The "Green Revolution" is a Transition to What?

Abstract:​ Humanity faces existential threats: climate warming, overpopulation, rampant pollution and decline of all high-quality resources. However, almost all world governments are pushing continuation of business as usual, albeit by “greener” means. Commendable behavior of a few individuals has almost zero effect on the resource-wasting societies. The 11.1 terawatts of continuous power from oil and coal cannot be replaced with photovoltaics (PV) within a reasonable time; a transition to wind turbines is even less probable. Even if humanity devoted 35 million barrels of oil per day (Mbopd) to the solar PV transition, it still would take 51 years. Devoting 1 billion tons of coal per year would make this transition happen in 128 years. Currently we do not have 35 Mbopd and 1 billion tons of coal to spare for decades. In fact, without investing 14 trillion USD over the next 20 years, world oil production might drop to 20 Mbopd, less than I chose to devote each year for 51 years to the very large size (VLS) PV arrays. Since all other means have been exhausted, we must limit and reverse population growth and consume much less of everything. Otherwise, we will continue to commit suicide as a species, while denying the truth. 

Bio: Tadeusz (Tad) Patzek is Director of the Ali I Al‐Naimi Petroleum Engineering Research Center and Professor of Petroleum and Chemical Engineering at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Until December 2014, he was the Lois K. and Richard D. Folger Leadership Professor and Chairman of the Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering Department at The University of Texas at Austin. He also held the Cockrell Family Regents Chair #11. Between 1990 and 2008, he was a Professor of Geoengineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to joining Berkeley, he was a Senior Reservoir Engineer at Shell Western E&P in Bakersfield, CA (1989‐1990), and a Senior Research Scientist at the venerable Shell Development Bellaire Research Center (BRC) in Houston, TX. (1983‐1989). Patzek is also a Presidential Full Professor in Poland (highest honor) and a Distinguished Member of the SPE. By education, he is a chemical process engineer and a physicist trained in catalysis and computational fluid mechanics. In 1983, at BRC, UT professors Larry Lake and Gary Pope introduced Patzek to petroleum engineering, and his life was never the same. Patzek has engaged in the studies of complex systems, focusing on the human factors in ultra‐ deepwater offshore operations. He briefed Congress on the BP Deepwater Horizon well disaster in the Gulf, and was a frequent guest on NPR, ABC, BBC, CNN, and CBS programs. In January 2011, Patzek became a member of the Ocean Energy Safety Advisory Committee for the Department of Interior's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). He co‐ wrote a popular book with a famous historian, Joseph Tainter, "Drilling Down: The Gulf Debacle and our Energy Dilemma." In 2014, Patzek and his colleagues, Prof. Michael Marder and Mr. Frank Male, received the Cozzarelli Prize from the National Academy of Sciences for the best paper in engineering in 2013, "Gas production in the Barnett Shale obeys a simple scaling law." Since 2003, Patzek has engaged in the studies of sustainability, and industrial agricultural and agrofuel systems, all viewed through the lens of ecology and irreversible thermodynamics. Patzek’s papers in this domain are among his most cited and most important. In 2007, Patzek participated in the OECD ministerial meetings in Paris that coped with the new biofuel mandates established in the US. In 2006 and 2007, Patzek and his son Lucas argued in vain against the irreversible damage of the tropical ecosystems in Indonesia, Malaysia, equatorial Africa and Brazil. For the last 7 years, Patzek has maintained a blog about the environment, ecology, energy, complexity and human activities with 370,000 unique readers. Patzek coauthored some 300 papers and reports, and wrote five other books, one of which is submitted for publication.