I have written in here several times that no other form of energy can match fossil hydrocarbons in their energy density except for uranium, but uranium requires a nuclear reactor to be utilized; something that cannot be carried by hand (like a container of gasoline can). Oil is especially important not only because of its density, but also because of its portability and versatility. No other form of energy can be transported and utilized as easily as oil. Most of us are familiar with oil in the form of gasoline or diesel, but perhaps also in kerosene or fuel oil as well. Natural gas is actually higher in density, but requires slightly different storage and engines. This portability and versatility explains why so many power tools such as lawn mowers, chainsaws, spin trimmers, lawn edgers, and more are powered by gasoline. The same advantages are also why most cars, trucks, tractors, agricultural machines, mining equipment, and roadbuilding equipment all use gasoline or diesel as their source for energy (although there ARE quite a few commercial trucks and forklifts which use natural gas or propane).
In this article and podcast, two energy experts, Nate Hagens and Art Berman, answer these questions and more regarding oil:
- How is oil formed?
- How did we become dependent on fossil fuels?
- How much human labor is equal to the amount of energy in one barrel of oil?
- Where do the majority of carbon emissions come from, and what role can we humans play in helping us reduce emissions?
- How much oil is left and what are future prospects for oil production and the economy?