Ed Mann is wrong

To the Addison Eagle: In his recent letter, Ed Mann states some scientists believe oil might be a product of heat from the Earths core, manufactured on a constant basis. You might remember learning in high school earth science that oil forms extremely slowly over geological time from decaying plankton buried deep within sediments. The outdated hypothesis Mr. Mann cites, known as abiotic oil formation, has its origins in the 1950s Soviet Union. Under Stalin, scientists were rewarded for revolutionary ideas that defied the conventional wisdom of the bourgeois west. The Soviet hypothesis was that methane (the simplest hydrocarbon) formed through natural reactions between minerals in the earth's mantle. This idea is not completely far-fetched: geologists postulate that below mid-ocean ridges, the mineral olivine reacts with water and carbonic acid to create serpentine, magnetite and a small amount of methane. However, it's a big leap between limited production of methane in the hot, pressurized environment of the mantle (60 to 120 miles below the surface) and commercially viable reserves of octane you can put in your gas tank. While abiotic methane might be expected to move upward along fault lines, the geochemical conditions would not be right to transform it into the more complex hydrocarbons which make up petroleum. The world's deepest borehole is about 6 miles - below that, heat and pressure destroy drilling equipment... Yes, a few new oil fields may yet be discovered, especially offshore, but that is just delaying the inevitable. Mr. Mann also cites the existence of large tar sand and oil shale deposits as evidence that oil is not running out. I wonder whether Mr. Mann's enthusiasm for these expensive and massively pollution-intensive oil reserves would be as high if they were located in the Champlain Valley. Do we really want to squander our national heritage just to gain a few more years of driving our gas guzzlers? Do we want to remain dependent on a resource which must be imported, often from unstable or hostile countries? It's not just Mr. Mann who doesn't want to live in third world style. People in the third world dont want to live a third world lifestyle either. As countries like India and China develop, depletion of the earth's fossil fuels and tensions over the remaining reserves will only accelerate. In the interests of full disclosure, I would like to note: a. My masters degree is in geology I no longer work in that field and don't claim any great expertise, but I still enjoy following scientific debates. b. I am married to Peter Macfarlane c. Since Mr. Mann asked: we currently get 25 percent of our electricity through CVPS's Cow Power program and are considering raising that (especially as CVPS brings more farms on line). There is a surcharge of 4 per kWh on that portion of our bill. As a small household, we have not found that too onerous. Gradually switching to more efficient appliances has pretty much balanced out the surcharge. We commend CVPS for taking this small step toward American energy self-sufficiency, while giving local farmers a new source of income. Viveka Fox, Addiso

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