“Who Needs Geoscientists?” – Ask a stupid question…

Guest “who needs PhD’s?” by David Middleton

Mrs. Middleton sent me this little gem…

Who Needs Geoscientists?
Mike Simmons, Andy Davies, Andy W. Hill and Mike Stephenson
The evolving role of geoscience through the energy transition.
This article appeared in Vol. 17, No. 3 – 2020

Who Needs Geoscientists?

At the time of writing, the world is enduring the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the global economy is struggling. Nonetheless, we should look ahead to a brighter future and consider the role of geoscience once society returns to something resembling normality.

The start of the 21st century has seen unprecedented cultural and behavioural change as the energy transition accelerates. Geoscientists, who are fully committed to overcoming some of the societal and environmental challenges this raises, will see, in turn, a diversification of career opportunities as society and industry evolves. In addition to their domain expertise, geoscientists are typically skilled in problem solving, deductive thinking, data integration, and holistic approaches to assessing risk and uncertainty, as well as data visualisation in 3D and 4D. Consequently, they are well placed to help solve the energy and resource challenges of the future.

Prior to the pandemic dominating the news, environmental issues were being extensively reported, seldom placing geology-related extractive industries in a positive light. Consequently, there has been a dramatic decline in uptake of undergraduate geoscience courses. Many British universities are declaring a climate emergency, and encouraging geoscience departments to disassociate from relationships with extractive industries – particularly oil and gas.



My first thought was: What the Hell is GeoExpro doing publishing drivel like this? My second thought was, maybe it’s just a clumsy introduction. Being that GeoExpro is one of my favorite geoscience/oil & gas publications, I read on. On the whole, the article isn’t too bad… But there were some passages that simply defied credulity… Particularly the notion of an “energy transition”.

Who needs energy?

Everyone who isn’t fond of freezing in the dark.

Access to affordable energy is essential for economic growth and social development…


There is a clear link between energy consumption and life expectancy: compare, for example, the position of the UK to India in Figure 1. Globally, one billion people do not have access to electricity and three billion do not have clean fuels for cooking. This delivers a negative imbalance in both health and economic opportunity, especially for the female population in developing countries.

Figure 1: Life expectancy vs. energy consumption (data for 2014). Each coloured bubble represents a country, size proportionate to population. A clear trend indicates that greater energy consumption relates to greater life expectancy.

What energy transition?

Suppose they gave an energy transition and no one came? (Apologies to Charlotte E. Keyes)…

The fundamental question is: how will the rising demand for energy be sourced while minimising, and preferably reducing, related impacts to climate change? Renewable energy sources will form an increasing proportion of the energy mix, especially as the price of their supply falls. The EIA forecasts that by 2050 renewables will be the single most important source of energy globally – but in pre-pandemic supply predictions almost all energy sources see rises in supply (Figure 2) so by 2050 global energy will be supplied in almost equal proportions of oil, gas, nuclear and renewables, with only coal reducing


Did they feature this graph from the Energy Information Adminstration (EIA) to demonstrate the “energy transition”?

“Figure 2: Projections of global energy consumption (quadrillion BTU). By 2050 renewables will have become the most important energy source, but other remain significant.”

Because it sure doesn’t look like a transition, particularly on a stacked chart. If the EIA’s outlook is correct, we will be consuming a lot more renewable energy in 2050 than we are now… But we will also be consuming a lot more fossil fuels. Renwables, including hydroelectric, are part of “other.”

World total energy consumption by region and fuel
Sun Jun 14 2020 14:00:26 GMT-0500 (Central Daylight Time)
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

While renewables (other) will comprise a larger percentage of our energy consumption in the EIA outlook…

World total energy consumption by region and fuel
Sun Jun 14 2020 14:00:26 GMT-0500 (Central Daylight Time)
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

The sum total of “other” in 2050 won’t even cover the growth in total energy use between now and 2050 (if the EIA’s outlook is correct)…

2020Quad Btu
Natural Gas139.922%
Total635.079%Fossil Fuels
2050Quad Btu
Natural Gas198.922%
Total910.768%Fossil Fuels
2020 to 2050Quad Btu
Total Increase275.7
Other in 2050252.2

There won’t be an “energy transition” because there has never been an “energy transition.” We simply use more of “all of the above” and pile new energy sources on top of older energy sources. We consume more biomass for energy today, than we did before we started burning coal.

“There Has Never Been An Energy Transition”

What the frack?

Evolving Hydrocarbon Industry

Geoscientists working in the energy resource industries, especially oil and gas, face a challenge to be as responsible as possible in obtaining these resources. Across the industry, moves are underway to reduce the production carbon footprint and the methane intensity of operations, such as dedicated wind farms instead of sending electrical power from shore to run platforms.

Oil and gas exploration strategies are shifting from quantity to quality, with companies aiming to locate resources with the lowest carbon footprint and with minimum impurities (e.g. no H2S or low CO2 cuts) and selectively develop only the best.



No! At least not in these tenuously United States. We no more avoid H2S or and/or CO2 impurities now than we did in the 1940’s. If the economics of a project support the price discount and cost of handling the impurities, it will get drilled by someone. Sometimes, “impurities” can even add value to a project.

The deepwater Jurassic Norphlet play is one of the hottest plays in the Gulf of Mexico because it holds the potential for fracking YUGE discoveries… not due to the “quality” of the oil. Most shale oil production is light sweet crude, because that’s what’s in the rocks. The shale oil boom wasn’t the result of “exploration strategies are shifting from quantity to quality.” With about 2/3 of US refining capacity geared toward heavier, sour oil, we’d be better off with less quality and more quantity in our domestic production. The biggest oil field in the Gulf of Mexico, Mars-Ursa, actually rates its own grade of crude oil. It’s rather heavy (29° API gravity) and sour (2% sulfur).

Crude oils have different quality characteristics US EIA

Most of the heavy oil required by US refiners is imported.

The United States tends to produce lighter crude oil and import heavier crude oil US EIA

“Apart from that Mrs Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?”

Apologies to Tom Lehrer.

Apart from a glaring misunderstanding of the oil & gas industry, the article was quite good. It discussed many other areas in which geoscience expertise is important in our world. The authors were highly educated (three PhD’s) geoscientists. Two (1, 2) were R&D people with Halliburton Landmark. Landmark is one of the industry’s primary platforms for the interpretation of 3d seismic data. One was a shallow hazards expert and the other was with the British Geological Survey. Reading the article reminded me of something from early in my a career (around 1982). Enserch Exploration sent me to a seismic stratigraphy course in Houston taught by the late Robert Sheriff. Dr. Sheriff was a brilliant geophysicist. I learned a lot from the class and still refer to the textbook and course notes. When I got back to Dallas, our Chief Geophysicist (Leonard) asked how the course was. I said it was very interesting, but a lot of what was covered didn’t seem very practical. Leonard replied, “Yeah. Sheriff is really smart, but I don’t think he’s ever found any oil.”

On the whole, I would recommend the article to anyone with an interest in geoscience. While it wasn’t always practical, at least it didn’t go here… Nor will I.

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June 21, 2020 3:01 am

“When I got back to Dallas, our Chief Geophysicist (Leonard) asked how the course was.“

David you can’t call them Chiefs anymore. The cancel capture is working to remove it 🙁


old engineer
Reply to  Derg
June 21, 2020 4:36 am

I doubt it’s Indigenous people that are offended. After all it was the white man that called their leaders “chiefs.” It is more likely “woke” white people who are offend at everything.

Nick Graves
Reply to  old engineer
June 21, 2020 4:55 am

A Michelin-starred ‘cook’ in future?

Have these woketards really nothing more constructive to do?

Reply to  Nick Graves
June 21, 2020 7:49 am


F.LEGHORN in Alabama
Reply to  Nick Graves
June 21, 2020 8:19 am

Simple answer? No.

Reply to  old engineer
June 21, 2020 7:48 am

I’d be very surprised if they asked any native Americans if they were actually offended prior to declaring that native Americans were offended.
I remember the big fuss that is made every couple of decades of sports teams using native American symbols. When they took the time to actually poll them, they found that the only native Americans who were offended were the paid activists. The vast majority didn’t care, or recognized the complements that were intended.

Doc Chuck
Reply to  MarkW
June 21, 2020 7:40 pm

Well, the removal of native American power-bearing chiefdom imagery from sports teams and despising their former inclusion in films of the American west has rather effectively served to erase their historic presence from the continent in the minds of subsequent generations, except perhaps as contemporary operators of the odd gambling casino, presumably at least with chiefs of operations in charge. So was that the peculiarly incompetent intention of the hypersensitivity?

And now, through no apparent fault of her own, the likes of kindly (if you’ll excuse the expression) chef de cuisine Aunt Jemima is to be erased from any admissible aspect of African-American history, replaced by those more commendable present-day representatives looting store fronts on security camera and news videos. This is certainly a marvelously muddled appeal for respect following the very same witless direction.

Reply to  old engineer
June 21, 2020 9:34 am

I doubt it’s Indigenous people that are offended. After all it was the white man ….

The word indigenous is an adjective, there is no reason to capitalise it. No more than capitalising “white man”, unless you are following the new AP guidance where “black” becomes Black but white remains white.

“woke” white people are offended by WHATEVER you say, what is the point in pandering to someone who will be upset about something no matter what it is …. on someone else’s behalf, of course. Someone who is not offended anyway.

Rhoda R
Reply to  David Middleton
June 21, 2020 2:22 pm

That is very clever. If you don’t mind, I’ll be using “Wokestapo” in the future.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Derg
June 21, 2020 9:04 am

Are the French complaining?


Reply to  Derg
June 22, 2020 12:09 am

Maybe if they can cook it’ll be ok

Is ok ok ?

Reply to  Derg
June 22, 2020 11:41 am

as an american indian – i’ll be offended when the scandinavians are offended by the use of “Vikings” – and probably not even then

June 21, 2020 3:18 am

“Figure 1: Life expectancy vs. energy consumption (data for 2014). Each coloured bubble represents a country, size proportionate to population. A clear trend indicates that greater energy consumption relates to greater life expectancy.“

are you mad!???
plot car ownership/soil productivity/calories consumed/shoes per household/number of pirates etc against life expectancy and you’ll get a similar plot

just unbelievable!

Ron Long
Reply to  Ghalfrunt.
June 21, 2020 3:30 am

Life expectancy is a package deal.

Reply to  Ghalfrunt.
June 21, 2020 4:46 am

“car ownership/soil productivity/calories consumed/shoes per household”

Yep all the necessities of modern life

ALL from fossil fuels

And I bet you couldn’t do without any of them.

Even your pirate friends RELY on fossil fuels.

Mayor of Venus
Reply to  fred250
June 24, 2020 2:46 pm

No, pirates relied on Wind power for their sailing ships. And let’s remember that most pirates had short life expectancy.

Reply to  Ghalfrunt.
June 21, 2020 4:47 am

G, half-runt.. you really are on the defensive nowadays, aren’t you poor thing..

Reply to  Ghalfrunt.
June 21, 2020 5:03 am

Energy is necessary but not sufficient. All the good things that prolong our lives and improve our quality of life depend on energy.

We could have piles of cheap energy and still have mediocre life expectancy. Russia comes to mind. link, link

If you include oligarchs as pirates then life expectancy is negatively correlated with pirates.

Reply to  Ghalfrunt.
June 21, 2020 7:50 am

Ghoulfont, I know that you are being paid to make a fool of yourself, but everything in your list requires energy, either to make or use.

Reply to  MarkW
June 21, 2020 9:17 am

Well, maybe not the pirates. But the more energy the pirates use, the more successful they will be.

Reply to  MarkW
June 21, 2020 11:07 pm

Not sure about that, I use a lot of energy when I’m trying to make little pirates.

Reply to  Ghalfrunt.
June 21, 2020 3:59 pm

Are you the dishonest one who told people to drink bleach?

John Endicott
Reply to  Ghalfrunt.
June 23, 2020 3:28 am

plot car ownership/soil productivity/calories consumed/shoes per household/number of pirates etc against life expectancy and you’ll get a similar plot

Ghalfwit, with the possible exception of the pirates, did you ever stop to consider what all those things have in common? They all require energy consumption in their making or their use (or both). Rather than refuting the point you are unwittingly reinforcing it.

June 21, 2020 3:19 am

Very interesting thanks David!

Ron Long
June 21, 2020 3:27 am

Thanks to you for posting this report, David (and thanks to other half, another geologist). I studied the advice of another Texas geologist, T Boone Pickens, when working on M & A for Conoco (along with The Art of the Deal by MAGA), and know for sure if geologists/geoscientists are ever eliminated they will turn to whatever interest they have and be very successful. 2050 is a long way off, but fossil fuels and nuclear are sure to survive, because someday the “renewables” wanton killing of our flying friends will result in consequences. Stay sane and safe.

Reply to  David Middleton
June 21, 2020 5:05 am

Lately bats have got a really bad rap.
I heard stories long ago about the danger, on the opposite side of the planet from Wuhan.

Reply to  David Middleton
June 21, 2020 6:27 am

Its the droppings, when dry and dust spread in the wind.
After all, that is exactly what the Wuhan lab was categorizing.

Ron Long
Reply to  bonbon
June 21, 2020 5:24 am

Yea, but watch out for Bat Girl.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Ron Long
June 21, 2020 9:10 am

Did you find that article about the Bat Boy in the Guardian?

Reply to  David Middleton
June 21, 2020 6:02 am

Bats eat bugs and lots of them. They also carry diseases in their droppings. Be careful.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  rbabcock
June 21, 2020 9:12 am

The bats are being careful and dropping their feces in David’s chlorinated pool to be sterilized.

Reply to  David Middleton
June 21, 2020 8:17 am

Bat droppings aren’t good for the inside of that column. You may also need to wear a hazmat suit when tearing down the column prior to replacing it.

June 21, 2020 3:30 am

As a retired geophysicist, I have spent the past decade applying my knowledge and experience to the study of climate/CO2 concentration data. The results of my study clearly show that CO2 does not cause global warming or climate change. It is climate change that causes changes in the concentration of atmospheric CO2.

Consequently we do not need an ‘energy transition’, we need a transition to honesty and integrity in politics and science.

I can only assume that the three authors of the article in question have not bothered to analyse any climate data but have simply accepted the propaganda published by the UN IPCC on the mistaken view that the authors of those publications were ‘good fellows’, unaware of the attack that has been ongoing for a many years to destroy capitalism which has been so successful because of the use of cheap, reliable energy from fossil fuels.

Reply to  Bevan Dockery
June 21, 2020 3:59 am

Bevan Dockery June 21, 2020 at 3:30 am
As a retired geophysicist, I have spent the past decade applying my knowledge and experience to the study of climate/CO2 concentration data. The results of my study clearly show that CO2 does not cause global warming or climate change. It is climate change that causes changes in the concentration of atmospheric CO2.
why not share your proof that CO2 does not cause global warming?
Why not tell us with proof of course what caused the 1°C temp rise so far?

Any one can make statements without proof.

a search brings up “Shock Study: Atmospheric CO2 Levels Change With Planetary Movements”
“Researcher, Bevan Dockery, has previously published a study examining climate and CO2 levels confirming a skeptical position that carbon dioxide is not a driver of climate change”

It is interesting that this study does not say why the O2 levels change in anti synchronism with co2 levels – how are these tied in with planetary motion?:
comment image

Reply to  Ghalfrunt.
June 21, 2020 4:49 am

Come on half-runt,

Where is your empirical evidence that CO2 has any actual affect on climate whatsoever?

It only exists in unvalidated erroneous models

NEVER been actually measured.

Reply to  fred250
June 21, 2020 7:55 am

Data is to ghoulfont as sun light is to vampires.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Ghalfrunt.
June 21, 2020 4:56 am

“Why not tell us with proof of course what caused the 1°C temp rise so far?

Any one can make statements without proof.”

Why don’t you show us how you determined that the 1°C rise IN THE AVERAGE GLOBAL TEMPERATURE is caused by maximum temperatures going up and not minimum temperatures?

David Lilley
Reply to  David Middleton
June 21, 2020 5:29 am

How did Moberg et al get CO2 measurements from Law Dome up to a date beyond 2000. Surely the firn wouldn’t have closed up yet ?

Reply to  Ghalfrunt.
June 21, 2020 5:54 am


simply click on my name at the head of the article to take you to my web site with accounts of my analysis over the past decade. Otherwise go to

David Lilley
Reply to  Ghalfrunt.
June 21, 2020 5:59 am

“why not share your proof that CO2 does not cause global warming?
Why not tell us with proof of course what caused the 1°C temp rise so far?”

This is the usual attempt to reverse the null hypothesis, one of the standard tricks of Alarmists.

There are multiple lines of evidence that the world has cycled between episodes of warming and cooling during the Holocene, each lasting a few hundred years. These are not caused by variations in the level of CO2 which was relatively stable throughout these periods. They have natural causes. The null hypothesis is that the current warming episode is also natural. There is no need for Realists to disprove the CO2 hypothesis or prove an alternative hypothesis. It is up to Alarmists to disprove the null hypothesis.

Abolition Man
Reply to  David Lilley
June 21, 2020 6:41 am

As the first of the above graphs shows, we have been in a steady decline in CO2 for over 150My now. I would love for halfrunt or any other CAGW alarmist to explain what the cause of this decline is and how they propose to reverse it.
CO2 is really a miracle gas, as it is the basis for nearly all life on Earth and yet the “alarmist” crowd is claiming it is a dangerous pollutant. That is as nonsensical as claiming oxygen is harmful because it causes corrosion and fires!
My personal belief is that Mother Gaia asked God, the Father, to save her poor, helpless planetary life forms from a slow lingering death due to CO2 starvation. God, the Father, looked at the life on Earth and saw, that while there were many problems, it was Good! He then created petroleum geologists to save Life on Earth by producing abundant CO2 with it’s related wealth and freedom. That makes at least as much sense as the “CO2 is evil and we’re all gonna die” religion of Climastrology!
I can see the headline now: “Geoscientists Expose Climate Alarmist Scam!” Of course this can not happen until we leave the Age of Propaganda that we are stuck in at the moment!

Reply to  David Lilley
June 21, 2020 7:24 am

The Scientific Method is nearly dead…it’s on life support nearly everywhere.

It is “way dead” amongst Climate Scientists. The Null Hypothesis (natural trend) isn’t even being addressed or discussed, let alone vigorously studied.

To refine the “Climate Alarm” hypothesis (toward proof…not to have proof) they are required to devise tests or arguments that could disprove their hypotheses that would bolster their position if the tests failed. None of that has been done or is being done. And nobody talks about it.

The very Opposite is being done…doing hundreds of studies (in often in only vaguely related fields) that *seem* to support the hypothesis. That is conformation bias run amok. The Scientific Method exists *primarily* to get to the truth by active negation of confirmation bias.

Scientists that aren’t “calling” Climate Science on this travesty aren’t real scientists jealously seeking the truth. They are liars covering up lies.

HD Hoese
Reply to  DocSiders
June 21, 2020 9:17 am

Not quite “way dead,” the statisticians, descending from those who taught us, are speaking out. Somebody listened, only been warned for, date uncertain, many eclipses.

Smith, E.P. Ending Reliance on Statistical Significance Will Improve Environmental Inference and Communication. Estuaries and Coasts 43, 1–6 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12237-019-00679-y

Also, a modeler has discovered that the ocean is three-dimensional. Should have asked a shrimper decades ago. Scavia, D., et al., 2019. Hypoxic volume is more responsive than hypoxic area to nutrient load reductions in the northern Gulf of Mexico—and it matters to fish and fisheries. Environmental Research Letters.14(2)024012. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aaf938

Reply to  Ghalfrunt.
June 21, 2020 7:54 am


1) Most of the warming occurred prior to the big rise in CO2.
2) What caused the Holocene Optimum, Minoan, Roman and Medieval warm periods? Until you can prove what caused them, you can’t claim that the Modern warm period must have been caused by CO2. Argument through ignorance may be your forte, however it is still a logical fallacy.

Reply to  Ghalfrunt.
June 21, 2020 8:31 am

I’ve had a similar experience to Mr. Dockery. Having become interested in the subject a decade ago, and having looked at the data, I became quickly convinced that CO2 does not cause global warming.

1. ‘why not share your proof that CO2 does not cause global warming?’

‘Sharing the proof’ is not so easy. I submitted two papers to WUWT in order to share the proof, neither of which was presented. Fortunately the ‘proof’ is relatively easy to describe:

Global Atmospheric Temperatures are driven by sea surface temperatures. Sea surface temperatures are in turn driven by ENSO.

The ‘proof’ is easy to obtain. Simply run a regression analysis between monthly Global Atmospheric Temperatures (13 month centred average) and the EWMA (exponentially weighted moving average) of monthly ENSO data, using a weighting for the most recent data point of less than 0.01. This is approximately equivalent to an eight year moving average, lagged by four years. You will find a remarkable correlation between the two.

In fact with a bit more work, it is easy to show that ENSO accounts for approximately 70% of the variance in Global Atmospheric temperatures over the period from 1960 to 2010. The most important component of ENSO in affecting Global Atmospheric temperatures is the ‘advection’ component, ie. that associated with the dispersion of the ENSO waters across the oceans in the years following an ENSO event.

There is no mechanistic affect by which CO2 could influence ENSO.

2. ‘Why not tell us with proof of course what caused the 1°C temp rise so far?’

There was a very interesting paper presented on WUWT on June 6: ‘Cloud Feedback, if there is any, is Negative’

In this paper is the following sentence: ‘However, clouds are known have a cooling effect on climate, see for example Pokrovsky [8] which calculates a (global) 0.07C warming effect for each 1% decrease in cloud cover.’ The paper also presents data showing an almost 10% reduction in cloud cover from 1986 to 2016. Thus providing ‘evidence’ that reduced cloud cover could account for much of this 1C.

This paper presents data and analyses that show that increased sea-surface temperatures, equally seen over the study period, result in increased cloud cover. This result is consistent with increased atmospheric humidity, resulting from higher equilibrium water vapor pressures at higher SSTs.

Thus if less cloud cover is not caused by less humidity, since humidity should be increasing with higher SSTs, then the diminished cloud cover can only be caused by a lower propensity for cloud nucleation.

There are two candidate causes for a lower propensity for cloud nucleation:
a) the last half of the 20th century saw the most active sun in more than 1000 years. According to Svensmark’s theory, this should cause a reduction in cosmic particles which help to nucleate clouds.

b) there were tremendous efforts put into pollution reduction in the last half of the 20th century, particularly related to particulate reduction from the burning of coal, which would also reduce sources of particulate for cloud nucleation.

Less cloud cover would result in more solar energy penetrating the deep oceans which could very conceivably drive ENSO temperatures.

Thus Mr. Ghalfrunt, the ‘proof that CO2 does not cause global warming’ is that it Global Atmospheric Temperatures are primarily driven by sea-surface temperatures, which in turn are driven by the long term effects of ENSO. There is no mechanism by which CO2 can effect ENSO.

And the answer to ‘tell us with proof of course what caused the 1°C temp rise so far?’, is that the root cause is less cloudiness over the last part of the 20th century, which could be the result of a very active sun during this period and/or reduced atmospheric pollution.

Reply to  Ghalfrunt.
June 21, 2020 11:20 am

You are correct that burning hydrocarbons fuses C to O2, and this causes O2 decline and CO2 rise.

And Bevan is correct that temperature controls the total amount of gases in the atmosphere.

As to why temperature rose, that is easy:


Reply to  Bevan Dockery
June 21, 2020 5:42 am

Why do you guys (Bevan, Ghalfrunt) argue about the answer to the wrong question? What’s at issue here is the effect (yes fred, effect not affect) of CO2 (that caused by human-derived CO2 emissions) at levels above pre-industrial, which is generally assumed to be 280 ppm.

So Ghalfrunt, according to the scientific method and the null hypothesis, that’s on you, should you choose to follow up on this comment ……..

John W. Garrett
June 21, 2020 4:32 am

× 1,000,000

Thank you, Mr. Middleton.

My father liked to say, “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.”

Reply to  John W. Garrett
June 21, 2020 5:58 am

You can lead a Ghalfrunt to facts, but you can’t make him think.

June 21, 2020 5:22 am

–Access to affordable energy is essential for economic growth and social development, yet energy production and consumption generates about two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions. Without a paradigm shift in the efficiency of energy usage, a growing global population will inevitably consume more energy, as every nation seeks economic growth to ensure the prosperity and well- being of their citizens.–

So the paradigm shift will not involve wind and solar. And it will not involve coal- cause that wouldn’t be a shift.
And it not going to be “biofuels”.
It could include nuclear. If all you interested in reducing CO2 {which is dumb]
Nuclear is easy and quicker pathway.
What would paradigm shift on global basis, is determining how mine Methane from oceans. But just more fracking will work in an quicker and have less uncertainity involved.
But major paradigm shift would involve getting solar energy from Earth orbit.
Solar energy actually works in space environment and more than 1000 satellites are currently using it and have been using it for decades- and why solar panels even exist.
And unlike Earth there is no shortage area to collect the sunlight.
The only problem is making electrical in space cheap enough. And in terms of making simple, it’s launch costs from Earth which make it expensive.
One could focus directly on this problem, of lowering Earth launch cost.
One could note that lower launch has been attempted by NASA for decades with no success. But the private launch companies have been lowering launch costs for decades. Both NASA and US military has been trying to lower launch cost, both failed, but military wanted $1000 per lb and had program to do it, and didn’t reach this goal. But SpaceX has already reached this point {one could claim both NASA and Military “helped” SpaceX, but purpose was to have alternative private launch companies and not being specifically about trying to lower launch cost].
I would credit Musk for lowering launch cost, because his goal was to do it. And also provide a price for a rocket launch {which no company had ever done before and are still not doing it, other the Musk’s SpaceX. And offering the cost of what you will charge for something, is generally a good way to lower prices {of anything}. Or governments efforts fail to lower launch cost, but competition always lowers price. Or can cause more competition- it could manage to lower launch.
But anyway what is actually needed is more demand of rocket launches, and governments don’t create much demand- it’s mostly the “private” satellite business which has most demand. And solution is to create more private demand- which has growing and why launch cost have been lowering.
Waiting for it, is no good plan.
Instead what is needed is exploration which will cause more demand- something that NASA could do, and might be doing.
If NASA can determine if and where their is mineable water in lunar polar region,
that could increase Earth launch demand.
And then if NASA explores Mars, and find mineable Mars water, that could increase Earth launch demand. If there is mineable Mars water, one could have towns on Mars.
NASA can quickly explore lunar polar surface, and then focus on exploring Mars.
If NASA finds lunar water which actually appears to mineable, then investment dollars can used to mine lunar water {because that’s what mineable means}.
And if NASA find mineable water on Mars, then investment dollar could start towns on Mars.
If there is mining on the Moon, and rocket fuel made from water. It makes the Moon a good destination for lots of stuff. Which can include lunar bases for a number of space agencies. And other countries might start having space agencies.
And one have university and/or private funding various lunar research labs.
And have lunar hotels and tourism and etc. And all such lunar activity will make living Mars more likely. All this starts some amount demand which grows over time {just satellite market has been growing over the decades}.
The lunar polar region is very good location to get solar energy. Also anywhere on Moon is good location of nuclear power plants- and Moon could a good place to store any of Earth’s nuclear waste.
But in terms cheap electrical power in Earth orbit. What lower electrical power cost is having enough demand for electrical power. And rocket fuel need a lot electrical power. And once one has electrical power available, instead bring your own way to make electrical power, you get electrical power from “lunar grid”.
Or having lunar electrical grid, lower your cost to do anything on the Moon. If lower cost, you get more lunar activity on the Moon. And having one lunar grid, and electrical market, makes easier for more competitive to provide electrical to those existing customers. More competition the faster price lowers- if in hurry brutal competition the way to go. So with some competition or a lot competition
after decades costs and price will lower enough.
Or from time, lunar water starts to be mined, in about 50 years, electrical power will get pretty cheap. And this will effect what going on with towns of Mars {if there is any}.
If there isn’t mineable lunar water, but there is mineable water on Mars, and towns start on Mars. That could “make” lunar water more mineable. Or goes both ways. If lunar water and Mars water is not mineable, NASA should explore our solar system and find somewhere else which has mineable water. And if that water is mine, it could towns on Mars more likely and mining water on the Moon more possible. Either way purpose is to lower electrical cost in space, which lead eventually to cheap electrical power in space, being used on Earth.
And in terms when used on Earth, perhaps within 50 years. Could sooner could later. But unless all exploration is a dud, certainly within 100 years.
But within 100 years, one might have launch cost so low that you simply ship solar panel from Earth surface to GEO.
Which would also results in making Moon a destination and you could have towns on Mars.

Brooks Hurd
June 21, 2020 5:54 am

The authors’ assumption that we are in an “energy transition” might be due to the fact that they believe that die Energie Wende is successful in Germany. If success is measured by creating energy poverty on a massive scale, increasing the profits of Polish energy providers, and cutting down huge swathes of forests for windfarms, then one could say that die Energiewende has achieved some measures of success. I highly doubt that a calculation of the actual carbon footprint per kWhr would show a reduction today versus a decade ago when you include the total costs of producing, installing and end-of-life removal of the renewable production systems. Part of these costs are also the back up plants which feed the grid whenever renewable production falls.

Bruce Cobb
June 21, 2020 6:11 am

Regarding the different grades of oil, (light and sweet, heavy and sour, sweet and sour, etc.) I would sure hate to be the taste-tester for them. Must have to pay them very well. No wonder oil’s so expensive!

Keith Harrison
June 21, 2020 6:43 am

David: Your chart on various oil types does not indicate the heavy oil from Canada’s oil sands as best as I can tell.

From what country does the US import the most oil, heavy and light? Quantities?

June 21, 2020 7:00 am

We’ve got a few hundred years worth of fuel just lying around in the form of Thorium. Currently it’s a waste product of rare earth mining processes.

There’s enough energy available to double the wealth and health of the entire world’s population.

Richard Nixon chose the Uranium path for us to bring the $$ home to California (Lawrence Livermore Uranium Project) rather than let the $$ go to Tennessee (Oak Ridge Thorium Breeder Project).

The world may never see all this ultra safe and abundant ultra low polluting energy source being used due to vested interests…political and economic.

Geophysicists wouldn’t even be needed to find energy sources for at least a millennium.

Ron Long
Reply to  DocSiders
June 21, 2020 11:07 am

Thorium/uranium 233! Add a neutron to thorium 232 and you get a fissionable U233 fuel material. Does not produce fissionable material for wannabe bomb makers, whereas U238 reactors produce Plutonium 239. I’m all in on this idea. Nuke ’em!

Reply to  DocSiders
June 21, 2020 3:55 pm

I believe the primary reason for preferring U to thorium was to make bombs. For all the noise about “the peaceful atom,” America’s nuclear power plants were part of the atomic bomb industry. Thorium can’t do that.

Abolition Man
June 21, 2020 7:20 am

Thanks for another interesting and informative post. I was sitting in the yard this morning, watching my oriole and hummingbird friends break fast, reading the article and comments; and couldn’t help but wonder when we will get past the endless lies and propaganda that have infested our intellectual spaces. I keep thinking of “The Outlaw Josie Wales” when Fletcher tells the Senator, “Don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining!”
Our media have become populated with a large percentage of “urinalists” who do not seem to be capable of telling the truth unless it reinforces their deeply held religious beliefs! The “transition” to unreliable energy will only continue as long as our leaders and populous are misinformed of the costs and related problems. As the truth about energy poverty and unreliability becomes self-evident, even to the willfully blind, we will see science and reason return to the public square. Unfortunately, I doubt that I will live to see this occur; but one can always hope for one’s fellow humans to move away from the learned insanity that is currently being embraced!
On the other hand, I was thinking about the problems of designing a “pocket gun” chambered in .416 Barrett. That’d require some fairly large pockets and how would you hold it? And I don’t think there’d be much accuracy in the second shot, especially after turning to find where the gun landed or pulling it out of your abdomen! But I’m dithering. Thanks again and frac’ on!

Reply to  David Middleton
June 21, 2020 9:24 am

Spits on the dog. Brilliant.

Tom Abbott
June 21, 2020 8:28 am

From the article: “The fundamental question is: how will the rising demand for energy be sourced while minimising, and preferably reducing, related impacts to climate change? Renewable energy sources will form an increasing proportion of the energy mix, especially as the price of their supply falls.”

Yeah, like that’s going to happen.

“Renewable” energy sources (windmills and industrial solar) increase the price of electricity to the consumer, they don’t reduce it.

Without taxpayer subsidies there would be very little “renewable” energy sources being built. And taxpayers are getting tired of paying for these subsidies and then see their electric bills increase.

Windmills and industrial, ground-based Solar are not the future.

June 21, 2020 8:39 am

David Middleton,

Slightly off topic, but I know you have a keen interest in the shale industry, so I thought that you might be interested in this article: (https://www.zerohedge.com/energy/us-oil-dominance-coming-end) which states:

‘U.S.’ energy dominance agenda is dead as the country’s shale industry is looking at a steep production decline.’

I would also note that, according to the EIA’s latest weekly petroleum status report, the U.S. has again become a net importer of ‘Crude and Petroleum Products’

Smart Rock
June 21, 2020 11:28 am

Geoscientists, who are fully committed to overcoming some of the societal and environmental challenges this raises

The comma makes it clear that they assume all geoscientists are fully committed…….. Not so, at least in the parts of Canada where I hang out.

Working in mineral exploration, I get to meet a lot of fellow geoscientists. Honestly, the only ones I know who express any opinion on global warming/climate change, other than a disdainful snort, are those who run the professional associations that I have to belong to (one for every province where I work, although sometimes I sneak across a border for a short job). These wonderful folk relieve me of hundreds of dollars every year and devote a good deal of effort into creating new rules to make my life more difficult. They also send out memos talking about our roles in climate change, blah blah blah.

My circle of acquaintances includes geologists, geophysicists and geochemists who work in mineral exploration, mineral production and processing as well as provincial and federal government. Not many in academia though, where there may be a few believers hiding from the real world. I have the distinct impression that learning about earth history tends to inoculate you against fantasies about tipping points and impending climate catastrophes.

Brian Pratt
Reply to  Smart Rock
June 21, 2020 1:52 pm

SR, about the provincial professional associations, the fact that geologists and geophysicists are grouped together with the engineers, by legislative act, makes it rather complicated.

Mark Luhman
June 21, 2020 11:33 am

“At the time of writing, the world is enduring the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the global economy is struggling.” Let me fix this for them At the time of writing, the world is enduring the effects of the Covid-19 panic, and the global economy is struggling. Out the pandemic I have lived through this on will in all probability end up in third place, funny there was no panic in the first three, of course losing a million to two million people to a disease looks like small potatoes when you just came out of a war that killed 70,000,000. Or having world leaders who murdered 200,000,000. The panic on so called climate change is much the same, you simply cannot fix stupid. Oh as clear I can be as to my risk to COVID I am above 65 and have life long lung problems and hypertension, yes I am at risk to die from COVID.

Robert of Texas
June 21, 2020 11:54 am

Obviously the field of Geo Science needs to be shaken up. There are far too many people of non-color and males in this field making it an unhealthy vocation for new-world-order ideas. So the first priority must be on diversity.

Secondly too many Geo Scientists focus on Geology and Earth sciences. This is an obvious problem and requires the firing of the old guard and the hiring of new researchers focused on today’s problems of Climate Change, Social Justice, and redistribution of wealth. Make this the second priority.

Thirdly, way too many Geo Scientists spend too much time sitting around thinking and should be more involved with activism and protesting. In fact, the awarding of research grants should be in direct proportion to the number of protests one attends, with bonus points for being arrested for resisting arrest.

This process has already been used successfully on many government agencies such as the EPA and NASA, and so is the accepted process to convert an old agency of grubby science into a progressive field of social change.

Signed, “We the progressives who represent everyone who agrees with us! (And no one else better speak out)”

June 21, 2020 5:27 pm

“seldom placing geology-related extractive industries in a positive light”

A positive light! If you don’t grow it, then you extract it or don’t have it. How’s that for a positive light?

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