Why Solar: We must use fewer hydrocarbon resources

Energy is what allows us a lifestyle of convenience and leisure. We have mobility, warmth, entertainment and access to vacation pursuits as never before experienced.

If you were to calculate the amount of energy required to provide for the typical Canadian citizen’s existence into kilograms of oil equivalent, it works out to some 7,604 kilograms per person (2015 data, World Bank).

This is in part due to the vastness of the nation; our low population density necessitates considerable travel for work or pleasure.

As well, the weather extremes of our northerly latitude require additional energy. Comparably, on average, the developed world uses approximately 1,921 kilograms of oil equivalent per person in energy yearly. The undeveloped, impoverished nations use less than 93 kilograms.

Energy, from all sources, is the elixir that allows for adequate nourishment. It provides for a robust agricultural system that can produce in abundance. Medical care, transportation to school, homes that protect from the elements and lights to allow children to study after the sun goes down, all require power.

It allows their parents additional mobility in getting to a job, and more productivity at the job when they arrive.

The North American model is the envy of the world’s undeveloped nations. If you doubt that statement, you deny the intent of the large caravan of people massing at the United States-Mexican border. They have been driven from their homes, fleeing oppression and poverty on a quest for a better life.

Basic math works out to a barrel of crude weighing in at 125.6 kilograms. Ergo, Canadians requires about 61 barrels of crude oil equivalent energy each year. With 7.7 billion people on the planet, that works out to 479.7 billion barrels of oil equivalent a year in energy.

Current world production is at 95.6 million barrels a day. To guarantee a Canadian lifestyle worldwide, would require 1360 per cent more oil than what is presently produced from every source.

Obviously, oil alone will never be able to provide the level of energy needed. Every form of power currently available — hydro, nuclear (both fission and fusion), wind, solar, blue fuels recovered from atmospheric carbon, and yes, oil — will be required to offer a majority of the world’s people anything remotely near to the standard of living to which we have become so accustomed.

Solutions are being worked on, but the question comes down to whether humanity can adapt quick enough, be tough enough to make decisions for the betterment of all. Decisions to voluntarily constrain population and ways and means to limit our affluent demands must be realized.

We need to find ways to mitigate the adverse effects of hydrocarbon utilization, until alternates can be found to replace the planets number one commodity. We need to be prepared to use fewer resources at every turn.

Do we as a population of humans have the foresight and strength to carry this vital mission to fruition, despite the bad leadership, rampant political corruption on the world stage, naysayers and tyrants we face at every turn?

Lorne Oja can be reached at lorne@carbon2solar.com

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