Oh my! I've turned into an academic lecturer. My apologies. Blame
my passion on the topic. Delete now or read my rant below:
You are not alone in your concern. I maintain that the use of crude
oil for energy production is a wasteful misuse. Petroleum is a
finite resource, basic to production of many plastics,
pharmaceauticals, chemicals, and who knows what else future research
There are other renewable sources for fuel - biomass conversion,
fermentation, natural decomposition of organics, to name a few.
Solar energy is available worldwide, if accompanied by the
appropriate technology. Some parts of the planet have other energy
sources to tap such as geothermal, wave action, and wind currents.
Actually, humans have used these planet-based energy sources since
long before petroleum wells were drilled.
If the past is any predictor, research and innovation will develop
replacements, just as whale oil was replaced by kerosene when whales
became scarce and petroleum was plentiful. Economics will drive the
speed of such conversions. Right now, it's too easy to just keep
"drillin' fer oil"... as a well-known Texan is promoting. Not
creative or far-thinking, but easy and simple.
A water torch is an alternative to flammable gases, as long as
electricity is available. I learned to draw glass using an alcohol
lamp and a tube through which I blew air across the flame. It gets
plenty hot! In the absence of electricity, my guess is this
technique would be the "fall-back position" for jewelers.
Pollution?? As long as coal and petroleum products are the primary
energy sources, refining will pollute in direct proportion to the
amount of fossil fuel used. Turning bauxite into aluminum is very
energy-intensive. In 1992, it accounted for 2 & 3% of all the
electricity used in the United States! (website
/http://es.epa.gov/techinfo/facts/nu-matrl.html/) This process is
therefore very polluting, and the cost of production should reflect
the increasing cost of energy. When first produced, aluminum was
used as a precious metal because it was so expensive to refine, not
because the element was rare.
I could go on, but hate to bore you folks,
Judy in Kansas, where the frost last night bit back some buds!