Cities, Countries, and Economies were built with derivatives from oil, not by electricity

Intermittent electricity CANNOT provide the oil derivatives that are the basis of thousands of products that have benefitted humanity for more than 200 years

By Ronald Stein

Ambassador for Energy & Infrastructure, Irvine, California

Before world leaders move too fast to consummate their climate policies, they need to be cognizant of two “aha” moments: 1) wind and solar can only generate intermittent electricity, and 2) electricity cannot manufacture the oil derivatives that are the basis of the thousands of products that have built the world’s cities, countries, and economies over the last 200 years.

Can you imagine primitive man with an abundance of wind and solar electricity and nothing to power! Imagine living with Just GREEN Electricity.

Interestingly, for more than two centuries the most important benefits to humanity from fossil fuels is the oil derivatives, that electricity CANNOT provide, and NOT the fuels that can be manufactured for the transportation and military infrastructures.

The world has had more than 200 years to develop clones or generics to replace the crude oil derivatives that are the foundation of all the products demanded by lifestyles and economies around the world. Wind and solar are not only incapable of manufacturing any such derivatives, but the manufacturing of wind and solar components are themselves 100 percent dependent on the derivatives made from crude oil.

Ever since the beginning of manufacturing and assembly of cars, trucks, airplanes, and military equipment in the early 1900’s, and the discovery of the versatility of products that could be made from petroleum derivatives, the world has had almost 200 years to develop clones or generics to replace the crude oil derivatives that account for more than 6,000 products that are the basis of lifestyles and economies of the healthier and wealthier countries around the world.

The big push for more wind and solar generated intermittent electricity does not look promising as finding the land for all that intermittent electricity generations will not be easy. Opposition is growing to solar and wind farms from rural landowners and conservationists, as states work to meet their climate goals. Columbia University’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law released a report in February 2021 that found local governments in 31 states have already adopted at least 100 ordinances blocking or restricting new intermittent electricity facilities.

The current passion to implement a world with only intermittent electricity is oblivious to the unintended consequences of a world without fossil fuels. The signatories to the green movement have failed to imagine how life was without that industry that did not exist before 1900 when we had, NO medications and medical equipment, NO vaccines, NO water filtration systems, NO sanitation systems, NO fertilizers to help feed billions, NO pesticides to control locusts and other pests, NO communications systems, including cell phones, computers, iPhones, and iPads, NO vehicles, NO airlines that now move 4 billion people around the world, NO  cruise ships that now move 25 million passengers around the world, NO merchant ships that are now moving billions of dollars of products monthly throughout the world, NO tires for vehicles, and NO asphalt for roads, and NO space program.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, it was almost like living in the 1800’s with virtually no transportation systems, BUT and that’s a BIG BUT, we were able to survive the quarantine as we benefited from all those products derived from the derivatives from oil that produced all the critical medical equipment like ultrasound systems, mechanical ventilators, exhalation valves, inhalation valves, CT systems, X-ray, medicines, masks, gloves, soap and hand sanitizers for hospitals, and protective gowns, gloves and face shields gear for doctors and nurses. All those products begin from crude oil, or as the Wall Street Journal states – “Big Oil to the Coronavirus Rescue.” Vaccines need refrigeration, and refrigeration need electricity, especially in the hospital sector where redundant generation capacity is a mandate.

All the electronics and communications equipment that allowed us to work virtually are powered by electricity but are all “made” with the derivatives from petroleum that did not exist before 1900.

Before 1900 the world had no medications, electronics, cosmetics, plastics, fertilizers, transportation, and military infrastructures. Looking back just a few short centuries, we have come a long way since the pioneer days.

Also, before 1900, the world had very little commerce and without transportation there is no commerce. The two prime movers that have done more for the cause of globalization than any other: the diesel engine and the jet turbine, both get their fuels from oil.  Road and air travel now dominate most people’s lives.

In case you do not remember, we also had virtually no military aircraft carriers, destroyers, submarines, planes, and tanks around the world before 1900. Both WW I and II were won by the Allies, as they had more oil, petroleum, and coal than the Axis Powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan to operate their military equipment, move troop convoys, and supplies around the world.

Today, oil and gas is not just an American business with a few refineries in the country, but an international industry with more than 700 refineries worldwide of the suppliers that meet global demands. There are also 62,500 power plants around the world operating today, all types, generating electricity for the world’s inhabitants.  Of that total, more than 2,449 are coal-fired power plants and more than 546 new coal power plants being built worldwide.

America has about four percent of the world’s population (330 million vs. 8 billion), yet a major focus of America’s climate policies has been targeted toward the oil and natural gas industry that was virtually non-existent before 1900.

The world continues to manufacture the following to meet demands of societies:

  1. The oil derivatives that are the basis of pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, paints, synthetic fibers, fertilizers, and plastics for cell phones, computers, car bodies, packaging, wind turbine blades, solar panel films and the thousands of other products manufactured from the petroleum derivatives that wind and solar are incapable of manufacturing.
  2. The transportation fuels necessary to support.
    1. 25,000 commercial airplanes worldwide that has been accommodating 4.4 billion passengers annually.
  • The 56,000 merchant ships that support international trade.
    • Worldwide military presence that protects each country from each other, is increasing each year to save the world. The fossil fuel energy needs for the worlds’ non-nuclear military equipment of aircraft carriers, battleships, destroyers, submarines, planes, tanks and armor, trucks, troop carriers, and weaponry.

To keep economies, lifestyles, and prosperity continuing their growth among humanity, the world’s focus should be toward the development of clones or generics to the oil derivatives that have made possible the robust economies and humanity living standards of today, and not just on expansion of intermittent electricity generation from wind and solar.

Ronald Stein, P.E.​

Ambassador for Energy & Infrastructure

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April 9, 2021 6:49 am

Well, biofuels (since they are effectively carbon neutral by default) were once the big thing but the green movement caught onto the fact that growing biofuels would require land (which is plentifully available) and would displace some species and so turned against them. It is likely that biofuels could have solved many of the problems — which is perhaps the real reason they were shunned.

This raises the point that the so-called green movement (which seems to have been usurped by something larger and more malign) is not about at its heart to do with making human lives better but seems to be about certain, ideologically driven, agendas of what I can only call anti-humanism. The drivers of this process really do seem to want us to revert either to a pre-industrial level or to a world with a much smaller human population.

Of course, one of the key problems is that of how all this is being foisted upon us. It is not being driven by market forces. There is little genuine demand or economic need for the rush for renewables or electricity-over-all. The technologies that might (or might not) make all this feasible don’t even exist yet, and may never exist. What we are experiencing is a what I can only describe as a Stalinist-style, Communistic/totalitarian push from above, coupled with a kind of Maoist-style cultural revolution alongside it, to change the world into someone’s chosen form.

Governments that ostensibly subscribe to the free market model are throwing the free market aside and telling people and business how to live, think and build. This is not merely regulation; it is literally a command economy.

This model has been repeatedly tried. It always resulted in failure, in poverty, in misery.

Reply to  MarkR
April 9, 2021 7:31 am

It’s absolutely anti-human. You only have to listen to Attenborough, the Club of Rome, The Optimum Trust etc to realise that.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  MarkR
April 9, 2021 8:37 am

Regarding the carbon neutrality of biofuels, there are a couple of inconvenient facts which i have been thinking about investigating. For instance, since closing the biofuels cycle means letting “nature” recycle these into green plants, you are by necessity using the atmosphere as a reservoir of CO2 as an intermediate step. This will raise the CO2 level of the atmosphere. And it will raise it by much more than the simple calculation of just replacing current transportation fuels, because biofuels have a very large input burden which also involves using more biofuels (or biomass if we plan to make ammonia-based fertilizers from biofuels).

Robert W Turner
Reply to  Kevin kilty
April 9, 2021 9:12 am

Yeah ethanol production is far from “carbon neutral”. It’s a common mistake to ignore energy inputs for these “green” Ponzi schemes. Ethanol in fuel would not take place if it weren’t for mercantile dictates and have been the cause of the ruin of many small engines, local pollution from ethanol plants, increased water consumption, and increased grain/food prices.

Reply to  MarkR
April 9, 2021 9:42 am

Same with the wood-chip business transported across Atlantic, a big con and a burden on those who can least afford to waste their meagre pensions on subsidising this kind of renewable nonsense.

April 9, 2021 6:52 am

If fossil fuels didn’t exist, we would have to invent them. We are carbon based life forms utilizing carbon based energy, and always will be, whether it is fossil or synthetic. Luckily, with electricity, we will be able to manufacture any long chain carbon molecule we wish, so we better keep our carbon based fuel infrastructure intact for the next 1000 years. We just need cheap, clean, abundant next generation atomic generation to power our civilizations well into the long term future when the price point of fossil vs. synthetics makes it economic to manufacture any carbon based products we will require by necessity for the rest of time.

Kevin kilty
April 9, 2021 6:58 am

I got an idea. Instead of using oil, let’s make this stuff from coal.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Kevin kilty
April 10, 2021 11:31 am

Or sperm whales?
Maybe even bacon grease?

April 9, 2021 7:04 am

It has long been my view that future generations will look back on the 20th Century with bewilderment that we burnt oil for energy rather in the way that it is now almost incomprehensible that the European forests were cleared to provide an energy source in earlier centuries.

Lance Flake
Reply to  Martin
April 9, 2021 7:27 am

There are areas that burning oil products have been replaced with other energy sources like natural gas. But most forms of transportation shouldn’t change given the physics of moving large masses and the energy density of oil-derived fuels. We should follow the actual science and use oil products where they are the best solution at the current time. This includes safe nuclear energy for electricity generation.

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Martin
April 9, 2021 8:11 am

There’s nothing incomprehensible about the cutting of European forests for energy, since the use of energy is essential to the flourishing of human life and civilization. Hopefully you understand that it was under the aegis of Western culture that respects liberty and property rights (aka free markets), that coal saved the forests, just as oil saved the whales, etc. Not because people “felt” sorry for trees and whales, but because coal and oil were (and remain) far superior sources of energy.

Reply to  Frank from NoVA
April 9, 2021 10:46 am

Beat me to it. Cave men burnt the forest. City dwellers burnt whale oil in lamps until kerosene was available. Then Natural gas took over for lighting after that for city dwellers. Country folk used kerosene until electricity became available.

These facts are not incomprehensible to modern society. The idea of NOT using cheaper and better sources of energy is incomprehensible to me, but I do not proscribe to the AGW religion.

Reply to  Frank from NoVA
April 9, 2021 12:53 pm

And farming between trees doesn’t work very well, except for fungi perhaps.

Reply to  Martin
April 9, 2021 12:41 pm

You need to elaborate (or you’ll get more minuses … minussi?)

mebbe: “We will be so advanced technologically, physically, mentally, and spiritually that the difference between ‘oil energy’ and ‘the future energy source’ will be analogous to the chasm between wood burning to the extent that we destroyed forests & oil burning. My hope is that human kind continues to advance.”

(although the oil furnace room in my house is now simply storage, and 80% of my home heating comes from burning wood. Some of us will always refuse to advance … seems that I am going the wrong direction.)

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  Martin
April 9, 2021 2:49 pm

Forests burn, especially locked up no-management forests. The tree the green weenie plants today to offset her oil use will likely incinerate within 50 years or less, spewing all that captured carbon back into the atmosphere as CO2. It’s a fake fraud offset.

Furthermore, Miss Weenie probably lives in a wood frame house and should be thanking her lucky stars for real forestry. And btw, there are millions of acres of Euro forests today. They aren’t “cleared” away. That’s a giant lie.

Reply to  Martin
April 9, 2021 8:01 pm

I don’t know many people except Greentards like you who would find it “incomprehensible that the European forests were cleared to provide an energy source in earlier centuries”. In the same line I doubt there will be many in future generations that would look at “bewilderment that we burnt oil for energy”. Most have an intelligence high enough and an understanding of history not clouded by green smog and the green cool aide to understand it.

Last edited 1 year ago by LdB
Gunga Din
Reply to  Martin
April 10, 2021 11:50 am

I think you need to clarify your statement.
If we continue down the “green brick road”, there won’t be many left in future generations.
And only those that are the “some animals are more equal than others” will have prosperity or freedoms.
(Microcosms: Pelosi getting her hair done in a salon in CA when CA still had locked down salons. There are many other examples. The Michigan Governor’s husband wanting to go boating when his wife had shut down boating? Pelosi’s nephew, CA’s Governor Newsom, and his private party during lockdown? Just a few examples.)

Joseph Zorzin
April 9, 2021 7:05 am

Here in Massachusetts, some “climate scientists” are saying that since the state’s net free by ’50 law won’t be able to accomplish the goal entirely by switching all power, transportation, and heating to electricity- for energy (and those oil derivatives that Ron Stein mentions above) needs that can’t be switched- the solution to their carbon emissions is to lock up all the forests, so that their only value to mankind is sequestering carbon. Forgetting that replacing wood for construction, furniture, paper products, etc. with cement, metals and other raw materials will have a higher carbon footprint than wood- as if carbon emissions even matters- and, nobody wants to live in a cement house with cement furniture.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
April 9, 2021 7:34 am

“Net free” is a bull shit term to allow companies to emit as much CO2 as they like as long as they plant a tree – oh, and the powers that be get to skim a bit off the top to assuage guilt

(not that I have an issue with emitting live giving, lovely CO2)

G Mawer
Reply to  Redge
April 9, 2021 12:45 pm

Agreed, carbon dioxide is as beneficial as dihydrogen oxide.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
April 9, 2021 10:49 am

Mass will just import their BAD energy from other states of countries. The same way the US and other countries have imported their cheap LABOR from China for 30 years.

Lee L
Reply to  Drake
April 9, 2021 3:29 pm

Cheap labor … I suppose … more to the point cheap cheap coal fired steel and electricity from China .. embedded in the manufactured goods that are awash in the west.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Drake
April 9, 2021 3:38 pm

Right, some will come from hydro in Canada- at least that option is being discussed. And, there isn’t enough land in the state to cover with solar panels to come close to meeting the net zero objective- so there’s talk of installing ground mounted solar in VT and NH- as if the landowners there will choose that option. They might since they can get paid very well to destroy their fields and forests. I suspect some wind turbines at sea will be off the coast of NH- since NH is lightly populated and MA is heavily populated. This assumes the people of NH won’t mind. Lots of ifs…. and I only wish I could be around in ’50 so I can watch the failure of this net zero thing- but I’ll be 100 in that year.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
April 9, 2021 12:56 pm

Cement and metals production each consume a lot of fossil energy.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Scissor
April 10, 2021 12:00 pm

And release a LOTS of CO2.
Limestone (CaCO3) is burnt (by guess by what) to make CaO releasing CO2 which is used, not just in cement and metal (steel) production but also in drinking water treatment, among others many other uses.

Last edited 1 year ago by Gunga Din
April 9, 2021 7:20 am

First cities were built with renewable energy …. allmost ten thousands years ago !

Reply to  Hubert
April 9, 2021 8:17 am

Not to forget human force…

Smart Rock
Reply to  Hubert
April 9, 2021 10:56 am

Yeah, but slavery is out of fashion now.

Reply to  Smart Rock
April 9, 2021 8:02 pm

Maybe that is the solution we enslave all greenstards and go all eco friendly but a little less human friendly 🙂

Last edited 1 year ago by LdB
Rory Forbes
Reply to  Hubert
April 9, 2021 11:04 am

Where on Earth were there cities, 10,000 years ago?

Reply to  Rory Forbes
April 9, 2021 12:50 pm

Turkey, India, underwaters ….

Reply to  Rory Forbes
April 9, 2021 1:03 pm

There aren’t a lot of ancient sites that old. Hasankeyf in Turkey is said to be 10,000 years old. Dwarka off the coast of India, 10’s of meters or so underwater, it said to be 9500 years old.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Scissor
April 9, 2021 1:34 pm

is said to be

That phrase strikes me in the same way “climate scientists” talk about their modeled day dreams. Didn’t they wonder why there was a 5000 year gap until the next evidence of “civilization”? Where’s the missing evidence covering that long interval?

Reply to  Rory Forbes
April 9, 2021 2:50 pm

In general archaeologists aren’t too certain of a lot of things. It’s very unusual to find things like coins having a date of 8000 BC stamped on them. 🙂

Stone workings are difficult to date unless some relevant carbon containing samples are found and underwater archaeology is fraught with all kinds of problems.

With regard to the gap you mentioned, it was a tumultuous time coming out of that last glacial period. Randall Carlson presents some interesting information on this topic. Here’s a short sample.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Scissor
April 9, 2021 6:24 pm

It’s very unusual to find things like coins having a date of 8000 BC stamped on them.

I know you’re being “ironic”, but there’s some basic truth supporting the reason for that. Currency might not have existed at all. Thank you for the link and I enjoyed watching Carlson’s talk, but I’m afraid I found it very unconvincing. I’m familiar with why we have so little evidence from the earliest humans, but 1 million years is a far cry from 10,000.

The thing is, we do have quite substantial evidence of human activity up 50,000 years in the past. There is even considerable anecdotal and mythic evidence from the Australian aboriginals. I see no reason to believe other cultures around the world were so much more advanced, yet left almost nothing to support that belief.

I can see lots of opportunity for healthy debate, but little reason to completely discard my own understanding of human development. Carlson is colourful but not very convincing. The astrological signs alone finished it for me. Mythology is weak evidence for advanced civilization.

Reply to  Rory Forbes
April 10, 2021 6:11 am

I don’t disagree. Mythology is a mixture of fantasy as well as some truth. I was just trying to convey that there’s a lot of conjecture about ancient archaeology.

I find megalithic structures and hard stone working skills of ancient people to be works of wonder. The British Museum has a collection of ancient vases made from hard minerals, like quartz, granite, diorite, etc., that are fantastic and the precision exhibited on various crypt exhibits is the same.

The quality of predynastic samples exceeds that of later periods. Clearly, there was quite refined technology of ancient people that was lost. Carlson attributes various natural catastrophes to those times when ancient civilizations are destroyed or sent backward.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Rory Forbes
April 10, 2021 6:56 am

It is plausible that the bulk of Australian aboriginal myth and legend was invented by academic anthropologists with various mental models like the noble savage. I have watched this process at work in the early 1970s but only in limited examples. We tried to question this process before Judges and Inquiry heads, but they had made up their minds, refusing in one instance to allow a movie with sound that questioned the process because they considered it capable of forgery.
Think it through. Next to nothing was recorded about the traditions of that estimated 10, 000 years of habitation. What is written originally was almost entirely by whiteys say 1880 to 1980. Some of the stories about sacred sites were a laugh by the aborigines who lived there at the time. After 1980 it was open slather with now-educated aborigines writing their own but without any prior references of note. Most recently we have whiteys like the 3rd generation Brit named Bruce Pascoe claiming to be a genuine aborigine, getting writing grants available only to aborigines and now adopted as text books in schools, where our youngsters are being fed demonstrable, fraudulent crap.
Be prepared for dream time philosophy before you read Rousseau.
Geoff S

Reply to  Rory Forbes
April 9, 2021 8:04 pm

Groups like romans sack and razed quite a few and a few that didn’t meet the dominant religion of the era beliefs were removed from the maps 🙂

Rory Forbes
Reply to  LdB
April 9, 2021 8:44 pm

Oddly enough, it’s remarkably difficult to remove all traces of a “civilization”. The word itself means city or cities. It’s unlikely that maps even existed. They tend to go hand in hand with writing. The main reason I’m unconvinced by these “lost” civilization theories is the utter dearth of wood, metal or even stone artifacts, foundations or traces of man. There are numerous petroglyphs and drawings throughout the world, often far older evidence of umanity, but they’re not evidence of civilization … quite the opposite, in fact.

Lee L
Reply to  Hubert
April 9, 2021 3:40 pm

This ‘renewable’ moniker is a specious assumption. There is nothing ‘renewable’ about waiting for the Nile to flood each year and so to bring you new virgin eroded soil for your not so big populace to grow food on. Eventually the Nile erodes stuff that isn’t great for growing onions and hence the process is not ‘renewable’ over the long term or when the populace expands so as to find it necessary to build dams to schedule your ‘renewable’ flood.

There just ain’t any infinitely ‘renewable’ process.
Never was. Never can be. Maybe ‘delayable’?

Gunga Din
Reply to  Hubert
April 10, 2021 12:14 pm

Name them.
Chopping down trees and burning them was the best technology (“renewable” or not) of the time.
If they still exist, what do they use now?

Kevin kilty
April 9, 2021 7:32 am

The premise of this essay is that we plan to stop producing petroleum. But presumably the real goal of the elites is to stop using petroleum for combustion, because “climate!”. It would still be possible to produce petroleum to make plastics, pavement, organic chemicals and so forth, but the real question is “at what cost?” And all we really need are good sources of carbon to make these products, but again “At what cost?”.

To make organic chemicals a person can start with any source of carbon, so let’s consider biomass for a moment. The biomass is wet, so first we need process heat to drive off water and other volatiles — can do with electricity. We reduce the biomass to char. Then using the water gas reaction (steam plus carbon) we make syngas CO + H2, and we are off to the races. We can probably synthesize everything from syngas (hence its name), but the inputs of land, water, labor, transportation, and energy are really enormous and non-economic. Non-economic in the sense that if some nation wishes to continue using fossil fuels for the raw material and combusion for energy they will have a big cost advantage.

Janet Yellen wishes to get rid of comparative advantage by harmonizing global tax rates — well, good luck Janet — the elites will have to harmonize practically everything, money, labor, processes and materials, in order to force the use of mediocre energy, materials, and methods. They may even have to harmonize the inventiveness of engineers, which I think they are attempting anyway via social justice, because the definition of engineering is finding a way to do with one dollar what any fool (read “elite person”) can do with two or three dollars.

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Kevin kilty
April 9, 2021 8:43 am

I’ve always wondered about so-called elites like Yellen. Given her age and level of education, she can’t possibly be ignorant of the consistent failures of collectivism in any of its many forms. So that leaves either “stupid” or “evil” as possible explanations. Beats me…

Steve Z
Reply to  Frank from NoVA
April 9, 2021 9:54 am

Good luck to Yellen trying to force other countries to raise their corporate tax rates. Most of the Eastern European countries, who lived under the yoke of Soviet Communism for over 40 years, set very low corporate tax rates after 1990 to encourage businesses to move to their countries, away from high-tax countries in Western Europe and the USA. The elected parliaments of the low-tax countries will tell Yellen to take a hike, and keep their corporate tax rates low for their own advantage, in the name of national sovereignty.

Trying to Play Nice
Reply to  Frank from NoVA
April 9, 2021 9:54 am

I think your “or” should be an “and”.

Reply to  Frank from NoVA
April 9, 2021 1:05 pm

The Tree of Liberty is parched.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  Frank from NoVA
April 9, 2021 4:26 pm

I agree. I cannot understand how so many highly educated people think so uncritically.

Reply to  Kevin kilty
April 10, 2021 12:56 am

Ejumacated does not mean high IQ.

oeman 50
April 9, 2021 8:14 am

Can we make tires, gaskets and hoses for our electric cars from biomass? Just askin’.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  oeman 50
April 9, 2021 8:42 am

Yes we can, but at much higher cost. Back in WWI we looked at producing all sorts of materials, synthetic tires even, from fermentation of corn. It can be done, but the reason it is not done at present is that it isn’t economic because fossil fuels are much lower cost inputs. Any nation trying this path will be bankrupted in no time at all.

Reply to  Kevin kilty
April 9, 2021 11:23 am

it isn’t economic because fossil fuels are much lower cost inputs. Any nation trying this path will be bankrupted in no time at all.

Sshhhh Kevin.

You’re giving Trudeau ideas 🙁

Reply to  oeman 50
April 9, 2021 1:07 pm

Rubber trees are used to make latex, good for those. Engineered synthetics are mostly better.

Sal Minella
Reply to  oeman 50
April 9, 2021 2:04 pm

Yes, but we can’t make asphalt for the roads and tar for the roofs.

Reply to  Sal Minella
April 9, 2021 4:30 pm

There is a Russian product called SynAsphalt (synthetic Gilsonite) that supposedly stands up better to higher heat in hot climates and also extreme cold climates. It is is usually mixed with traditional asphalt. The Russians used it in specific applications, such as runways and other higher wear applications, or frost heave situations as it doesn’t crumble as fast. I do think it is much more expensive though, which is the point of natural bitumen, which we are specifically in no short supply of, given the Alberta Oil Sands, Venezuela etc. Literally trillions of barrels, especially the lower quality deposits that are currently uneconomic. We will never run out of asphalt, and it is usually recycled such as re-grinding/surfacing old pavement.

Gunga Din
Reply to  oeman 50
April 10, 2021 12:24 pm

Soylent rubber.

April 9, 2021 8:22 am


We have moved on: we can keep what we have running and expand provision for the developing world with the new technology.

Honestly, some people would be happier with steam trains

Reply to  griff
April 9, 2021 12:07 pm

Yes, but it needs to be a CONSISTENT and RELIABLE form of technology.

That leaves Coal, Gas, Nuclear, and burning waste.

Wind and solar cannot be part of this “new” technology

GAS , nuclear yet again carrying the UK grid.

comment image

Abolition Man
Reply to  fred250
April 9, 2021 5:26 pm

The griffter thinks it will be part of the global elite, ruling with them from their Olympian cities, over the peasants, serfs and slaves of the lower castes! It doesn’t care about consistent or reliable energy for the masses; as long as the lords and masters have adequate power in their palaces and manors!
Right now they are in the process of developing the perfect storm troopers by weeding all patriotism and devotion to our Constitutional system out of the military. Once that is complete they can throw out the whole Bill of Rights without worrying about rebels within or without the military opposing their insurgency! The policies that Obama initiated are being pushed to fruition by the Bai Den Regime; Trump’s upset win over the ruling elite appears to have been the last gasp of power of, by and for the People!

Reply to  griff
April 9, 2021 12:34 pm

The developing world doesn’t buy your BS

Reply to  Lrp
April 9, 2021 3:32 pm

Yes, remember that town in India a few years ago that Greenpeace installed a solar farm for?
After a couple of months, the residents staged a riot, p1ssed off because they wanted “proper electricity”, not the on-off-on-off-on-off-on-off debacle that the solar farm was inflicting on them.

Reply to  griff
April 9, 2021 12:36 pm

And steam trains don’t need gaskets, hoses, etc. You’re a moron

Hoyt Clagwell
Reply to  griff
April 9, 2021 2:31 pm

Never forget that a nuclear power plant is really just a steam engine in the end, and I would be happier with more nuclear plants. Even fusion power, if ever made workable, would still just be used to heat water for steam turbines. Old technology isn’t necessarily outdated or inferior. I bet you have a few wooden #2 pencils around your house.

Reply to  Hoyt Clagwell
April 9, 2021 8:22 pm

“Never forget that a nuclear power plant is really just a steam engine in the end..”

Well, a real fancy steam engine, albeit still less efficient than CCGT tech with NG that is in the 60% efficient range.

Typical nuclear power plants achieve efficiencies around 33-37%, comparable to old fossil fueled power plants. Higher temperature and more modern designs like the Gen IV nuclear reactors could potentially reach above 45% efficiency. Just imagine when some genius figures out 85%-90% efficiencies from new sources of generation. Plasma, being the 4th state of matter, is maybe a candidate someday for a major breakthrough.

Last edited 1 year ago by Earthling2
Reply to  griff
April 10, 2021 9:57 am

Steam locomotives are far superior to anything you greentards keep pushing, and 100% renewable.

Gunga Din
Reply to  griff
April 10, 2021 12:35 pm

Griff, you always talk of “new technology”.
The problem is that it’s not here.
“Wind and solar just need batteries to become practical to support the grid!” but such batteries don’t exist.
Maybe they will someday.
But TODAY they don’t.

Juan Slayton
April 9, 2021 8:33 am

Mr Stein discusses an important truth in calling attention to the importance of petroleum feedstock as the source of modern materials. This should not be in any way controversial. I remember watching an interview with the late Shah of Iran, shortly before his death, in which he expressed the opinion that these uses of petrolium were so impressive that it seemed a shame to burn it.

However, any writer who wishes to be taken seriously should take the time to fact check his own writing. It is hard for me to understand how an informed author could write the following:

…imagine how life was…before 1900 when we had, NO medications and medical equipment, NO vaccines, NO water filtration systems, NO sanitation systems…NO communications systems…NO vehicles…NO merchant ships…NO tires for vehicles, and NO asphalt for roads…..

Were I his editor I would send this piece back for re-write. His point does not survive the exaggeration.

Steve Z
Reply to  Juan Slayton
April 9, 2021 10:11 am

The Shah of Iran was partially right and partially wrong. Most plastics are obtained from the very light and volatile portion of crude oil–ethane, propane, and butane, which can be thermally cracked into ethylene, propylene, and butadiene, which can be made into polymers. Plastics can also be made from styrene (a derivative of ethylbenzene) which has a boiling point near that of gasoline. Ethane, propane, and butane can also be obtained by cryogenic distillation of natural gas, with the methane used as fuel.

Synthetic rubber is usually made from the heavier and high-boiling parts of the barrel of crude oil, as well as asphalt for road construction, and petroleum coke used in steelmaking.

But the “middle” part of the barrel (naphtha, kerosene, diesel, and gasoils, in order of increasing boiling point) is not easily transformed into other products, but has high value as fuel. Some naphtha, that is of poor quality for making gasoline, can be cracked to produce olefins for plastics production, and cracking processes for producing gasoline and diesel from heavy gasoils also produce some light hydrocarbons that can be used in polymer production. The main value of kerosene, diesel, and gasoils (which comprise about 40% to 70% of the volume of crude oil, depending on its source) is for fuel, not transformation into other products.

The Shah of Iran is correct that the light and heavy ends of a barrel of crude are more useful to make other products than to be burned. But the “middle” of the barrel makes excellent fuel, but is difficult to transform into other products not intended to be burned.

Reply to  Steve Z
April 9, 2021 4:11 pm

+1 for spelling naphtha correctly.

Pyrolysis is also especially useful for making doubly unsaturated olefins, such as butadiene and isoprene. These, alone or together, and especially with styrene comprise a few synthetic engineered polymers, some of which are used to modify viscosity of lubricating oils and for forming the soles of shoes, etc.

I worked on hydrocarbon pyrolysis decades ago and still in my mind I can distinctly recall the odors of isoprene, piperylene and dicyclopentadiene. They are not pleasant. I like the odor of SJV crude though.

Hoyt Clagwell
April 9, 2021 8:34 am

Fossil fuels are what saved the whales. You would think the greens would appreciate that if nothing else. Besides, oil and coal are probably the most useful resources on this planet that we can use without taking it away from some plant or animal that depends on it for survival. It sits in the Earth’s crust as naturally as anything, with no value to any other living thing. It’s truly a miracle of nature and it would be a crime NOT to utilize it.

Reply to  Hoyt Clagwell
April 9, 2021 1:09 pm

I’ve been saying all along that biodiesel from Michael Moore could fuel a long road trip.

April 9, 2021 9:02 am

Confucius, he say:

“When shall we attack?”

“Wait until the wind drops.”

April 9, 2021 9:08 am

Yep, and without petroleum and coal it all collapses.

Matheus Carvalho
April 9, 2021 9:18 am

Also remember that Titan, the Saturn moon, has hundreds of times more methane and ethane than all Earth reserves of fossil fuels.

Reply to  Matheus Carvalho
April 9, 2021 9:47 am

Yes, its amazing how carbon has polluted the entire universe without any help from humans.

Reply to  Matheus Carvalho
April 9, 2021 1:12 pm

Too bad they don’t have free oxygen. I wonder if mankind will ever use those resources.

April 9, 2021 9:20 am

Just one word, plastics

Reply to  BillN
April 9, 2021 1:13 pm

I’m beginning to think psychedelics are more appropriate.

Abolition Man
April 9, 2021 9:27 am

A very interesting paper, but you can do much better!
The hyperbole in paragraph 7 is a little over the top, don’t you think? You lose your readers when you exaggerate or make stuff up. If they wanted that they could go to any lame stream urinalist or alarmist for all the latest lies and propaganda!
When listing items be sure to label in a consistent fashion! It should have been:
A. 25,000 commercial planes…
B. 56,000 merchant ships…
I also wonder what point you were trying to make when you said: “not just an expansion of intermittent electricity?” Are you saying the world should focus on that? That seems to be completely antithetical to the point you were making; maybe you should have stressed the need for an expansion of reliable energy sources like nuclear and gas!
You’ve done much better work in the past; this seems a little rushed and unfocused, like you wrote it the night before it was due! C+

Steve Z
April 9, 2021 9:45 am

Maybe off-topic, but here comes a new Biden Blunder:

“We’re going to talk about commercial aircraft flying at subsonic speeds, supersonic speeds, be able to figuratively, if you may, if we decide to do it, be able to traverse the world in an hour, travel at 21,000 miles an hour,” Biden said.

There are several problems with this. A satellite in orbit 200 km above the earth, or 6,560 km from the center of the earth, has an orbital velocity of about 28,900 km/hr, or 18,000 miles an hour. This can be easily calculated by equating the centripetal acceleration to that of gravity. (v^2/r = g).

This means that any aircraft (or spacecraft) flying at 21,000 miles per hour would have to be in an orbit more than 200 km above the earth in order to avoid escaping Earth’s gravity. This would no longer be an aircraft (which needs air to provide lift), but a spacecraft similar to the Space Shuttle of the 1980’s.

The Space Shuttle was useful for launching people into Earth orbit for weeks or months at a time, while being able to land like an airplane, so it could be re-used, and the fuel required to reach orbit was only used once.

But an “aircraft…able to traverse the world in an hour” (assuming this means flying halfway around the world, such as to Australia) would need to consume the same amount of fuel as the Space Shuttle to reach 21,000 mph for a half-orbit, which is far more fuel than that required by a commercial jet flying the same distance at 550 mph. Isn’t Biden worried about all the CO2 emissions from burning all that fuel?

Even the supersonic transport Concorde, developed by the UK and France in the 1970’s, which could cross the Atlantic in 3 hours instead of the 7 or 8 hours required by commercial jets, was prohibitively expensive for passengers due to the much higher fuel consumption.

But math is hard, and Biden isn’t a rocket scientist.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Steve Z
April 9, 2021 11:38 am

“But math is hard, and Biden isn’t a rocket scientist. ”

Neither, apparently, are his handlers. Are they hoping that by constantly allowing this man to babble incoherently in public that it will become apparent to all that he is incapable of governing and thus needs to be replaced?

Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
April 9, 2021 3:28 pm

Never assume a plan when stupidity will do.

Abolition Man
Reply to  starzmom
April 9, 2021 5:36 pm

If it was mere stupidity they wouldn’t be doing so much damage!
The targeting of our voting system, our military, and our Bill of Rights is occurring RAPIDLY right in front of our eyes, and Sleepy Joe is the perfect puppet because he appears bumbling and harmless while the radicals propping him up and pulling his strings are fundamentally transforming American into a Third World socialist hellhole!

April 9, 2021 9:58 am

Germany, one of the most industrialised countries is learning fast about renewables and pressing fast with completing North 2 gas pipeline from Russia despite huge political pressure especially from across Atlantic.

Biden looks to appoint special envoy to kill Russia-Germany energy pipeline“Hochstein, who stepped down from the supervisory board of the Ukrainian energy company Naftogaz late last year, declined to comment.”
Pass the popcorn, Ukrainian link might be amusing to the Merkel – Putin love-in.

April 9, 2021 10:03 am

My comment disapered down black hole
Germany, one of the most industrialised countries is learning fast about renewables and pressing fast with completing North 2 gas pipeline from Russia despite huge political pressure especially from across Atlantic.

Biden looks to appoint special envoy to k… Russia-Germany energy pipeline
“Hochstein, who stepped down from the supervisory board of the Ukrainian energy company Naftogaz late last year, declined to comment.”
Pass the popcorn, Ukrainian link might be amusing to the Merkel – Putin love-in.

April 9, 2021 10:52 am

Maybe the chip shortage will wake them up, but I doubt it.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
April 9, 2021 1:15 pm

The Biden administration is studying a switch to Pringles.

April 9, 2021 11:38 am

“More than 200 years” is a reasonable suggestion for the industrial revolution; but trains were all over the place before 1900, and the manufacture of weapons goes even farther back. I’d trim off the “1900” and let the rest stand. Even thinking petroleum, coal, coal gas, and the like are both fossil fuels and chemical feedstocks.

Smart Rock
April 9, 2021 12:13 pm

Ronald, your motives are pure, I don’t doubt, but you have allowed your rhetorical enthusiasm to blur your knowledge of history and that has led to you making factually incorrect statements that don’t reflect well on an engineer. Here is a partial list:

before 1900 when we had….. NO vaccines (smallpox vaccine 1796), ……. NO communications systems” (electric telegraph 1844, transatlantic telegraph cable 1858)

Before 1900 the world had no ….. transportation” (commercial steam powered rail transport 1825, steamships capable of crossing the Atlantic under their own power 1843). In 1900 the US had over 200,000 miles of railroad track.

And what’s this 200 years thing? The oil industry as we know it is only 161 years old but “The earliest known oil wells were drilled in China in AD 347 or earlier” (wiki)

The first use of fossil fuel to do actual work was in 1712. By my count, that’s 309 years ago. Steam power evolved rapidly from there, and of course is still used in thermal power stations.

I’m not arguing with your message, but in the internet age, getting historical facts straight is quick and easy, and it will save you from nitpickers like yours truly (not all of whom will be friendly).

Reply to  Smart Rock
April 9, 2021 1:18 pm

Variolation is a marvel in a time when they were blood letting and blowing smoke up people’s …

Bruce Cobb
April 9, 2021 1:13 pm

Er, no, we need oil for both the derivatives as well as for transport and also heating (since NG is not available everywhere). It is true that greentards don’t appear to make a distinction, but we shouldn’t make the same mistake. Electricity doesn’t really enter into the argument, since oil isn’t usually used for that. And downplaying the importance of electricity doesn’t pass the sniff test either.

Abolition Man
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
April 9, 2021 1:33 pm

Too true, Bruce!
A really good energy source for transportation should be liquid at most temperatures for safe, easy storage; and comprised of long chains of those handy H and C atoms to maximize energy density!
Hydrogen might be a good fuel somewhere in the future, but right now it is too difficult to produce and store. Let’s 20X our nuclear power fleet, while we work the bugs out of future sources! If we did that widespread use of EVs might actually make sense!

Rich Lambert
April 9, 2021 3:36 pm

Fossil substances such as oil, natural gas, and coal will one day be too valuable to burn for energy. As a civilization we should be using uranium and other radioactive minerals for energy production for fixed assets, later fusion, maybe. Wind and solar collection of energy should only be used in special cases where it makes economical sense. Using corn or other food carbohydrates to make fuel for energy production is an abomination. Interestingly natural gas is used to make fertilizer to grow corn to turn into ethanol plus carbon dioxide to fuel cars and reap taxpayer funds so the politicians can claim achievement. Nonsensical

Robert Arvanitis
April 9, 2021 4:56 pm

Electricity is not an energy source — it’s a transmission method.
Wood, peat, coal, oil, uranium, solar, wind, tide, are energy sources

April 10, 2021 3:17 am

err …
Before 1900 the world had no medications, electronics, cosmetics, plastics, fertilizers, transportation, and military infrastructures. Looking back just a few short centuries, we have come a long way since the pioneer days…………..

sorry but we did have medicines, basic cosmetics, dyes etc fertiliser plenty of transportation albeit coal engines or horse or oxen and sailing ships for global exploration and the rich travelled widely
and we sure had military methods to maim kill etc!!!

Last edited 1 year ago by ozspeaksup
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