Buddhism and Peak Oil

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Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby Indrajala » Fri Dec 30, 2011 8:39 am

Peak oil is still something of a fringe movement, but nevertheless it is growing. The basic assertion of peak oil is that fossil fuels are obviously limited and that there are ecological limits to growth. Some thinkers also suggest that industrialization is ultimately unsustainable and self-defeating. While people generally subscribe to the religion of progress and assume some new miracle technology will allow for infinite economic growth and that their industrial lifestyle will always be available no matter what.

The International Energy Association already quietly admitted that the world reached conventional petroleum production in the middle of the last decade, which means at present we are either at a plateau or starting the long descent downward where production will decrease no matter how many more wells are drilled.

This basically means energy will no longer be abundant and the cost of it will increase. Unless some miracle technology is produced, industrial civilization will over time come to an end and we will more or less return to pre-industrial conditions. No more commercial aviation, private automobiles, mass production or industrial food production.

One thinker I appreciate a lot is Michael Greer. His ideas can be summarized like this:

My take is that modern industrial civilization is on the downslope of its history, headed for the compost heap of fallen empires alongside all the dead civilizations of the past. Peak oil and the other elements of the crisis of the contemporary world, in this analysis, are simply the current manifestations of patterns that shaped the fall of other civilizations, and our future will most likely follow a similar course – an extended, uneven decline extending over more than a century, including repeated periods of crisis followed by partial recoveries, ending in a dark age in which much of the technology, knowledge base, and cultural heritage of today will survive in fragments or be completely lost.


Now let's just assume this is the destiny of our modern civilization.

What's in store for Buddhism? This is what I'd like to discuss here.

To begin with, it means that Buddhism across the planet will have to endure severe economic contraction and potentially all the wars and social turmoil that come with it. Totalitarian governments with an anti-religion agenda are not unheard of even in recent memory. On the other hand, Buddhism will be able to provide spiritual security and a means of mental endurance during the coming hard times. There already is in the western world a return to religion, though not without a lot of opposition. The failure of modernity to provide what it promised has plenty of people disappointed and seeking something other than consumerism to satisfy themselves mentally and intellectually.

The other thing I foresee happening is Tibet regaining its independence. The fuel cost of keeping garrisons in Tibet will prove too expensive for the PRC, and they will probably have to deal with a great deal of internal revolts as time goes on and the economic growth which keeps the regime in power is essentially undermined. It could be that the PRC simply walks out of Tibet leaving a few token troops and police officers, which could be on the receiving end of some revenge attacks. What this means for Buddhism in Tibet is another matter.

Unfortunately, as much as many present day Buddhist teachers speak of social progress and development, a lot of this might be reversed when the hard times press people back into conservative attitudes and less generous states of mind. The ideas presented in modern Chinese Buddhism of "bringing the Pure Land" here, i.e., working towards utopia, will prove infeasible given the circumstances. This will likely lead to a lot of disappointed devotees who had invested so much emotion into such visions, only to see a sharp downward turn. The long discussions on a "Modern Buddhism" might prove to have been relevant only for a few decades really. The social arrangements to which such a project was adapted to will likely unravel.
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby treehuggingoctopus » Fri Dec 30, 2011 9:34 am

Huseng wrote:Peak oil is still something of a fringe movement, but nevertheless it is growing.


I wouldn't call the British Army or Budeswehr 'fringe' groups:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/ger ... 38,00.html

Those at the top know very well what's going on - just as they do know there's no reason to doubt the reality of man-made global warming.
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby Indrajala » Fri Dec 30, 2011 9:38 am

treehuggingoctopus wrote:
Huseng wrote:Peak oil is still something of a fringe movement, but nevertheless it is growing.


I wouldn't call the British Army or Budeswehr 'fringe' groups:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/ger ... 38,00.html

Those at the top know very well what's going on - just as they do know there's no reason to doubt the reality of man-made global warming.


I'm aware of this, too. The US military as well has issued public concern about the matter.

Nevertheless, it isn't really being discussed in the wider public sphere like climate change. Everyone just assumes our way of life will continue, business as usual. Here in India the running assumption is that eventually India will have a standard of living and infrastructure like Europe. They're even planning to build Japanese bullet train networks around the country. There is no conception that industrialization is unsustainable and that the country is probably going to suffer extreme famines given the reliance on petro-chemicals.
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby treehuggingoctopus » Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:02 am

Isn't it just like this with global warming, too? The scientists and, secretly, the politicians know - as do some people in the general public. Others - in most societies the majority, I'm afraid (witness the US or the Eastern Europe) - don't 'believe', don't give a flying frak or are absolutely convinced there's some occult conspiracy of Evil Ecologists from Outer Space manipulating them out of their wallets. And the world goes on, pretty much as if nothing was happening.
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby Indrajala » Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:15 am

treehuggingoctopus wrote:Isn't it just like this with global warming, too? The scientists and, secretly, the politicians know - as do some people in the general public. Others - in most societies the majority, I'm afraid (witness the US or the Eastern Europe) - don't 'believe', don't give a flying frak or are absolutely convinced there's some occult conspiracy of Evil Ecologists from Outer Space manipulating them out of their wallets. And the world goes on, pretty much as if nothing was happening.


To some extent, yes. However, peak oil is still fringe and isn't being outright addressed in public discussions or in the media. On the other hand, discussions of global warming and climate change are quite common.

The reason people go on as usual, at least in the western world, is because in many cases global warming isn't perceivably directing affecting them just yet. They can still go to the supermarket and buy whatever they want.

If you're living in Tuvalu, you might take rising sea levels a bit more seriously...
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby Malcolm » Fri Dec 30, 2011 3:41 pm

Huseng wrote:One thinker I appreciate a lot is Michael Greer. His ideas can be summarized like this:


http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby Malcolm » Fri Dec 30, 2011 5:30 pm

Huseng wrote:
This basically means energy will no longer be abundant and the cost of it will increase. Unless some miracle technology is produced, industrial civilization will over time come to an end and we will more or less return to pre-industrial conditions. No more commercial aviation, private automobiles, mass production or industrial food production.


But that will take about 300 years if you follow in reasoning in Greer's Long Descent.
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby Indrajala » Fri Dec 30, 2011 6:36 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Huseng wrote:
This basically means energy will no longer be abundant and the cost of it will increase. Unless some miracle technology is produced, industrial civilization will over time come to an end and we will more or less return to pre-industrial conditions. No more commercial aviation, private automobiles, mass production or industrial food production.


But that will take about 300 years if you follow in reasoning in Greer's Long Descent.


If I'm not mistaken he accepts Hubbert's peak oil plot:

Image

In a few decades we'll have a lot less oil than now with a lot more demand.

The final end of industrial civilization will come later, but a lot of industrial goodies like industrial healthcare and commercial flights will become unavailable sooner rather than later.
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby Will » Fri Dec 30, 2011 6:59 pm

It is amazing the notions that folks worry about.

Buddhism began and flourished under feudal or monarchical totalitarianism. There was no oil crisis, nor oil then.

Unless there is a direct, lethal threat to kill Buddhists & destroy our monasteries, surrounding social conditions are of little moment.
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby Indrajala » Fri Dec 30, 2011 7:30 pm

Will wrote:It is amazing the notions that folks worry about.

Buddhism began and flourished under feudal or monarchical totalitarianism. There was no oil crisis, nor oil then.

Unless there is a direct, lethal threat to kill Buddhists & destroy our monasteries, surrounding social conditions are of little moment.


I think you're being a bit short sighted.

When Rome fell you had a scattering of intellectual traditions, both the people and the canons. There was preservation to some extent, but so much was lost.

A living Buddhist tradition relies on the cultures in which it is nestled into. If those cultures for whatever reason cannot support them either economically or socially, then those traditions can and will be disrupted, even ultimately destroyed.

There was no oil crisis then, but then our oil crisis is equivalent to a resource overshoot on drugs, amplified by social reluctance to accept such a reality and thus it is business as usual for most people. When civilizations overshoot their resource base, as Rome and the Mayans did, then that civilization is prone to eventual collapse. You can't tell me that religions are unaffected when civilizations fail.
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby Will » Fri Dec 30, 2011 8:20 pm

Huseng wrote:
Will wrote:It is amazing the notions that folks worry about.

Buddhism began and flourished under feudal or monarchical totalitarianism. There was no oil crisis, nor oil then.

Unless there is a direct, lethal threat to kill Buddhists & destroy our monasteries, surrounding social conditions are of little moment.


I think you're being a bit short sighted.

When Rome fell you had a scattering of intellectual traditions, both the people and the canons. There was preservation to some extent, but so much was lost.

A living Buddhist tradition relies on the cultures in which it is nestled into. If those cultures for whatever reason cannot support them either economically or socially, then those traditions can and will be disrupted, even ultimately destroyed.

There was no oil crisis then, but then our oil crisis is equivalent to a resource overshoot on drugs, amplified by social reluctance to accept such a reality and thus it is business as usual for most people. When civilizations overshoot their resource base, as Rome and the Mayans did, then that civilization is prone to eventual collapse. You can't tell me that religions are unaffected when civilizations fail.


Perhaps.

Yet I think you make too much of the buddhadharma's reliance on "society". In the East Taoists destroyed Buddhists monasteries, yet the Dharma survived. Even the Communists could not quash it, distrupt yes, but off they went to Taiwan and other Chinese strongholds around the planet. Same with Tibetan Buddhism; sorely wounded but transplanted to India & the West.

No, what enlivens the buddhadharma and keeps it viable are practitioners (usually monastics) who realize it and teach it. The loss of that group is a bigger worry to me and their weakening of focus on realization & teaching has more to do with their corruption by materialism planet-wide. But Buddha said his Dharma (and the Dharma of any Buddha) is not permanent and will die.

Besides the buddhadharma in the rich West, may end up still born anyway; considering how little support (financial & otherwise) monasteries get from the surrounding Occidentals. And that has to do with our lack of devotion, not merely being out of work, for example.
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby Malcolm » Fri Dec 30, 2011 8:27 pm

"If peak comes around 2010, production in 2040 will likely equal something not far from production in 1980 (about 20 billion barrels). The oil produced in 2040 will have to meet the needs of a much larger global population and a world in crisis, but 20 billion barrels is still a lot of oil. In the same way, as reserves are depleted and production continues to slump over the decades that follow, the available oil will fall further and further below the levels needed to maintain a modern industrial society, but for a long time to come there will still be some petroleum available.

...

In the long term, the challenge is to get through the Long Descent with as much useful information and resources as possible, and to transmit them to the successor cultures that, to judge by past models, will begin coalescing sometime in the 23rd and 24th centuries.


John Michael Greer. The Long Descent: A User's Guide to the End of the Industrial Age

Huseng wrote:
Namdrol wrote:
Huseng wrote:
This basically means energy will no longer be abundant and the cost of it will increase. Unless some miracle technology is produced, industrial civilization will over time come to an end and we will more or less return to pre-industrial conditions. No more commercial aviation, private automobiles, mass production or industrial food production.


But that will take about 300 years if you follow in reasoning in Greer's Long Descent.


If I'm not mistaken he accepts Hubbert's peak oil plot:

Image

In a few decades we'll have a lot less oil than now with a lot more demand.

The final end of industrial civilization will come later, but a lot of industrial goodies like industrial healthcare and commercial flights will become unavailable sooner rather than later.
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http://atikosha.org
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby Heruka » Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:31 pm

Abiotic Oil


The abiotic oil formation theory suggests that crude oil is the result of naturally occurring and possibly ongoing geological processes. This theory was developed in the Soviet Union during the Cold War, as the Union needed to be self sufficient in terms of producing its own energy. The science behind the theory is sound and is based on experimental evidence in both the laboratory and in the field. This theory has helped to identify and therefore develop large numbers of gas and oil deposits. Examples of such fields are the South Khylchuyu field and the controversial Sakhalin II field.

In its simplest form, the theory is that carbon present in the magma beneath the crust reacts with hydrogen to form methane as well as a raft of other mainly alkane hydrocarbons. The reactions are more complicated than this, with several intermediate stages. Particular mineral rocks such as granite and other silicon based rocks act as catalysts, which speed up the reaction without actually becoming involved or consumed in the process.

Experiments have shown that under extreme conditions of heat and pressure it is possible to convert iron oxide, calcium carbonate and water into methane, with hydrocarbons containing up to 10 carbon atoms being produced by Russian scientists last century and confirmed in recent US experiments. The absence of large quantities of free gaseous oxygen in the magma prevents the hydrocarbons from burning and therefore forming the lower energy state molecule carbon dioxide. The conditions present in the Earth's mantle would easily be sufficient for these small hydrocarbon chains to polymerise into the longer chain molecules found in crude oil.


i.e. not finite biomass fossils at all.
no finite biomass, no peak oil.
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby Malcolm » Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:43 pm

Heruka wrote:Abiotic Oil



And as I showed elsewhere, this theory had been completely and thoroughly repudiated.

It is completely obsolete in Russia as well.
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby kirtu » Fri Dec 30, 2011 11:59 pm

Huseng wrote:This basically means energy will no longer be abundant and the cost of it will increase.


We can push energy costs to next to nothing as solar furnaces and abundant wind and solar power are brought online worldwide over the next century. However we will also find that we still need nuclear power and will think through safer nuclear design. Additionally we could also revisit Dr. Gerald K. O'Neil's ideas on large solar arrays in space.

Oil production: over the next century we will begin synthesizing critical materials using micro and nanotech technology. So energy will be tight for a while relative to our past abundance but by the end of the century these specific problems will essentially have solutions.

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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby Heruka » Sat Dec 31, 2011 4:24 am

Namdrol wrote:
Heruka wrote:Abiotic Oil



And as I showed elsewhere, this theory had been completely and thoroughly repudiated.

It is completely obsolete in Russia as well.


was deepwater horizon bp oil spill an attempt to establish a deep drilling abiotic oil head? after 5,000 feet of water and then drilling is pretty deep, but not that deep.

http://www.wired.com/cars/energy/magazi ... mf_jackrig

The mother lode of oil in the deepwater Gulf is so significant that Tahiti and other successful fields in this region are expected to soon produce enough crude to reverse the long-standing decline in US oil production of about 10 percent per year.

the USA is flush rich with oil in alaska and gulf coast, but hey lets use mid east oil first...drive up the price by implying a shortage in supply with peak oil narative.. :smile:

supply and demand, oldest con in the book.
Last edited by Heruka on Sat Dec 31, 2011 4:42 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby Quiet Heart » Sat Dec 31, 2011 4:28 am

:smile:
After reading some of the comments I really don't know exactly what to say first!
So I guess I'll start this way: the problem is much bigger and more widespread than mere "Peak Oil".
Of course, that's one aspect of it....but actually only a small one.
Back around 1900 (approximately) a Science Fiction story called, "The Machine Stops", was writen by (I believe) H.G.Wells.
(Yes, THAT H.G. Wells)
The basic premise of the book is that in a future in which all their society is dependent on a vast machine, without who they can litterly not exist....that Machine is stopping.
That is the most subversive thing you can possibly say in that society, and to merely mention it's possibility will litterly get you killed.
Today, in the "developed" countries to even question the linked concepts of Democracy, Capitalisim, a Free Enterprise Economy, and a Continued and Prosperous Economic Future For All are like that Machine.
Casting any doubt on it's continued and eternal existance is not to be tolerated by the Social and Financial power elite....because the very existance of that power elite is dependent on the continued belief by those that are ruled that the power elite has found the magic answer and therefore their Machine will go one forever.
As you probably guessed, I don't believe in that theory....and I am here to tell you, "The Machine Stops".
I personally believe that anyone who can't see this happening...no matter how long it will take (that's irrelevant anyhow)...must have his or her head far up there own posterier to see anything but their own.....well you get my meaning.
And the changes...good or bad....brought about by the eventual stoppage of our Machine will be profound.
I do have some faith though in the abilty of human beings to adapt somehow to that change...but that eventual adaption may not be pleasent or pretty.
Since I am now 65, and I don't expect the change to happen before I pass on....I have to admit I'm probably not as worried about it as perhaps I should be.

But just to reiterate:

THE MACHINE STOPS, in fact it is stopping now.
Now do something about it.
:smile:

P.S. Maybe, next time, the Cockroaches will get it right?
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby Heruka » Sat Dec 31, 2011 4:36 am

actually the military industrial complex is a good indicator as to what governments see in the future, the military is heavily invested in drone and A.I. robot technology instead of oil based war machine, you cannot run an army at present without oil....lol or food ( army marches on its stomach )

that i think is the main highlight to watch.

why you think china buying up all comodities and mineral, and natural resources around the world?
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby Malcolm » Sat Dec 31, 2011 5:38 am

Heruka wrote:
Namdrol wrote:
Heruka wrote:Abiotic Oil



And as I showed elsewhere, this theory had been completely and thoroughly repudiated.

It is completely obsolete in Russia as well.


was deepwater horizon bp oil spill an attempt to establish a deep drilling abiotic oil head? after 5,000 feet of water and then drilling is pretty deep, but not that deep.

http://www.wired.com/cars/energy/magazi ... mf_jackrig

The mother lode of oil in the deepwater Gulf is so significant that Tahiti and other successful fields in this region are expected to soon produce enough crude to reverse the long-standing decline in US oil production of about 10 percent per year.

the USA is flush rich with oil in alaska and gulf coast, but hey lets use mid east oil first...drive up the price by implying a shortage in supply with peak oil narative.. :smile:

supply and demand, oldest con in the book.



Peak oil is a very misunderstood term. Peak oil refers not to the total amount of oil in the ground, rather it refers to the total amount of _easily recoverable oil_(or any other mineral resource).

There is a relationship between the high price of oil and drilling for oil in places where it expensive to recover, or the cost of extracting it (think shale oil and hydro fraking (which is not just about gas)) is very high.

When the price of oil rises too high however, it triggers recession, demand drops off, prices decline, and it becomes too pricey to drill for oil in exotic places (like the deep gulf).

Basically, what peak oil is really about is the energy return on energy investment (EROI). In 19th century, the ratio was roughly 50 to one i.e. for barrel of oil or equivalent amount of energy, one could recover fifty barrels of oil. Presently, the EROI is between one to five barrels of for each BOE invested.

What peak oil theory is actually about is not the actual amount of oil that exists in the ground, it is a critique of the economic feasability of extracting oil from ever more difficult places to reach it.

Hubbert's basic contention is sound:

"Our principal constraints are cultural. During the last two centuries we have known nothing but exponential growth and in parallel we have evolved what amounts to an exponential-growth culture, a culture so heavily dependent upon the continuance of exponential growth for its stability that it is incapable of reckoning with problems of nongrowth."

When EROI drops below one BOE, it becomes very unfeasible to invest in any new petroleum recovery. That is what peak oil is actually about. When it is no longer profitable for oil companies to recover oil, then all the dominos begin to fall...

N
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby Indrajala » Sat Dec 31, 2011 7:55 am

Namdrol wrote:"If peak comes around 2010, production in 2040 will likely equal something not far from production in 1980 (about 20 billion barrels). The oil produced in 2040 will have to meet the needs of a much larger global population and a world in crisis, but 20 billion barrels is still a lot of oil. In the same way, as reserves are depleted and production continues to slump over the decades that follow, the available oil will fall further and further below the levels needed to maintain a modern industrial society, but for a long time to come there will still be some petroleum available.

...

In the long term, the challenge is to get through the Long Descent with as much useful information and resources as possible, and to transmit them to the successor cultures that, to judge by past models, will begin coalescing sometime in the 23rd and 24th centuries.



Right, but the collapse of industrial civilization will be gradual. That is what I am saying. As you're aware, after the age of abundance comes the age of salvage.

There are a lot of factors at play. For example, even if there is still relatively plenty of oil available in thirty years, the world's nations, such as massive states like India and China, will be competing for it. The whole global infrastructure depends upon oil and even with alternative energy sources online they still won't pack the same power punch.

With declining standards of living we're likely to see a lot of social problems arise. The utopian ideas of some Buddhist thinkers in the past century will prove infeasible and this will visibly be demonstrated, too.
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