What Would a Scientist Do?
Interesting how the views of two distinguished physicists/provosts with long careers at CalTech vary with respect to our oil future. The first, David Goodstein, who I blogged about recently definitely foresees an end to the age of oil. The second, former provost and theoretical phycisist Dr. Steven Koonin has a more sanguine perspective. From the Green Car Congress via Flying Talking Donkey, we get:
From Koonin’s point of view, there are plenty of hydrocarbon stocks available—the question is the technical ability to produce them in a sufficient and environmentally acceptable manner. The chart to the right represents a conceptual plot of the different sources of energy and their relative materiality by 2030 on a quadrant defined on one axis by concern over hydrocarbons and on the other by concern over climate change.And I repeat interesting because Koonin gave out his opinion in the context of his new position as Chief Scientist at BP (British Petroleum/Beyond Petroleum). Might his relative confidence in sustainability relate to the business politics of his current post? Just asking. (Great news if this information that Koonin presents pans out. I suppose it would have been too much for him to say what energy source the fuel synthesis process uses.)
(Note the position and size of hydrogen in its transportation role. There is an interesting exchange on that in the Q&A session.)
In this context, he sees a potential sustained cap on oil prices at around $40 per barrel—the approximate market price at which the BP teams tell him Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthetic fuels become competitive.
The always skeptical and born snarky physicist Dr. Bob Park has some cogent thoughts concerning Bush's energy plan, the climate change smoking gun, and table-top cold fusion.