You might benefit from these:
The natural gas distribution pipelines in the US alone could stretch from Earth to the Moon 7-8 times. There are millions upon millions of miles of pipe on the planet to distribute crude oil, refined products, and natural gas. (Mostly gas.) Consider this: if your home has natural gas heat, it is connected via a continuous network of pipes to tens of thousands of wells drilled into subterranean rock strata that were laid down tens of millions of years ago. That's pretty cool, really. Your house is directly connected to the Pliocene era -- by the world's oil & gas infrastructure.
I would add that, if you’re not in favor of more pipelines (like the Keystone XL that was blocked by Obama), then you are in favor of tanker trains and tanker trucks going through your neighborhood.
About 40% of all seaborne cargo is oil, and there is literally more seaborne cargo at any given time (by weight) than there are fish in the sea. Oil is in transit for a much shorter amount of time than the lifespan of most fish, so the total amount of oil that moves via water each year is much, much higher than the total amount of fish biomass. Think about what that means for a minute. The ocean isn't full of fish, it's full of oil cargoes.
I tend to think people are ignorant of a lot more than this next bit (and that it could be appied to just about any large industry.
People who think renewables can replace oil with a few decades of Manhattan Project style effort are simply ignorant of how big oil really is.
Even if we assume the energy-storage problem is solved soon …
Oh yes, that energy storage problem. You know … the one that plants solved millions of years ago with … sugars and starches that break down into hydrocarbons. Plants didn’t evolve batteries for a reason; just because we invented them doesn’t mean they won’t always be second best.
Here’s where the public’s innumeracy really starts to kick in:
… Wind and solar are growing exponentially, yes, but from such a small base that it doesn't even make a dent -- the use of renewables as a percentage of total world energy consumption only increased by 0.07% from 1973 to 2009.
Let me break down some numbers.
- World oil production was 82 million barrels per day in 2010. At roughly 6 gigajoules per barrel, that's about 5.7 terawatts of power production.
- World wind power production in 2010 was 0.3 petawatt-hours. Averaged over a year, that's about 34 gigawatts.
- World solar power production in 2010 was 0.03 petawatt-hours. Averaged over a year, that's about 3.4 gigawatts.
Let’s run some math: that makes oil 167 times as big as wind power, and 1,670 times as big as solar. Let’s call those two figures, roughly, 128 to 1, and 1024 to 1. Those estimates are both advantageous to supporters of wind and solar. With those ratios, power from wind will have to double 7 times to match that from oil, while power from solar will have to double 10 times.
Where are ya’ gonna’ put all those windmills and solar panels? Right now, the U.S. has about 49K utility scale wind turbines (you know … the 3 bladed windmills that are a few hundred feet high). That’s one for every 6-7K people. If we’re going to double that 7 times, it means one turbine for ever 50 people or so. That’s far less people than live on most suburban residential blocks. The math is actually better known for solar: about ten 4x4 solar panels per person, all located in the best spots in the southwest, and (uh oh) not operating half the time, or at peak efficiency when most needed.
Even so, for wind power to double 7 times, at the not necessarily believable growth rates experienced in China, would take 70 years. For solar it would take 100. And that’s assuming zero growth in the energy needs of the world, so it will take a lot longer if we actually care about people in Africa and Asia having better lives. It’s also assuming that the oil industry doesn’t grow, so we’re just playing catch up to a stationary target. That seems unlikely.
I like wind power. I like solar. But I can do the math. It’s not pretty.
The quotes are from a thread on Quora entitled “What are the top five facts everyone should know about oil exploration?" Due note that the original has citations to all the factoids. Most of the criticisms in other parts of this thread do not.