What do you do when the power goes out? That situation might evoke the tranquility of putting down your smartphone and looking out the window for a few moments of quiet reflection. Or it might bring the anxiety of wondering if your indoor plumbing will freeze when the power fails on a cold, dark night. But what if it brought the panic of being in the middle of a difficult childbirth operation in a remote hospital that has access only to unreliable electricity generated by intermittent sources?
That is the painful reality outlined in The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, a new book written by Alex Epstein. With a background in philosophy, Epstein wonders why we all seem to accept that the world is “addicted” to our “bad” product while that same product provides us with a standard of living only available to royalty a century ago. With an unbiased perspective, he notes that increased fossil fuel use correlates strongly with increased standard of living, wealth, life expectancy, and food availability and decreased deaths from severe weather events. Why are we so negative about something that has done so much good for so many people?
Anthropogenic-global-warming activists argue that returning the climate to prehuman conditions is their ultimate goal, even if decreasing human well-being is required. They conveniently forget that the climate was changing before humans arrived, the climate will continue to change after we are gone, and that we have never been successful in attempts to “unchange” the climate. They endorse naïve energy alternatives at impractical prices or that are only found in science fiction. To their credit, science fiction does eventually come to pass sometimes; but, do we power hospital equipment with wishful thinking until then?
The US Energy Information Administration predicts that, from 2012 to 2020, subsidized intermittent wind and solar energy will nearly double from 3.9 to 6.5% of total world energy consumption. Meanwhile, natural gas provides reliable heating, cooling, and electricity at free-market prices for billions of people. Each year, gas-fired power plants allow millions of additional people to gain their first access to dependable electricity for lighting, smoke-free cooking, and, yes, 21st-century health care.
On the basis of long-term fuel-use trends, we can expect that, within a couple of centuries, the sun may provide the same large-scale, low-cost, and reliable power now provided by natural gas. Until then, I will take that rare opportunity when my office loses power to remember to be grateful for the standard of living that fossil fuels have provided for me and billions of other lucky people around the globe.
SPE 174852 Liquid Loading of Highly Deviated Gas Wells, From 60 to 88° by Y. Alsaadi, University of Tulsa, et al.
SPE 177567 Integrated Methodology for Production and Facilities Analysis To Optimize Barnett Shale Gas Production—A Case Study by A.A. Moniem Ahmed, Schlumberger, et al.
SPE 179537 Experimental Study on Revaporization Mechanism of Huff ’n’ Puff Gas Injection To Enhance Condensate Recovery in Shale Gas/Condensate Reservoirs by Xingbang Meng, Texas Tech University, et al.
SPE 180247 Infill-Drilling Opportunity in Fruitland Coal, San Juan Basin, Colorado by Prannay Parihar, Chevron, et al.
Scott J. Wilson, SPE, is a senior vice president in the Denver office of Ryder Scott. He specializes in well-performance prediction and optimization, reserves appraisals, simulation studies, custom software development, and training. Wilson holds a BS degree in petroleum engineering from the Colorado School of Mines and an MBA degree from the University of Colorado. He holds three patents and is a registered professional engineer in Alaska, Colorado, Texas, and Wyoming. Wilson serves on the JPT Editorial Committee and can be reached at email@example.com.
Gas Production Technology
Scott J. Wilson, SPE, Senior Vice President, Ryder Scott
15 October 2016