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Oil: Doom, Doom, Doom.....Plenty.....Doom?

Post in 'The Green Room' started by woodgeek, Mar 31, 2013.

  1. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    For those who are curious about Peak Oil, but have not followed it obsessively for years, a recent history...

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/collideascape/?p=10895#.UVitAhk1H8A

    The comments are lively too.

    While I'm stirring the pot...I think AGW will mean that we need to leave oil in the ground or at least pull down the extraction rate well below the technological limit.

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  2. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    The article makes the usual oversimplification that peak oil has to equal mad max collapse. There are lots of scenarios where the 'peak' is flattened by high prices and resulting economic stagnation (sound familiar?) Resulting in a long slow decline that will only really be clear in hindsight.

    If you want good discussion on peak oil without the doom and gloom I suggest avoiding the prepper sites and reading oil drum.

    Bottom line is that any non infinite resource must peak and decline, its a mathematical certainty.
  3. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    I've been reading Oil Drum since 2005. And they were the poster boys and girls for immediate collapse of civilization back then, IIRC. They are a lot more circumspect now. Years before there were preppers there were 'doomers' and 'cornucopians' and they went at it at TOD.

    The classic PO story was that oil would very soon be so expensive that basically noone could use it for anything, $1000/barrel was a number thrown around back then. No more airplanes. No more cars. No more Plastics or Drugs or Fertilizer or moderm agriculture.

    I don't think any of that is in the cards. At $100-150/bbl there is a LOT more oil to be had than at $30.

    Will the usage of oil and the economy bounce back and forth along supply and demand curves, new technologies get rolled out, and price shocks induce recessions as it did throughout the 20th century, perhaps for decades more? Of course. That is business as usual. Is it 'Peak Oil'? Not as imagined in 2005.

    Don't forget there was also Peak Gas, and Peak Phosphate and Peak Lithium, and Peak Rare Earth Metals.....on and on and on.
  4. midwestcoast

    midwestcoast Minister of Fire

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    My personal opinion is that peak oil doesn't matter. The fossil fuel industry has enough proven reserves to cook us off this planet if we burn them all in business as usual style. If I'm remembering Bill McKibbon's numbers right they already have 5 times as much in proven reserves as we can burn without virtually ensuring catastrophic climate disruption.
    woodgeek likes this.
  5. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    I think Shale gas put a major dent in peak oil.THey are finding it EVERYWHERE on the planet. Its time to start converting transportation to NG .
    ScotO and jackatc1 like this.
  6. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    fair enough... Ive only read TOD the last 5 years or so, and these days it is a lot more balanced discussion than nutcases like John Howard Kunstler or sites like peakoil.com. Granted it has its crazies as well, like the posters who claimed during deepwater horizon that the sea floor was going to open up and swallow the entire rig.

    But on the other hand, it is awfully coincidental that the big run up to $4 gas and crash happened exactly at the same time the financial crash happened, and that ever since as we bounce between $2 and $4 the long term unemployment issue wont resolve. There are theories that the gas price run up acted as the catalyst to trigger the bubble pop that was waiting to happen (people living on the edge with bad loans suddenly had to choose between gas to drive to work or making the house payment on time triggering the default wave). Seems at least plausible to me.

    And I don't think anyone would disagree that oil supply is still the biggest potential single point of failure in the system right now.
  7. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

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    I get your point Jeremy, if nothing is done about more billions of folks on an ongoing basis, as well as the increasing rate of industrialization globally. Well then at some point it simply wont matter how much oil we have/can find. We simply wont be able to stay ahead of the population/consumption.

    Not sure of the accuracy of the statement however I believe it was something like we need 4.5 - 5 planets similiar to earth if the entire population is to consume like we do. Not at all sure how that looks when there are 8 or 9 billion of us.

    Not sure at what point the current system breaks down in totality, it should be clear to everyone that we cannot continue with the current model for too much longer though.
  8. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, but their blogroll still includes peakoil.com, the Kunstler blog and 'Die Off'. ;hm

    There were oil price shocks in the 20th century, and most of those triggered recessions also. The inflation corrected price spike in 2008 was about the same as the 70s shocks, and IMO def triggered the great recession. Most folks would say the problem and severity were due to debt/housing, with 2008 oil prices just being a trigger. And the new higher price regime is definitely a headwind, but IMO not as big a one as US demographics, now smoothing out with Millennial household formation.

    And I agree that an oil price spike (due to strait of hormuz, etc) would throw the US into a recession.

    Just don't think we are going back to a world 'made by hand', where we all work on a farm, pulling plows and picking crops, and we pull our useless SUVs around with horses. My bugaboo was with a species of doomer that rejected the premise that any technology could alleviate or amend the problem, because 'collapse' was inevitable. Everyone had to go build a doomstead to avoid the 'dieoff' induced by PO. They seem to be scurrying out of the daylight now.
  9. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Certainly took the wind out of the sails of the 'Peak Gas' crowd. I'm not sure whether CNG is the right solution for transportation, or if we should make a push to EVs (as well as more efficient gasoline ICEs).

    I AM for electrifying cargo rail. It would free up a lot of diesel from long-haul trucking and diesel locomotives. I'd love to see a new 'golden spike' ceremony for the first electric rail cargo corridor across the lower 48. There is not one now. :confused:
    midwestcoast likes this.
  10. Circus

    Circus Member

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    Simple ways to conserve will never happen. To profitable. Ask the 15 mpg behemoth driver. Why use the gas gussler to get a six pack? It's needed to tow a boat four times a year. Insuring and licensing a second smaller vehicle cost more than the wasted fuel. Companies and governments don't assume anymore risk but get twice the money from people who try to conserve. Save gas just to give the savings to the insurance company?? :confused:
    firebroad, woodgeek and Seasoned Oak like this.
  11. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    The economy of scale necessary to extract sufficient amounts of shale/heavy oil will force us into other resources.

    Gimmie NUKES, lots a NUKES.
  12. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Nukes are ok, so long as you use a standard (read cheap/safe/engineered) design, and stick it a couple hundred miles from people, bodies of water, earthquake faults, volcanoes, etc. And then use them to run my electric freight trains. Mmmmm, nuclear freight trains.
    Wildo likes this.
  13. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    That would be awesome.

    Like the sandworms of Dune.
  14. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

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    I'll break out my 'stil suit.
  15. Chain

    Chain Feeling the Heat

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    Indeed, I suggest we build Thorium powered nuke plants that address many of the safety concerns you mention. We'd probably already have done so except, from what I understand, we chose not to build these safer nuclear plants back in the 50's because they don't produce weapons grade by products like uranium powered plants do. Given it was at the end of WWII and soon to be the beginning of the Cold War, we wanted a process that could also produce weapons of mass destruction. Something the Thorium fueled process can't do.

    By the way, totally agree with your idea of electrical powered freight train fleets on a mass scale.
  16. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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  17. 4acrefarm

    4acrefarm Member

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    "I AM for electrifying cargo rail. It would free up a lot of diesel from long-haul trucking and diesel locomotives. I'd love to see a new 'golden spike' ceremony for the first electric rail cargo corridor across the lower 48. There is not one now "

    That will never happen. The infrastructure is prohibitively expensive. It would be more beneficial to put the money into expanding the current rail system and making long hall trucking a thing of the past.Compared to trucks trains are already very efficient. compared to any other transport. I work for a major freight railroad and I swear we burn more fuel in our trucks maintaining the rail then we burn in locos.
    woodgeek likes this.
  18. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

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    Most locomotives are now diesel/electric running AC traction motors. There are other options such as diesel/hydro, diesel/pneumatic, Fuel cell prime mover,etc.. Interestingly, plug in diesel/electric hybrid with regenerative braking was used in locomotives as early as 1911. Wiki gives a good overview.

    Track dog? B@M?
  19. 4acrefarm

    4acrefarm Member

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    Track dog-welder @ CSX. I wonder if they could put a carload of batteries on and use regenerative braking instead of dynamic?
  20. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

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    Retired track and bridge foreman, CP (old D@H). A Salud!

    There's work being done on super capacitors to suppliment batteries for start up and fast charging. There's an interesting short read at evworld.com/article.cfm?storyid=1965.
  21. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    I hear ya. Trains are way more eff than semis for long-haul cargo, and expanding diesel cargo freight would reduce overall FF consumption in the US. I can also understand the companies not seeing an $$ incentive for electrification. But I'm not so sure about 'never'. Cargo rail in many other countries is being rapidly electrified, usually on the govt dime. At a certain price point for diesel, it might make sense to a govt to reduce oil imports. I haven't pushed those numbers. There is also the concern that an oil shortage might impact interstate commerce. Electrified freight rail might be 'cheap insurance' from the govt POV.

    On a related note, I have always been skeptical of my fellow greens' obsession with 'local' and 'food miles', etc. Different modes of transport have radically different energy/CO2 costs per ton/mile. Shipping that item from a neighboring state on a semi might have a bigger C footprint than than the same item from China if it came over on the proverbial slow boat. 'Everyone' seems to understand the 'local' concept, and it looms large in the mind of the PO doomers, but at the end of the day freight uses a lot less oil than we all pretend it does....compared to our own personal transportation uses, that too often go unexamined.
  22. 4acrefarm

    4acrefarm Member

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    Woodgeek I totally agree with you if local does not mean in your town or surrounding areas then slow boat is a smaller footprint.
  23. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, of course I support my local businesses (when they sell what I want)....

    Its just on one side I have the PO doomers telling me that all international commerce will become impossible w/o oil (despite existing for centuries before oil), and on the other side I have uber-greens telling me that I shouldn't buy anything that wasn't made entirely from materials sourced within a 10 mile radius, or we will all go to AGW hell.

    I predict there will be international commerce in 2100.
  24. 4acrefarm

    4acrefarm Member

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    to quote Ricky Nelson " You can't please everybody so you got to please yourself".
  25. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

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    I think the going to AGW hell has better odds.

    I wonder at times when I am in the patch & can see the mess first hand, if half the planet was doing without food & water due to the pollution, would we even so much as slow down. Honest answer would be no, as long as we were not that half of the planet. Sucks but that's it at the moment.

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