Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Want to Get Rid of Fossil Fuels? Be Careful What You Wish For.

So Hillary Clinton, to the utter surprise of absolutely no one, has climbed aboard the anti-Keystone pipeline train. That's the pipeline that would send Canadian oil to the U.S. for refining.She tweeted today: 
 Time to invest in a clean energy future—not build a pipeline to carry our continent's dirtiest fuel across the US. I oppose Keystone XL.

All right-thinking people agree that fossil fuels are evil, and we should banish them all in favor of solar power (except where it fries bald eagles), wind power (except where it decapitates bald eagles or interferes with the Kennedy family's ocean view), hydroelectric power (except where you have to build a dam to harness it), nuclear power, and the plentiful odorless, non-polluting, Gaia-friendly gas we get from unicorn farts.

I decided to do some 7th grade math and got on Al Gore's Amazing Internet and fired up the Magic Google Machine. I wanted to get the answer to a basic question: What would our lives be like if we did as Hillary and all the other leftists want, and did away with all our fossil fuel power?

It goes without saying that every creature comfort you have depends on energy, whether it be from the gasoline in your car or the electricity that comes out of your wall socket. The food in your grocery store almost certainly got there by truck, and may have traveled hundreds, or even thousands of miles to get there. Your life would be radically different without gasoline and electricity. How different?

Here's where I did my math. I looked up how much energy is used annually by every country in the world. Not surprisingly, the U.S. is at the top of the list.

Then I looked up the population of every country in the world. We're not at the top, but we're pretty close.

Then I fired up a spreadsheet and matched up all the national populations with all the national energy use. I had to leave out a few countries that didn't appear on one list or the other (places like Monaco and Vatican City and some territories and fly-specks you never heard of).

I divided each country's total annual energy use measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units) by its population, to give me the average number of BTUs used per person, with interesting results.

We're not in the top ten. We're number 14. Here are the top 20, in ascending order. The second column is the country's population, and the third the anual BTUs used per person:

Netherlands  16,921,000 240,620,531
Nauru  10,084 240,975,803
Finland  5,487,980 242,479,018
Belgium  11,250,659 242,512,016
Australia  23,905,700 256,159,410
United Arab Emirates  9,157,000 307,469,695
United States 321,880,000 315,502,237
Luxembourg  562,958 352,370,870
Kuwait  3,268,431 353,594,737
Norway  5,189,435 369,587,441
Bahrain  1,359,800 383,857,920
Canada  35,749,600 384,693,255
Singapore  5,469,700 419,139,989
Qatar  2,120,129 439,992,095
Brunei  393,372 463,759,495
Iceland  330,610 606,061,523
Trinidad and Tobago  1,340,557 616,840,612
Gibraltar (UK)  32,734 1,790,798,558
U.S. Virgin Islands 106,405 2,206,851,182
Saint Barthélemy (France)  9,269 4,988,671,917

That's with all our oil, coal, and natural gas usage. We get about 33% of our energy from coal, 31% from natural gas, and 15% from oil. That's about 79% of our total energy use.

So what happens if we stop using all those fossil fuels tomorrow? In other words, how many BTUs per person would we be getting by on?

The answer is about 67,000,000 BTUs per person per year.

That would put our per person energy usage a little lower than Suriname, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Barbados, and a little higher than Azerbaijan, Chile, and Jamaica.

Are you ready to lower your standard of living to that of Suriname and Azerbaijan? No? Then shut up about getting rid of fossil fuels, at least until your windmills, solar generators, dams, nuclear plants, and unicorn farts can come up with 249 million more BTUs per person every year than they do today.