Big Oil Needs to Adjust to Non-fuel Long-term Business Model

The converging crises of carbon-induced climate destabilization and unsustainable transport-related costs and land-use are pushing global society toward a moment of major change, in which “fuel” as we know it will be less a matter of resourced-fuel combustion and more a matter of renewable clean electric power storage and delivery. The petroleum industry needs to adjust its business model to operate in a world where burning its prime resource is not the goal.

Until now, and even in the midst of the current ongoing energy debate, we are accustomed to viewing the onset of renewable energy sources and the interests of petroleum companies as diametrically opposed and politically incompatible. That idea is now easily seen as what it is: an ideological assumption based on a world-view informed by too few facts and too little understanding of complex interrelationships among resources, natural systems, and economic activity. 

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Raindrops New Source of Low-Intensity Clean Energy

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A new study has shown that raindrops can be used to produce electricity. The key is the mechanical energy of the raindrops, meaning the energy contained in their motion and in the way that force is diffused when striking a given type of surface. In this case the surface is PVDF (polyvinylidene difluoride) plastic, which is able to release a charge when temporarily “deformed” by mechanical activity, such as being struck by a moving object.

A sheet of PVDF just 25 micrometers thick (1,000 = 1 milimeter) receives the impact of raindrops, and the effect is the release of energy, which can be harvested and turned into electricity. Romain Guigon, from the research institute CEA Leti-Minatec in Grenoble, France, says the research shows that “even in the most unfavorable conditions, the mechanical energy of the raindrops… is high enough to power low-consumption devices”, but the study does not specify how well circuitry retains a minimum charge sufficient for regular functioning.

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Microwave Engine Applies Theory of Relativity, for Locomotion

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electromagnetic drive could make wings, wheels, combustion obsolete

A new breakthrough in propulsion technology may enable a fuel-free engine with no moving parts to use microwaves to push satellites through space and automobiles on earth. The science is complicated and controversial, but appears to be sound and takes advantage of Einstein’s landmark theory of relativity to turn contained microwaves into a propulsion system, in the form of a non-mechanical engine.

The electromagnetic drive (emdrive) system is revolutionary because it enables human technology to interact with the physical environment in ways previously only dreamed in science fiction. Observers have referred to it as a Star-Trek-style “warp drive”, though for now it is far less powerful.

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The 12-year Sea Change, the Green Economy

Between the years 2008 and 2020, we are likely to see a still unimaginably sweeping shift away from fossil fuels and high-contamination modes of powering our economy. The transition will have a political component, but will be driven mostly by cost concerns, resource scarcity, and public demand for cleaner air and responsible climate policy, a demand which is not ideological in nature.

The long-term overhaul of the global economy, to bring it in line with what would be a responsible climate policy, will be more gradual, and has for some time now been taking its first halting steps toward acquiring momentum. But wealthy countries, ostensibly the most dependent on carbon-based fuels, also enjoy the conditions that permit broader flexibility in fuel resourcing, namely an economic cushion and variety in the marketplace.

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The Time is Now, an Action Plan for Global Emissions Reduction

 

Due to the science we already have, the laws we have to govern our own activity and to force government to act for the public health, we face the real possibility of being forced, in American courts, in the future, to pay for damage done to the most affected populations in other parts of the world, as a result of inaction by our government. And if not in court, then as a matter of the de facto urgencies of international political stability.

If we do not find a way to work to mitigate global climate change, future generations will look back and will see clearly that a zeitgeist of selfish convenience and primitive disregard for the wellbeing of our fellow human beings led to a reckless attitude with regard to this snowballing crisis. The public voice, and those campaigning for the level of public respect needed for election to office, should bring this issue to the fore, push for real initiatives to tackle the problem boldly, in a collaborative way, now.

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