The market created oil companies and will also create their alternatives.

Author: iairishcheeks (9406 Posts - Original UHND Member)
Posted at 11:20 am on Feb 10, 2019

I saw a documentary once, I watch a lot of docs, so I can't remember where this came from, but here's the gist:

In the mid 1800s we were burning whale oil in our lamps and because we were killing whales for whale oil faster than whales could replenish themselves, a market emerged to find an alternative to whale oil. An inventor was able to create a substance from coal which burned much better in the lamps than the whale oil, he called it kerosene. Later another inventor was trying to figure out what to do with this tar-like substance that existed on the surface in places like Pennsylvania and discovered the process for converting oil into kerosene. When making kerosene from oil there was a by-product that originally they just threw in a hole and tossed a match to. This substance was basically what we now call gasoline.

Fast forward to the invention of the internal combustion engine. Originally ICEs were designed to run on ethanol, but due to the limited amount of ethanol available and the excess of this gasoline substance they were re-designed to use gasoline and what was originally a byproduct of the primary use, kerosene, became the primary use for oil.

So you see, the market created the oil companies, not the other way around.

As far as politics go, the fact that we will outgrow the use of fossil fuels is indisputable. So the question becomes should we let the market create alternatives, the conservative approach or create alternatives through taxes and subsidies, the liberal approach? I am somewhere in the middle. As we continue to shutdown coal plants in the US, it makes coal cheaper for China that is putting up more and more coal plants. Doesn't really solve the problem of emissions that our myopic environmentalists think they are. The atmosphere doesn't care whether the air pollutants from burning coal came from a power plant in China or one in the US. But on the flip side, we should continue to fund research into alternative forms of energy. Not because we hate oil companies, but because we will run out of oil.

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