Our last blog post proposed that our world “runs on” energy. The topic has many vital dimensions. It is is one of the most politically charged of our day. Currently we must deal with the challenges of energy production, not only for our time, but inevitably for our future. Those born in the 21st century will be alive in 2050. Some will achieve young adulthood. Others will look forward to achieving late/middle age. Many authorities state that by 2050 our society MUST transition entirely to renewables such as wind, water, and solar power. Fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas will generally be remembered as a phenomenon of the past.
Today’s inflation phenomenon has been substantially ‘fueled’ by our current energy policy. Our government has reduced the former level of petroleum drilling, and closed pipeline access. This caused a modest disruption in the supply chain for this vitally important energy commodity. In spite of our administration’s assertion that domestic oil production is higher than in the previous presidency, this claim has proven to be false owing to statistical manipulations. It is actually lower by one million barrels per day. The delicate supply/demand balance has been disrupted with the result that gasoline ballooned to US $5.00/gal. on average. Our president beseeched Saudi Arabia to pump more oil to rescue the US from dangerous inflation. Saudi Arabia declined.
President Biden promised to wean America from fossil fuels while campaigning for president in 2020. He also said, “No more coal plants.” The ideological obsession with the transition from fossil (non-renewable) fuels to renewable fuels (wind and solar) may not be achievable by 2050. It will be a serious challenge to both secular science and our personal faith to devise methods of decarbonizing the entire physical economy by 2050. Christians should pray that scientists will devise effective technologies to cope with CO2 emissions and convert them to harmless or beneficial substances.
Energy sources have transitioned several times throughout human history. Animal and human power was the source of energy in early times. Early humans discovered fire for cooking and heating. Wood was the most reliable fuel. Throughout human history quantities of some fossil fuels such as coal were discovered and utilized. Natural gas was known in China in ancient times. Metal production relied on coal. Since the onset of the famous Industrial Revolution, energy consumption has not only proportionately matched the meteoric rise in human population, but also exceeded it substantially.
Planet Earth’s first billion population did not occur until about 1800. Human population has increased explosively in the past century. It now approaches 8 billion. Technological innovations of the first, second, and third Industrial Revolutions have produced an intense demand for energy, but the demand has not increased in proportion to population increase—it is proportionately far higher. In the US today, 81% of our energy is still supplied by fossil fuels. Worldwide, 80-85% of energy needs is supplied by fossil fuels, matching the US fossil fuel consumption. In the optimistic goal of the Paris Climate Accord of 2015, world countries commit to the goal of holding world temperature increases to 1.5 degrees C, and ideally not more than 2.0 degrees C. According to Paris Climate Accord officials, the transition to renewable energy (wind and solar, for example) from non-renewable fossil energy (coal, oil, and natural gas) must become a national commitment in order to avoid dangerous climate warming.
God provided ancient energy resources for the use of modern man in contemporary times. Today’s fossil fuels originated in the mind of God when he caused tropical forests to grow during the carboniferous geological periods, (Mississippian and Pennsylvanian—359 mya to 299 mya). Today’s fossil fuels had their beginnings in thick tangles of vegetative swamps. Ironically, in analyzing the modern concept of “carbon as a polluter” voiced even by the US Supreme Court in 2007, scientists may study the distant past ages and reference the Carboniferous geologic era.
For an enlarged perspective, we reprint two relevant statements from our previous post of 7/26/2022 (Non-renewable to Renewable Energy—Easy or Difficult?):
“Life on Earth is carbon-based life. It comprises nearly half of all biomass…..At present, 80% of our global energy production comes from coal, petroleum, and natural gas. These resources are known as fossil fuels, because they are residual remains of living things that existed on our planet millions of years ago.”
Intense planetary heat and the enormous weight of overlying rock layers resulted in chemical changes producing today’s coal, petroleum, and natural gas. The timeless Creator of All Things also divinely supervised the formation of thousands of other resources on which our modern technological society depends. For example, there are at least 4400 mineral species, many of which supply modern industry with raw materials for the needs of today’s society. Ubiquitous bacteria have played a significant role in forming these mineral resources.
The timeless Creator of Genesis 1-3 has provisioned our planet with its energy and material needs. They were in place in Earth’s rock layers when humanity first inhabited Earth. We ask God to give us wisdom as we make the difficult transition to renewable energy. In upcoming blog posts we will discuss how difficult the transition may be.