THE DECLINE OF THE ENVIRONMENT: TRUTH OR FALACY? (A RESPONSE TO CASTRO AND OTHERS)
by Manuel Cereijo
The truth is that sociology does not recapitulate biology. Even though senescence may afflict great men and women on their path of glory to final equilibrium, it is not a characteristic of nations, and capitalism, like the family, is not an institution that can become obsolete or decrepit as long as human societies persist.
Human needs and numbers annually increase. Science and technology provide their continuing surprises. The exigency, complexity, and multiplicity of life on earth becomes yearly more unfathomable to any tyrant or planner. No nation can grow and adapt to change except to the extent that it is capitalistic, except to the extent, in other words, that its productive wealth is diversely controlled and can be freely risked in new causes, flexibly applied to new purposes, steadily transformed into new shapes and systems.
Time itself means continuous change of knowledge and conditions. Among all states it is the stationary state so favored by the liberals that is most sure of withering away. Our system is based on an ideal that for the first time in human history has given men a way of producing wealth in which the good fortune of others multiplied their own.
Life on earth did not begin spontaneously or as a result of some haphazard, random selection process. Nature is not precariously balanced. Earth and her ecosystem are not fragile, as many radical environmentalists believe. Man can not come along, all by himself, and change everything for the worse, especially that after hundreds of millions years. No, the last two generations of human existence are not going to destroy the planet.
We can not comprehend many of the wonders of the universe. We are incapable of imagining the size of the universe, its origins, or even where it is. There are certain things that the mind of man simply cannot discover or ascertain. There are certain things we must accept on faith. This is one small planet that has the conditions necessary for life and is ideally situated in our solar system. Earth’s placement is precise; and that is not a result of chance.
We humans had nothing to do with the earth’s creation, its placement, or its functioning. We are only a part of it, which is not to downplay our role or significance in the world. The radical environmentalists paint humans almost as an aberration, as the natural enemy of nature. According to them, we are capable of destroying this wonderful planet merely by being ourselves. That is human vanity.
Humans are the only creatures capable of cleaning up the messes made by them and all other creatures. I can not deny that we have made a mess of parts of our world, and Cuba is a prime example of that. However, eighty years of driving automobiles, sixty years of fluorocarbons and air-conditioners are not destroying us. The fact is, we could not destroy the earth if we wanted to.
Meeting future energy needs will require a diverse range of energy technologies. Looking to the long term, concern about energy security and rising green-house gas emissions has brought a number of new enhanced technologies to the forefront of public discussion. Among these, wind, solar and bio-fuels are growing rapidly, albeit from a small base.
The use of bio-fuels in transportation is being considered seriously. Today ethanol and bio-diesel, liquid fuels derived from organic matter, are receiving a lot of attention. The current generation of bio-fuels, however, has scale limitations due to their cost and large land requirements.
When considering the potential of bio-fuels, a number of factors must be considered, including land use impacts, fertilizer requirements, and water use. Most current bio-fuels production processes convert only a small portion of the plant. In the future, however, processes involving cellulosic conversion hold the promise of being able to utilize a much larger portion of the feed biomass.
Important, too, is the question of which biomass applications yield the greatest benefit. Recent studies concluded that greater energy savings can be achieved if biomass is used in heat and power generation rather than in transportation.
New energy sources require substantial technological advances to enable them to compete for a significant share of global energy supply.
Energy is essential to our way of life, to economic progress and to raising and maintaining living standards. The pursuit of economic growth and a better quality of life in developing countries is driving global energy demand. New supplies of reliable, affordable energy are needed.
We believe it is essential that industry play an active role in the ongoing dialogue about the future of energy-one which is grounded in reality, focused on the long term and intent of finding viable solutions.
The global economy is expected to double in size by 2030. Mainly driven by the developing nations that today account for just over 20% of the world’s economic output. By 2030, this share will grow to 30%, led by rapidly expanding economies such as China, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Every day, the world consumes about 230 million barrels of energy, expressed in terms of “oil equivalent” or MBDOE, with demand split about equally between developed and developing nations.. By 2030, we expect the world’s energy needs to be almost 50% greater than in 2005.
Continued rapid improvement in energy efficiency, mainly driven by the development and use of new technology in the transportation and power generation sectors, is expected to temper the growth in global energy demand. Over time, an increasingly diverse range of energy sources and technologies will be needed. But at least through 2030, fossil fuels will continue to satisfy the vast majority of global demand. These are the only fuels with the scale and flexibility to meet the bulk of the world’s vast energy needs over this period.
Oil and gas combined will represent close to 60% of overall energy in 2030, a similar share today. Oil use is expected to grow at 1.4% annually.
Gas is expected to grow at 1.8% annually, driven largely by strong growth in global electricity demand.
Coal, like gas, is expected to grow at 1.8% annually, driven by expanding power generation.
Nuclear will grow on average at 1.4% per year. North America and Europe will add new plants in the outlook period.
Bio-fuels, including ethanol and bio-diesel, will grow from less than one million barrels per day ( MBD) in 2005 to about 5MBD in 2030.
An important factor in predicting future supply trends is the scale of the worldwide oil resource base. By today’s estimates, the world was endowed with recoverable conventional oil resources of over three trillion barrels worldwide. Additional frontier resources-extra heavy oil, oil sands, oil shale- brings this recoverable total to 4-5 trillion barrels.
Nuclear energy has the potential to become an increasingly important option for meeting a growing portion of our long-term energy needs, specifically in the power generation sector.
Key barriers to increased use of nuclear today are cost, perceived safety risks and the lack of an acceptable solution to the long term management of radioactive waste. Designs include advanced third-generation versions of conventional reactors, as well as fundamentally new designs such as the ‘pebble bed modular reactor’.
These designs could reduce the capital cost of nuclear power plants by 15% and thereby add another economically competitive option to our long-term energy supply portfolio.
We don’t have to punish progress in order to fix the environment. We need to use good know how. The key to cleaning up our environment is unfettered free enterprise, our system of reward. The more economic growth we have, the more a prosperous people will demand a cleaner environment. Look at the level of man-made pollution in countries with totalitarian regimes. Pollution in the former Soviet Union and Eastern European countries was horrendous. Pollution is horrendous in Cuba. When no one owns private property, there is no incentive to keep it clean and pure because no one has a stake in keeping up its value.
The earth is a remarkable creation and is capable of great rejuvenation. We can not destroy it. It can fix itself. We should not go out of our way to do damage, but neither should we buy into hysteria and monomania. We have a right to use the earth to make our lives better.
From serious scientific surveys to new technologies, from recycling to commonsense management of ecosystems, we have the opportunity to launch a new era of environmentalism. We can craft an approach that is scientifically sound and economically rational. This should be our goal.