "Dust to Dust" lifetime of the Accord Hybrid, it will require about 50 percent more energy than the non-hybrid version.

One of the reasons hybrids cost more than non-hybrids is the manufacture, replacement and disposal of such items as batteries, electric motors (in addition to the conventional engine), lighter weight materials and complexity of the power package.

From Rajiv, we get <About Hybrids, there was an interesting news item a while back>, the post I am replying to.
First, the story was not a "news item" but a press release, with no secondary sourcing, from one interesting firm, CNW Marketing Research, Inc
To see how the smear campaign is fully in motion against any vehicle that frightens the automotive industry by introducing radical change, follow along with me, and let's have a look....

I would want to see who funded that study, and EXACTLY how it was conducted.  I am willing to accept that there is some penalty in fuel in building the battery pack, because that is such an "infant" industry.  The cost of "electric motors" should not be such a great penalty, and we must recall that the Toyota Prius and Honda hybrids have only one additional "electric motor" not "motors".  On the cost of higher energy cost for lightweight materials, that is probably true, given that most are "petrochemical" in nature, and steel is a very mature industry.  So, I was ready to study and at least for a moment to readily accept the conclusion of the article, until this paragraph:

"And while many consumers and environmentalists have targeted sport utility vehicles because of their lower fuel economy and/or perceived inefficiency as a means of transportation, the energy cost per mile shows at least some of that disdain is misplaced.

For example, while the industry average of all vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2005 was $2.28 cents per mile, the Hummer H3 (among most SUVs) was only $1.949 cents per mile. That figure is also lower than all currently offered hybrids and Honda Civic at $2.42 per mile."

I will leave it up to you to try to figure out how that could possibly be true.  The H3's I have seen are MUCH more complex than any hybrid, are very heavy (materials cost per ton for Hummer must be FANTASTICALLY low), are equipped with more comfort luxuries, and of course, consume far more fuel.  

Please assist me on this one, it is so far fetched that I cannot even begin a valid argument.

And note, I am leaving aside the fact that hybrids build a future bridge to gridable hybrids, and that Toyota is already GREATLY improving fuel economy on their newest generation of hybrids.  But read below the line hear for the good stuff!
By the way, I did take the trouble to go to the website of the Research firm that provided the source of the information in the Yahoo article at

It is to say the least, interesting.  On the About us page, here is their history:
Company Background  

Founded in 1984, CNW Marketing/Research began as Coastal NW Publishing Company. Through the years, clients and subscribers have spread from the Great Northwest to include every state of the union (except Alabama), Australia, Europe, Asia and Canada. Clients include major automobile manufacturers, banks and lending institutions, Wall Street brokerage firms and consultants. Besides publishing LTR/8+ (America's most quoted source of leasing information), CNW publishes new and used vehicle industry reference guides and study summaries, a monthly Retail Automotive Summary of sales and trends, as well as our online research distribution center, CNW by WEB.  CNW holds an annual conference in Los Angeles in connection with Time Inc. Mr. Spinella is available for Executive Sessions for a limited number of clients.

One link takes you to a page showing the companies or some individuals in the companies project car, an older MGB with a V8 Ford engine transplanted into it. (?)

Another takes you to a link showing a lake Retreat, very beautiful, called Vista Del Lago, which is being refurbished for conferences and "client to client" get togethers.

The plan for the "Executive" class customer:
And the cost:

Back around the hub to the  opening page, and we get a taste of who would pay to be at the retreat of this "unbiased" (?) market research firm:
"CNW Marketing Research's Vista del Lago conference center has hosted executive sessions for automotive executives. While some major renovations continue, the Center is accepting Session dates for 2007. 2006 is booked, but we can schedule sessions at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort or other Bandon top-notch facilities."

well, well.....hmmmm

While your at the page, take a peak at the market research firm's
"Purchase Path Wave IX Executive Summary"
The Automotive Purchase Process

CNW Marketing Research, Inc.'s latest wave of the Automotive Purchase Process is the culmination of a decade of research examining the new vehicle Purchase Intender.

This market study profiles these prospects and their use of information sources as they move through the purchase cycle. While the latest "wave" continues to examine the buying process by segment and brand, it also focuses on the issue of brand considerations and importance as well as how media and non-media sources work together during the purchase cycle leading the consumer to the final brand acquisition.

Areas that are profiled in the study include:

-- The size and income levels of the intender market.

-- Reasons why consumers enter and leave the new vehicle marketplace.

-- Consumer "wish lists" of products and services.

-- Sources of information and primary focus by brand (Audi, Ford, Honda etc.)

-- Tracking brand consideration on the consumer shopping list.

-- Conditions influencing brand selection.

-- Brand/model retention rates.

-- Brand/model loyalty rates.
Mr. Spinella seems to very active in the automotive sales trade, hosting conference events, this one for example for the American International  Automobile Dealers Association
Dealer Dialogue event, quote the purpose of the organization:
"One of AIADA's missions is to connect its members to the most influential people in politics, the media and the global marketplace. The goal of the Dealer Dialogue program is to provide our members with access to exclusive information on the economy and the latest developments in the auto industry."

In closing I have to admit that I wanted to hear a few quotes in the popular press from the founder of CNW Marketing Research, the sage firm that found Hummers to be more fuel efficient from cradle to grave than Toyota Prius Hybrids.  A breif google search yielded a few samples:
" Spinella agreed, saying Hummer customers aren't that concerned about the price of fuel.
 "They don't care if gas prices are $2.50 or $3," he said.
" It's still more important to have the right number of cup holders than high fuel economy. "

" Understanding why consumers buy new cars requires an understanding of why
they buy computers, vacations, investments and real estate.  Spinella says,
"Within a few years, less than a quarter of all consumer spending will be on
the 'necessities of life' -- half of what it was just twenty years ago."
Spinella will talk about consumers "Wishing on a Star" and how their desires
for automobiles and other products are changing as the new millennium dawns.  (Rmarks for American Marketing Association) TE=

"GM, Ford, Chrysler, most of the smaller Japanese brands have one enormous fear. It's called Toyota," said Art Spinella of CNW Marketing in Brandon, Ore.

"When Toyota says it's going to get heavily into the hybrid market and address the environmental concerns, you're spitting in the wind if you think you can run against that kind of attitude or competitor," he added.

Spinella on convertibles:
It's all due to the economy, said Art Spinella, who heads CNW Marketing in Bandon, Ore.

"Whenever the economy gets better, sales of convertibles gets better because it's a toy, an extravagance," he said.
"Men still buy the most convertibles, but the cars' popularity is growing among women, Spinella said.
Women, however, are becoming more concerned compared to men about the safety of a car with a removable roof.

In a study by Spinella's firm of those intending to buy a convertible, women said safety attributes were No. 1 or No. 2 in importance, up from their fifth-ranked concern 10 years ago. Among men, safety has remained a constant fifth over the last decade."

On fuel economy, from 2002:
"People want a vehicle that's the right size and the right price; right now, fuel economy isn't on the radar," said Art Spinella, an auto analyst who conducts consumer sentiment for Bandon, Oregon-based CNW Marketing Research.

Recent studies by CNW and Tustin, California-based AutoPacific found that fuel economy ranked in the bottom half of about 40 features customers said they considered important in a model, less than items such as exterior paint quality and dashboard design."

A collection of unsourced quotes, this guy likes to talk!

I will leave it at that, and leave you to judge the value of the "study" showing that a Hummer H3 is more Earth friendly and fuel friendly than a Toyota Hybrid, by the firm of Mr. Art Spinella, President CNW Marketing Research, which provided the "information that led to a mainstream web article on Yahoo with the provacative title,
Press Release
"Hybrids Consume More Energy in Lifetime Than Chevrolet's Tahoe SUV"
Source: CNW Marketing Research, Inc

Good work, can i suggest sending what you've found on CNW Marketing to Disinfopedia (CNW not listed currently), &/or write it up for, will save the next alert netizen digging time .
The whole thing puzzled me as well. And it sounded so outrageous. So I had to post it to the group to see if what others minds could tease out. But misinformation campaigns seem to be quite common these days.

We appear to be a society that runs on Marketing and PR, and there are no penalties at all for outrageous lying.

Don't trust those guys, they cheat (more on that below).

You know, I have and like my hybrid Prius, but I have become someone bored by the "hybrid hype" crowd.  At the start I would read their articles with interest, and some worry, to see what they were digging up.  Slowly though, I came to the realization that they always cheat.  I only have to skim their articles to find which cheat they are using.

Sometimes the are really sneaky.  They'll produce a short press release or news story that declares hyrbids lose (hybrids are "hype") and nothing more.  It may be a week or two before the details pop out.  In this case I can name one glaring cheat and then point you to a discussion with more.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that the avearge car in America lasts 152,000 miles.  The average light truck (including SUVs) last 180,000 miles.  That's an 18% advantage.

What assumption did CNW Marketing Research use in their study?  That cars last 100,000 miles and trucks/SUVs last 250,000 (or a 250% advantage).  Of course the Ford Escape Hybrid will come out ahead of the Prius when you use numbers like that.  Of course, you have to assume (in the face of the NHTSA's data) that the Escape Hybrid will last 250% longer than a Pius.

Do you suppose that this "marketing research" has a special benefit for SUV makers, given those lifetime assumptions?  Who do you suppose paid for this "marketing research?"

Anyway, my response is here:

more info here: =0&thold=0

I spent the earth day afternoon tuning up the commuter bike, preparing it for a ~600 mile bike tour. Rebuilt the front and rear wheel bearings, new rear tire and tube, adjusted brakes (gotta get new pads). Next week - check head set, bottom bracket and pedals. Shifters and derailluer are fine!

Enjoyed a few beers in the process and when done I stood back and marveled at what IMHO is one of mankinds greatest inventions. Elegant to look at, no waste, efficient, simple, addicitve, fun, and good for you. Simple is important - All my bike repair skills are self taught - I gave up trying to fix a car a long time ago. You need some special tools, but I just  have one small toolbox full.

A good outcome of peak oil will be more bicycles. I'm thninking I better stock up on teflon grease though.

FWIW (history), a self-contained 32 volt DC electrical system that included a large bank of batteries, a "windcharger" on a tower and gas engine generators available for rural US farms before the arrival of REA (Rural Electrification Administration?) power lines. A range of household appliances - irons, toasters, washing machines - and low voltage light bulbs as well as DC welders and other tools were available. The batteries were large square glass tubs linked in series and must have been 2 volts or so per cell. With the arrival of REA, the farms were re-wired for 120 volts AC and all the old systems went into the farm dump/boneyard.

Pictures are on this site:
"Windcharger" -

32 volt radio -

Memory recall stimulated by the post  on Alternative Energy Blog

Did you go to the illustrations of the ads of old Winchargers?  On the final photo, showing a large 4 blade turbine,  this statistic was given:

"The average electric consumption of an electrified farm home is about
71 Kilowatt per month."

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!

Given that the average electrified home in America is now about 6000 to 7000 kilowatt per month a growth of times X 100, what more can we say?

I had a coupole of interesting "Earth Day" moments yesterday.

First, I went to a talk by Tim Flannery, the author of "The Weather Makers" - the finest popular science book on climate change I've yet seen. He totally "gets" global warming, CO2, methane, the threat to the polar ice-caps, the current wave of extinctions, the positive feedback loops involved - the whole thing. He understands the enormous scale and miniscule timeframe involved, and is "very concerned", which is science-writer-speak for "scared shitless" about climate change. However, I asked him about how he felt PO would factor into the coming upheavals and might limit our ability to respond to either the energy or the climate crisis. I wondered whether PO, GW and human nature might form their own positive feedback loop that could hit mankind with a devastating one-two punch. His response? The rise in oil prices will make alternative energy technologies more affordable, so that Peak Oil rather than being a species-killer might be a golden opportunity. It was a classically facile economics dismissal.

I was shocked and disappointed that someone who gets GW so completely has so utterly failed to grasp the multi-factorial implications of declining petro-energy. He saw it simply as an economic issue, and felt that the solution to both the PO and CO2 problems was a revenue-neutral carbon tax. Now it could be that he does understand the issue and was simply staying on-message regarding approaches to CO2 reduction (and to keep from alarming his audience into inaction). But his failure to acknowledge the civilization-busting potential of PO, especially in combination with climate change, was disheartening to say the least. And his references to Brazil and cellulosic ethanol made me think I was listening to the last SOTU all over again. He gives every appearance of someone who has simply failed to do the math. Well, at least he saw through the chimera of hydrogen...

So if people like Mr. Flannery can fail to see the elephant in the room, I am even more pessimistic that anything will change on any level but the personal or purely local, at least until global oil production has dropped 20% and the pump price in the USA has gone to $10.00/gal.

The second thing I did was smaller, more personal, but ultimately just as satisfying.  I went to my local mall in the afternoon, and discovered that they had a Hummer H2 on display.  I bought a package of 3x5 index cards, and slipped one under each windshield wiper (two in front, one in the back).  They carried the following message:  "How many miles to the Iraqi does this  get?"

I stood back and watched as people wandered up to peer in the windows and ended up reading my cards.  There was no negative response that I could detect, and no one took them down.  The best incident I saw was when a 10 (or so) year old boy came up and read the question.  He called over his slightly older sister, they read it, and then he motioned over his parents.  His dad read the card, smiled, and had what looked like quite a serious little conversation with his son.  Ah, the sight of impromptu education!

My response to the Flannery thing is that some people think they can accomplish a political objective (a broad carbon tax) and pin their hopes on that.  If we got a broad tax, on not just oil but coal as well, then it probably would be all good.

I'd guess that your frustration comes from the expectation (that I share), that nobody is going to seriously carbon-tax coal.  If anythink I expect a "tax on the wrist."

I have two reactions to Flannery's proposal. One is that he is proposing a revenue neutral tax - offsetting the carbon tax by reducing income taxes - and I just don't see how that will reduce consumption, since the consumer has no overall financial incentive to conserve.  In addition, in order for the tax to remain truly revenue neutral, income taxes would be continuously reduced as the price of fuel rose.  I just don't see how it would work as a method to reduce demand or change behaviour.  If you want to do social engineering through taxes there are much more effective mechanisms - none of which are revenue neutral, which is the whole point of the exercise.

My more fundamental objection is that I don't believe that taxation or any other form of preventive social engineering can scale sufficiently to be equal to the problem.  This is especially the case when much of the problem is our underlying human nature.  Additionally, tax-based engineering is doomed to fail from a global perspective when some nations can achieve a relative (if short-lived) advantage by letting others introduce the taxes while they do not.   What tax manipulations might do is to create islands of local demand destruction that will support  pockets of lower-pain sustainability.  In order for the whole world to get the point and change their behaviour, however, only one mechanism will work incontrovertably  and universally - extremely high prices.

As a climate change spokesman Flannery is very effective.  As a Peak Oil analyst or even as an economist, I think he comes up a bit short.

He might visualize a carbon tax high enough to bring those "extremely high prices" of which you speak.
and then there's one of dave's favorite people in the whole wide world, the ever popular ,claude mandil ,head of the EIA. as mentioned in a recent bloomburg article:
The International Energy Agency's Mandil told reporters today in Doha that OPEC would ``just about'' meet the expected 25 percent growth in global demand over the next three years.

....meeting 25% growth in global demand....hmmmmmmm.
Surely some mistake here? In the article, I mean, you quoted it quite correctly. I don't recall anyone predicting so huge a growth in demand. Certainly neither OPEC nor anyone else could meet it.
But is the mistake Mandil's or the Bloomberg reporter's?

Darn, you guys keeping opening up new fronts so fast, and I can't resist looking at them, I am writing too much!  But, it's a weekend, and I can't resist...:-)
Let's look at the Bloomberg article paragraph, and try to see what they meant...

"Saudi Arabia will increase the number of oil wells it drills in 2007 by more than 60 percent to pump more oil and meet its goal of producing 12.5 million barrels a day by 2009. Current capacity is about 11.3 million barrels a day.

The International Energy Agency's Mandil told reporters today in Doha that OPEC would ``just about'' meet the expected 25 percent growth in global demand over the next three years."

Now, as you said, no one foresees a 25% growth in fuel consumption, so how is this explainable if it is NOT a misprint?

Non- OPEC prduction is suffering due to the decline in North Sea, Mexico, U.S. lower 48 and Alaska, while inner OPEC production is suffering from Nigerian disruption, Kuwaiti depletion, and of course, Iraq is almost out of the picture for now.

Of course, there will be growth in consumption, of say 2% a year, compounded, so that gets you roughly to what, 7% to 10% topside consumption growth three years out? (I'll take the 7% assumption at these prices)  But the depletion problem must be adding to demand for OPEC oil (this has long been suspected), so does the sentence mean a 25% growth in total demand from OPEC from where they now are?  Given they are now somewhere about 28 million barrels a day...that would 7 million barrels a day added by 2010, for 35 million barrels a day.  That would be a lot, but some may see that as needed from OPEC to make up for both growth in world consumption AND depletion of non OPEC production.  Do these numbers make sense?

Not to me.  I have long said, based on the history of production from OPEC and from readings by Matt Simmons, T. Boone Pickens, Colin Campbell, and others, that anything over 30 million barrels a day from OPEC is not sustainable for long, and that a sustained peak of 31 or 32 million barrels a day from OPEC would be nothing short of a miracle.  They are being asked to do much more than that and we are counting on it. My guess is still the magic number of 30 million barrels a day, no more.   I guess only time will tell.

To Thatsitimout:
Thanks for all the information today.  I learned a lot from your posts.  
I think a discussion about the Earth and the impacts on it that continued abundance of energy has had might something to reflect on while thinking about how another source of energy might work. The impact of the upcoming shortage will be very severe in my opinion, but one should also look at it from Mother Earth's perspective. And all the creatures of the world's perspective. And how energy itself is not the only sector with an impact on the environment, but abundance of production that is also allowed by the abundance of energy. Also, looking at the sociological ecology of the abundance of energy would be good to reflect on. And the fact that our environment is not just something that looks nice. It is something that will affect everyone for years to come. I do not pretend that anything anyone does is going to really have an impact on how the environment is impacted, but just thinking about these issues in this way in how Earth functions is always good to think about when thinking about any issue.