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Richard Sears Planning for the end of oil

As the world's attention focuses on the perils of oil exploitation, Richard Sears, an expert in developing new energy resources, gave this talk for Ted in early February 2010 about our inevitable and necessary move away from oil. Before watching the first part of the talk (0’00”-3’33”) go through statements 1-3, 5-6 and 8-11 and try to predict whether the information is right or wrong. Watch the clip and check your predictions. 1 There isn’t enough oil left in the world. 2 Geologists don’t have a clear picture of where the oil is. 3 The world needs 100 trillion gallons of crude oil today. 4 There is an oil refinery 1,000 metres away from where they are. 5 Oil has been a dominant part of our energy system in the last 150 years. 6 Oil consumption hasn’t reached its peak yet. 7 Gasoline consumption in the U.S. peaked in 2007. 8 A different source of energy has peaked through different stages in history. 9 Energy use in total is decreasing. 10 The sources of energy use less and less carbon. 11 Renewables will amount to 30% of the energy by 2100. DISCUSS • In 2006, the UK Prime Minister said that building new nuclear power stations was 'back on the agenda with a vengeance'. Protestors from Greenpeace said `Nuclear is no answer'. Who do you agree with? • What do you think about renewable energies i.e. solar power, wind power, geothermal energy etc • Would you like to have a giant wind turbine (ie a tall tower with sails) outside your home? • Would you agree to completely stop using cars if it meant the world would be a safer place for your children? VOCABULARY spin a story remarkable stuff there’s more to the story than that oil field fill in some details snapshot peak play a role take up the slack

And what's been taking up the slack in the last few decades? Well. And to tell the next part of the story -. thousands of years ago. if you think that's kind of neat. imagine what would it be like if instead of this. calcium carbonate. I'll try to spin a story about energy. just in case you weren't already guessing. Now. The talk will be broadly about energy. and we'll start in central Texas. long before we run out of oil. This is about 100 trillion gallons of crude oil still to be developed and produced in the world today.year on year. Now. Yeah. Texas. it's technology that will end the age of oil. And I'll suggest that this coal is about as exciting as this chalk. there was a peak coal.becoming less carbon intense.S. we just replace it all with conventional renewables -. Now. millions of abalone. Here's a piece of limestone. It's thousands of times. oil's going to last forever because. Come talk to me about it. And it's just limestone. Thank you very much. in the 1920s.but I think. here's a piece of chalk.and the Stone Age ended. It's because. 25 years ago. technology -. oil has been playing less and less of a role in global energy systems. Gasoline consumption in the U.and this is looking out say 2100 and beyond. All the same. and beyond that. It's not because we have a lot of it. The oil will never run out. Oh. it's calcium carbonate. but oil's a good place to start. well. that's just one story about oil. And so. It's the same stuff as this and the same stuff as this. So. here's another little secret I'm going to tell you about: For the last 25 years. millions of abalone every year make this shell. And one of the reasons is this is remarkable stuff. carbon-free energy? Well.For the next few minutes we're going to talk about energy. if you think you're very far from some of this oil. But what about oil? Where is it in the energy system? Here's a little snapshot of 150 years of oil. Now. You take about eight or so carbon atoms. Now that might be the end of the story -. And what goes on in the future? Well. This is pretty incredible stuff. a lot of natural gas and a little bit of nuclear. when we think about the future of energy. Here's my little pocket map of where it's all located. It's a little younger. by the way. for starters. and oil's a convenient starting place. And so that is my story. until maybe now when it might just matter. Now. century on century -. you can see that. about 20 hydrogen atoms. and we could end it there and say. reaching maybe 30 percent of primary energy by mid century. the story gets really neat right now. what's different? How the molecules are put together. it's very different -. And why? Because the lowly abalone is able to lay down the calcium carbonate crystals in layers.000 times tougher than this. iridescent mother of pearl. it's about 35 percent. Now. it's innovation. every day. but there's a very important message here: This is 200 years of history. Now. people invented ideas -. there was a peak oil. it's the same stuff: calcium carbonate. and you wouldn't try to give a lecture and write on the chalkboard with this. I'll tell you another little.Okay.they had ideas. every year. it's different. innovations. So oil is playing a less significant role every year. It's great stuff. it's not different. Now. Now. there's just a lot of it. And that continues into the future with the renewables that we're developing today. that's one of the stories of oil. This is a very important picture of the evolution of energy systems. there's more to the story than that." But there's actually more to the story than that. just like. making this beautiful. Oh. well. and for 200 years we've been systematically decarbonizing our energy system. It's not different. A bigger one for you to look But it's not the same stuff. nothing really special about it. And it's different than this limestone. Now. when oil represented 50 percent of global energy supply. Come talk to me about it. there's a lot of oil out there in the world. this is the oil in the world. you put them together in exactly the right way and you get this marvelous liquid: very energydense and very easy to refine into a number of very useful products and fuels. what does this have to do with energy? Here's a piece of coal. by the way. "Well. There was one kind of peak oil in 1985. I picked it up outside of Marble Falls. You wouldn't build a building out of this stuff. It's been declining and I believe it will continue to decline. But this is it. Geologists have a pretty good idea of where the oil is. 1000 meters below where you're all sitting is one of the largest producing oil fields in the world. (Laughter) It's ideas. . What's different is how the molecules are put together. I'm not pretending that energy use in total isn't increasing. I'll fill in some of the details if you want. Now. very important story about this picture. it is -. as far as it goes. So. decade on decade. I think out ahead of us a few decades is peak gas. What is the future of truly sustainable. the survival of a species didn't depend on building those materials. nature hasn't ever built those perfect materials yet because nature didn't need to. we could build the energy equivalent of this just by rearranging the molecules differently. maybe 3. probably peaked in 2007 and is declining. there was a peak wood. we have to take a little excursion. I picked this up at MIT. there's just a lot of it. Off the coast of California comes this: It's an abalone shell. unlike the abalone shell. not because we ran out of stones. whether we're talking about fuels or energy carriers.that's another part of the story. Nature didn't need to because. or perhaps novel materials for batteries or fuel cells. and a hundred years before that. and it's been a dominant part of our energy system for most of those 150 years. It's not because we're going to build a bajillion windmills. It's about 400 million years old. Very specialized material that the abalone self-assembles. peak renewables. actually. Energy systems of the world becoming progressively -. all the time. and it's going to be a bit of a varied talk.