When I was a young boy, I was taught that there is evolution everywhere. The solar system formed over eons – so did planet Earth. Life took billions of years to evolve from simple amino-acids to bacteria and then, in a few hundred million years conquered land and went from barely visible to Dinosaurs, Elephants, Whales and everything else that is alive around you today.
Those very same evolutionary mechanisms are at work when it comes to any human affairs from technology, the economy and even culture to name but a few.
It hardly comes as a surprise that this simple, yet powerful mechanism also rules the energy world. It took thousands of years to go from renewable wood and dung to coal, only about 200 from coal to petroleum and everything else is measured in mere decades. However, unlike life’s revolutions, which had the effect of wiping away whatever thrived before, energy systems have a tendency to coexist for a rather long time.
We are on the doorstep of the gas age, and yet we still burn up biomass in order to heat our homes. At the same time, we have been at the doorstep of the gas age for quite a while. My great-grandfather already knew town-gas to light streets and heat homes.
This current revolution is different. Many fossil forms of energy can also be manufactured in some way, making them a renewable resource of sorts. However, only with Methane, the concept of manufacturing is infinitely more powerful than Extraction as it carries the promise of zero emissions plus an energy internet of sorts. In the very near future, energy will be cheap and ubiquitous just as internet access or indeed computing power is today.
Far-fetched! You believe so? Think again. Our currently existing energy structure is a mere blip in the real fabric of things as it is the nature of revolutions to simmer beneath, unnoticed by the masses, sometimes for decades or even centuries just in order to unleash their planet changing forces with astonishing speed. Once underway, it wipes away decades-old structures virtually overnight. This is what has happened to the computing industry when it was crushed by the PC just to rise like a Phoenix and be crushed in turn by distributed computing. Better, higher, much more advanced than we ever dared to dream.
Did you think US energy independence was an option less than a decade ago? Or that the oil price would hit USD 150 and crash back down to below USD 30? Or that an all-electric car could be a blockbuster sales item?
On the journey, methane extracted from the earth will still be our best ally in the interim as it is there, ready for action right now. And it serves to feed the undercurrent as many technologies manufactured methane uses today were originally imagined for Natural Gas. Although fossil in nature, it still is a far cry from filthy oil and coal.
Methane is what we deserve as a species as its clean, abundant and easy to use. And its possibilities are boundless.
I had many names since I have entered the energy world, but a Methanist is what I really aspire to be.