Well, no, shale gas is not the answer. Neither is solar, fusion, or wind. At least these three though aren’t delaying the inevitable. Nick has written quite a few posts recently about climate change. In addition, I just finished reading SuperFreakonomics, which has a section dedicated to global warming/climate change.
Part of the reason I rarely ever talk about climate change is because I think it misses the point. To me, the real issue is nonrenewable energy sources. By their very definition, they are not renewable. Once they are consumed, they are depleted. Oil substitutes, like biofuels, are not problematic, unless the compete with food (corn ethanol or water for algal biofuels that could be used for agriculture). This is not to say agriculture in its current state is sustainable, but plenty of people have written about the food vs. fuel issue.
Most recently, this was spurred by a section in David Brooks’s op-ed last month in the New York Times. It read:
“People used to worry that the world would soon run out of oil, but few worry about that now. Shale gas, meanwhile, has become the current hot, revolutionary fuel of the future.”
Nothing is revolutionary about a fossil fuel. Fossil fuels cannot and will never be the fuel of the future. There’s no more oil/fossil fuel today than there was 20 years ago. Just because we can extract it now doesn’t mean there’s any more being created. It’s still finite. Always has been, always will be. Some have argued that natural gas is a bridge to renewable sources, but so far this seems to be the opposite. Instead of supporting renewables, it is outcompeting them. Yes, natural gas is cheaper. But as I mentioned, just having finished SuperFreakonomics, this fails to consider the externalities AND the obvious fact that shale gas is not renewable, end of discussion.