Thursday, January 26, 2006

Iceland Gives Up Gasoline!

Iceland is a picturesque country, judging from the picture above. It's also a country whose government has decided to totally eliminate dependence on oil. Picturesque, and a leader in the transition to an oil-free future.

Heating? The whole country is one boiling cauldron of hot water. You see, Iceland was formed by volcanoes and those volcanoes are still at work heating vast amounts of water. Low-cost hot water heating for homes and businesses keeps the people toasty warm during the long, cold winter. That same water turns giant turbines that supply the country with electricity. That only leaves gasoline.

Now the Icelanders (Icelandics?) get creative. They're turning water into hydrogen to be used as a fuel to run the country's vehicles. Hydrogen fuel is three times as expensive as gasoline, but vehicles get three times the mileage, so the cost balances out.

The timetable for creating this oil-free society? Mid-century.

Heck, by that time, the world may have run out of oil anyway. That's the peak oil argument that's made its way into debates over energy policy. Click here if you want to read an apocalyptic vision of life without oil. Warning: The author doesn't paint a pretty picture of life in the future. Bear in mind, though, that 30 some odd years ago the scientists making up the Club of Rome predicted the world would be out of everything by now. Wrong!

Then again, if you like apocalyptic visions of the future, there's always a TV preacher or a science fiction writer to scare the pants off everyone. Economists, you know those devils practicing "the dismal science," would paradoxically keep their wits and smile a cheerful smile even if it could absolutely be proved that the world was running out of resources. The ability of science to find and develop substitutes, the incentives provided by profit, and a resilient market economy have proven effective in the past in promoting ever higher standards of living. Thus, the post-oil era might not be so bad after all.

Of course, a happy ending isn't what the apocalypse crowd is selling. Will Iceland show the way to a happy energy future? Time will tell.



At 5:08 PM, Blogger pierce787 said...

It will be interesting to see how nations near Iceland, especially the Scandanavian countries, respond to this economic change.

At 11:25 AM, Blogger Aunt B said...

Right on! I am all for Iceland.

If American's could forego their greedy pleasures, and I cannot deny having some of my own, we may be able to catch up to other nations in cutting back. Catch up to cut back, I am not sure that is logical language, but I know that you know what I mean.

My cousin just returned from Sydney, Australia and she told me the homes there do not have furnaces. If they get cold, they bundle up. What a unique idea. Of course, she did not visit every home and she may have slightly overstated the fact, but if it was 50% or 25% of the homes, it would be some big savings in resources.

Imagine, living in a natural environment instead of one air-conditioned or artifically heated.

Something to ponder.

At 6:27 PM, Blogger alopez said...

I think Iceland is making an interesting start. I wonder if other countries will soon follow. Whether or not the world will "run out" of oil in the near future is a mystery. However, it is known supplies are limited, so I think its a great transition that Iceland is making. Go Iceland!

At 1:54 PM, Blogger Benji said...

Iceland is doing great by producing their own energy. By doing so they will not have to import energy from other counrty and so they will not depend on them. In addition, if it produces enough hydrogen it could sell it to other countries and become an energy exporter. We learnt that it is good for a country to export a lot more than import so the balance is positive.
It seems to be a very good iniative coming form Iceland. Now we have to see if other countries are going to follow Iceland's path.


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