Last updated on: 3/2/2009 | Author: ProCon.org

Walter Youngquist, PhD Biography

Title:
Emeritus Chair of the Department of Geology at the University of Oregon at Portland
Position:
Con to the question "Can Alternative Energy Effectively Replace Fossil Fuels?"
Reasoning:

“Ethanol is a net energy loss – it takes 70 percent more energy to produce than is obtained from the product itself. Other biomass resources show, at best, very low net energy recovery…

The two most popularly suggested energy alternatives, wind and solar, suffer because they’re undependable, intermittent sources of energy, and the end product is electricity. We have no way to store large amounts of electricity for use when wind and sunshine are not with us. Geothermal and tidal energy are insignificant energy sources in total but can be locally important. Nuclear energy can be a large power source if the safety aspects can be guaranteed (and this may be possible) — but again, the end product is electricity. There is no battery pack even remotely in sight that would supply the energy needed to effectively power bulldozers, heavy agricultural equipment such as tractors and combines, or 18-wheelers hauling freight cross-country.

Can electricity be used to obtain hydrogen as a fuel from water? It can, but hydrogen is difficult to store and dangerous to handle. And there is no energy system now visualized to replace kerosene jet fuel, which propels a Boeing 747 about 600 miles an hour nonstop on the 14-hour trip from New York to Capetown (currently the longest plane flight). We continue to seek the holy grail of energy – fusion – but containing the heat of the sun at 10 million degrees Centigrade is still only a far-off hope.”

“Spending Our Great Inheritance; Then What,” The Social Contract, Spring 2005

Theoretical Expertise Ranking:
    Experts
Individuals with PhDs, or equivalent advanced degrees in fields relevant to alternative energy or fossil fuel issues. Also top-level government officials (such as foreign leaders, US presidents, Founding Fathers, Supreme Court Justices, members of legislative bodies, cabinet members, military leaders, etc.) with positions relevant to alternative energy or fossil fuel issues.
Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Emeritus Chair, Department of Geology, University of Oregon at Portland
  • Member, National Board of Directors, Carrying Capacity Network, an immigration reduction and anti-illegal immigration organization
  • Member, Advisory Board, Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO)
  • Fellow, Geological Society of America
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Emeritus Member, American Association of Petroleum Geologists
Education:
  • PhD, Geology, University of Iowa
Other:
  • None found
Quoted in:
  1. Can Alternative Energy Effectively Replace Fossil Fuels?
  2. Does Ethanol Generate More Energy Than the Amount Needed to Produce It?