President Trump is not the first to utilize alternative media to bypass the press. Between 1933 and 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt held a series of radio fireside chats to bypass the press. When it comes to perspectives on energy, we are overdue a fireside chat. A tweet might grab headlines, but a discussion provides understanding into the future of energy.
If your only information source on energy is the mainstream media, you would think we are on the precipice of converting from fossil fuels to renewable energy. The statistics being reported are incredible. Many people are convinced fossil fuels are quickly being phased out and renewables are the immediate future.
The greatest advancement in renewables has come in the form of electric production. Those advancements grab the headlines and drive the energy conversation. Yet, electricity has little impact in transportation, industry or heating of homes and buildings.
The key to a good fireside chat is obviously firewood; which is also the key to a realistic energy perspective. Bioenergy provides 10.3% of the world’s energy (IEA). While this does include ethanol and other biofuels, 85% is consumed (primarily in the form of firewood, charcoal or animal dung) for cooking and heating in developing countries. (J.P. Morgan Energy Outlook 2017)
In the mid-1990’s I was working in Pakistan. I watched children follow water buffaloes waiting for them to defecate. They would mix the dung with grass and run home to stick it on their houses until it dried. It was used to cook their meals and heat their homes. These types of biofuels account for 8.5% of the worlds energy production. Firewood alone accounts for 7% of the world’s energy.
In other words, more energy is still being produced by these types of biofuels than by any alternative source to fossil fuels. That includes wind, solar, nuclear and hydroelectric. No alternative has yet surpassed firewood as a source of energy. Renewables such as wind turbines and solar account for less than 2% of the world’s energy. Firewood is by far the most damaging type of energy for our environment through deforestation, smoke inhalation and emissions. Today, 2.7 billion people (40% of the population) still depend on these biofuels for cooking and heating.
I’m all for viable alternative energy sources. We should continue to develop, research and implement them. We need them for the future. The US Energy Information Administration predicts that energy consumption will grow by at least 48% of current levels by 2040. It also predicts in 2040 that 78% of energy will continue to be produced by fossil fuels.
We must understand the vital role oil and natural gas has played, currently serves and will continue to provide for our society to advance. It allows humanity to rise out of the third world, create a diverse and technologically advanced society, and improves our health, environment and lifestyle.
We should be discussing alternative sources of energy. We should also be discussing how the fossil fuel industry is the driving force behind any advancements made in the renewable energy field. It provides the reliability to bring those other sources online and the energy for industrial production of those technologies. We should be discussing how oil and natural gas are essential, reliable and beneficial for the future of our world.