27 Oct 2020

Once We’ve Eliminated Fossil Fuels…

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(Author unknown)

One crisp winter morning in Sweden, a cute little girl named Greta woke up to a perfect world, one where there were no petroleum products ruining the earth. She tossed aside her cotton sheet and wool blanket and stepped out onto a dirt floor covered with willow bark that had been pulverized with rocks. “What’s this?” she asked.

“Pulverized willow bark,” replied her fairy godmother.

“What happened to the carpet?” she asked.

“The carpet was nylon, which is made from butadiene and hydrogen cyanide, both made from petroleum,” came the response.

Greta smiled, acknowledging that adjustments are necessary to save the planet, and moved to the sink to brush her teeth where instead of a toothbrush, she found a willow, mangled on one end to expose wood fibre bristles.

“Your old toothbrush?” noted her godmother, “Also nylon.”

“Where’s the water?” asked Greta.

“Down the road in the canal,” replied her godmother, ‘Just make sure you avoid water with cholera in it”

“Why’s there no running water?” Greta asked, becoming a little peevish.

“Well,” said her godmother, who happened to teach engineering at MIT, “Where do we begin?” There followed a long monologue about how sink valves need elastomer seats and how copper pipes contain copper, which has to be mined and how it’s impossible to make all-electric earth-moving equipment with no gear lubrication or tires and how ore has to be smelted to a make metal, and that’s tough to do with only electricity as a source of heat, and even if you use only electricity, the wires need insulation, which is petroleum-based, and though most of Sweden’s energy is produced in an environmentally friendly way because of hydro and nuclear, if you do a mass and energy balance around the whole system, you still need lots of petroleum products like lubricants and nylon and rubber for tires and asphalt for filling potholes and wax and iPhone plastic and elastic to hold your underwear up while operating a copper smelting furnace and . . .

“What’s for breakfast?” interjected Greta, whose head was hurting.

“Fresh, range-fed chicken eggs,” replied her godmother. “Raw.”

“How so, raw?” inquired Greta.

“Well, . . .” And once again, Greta was told about the need for petroleum products like transformer oil and scores of petroleum products essential for producing metals for frying pans and in the end was educated about how you can’t have a petroleum-free world and then cook eggs. Unless you rip your front fence up and start a fire and carefully cook your egg in an orange peel like you do in Boy Scouts. Not that you can find oranges in Sweden anymore.

“But I want poached eggs like my Aunt Tilda makes,” lamented Greta.

“Tilda died this morning,” the godmother explained. “Bacterial pneumonia.”

“What?!” interjected Greta. “No one dies of bacterial pneumonia! We have penicillin.”

“Not anymore,” explained godmother “The production of penicillin requires chemical extraction using isobutyl acetate, which, if you know your organic chemistry, is petroleum-based. Lots of people are dying, which is problematic because there’s not any easy way of disposing of the bodies since backhoes need hydraulic oil and crematoriums can’t really burn many bodies using as fuel Swedish fences and furniture, which are rapidly disappearing – being used on the black market for roasting eggs and staying warm.”

This represents only a fraction of Greta’s day, a day without microphones to exclaim into and a day without much food, and a day without carbon-fibre boats to sail in, but a day that will save the planet.

Tune in tomorrow when Greta needs a root canal and learns how Novocain is synthesized.

6 Feedbacks on "Once We’ve Eliminated Fossil Fuels…"


The other side of that coin is that without exception all the alternatives do not work. They require huge subsidies to even “appear” to be effective. China built the largest PV (solar panel) manufacturing facility in the world to build these panels to sell to America. This factory uses huge amounts of electricity to manufacture these panels. You would think this would be the greatest opportunity on earth to prove how effective PV power is. But… no! China built a coal fired power plant right beside the factory to generate the electricity because they know PV isn’t practical.

JK Brown

Given the population today, how long would the forests of Scandinavia last?

” It also meant a lot more wood for the charcoal to fuel iron smelters, since smelting one pound of iron required the charcoal produced by burning nearly eight cubic feet of wood. By 1230, England had cut down so many trees for construction and for fuel that it was importing most of its timber from Scandinavia, and turned to what would then have been called an alternative energy source: Coal. ”
–Rosen, William, ‘The Most Powerful Idea in the World’

Ever seen a solar or wind powered smelter or iron furnace? Ever seen what happens when they go cold due to loss of heating source?

Fusil Darne

Ever seen a windmill generate the power to land a 747?

I’m sadly just a vehicle or two away from being able to justify a garage furnace powered by the drain oil produced in the autos.
My carbon footprint doth suffer.


Loved it. – An MIT-trained chemical engineer

Earl T

In what alternate universe is Greta a”cute little girl”??

That stern, humorless face is sour and unforgiving ! She already looks like some poor slob’s first wife and she’s not 15 yet!


You people never understand. Fossil Fuel Free is for “other people”. After all, what they use is trivial and will hardly matter. The dacha will always be warm and comfortable.


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