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What Exactly is Peak Oil?

What Exactly is Peak Oil?

PHOTO: Paul M. Walsh/AP/SHUTTERSTOCK

I could go on and on about acceptance for probably weeks if not months, but today’s article isn’t about acceptance. Today’s article is about energy and resource decline, one of the symptom predicaments of ecological overshoot and what is commonly referred to as Peak Oil. I have mentioned both energy and resource decline and peak oil many, many times in this blog but have never written an article specifically to address exactly what it is. I came across a publication from Stuart McMillen that makes the topic of Peak Oil easy to understand since it is in comic form. This provides a better explanation than a long-winded blog post because it equates peak oil with something fun – a roller coaster!

Maybe I should try more analogies that include fun things to describe and/or explain overshoot. The roller coaster actually isn’t too bad a description. My office manager calls overshoot by the name trebuchetShe described the action or motion of the sling as that of overshoot, taking the name quite literally. She also uses the term derogatorily when I bring up the subject of overshoot, saying, “We’re not going to talk about trebuchets…” From my perspective, there is absolutely nothing wrong with discussing overshoot or any of its symptom predicaments such as peak oil or climate change. In fact, I robustly encourage discussion of the predicaments we face. How else is the general public supposed to understand what is actually happening? Attempting to avoid discussing it won’t make it go away or reduce the consequences, so there is absolutely no benefit in not talking about it. I’m rather passionate regarding talking about it, precisely because I think the conversations are very worth having and because I’d like more people to understand the situation more completely. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Today Contemplation: Collapse Cometh CI–Theory Is Great, In Theory: More On Our ‘Renewable’ Energy Future


Today Contemplation: Collapse Cometh CI

February 13, 2023 (original posting date)

Monte Alban, Mexico (1988). Photo by author.

Theory Is Great, In Theory: More On Our ‘Renewable’ Energy Future

Quite often I get involved in online discussions with others about our predicament(s). Most of the time these are quite friendly in nature and a sharing of ideas and questions.

On occasion these turn into disagreements. And sometimes, unfortunately, these turn quite confrontational with me having to disengage from the dialogue due to the vitriol thrown at me — apparently I am not only anti-humanistic but a Big Oil shill, a climate change denier, and a fucking idiot/liberal/conservative/progressive/Malthusian, etc..

Once the ad hominem attacks begin, I usually just state we will have to agree to disagree and discontinue the interaction. I know people don’t want their beliefs challenged, they want them confirmed so if the interaction has gone sideways there’s little point to continue it. Few if any people change their beliefs due to a well-reasoned or evidence-based argument that runs counter to their own thoughts.

This said, most of the disagreements are civil and the issue stems from a divergence in whether we can ‘solve’ the problem/predicament we are focusing upon. I’ve found that the vast majority continue to believe that we can address the topic we’re discussing via some complex technology — usually non-renewable, renewable energy-harvesting technologies such as those that harness wind or sunshine to produce electricity (aka ‘renewables’).

While at one time during my fall into the rabbit’s hole of Peak Oil and all the related issues, I held out ‘hope’ for humanity and our planet. Nowadays, more often than not, I am tending towards there being no way out of the conundrum we walking, talking apes have led ourselves into. Neither time nor resources are on our side it would seem. Salvation, as it were, has been lost to the sands of time.

Here is one recent example with a fellow member of a Degrowth group I am a member of stemming from an article of The Honest Sorcerer’s that I posted to the group.



LK: “Politics” is just a name for technology of resource allocation on a societal scale.

We’re currently using the 18th century technology based on exponential growth (investments are made to obtain money to make more investments), it’s called “capitalism”.

Degrowth is another technology of resource allocation, and the one we need, because exponential growth on a finite planet is not possible.

(Having said that, we still need to combine degrowth with all kinds of low-emissions energy sources like renewables and nuclear, and we need to work on extending the life of existing low-carbon energy sources for as long as possible)


My response:: While I agree that degrowth (and radical at that) is needed, the alternative energy-harvesting technologies to fossil fuels you suggest we need to pursue require huge carbon inputs for their construction (and in perpetuity), continue to contribute to the destruction of our biosphere via the massive mineral mining and processing necessary, and only serve as an attempt to sustain the unsustainable so end up making our fundament predicament of ecological overshoot even worse. We need to be pursuing a low-/no-tech future with one hell of a lot fewer people. It is increasingly looking like it will have to be Nature that takes us there…

LK: The science is quite clear, low carbon energy sources have much, much lower carbon intensity of energy generation over their lifetimes, and lifetime extension to optimise for energy production instead of returns on investment decreases that carbon intensity even further. And fossil fuels have an enormous mining impact.

This is the third line of defense of fossil fuel companies: first they were straight-out lying about climate change, then they were lying about whether climate change is caused by humans, now they are lying about relative impacts of fossil fuel vs low carbon technologies, and it apparently works.

Low-tech future doesn’t work, it’s just a lie fossil companies are telling us to keep burning fossil fuels. We’re a tool-using social species and we need tools to get out of the shit we got into by using tools.


We will have to agree to disagree.

First, it seems you are assuming a support for fossil fuels in my comment that is not present. One does not have to be in any way supportive of the continuation of our extraction and use of them to see that alternatives are in every way — upstream and downstream — still quite dependent upon them. In fact, if you look at the largest investors in support of ‘alternatives’, you will discover it is the large energy businesses (aka Big Oil). Why would that be? Perhaps because they know that fossil fuels are required in huge quantities for them.

Second, the view that only carbon emissions are important blinds people to all the other complexities concerning our predicament of ecological overshoot. Biodiversity loss, mostly because of land system changes brought on by human expansion, appears to be much more significant. A concerted push to adopt non-renewable, renewable energy-harvesting technologies will ensure continued destruction of our biosphere.

The current refrain seems to be “Complex technologies and human ingenuity will save us from our predicament of ecological overshoot and its various symptoms (e.g., biodiversity loss) because they’ve worked up to this point in our history”…except inductive reasoning/logic does not always work. Continual observations by the turkey of the farmer have provided nothing but overwhelming evidence and positive reinforcement that the farmer is a beneficent and thoughtful caregiver; right up until the day before Thanksgiving and the trip behind the barn to the killing cone.

You should look at the work of energy researcher Alice Friedemann and geologist Simon Michaux to understand better the limitations of the ‘solution’ referred to as our ‘energy transition’.

But you are correct that a low-tech future doesn’t work. It doesn’t work to support our unsustainable living arrangements but more importantly the power and wealth structures of the status quo…that is why the ruling caste is pushing ‘renewables’: to maintain/expand their share of a quickly-shrinking economic pie. And this is ultimately why we will pursue these complex technologies despite the impossibility of what their cheerleaders promise. The profiteers of our world stand to make one hell of a lot of money before it all goes to hell in a handbasket.

These images/memes perhaps sum my perspective up:


LK: There’s one thing that kills people pretty rapidly and effectively and that is the lack of energy.

You can either support low-carbon energy sources or you can support fossil fuels or you can support widespread energy poverty that kills a fuckton of people, and those will be mainly poor people in the Global South.

Degrowth is not anarcho-primitivism, it’s not about the remnants of humanity huddling in cold and without hospitals and sewage networks, it’s about building sustainable future around equitable use of energy for everyone.

But we need low-carbon energy, because climate change drives biodiversity loss, water crises (because rising oceans make a lot of areas lose their access to potable water) and other nasty third-order effects.


My response: Again, we’ll have to agree to disagree. Pre/history shows us overwhelmingly that the utopian future you imagine is not possible on a finite planet with 8 billion (and growing). It is denial/bargaining in the face of biogeophysical realities and limits. Ecological overshoot for homo sapiens will be, I am almost certain, dealt with by Nature, not us — particularly given all the claims/liens on future energy/resources in the form of quadrillions of dollars of debt/credit that currently exist and have been created to sustain our current arrangements with zero concern for the future from which the resources have been stolen.


LK: There’s a lot of research by degrowth theoreticians that demonstrates that we’re perfectly technologically capable of supporting 8 billion people on a finite planet, leaving 50% of it to wild nature. It just would be a different life than the US “cardboard houses in suburbia with 2,5 cars per family and 2+ hours of commuting daily, eating beef and flying regularly”.

It would require end of capitalism, though, which is why capitalists are promoting narratives of “we’re doomed, there’s nothing we can do, all alternatives are bad, I guess we’ll have to die off in the future, but so far, we’re bringing in record annual profits”.


My response: Theory is great, in theory. Reality is something quite different. Every complex society to date has perished/collapsed/declined — most before ‘capitalism’ ever existed. To believe we will do otherwise is, well, just denial/bargaining built upon a lot of assumptions and hope. We would be better to plan for a future much, much different than the one you paint. But, again, I think Nature is going to take care of this predicament for us.


After mostly finishing this contemplation I came across Gail Tverberg’s latest that provides some great insight into why the complex technologies many are arguing will help solve our energy dilemma will not.


There are plenty of similar arguments out there if one so chooses to discover them and the overwhelming evidence that ‘renewables’ are not in any way going to do much except: add to the drawdown of finite resources; contribute to the continuous overloading of planetary sinks; provide more profits for the industrialists, financiers, and well-connected elite; and, sustain the misguided belief system that all is well for the most part, and human ingenuity and our technological prowess can solve any problem that stands in the way of some utopian future where we all (billions and billions of us) live in harmony with nature. Transcending the biological and physical constraints of existence upon a finite planet is well within our reach…if only you believe.

See especially:


If you’ve made it to the end of this contemplation and have got something out of my writing, please consider ordering the trilogy of my ‘fictional’ novel series, Olduvai (PDF files; only $9.99 Canadian), via my website — the ‘profits’ of which help me to keep my internet presence alive and first book available in print (and is available via various online retailers). Encouraging others to read my work is also much appreciated.

Distilled Disintegration

Distilled Disintegration

Photo by Nigel Brown; licensed under Creative Commons

My adult life has run on two diverging tracks. On one, I played science. The other track branched off at age 34—twenty years ago this month—when I started teaching a class on Energy and the Environment. I was eager to piece together our likely energy future: how we would beat climate change and leave fossil fuels in the dust. Against my wishes, this fork presented unexpected turns that took a long time to sink in. The two tracks eventually became too divergent to keep a foot on each. At this stage, I can’t seem to muster the denial it would take to disregard what I have learned so that I might return to the more blissful play-time track.

Much of my writing in the last few years has tried to capture why I have become convinced that modernity can’t last, likely to begin disintegrating in the near-term. In this post, I attempt to distill core elements informing this sense. My apologies if this seems like a rehash. For what it’s worth, the packaging exercise is something that helps me address the question I constantly ask myself: what part of this might I have wrong? It’s a way to take stock.

Growth

I began the Do the Math blog with a pair of posts about why growth can’t last—hitting limits in a historically short time. I also dedicate the first chapters of my textbook to the same topic. In 2022, I synthesized the arguments in an academic paper. This thread should be very familiar by now to my readers, and in fact really ought to be common knowledge. Yet, modernity still operates in a market economy and political system built around a growth expectation. Pension plans and social safety nets (like Social Security and Medicare) become Ponzi schemes unquestionably destined to fail at some point as growth falters.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Peak Oil is Officially Here! World oil production peaked November of 2018

Peak Oil is Officially Here! World oil production peaked November of 2018

Preface. When I first published this post in February of 2022, I said that peak world oil production might have arrived, but it takes 5 years in the rear-view mirror to call it.  Now peak “crude oil including lease condensate oil” is officially here! Production was less in November 2023 than the peak of global oil production in November 2018. See for yourself at the U.S. Energy Information Administration site here.

You can ignore all the other liquids, they do not make diesel fuel for heavy-duty trucks, locomotives, and ships that do the actual work of civilization. Mainly the other categories are good for plastics, which we have more than enough of. Or ethanol for gasoline, but you’d destroy a diesel engine if you added this to extend diesel fuel. I suspect these categories were added to keep people from panicking like they did in the oil crises of 1973 and 1979.  Why would they panic? There is a very tight correlation between fossil production, GDP, and population.

Unconventional shale oil was responsible for over 90% of the increased production above the 2008 plateau with a little help from Canadian tar sands.

Seven of the eight U.S. shale basins are past peak, with only the Permian producing the majority of fracked oil. And it may peak in 2024 (Geiger 2022). Or not, some scientists think the USA shale oil production could be on a plateau until 2040. But at any rate, when shale oil and gas decline, will be a hell of a rollercoaster ride down, since shale oil declines 80% over 3 years. And already 81% of all the other oil production is declining at 8.5% a year, offset by 4.5% enhanced oil recovery.

As the energy crisis in Europe deepens, there could be a sudden mad rush of capital to explore, drill, and produce more oil which would keep the plateau going a bit longer.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Twilight of the Blobs

Twilight of the Blobs

“Respect the blob, learn from the blob, love the blob.” — Robert Kagan, Arch Blob Monster, Brookings, 2020

    HG Wells concocted a marvelous trick ending to his classic tale The War of the Worlds (1897). Remember: the colossal Martian tripod “fighting machines” swarm all over the planet zapping cities with “heat rays”. . . it looks like all-is-lost . . . but finally the darn things just quit marching, stop zapping, and stand down . . . the alien protoplasms at the controls (surprise ending) turn up dead and rotting inside from the action of our tiny invisible allies: the earth’s one-celled, disease-causing bacteria, to which the Martian blob creatures have no immunity!

The Gaian overtones in that story resound today as we Earthlings devise ingenious new methods to wreck terrestrial life, including ourselves. The planet seems to have some teleological drive to save itself, a kind of immune system. Notice: in all the ongoing debates about the wonders and dangers of A-I, and Bitcoin, and suffocating surveillance, nobody ever talks about the sketchy condition of the electric grid that all these worrisome phenomena utterly rely on. In our chatter over Peak Oil, there’s little awareness of oil production’s utter dependence on steady capital flows. In all the guff about centralized control emitted by Klaus Schwab and his World Economic Forum, there’s no mention of the centrifugal forces driving human affairs to re-localization, dis-aggregation of large states, and down-scaling of many activities. In our zeal to become Gods, we miss a lot.

Imagine: Bitcoin shoots up to a million dollars. You’re a zillionaire! Uh Oh. . . somewhere outside Zaneseville, Ohio, a squirrel takes a final chaw through some old insulation on a wire coming out of a transformer. His head blows up in a blue arc flash, and in a few seconds all the electricity goes out from Chicago to Boston…

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh LXI–Peak Oil: Not Ready For Mainstream Consumption


Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh LXI

July 29, 2022 (original posting date)

Athens, Greece (1984). Photo taken by author.

Peak Oil: Not Ready For Mainstream Consumption

Today’s contemplation is based upon a post in a Peak Oil Facebook Group I belong to and the suggestion that the idea of Peak Oil is catching on more broadly and making its way into the ‘mainstream’.


I am not so sure that the idea of Peak Oil will catch on more broadly and make its way into the ‘mainstream’ — except perhaps on the margins during times such as we are currently witnessing where issues pertaining to energy and the cost of it dominates our worldview. This is what has occurred in the past, such as in the shadow of The Great Recession when oil reached it historical high in June, 2008. It will certainly receive more play amongst those who are aware of it and the consequences that flow from understanding it but amongst the general public I am not so convinced.

Not only is it likely that such mainstream recognition and discussions regarding Peak Oil will be limited in nature but I personally have to wonder how much the extent of the significant implications for everything in our complex societies will actually penetrate into a broader awareness, for a variety of reasons. The notion may gain more notoriety amongst an increased portion of the public than it currently does, but very likely not the existential consequences of the limits imposed by waning fossil fuel resources on the sociocultural complexities supported by them (i.e., pretty well everything in our complex societies, including but certainly not limited to food production, transportation, economic/financial systems, trade, etc.); nor is the notion likely to stick around for long or be widely discussed by many in the population given the media’s tendency to ignore/deny its more unsightly impacts on their prevalent narratives (e.g., chasing the infinite growth chalice is a great thing and needs to continue).

In addition, one can already see a wide array of alternative interpretations of our energy ‘crisis’ being put forward[1]. Some of these include: conspiracy by the elite to bring about The Great Reset; insufficient funding/capital towards all forms of energy production; a conspiracy to keep fossil fuel prices high (including the notion that ‘fossil’ fuels are limitless in quantity as they are abiotic/abiogenic in nature); geopolitical uncertainty, particularly in regions where fossil fuels are in significant quantities; misguided investment policy such as Environmental, Social, and Governance criteria; and, of course, the ultimate scapegoat for the world’s woes — Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

While some leakage of the idea of the finiteness of the resource or limits to its extraction has occurred[2], many mainstream pundits have completely ignored the concern as it seems unworthy of consideration, or have questioned the accuracy/validity of the idea and thereby dismissed it.

Some mainstream media has indeed already discussed Peak Oil and some of its implications[3].

Mostly, the topic has seemed to get more attention when fossil fuel prices, especially oil and gas, begin to experience significant increases. But when the prices stabilise (usually at a higher floor) or the media has moved its focus onto some other crisis, the discussion shifts away and it is quickly forgotten.

Why will the concept and implications of Peak Oil be mostly absent from the mainstream conversation and/or dissipate relatively quickly?

Here’s my take. There are two primary reasons that I believe the concept and certainly the significant consequences of Peak Oil are unlikely to penetrate very deeply in to the zeitgeist of our ‘modern’ society, and they are the two main themes I have tended to discuss previously.

First, the elite, as they invariably tend to do, will attempt to leverage the impending crisis (as they have been for some time) to meet their primary motivation — maintenance/expansion of the wealth-generation/-extraction systems that provide their revenue streams and thus power/prestige/privileged positions. The status quo power and wealth structures that arise within the organisational imperatives required in a complex society must be preserved!

Since the elite also ‘control’ the mainstream media, and political and education systems, I expect them to keep doing (perhaps with an even hardier push) what they’ve been doing: sell/market the hopium-laced narrative that human ingenuity and our technological prowess can ‘save’ us from the environmental horrors (i.e., global warming/climate change) of burning fossil fuels. It’s no coincidence that they happen to ‘own’ the industrial processes and financial institutions necessary for such an endeavour.

One need only read the majority of ‘news’ or opinions about Peak Oil and it becomes clear that the ‘solution’ is always to transition to ‘green/clean’ energy and to electrify everything.

Second, the psychological mechanisms that impact/influence human beliefs and attitudes will also kick into gear as stress/disorder increases due to the negative consequences of Peak Oil, especially those aspects that lead our thinking/beliefs astray by attempting to: avoid pain and seek pleasure; reduce our cognitive dissonance; lead us to defer to/obey authority; have us go along to get along (i.e., the need to belong to a group); and, perhaps most significantly, the heuristics and biases that simplify complex issues and confirm misplaced beliefs. Basically we tend to gravitate towards the simple narratives offered by our ‘leaders’ and alter our beliefs to avoid painful thoughts.

And all the above doesn’t even touch upon the overwhelming evidence that fossil fuels (and the concomitant leveraging of technology to expedite our drawdown of a number of finite resources) have been the primary impetus leading to our significant overshooting of the globe’s natural carrying capacity for the human species.

What seems to be completely absent in virtually every ‘mainstream’ discussion about Peak Oil is the importance of fossil fuels in supporting virtually all of our complexities.

There are fossil fuel inputs into everything but especially modern industrial agriculture and transportation. These cannot be replaced by non-fossil fuel energy to any significant extent, if at all. Without relocalising food production in particular, we are setting ourselves up for significant food shortages.

Naïve, then, seems the call to abandon fossil fuels forthwith[4]. There appears zero comprehension of the consequences of that for the very dangerous complexities we have created. But it is also a marketing ploy to shift capital towards non-renewable, renewable energy-harvesting technologies (that depend significantly on fossil fuels). It is increasingly obvious that it is quite counterproductive to continue to chase the perpetual growth chalice (that is one of our greatest challenges that needs confronting) while cheerleading a reduction in fossil fuels.

We have hit significant diminishing returns on our extraction of fossil fuels. This is extremely problematic not only because they support virtually all of the complexities necessary for our very survival but because we continue to be beholden to systems that perpetuate the predicament, especially the pursuit of the infinite growth chalice.

If we do not prepare ourselves adequately and do not abandon our pursuit of growth, we risk massive negative consequences. In fact, it may already be too late to avoid most (all?) of such negative impacts given how far we are likely into ecological overshoot — a predicament I haven’t really touched upon in this contemplation.

A summary of my thoughts is clear from a response I shared this morning on an excellent article by The Honest Sorcerer, entitled Peak Oil Is Back With A Vengeance:

While everything you state is factual and based upon solid data and geological evidence [regarding the reality of Peak Oil], I fear our penchant to deny reality (especially if it is ‘painful’ in nature), reduce our cognitive dissonance (to alleviate stressful thoughts/beliefs), and defer to authority (that we give all too willingly to our ‘elite’) — as well as a potpourri of other psychological mechanisms that impact our beliefs — will once again see Peak Oil discussions/awareness/understanding be sustained/grow only on the margins of society.

Previous bouts of ‘awareness’ have arisen during similar times of stress, especially with regard to energy, but for the most part get lost in the alternative narratives that drown out the clarion calls about Peak Resources and seem directed to distract us from the ugly underside of ecological overshoot and its implications for our misbeliefs about humanity’s future and the magical thinking required to hold that more of what has caused our overshoot — namely technology — will somehow ameliorate/solve our errant ways and existential crises.

The vast, vast majority of people will either choose to ignore/deny the reality of Peak Oil (and especially its implications for our complex societies that completely depend upon fossil fuels for existence) or acknowledge it and then hold on to the rope being dangled by the elite that our ingenuity and technological prowess will ‘solve’ our issues (and, of course, it’s no coincidence that the push by our elite is primarily because they own the industries and institutions that are offered as saviours and stand to profit handsomely from the capital flowing into them).

Even if the concept and some of its significant implications do re-enter the mainstream and actually stick or becomes a common concern, I have to wonder how it will be manipulated by the narrative control managers for the elite. Somehow things are bound to get even more distorted than they are currently, especially given the psychological mechanisms that help to mislead our beliefs (recency, optimism, and confirmation biases particularly).

As with all things, however, time will tell how this plays out…I’m guessing not very well.


[1] A few examples: https://internationalman.com/articles/david-stockman-on-the-all-out-commitment-to-destroy-fossil-fuels-will-it-succeed/; https://www.statista.com/chart/27807/european-gdp-output-losses-twelve-months-after-a-russian-gas-supply-shut-off/; https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/putin-turns-screws-gazprom-unexpectedly-halts-another-more-nord-stream-turbine-european-gas; https://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Refinery-Shuts-Down-Due-To-Lack-Of-Crude.html; https://mises.org/library/trouble-oil; https://www.amazon.com/Myths-Lies-Wars-William-Engdahl/dp/3981326369/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=myths+lies+and+oil+wars&qid=1578501116&sr=8-1;

[2] https://www.reuters.com/world/macron-tells-biden-that-uea-saudi-can-barely-raise-oil-output-2022-06-27/; https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-06-27/macron-tells-biden-that-uae-and-saudi-pumping-near-oil-limits; https://oilprice.com/Energy/Crude-Oil/UAE-Saudi-Arabia-Pumping-Oil-Near-Limits-Macron.html; https://www.worldoil.com/news/2022/6/27/france-s-macron-tells-biden-that-uae-saudi-pumping-near-oil-limits/;

[3] Examples from my country’s national news institution, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation: https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/peak-oil-problems-and-possibilities-1.845183; https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/ex-premier-slams-province-over-peak-oil-1.1038638l; https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/record-gas-prices-blamed-on-peak-oil-1.1039028; https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/ihs-iea-electric-autonomous-ride-hailing-1.3983818;

[4] https://www.timesnownews.com/mirror-now/in-focus/world-must-abandon-fossil-fuels-urgently-say-scientists-as-they-prepare-to-present-landmark-ipcc-report-article-90642366; https://www.chesterstandard.co.uk/news/national/19621587.fuel-crisis-good-lesson-need-abandon-fossil-fuels-says-minister/; https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/opinion/local-view-abandon-fossil-fuels-to-avoid-climate-catastrophe; https://www.theguardian.com/news/2015/apr/08/can-world-economy-survive-without-fossil-fuels; https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/18/climate/climate-change-emissions-IEA.html

The Harsh Truth: We’re Using More Oil Than Ever

In this age of climate crisis, the world is consuming more crude than ever. Peak oil demand? Not yet. Maybe one day, perhaps even soon, around 2030. For now, however, the global economy still runs on oil.

It will take a while before governments certify it, but every piece of data points in the very same direction: In the past few weeks, global oil demand has surpassed the monthly peak set in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic.Expressed in barrels a day, the fresh record high in global oil consumption totals about 102.5 million, likely hit in the last few weeks in July and above the 102.3 million of August 2019. Picture this: We use enough crude to fill about 6,500 Olympic-size swimming pools every day. More than a third of those swimming pools would be needed to quench the thirst of two countries: the US and China.

It’s not unexpected.  The International Energy Agency, which compiles benchmark supply and demand statistics, has anticipated it for months. It was just a question of timing, since oil demand surges during the northern hemisphere summer, when millions of European and American families guzzle gasoline and jet fuel during their holidays. The wholesale cost of refined products, such as gasoline, is surging too.

Granted, the new demand milestone is just one flimsy data point. Global oil consumption statistics are routinely revised, and a final figure probably won’t be set in stone until next year, or even 2025. The margin of error is relatively wide, too, probably at least 1 million barrels a day. But experience indicates that demand is typically revised higher, rather than lower.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXIX–Are We Being Duped Regarding Global Warming?


Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXIX

August 17, 2021

Tulum, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

Are We Being Duped Regarding Global Warming?

Today’s contemplation was prompted by an email my mum sent me. As she closes in on 80, I find that she’s becoming a bit more open-minded about things but remains somewhat of a skeptic when it comes to global warming/anthropogenic climate change. We periodically share thoughts on the state of the world, especially politics, and I think I’ve almost got her convinced to abandon her faith/trust in government…

Anyways, here is the comment about global warming she forwarded to me and my relatively quick response (typed up while I was engaged in replacing a floor/foundation for one of our greenhouses — I never considered a decade ago when I installed the first greenhouse, of three, that the mini-garden ties I was using to terrace our backyard would decay/rot so quickly so I am replacing them with concrete blocks and putting in a patio stone floor so that my eldest daughter who has taken over the greenhouse can have many years of use with it, hopefully). I have added some minor supplemental thoughts (in italics) and supporting links to a few sources (see endnotes).


Comment:

With global warming having become as much a political issue as a scientific inquiry, I went from wondering whether mankind might really be influencing the climate to someone questioning a science I do not understand. I am now worried we are being duped by people with an agenda, like keep the money gravy train running. No one has yet explained to my satisfaction the big ice age followed by warming then a mini-ice age, followed by warming, all before mankind was a significant presence on earth and did nothing but have a few campfires.

Response:

That human activity has an impact on our environment and ecological systems, I have little doubt. How could almost eight billion of us and our resource demands not? Especially the so-called ‘advanced’ economies[i]. There is growing evidence that shows that our industrial civilisation has surpassed several planetary biophysical limits and likely overloaded a number of the planet’s compensatory sinks due to the vast amounts of waste material produced in its quest to procure the minerals and energy that our tools require for their manufacture and pollutants produced through their use.[ii]

The issue with the focus on global warming/climate change/carbon emissions is multi-faceted —such stories are never as simple as we’re led to believe. Geologic history shows pretty clearly that the planet’s climate changes and probably most significantly as a result of the sun’s cycles.[iii]

Is human activity exacerbating natural cycles? Quite possibly[iv]. Is it as catastrophic as painted by some?[v] Only time can truly tell since modelling of complex systems is fraught with difficulties.[vi] One minor variation of one of many variables that are used to create future predictions can shift the eventual outcome significantly.[vii] Of course, humans don’t like uncertainty (which is really all that can be provided about the future — probabilistic scenarios that may or may not occur — no matter how complex one’s predictive model is) so we cling to and tend to believe forecasts that are at their root uncertain; their potential accuracy matters not.[viii]

One of the other complications of the narrative is that our ruling class always leverages crises to their advantage. Always. I have little doubt that the hyper focus on climate and carbon emissions is being used to pursue the ruling class’s primary motivation: control/expansion of the wealth-generating systems that provide their revenue streams.[ix]

The ‘problem’ of climate change is always presented with ‘solutions’ but those ‘solutions’ do not address carbon emissions in the least; in fact, there’s a good argument to be made that they actually increase them.[x] Much as the ruling class manufactures consent for any policy that the masses might question/reject (almost always via significant propaganda campaigns), they have created a narrative that is designed to persuade people to believe something that is increasingly being shown to be completely false and little more than marketing/sloganeering.[xi]

These ‘solutions’ also, conveniently, increase the revenue streams of the ruling class via taxes and complete replacement/overhaul of virtually all important technology (e.g., ‘renewable’ energy, electric vehicles, etc.). Scratch even gently below the surface of the ‘clean/green’ energy story and you discover it’s all basically bullshit.[xii] These technologies not only are not sustainable because of their dependence upon finite resources (including very much on the fossil fuel platform itself), but their production is hugely ecologically destructive. We are being sold a load of crap on various fronts so that the sociopaths that ‘control’ our world can profit. This being said, we do face some significant environmental and resource depletion challenges.

Probably the most dire predicament we face is ecological overshoot — too damn many people (especially living in ‘advanced’ economies) for a planet with finite resources.[xiii] The constant push for growth (which really is just to prolong/support the gargantuan Ponzi that our financial/economic/monetary systems have become) is the exact opposite of what we likely need to be doing; as is the push to ‘electrify’ everything.[xiv] The unfortunate thing for the future is that any species that overshoots its natural carrying capacity has only one way to be rebalanced: a massive die-off.[xv] When that occurs (and how it unfolds) is anybody’s guess…

As much as we tend to believe we understand our world and its complexities, I would contend we do not; at least, not very well. To compensate for this uncertainty we have developed all sorts of psychological mechanisms that lead us to believe particular narratives with some ‘certainty’. The beginning of a recent paper that challenges the mainstream story surrounding ‘renewable’ energy (that has been presented as a panacea for reducing carbon emissions; although I would argue Peak Oil is a more troubling issue in the energy needs of industrial civilisation[xvi]) is pertinent to this idea: “We begin with a reminder that humans are storytellers by nature. We socially construct complex sets of facts, beliefs, and values that guide how we operate in the world. Indeed, humans act out of their socially constructed narratives as if they were real. All political ideologies, religious doctrines, economic paradigms, cultural narratives — even scientific theories — are socially constructed “stories” that may or may not accurately reflect any aspect of reality they purport to represent. Once a particular construct has taken hold, its adherents are likely to treat it more seriously than opposing evidence from an alternate conceptual framework.”[xvii]


[i] https://archive.globalpolicy.org/social-and-economic-policy/the-environment/general-analysis-on-the-environment/45393-how-much-of-the-worlds-resource-consumption-occurs-in-rich-countries.html; https://www.livescience.com/20308-greedy-nations-top-resource-users-earth.html

[ii] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0921800914001323; https://science.sciencemag.org/content/347/6223/1259855.full; https://ideas.ted.com/the-9-limits-of-our-planet-and-how-weve-raced-past-4-of-them/; https://www.stockholmresilience.org/research/research-news/2015-01-15-planetary-boundaries—an-update.html

[iii] https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/how-does-sun-affect-our-climate; https://phys.org/news/2017-03-sun-impact-climate-quantified.html

[iv] https://sciencing.com/what-human-activities-affect-the-carbon-cycle-12083853.html; https://www.e-education.psu.edu/earth103/node/680; https://phys.org/news/2010-12-human-affect-carbon.html

[v] https://www.populationconnectionaction.org/2021/08/12/ipcc-catastrophic-climate-change-is-coming/; https://www.npr.org/2021/08/09/1025898341/major-report-warns-climate-change-is-accelerating-and-humans-must-cut-emissions-; https://mahb.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/deepadaptation.pdf

[vi] https://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/complexsystems/introduction.html; https://wtf.tw/ref/meadows.pdf

[vii] https://issues.org/climate-change-scenarios-lost-touch-reality-pielke-ritchie/?fbclid=IwAR1dbpSNqPXWr9QyfC-fDzlWrvfswO3LLZKj08szexcCb_7h7uRW2j7Qv54

[viii] https://www.amazon.com/Future-Babble-Pundits-Hedgehogs-Foxes/dp/0452297575

[ix] https://www.counterpunch.org/20 , 15/10/06/yes-there-is-an-imperialist-ruling-class/; https://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/sociopolitica/sociopol_globalelite07.htm

[x] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/blog/2012/jan/09/wind-turbines-increasing-carbon-emissions; https://www.amazon.com/Life-after-Fossil-Fuels-Alternative/dp/3030703347; https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/opinion/mondaycop22-lower-co2-emissions-with-lower-carbon-solar-energy/

[xi] https://www.amazon.com/Manufacturing-Consent-Political-Economy-Media/dp/0375714499; https://www.amazon.com/Propaganda-Edward-Bernays/dp/0970312598; https://planetofthehumans.com; https://www.brightgreenlies.com

[xii] https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/environmental-impacts-renewable-energy-technologies; https://www.e-education.psu.edu/eme807/node/715https://www.nap.edu/read/12619/chapter/7; https://www.altenergymag.com/article/2015/08/the-dark-side-of-renewable-energy-negative-impacts-of-renewables-on-the-environment/20963/; https://www.routledge.com/Environmental-Impacts-of-Renewable-Energy/Spellman/p/book/9781482249460; https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/renewable/the-environmental-impact-of-lithium-batteries/

[xiii] https://www.pnas.org/content/99/14/9266; https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/319810.Overshoot

[xiv] https://medium.com/age-of-awareness/our-economy-is-a-ponzi-scheme-8fc56b9e594f; https://eand.co/how-the-economy-became-one-giant-ponzi-scheme-4ac84bf18738; https://moneyweek.com/economy/global-economy/601657/why-our-economy-is-a-giant-ponzi-scheme

[xv] https://thesenecaeffect.wordpress.com/2014/12/01/humans-in-ecological-overshoot-collapse-now-to-avoid-a-larger-catastrophe/; https://www.earthovershoot.org/who-we-are/frequent-questions.html; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overshoot_(population)

[xvi] https://www.greenpeace.org/international/story/29458/peak-oil-decline-coronavirus-economy/; https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/has-peak-oil-already-happened/; http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2014/ph240/liegl1/

[xvii] https://www.mdpi.com/1996-1073/14/15/4508/htm?fbclid=IwAR2ISt5shfV4wpFEc8jxbQnrrxyllyvZP-xDnoHhWrjGTQRIqUNfk3hOK1g


Why Civilization Would Collapse Even Without Climate Change

Why Civilization Would Collapse Even Without Climate Change

Even if there were no climate change, civilization would still collapse in the next few decades. Here’s why.
I want to start by emphasizing that I have nothing but love and respect for the millions of climate activists in the world, many of whom work tirelessly to end fossil fuels, even to the point of getting arrested. Organizations like Greenpeace, Extinction Rebellion, Fridays for Future, and countless others have done incredibly important work and deserve our thanks.

However, I’ve noticed that average, everyday climate activists often don’t see the big picture. They are laser-focused on climate change and believe that if we just stop burning fossil fuels and start using green energy, we can save the planet and our civilization.

The truth is that even if there were no climate change, our civilization would still be doomed. And the more time we waste trying to save it, the more damage we’ll do to the biosphere. It’s time to give up on the idea of saving modern, high-tech civilization and instead focus on saving as much of the natural world as possible.

For those who still believe we can continue with business-as-usual using green energy instead of fossil fuel energy, this article will be a wakeup call, and it could be very upsetting. I don’t want to upset people, but it’s important that we face reality so we can make better choices as we move forward.

Okay, take a deep breath, and let’s dive in…

Exponential Growth

Quote by Albert Bartlett on Exponential Function

Before I explain the specific reasons why civilization is doomed no matter what we do, I think it would be worthwhile to review the concept of exponential growth. Most people think they understand it, and they might even give an accurate definition, but they’re not truly grasping the implications of exponential growth in a finite world.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh CLVI–Peak Oil, Complexity, Psychology, Magical Thinking, and War

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh CLVI

Mexico (1988). Photo by author.

Peak Oil, Complexity, Psychology, Magical Thinking, and War

Again, some sharing of my comments and others’ on a couple of recent FB Group posts.

First, a post from the Peak Oil Group I am a member of where some great conversations happen. In this particular situation, the comments were in response to my last Contemplation.

SH: I was with a group of technical people recently, engaged in conversation about a very wide range of issues, and when I pointed out that almost no one among engineers and entrepreneurs are striving to address future energy and resource needs, rather, the vast majority exhibit a myopic fixation toward devising increasingly complex ways to use up fossil hydrocarbons. Well… Some folks interrupted and pretty much drowned me out with a kind of “hear no evil” mantra, extolling the virtues of technology and human ingenuity. I don’t even think it was a conscious response, but a kind of unconscious impulse, an eruption of vocal energy resulting from cognitive dissonance. It seems apparent that humans are not psychologically equipped to handle large scale existential threats or crises. I guess what I’m suggesting is that it isn’t just elites who will kick the can down the road to maintain their status quo, but that pretty much everyone will respond to things like Peak Oil in a way that’s unquestionably irrational or egocentric in relation to the magnitude of the challenge. That’s my take on it anyway…

Me: SH, I completely agree. I suppose that’s one of the reasons I find the impact of our innate psychological mechanisms/processes so fascinating to explore and try to understand. I think a big part of our blindness to limits and the consequences of chasing the perpetual growth chalice is our ‘trust/faith’ in our various complex systems (and those who ‘control’ them). This has us engaging in significant magical thinking and believing that we can ‘adapt’ (via our technology and ingenuity) to the various predicaments we face. We cannot fathom that recent adaptations have run their course and we are on a dead-end trajectory. Psychology suggests our minds protect us from such anxiety-provoking thoughts regardless of the evidence to the contrary. It doesn’t matter what reality/facts/evidence demonstrates; it’s what we believe that rules.

PW: Steve Bull, Yes, extreme compartmentalism.

JR: Steve Bull, I started listening to a Derrick Jensen interview last night (suggested by a post here by Alice Friedman.) What I took from it is that it’s not human psychology in a vacuum. Different technologies have their own built-in ideologies that influence human ideologies. It was a bit esoteric, but it sort of made sense. Very interesting.

PW: JR, Yep, they have their religion, their science, their family, their whatever.

SH2: SH, what I’m wondering now is why is it possible (for governments, or anyone) to convince people en masse that it’s necessary to go off to war and likely be maimed and/or killed, and endure all the other hardships of war………… but it seems completely impossible (for governments, or anyone) to convince people en masse to put up with seemingly much milder forms of deprivation (like less luxurious lifestyles) in order to stave off collapse (and famine/death and eventually war leading to more famine, death, etc). ?

Me: SH2, The State profits from the war racket (and all the other growth rackets) but not economic contraction. They have no interest in convincing the masses to live more ‘sustainably’ since that would kill their golden geese.

SH2: Steve Bull, Agreed, but I think it must go deeper than that. Do soldiers signing up (not counting conscripts) not have any idea of what war is like? Assuming they do, why does the motive of sacrifice for the good of their society/country not apply in anywhere near the same level of commitment to non-war actions?

Me: SH2, It’s obviously very complex but perhaps part of it is the State’s ability to leverage our innate tribal instincts (i.e., sense of patriotism) and ramping up of the ‘othering’ that goes hand-in-hand with that, which influences a sense of ‘sacrifice for God and country’ that gets most to support war and the atrocities of it. When times are ‘tough’ there’s always some ‘other’ that can be dragged out to blame for things and our in-group versus out-group instincts drown out the critical aspects of such manipulations.

As for ‘sacrificing’ for the planet’s health and our long-term survival, these are minimised via the mainstream narratives about human ingenuity and technology being capable of countering such degradation, you know — we can ‘science’ our way out of any ‘problems’.

The forces of propaganda/marketing by the ruling elite are significant and impactful. They profit from war and from continued economic growth. They have zero interest in curtailing either of these insane and destructive pursuits and perhaps even less concern for our ecological systems — greenwashing everything to give the appearance of concern.

The ‘average’ person’s tendency to defer to authority/expertise leaves most following whatever trajectory a society’s ‘rulers’ set, and for the 10,000+ years of complex societies, these ‘influencers’ have prioritised that which sustains their revenue streams…war and expansion.

And to minimise the cognitive dissonance of the significant machinations and manipulations we are constantly exposed to, most go along to get along and parrot back the stories and help to cheerlead us over the impending cliff…

PW: Steve Bull, Very well stated Steve. I copied two sentences because of the clarity and preciseness of the logic. ……you know — we can ‘science’ our way out of any ‘problems.

PW: SH2, Part of it is the play on their testosterone, their need to be a hero outweighs many other considerations. I think that, yeah, they don’t know what they are doing.

PW: One play of the recruiters ‘they can sign up and join with their friends, they can all serve in the same unit. Well, no, as soon as they join they are split up with some never seeing their friends again. I watched one video of recruiters trying to sign some guys up and implying they could be like their favorite musical artist who had served in the military. They could join the musical military band like he did. The recruiters will lie about anything to get the signature on the line.

LM: SH, I’ve come across the same as this. Maybe it’s their fight mechanism in their brain. I suppose if you don’t know how to mitigate it with nature and low fuel consumption, you use the tools you think you have, even if you don’t really understand those tools. It’s laziness, ignorance and fear. Problem is, those responses adversely impact my daughters and their futures, along with all other children’s futures. So what are we to do? The only two ways to mitigate all this, infiltrate the political system or revolt against the existing system.

We don’t seem to be able to get past the leaders and elite. The ones that openly advertise that going back to a low fuel economy would take us back to the dark ages. Well yeah, maybe we’d have to go to bed the same time as birds mostly because of low fuel, there’s nothing dark about that, other than the dark night!

So so distant from nature. Crazy


Second, is this question/statement posed in the Degrowth Group I am a member of. I include it as it relates to issues raised above:

PJ: Do you think the worlds ‘elite’ might view climate change as being caused by having far too many slaves consuming ‘their’ planet’s resources? ( It seems strange how they really seem to be promoting world war three rather than attempting to promote peace) I bet most of them have their own nuclear bunkers. Do any of the worlds ‘leaders’ and elites actually see themselves as being ‘enemies’ or is it something they like to pretend to the people? To maintain their ‘system’ and their positions? They certainly like to keep telling us how other countries and people are our ‘enemies’.

Me: I don’t pretend to know what our ‘elite’ think or believe. I can only guess based upon some statements, their behaviours, and pre/historical evidence as to what others in their place seem to have done.

They don’t seem to agree on much and oftentimes disagree vehemently on things. This often makes them more concerned with their in-group and how to manipulate events amongst that restricted population as opposed to the masses. This is perhaps especially so across borders, and particularly with respect to regions rich in resources (mineral, labour, and capital).

They don’t appear to be overly concerned with the symptoms of ecological overshoot (anthropogenic climate impacts being one) except to leverage them in expanding their revenue streams and societal control mechanisms.

They appear to believe in the magical thinking weaved by ‘free’ market economists and infinite substitutability for declining resources, and that technology and human ingenuity can solve any pressing issue.

They do not appear to give two shits for the unwashed masses except as tax donkeys and labourers, but do attempt to appease them somewhat with bread, circuses, and soothing narratives (despite having the various protective services of private and public police/security/military, they do still fear reprisals from possible revolution by the masses — thus increasing mass surveillance and narrative management).

Perhaps they do fear a nuclear exchange, but many certainly (at least amongst the higher ups of the political and military classes, and possibly some other very influential individuals) have access to safe spaces where they believe they could avoid the worst of such an outcome.

But we need to also consider that war is a VERY profitable racket as Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler reminded us. And THE primary motivation of these people probably since the beginning of complex societies 10,000+ years ago has been control and expansion of the wealth-generation/-extraction systems that provide their revenue streams and thus positions of power and prestige.

Again and again throughout human pre/history our ruling elite have sacrificed their citizens and the environment to meet this important motivation. I see little evidence that our current iteration of elite is any different than the many that have preceded them and expedited their society’s collapse, especially through overreach in many areas.

And when haven’t the weapons of the day ever sat idle once things have gone sideways?

Homo sapiens are very intelligent story-telling apes, just not very wise.

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh VIII–Peak Oil and Sociopolitics

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh VIII

Oct 30, 2020
Chitchen Itza, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

Peak Oil and Sociopolitics

Once again, a comment I posted in response to an article on The Tyee.

Where to begin? I realise this article is primarily about a federal political party and its future but there are two underlying issues that are discussed that need far more exploration and understanding if we are going to be projecting where a particular party or even government will be down the road (let alone the entire world).

If we are going to be discussing energy and Peak Oil then there is SO much more to bring into the conversation. Yes, politics plays a role (as it always does) but the topic is vastly wider than sociopolitics. It encompasses virtually everything in our complex, globalised industrial world. Everything. From the way we create potable water, to how we feed ourselves, to how we build and heat our homes (I’ve purposely focused on the three items we NEED to live…everything else is icing but just as dependent on energy, especially fossil fuels).

First things first. There is NO substitute for fossil fuels. At least not one that can sustain our current world the way it is configured. No, alternatives to fossil fuels cannot do it. They are not ‘clean’ as the mining, refinement, and manufacturing processes for them are environmentally damaging. They have a low energy-return-on-energy-invested (EROEI) and provide little ‘bang for the buck’. They cannot fuel many important industrial processes such as steel and concrete production. They depend very much on continued exploitation of fossil fuel, both upstream and downstream. They are NOT a panacea.

We are stuck with fossil fuels, until and unless we are ready and willing to give up probably 90% or more of what we consider ‘modernity’.

Then there’s the fiscal aspect discussed here. While it may be ‘progressive’ to be discussing and believing that money grows on trees (or at least within the 1 and 0s of computers), this infinite money growth that is being bandied about as another wonderful panacea for our world that’s gone sideways carries with it enormous consequences.

Let’s agree for the sake of argument that we can indeed just print as much money as we want to ‘pay’ for all that we want and desire — and we can, we just create it from thin air. Presto. More money.

I think most would see that if everyone was suddenly in receipt of, say a million dollars, there would be knock-on effects in the price inflation we would experience; after all, more money chasing the same amount of goods and services would, as most economists would agree and experience has shown, result in higher prices experienced by the population (unless of course it just gets left in the computer data banks and accumulates interest; oh wait, interest rates are zero or lower).

Okay, so let’s say price inflation hits. Solution: we deposit another million, or maybe two million in everyone’s new digital bank account…same problem.

In fact, we’re probably beginning to experience hyperinflation; and experiments in this realm have never ended well. The surest way to bring about a loss of faith in fiat currency and eventual economic collapse is through currency debasement, which is exactly what endless money printing does. But, again, for the sake of argument, let’s say that doesn’t happen (miracles do sometimes occur; although I’m not sure the Leafs winning the Stanley Cup is one of them).

So are the creation of goods and services ramped up to meet demand since everyone has money to buy things? Likely. Here is where we get back to the first issue.

Every dollar spent requires energy to produce the goods or services provided. Think this doesn’t happen? Take a look at GDP and energy use. They are correlated almost perfectly. They increase together. Think alternative energy will meet this demand? Hardly. Increased alternative energy production has not even been able to keep up with increasing demand. The world has had to continue to ramp up fossil fuel use to meet demands. The more money that is created and spent, the more demand there is for energy and resources.

But we have a slight problem. We live on a finite world with finite resources but especially fossil fuels which underpin our current world and all of its interconnected complexities. Our world as designed and functioning currently is fubar without fossil fuels.

It doesn’t matter what party is in charge of things. It never has. The Liberals, NDP, or Greens for that matter can wrap themselves in cloaks of green (to give the illusion of being environmentally friendly; or, of having lots of money; or, both perhaps) and promise a green/clean economy where everyone has everything they want and need, and it won’t mean a damn thing in the end. We could all sit around the campfire holding hands and singing kumbayah but that won’t keep the impending cliff at bay.

These inconvenient truths, as it were, are already biting us and we can only ‘paper’ over them for so long. At some point we have to realise that like Wile E. Coyote we left solid ground some time ago and have been running on air with nothing holding us up. Until a tipping point of people come to this realisation it will be business as usual and the telling of comforting narratives to reduce our mass cognitive dissonance and avoid the pain of reality.

Rant concluded.

Opposition to mining will prevent a green transition to renewables

Opposition to mining will prevent a green transition to renewables

Source: Bare (2012) Environmentalists win review of two more plants near Rosemont copper mine. Arizona Capitol times.

I could overwhelm you with world-wide trillions of tons of mining waste and how China has rendered 20% of its farmland too toxic to grow crops (BBC 2014), but let’s just zoom in on one mine in Arizona. In 2022, 13 years after the Rosemont Copper Mine near Tuscon, AZ was proposed in 2009, was finally shut down after strong opposition.

Yet clearly mines need to be built to make the transition to renewables ASAP.  If world peak oil was in 2018 (EIA 2022) time’s a wastin’.  Energy will get more expensive and scarcer as it declines. Mining will need increasing amounts of energy as ore quality continues to decline and remaining deposits further away and deeper, as well as the energy to crush ore, smelt metals out and fabricate them into parts. All of these steps require the high heat of fossil fuel energy, especially coal, for which there aren’t alternative electric or hydrogen processes and transportation.  The first generation will have to be made with fossil fuels, not the electricity from yet to be built solar, wind, and nuclear power plants.

Michaux (2022a, 2022b) has made some rough calculations of the electricity, hydrogen, and metals to make them in an energy transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050 with wind, solar, nuclear, hydro, geothermal, and biowaste generation. It’s a work in progress, but the best estimate I’ve seen since he included not just the electric grid like most researchers (i.e. Jacobson 2011), but the electricity to replace the fossil energy used by transportation, manufacturing, and heating of buildings and homes.

Then he calculated the metals required to build these 586,000 average sized power stations in addition to the world’s 46,400 to generate the additional electricity and electrolysis of 200.1 million tonnes of hydrogen to power heavy duty transportation and manufacturing.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

The Spectre of Peak Oil — Part 2

Ramifications: the long term consequences of peak oil

Photo by Boston Public Library on Unsplash

Peak oil is not the end of the world. It is a subtle, almost barely noticeable phenomenon. It does not mean that we will run out of oil from one day to another, causing all transportation to stop, bringing about famine, chaos, riots and nuclear meltdowns everywhere. We will get there in due time — make no mistake — but not at the time of peak oil supply. Why all the fuss then?

Aswe have seen in Part 1 of this series, there are several limits to global oil supply. First, Earth has a finite volume. Out of this finite volume there are only so many places where oil can be formed and later found. The largest of these oil reserves have been already identified and tapped, and as they near the end of their useful life we are forced to move towards ever smaller, ever more energy and resource intensive to get deposits, or tapping the source rock itself (think: shale). Beyond that there is very little we can do. We are now actively living up our civilization’s lifetime savings at an exponential rate.

As rich, easy to tap fields — providing prodigious returns on investment — slowly give up the ghost, the age of flexible yet reliable supply comes to an end. The persistent increase in energy and resource demand on drilling the next well and getting the next barrel — as we move on to tap ever trickier deposits — will require an ever higher selling price to balance.

The only problem is, that oil prices above a certain point simply end up killing the host, the economy itself. Despite being such a vital — and irreplaceable — input to the economy, petroleum’s affordability will eventually put a chokehold on its own future…

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Global Peak Oil Remains an Existential Threat

Global Peak Oil Remains an Existential Threat

“I have reported on the dire impacts of global peak oil at guymcpherson.com for many years. My reports from August 2007 onward indicate the potential for peak oil to terminate industrial civilization. Information I discovered a few years later indicates that stopping or even slowing industrial activity will cause our extinction. Our extinction could result from a reduction in aerosol masking or the meltdown of some of the world’s nuclear facilities. The latter phenomenon would cause stratospheric ozone to be stripped away, thereby causing extremely rapid planetary heating. Again, I have reported these findings previously in this space. Responses to my freely available work, rooted in evidence, have included denial, non-evidentiary argumentation, and a coordinated defamation campaign that effectively removed me from public service. But enough about me.”

“A reduction in aerosol masking has caused regional increases in temperature that have led to regional increases in precipitation, as indicated by peer-reviewed research I have shared in this space. Fortunately, these impacts have not yet gone global. Rather, they have remained regional in scope, beginning in the area around Wuhan, China, where the pandemic broke out. Regional increases in temperature and subsequent increases in precipitation followed the pandemic to India, Europe, and the northeastern United States.”
All of the analysis above is via Professor Guy McPherson’s Substack post Titled: Science Snippets: Global Peak Oil Remains an Existential Threat

Science Snippets: Global Peak Oil Remains an Existential Threat

Colleagues and I in the dynamic group Peak Oil have previously debated this subject. Join us for the latest developments as we circle the drain of Peak Oil triggered collapse.

More reference material embedded in Science Snippets: Peak Oil Has NOT Gone Away

Readers of this blog know that I concentrate on the climate and extinction crises and the contemporaneous issue of the re-rise of fascism and unfolding collapse. Collapse isn’t an event, it’s a process, a process that is clearly underway.
Aotearoa New Zealand has just closed it’s one and only oil refinery, yes, you read that right! I filled out an Official Information Act submission to find out what are NZ’s strategic reserves. The government department responsible refused to divulge what we have in reserve! We are led by Donkeys.
Not having a refinery means we’d suffer societal collapse in a matter of weeks of a blockade of our territorial waters being enforced, by whoever, “Friend or Foe”. Remember France was supposedly our ally when they blew up the Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior murdering Fernando Pereira in downtown Tamaki Makaurau.
The Insanity of Aotearoa New Zealand Closing it’s One and Only Oil Refinery

No, Nuclear Energy Won’t Save Us

Soon to be mementos of a lost age. Photo by Lukáš Lehotský on Unsplash
Hubbert’s idea about the energy use of humanity. Hubbert, M. King. Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels. American Petroleum Institute. June 1956.

I’ve mentioned in the introduction to this article how Hubbert has presented a glaring contradiction between the reality of peak oil and his expectations towards nuclear power supposedly providing us all the energy we need for countless millennia to come. I say glaring, because as a geologist it should have been obvious to him that nuclear power is coming from Uranium, a mineral found in finite quantities, in finite reserves on this finite planet…

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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