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In Defense of Diesel

BF Randall

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Chris Keefer  0:00  

Welcome back to Decouple. Today I'm joined by BF Randall. BF came to my attention very recently as a result of his punchy, beautifully written and illustrated Twitter threads, which pull back the curtain on all things mining and energy. He has rapidly grown his Twitter following and I think has been surprised by it will learn from the man himself but has been earning the ire of some folks like establishment favorite and energy pundit Michael Lee Bray amongst several others you know, I've had the privilege on Decouple of having guests on for their first podcast appearance, who are kind of in the process of really emerging or blowing up and proud of that, and so it's you know, with with a lot of delayed that, I bring my listenership Mr. B F. Randall, B. F, it's, it's great having you on thank you for making the time.

BF Randall  0:59  

I'm happy to be here.

Chris Keefer  1:00  

Okay, so, I didn't warn you. But we do do self introductions here. I think I'm curious and the listenership is curious. And your Twitter follower ship is curious. Who the hell are you? What do you all about?

BF Randall  1:15  

I am an eclectic kind of guy. I mean, boy, I didn't, I wasn't anticipating that one. So you know, I'm a Utah native. I grew up here. My dad's a civil engineer, I come from a blue collar family. And I am a curious guy. So my mother to this day tells me how happy she was when she was able to send me to grade school. Because I asked her questions all day, every day. How, why, how come? What, you know, why this? Why that? I remember as a child when I asked my mother, how an internal combustion engine works. And she said, Well, I don't know. You put gas in the car, and you turn it on. And it just goes, and I sat there and I thought, you're an adult, and you don't even know how this car works. I'm just very curious. And I just have a need to understand how everything works. I mean, my mom bought me, World Book Encyclopedia, the whole set. I grew up in the 70s. Right. And I devoured the whole encyclopedia. So you know, long story short, I ended up in law school, I ended up practicing law, and I did well in law school, and I was able to pursue what I wanted to pursue that was interested in me and I ended up with environmental law. I ended up doing a lot of Superfund work, solid and hazardous waste, Clean Water Act, kind of EPA program stuff because back in the 90s, you know, Superfund in the United States was just taking off and it was just a wave. And then I ended up at one of the for several years at one of the largest energy firms in the in the world. And I was doing energy work. We were here in Utah, but I was doing energy work all over the we were doing some international energy work. I mean, Alcoa and you know, inner interstate pipelines, natural gas pipelines, hazardous pipelines, m&a work. I mean, it's just, it was crazy, the kind of stuff I was involved in. It was awesome. And I ended up at a bond firm doing kind of, you know, energy work bond work, and from an from a bond counsel standpoint, and that was interesting. And, anyway, I've just, I've done so many different things. I'll stop there.

Chris Keefer  3:35  

I'm kind of struck by, you know, this kind of mild mannered nature. This kind of, you know, everyday guy feeling I get from you, again, as someone who, you know, has not been on Twitter that long and is really experiencing a meteoric rise. I think a lot of people think that you're almost like a professional pundit or something like that. And so I love I love just kind of getting to know you and and what you're sharing with me is very interesting. You know, I have a four year old son, he literally is turning four today. He's in school right now. I can't wait to pick him up and play with him. But, you know, I absolutely love taking him behind the scenes, as you're saying, you know, my friend has a small, you know, motor scooter. And you know, Liam's there to help out with oil changes. And you know, I walk them through all the different parts on the machine, and he can, you know, when he was two years old, I was very proud. One of his words was air intake manifold. I mean, I derive a great pleasure to this is someone who's a bit late to life to really satiating that curiosity of what's behind the curtain. I've been talking a lot about, you know, an analogy, I think, which is that of, you know, the city raised kid and maybe they're a teenager. Their relationship with food is purely, you know, if they even go with their parents to buy it at the grocery store, that's where it starts. And they have no idea about everything that's gone into the food before that and often when they learned they are shocked and maybe they respond by be going becoming a vegetarian, becoming an anti GMO activist who knows What, but I think that's what's really fascinating about your work is that you can take us behind there. And, you know, I spend a lot of time I think denigrating our political class in the West, made up as it is of a lot of lawyers to be honest. And so it's, it's interesting, I was like, you know, this guy is a lawyer like, but he seems to have this kind of engineering discipline to understand again, in detail how the sausage gets made, or, you know, how, you know, cathode copper gets made to be more specific, which, which we're gonna get into. And so it's very interesting learning kind of where that comes from, and that this is sort of a lifelong learning process from you dating back to what sounds like your earliest memories.

BF Randall  5:40  

That's a good summary of where I, where I'm coming from. And in terms of like, this meteoric rise, and like, I joined Twitter in March, just just follow the Ukraine war. And I started adding because I'm a nuclear power, I nuclear power, to me is a big deal. And I started adding, you know, energy people. And it just, I just started making comments on things because it was crazy the things people were saying, they I read threads, and I'm like, my, I have aneurysms, and people don't understand what they're saying. And I started getting followers, and I'm like, Oh, I have an audience. Well, let me kind of, you know, okay, I have an audience now. Maybe some peek, maybe, maybe somebody will listen to me. And I started, like, just playing around with it. And it's just, here we are.

Chris Keefer  6:31  

Do you have any? Do you have any background in content creation? Because again, I think that's why a lot of people who are hostile to you probably have some negative assumptions is that you know, maybe even there's a content creation, not accompany, but maybe maybe you're more than just who you say you are. Because I mean, your threads are amazing. Like, there's a reason that you're getting all these followers a the information is beautiful, but just the writing and the illustrations that you bring to the front, the analogies you make are extraordinary. So any background in content creation, or is this your this is your first foray?

BF Randall  7:05  

Well, okay, I'm a lawyer, lawyers, we are advocates, I've spent 30 years, being a zealous advocate for my client, well, to advocate means you have to present facts, and I work in a when you work in energy and natural resource and technical fields. I mean, I worked my 30 year career, I work with PhDs, engineers, I work with scientists, and and they have, they actually have a very hard time communicating with the real world. So if there's anything in my background that really explains what you just asked, it's, it's the I spent 30 years explaining, or I have to understand the technical part well enough so that I can explain it to a lay audience. And I excel at that. I mean, in my professional career, I am very good at that skill set. So I think that is maybe helps explain what you describe it. I do this in my spare time. I mean, this is

Chris Keefer  8:03  

this is you seem to have a fair amount of spare time, you're telling me because you suffer with insomnia. And you've been up since three in the morning working on another thread just now. So. So hopefully, we've we've answered that. There's I'm sure many more questions and a lot more intrigue there. I want to jump into exploring really a bunch of the threads that you've done, trust me, I think this is going to be an established relationship where you know, if you're willing, I think you're going to be on this podcast, as a returning guest several times, you know, I do want to touch on a bunch of your threads. Again, I guess I'm just before we do that, wanting to explore the impulse, you know, what are some of the things that you mentioned, you know, blowing aneurysms reading some of the stuff that you read on energy, Twitter? What's what's kind of your driving impulse? What's your motivation to do this, to comment on this to create content on it to try and educate people? Beyond that curiosity? What are some of the biggest sort of category errors? You see people making expand from there?

BF Randall  9:00  

I've spent a lot of time pondering about that. I mean, I started that that caught the my first copper thread that got the went viral. I, I was bored. It was a Sunday afternoon. I'm here I'm, you know, just know, well, copper. Hey, well, let me just tell people some basic because people don't even understand the most fundamental basic, like even the most 30,000 foot view of like, where do we get copper? Well, I happen to know about a lot about that. So okay, copper. So I started that thread. And it was a stream of conscious I was not planning it. I wrote that in like, a few hours. I'm just like, No. And then it kind of I it, it went viral. And I was I was so curious. And then I started getting all these comments that were equally bizarre like it was all of this stuff about recycling, like, like magic recycling. I didn't understand. It just took me a long time to process. Why did this go viral? Why do people care what But I said, why are people attacking me? What's going on here? Like what I didn't, and it took me I deleted that thread because it was overwhelming to me. Wow. And it also turns out that as I got some, but I actually had some very good discussions, there are people that I follow, like jurists and other others, who commented on some of my ideas that I was just stream of consciousness, because I kind of went down this, you know, resource limitation idea, like we were running out of copper. And that's not true, because there's conductive. There are metals. There are metals, like, it's not a resource restraint issue on the metal side. But it just took me a long time to just process about what's going on. Why do people care about me? I mean, I had in three days, I had like, 2 million impressions on that thread. And I had to like pause and say, Okay, what's going on? And I had to read I had to anyway, so long story short, I posted a thread yesterday, because I knew I was coming on today. And it said, What Why am I here? What what is my persona? What what is my job? What, what why is this worth my time. And I just posted that thread about trying to help people understand self evident truths. The best truths are those that are self evident. And when Benjamin Franklin struck out, you know, we hold Thomas Jefferson, right, we hold these truths to be sacred, and whatever he said blue, and Benjamin Franklin says, Try again, cross out, self evident. That's a significant idea that because self evident truths, but in advocacy, you never tell somebody how to what to think, like, that's not how humans work. Humans want to see evidence, human humans want to be able to make their own choices. So I got to the end of that thread. And I said, Hey, I'm going to assume a persona, like Twitter's or persona, right? And Abraham Lincoln also said, Hey, all that a lawyer has is time and advice. That's all a lawyer does. I've spent 30 years in the advice business. And when I represent people, I do a lot of writing and advocacy. But you know, it's time and advice. So I'm going to assume this persona, where because what I think is missing in our whole dialogue worldwide, the biggest thing that's missing is nobody is advocating for civilization. We have all the advocacy for industry, all the advocacy for all the special interest groups, who are all doing this crazy, crazy chaos. But nobody is advocate. And we have the environmental movement, like we have all this advocacy for the environment. But what I have seen in my 30 years, and I will I will tell everybody this is that that environmental movement is far more manipulated than people realize. Because in this, the industry is using the environmental movement to get what they want. That's what's happened. I've seen that I actually as a lawyer participated in some of that, representing industry to get to basically fund environmental groups to get to get my client what they want,

Chris Keefer  13:23  

I mean, this this, this talk about self evident. I mean, this is such an obvious, self evident fact. I mean, the environmental movement itself does not produce anything of real value. They are a campaigning group, right? They don't, they don't make their own resources with which they can spend and have $2 billion annual revenues, like the combined revenue of Sierra Club Environmental Defense and NRDC. Clearly, their resources come from elsewhere. And those sources are not all benevolent or even Pro Environmental. And as we've seen, environmental groups, I don't even see being manipulated because, you know, it's in their DNA, for instance, to be anti nuclear. But clearly, there is a puppet master there, you know, and there's, there's clear evidence of the financing relationships, you know, obviously, this is a, an example, I'm picking out because of my particular interest. But, I mean, that is a self evident truth. I think

BF Randall  14:14  

I can I have personal knowledge of I mean, it's anecdotal, but I have personal knowledge that that is actually what's happening. So, again, we can peel away that layer and say, Well, what's for humanity sake, for your, for your son's sake, for I have seven grandchildren? for their sakes, what? There's no, there is no advocacy for civilization. There's, there's none.

Chris Keefer  14:40  

And in the interest of like this, this is, you know, I came I came to this as a climate hawk. I'm still very climate concerned. But there's this tension between civilization and climate action, which is, you know, nuanced and really kind of a bit of a tragedy because we are locked into inevitable climate change just by the kind of inertia within the system, but also So in order to just sustain our population to physically prevent people from starving, you know, as Bazzill of Smeal famously says, We are a fossil fueled civilization, steel, cement, plastics, fertilizer, sure we're getting some of these sort of tech startups coming up with processes, which hypothetically and not at scale are capable of running some of these processes without fossil fuels. But when you actually go beyond the, you know, the fawning journalistic head, the journalistic headlines, which are there's clearly a kind of moral hazard there where journalists are making money writing about startup companies probably getting some kickbacks on that being breathless, and not considering things like scale. But you know, ultimately, these things don't scale up. Now, certainly, they don't scale now. And they don't scale in any kind of a timescale that we're talking about when people say you have 10 years, 20 years, a century. And in terms of their kind of net zero fantasies, you know, within the IPCC, for instance, there's always this kind of manipulation towards 2100, where it's like, and we just do an insane amount of bioenergy and carbon capture and storage. You know, and for me, for me, again, I'm not a climate denier, I'm very climate concerned, I don't want to see the Amazon turn into a savanna. I don't think catastrophe is a helpful framework with which to make sound decisions. Panic isn't good. I don't follow the Greta school. But it is for me, it's this kind of nuanced tragedy. For me, climate used to be something where you know, especially as someone coming from the political left is just stupid. People are not understanding it. And people's resistance to taking climate action is just because they're bad people. They're ignorant. They just need to come on board. And as I've again, kind of got beyond the grocery store shelves and seen the farms. Again, I'm speaking hypothetically here, I kind of grew up on a farm, but started to see more of that within within understanding climate and civilization, that that tension that exists that very real tension that is not resolvable, unfortunately, on short timelines. And is partially resolvable, but only with technologies that are actively opposed by the people who are most concerned about climate. Like it's it's maddening.

BF Randall  17:08  

Okay, well, you just you just put up a whole bunch of things. So I mean, let me kind of piece piece together a couple things. So the first one is when I say I want to advocate for civilization, I want to start with the VC in

Chris Keefer  17:24  

this book I saw you tweeted about it. Just read the whole title for us civilization,

BF Randall  17:29  

civilizations, Philippe Fernandez armesto, the premise of this book, I think, I think it's it's a valid premise, but his theory is, there are all these different definitions of what is civilization like me, we even agree on what is what is civilization? Well, it's writing. It's, it's, it's the monetary system, you know, it's it's it, whatever, you know, there's a tent, there's 1000 different ideas of what is civilization? What is not civilization? This man writes the best prose I have ever read in my life. Like, I read his prose. And I consider myself a good, right, you think I'm a good writer? I mean, you may not agree with everything he says. But this man writes the best prose that I've ever seen. Like, bar none. But his basic premise is, look, you're thinking about this wrong. civilization means the extent to which human beings have been able to change the natural environment to suit their needs. That's a I think that's a valid it's kind of the Roman idea of civilization, right? We have the Romans who just mastered that, but we are weird bearer Roman. That's what we do. We mined, the Anglo Saxons did not mind. They did not mind they did not have the technology. Sorry, they didn't have the tools. And they flourish. Like if you don't have to have mining to flourish, they had wood they, they did well. But we live in a Roman world where it's metal, I mean, the Romans were all about metal, that's was the basis of everything. So what happens is, if you adopt this definition of civilization, which is valid, there is an there is absolute tension between that idea and the natural world because humans are modifying the natural world. And so that tension is ever present. And yet we have this environmental movement that says we're gonna shut that down, like like that, like there. So we just have all of this. There's competition. I'm just that's the nature of that. That's so I think the question for me is if I want to advocate for civilization, why don't we figure out how to use our natural resources and our energy in a way that has the least impact on the natural world but gets us what we need,

Chris Keefer  19:53  

Decouple baby.

BF Randall  19:57  

How, yeah, so I I want to be the advocate for civilization. I mean, you use the decoupling world word I want in my mind, I am going to put on my hat. I'm representing, here's my client. And everything that I everything that I've ever written has been wearing that hat. I am advocating for civilization because I believe civilization is worth maintaining and improving. And we need to there's much work to be done. There are solutions. We're we're focusing on the wrong ones. By I mean, it's not even it's not even a close call. We are we are hyper focused on stuff that doesn't matter. And we're swallowing. We were swallowing camels every day.

Chris Keefer  20:42  

When I saw you made that analogy. What does it mean to swallow camels? I just I'm not with the times on that.

BF Randall  20:48  

It's a it's a bit it's out of the Bible, right? Hey, you know, you hit you hit your Chris or straining at gnats and you swallow a camel. Like you're so hyper focused on something that doesn't matter that you swallow a camel.

Chris Keefer  21:01  

Let's this is a good jumping off point. So what doesn't matter? Walk us through a couple of examples of that. What are the gnats that we're focusing on it? Because it again, it sounds like in your in your pursuit of a kind of pro civilization agenda. You're not advocating that we steamroll nature? Yes, we need to modify it inter in order to have civilization are critically dependent on civilization with a population of 8 billion. But it sounds like you do have very real environmental concerns in the true sense of I wouldn't say being an environmentalist, because I feel like that term is so tainted now. But you're someone who likes nature, who likes the environment, who likes clean air clean water, who has climate concern, is that accurate?

BF Randall  21:39  

Oh, 100%. So the question is, how do we use our natural resources that Mother Nature gave us that we all have to share? And how do we do it in a way that causes the least amount of pollution? The least amount of impacts, but gives us the highest benefits? Like it's this cost benefit there, but there are always trade offs. So, you know, let me ask you your answer your question this way. Nick Touran on Twitter yesterday posted a thread that I think is significant is his thread about, about fast neutron reactors and about energy and it's about metals. Okay. So I want to point out, you know, this, this is something I've shared this is this is the, this shows all energy in the world from 1965 to 2020. If we go to 2020, this is what I'm talking about. Swallow? No, we're straining at gnats and swallowing camels. All think about all the all the Think about every hydroelectric plant on the planet, every power plant every with every single resource that generates electric energy, like every one of them, put them in a bucket. Through the whole world, every coal plant, every every power plant in China, every hydroelectric plant on the planet, every nuclear power plant on the planet, put that all in a bucket, every one of them every combined cycle natural gas power plant in a bucket. That's only 15%. Like to how much how much are we are so hyper focused on electrical energy, we're ignoring. What's the black? What is the black? Well, here's the thing, this is how it works

Chris Keefer  23:22  

for our listeners, or you know, the blind amongst us what exactly you're looking at, because I think this is important.

BF Randall  23:27  

So this is just a chart that shows prime that shows all energy consumption from 1965 until 2020. And it is it is 85% Black, and it is 15%. At the bottom, this is the electrical energy and the black is 85%. So we as a society, we are so hyper focused on because this is where we live. This is Tesla. This is Edison, this is the light bulb. This is this is this matters to us. Because this is this is our environment. This is but what's behind the scenes, this is what's behind what is the black. What is going on here. I mean, I Michael of Brett and I didn't pay attention. But Michael debris mentioned Michael LaBrecque. He said he'd made a comment like, oh BFR is going to have an aneurysm when he figures out that how much fossil energy it takes to make fossil energy. Why is he going to have a cold? And I was like, I didn't know that. I don't understand what he's saying. What? Like ice colstrip Montana, I spent weeks in colstrip. That's a mouth of mine. Did I see how much fossil energy it takes to make fossil? I don't understand what he's saying. I mean, you know, you go to an interstate natural gas power plant or a compressor station for an interstate enormous natural gas. s interstate pipeline. What is in the compressor station? He does not think I've ever been in a compressor station. Well, there are jet engines in that compressor station. What did they run? What what did those jet engines do? Well, I don't. Is that fossil energy? Oh, yeah. Guess what? They're burning natural gas to move natural gas. It's parasitic. I don't know. And he does. He thinks I don't know this.

Chris Keefer  25:25  

Right. And I mean, this, this is something that's interesting, right. And we've had Mark Mills on I think he's a thinker that we both admire. And when he talks about this, you know, transition, this imagined transition, because let's, let's really describe it as what it is, it is imaginary, particularly from the sense of the idea that we are making a significant transition, you know, at fossil fuel use as a percentage of global prime energy, maybe dropping 1% Since we've embarked on on this wind and solar buildup, but he's really saying we're moving from liquids, and gases towards minerals, you know, from liquids and gases towards solids, much harder to transport much harder to extract and fundamentally other than uranium, these are not sources of energy. These are more for storing energy. I should I should I should put the caveat there that yes, wind and solar are extracting energy. But in terms of making the whole Rube Goldberg machine work, it requires storage. And currently, from what I understand, I think this was from Mark minerals as well, the amount of global primary energy that we put into, you know, mining and crushing rock, for instance, and extracting minerals is something like 15% of global primary energy. How does that change as we shift more and more towards inefficient forms of energy harvesting and storage, replacing, you know, fossil fuels when we can move to a mind element, which, you know, gives us a million times the energy density like, and Libra Libra, I mean, he's solid on hydrogen. He's he was at the hydrogen world hydrogen Expo and burst their balloon huge in terms of using hydrogen for fuel. You know, we have a hydrogen, decarbonisation problem not a solution yet, by any means. So that I have some respect for a small amount of his work. But I agree with you. I mean, he is someone who I would categorize in that camp of, and I'm not anti nuclear, anti nuclear person, because he just simply doesn't bring nuclear up anyway, rant over, but particularly that that idea of transitioning from liquids and gases to solids, you know, just the shipping, I guess we Yes, a lot of global shipping goes towards moving fossil fuels around the world. But try doing that with moving solids, minerals, things that are not energy dense. I mean, just expand from from the rant there, if you don't mind.

BF Randall  27:33  

Let's go back to the very top. And when we go, when society goes and says I need stuff I need, I need to build a machine. Okay. And this machine is really special, because it's going to save carbon, like that's the promise. The promise is I'm going to build a machine that will save carbon, but to build the machine, I have to incur carbon. So if it works, I'm going to scale it up like you can scale it up, right? If one works, then a billion will work, right? Because it's energy, we need energy like, but we're but the thing is, we're building machines and nobody understands the physicality of what that means. Mark Mills does. I mean, the person who really got me thinking that I, the reason for my copper thread was I listened to mark Mills podcast on that he has, and he is he is exactly right. And that was that's what I was mulling over when I started the copper thread. It was Mark Mills, because Mark, Mark understands this. So what happens is him indices so let's say that, you know, take any example. So Canada wants to go tablets at the towers, solar farm in Calgary, we're gonna cite a solar farm where they host the Winter Olympics. Okay, that's brilliant. Let's see how that work. What's the promise? We're going out? Now you look at the Calgary grid. The Calgary grid has like, I don't remember the number. It's like 65% natural gas. So we're going to basically go to China and say we want 1.3 million solar panels. China's going to basic Why does Why is China building worse? Why is China building more coal fired power plants today than exist in the world? Because polysilicon is an electricity monster. It takes so much energy back back in the day, the aluminum used to be the big electricity monster like aluminum when Alcoa figured out, oh, we need to build our own Hydros to make aluminum Right, right. I'll call it used to be my client. Many states did the legal work for Alcoa. I've been in Alcoa as offices I know how Alcoa works. The law firm I worked out was was the law firm that did all the Alcoa stuff during during the New Deal. I know that whole story. But polysilicon if you think I'll cut, if you think aluminum uses a lot of electric energy polysilicon is like, oh, you know, hold my beer, right? And so but guess what, you can't recycle polyester. Anyway. So let's look at this polysilicon uses met coal

Chris Keefer  30:21  


BF Randall  30:23  

That's why it's black. It's, it's okay, so we're gonna go to China, and we're gonna order 1.3 million solar panels that include all kinds of minerals, like hundreds of minerals, silver, and copper and aluminum and glass, like how much how much energy does it take to make the glass and the solar panels. And basically, China is buying coal and oil and petroleum. They're turning that into a machine. They're shipping that with bunker see fuel halfway around the world. It's getting shipped by truck all the way up to Canada installed. And, but people don't understand what really happens on the grid.

Chris Keefer  31:07  

Oh, my God, we got to keep all the fossil fuels in the ground. So anyway.

BF Randall  31:12  

So So basically, the people in Calgary, I mean, the environment, the kind of the people who think that this is good, they hate I mean, how many times have you heard people talk about, you know, the fossil fuel industry subsidy like it the subsidies of the fossil fuel industry? Well, you go look at the tavern, go look at how much the Taverners solar plant is going to cost. I don't even know how much it is. But millions and millions and millions and millions of dollars. How much of those millions of dollars literally went to go by Metcalfe and literally went to buy bunker see fuel to ship that and literally went to buy all of the kinds of resources that we actually need for to grow food. We're competing. So what happens is, but you scale that up, and you say, Well, what happens in Canada? Well, during the winter, I mean, regardless of the capacity factor kinds of ideas. How does the grid work? Well, guess guess how much coal Calgary is going to save? During the life? The whole lifetime of that? How many coal plants? Are we going to be able to demo? Because of this big solar plant? Zero? How many lumps of coal? Will that whole power plants save in its entire life? How many lumps? How many mountains of cold zero, none. Because coal plants run at baseload. It's a boiler. You can't you don't it doesn't load follow. I mean, you just you just pound the coal into that sucker. And it just goes and goes and goes, you know, you can't cycle a coal plant. So when the Calgary grid is not going to be like, Oh, we got a solar plant, let's turn off the coal plant, it doesn't work that way, what they're going to do is they're going to go to their dual combined cycle natural gas plants, because they're like a pedal like, it's like a gas pedal, like you have the you have the the daily, minute by minute second by second, you have that load sucking up. It just is this, it's this like ocean, a second ocean, the grid is. And so the only you have the baseload that's going all the time you have the hydro, you have the coal, those stay on 24/7, the nuclear? Well, but nuclear can cycle too. But I don't want to get into that. So anyway, during during the whole life of this plant in Canada, as the solar energy comes into the grid, that the demand goes down, right, because you're going to take the solar if you can, but what's what is making up the gap is gas. So basically, the people of Canada just spent millions and millions of dollars for coal and oil and petroleum, to save a little bit of gas, on the grid, they are literally they're literally trading, high value, fossil fuels for gas. That's all the savings we're gonna get. That's, that's a reverse with that. That's the opposite of what we want.

Chris Keefer  34:09  

So, you know, Michael Libra, in his response to the responses, you know, he kind of tried to trash your argument and saying, you know, this guy clearly doesn't understand that a lot of fossil fuels are used to extract and transport fossil fuels. And then he said energy return on energy invested is bollocks. I mean, we can we can analyze that for a second. But in terms of you know, how to assess embodied carbon in this project in electric vehicles. How is that accounted? How accurate is it? I mean, to kind of to push back on your arguments. I mean, you know, building a nuclear plant is also going to require a bunch of fossil fuels to build I mean, that's just an obvious tourism, you know, that I know that right. Is it just a matter of which which requires more in terms of making the choices that maintain civilization, while decoupling or hurting nature in the natural world or environment or air quality is little as possible, you know, how confident can you be that that that solar farm spares no coal or, you know, you hear about payback times, right, like a wind turbine will pay back its carbon debt. I mean, that seems like bizarre accounting because there's carbon embodied that carbon doesn't go away. Maybe the wind displaces some future carbon, but the carbon is there. In any case, like how confident can you be about those sorts of things like payback, like embodied energy? How well do we understand the way the sausage is made in terms of the fossil fuels expended to build so called clean energy?

BF Randall  35:31  

I think the most important thing I've ever seen on this topic is Mark Mills article that he published where it was really just focused on the Eevee vehicle, the battery. But what Mark found, and again, it, I think it would just take, you know, take me too long to kind of really get into specific I would, I would need expert witnesses. But what Mark found when when Mark looked at the all of the published data about the EB cars, what's the promise of the Eevee? Right? Here's what's the promise, we're going to spend a lot we're going to we're going to expend carbon right now, we're going to Why does an Eevee cost $20,000? More than a gas vehicle? What is that $20,000? What is that premium? A lot of that premium is literally, the people who made that car, went to the fossil fuel industry and knocked on their door and said, I have a purchase order. Because the every mine that ran is buying diesel fuel to make it and coal and all the fossils. So they that $20,000 is literally a fossil subsidy. It's not just like we have this. It's like an abstraction like, well, we have all of these labels, and I want to just cut through the crap and say, No, there's people who buy an Eevee or literally paying a fossil fuel subsidy, because of all the fossil fuels that went to make the Eevee. That's embodied carbon, that money, you could you could trace the money. When I go buy an Eevee, you can trace my $20,000. And it'll end up in fossil fuel.

Chris Keefer  37:03  

Right? But that isn't to make the battery isn't the promise that yes, there's embodied carbon in there. But over the lifetime of the car, you're gonna burn less gas. And so it's it's a net benefit,

BF Randall  37:13  

but now we have a conversion problem. Because the promises it'll say gas, right gasoline. And this is one of the biggest things I wanted to talk about. I haven't really talked a lot about this. But I want to turn well, this is something that people do not understand. This is the fundamental issue that people do not get. And it goes to the diesel engine. But industry relies on heavy distillates. And the petroleum industry actually hates gasoline. Did you know that they hate gasoline. Gasoline is a nuisance to if I'm the refiners that I know that I've worked on. They hate gasoline gasoline is not a moneymaker for them that they make money. Don't get me wrong, but it's a byproduct. They're a bit they make jet fuel JP five, they make diesel fuel. They make heavy distillate. So that's where they make their money. Because why? Because industry needs the heavy distillates.

Chris Keefer  38:17  

And to just explain just briefly, you know, to those of us like myself, who are new to your tweet and new to understanding, even petroleum refining, you know, I understand you heat a huge vat of crude oil and it it settles out but just quickly explain what a heavy distillate czar and

BF Randall  38:31  

right so with refining, refining, it's very simple. I mean, if you understand specific gravity, and it's the same with with electric smelters the same way, so if you heat something, and you and you make it hot enough, and any element it will separate based on it's based on the specific gravity of the element. I mean, that's like, you know, it's just how it works. So you take crude oil, and you put it in a in a big tank that's vertical tank, and you heat it up, because crude oil is like a mixture of all sizes of hydrocarbons, you have, you have little they have little hydrocarbons, you have Longridge and the longer the chain, the thicker the hydrocarbon. And so you put it in a in a tank and you heat up that tank and then it's the crude oil will separate based on the specific gravity so you get the really light at the very top you're gonna get gas, you're gonna get vapors, you'll get propane, you know, when you do your barbecue and your propane tank that comes off the top of distillation. And that's actually a waste like, like they deal with it, but they don't they don't like this is waste. This is the light. The light stuff is not where they make their money. It's a waste. They make their money on the heavy stuff. But with crude oil to make the heavy stuff you have to make the light stuff. It's automatic

Chris Keefer  39:59  

and so The heavy stuff again is jet fuel DS. I mean, Jeff does at the top of the heavy diesel, kerosene crud,

BF Randall  40:05  

what's below that kerosene glow that? Well, you're gonna be like, you know, kerosene and I'm not I'm not a petroleum engineer, but you got to talk to a petroleum engineer, but it's basically you know, you have kerosene which is jet fuel, and then you have the diesel fuels and they have different grades and then you get into more like the the heating oils, things that maybe wouldn't be so good on the engine but you know, you have the heating or all of it. Okay, cool. And at the very bottom, you're gonna get the bunker see fuel that runs the ships, and you're gonna get asphalt you drive on your asphalt road. Well, that came out of the very bottom. And, and then then the type of crude matters a lot. So if it's paraffinic crews, so you guys paraffinic crude. The heavy stuff is wax, and it doesn't mean like we don't make asphalt it doesn't make us well, but it's wax it it's slippery. And so the bottom of that is wax well that's not really good for much and except to make diesel fuel and heavy distillates. So what we want what the mark what civilization wants is a lot of heavy diesel fuel, like we want the heavy distillate

Chris Keefer  41:13  

and just just for for the dummies out there, myself included. Again, it's not a pejorative, like why is diesel so important? I mean, again, probably self evident, but just walk us through it quickly. Or the heavy distillates in general, maybe not so specific on diesel. But

BF Randall  41:26  

let's just talk let's just talk diesel. Well, jet fuels are easy. We all fly. That's that's kerosene. Let's talk about diesel because diesel is the lifeblood, it is literally the blood of civilization. I mean, we start with this premise that civilization is the extent to which we modify Mother Earth to get what we need. And the actual horsepower that makes that happen, the actual work that makes that happen is diesel fuel. And, and it is because of Rudolf Diesel, what that man did that Tesla and Edison don't deserve anywhere near the credit that they get, well, they take way more credit than they deserve. Rudolf Diesel deserves way more credit because he designed an internal combustion engine that is almost thermodynamic, it is thermodynamic dynamically perfect as as a term as an internal combustion engine can be. So but it's not just that. So think of it. So the reason the reason it works with oil is oil burns slowly. So gasoline burns fast. That's why you know, you're driving your car and you've had that's gasoline because it's light, it burns fast. diesel fuels, oil, it burns slow. So you think of a diesel engine, like you know, like Chugga, chugga, chugga, chugga. And so what you end up with is you get low rpms and high torque, that engine drive civilization. So look around, just stop and look around where you are. Think about any anything that you see, where did it come from? No, the drywall the image right in my wall right here. Where did that come from? Well, it came from a mine. And what was the primary energy source that that was used to make my drywall. They're mostly diesel fuel, because every single diesel engine, every trip, every farm tractor, every piece of heavy equipment, every long haul truck, every diesel, electric locomotive. All industry, the work that actually built civilization that we know is diesel fuel.

Chris Keefer  43:42  

And that's all embodied. It's funny, because we had John Constable on and he talks about like, you know, these energy conversions and that we kind of live on on the shoulders of giants. In that sense. He gives the example of you know, a road in Britain that is built through a marsh and it's still the bed of that road is still wool in bags that holds that road up. And that's an energy conversion that is preserved for millennia, essentially. But our drywall I mean, that's, I mean, it's not gonna last forever. But I mean, that's the product of an energy conversion. It's embodied energy. Like, it's just the more you deep dive energy, it's just like my glass panes, your embodied energy. I mean, again, self evident, but we take it completely for granted. You know, we can understand the materials that are there and that they're embodied and they stay for a long time. But when we use less energy, John Constable says there's a consequence for that. And that's a potentially a threat to civilization, and that that really pushes back against the paradigm of energy efficiency. I mean, I don't fully know where I stand on this, because certainly there is a kind of gluttonous use of energy. I don't think we all need to be driving big SUVs and things like that. But on the other hand, there's a real lack of appreciation for that embodied energy rant over I don't want to disrupt what you were just saying, but forgive forgive me as a host is one of my flaws.

BF Randall  44:54  

No, but okay, well, let's go back to the Eevee idea. So I by an Eevee on the promise that it will save gasoline. Okay, so that's the promise. Okay. And that's great. Like, makes sense, we're going to save gasoline. So basically we're going to make the to make the machine like Mark Mills, I think keep makes a valid point. It's the we need to keep focusing on the what these machines are. These are machines, you know, Thera, knows how to machine. Thera knows how to machine with a promise that's going to save blood, right.

Chris Keefer  45:27  

And just just for listeners who aren't familiar Theranos, Ace tech startup company, promising a prick of blood would be able to offer a gazillion lab results that would radically reshape healthcare, preventative medicine, etc. Turned out to be based upon completely fraudulent technology. She had powerful backers and the former Secretaries of Defense a who's who, of the establishment, which lent her the credibility to maintain this fraud for five or six years. And then the house of cards fell down. So just just most people know what it is, forgive me if you already do, but

BF Randall  45:57  

you know, you're a medical doctor. I like asking questions more than answering them. So I mean, is it even in your mind, I mean, based on your medical screen, say you didn't even know about Theranos, I came to you and I say, hey, I can I can promise I have a machine that with one drop of blood, I can get all the all the blood work that you need for a patient with one drop. What are you thinking?

Chris Keefer  46:21  

I'm thinking that you're probably guilty of a category error, and you're applying something like Moore's law, you know, cramming transistors onto a silicon chip to making a category or applying that to laboratory testing. Again, I love Mark Mills, in part because he does not discount innovation and the possibility of radical changes. I mean, who would have predicted? Like, who would have predicted the diesel engine? And you know, 1750, for instance, but you know, and again, I'm not a laboratory scientist, I'm a medical doctor. But yes, it does seem incredulous. But again, we see those that category are particularly of Moore's law applied everywhere, you know, batteries are gonna get infinitely better solar is gonna get infinitely cheaper. It's going to, you know, progress, maybe not infinite, but it's going to progress at the speed of Moore's law. And because Tech has been so dominant in the economy, I mean, look overvalued tech stocks are looking at, you know, fucking Elon just bought Twitter for 44 billion tick tock is worth I think, 250 billion more than some of the top commodities firms in the world. Rant over. But yes, it does raise some suspicion.

BF Randall  47:28  

Right. So let me just continue this thread. So. So you have you have you're skeptical, right? But you but you're open to tech, right? Like you're, you're saying, Okay, well, this, it's maybe they came up with something like I'm open to this. But say that you're you're an investor, say that you you have you're a billionaire, and I'm and I have this machine, I say, Hey, I've got a machine. And this is high tech, this is Silicon Valley Tech, and here's my here's my spreadsheet. And here's all my here's all my evidence. And I just want this good. Listen, you're gonna get out on the ground floor. If you're the if you if you're the first one to give me a billion dollars, you're going to be able to get the lowest stock price because this is going to go like you're going to be okay, so, so here, what are you going to want for me to prove that my tech works? Because it's a machine, right? What do you want? Some evidence, right? You're gonna want me? Sure. Okay. So that's the, that's the problem that I have with this whole renewable, you know, this renewable energy idea is that we're being sold machines on a promise. And what's the promise? Well, let's kind of just thought look, I mean, the Evie promise, the promise is, and we have 1617 states that are looking at you know, mandating EVs that we're talking about a major major, the scale just makes my brain hurt. But what's the promise we're gonna save gasoline? Gasoline kind of save gasoline. So meanwhile, to save gasoline, think of the building probably trillions of dollars of new money that will flow into mining industry. Well, the mining industry is going to turn around and say, Hey, Exxon, Mobil, I now need, I now need five times more diesel fuel than I ever ordered from you last year. And Exxon Mobil is gonna say, Oh, well, where am I going to get the diesel fuel? Well, I only have like, I only have like crude, white. One, one barrel of light crude only makes a gallon of diesel, the rest is gasoline. So scale it up.

Chris Keefer  49:37  

And this is fascinating, because if you're using I guess, what are what are often thought of pejoratively is, you know, heavy legis lower grade petroleum like maybe what Venezuela produces what the tar sands produce, what you're saying is available that paraphilic oil in Utah that produces more diesel than light, sweet crude, is that oh, is that correct? A

BF Randall  49:56  

lot more but that's the problem. So if if I If it were possible if I'm a refiner, if I could just push a button and say today, I'm going to make 100% diesel fuel first my diesel fuel button on the magic button, and my refinery is going to make 100% diesel fuel. I would do that all day every day 24/7 I wouldn't even make gasoline but that that is not how it works. So, look at the throughput at the refinery if I only have like crude and the techno pollution the the the shale gas only makes light oils like so our economy in the United States. Our economy is right now our our refineries are dominated by by light Kreutz that don't make any diesel. Wow, that's what the United States stockpile of heavy distillate is at. We have like a 30 day supply of heavy distillates because of our absolute insane energy policy, that the heavy distillates are the lifeblood of civilization. And we have a 30 day supply because we get the more the more fracking we do the more light creates we get we don't need like Kreutz we're swimming and like creatively.

Chris Keefer  51:09  

So the US is not energy independent are fossil fuel independent when it comes to the heavy distillate and Is that Is that why like importing again Venezuelan heavy crude

BF Randall  51:19  

we want to we need to heavy crude like civilization is dying for him. So imagine this the mining industry now. Or you know, the state say we need millions and millions of EVs. The mining industry says great, we're gonna make money on this. But we have this mapped out. We're gonna go to Exxon and say we need millions and millions of gallons of diesel fuel and ExxonMobil is gonna say, Okay, well guess what? I've only got like crude, I have Intermediate crude, which makes a little bit more. What I really want is heavy crude, because if I have heavy crude, I can make diesel fuel. But guess what I've only got like crude. So now I have to process Brazilians times more like crude to make a little bit of diesel fuel to go mine the battery minerals. And what is my byproduct gasoline I'm making, I'm making 10 times 2030 times more gasoline than I ever made. Well, what's going to happen? But the promise of the Eevee is to save gasoline. But unless we solve our heavy crude problem, we're just going to make a significant it's kind of like the the order grades or grades are reducing. So we have to process more. Yeah, it's the same kind of thing within the refinery side. The order grades the the input the feedstock is going up. It's it's lighter. And so that means less, it's less order, right? It's less, it's less of what we need, so we have to make more. Well, what happens I'll ask you what happens when the petroleum industry makes gobs and gobs and gobs of cheap gasoline on the market and floods the market with cheap gasoline?

Chris Keefer  53:03  

Gas prices go down? And we build SUVs that are larger and larger? And

BF Randall  53:07  

but but no, the the problem is that politicians are doing this to save gasoline. Okay, cause and effect, what are they going? This is my aneurysm I like it is so obvious to me this is happening and nobody understands this.

Chris Keefer  53:24  

But if we're if we're over produced, I don't know, if you're arguing that we're over producing gasoline right now, like gas prices are through the roof. It's a major electoral issue, Biden would do anything to get gas prices down to try and win the midterms. You know, and like, you know, I have these assumptions, which I feel are self evident. And you're sort of really giving me some cognitive dissonance because, you know, sweet crude, I mean, it's called Sweet we like sweet things, right? I thought that was the really valuable stuff and the shit like the heavy stuff coming out of Venezuela or the tar sands was garbage. No. Okay. This is this is this is a paradigm shift for me. You're very convincing I guess maybe some climate hawks to say produce all that extra gasoline and just put it back underground carbon sequester it,

BF Randall  54:09  

okay. I'm an environmental lawyer. The last thing you want to do is introduce gasoline into the environment that would be gasoline is terrible. Get gasoline has benzene, ethyl VTex, benzene, ethyl benzene, toluene xylene. It it's it's fatal. Like if you can get cancer from like benzene, we'll give you cancer. We don't want gas. I don't want to flood the earth with gasoline like that's because that just means people will pay the third world will just buy more build more cars. So we're pushing the string like until we solve the diesel problem. So here's another way to look at it. But I see all this stuff about you know, all the minerals that the that are going to be required for the transition. And, and it's a lot there's a lot of minerals what I see is not just the minerals are, they are what they are. But underneath that mineral underneath the minerals is our oceans of petroleum that are going to be required to get the minerals. And most of that petroleum is diesel, it's heavy, we the heavy distillates. And that process is going to necessarily result in gasoline as a byproduct coming off the top. It we're creating all these perverse incentives without understanding cause and effect basic cause and effect. And does this make sense?

Chris Keefer  55:33  

So just Just quickly, and again, I'm asking you some I think probably very naive questions. Be patient with me here. It sounds like you're arguing it. There's a Vaslav says four pillars of civilization, cement, steel, fertilizer, plastics. Sounds like you're arguing there's a fifth pillar and that's diesel fuel. Oh, I'm starting to sound like an American saying diesel we say we say diesel up here. But, I mean, is there any scale? Again, because there's within within within the Decarbonization, clean tech world, there's, you know, a lot of kind of, again, feverish ideas that we have the replacements, you know, for these key things just need to be scaled Bill Gates, you know, there's just a green premium that needs to be paid. These things are scalable. Is there a scalable replacement of diesel on the horizon now in 10 years and 100 years and 1000 years?

BF Randall  56:20  

So I've not I've not read? I mean, I've heard about buses, that bus a lot of people have talked to me about I should read his books. I'm sorry. I have

Chris Keefer  56:28  

I have a book. We're book clubbing. We're book clipping. I think his most readable book right now join our book club and I want you to lead a book club on civilization, I would

BF Randall  56:37  

contend I mean, what do you just went through plastics, steel, cement, fertilizer, lasers. Okay, so that's fine. So we put those up, we put those pillars on top, those those pillars are floating on top of heavy distillate. I mean, there's an ocean of heavy distillate that made that stuff like you can't ignore you can't ignore it. And this is why because of because of Rudolph diesel, and so let me let me answer your question two ways. One, one way of to replace that one idea I've seen is to replace the diesel engine. And that is, that is a double aneurysm to me. That is the most loot like we're going to read we're going to replace the diesel engine with batteries.

Chris Keefer  57:20  

Sounds a bit like circular line.

BF Randall  57:21  

So my brain just exploded that so the reason that there are some companies like the heavy equipment covered Cat Cat and you know Komatsu, they make they actually make they make an Eevee an Eevee cat with the battery. Oh, they do that only because of the ESG movement, they're trying to they're trying to it's greenwashing. Like, that is the most ludicrous thing we're gonna replace the diesel engine with a battery. To me that is

Chris Keefer  57:58  

we are wasting and swallowing a camel

BF Randall  58:00  

we are wasting are not even we don't want to replace the diesel engine. The diesel engine is the most powerful engine ever devised by humans, it's able to convert oil. It's actually not hard. It's not that hard to make oil. And I'm going to talk about decoupling, and maybe we won't even get to it today.

Chris Keefer  58:20  

Or we're going over an hour for sure. I'm gonna keep you as long as it takes.

BF Randall  58:24  

The diesel engine is the most powerful engine ever devised by humans. We don't appreciate how powerful how important that is to civilization. We want to protect the diesel engine as much as possible. That is the that is the work unless we want to go back to manual labor and crushing rocks with hammers. Like if we want to be like the Romans. Okay, great. But the diesel engine is is the heart to me is the heart of civilization. It is the powerhouse that actually does all the work.

Chris Keefer  58:56  

So distillates are the blood and the diesel engine is the pump. Oh,

BF Randall  59:00  

and the average person does not even begin to appreciate how important this is. So yeah, the diesel engine is our heart because it goes Chugga chugga chugga chugga. And it's slow, and it makes high horsepower or high torque, low rpms the value of that and kinetic energy. That's how Kennecott moved a mountain is with diesel, the diesel that's

Chris Keefer  59:25  

the largest compromise

BF Randall  59:27  

one of the largest. Okay, but that's how that's how would you go back to the civilization idea like how do we move stuff the diesel engine is how we do stuff. But the decent a civilization needs the diesel engine like that is it would be it would be totally destructive of civilization to try to pivot away from the diesel engine. But it is just common sense right? Think of every single farm tractor on the planet. They're all diesel engines. There's a reason for that because it gasoline engine Once the RPMs are too high, so if you get the RPM is too high, you can't get torque, it's a torque issue, you can't move it just it's kinetic energy. So the best way to convert, the best way to generate kinetic energy is to use oil heavy oil to run a diesel engine, which is thermodynamically as perfect as humans have ever devised. So we take oil and we make a we have a slow moving Chugga chugga chugga. Like it's almost like the steam engine, it is equivalent to the steam engine. Right we have we have high torque, low RPM power, that's the steam engine. Problem with the steam engine is a thermodynamically. It was terribly inefficient. Right? Diesel came back and he said, I'm going to make an engine that is thermodynamically as perfect as humans can make it. And it is it is the most thermodynamically perfect engine that exists that has ever been devised. It is the most powerful engine that humanity has ever created in the history of the planet. And people don't understand this, that Rudolf Diesel to me is far more important than Edison, the lightbulb is great. Like I don't I'm not trying to diss Edison. Sure, and AC is awesome. I mean, Tesla Awesome. Is there a

Chris Keefer  1:01:18  

scalable? And again, I think this is turning into a rhetorical question. And again, this illustrates the tragedy of climate change where if we follow the extinction, rebellion dictates, then billions of people do die this decade as they claim will die from climate change. I'm not trying to minimize climate change. I do think we're a little catastrophist that the harms are more I mean, the serious, serious, you know, billions of lives threatening harms are centuries away. And again, this is the tragedy. Our lifeblood leads us towards a warming climate, which is going to have serious impacts, they may be farther off than we think. But sea level rise is not a joke. It may take a lot longer, right. I mean, we don't all about climate sensitivity and co2 sensitivity. But I want to emphasize, I take climate very seriously. And there is this tragedy that our lifeblood, our fertilizer, our diesel, our whole way of existing and there is no I mean, there's anti civilization back to the earth ridiculous people whose program if applied more generally as genocidal. I mean,

BF Randall  1:02:18  

this, let me go back to an earlier question, because I think I just want to put this in context. If we go back to this, this energy chart where it's all black, and we talked about the all the all the electricity that goes into this 15%. And the more stuff, the more machines the more physicality that we need to support the 15%, the more black we need, be. And then also the black actually, we need black to make black. So this is like this is its own engine, because it requires I mean, Michael Liebreich is correct. Making Black takes a lot of black to make black. So so this is a dysfunctional system. And but the more stuff that we need down here, and the electric side, the more physicality, the more dams, the more the more machines because these are all machines. The more we command black, because we need it, the only way to make the machines is to is to go knock on ExxonMobil store and say I need diesel fuel. Well, then this then ExxonMobil is going to say, Where do I get it? Meanwhile, the XL pipeline that was bringing the tar sands that the environmental movement is like painting this evil, evil evil tar sands. They're actually in the Utah Black Wax crude and we have the environmentalists going nuts. I just had to aneurisms because they don't understand how important that the heavy distillate. Because if we can get more heavy distillate we're gonna make less gasoline.

Chris Keefer  1:03:48  

I want to you know, I think we've, we've, we've got this now. There's more depth to it. But in terms of using the time we have left wisely, and I do have to go pick up my son from school early because it's his birthday. But we still have another 1520 minutes. You know, again, I think we both share climate concern. You know, we've talked about, you know, going after these gnats and swallowing camels again, I've gotta go read the Bible to make sure I've got that analogy fully understood. But suffice it to say, like for you, what is the low hanging fruit of decarbonisation? We're both sounds like we're both nuke bros here, but but walk me through that program because it sounds like we are we are committed for centuries, probably millennia to diesel to some of these key fossil fuels. We can maybe try and minimize them. How do we do that in an intelligent way?

BF Randall  1:04:35  

I had a legal problem for for I've been dealing with for a long time. I couldn't figure it out. And so we had a had a very good Locklear come this summer and she's she's great. And I gave her this. I said, Hey, here's my question. I have a here's, here's, here's, I want you to answer my question. And she went off and did her thing. She came back and she said, I looked at this and I don't understand your question because your question And sucks. And I said, What do you mean? My question sucks? It's, it's, it's my question, this is what it is. And just answer my question. She went, Oh, I'm having a hard time with this because your question sucks. And I'm like, okay, so Well, I wasn't that I was actually quite open to it. But it was like, oh, pause. What do you think the question is? And we have, and we spent, we spent a lot of time talking about what the question is. Because if you don't ask the right question, you'll never get to the end. So here's two little tidbits. And I'll just be brief. Because we have to end we'd go back to this big, scary scary black chart. 15%, electrical energy 85% Black. The more stuff we need down on the electric side, the more black we need. So that's counterproductive. So we want to get the electric energy with the smallest stuff, the smallest number of input, he's mining. Yeah. So how do we do that? Well, go look at Nick torrents thread that he posted yesterday. It is He? It is I can't emphasize how important that thread is. What he's saying is, if you look at this thread, so the top to bottom of this 2020 energy usage is 600 Giga joules of energy total. That 600 Giga joules. Do you know how much uranium was mined at the very end of this? 2020? See that year? Yeah, how much uranium was mined? 20 How much uranium was mined in 20? In that year? Not very much. Because there's not a big demand for yellowcake right now. They

Chris Keefer  1:06:43  

measure they measure it in pounds. I mean, it's gonna talk about barrels of oil. And that's interesting to me that we measure uranium in pounds, not tons. Not Yeah, there aren't talking about tons of coal cert,

BF Randall  1:06:51  

there aren't that many uranium plant. There just aren't there's not much demand for your uranium market has been flat has been $20 $25 forever. It's ticking up now. But the the actual uranium mining is de minimis right now it is the miners are all just sitting back waiting for the market. So in 2020, it was kind of a low point for volume. So this is 600 Giga joules of consumption. If we could take that uranium that was mined in that one year. And we put it in a fast neutron reactor and we recover all the thermal value of that uranium. How much energy would that just that one year? How much energy? Would that be? 3500 Giga joules. And we weren't even trying

Chris Keefer  1:07:39  

answer and the turret has 600 giga, this,

BF Randall  1:07:40  

this whole Scary, scary chart. That's freaking everyone out number down here. We're down here. It was wind and solar, and all this garbage energy. And we mined that same year, three and a half 1000 Giga joules of thermal energy. I mean, it's off the chart. Why are we using that to be our energy?

Chris Keefer  1:08:04  

Okay, I mean, so clearly, clearly, uranium? Is not you can't power a machine that's high torque, you know, working on mine or working in a field? I mean, there were attempts to make atomic locomotives No, no, no, no. Right. So so there are I get sounds like there are some services. And again, I always talk about the challenge with climate change is not to make clean energy, particularly not to make clean energy, and we don't need it it is to replace fossil fuel services. And let's be realistic, we cannot replace all fossil fuel services. It sounds like, again, this conundrum of high torque machines that can do farming, transportation, etc, is a challenge. I mean, maybe we can use again, clearly for shipping. We know that nuclear propulsion works great, but you know, for small things like tractors, etc, that's not going to happen. So

BF Randall  1:08:47  

we're talking past each other. Okay, I'm talking about three and a half 1000 Giga joules of thermal. So the first thing we need to do is every single thing that thermal energy can directly replace in here, we need to nuclear eyes it. Yes, thermal energy. So I think the most the most significant thing that has happened lately, is trisul fuel and high temperature gas reactors. and Dow Chemical finally is saying we're going to do a small modular reactor. And we're going to we're going to, we're going to directly replace our thermal energy needs with nuclear power. Because the other thing with nuclear power is we haven't even scratched the surface because the only we've been using whitewater reactor technology that is, is it doesn't even touch the potential for thermal energy with nuclear power because it's the 60% waste heat and you're in a white, you're constrained by the water circuit, you're just constrained. So when you get you get past the water and you see a high temperature gas reactor, you're talking about 5000 c 7000 c one reactor. I just had a few points of clarification. So there's no confusion And when we were when I was talking about high temperature gas reactors and non light water reactors, and I was mentioning operating ranges and you know, 5000 c 7000. C, I did not mean to suggest that that is actually the useful operating temperature that a process could take, because that's way too much heat, it's way more than a process could take. So the maximum process intake, I understand would be in the range of 1000, C 1200. C would be the top. But that's kind of the point. Because, you know, when you look at process heat, you're really looking at the core issue of what's going on here. You know, natrium is producing 500. C. And everyone who knows process engineering is looking at that and saying, Why in the world? Are you wasting 500 C, just to make steam? That's kind of crazy, because 500 C is very, very valuable, because it can be used in so many processes. And there are two other little points of clarification that I think they're mentioning. The first is that lightwater reactors, that are the nuclear power plants that we're used to, you know, that we know about their operating temperature is in the range of, you know, 250 C, but that's under pressure that that's high, that's high pressure steam, and there's a lot there's risk associated with that. But but think just think of the operating temperature that the maximum temperature of a light water reactor, you're talking about 250 C, so you know, natrium getting to 500. C is astronomical, and then with process heat, like Dow Chemical, I mean, you're talking in the range of, I don't know, I don't know what that process heat is, I mean, it might be 567 100, C 800, C, something like that. But it's astronomical. And if we want to change the world, that is much more important than making electricity. And I guess my final point is, and we're getting back to the diesel fuel and petroleum issue is this. If you look at the whole world, and the industries that consume process heat, the number one process heat consumer in the world, and it's all carbon energy is the petroleum industry. And what are they doing, they are consuming the most process heat in the world to make diesel fuel and jet fuel. And the byproduct or the they have to make gasoline to do that. They dumped the gasoline. So you know that the petroleum industry is actually it the biggest part of all the the big black on the scary chart is really the petroleum industry using fossil fuel heat to make diesel fuel and also dumped gasoline, which goes back to my main decoupling argument that I think we're looking at the wrong problem, if we can figure out how to make diesel fuel out of not crude oil. That's the decoupling that will matter most. So if I'm industry, and I can have an engine that will make 5000 C 7000. C, how much? How much carbon am I going to directly replace with that one reactor in a factor in where I can use heat, like I need to be able to use heat that will do that. One, that one thing will decarbonize more of humanity than every solar plant and every windmill that was ever created every Eevee because we're, we're using 5000 See, like, Are you kidding me? 5000. See,

Chris Keefer  1:13:42  

okay, okay, so but this this is interesting, because I see folks like libre and other clean tech people saying, we hate the use of global primary energy, because it includes thermal energy, a lot of that's just efficient. It's just heat pollution essentially to the atmosphere. It disadvantages renewables because renewables don't make heat.

BF Randall  1:13:59  

I don't even want to talk about that. That's just expected. Just expand

Chris Keefer  1:14:03  

briefly, because again, this seems to be a just a huge cognitive error. I'm just scratching the surface. I'm just becoming aware of it. You've thought about this a lot more just please expand on that just a tiny bit, even though you feel it's so self evident. Just again, humor, those of us that are you know, newer to this field.

BF Randall  1:14:19  

Okay. The way you just described the argument you just described I have never read I can't respond to that. Maybe next time. I mean, I don't want to waste my brain cells on kind of nonsense. But I mean, to me, it's nonsense. I don't mean to offend anybody but it again, that's an that's a camel or somebody is forceful. That's a NAT i We're wasting our time on Nats. But if you can get here's the i One of the things I did in my careers cogeneration. So if I can go to industry and I have I have a cost effective nuclear reactor that can make 5000 C. At that point, I can use that process heat directly in my process. And then the waste heat I can do I can do kojem Koh Gen is beautiful Koh Gen is I'm going to take the waste heat out of that 5000 C, I'm going to take that and I'm going to actually make electricity on the site out of the waste heat. So so so that is actually a super efficient model. If we can get industry process heat, like that is the end all be all. So let me pivot back to why process is so important. And you're making an assumption about this is the big Decouple that nobody is really talking about, to me is the most important Decouple that we could ever even think about. And that is, it's very simple idea. And it's not my idea, this isn't nothing I'm saying is new, like this should be obvious to everybody, just how I feel.

Chris Keefer  1:15:51  

You're gonna help make it obvious, honestly, like your role as a communicator. Like, again, I don't want to keep puffing up your tires here, but it's very, very valuable. So again, even though it's self evident to you, please do take the time with us noobs. To do some more knowledge transfer, think

BF Randall  1:16:09  

about here's here's what it is. We need to make diesel fuel heavy distillate out of a feedstock that is not crude oil. Cam, let me say that again. We need to make heavy distillate out of a feedstock that is and I'll turn up paint my face blue and jump up and down. A feedstock a feedstock that is not crude. Because what will happen if we can flood the earth with Heavy Diesel distillate that is not crude based? What are the refiners going there? They're going to be making all this extra gasoline? No, and they're going to go do their thing. But we need to think refiners are gonna hate me for saying this, because that's their crown. The heavy distillate market is their crown jewel. So

Chris Keefer  1:17:00  

what is that feedstock? That's not crude oil.

BF Randall  1:17:04  

There's nobody ever talked, I haven't listened to all your episodes.

Chris Keefer  1:17:07  

And like, Listen, I'm not the average listener, I'm dumber. Okay.

BF Randall  1:17:11  

But yeah, I have only listened to maybe four or five years of your podcast. Has nobody ever talked about this?

Chris Keefer  1:17:17  

You know, that's my problem. I have not done enough on syn fuels, because I thought that, hey, this is this is sort of a higher order, or like, unless I've been focused on what I thought the low hanging fruits of Decarbonization were, is the classic thing of you decarbonize electricity, and you electrify as many processes as possible. And you get some process heat up things like electric arc furnaces.

BF Randall  1:17:37  

I mean, electrifying, everything's great, but you're not, you're not going to move the dial. It's just it because it takes too much stuff to electrify everything, where we're it's the wrong path. So what we need to do is make some fuel out of a feedstock. That is not crude.

Chris Keefer  1:17:55  

So what is that feedstock?

BF Randall  1:17:56  


Chris Keefer  1:17:58  

What do you mean, I don't understand. I'm not a chemist. Okay,

BF Randall  1:18:01  

since so here's what sin fuels it's synthetic, right? If you ever put synthetic oil in your car? Yes. Okay. Where did that come from? I have no idea. It didn't come from crude. Okay. It did not come from crude. Well, almost certainly it came from from methane. So we can make sense we can you put since you put synthetic oil in your car? Where did that come from? Not. It came from methane. So there's a plant that's cracking methane and reorge. What a sin fuel. It's kind of like chlorophyll, you don't clap. Chlorophyll works. Chlorophyll is a catalyst. So chlorophyll actually has physical physical shape. And chlorophyll is able to grab grab a carbon molecule and grab a water molecule and hold them together in a way. Like it's almost like a vise, right? Photosynthesis, and then you're gonna have a photon come down and crack and reattach atoms, but it's very efficient. So the energy because of the catalyst, it's very efficient because one little photon can do a lot of work because of the catalyst. Right? Gotcha. So that's what syn fuels do ascent fuels are it's a catalyst, and it has a shape and so you're going to basically you're going to intentionally make a an oil that you want to make. You will make 100 You can make JP you could set your catalyst to make 100% JP five, let's maybe five that is the high grade jet fuel. Okay. JP five is the crown jewel. If you can make JP five spec the you can sell to the military. But

Chris Keefer  1:19:47  

okay, but but the issue with all this again, is that methane is a you know, carbon, I mean, it's less carbon intensive than coal. But is this a decarbonisation solution? I like my thought about synthetic fuels? I mean, I've heard people say, well, then we just capture car have been from the air again. thermodynamically. That seems insane. And they're like, well, we just need to build a gazillion, gazillion gazillion nuclear plants. And it's all possible. I mean, as if as if you can, you know, we've had rapid deployment of nuclear before, at times where we were better equipped for it had more human factors, more human resources had more heavy industry, etc. That's just not going to happen. But is there a carbon free source for synthetic fuel? Other than and problems with biofuels? Obviously, you know, yeah,

BF Randall  1:20:28  

you need three things to make, you know, Fisher, Trump, ft. Fischer, Trump, the Germans did this. And that, again, we have all these German engineers who solved our problems, and we just don't we're not using the solutions. So ft. It needs three things. Heat, hydrogen, carbon. Okay. So where do we get the heat? Well, we can get the heat from nuclear, right? Or whatever. So, but to your, your question is, what is the carbon source? And I would say any carbon source is better than than petroleum. Even if we use coal to make jet. Let's say we could make jet fuel out of coal and diesel fuel out of coal. That's way better than then making it out of the crude feedstock because we're not making gasoline. That's my point. We don't want Gasoline, Gasoline, Gasoline, cheap gasoline

Chris Keefer  1:21:29  

is okay, but then how to how to light duty vehicles get around? How do we transport non high torque functions? If we're not using gasoline, then we are learning cars

BF Randall  1:21:40  

is, you know, I'm not saying we don't make gasoline will still exist. We don't make we will we don't want to use industry as a catalyst to make more gasoline. Like because that just floods the market with gasoline. We want to be thoughtful and just make diesel fuel. And but yeah, there are not there are good sources of carbon. Like one potential source. I understand. I don't know how valid it is. But apparently, the nuclear Navy uses seawater, because seawater has a significant volume of dissolved carbonic acid. Yeah, so you have carbonic, you have carbon that's dissolved in the seawater, you have water. There's one yeah, here's another one, you know, flue gas, flue gas from that. And if you go to any, why don't we use syn fuels as a way to create a market for carbon?

Chris Keefer  1:22:29  

I mean, imagine that are for carbon capture. Wow. Okay, so

BF Randall  1:22:33  

here's what I'm talking about. syn fuels are a carbon hog. They need carbon, like it is a carbon sink. So, you know,

Chris Keefer  1:22:42  

Oh, sounds almost like renewable carbon. That's, you know, the term renewables. But, but when you do when you do critique renewables and recycling, you say it's such an energy hog, you know, it's it's people are not understanding entropic forces and, you know, thermodynamic efficiency. So, are you not committing that error here? I again, I'm just just trying to be devil's advocate here. Is this is this scalable? Is this

BF Randall  1:23:08  

Yeah, no, absolutely. It's okay. There's enough carbon resource a bit. I mean, the worst carb, the most energy intensive carbon resources is the air because we're talking about parts per million concentrations. So the amount of energy to harvest carbon out of the air is going to be high. But there are other sources of carbon, there's carbonic acid in the ocean. But think about this every dual combined cycle natural gas power plant has very clean flue gas that is carbon rich. What if we created the market for that every single cement plant that rose that makes Portland cement has as carbon rich gases. The steel industry generates carbon rich gases, can we clean up create a market for that? Buy through a sin fuel, and yet, it's a carbon hog. We don't need to tax carbon, we just need to think we need to use it better like syn fuels to me. If we could take a just a tiny bit of the subsidy that were that were flailing around in this, you know electrify everything concept and basically pivot to city fuel and focus exclusively on heavy distillates. It is a decoupling I can't deny. It is a decoupling like we have never seen in modern civilization. I don't think I mean,

Chris Keefer  1:24:42  

Jesus Christ, this is fascinating. I mean, I don't have the engineering discipline to be able to critically assess the information you're giving me and I really look, this is the beauty of the Decouple audience. There are people way smarter than myself within it really high level thinkers. I'm really looking forward to the feedback that this episode generates. We've mentioned Some great books today, we are doing lots of lamps, meals, how the world really works, you can sign up on Patreon. To participate in that book club. We're charging almost nothing like $3 a month. Feel free to donate more to be part of that book club. I want to do the civilization book next. I would love it. If you were wanting to take part at all in that book club. I think we're gonna have to leave it here because again, it is my son's fourth birthday. And I am allowed to take him out of school at noon. It's high noon right now. And I really look forward to I'm not sure if Twitter is going to be your fundamental medium, I think you're going to be all over the podcast circuit really soon. Glad to have got you first. But I'm really looking forward to more of this knowledge translation. And I honestly genuinely hope that I can get Michael Lee breaks attention because I'd love for him to listen to this. And you know, I'd love to hear his responses. I think, you know, it's worthy of the cognitive dissonance that folks like him will feel listening to this. Okay, thank you again, for coming on. Any any parting thoughts? And where are you on Twitter?

BF Randall  1:25:57  

I think I'm just gonna use Twitter. I mean, I'm not this, I'm doing this on my spare time. So for what it's worth Take my advice or not, I don't I mean, that's up to you. Sure that I would love to actually interact. If you can find some sin fuel expert. I don't have access to that. So I would like to actually get get some connections and explore this in fields because I think that to me is the largest decoupling concept because we can preserve the diesel engine. We just need to make heavy distillates through a process that is not based on petroleum.

Chris Keefer  1:26:35  

Right. All right. Let's let's leave it there. You've added some serious food for thought. I'm really loving that this podcast really has centered on the central mission of the podcast, which is decoupling. We will be in close touch and I'm sure we will have a synth fuel expert in touch with you a day or two after this episode drops. Where do they find you are your DMS open for hate mail above mill?

BF Randall  1:27:03  

Yeah, my DMs are open. It's at mining atoms.

Chris Keefer  1:27:06  

It's easier for people to remember as a user if you're

BF Randall  1:27:09  

mining at OMS atoms because that's kind of what we're all doing. We're mining. We're moving. We're moving atoms around. Except for nuclear energy. We're breaking them.

Chris Keefer  1:27:19  

But we've got lots more to talk about my friend. Thank you

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