Peak oil

Alleviating worldly suffering along the way.

Re: Peak oil

Postby Kim O'Hara » Thu May 22, 2014 12:51 pm

ovi wrote:No oil producer in their right mind would ever admit any evidence of peak oil as that would lead to more research into alternative energy and they would miss the whole post-peak oil devastating, yet profitable, effects. A few facts: world spending on renewable energy R&D is less than 10 billion dollars, world subsidies of fossil fuel are more than 500 billion, world energy expenditures are about 6000 billions and world economy about 85 trillion. That is, renewable energy R&D represent 2% of the fossil fuel subsidies, 0.16% world energy expenditures and 0.01% of world economy. Nobody really cares about sustainability, peak oil, pollution or global warming.


Now factor in the growth rates of all of those numbers over, say, the last five years and extrapolate forwards another five years. Is the picture the same?

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Re: Peak oil

Postby dzogchungpa » Thu May 22, 2014 8:53 pm

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Re: Peak oil

Postby dzogchungpa » Thu Jun 05, 2014 8:43 pm

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Re: Peak oil

Postby Mkoll » Thu Jun 05, 2014 9:25 pm

Not to mention that burning all these fossil fuels will accelerate global warming and the problems it causes while also making it highly possible that some form of catastrophic runaway climate change will occur.

It's really not a pretty picture.
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Re: Peak oil

Postby Kim O'Hara » Fri Jun 06, 2014 4:27 am

Mkoll wrote:Not to mention that burning all these fossil fuels will accelerate global warming and the problems it causes while also making it highly possible that some form of catastrophic runaway climate change will occur.

It's really not a pretty picture.

You can say that again!
Mkoll wrote:It's really not a pretty picture.

:tongue:
I know - but, all joking aside, it's really not a pretty picture.
The good folks over on the current Real Climate open thread http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2014/06/unforced-variations-june-2014/ aren't talking much about climate science these days because (in my opinion and apparently theirs) we already know enough about the science to know we're in very deep trouble so they're talking about possible ways out of the trouble.
On the up side, they have some rude things to say about the IEA's view that renewables can't keep growing.
On the down side, no-one seems to foresee a way out that doesn't involve serious economic pain - effectively, we'll have a recession forced on us by climate change (as per the Stern Report prediction) or a recession forced on us by high energy prices - high energy prices driven both by peak oil and by the need to impose carbon taxes to limit climate change. Neither of those options will be politically popular so the first looks more likely just because governments won't act to induce the second and thereby avoid the first.
Do we have a way out that involves no pain? Not any more, since climate change is already affecting us all, especially though extreme weather events. All we can do is advocate for, and work towards, a least-bad outcome.

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Re: Peak oil

Postby Kim O'Hara » Fri Jun 06, 2014 4:52 am

By the way, it's not just oil. Coal faces the same set of interlocking issues of accessiblility (aka cost of extraction), carbon taxes, climate change and competition from renewables. This http://www.ieefa.org/pressreleasejunebriefnote/ outlines the likely effects on the industry.

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Re: Peak oil

Postby Mkoll » Fri Jun 06, 2014 11:48 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:I know - but, all joking aside, it's really not a pretty picture.

Agreed. If I wanted to be really frank, I'd say this: we're in a speeding car, the brakes are out, the accelerator is stuck on, and there's no one at the wheel.

Kim O'Hara wrote:On the down side, no-one seems to foresee a way out that doesn't involve serious economic pain - effectively, we'll have a recession forced on us by climate change (as per the Stern Report prediction) or a recession forced on us by high energy prices - high energy prices driven both by peak oil and by the need to impose carbon taxes to limit climate change. Neither of those options will be politically popular so the first looks more likely just because governments won't act to induce the second and thereby avoid the first.
Do we have a way out that involves no pain? Not any more, since climate change is already affecting us all, especially though extreme weather events. All we can do is advocate for, and work towards, a least-bad outcome.

And that's not to mention the geopolitical reality. Countries will look to protect their interests as they always have, with food, water, and energy being the most important. Militaries run on oil. The developing world will require more and more fossil fuels as their standard of living increases. Human population is expected to be at 8 to 11 billion people by 2050.

In the end, barring anything truly apocalyptic (which I hope is unlikely), it will be the poor people in the wrong places who suffer the most. And that's par for the course. Wealthy people will by and large be able to weather whatever is coming. No pun intended.
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Re: Peak oil

Postby Kim O'Hara » Fri Jun 06, 2014 1:05 pm

Mkoll wrote: ... The developing world will require more and more fossil fuels as their standard of living increases.

That proposition is beginning to seem quite dubious to me. I think it reflects a future which was once probable but is now far less likely.
Why won't it happen?
• Peak Oil, followed quite soon by Peak Coal - after a few years in which the price of fossil fuels makes them increasingly unaffordable, "more and more fossil fuels" simply won't be available at any price.
• The rise of renewable energy sources.
• Developing countries leapfrogging over certain stages of the Western path to industrialisation, e.g. pushbikes to rechargeable electric bikes, without conventional motor bikes in between.
• Climate change forcing the abandonment of fossil fuels even before they run out. It's already under way in China and has just picked up momentum in India with the election of their new PM.
• The twin forces of climate change and peak oil bringing on a prolonged recession (as mentioned in recent posts) which drastically slows improvements in standard of living and (even more) the growth of consumer culture in developing countries.

Most of the rest of what you say, especially the bit about the poor suffering the most, is pretty much on target, IMO.

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Re: Peak oil

Postby Mkoll » Sat Jun 07, 2014 12:41 am

Kim,

You may be right regarding longer term trends. But for the present and near-future, fossil fuel consumption is increasing in developing countries, not decreasing. For example, check out the five most populous developing countries' (China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan) fossil fuel consumption at the EIA web site. Their oil consumption graphs show upward trends without exception. And for many of them, natural gas and coal are also upward trending.
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Re: Peak oil

Postby Kim O'Hara » Sat Jun 07, 2014 7:37 am

Mkoll wrote:Kim,

You may be right regarding longer term trends. But for the present and near-future, fossil fuel consumption is increasing in developing countries, not decreasing. For example, check out the five most populous developing countries' (China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan) fossil fuel consumption at the EIA web site. Their oil consumption graphs show upward trends without exception. And for many of them, natural gas and coal are also upward trending.

I was thinking in terms of the next five to ten years, actually. All the factors I listed (except perhaps the last) will have had significant impacts on the current trend within five years, IMO, and the last will very likely be a reality shortly after that.

If we are to attain a stable - which means sustainable - economic state in (say) 20 - 50 years, it has to be one with near-zero population growth, and one with far smaller average consumption (of energy and manufactured goods) than we are currently enjoying in the west. Further, I think that if it is going to have geopolitical stability it will have to have reasonable equality of wealth/lifestyle between countries, i.e. the poorest populations will be better off than they are now, so our own expectations will have to fall considerably. It will be goodbye to the three-car garage, that's for sure.
And our best course of action now is one which leads to that outcome.

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Re: Peak oil

Postby Mkoll » Sat Jun 07, 2014 7:59 am

I agree that we need that kind of plan implemented on a global scale. However, I think the reality is that the odds of it or something similar being implemented is near absolute zero. There just isn't enough interest nor is there a governing body to implement such a plan. Politicians are worried about their own countries. Wealthy people are worried about their money. Middle-class people are worried about the economy. Poor people are worried about paying their rent or getting food to eat. Everyone is worried about their own families and their own future.

To my knowledge, the best that our governments have come up with are plans to cut carbon emissions by "X" by "Y" date. That's just not going to cut it, no pun intended.
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Re: Peak oil

Postby Kim O'Hara » Sat Jun 07, 2014 8:55 am

Mkoll wrote:I agree that we need that kind of plan implemented on a global scale. However, I think the reality is that the odds of it or something similar being implemented is near absolute zero. There just isn't enough interest nor is there a governing body to implement such a plan. Politicians are worried about their own countries. Wealthy people are worried about their money. Middle-class people are worried about the economy. Poor people are worried about paying their rent or getting food to eat. Everyone is worried about their own families and their own future.

To my knowledge, the best that our governments have come up with are plans to cut carbon emissions by "X" by "Y" date. That's just not going to cut it, no pun intended.

I think it's going to be a patchwork solution to a patchwork problem, much as we've been seeing so far but pushed along faster by circumstances, Beijing's smog problems and the response to them being a fairly good example.
Wish us all luck - we're gonna need it!

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Re: Peak oil

Postby KeithBC » Sun Jun 08, 2014 10:02 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:If we are to attain a stable - which means sustainable - economic state in (say) 20 - 50 years, it has to be one with near-zero population growth, and one with far smaller average consumption (of energy and manufactured goods) than we are currently enjoying in the west. Further, I think that if it is going to have geopolitical stability it will have to have reasonable equality of wealth/lifestyle between countries, i.e. the poorest populations will be better off than they are now, so our own expectations will have to fall considerably. It will be goodbye to the three-car garage, that's for sure.
And our best course of action now is one which leads to that outcome.

This is true.

The sticking point for both the industrialized and the developing worlds is that sustainability requires zero net growth. That is heresy to both groups. Zero growth economic models have been proposed and studied, but their authors are labelled heretics by the establishment and their works ignored or suppressed.

Growth will cease, but not willingly. And therein lies a whole lot of dukkha.

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Re: Peak oil

Postby Kim O'Hara » Mon Jun 09, 2014 3:04 am

KeithBC wrote:Growth will cease, but not willingly. And therein lies a whole lot of dukkha.

Om mani padme hum
Keith

Indeed.
KeithBC wrote:The sticking point for both the industrialized and the developing worlds is that sustainability requires zero net growth. /quote]
And that means zero net population growth as much as zero net economic growth.
If we have population growth and zero economic growth, everyone (on average) is poorer: unemployment up, standard of living down, food scarcity up, political unrest up ... not good.
KeithBC wrote: Zero growth economic models have been proposed and studied, but their authors are labelled heretics by the establishment and their works ignored or suppressed.

That has to change, and I think it is changing (although very slowly). There are two really big political and practical obstacles to adopting a zero-growth model: (1) stabilising the population without Chinese-style interventions and (2) the fact that we have been running a Ponzi scheme for years and it must die a horrible death if we are to balance the books - see http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2009/03/08/203784/ponzi-scheme-madoff-friedman-natural-capital-renewable-resources/ for a view from the resources perspective but afaik it's also true from a strictly monetary perspective.

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Re: Peak oil

Postby Kim O'Hara » Thu Jul 10, 2014 2:02 am

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Re: Peak oil

Postby Kim O'Hara » Sat Jul 12, 2014 1:55 am

I'm not sure if this is an irony or poetic justice, but I like it anyway:
30MW of solar to be built on former Notthinghamshire colliery sites
Green energy news – by Thomas McMullan
1st July 2014
Three formers collieries are set to witness what is being billed as "major regeneration" as a 30 megawatt solar array is installed across brownfield sites in the East Midlands.
The old coal-mining land in Nottinghamshire – split over Welbeck Colliery in Mansfield, Gedling in Lambley and a third site in Bilsthorpe – will see enough ground-mounted solar panels constructed to provide power to around 10,000 homes. ...

http://www.greenwisebusiness.co.uk/news/30mw-of-solar-to-be-built-on-former-notthinghamshire-colliery-sites-4386.aspx

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edit: fixed typo :emb:
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