A while back, I mentioned this idea of expressing energy consumption in “cubic miles of oil.” I was not impressed. I feel better now that Engineer-Poet has expressed (far more intelligently) his own dissatisfaction:

Leaving aside some errors… the most essential oversight in that equation is elephantine:

It compares oil’s inputs to the other’s outputs.

Compared to that, the rest is small potatoes.

Basically, this corrupts the entire idea. Less than half of the energy contained in the oil is actually used, the rest wasted. Electricity is less prone to waste than combustion, and solar thermal can provide heat so cheaply, that in fact renewables compare quite well to oil.

This isn’t actually news to those of us who’ve been paying attention, but it’s exactly what the CMO concept obscures.