A partial solution to peak oil? Not really...but a Start
At this time last year, the LS9 company indicated its plans to proceed with a new method of making a sort of artificial oil. It was to be made with the aid of microorganisms, and would use the same procedures as are used to make ethanol.
Today, the company is reported to have been successful in its initial trials. The problem for it is that it takes a week for a small amount of microorganisms, and a good amount of water and biomaterial, to produce a barrel of oil. To replace the present American daily consumption would take a continuous output from a facility the size of Chicago.
However, credit where credit is due. I remain hopeful, in the proper sense. The peak oil moment is here or very near, or has passed recently. We do not have the luxury of planning. Though there is a great deal of 'natural' oil around, extracting it at viable prices is less and less practical, to the point of impossible. I think that human ingenuity and science, in the form of nuclear and biochemical research, is our hope.
However, we need a new system of handling and generating energy which is based around distributed, small-scale production and conservation. We are not prepared as societies, either fiscally at the level of government or in our daily lives, for the adjustment to a new model of post-oil society. Governments are in denial, which is the shocking thing, and many commentators are just not willing to deal with the issue.
That said, I share enough with libertarians to begin to wonder if it is not a good thing that government has steered clear of actually dealing with the problem for long enough for scientists to explore the different solutions.
I believe in hands-off public ownership of infrastructure and provision of health insurance, but the track record of ministers and civil servants, and their necessary priorities, don't inspire confidence when it comes to actually involving themselves in technological matters. Look at Concorde, or the moonshots, or a modern day nonsense like the Kyoto Treaty. At least Concorde was beautiful, and did some service.
People who are interested in beginning to prepare themselves or in taking a little of the pressure off by getting hold of biodiesel equipment for themselves might like to take a look at this website, and the advertisements that it carries. This company, based in Lincolnshire, sells bio-diesel reactor for factories and companies for between twenty and two hundred thousand pounds, as far as I can tell. Home biodiesel reactors are becoming big business too, allowing people to procure energy at around 15p a litre in some cases.
So it is good to see the LS9 company having a go. I just worry that this particular solution will use up water and food stock land, and that it will be 'too little too late'. If there is to be a solution to our troubles, intelligent, limited and effective government must provide a floor upon which locally controlled and locally or individually provided energy, food and welfare systems can stand. Less interference, fewer regulations and prescriptions, and more public ownership where necessary with lower taxes; how on earth are we going to get to that?
UPDATE : Check out the Devil's Kitchen, who have been following the story of the Polywell Fusion Reactor and have an uplifting hopeful piece on it at the link below. It is a libertarian site and sometimes the language is very strong on it, so if you are apt to be offended by that sort of thing be warned. It more than repays a visit and is usually very interesting.
The Devil's Kitchen: Fusion update: WB7 Polywell "runs like a top"...#links