CC, Peak oil, the rise of the tigers.....

johntheexpat

Distinguished Member
The impending changes to climate, whilst probably not to be avoided, can - the experts say- be delayed by a drastic reduction in consumption of fossil fuel. For this to have any credibility the west will have to take the lead. Which I suppose is not unreasonable as we have, over the last few decades, benefited the most from fossil fuel and are the most able to implement change.

According to, as far as I can ascertain, a majority of opinion, global oil production has peaked. While there is still plentiful oil around, (what with reserves that are only economic with the current high price, oil shale, undiscovered fields and improvements to extraction technology on current fields) the days of plentiful oil, gushing forth from wells are limited. Presumably this will mean that our access to black gold will be relatively restricted by supply problems, ignoring any political shenanigans that those who perceive us as the enemy may come up with (eg Iran and Peru, plus others if the radicals gain power elsewhere). This will force us into finding ways of cutting consumption, without particularly (hopefully) reducing our standard of living.

If the technology does develop rapidly enough and oil production remains at a relatively level volume for the foreseeable future, there is no doubting that the tiger economies of the far east, for example, will soak a rising proportion of the production, as they develop more economic muscle. The price will undoubtedly rise, due to simple supply/demand economics, but the tigers strength will ensure they get what they require. While the west gets less.

Hopefully it's now clear where I am going with this thread. Whatever the scenario, 20 years down the line the west will be burning less oil. What is needed now is heavy investment to ensure that with the reduced consumption, we are efficient enough to at least maintain current productivity levels in all areas, while consuming less oil. Does it really matter what the driving force behind this reduction is? For those unconvinced by the Climate scientists, then perhaps the economists will provide a more convincing reason. For those who adhere to the evidence presented by IPCC amongst others, then consumption cuts are a no brainer, the mid to long term economic benefits provided by greatly improved efficienct, are an added benefit.

The problem will be convincing people that the investments should be starting sooner rather than later. And they will cost, big time. Who is going to pay? You and me, that's who.

The cynics amongst us may say that perhaps the softening up process has begun. All this Global warming stuff is supposed to scare us into dipping deeply into our pockets without complaining. Maybe there is mileage in that view. There is no denying that the media have really gone to town with CC. Polar bears on icebergs, Jeremy Clarkson (unfortunately??) not on one but surrounded by ice, every time it rains its CC. They have made the whole thing laughable and a joke. But the impending changes aren't. So we will have to become hugely more efficient and cut consumption, for whatever reason.

As ARP Warden Hodges from Dad's Army would say 'Put that light out!'
 

damo_in_sale

Well-known Member
The impending changes to climate, whilst probably not to be avoided, can - the experts say- be delayed by a drastic reduction in consumption of fossil fuel. For this to have any credibility the west will have to take the lead. Which I suppose is not unreasonable as we have, over the last few decades, benefited the most from fossil fuel and are the most able to implement change.

According to, as far as I can ascertain, a majority of opinion, global oil production has peaked. While there is still plentiful oil around, (what with reserves that are only economic with the current high price, oil shale, undiscovered fields and improvements to extraction technology on current fields) the days of plentiful oil, gushing forth from wells are limited. Presumably this will mean that our access to black gold will be relatively restricted by supply problems, ignoring any political shenanigans that those who perceive us as the enemy may come up with (eg Iran and Peru, plus others if the radicals gain power elsewhere). This will force us into finding ways of cutting consumption, without particularly (hopefully) reducing our standard of living.

If the technology does develop rapidly enough and oil production remains at a relatively level volume for the foreseeable future, there is no doubting that the tiger economies of the far east, for example, will soak a rising proportion of the production, as they develop more economic muscle. The price will undoubtedly rise, due to simple supply/demand economics, but the tigers strength will ensure they get what they require. While the west gets less.

Hopefully it's now clear where I am going with this thread. Whatever the scenario, 20 years down the line the west will be burning less oil. What is needed now is heavy investment to ensure that with the reduced consumption, we are efficient enough to at least maintain current productivity levels in all areas, while consuming less oil. Does it really matter what the driving force behind this reduction is? For those unconvinced by the Climate scientists, then perhaps the economists will provide a more convincing reason. For those who adhere to the evidence presented by IPCC amongst others, then consumption cuts are a no brainer, the mid to long term economic benefits provided by greatly improved efficienct, are an added benefit.

The problem will be convincing people that the investments should be starting sooner rather than later. And they will cost, big time. Who is going to pay? You and me, that's who.

The cynics amongst us may say that perhaps the softening up process has begun. All this Global warming stuff is supposed to scare us into dipping deeply into our pockets without complaining. Maybe there is mileage in that view. There is no denying that the media have really gone to town with CC. Polar bears on icebergs, Jeremy Clarkson (unfortunately??) not on one but surrounded by ice, every time it rains its CC. They have made the whole thing laughable and a joke. But the impending changes aren't. So we will have to become hugely more efficient and cut consumption, for whatever reason.

As ARP Warden Hodges from Dad's Army would say 'Put that light out!'

I'm happy to see that you are taking a more thoughtful approach regarding this debate :) As I have argued on many occasions, market economics is a powerful driving force.

The price of oil may rise, but many of the factors you point to are maybe already factored into the market valuation of oil. Should the market price of oil increase, then present potential oilfields which are uneconomical to exploit may become economical. That is the beauty of the market, high demand and low output means high prices, and that means there is greater reward for increasing output.

It may mean that alternatives become relatively cheaper though, such as nuclear.

The major problem we face is that, as it strikes me, ones standard of living is in some way proportional to the amount of energy AVAILABLE for consumption by the individual. I haven’t had that view peer reviewed though :)
 

Nimby

Distinguished Member
I can see how western governments will need a stick to achieve any level of self control amongst a lazy and selfish populace.

Can you imagine any carrots available to western politicians to achieve change?
 

damo_in_sale

Well-known Member
I can see how western governments will need a stick to achieve any level of self control amongst a lazy and selfish populace.

Can you imagine any carrots available to western politicians to achieve change?

Aren't politicians supposed to serve their electorate? :)
 

Nimby

Distinguished Member
That's a very odd concept somewhat detached from everyday reality.

What has it to do with my question?
 

andykn

Novice Member
Aren't politicians supposed to serve their electorate? :)

No, we expect them to lead us. We don't have the time or expertise to investigate every issue in the depth required.

I can see how western governments will need a stick to achieve any level of self control amongst a lazy and selfish populace.

Can you imagine any carrots available to western politicians to achieve change?

Apart from saving money?

How about less congestion on the roads?

Better public transport?
 

Nimby

Distinguished Member
No, we expect them to lead us. We don't have the time or expertise to investigate every issue in the depth required.

Apart from saving money?

How about less congestion on the roads?

Better public transport?

Okay. Let's be picky just for the sake of argument. :)

Saving money is a negative. It is not getting something directly. Particularly if is using less of something you didn't know you had anyway. Man in the street isn't impressed. He wants more things up front. It's just not sexy for most people.

Better public transport? The car has all but killed most public transport. I don't want to sit beside somebody I don't know. It goes completely against my instincts to be so near to a stranger. Fight or flee? Are they a smoker? A pervert? Mobile phone user? A fidget? Fat so I don't have enough room? Smelly? Reading a paper or magazine noisily?

Reduced congestion on the roads is something somebody else does. I want my space and I want my roads to be as clear as the daft new car adverts suggest. It is a negative since it is not giving me something for free. It is taking something away and somebody else's responsibility anyway.

I want carrots and I want them now! :D
 
N

nikyzf

Guest
The major problem we face is that, as it strikes me, ones standard of living is in some way proportional to the amount of energy AVAILABLE for consumption by the individual. I haven’t had that view peer reviewed though :)
The availability of energy is one way of describing "progress". On average we use far more than our ancestors did. The Olduvai Theory is very much based on this idea: we will plunge back into a dark age as the energy available to each of us reduces. This will still happen even if fossil fuels do not run out as quickly as some think because of increasing population and the spread of western consumption patterns to the developing world.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olduvai_theory
http://dieoff.org/page224.htm
Does anyone know if an argument based purely on energy usage is valid?
 

Nimby

Distinguished Member
Fascinating!

Two thoughts spring to mind:

Start building commercial Thunderdomes now.

If we could capture and harness more of the energy falling on every square meter of the earth then we would have no need to keep "producing" energy. Most of which is wasted in inefficient ways.
 

Stephen Wilde

Novice Member
Are vast solar farms in desert areas feasible ?

If we can pipe oil and gas across continents why not solar energy ?

I suspect it is a cost issue but that might stop being a problem as oil and gas prices rise.

Unfortunately it would disfigure and despoil huge natural wildernesses so I'm driven back to the primary need which is to stabilise, then reduce, world population.

It's almost worth encouraging the coming crisis in the short term in order to get past it sooner. The later the crisis comes the worse the damage to the environment before it happens and the greater the sum total of human suffering.

You could say that in the medium to long term any short term measures to educate or restrain people will be counterproductive because it just delays the inevitable and thereby increases the severity of the consequences.

It's all too easy to feel good at one moment and then find out that in fact you made things worse.
 

damo_in_sale

Well-known Member
Does anyone know if an argument based purely on energy usage is valid?


Speaking personally, it's just an observation I've made so I'm not trying to make definitive statement or anything :)
 

damo_in_sale

Well-known Member
No, we expect them to lead us. We don't have the time or expertise to investigate every issue in the depth required.


It seems mate that we have a very different idea of government :)

The state, in the form of parliament and the civil service, exists only to serve the people. They exercise power on our behalf.

I do not expect the government to micromanage the lives of decent and law abiding individuals, as that would be akin to some kind of totalitarianism, with the facade of democracy.

Many disagree, and see the government as the only hope to ‘solve' the MMGW issue because it alone has the power to grant itself more power, and that power is required to force others to conform. In this manner, the government can ‘solve' the problem. But nonetheless, the government has amassed new powers, these are unlikely to ever be removed, and you may find the next government both distasteful and more than willing to use those powers in a manner to which you find abhorrent.

The above is the dance that the Germans did, starting around eighty years ago.

It is a very dangerous direction of travel, in my opinion. I advise you to read ‘The Road to Serfdom', by Freidrich Von Hayek :)


Regarding your original premise, your best hope, in my opinion, is with the markets; that oil reserves run dry and that unexploited reserves remain uneconomical to exploit. Tampering with the markets is futile- the oil will simply go elsewhere, where it will be burnt. There is demand for energy in every corner of the earth, and if we make energy less affordable here then we simply make it more affordable elsewhere.
 

njp

Novice Member
Regarding your original premise, your best hope, in my opinion, is with the markets; that oil reserves run dry and that unexploited reserves remain uneconomical to exploit. Tampering with the markets is futile- the oil will simply go elsewhere, where it will be burnt. There is demand for energy in every corner of the earth, and if we make energy less affordable here then we simply make it more affordable elsewhere.
I feel I should point out that the idea that peak oil will somehow "solve" MMGW is deeply flawed. There is enough coal in the ground for another 300 years or so (IIRC), which means that unbridled consumption will result in atmospheric CO2 levels well above the levels considered necessary to avoid unpleasant amounts of climate change.

You always speak in favour of the "little folk" and their "little cars". What do you imagine they are going to run them on, in the not too distant future? Or is it a case of enjoying ourselves while we can, and sod our descendants?

Are we in fact sleepwalking our way to disaster? Discuss.
 
N

nikyzf

Guest
Speaking personally, it's just an observation I've made so I'm trying to make definitive statement or anything :)
Damo, I wasn't quoting you, although you introduced the topic here. I was referring to the Olduvai Theory, which I've known about for a while now.
 

damo_in_sale

Well-known Member
Damo, I wasn't quoting you, although you introduced the topic here. I was referring to the Olduvai Theory, which I've known about for a while now.

Ok mate, that sounds intersting. Perhaps I should learn more about it :)
 

damo_in_sale

Well-known Member
I feel I should point out that the idea that peak oil will somehow "solve" MMGW is deeply flawed.

It seems that we are in agreement mate, albeit for different reasons (see above). :)


There is enough coal in the ground for another 300 years or so (IIRC), which means that unbridled consumption will result in atmospheric CO2 levels well above the levels considered necessary to avoid unpleasant amounts of climate change.


The science may well have solved the problem as to what is happening to our climate and why, and even as to what is required to solve the problem, but it is economics that will determine the eventual outcome. Every poor person in the world wants to better their life, and that of their loved ones. Access to energy makes this much easier.


You always speak in favour of the "little folk" and their "little cars". What do you imagine they are going to run them on, in the not too distant future? Or is it a case of enjoying ourselves while we can, and sod our descendants?


If I were to be flippant, then I would propose coal fired steam engine vehicles, seeing as you have shown that coal reserves are plentiful. I may only be joking, but you never know.

By the way, and so we are clear, I have often discussed 'the little folk', and I have sometimes discussed their 'little cars'. But usually I have discussed, if memory serves me correctly, the little folk in the context of making their own choices, in their millions. And I have done this as a counterbalance to the totalitarian tendencies of many who are passionate regarding this whole debate.



Are we in fact sleepwalking our way to disaster? Discuss.

Possibly, I don’t know. But the problem, I suspect, is deeper than you imagine. I have a lot of respect for you mate, as your scientific knowledge is much better than mine. I do think, however, that you need to improve upon your understanding of economics. I don’t pretend to be an expert, because indeed I am not.
There are around four billion impoverished people on earth, and around two billion reasonably well off people. Those four billion little folk desperately want to improve their standard of living. They want their children to have a decent chance of surviving past infancy, just as we do. They want productive jobs that produce goods or services that others require. They want trade with other nations. These are the things that will improve their standards of living.


Here is the killer. If we, in the wealthy world, increase taxation on energy, e.g. oil, gas and coal, then that will depress the market value of those commodities. The result will mean that those commodities become more affordable to others. And those ‘others’ will snap up those energy supplies and improve the lives of their poor citizens.
 

Nimby

Distinguished Member
damo

Since you claim not to be an expert in economics you won't mind a second opinion?

You cannot change Africa and Asia from the top down.

You have to make women aware that they have rights. Most of them don't know this.

You have to educate the poor despite the best efforts of their corrupt governments to stop this dangerous practice. Education is strictly for the wealthy in most nations.

You have to stop funding arms for African nations by paying for the things they never intended to pay for anyway.

Every penny that Oxfam uses to pay for health in Africa is another pound in the African arms budget.

The poor of the western world directly subsidise the arms race in Africa by giving to charity.

Zimbabwe has the most expensive cars in the world on the streets of Harare.

20 ks away the poor in the countryside have nothing to eat.

What America spends on arms every year would make every single African man woman and child middle class.

Defense spending has risen by 38% in the last few years. In real terms defense spending is much higher than during WW2. So much for an end to the Cold War.

South Africa destroyed its entire budget by buying the most expensive high tech warship they could find on the planet. Let the HIV positive eat beetroots?

The money is always there if it is needed. It is just placed securely in the wrong hands.
 

Nimby

Distinguished Member
In a desperate rearguard action to get back on topic:

Re: Olduvai Theory:

If we all went into virtual reality how would that effect global energy consumption?

By the strangest coincidences the BBC is carrying a story about forced "out of body" experiences. At the same time the top robotics expert in Japan is saying exactly the same thing about watching his twin perform. Gaming consoles offer much the same idea. Motional feedback makes it "real". This may explain the sudden upsurge in violent crimes by minors. Are they living inside their brutal video games?

HD Virtual Reality may be our first step into The Matrix.

We already have millions of people preferring virtual worlds rather than their own real one. The TV soaps reinforce how people prefer living their lives through other's rather than their own drab examples. If you can enjoy the Ferrari, attractive partners and other toys in HDVR why do we need to make or buy anything any more?

Most of our ephemeral toys quickly pale into boredom or break and have to be replaced. Long term partnerships are almost a thing of the past...

Purchasing objects is just another form of belief in story telling. Ownership just places you as another character in an advertising soap opera.

Perhaps we will all become virtual characters and save the world for nature to take back what we stole?

Plug me in!
 
N

nikyzf

Guest
Ok mate, that sounds intersting. Perhaps I should learn more about it :)
I find it interesting too. Did you follow the links?

The thing I wonder about is the basic premise. The whole theory is based on defining industrial civilisation as the period between average individual energy use rising above 30% of the peak and falling back to 30%. So, is 30% a valid figure and if so, why? Then we have to find what and when the peak is. Duncan thinks the per capita peak was in 1979.

This makes no difference to GW, of course: we still use the same amount of fossil fuel and produce the same amount of CO2 until the fuel's gone.

If the theory is true, we will see dramatic results long before GW makes a big difference, and we might not have the resources to do very much about the effects. Here are the key dates.
* 1979: US per capita energy use peaked; still floundering on a plateau in 2006, but ready to fall precipitously (‘cliff’) at any time
* 2005: World crude oil probably peaked; still on an undulating plateau in 2007; starts off the ‘cliff’ ~2010-2012 or before
* 2005: World food production (grains) peaked
* 2008: World Natural Gas peaks (or sooner)
* 2010: NG ‘cliff’ arrives (or sooner)
* 2012: US electricity blackouts and brownouts become the norm (or sooner)
* 2012: US potable, available water peak and ‘cliff’; shortages and waterborne diseases increase
* 2015: US Health Care System in complete chaos, breakdown and failure; sanitation, drugs, return of communicable diseases, poorer nutrition, etc.
* 2015: World “Dieoff” begins in earnest; largely starvation, disease and poor healthcare caused
* 2030: US per-capita energy consumption hits the “30% mark-AFTER peak”, equaling year 1930 lifestyles again (probably much sooner than 2030)
 

damo_in_sale

Well-known Member
I find it interesting too. Did you follow the links?

Erm, nope :) It was interesting, but not interesting enough for me to look into it right now. Maybe I will at some point.
 

Corey USA

Novice Member
I'm happy to see that you are taking a more thoughtful approach regarding this debate :) As I have argued on many occasions, market economics is a powerful driving force.

The price of oil may rise, but many of the factors you point to are maybe already factored into the market valuation of oil. Should the market price of oil increase, then present potential oilfields which are uneconomical to exploit may become economical. That is the beauty of the market, high demand and low output means high prices, and that means there is greater reward for increasing output.

It may mean that alternatives become relatively cheaper though, such as nuclear.

The major problem we face is that, as it strikes me, ones standard of living is in some way proportional to the amount of energy AVAILABLE for consumption by the individual. I haven't had that view peer reviewed though :)

Actually they are already trying to exploit those other areas namely of Alaska off shore oil reserves. We been fighting tooth and nail to keep oil companies out of that pristine area. We don't want it to go the route of the gulf of Mexico and its pollution.

The big oil spill by the single haul tankers used by Exxon KILLED Alaska herring industry along with most of Alaska economy that has not recovered. Exxon owes 6.7 billion and hasn't paid it yet, by appealing the court system as a delay tactic. They were found guilty of greedy negligence in using the single haul tankers when twin haul tankers were safer but more costly to operate.


This is more than just economics in the current sense. without a stable environment our current illusion of economics which is kept a float through the borrowing of more money, thats not there, will collapse when we start having severe environmental changes. We already had 23 counties in Minnesota already declare disaster on food crops, then we were just assailed by a major rain and flooding a week or so ago.
We have flood control through our city yet the water managed to rise 3-4 ft. I hate to think what it was like down river from us in that they got the river water a lot faster due to the increase in volume per minute from our flood control project. wherever it bottle necked is where the damage occurred the greatest.
 

Corey USA

Novice Member
The availability of energy is one way of describing "progress". On average we use far more than our ancestors did. The Olduvai Theory is very much based on this idea: we will plunge back into a dark age as the energy available to each of us reduces. This will still happen even if fossil fuels do not run out as quickly as some think because of increasing population and the spread of western consumption patterns to the developing world.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olduvai_theory
http://dieoff.org/page224.htm
Does anyone know if an argument based purely on energy usage is valid?

For arguments sake let suppose this theory is correct. Could it be headed off before the "Cliff" if we were to reduce consumption and population?

I find myself happier with less. Not as much stress trying to juggle an over stuffed schedules of all the different activities.

Purely on energy use, no....

As a part of the bigger whole such as war for resources, decline in fresh water, habitat destruction, Pollution, famine, die off from disease and chemical poisoning, et etc etc. YES
 

Nimby

Distinguished Member
I was listening to a brilliant biotechnology scientist this evening.

She was very upbeat about MMGW. Suggesting that when the need is dire science and technology will find a way to solve the problem.

I'm glad I still have my collection of down winter gear if the scientists are allowed to lace the atmosphere or sea surface with reflective flakes or dust. The scientists after all were largely responsible for providing the developments which have changed our climate. Even if they were not directly responsible for the implementation of their ideas.

If they change grass to white using biotechnology we'd better all have shares in Rayban. :cool:
 

Corey USA

Novice Member
I was listening to a brilliant biotechnology scientist this evening.

She was very upbeat about MMGW. Suggesting that when the need is dire science and technology will find a way to solve the problem.

I'm glad I still have my collection of down winter gear if the scientists are allowed to lace the atmosphere or sea surface with reflective flakes or dust. The scientists after all were largely responsible for providing the developments which have changed our climate. Even if they were not directly responsible for the implementation of their ideas.

If they change grass to white using biotechnology we'd better all have shares in Rayban. :cool:

"Shield" project
Aluminum and barium with polymers and other chemicals to break down the polymers after a time. sprayed in the atmosphere as an arisol. Problem it is still a conspiracy theory even when there is mounting evidence that it is going on.

Mold loves powder aluminum. I am allergic to mold, when I start sniffling I look up for chem trails or there tell tails. Sure enough neat rows east to west.
 
N

nikyzf

Guest
For arguments sake let suppose this theory is correct. Could it be headed off before the "Cliff" if we were to reduce consumption and population?
If we were to dramatically change energy use and control population, the "cliff" could be stretched out into a longer slide, but I can't see that this is at all likely. Even if we in the West change quite dramatically, the rising economies of China and India will easily soak up all the "spare" oil.

I find myself happier with less. Not as much stress trying to juggle an over stuffed schedules of all the different activities.

Purely on energy use, no....

As a part of the bigger whole such as war for resources, decline in fresh water, habitat destruction, Pollution, famine, die off from disease and chemical poisoning, et etc etc. YES
For long term sustainability, the population needs to be much lower, perhaps as low as 2 billion. Will we do that by choice or have it forced on us by shortages, disease, and possibly wars arising from shortages?
 

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