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

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

  1. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

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    Hopefully the link works (sorry computer dummy here) if not most of what I am seeing lately is the Europump in the Wabasca fields. Euromax to be specific. Tiny footprint compared to a pit operation & respectable production numbers as well as a decent maximum depth recovery. To be clear this is fairly old tech that has been under constant refinement. This latest gen approaches it from the perspective of lets stop throwing massive horsepower at it & consider how the material wants to move then build pumps that do that. Essentially it takes advantage of the surface tension of the material to move the material. That's why you see so many variations on the pump (corkscrew) when the material changes just get a different corkscrew & continue pumping. IIRC the max depth is +/- 6000 ft.

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  2. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Stupid question....do these things pump sand with the oil, or does the oil 'flow'?
  3. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

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    W.G. Sand with the oil, currently +/- 40% sand content. Wabasca fields.
  4. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    Not really a schism in the Club of Rome. It basically became dormant. When I investigated why the sudden flip in outlook some years ago after some people revitalized it, I was told that there was a political shift by some specific club people and they were espousing what people want to hear (a good news futurecast) seemingly to get funded. It is hard to get people excited about a gloomy future.

    The phosphate cycle is complex. African fires put minerals like phosphate into the atmosphere that drifts to South America where they precipitate out into the rain forests (fertilizing them). The forests decay and river runoff into the oceans then feed diatoms with the minerals, and they bloom and die in a rather rapid cycle and settle on the sea floor. There are several different global cycles like that. That is a primary source of oxygen in the atmosphere as well as minerals stored in sea bed sediments. We mine the ancient sea floor deposits. Peak phosphorus is estimated to be coming in 30 years.

    Dieoff predicts an overshoot in population (just after the peak in oil) before a decline in civilization, so I would counter-counter that we are indeed seeing the effects today in places like north Africa, where the Arab Spring revolts were started specifically in Tunisia as a result of a dramatic spike in the cost of food (as a result of the spike in oil). We do not see the effects here where we are insulated from higher food costs, but have you been to the grocery store lately? Food prices are significantly higher. The poorer populations are coming under strain from current food prices.

    At $400 a barrel? If that happens at a fast rate forget the world as we know it. I will not estimate such future costs, as there are just too many variables. Wars, technology, fuel efficiency, global demand, the emerging markets in Chain and India, new finds, etc. all factor in. Its like predicting the weather. I bought NG futures and they have all gone down with fracking. But at $400 a barrel food would be driven up in cost by 4x from today's prices and most poor people would starve. Africa will no longer be able to afford food. As shown above at the $100 a barrel for oil price point, they are already coming under great pressure. Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Syria are all in or have been in revolt and the governments have been overthrown, or in the process of being overthrown. At $400 a barrel, the price of gas would be $15 a gallon. I do not think that price is supportable. At $1000 a barrel no one would use gas or oil any more. It takes roughly a barrel of oil to make one tire. Car tires would cost $1000 each.

    Unless inflation keeps pace with oil, incomes could never keep pace with that price level. As it is now, gas was 40 cents a gallon when I learned to drive. Say for comparative purposes it is 10x now what it was then ($4 a gallon). My car was a Chevy Malibu and it got 12 miles per gallon. I made 1.65 an hour (the minimum wage then). My low wages got roughly 4 gallons of gas per hour. Now? Minimum wages are a about $8 or so. You can only buy 2 gallons of gas per hour of work (not counting taxes). Cars are more efficient now, and average 24.6 MPG. So the formula is actually keeping pace with inflation and improved technology, and the net cost is about the same then vs. now regarding how far you can go in a car on a minimum wage. But hike up the cost beyond that range, and you will get a reduction in oil use as it becomes unaffordable. Then the pressure is on the price to decline. At some point auto efficiency falls off as well.

    Big competition to oil comes in at about $150 a barrel, as seen in the price peaks a few years ago and the resulting influx into alternative energy. Coal fuel may become attractive at $200 for oil with today's price of coal, but the price of coal would also climb with the price of oil, so it is hard to predict where the benefits of coal gas would actually kick in. Hitler tried running his war machine on coal fuel and that failed competing with the US oil war machine. Its not as efficient.

    And finally there is no instant 'collapse of civilization' predicted by dieoff (unless we are dumb enough to nuke ourselves, which NK seems to be bent on doing). It is a slow decline before things fall apart. Like the end of the Roman Empire there were times of expansion and contraction, but over time the contraction overcame the expansion. At some point our civilization and capacity to feed, clothe, govern, dispense medicine, higher education, run transport, etc. falls apart. Debt is already putting a huge strain on many large scale systems. At various stages new systems will emerge, new paradigms will form. But... the wild card here is global warming. We cannot undo what we have done overnight. The effects are yet to be determined and the impact may be far worse than disclosed to date. More droughts like the one in the US in 2012 would put HUGE pressure on global food prices.
  5. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    To answer some of #3 above: Vaccines and antibiotics are already becoming less and less effective. They are overused and diseases are already becoming resistant. There are completely antibiotic resistant types of TB and Gonorrhea out there now. H7N9 (the latest bird flu) is trying to break out of China right now. So far it is being contained. But it is only a matter of time before another pandemic strikes. My grandmother survived the Spanish flu, but that one killed many many millions globally. Medicine is already becoming too expensive to afford here in the US, never mind in poor places. Higher education and knowledge will decline and become rarer, and like medicine, it is becoming too expensive. My degree cost me 1/5 of what it does today. Technology is anyone's guess. New things will come along, like PV getting cheaper, and at some point it (and other alternatives) can compete with oil. However, its the price of oil that will drive things. Insulation and better energy efficiency is our best defense against an oil-driven decline. However, if populations overshoot too much (as they seem to be doing) they negate the net benefits of reduced energy per person. I believe that electricity as we know it will be a thing of the past. it will likely be reduced to a regional thing depending on resources of particular areas. This area could easily run on hydro, as that is the main source of electricity here now. But on a global scale, that is not sustainable. The Amish live without it though. They are a model of what people could live like in the future, but they require a much larger area per person than there is area per person in the current population of the globe.

    The bottom line really becomes, "Are people willing to reduce their population willingly?" So far the answer has been a resounding NO. Religion, culture, governments, society, etc. are all geared toward having kids, and lots of them. As a result, it does not really matter what the resources are, or how much of anything we have at what price level, population levels will eventually hit the wall and fail. Then populations will dramatically fall, and where they level off is anyone's guess. Diseases and famines will be rampant and accelerate the process. Loss of resource access and technology will then accelerate the decline further. People will lose the current knowledge and be forced to become more rudimentary and self-sustaining. Tribes will form. Nations may well reform, as seen after the decline of the Mayas. However, we have used up all the easy to get to energy resources, and the next round of expansion will be limited to things like wood and mining garbage heaps of current cities and such. They too will likely expand until they cannot any more, and then go into decline. Jeremy Grantham postulated an interesting point that we would have hit the wall around about 1850 running out of trees for fuel if we had not found coal and oil and NG to run the industrial revolution. Having deforested the Earth we would be in a great decline now. Global warming would not have happened though, and our populations would have been far smaller and this more resilliant to rebounding.

    In the end? The sun will go out eventually. Far sooner than that the moon will move far enough out in its orbit for the Earth to become less stable and wobble more. Long before that the Earth's core will solidify and we will lose the radiation shielding from the Sun that the magnetic field gives us allowing us to survive. The Earth will become like Mars is now. Before that the Earth will reverse its magnetic poles many times over, the net effect of which is completely unknown. At some point a caldera like that under Yellowstone may go off or another asteroid or comet will hit us hard. But waaaaaaay before these things are likely to happen (or maybe concurrent with a pole reversal) the glaciers will return, and reduce our little species to some very small number, if we are still around (in 20-30k years or so). Anthropology shows that 99% of all species on Earth have become extinct. That is the way of evolution.
  6. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the clarification. You've clearly given this a lot of thought. I like that you are not predicting an imminent demise that none of us can escape, but rather a creeping decay of FF infrastructure and the geopolitical systems that depend on it, due to increasing oil price. And we agree that AGW is a wild-card for which there will be no easy fix, on top of PO.

    I guess we disagree on the speed at which oil prices will rise, due to new extraction technology and resources being developed, and how fast demand will increase, due to a new price regime and associated eff gains (like the US doubling our fleet mpg, if we can pull that off). I think this is what energy transitions look like. And why they take so long.

    I am also not getting your numbers. The cost of FF is not 100% of the cost of food, so I don't see why 4X the cost of oil would quadruple the price of food. It is only ~50% of the cost of civil aviation, so the cost of flights would double. Tires I don't know, but they already last 50k miles, so $1600 for a set of 4@$400/bbl, adds $0.03/mile.

    And more to the point, I think coal-to-liquids would kick in around $200/bbl sustained price. And while I am concerned about AGW, CTL would only be for the marginal production and wouldn't boost the average footprint of an oil barrel significantly.

    As for population, it is well established that the developed world has been at or below pop replacement levels for some times. Does that count? The US is an outlier, but our pop growth is mostly from immigrants and their children born here. China has huge demographic problems, but they do not suggest a surge in population over the next few decades. India bears watching.

    The cost of food is clearly a major limit/issue. But it bears noting that staple crop prices have been falling over the long term:
    http://earlywarn.blogspot.com/2011/03/long-term-crop-prices.html
    When LTG came out in the 70s, the cost of staple crops were ~2X higher than they are today. During the 40s and 50s they were 3X higher than today. Of course, my parents reminded me that lots of people were starving back then, so I should clear my plate. But doubling the current staple crop price? Tripling it? Even if it happened, most people would adapt (to mid 20th century prices) and in some parts the developing world, more people would starve, maybe.

    I should look more into the new 'cheerier' Club of Rome guys. The little I have read from them sounds pretty grim compared to 'conventional economics', a significant reduction in standard of living, energy services, industrial output per (world) capita by 2050, with AGW starting to bite. And that is their BEST case scenario, not the business as usual approach which is super-grim. From my POV, those pathways sound a lot like the ones you describe, not collapse in 2015 and stone age in 2020, but a choice of grim and grimmer decades ahead based upon the wisdom of our collective decisions/war/etc.

    The upnote is of course, in a world where per capita 'stuff' and energy is half what it is today, it is possible, esp for folks that still have money, to put together satisfying and happy lives. Unlike the worst predictions of 2005 PO, we will not all spend our days wandering around grubbing tubers out of the ground and sleeping is dead SUVs. As for the world beyond 2050 (or 2100), sure there are deep sustainability challenges, but our imagination is limited IMO. Do you worry about AIs?

    And I think offering a 'more positive' message is a very good idea. The old CoR message was 'you can't escape collapse'. The new one is 'if you do xyz, then our children can put together decent lives that they can enjoy' and most of 'xyz' sounds like sensible AGW prevention, increase eff, soil preservation, etc. Reasonable stuff. I think it will sell a LOT better to the millennials than the old message did to the boomers. :confused:
  7. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    I used to fret and ruminate about peak oil, climate change, gloom and doom, etc. more in the past than I do now. The reason for the change was my own psychic well being, not any real change in the forces affecting peak oil, climate change, or gloom and doom. I changed my outlook from macro, which I can do little about, to micro, about which I can do a lot. My micro actions will not change the world, will probably free up energy resources for others to wastefully consume, but also these micro actions will save me $ which I can use or pass on to afford the higher prices resulting from ever rising energy costs and better cope with the changes that are coming.

    I also have a much broader strategy which I am implementing, and which I discussed in a 2006 letter and follow-up discussion with one of my sons. The edited letter follows:

    "A couple of weeks ago I attended a conference on "green" design sponsored by two Minnesota quasi-governmental agencies. I was particularly challenged by the topic presented by luncheon speaker, James Howard Kunstler, who presented a petroleum-depletion paradigm (along with other issues) which is not only plausible but also probable, in my opinion. I also ordered and now have read one of his books, "The Long Emergency." I will be very brief on the paradigm laid out by Mr. Kuntsler. I find his paradigm to be more probable than not, at least sufficient to begin now to develop a plan to "hedge" the future. Everything that follows is greatly simplified. I encourage you to read the book if this intrigues you.

    His chief thesis is that the world now is or very soon will be at the "petroleum peak," defined as the point at which one-half of world oil reserves will have been depleted. While one-half yet remains, the key fact is that the first one-half represented the cheap, easy to extract, and high quality petroleum and natural gas, while the second one-half is just the opposite on a cascading scale of rising extraction cost and diminishing quality. He then argues that the world has no viable, economical energy replacement. Nuclear power represents the best option, but the United States is woefully behind in development of this option, and nuclear/electric power will not meet every energy need. Other energy options, such as hydrogen, solar, and biomass, are either petroleum dependent for their production, technologically illusory and extremely costly, and/or cannot provide sufficient energy to replace petroleum. Coal is a viable option for some energy needs, but the environmental cost will be great, available supplies may be exaggerated, and distribution limitations will not make coal a viable option at all locations.

    While the play-out of the oil depletion paradigm is complex, suffice it to say that the results will include 1) the substantial end of automobile transportation (due to lack of fuel), 2) great down-sizing of nearly all industries (with consequent loss of employment) due to their oil dependence, 3) collapse of suburban and sprawled development, which depend upon the auto for their existence, 4) collapse of large cities because little productive work can be maintained in these cities without a petroleum based economy, 5) collapse of the financial markets (which may be the first to occur as the prospect of wealth loss appears likely), and 6) great social upheaval.

    He argues that future life (future beginning now and probably fully realized within about 15 years) will need to be based upon small, largely self-sufficient and sustainable communities with these attributes: 1) located on or very near to current or potential hydroelectric waterways (a source of power), 2) located on or very near to rail and/or barge/ship waterway infrastructure (source of needed supplies and using petroleum/coal efficiently), 3) located near productive agricultural lands (source of food), and 4) currently vital with small businesses able to meet essential needs and provide community support (and not likely to be sites of big box development such as xxx, yyy, zzz, etc.). Essentially, this is the picture of America before the mid-1950's.

    Things I have tentatively concluded and would encourage you to think about and act on, at least as a hedge of the future:
    1) Gain productive skills, trades, crafts which can provide a livelihood and assist in providing for your families in an oil-depleted future. In this regard, recreation and entertainment based industries may not have much of a future; medicine seems likely to have a future, but the drug and medical technology industries are very petroleum intensive, so "family practice" or nursing type medicine skills may have the best future; and most education-intensive and service-type professions do not have much of a future. Employment which will have a future will be that which truly is productive (converting a resource into a usable and needed product or maintaining a needed product).
    2) Locate or plan now for living arrangements compatible with the preferred community description above. There is a high probability of suburbia collapse, collapse of large portions of the housing market, and consequent loss of value of suburban homes. We may be seeing the start of this now. When maintaining a suburban existence, renting would be better than owning, and keeping a high mortgage balance would be better than accelerating payments to build an equity which may disappear (use available funds to finance the hedge). A rented home may be easily left, and a high mortgage/leveraged home may be abandoned to foreclosure with minimal loss.
    3) Move investment possibilities away from stocks, bonds, and probably even bank accounts (social upheaval may mimic the financial collapse of 1929 and loss of bank deposit assets). Consider agriculturally productive land or possibly forest productive land; a small, economical home in a small community of the type described above (rent out now and move in when needed); a small production business of a highly needed, basic product and which has good possibility of nearby available resources to maintain production in the face of supply disruption; other resource-based, hard assets (coal, lignite, peat, as energy sources, and essential minerals).

    Things I would encourage you to avoid or resist include: Any further suburbanization of your lifestyle. Risk of loss is high and probability of risk realization is high.

    Final word: in a worst case, that is, if none of these predictions is realized and rosy economic growth and development continues as in the recent past, a family life based on the tentative conclusions actually is quite good and even may be highly attractive. In essence, it is the "simple life" to which many people aspire. It also may be a much more meaningful life because this type of life connects us closely with our environment and develops community. Lastly, it also may permit us to better cope with some of the other major issues and challenges of our time: climate change, epidemic disease, water shortage, environmental destruction, and world politics."
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  8. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    I understand/agree:
    --needing to take steps to protect ones emotional well being.
    --that conserving energy/resources is a rewarding, worthwhile hobby that is its own reward.
    --Kunstler is a compelling guy.

    A lot to respond to....but the big question is...how have your expectations evolved since 2006?

    I was in a similar place back then, and our reactions were similar, but my kids were very small. I now think that Kunstler is an entertainer, if he believes what he says. If he doesn't believe, then he is a terrorist. Glenn Beck stole his act, and def doesn't believe his own act.
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  9. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    My last paragraph "Final word" shows the direction I considered and was evolving in 2006 and I continue in that path today. Conservation in the environmental sense also is conservative/conservation in the economic, financial and lifestyle senses. And for my wife and myself it is complemented by living, acting, and giving with a sense of justice and fairness for everyone throughout the world. Limited resources I consume are not available to others and also raise the price of those limited resources for others, most of whom can ill afford the cost. This is not the same as the political conservatism of today, which I think is about something totally different, and about which I will not comment.

    As to expectations, I expect that I only can change myself, I can influence to a greater or lesser degree some others, but I must leave it to those others to make the choices to change themselves. In other words, I don't expect others or the systems to change, but I do expect me to change and I continue to make progress in that change, and whatever impact my actions have on others and ultimately in the systems, so be it.

    In making my own changes I also will support those persons, groups and interests that more or less align with my own course of change. It only takes a small change in direction to alter course in a substantial way given time, just as a slight change in the rudder of the biggest oil tanker will result in a 180 degree turn, given sufficient time. I hope though that such an oil tanker does not strike an iceberg shed off the arctic ice shelf before that turn is complete, because the consequences of failure to change may be catastrophic, while the consequences of conservation are a better life and world for all of us.
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  10. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    I'm glad that you were able to have a clearly positive response for you and yours from the Kunstler talk. I made a series of small changes to my life that have, overall, moved me in a positive direction. Your 'final word' is a more eloquent version of my 'upnote' ending....there is still plenty of room for optimism and constructing a rewarding and just life.

    I worry that a more common response is 'capitulation', where people end up in a more negative emotional state, or paralyzed from making constructive and rewarding changes. This is why I was never a fan of 'unavoidable collapse' messages and fear-mongering. While I think such PO doomerism is on the wane (despite ongoing evolution of the oil market) AGW remains to scare our pants off. But progress on that challenge is also hindered (IMO) by scare mongering and capitulation.

    I would add to the options of 'changing oneself' and 'setting a positive example' outreach, education and advocacy.
  11. Circus

    Circus Member

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    It's all Mickey Mouse's fault.
    Scarcity is artificial so predators can exploit us. Knowledge, college and medical degrees could be free if Mickey Mouse didn't keep extending the copy right laws. Virtual reality can eliminate commuting, vacations (four days of kids fighting and barfing in a car) and over population (Lucy Lu, Futurama). Solar can eliminate heat and electric bills. Composting instead of glorified cesspools saves potable water (Civil engineers prevent disease not doctors). As for glaciers or super volcanoes , our cinder of a galactic group will suck together in a barren void.
  12. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

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    Lol;lol;lol;lol. Thanks for the chuckle. Welcome indeed. It helps to keep it all in perspective.

    I think it was George Carlin that said while taking several shots at the save the planet movement....dont worry the planet will be fine, just fine... it isn't moving on (toward extinction)....we are. The planet will recycle us like so much bad gas & move on to another species, it's experiment with humans will be over......Or words to that effect.
  13. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    Hmmmm, well a rosey outlook is nice, as that is what people want to hear and it will make you popular. However, that is not what is coming down the pipe, and in the case of the Club of Rome smacks in the face of the predictions offered in Limits to Growth. Also if you tell people that things are going to be just fine, they will not change their habits and just keep wasting resources and energy. For example, what happened after Jimmy Carter left office and the gas crises of the 70s were left behind, Ronald Regan removed the solar water heating system from the White House, deregulated gasoline prices, and people began a long era of driving huge SUV gas guzzlers. Deja vu all over again. Also if you know what is coming but cannot deal with the potential outcome, I guess you can bury your head in the sand. I choose not to though. I use as much renewable energy as possible (I heat my house exclusively with wood) and I got myself snipped and I do not have children. My 'gift' to future generations, however few I believe that there will be.

    The reason I assign the rise in food costs as the same as fuel costs is that in the new order of things, food is fuel. E10/E15 etc. blended gasoline requires ethanol, and that is made from corn. That has also resulted in a rise in corn prices of about 300% since 2002 (oil has gone up 400% in that same time, so it is not quite 1:1, but pretty close). Also diesel engines were originally designed to run on veggie oil, and hence biodiesel is fuel as well as food. In Brazil they grind sugar cane into ethanol. So I believe that from here on out, food is fuel and fuel is food. The old food paradigm is out, and the new one is in. This is a huge reason that food prices have gone up so fast in recent years and why the global uproar has resulted in poor places like Mexico and North Africa.

    As for global population, Jeremy Grantham was positive about the possible reduction of population and the increase in alternative energy. While North America, Europe, Australia and Japan are showing a smaller increase in population, Africa, Asia and South America are all expected to increase. The global population is still expected to reach a peak of 10 billion by the latest revised UN figures. Some show that figure as high as 12 or even 15 billion. That time will hopefully be well past my era on this earth. With the onset of NG fracking, total peak energy production has been pushed out farther now. Maybe 10 or even 20 more years? Oil production has pretty much leveled off, for all intents and purposes. It is up or down a tad in the last 5 or 6 years, but definitely leveling off. Supply and demand will continue to push prices higher. The emerging middle classes in India and China are certain to push demand higher for most resources.

    While it will be possible for many of us to sustain or attain a high standard of living, that will continue to be at the cost of living standards for most of the global population. China is two worlds; the one you see in the special economic zones, and the much larger impoverished one that you do not see in the outlaying areas. Never mind the killing smog that they have there. India is a mish-mash, and always will be. They still have the cast system there (legal or not), and every single engineer that I worked with from India was a Brahma. I have also travelled through a lot of Central America, and seen the well below poverty level bags of bones begging for pennies. I supported the Indios in Chiapas when NAFTA was enacted that wiped out many maize farmers in southern Mexico. Iowa corn is sold there now. Then there is the two-tiered system we have here in the US. The haves, and the imported cheap labor from Latin America. Its all there if you choose to see it.
  14. pdf27

    pdf27 Member

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    I think you're overplaying the interchangeability between food and fuel. There is another link too, which operates differently - as populations get richer, they want to drive more but also want to eat more meat. Given that grazing is fairly heavily utilised, that means using grains to feed the animals - and pushes up the price of those grains, which are staple foods for the poor. That will have a stronger effect than the Ethanol or Biodiesel usage (although I have no time at all for biofuels made from edible foods - if I were king I'd ban them).
    One other effect - as food prices go up, the use of technology to increase production and utilisation will go up and become more economical. Roughly half of the food in the third world is wasted, mostly rotting before it reaches stores. That isn't a problem in the first world, so given the money it will be soluble - and with high food prices may well solve itself. There is a smaller problem in the west, mostly of picky eaters discarding food in the home. Again, higher food prices will hopefully discourage this. Put the two together, and even without changing eating habits there is a solution for a population of maybe 15 billion, assuming modest advances in agriculture.
  15. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    Interesting, but as we write, the US congress is debating making E15 gasoline with even more ethanol, and here in the states at least, Ethanol is in almost all gasoline now. More and more food here is being dumped into fuel, by law. Brazil is also running pretty much exclusively on sugar. Maybe its more of a western hemisphere thing, but that is the way it is here. Also of late the price of meat is sky high (due to US drought and the price of hay as a result of the price of fertilizers), and fewer people can afford to eat it. I eat less now, and I do not even look at the steaks in the counter any more at the store.

    As for improving the third world food situation, I would ask you, have you ever been to a third world country? I think the prospect that "they" will improve their infrastructure and transport systems just to move food is basically, 'that just ain't ever gonna happen'. Who is going to give them the money to do that, anyway?The busted Eurozone? The over their heads in debt US or Japan? Have you peeked at the global debt situation lately? They barely get the money for the food in those places, inefficient as it is.

    True story... when I was young I went to Mexico a lot. I was in a small Indian village on the south west coast there and they were in the second year of a drought. This was before NAFTA, and they grew maize locally. At any rate, it started raining again just when CARE showed up with tons and tons of corn to distribute. Suddenly the local demand and price for corn went to zero and no one planted any, even though it was raining again. No one really wanted to eat the corn, as what they really wanted was to eat chicken. So they decided pretty much overnight to become poultry farmers and raised chickens and fed it all the CARE corn. That is what happens in the third world from my experience. You do not get the results that you expect, no matter how it is intended or administered.
  16. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    If this already has been stated, forgive me. As to the fuel-food identity, most modern agricultural industrial food is produced with heavy use of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, and my understanding is that all of these are heavily petroleum based/dependent. We eat oil.
  17. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Stihlhead, I think we agree one the current (impoverished) state of the world. I have traveled a little outside the first world, taken the bus across the Yucatan, a couple short trips to India. I have seen enough to agree with you. But there is a thing called development. Japan in the 50s, Brazil in the 70s, the Asian tigers in the 80s, now China...the ability of a country to transition toward a first world standard is a well demonstrated and understood process. And they are absolutely not doing it with CARE packages and humanitarian aid.

    But you can't have it both ways. If China were not developing, and those earlier countries had not developed, then we would still have a cheap oil era and plenty of food (for us, and malnourished starving people overseas). The stresses on the oil/food system are because we are making significant progress on a world 'per capita food and industrial production' basis called development. If those poor people in the Chinese countryside had fewer opportunities in 2013 than they did in 2000 because oil got expensive, then that would be a PO story. Instead, oil got more expensive because those poor people now have more opportunity (e.g. a kid can test well and get sent to a modern Chinese university). That is PO on in its head!....FF (mostly coal) is still cheap and available enough to allow the most populous country on earth to 'develop'. The system is groaning under the strain, there are various price shocks for oil and resources, but the system has not 'collapsed'.

    I am big believer in things not being as simple as they appear. I like your corn and chicken story. Sometimes when things get more expensive, people will use more of them. Sometimes when they get richer, they will use less of stuff. The devil is in the details. That is why predicting the future is hard, even with the CoR computer model, let alone an armchair and a laptop. But not all the stuff we can't predict is 'downside', there are also unexpected 'upsides' out there.

    Renewable Energy in the 70s didn't croak, and people did not start driving SUVs b/c of Reagan and the critics of Limits to Growth. That happened because the PO story-tellers back then were wrong...and the price of oil collapsed for two decades. RE tech was primitive enough that there was no way of rolling it out commercially with those oil prices. Could politicians have had a steep gas tax and CAFE standards and the world would now be better, more eff, less CO2? Sure.

    We def disagree about human psychology. People respond more constructively and in a more sustained way to positive messages and herd following than to purely negative messages. If you tell people that there is no way out, 80% of people will just tune you out and convince themselves your msg is BS. And a lot of the rest will not be mobilized to act, but just depressed. If AGW were just a technical problem, it would be straightforward, the engineers know what we need to build. But it is the psychology and political spheres that make the solution so hard.

    I don't consider the current CoR msg to be 'rosy' at all. Maybe a billion people will die from AGW effects, maybe the world will collapse to a rather lower standard of living in the 21st century. And the resource base knowledge and GW science are much better than 40 years ago, and the predicted collapse much closer....a much more compelling and reliable prediction IMO, and one more likely to contribute to action. And their predictions for the last 30 years are pretty spot on.

    IIRC, the CoR had alternative futures where some of the crises were caused by running out of FF (small FF reserves) and others limited by 'pollution' (large FF reserves). At the time I thought pollution was 'smog'. Now I know it is CO2. In 1980s, if I read LTG, I thought...well, we have cheap oil, so we must be the large FF reserve case, and we have 'pollution controls' like catalytic converters and coal plant scrubbers....so 'pollution' doesn't (to my eyes) seem like a civilization threatening issue (maybe those will get better and better and avoid a crisis). In 2013, I can go 'aha', we ARE the large FF reserve case (despite PO doomers assertion to the contrary), and the 'pollution curve' on the chart is actually **CO2**, which is persistent and has the capacity (at some level) to eventually render swaths of the earth uninhabitable and/or unfit for agriculture. In the 1980s, the CoR charts simply didn't make sense. In 2013, it is almost 'duh', this is a picture of (30 years more imminent) AGW-doom under different scenarios.
  18. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Absolutely, there are many FF calories expended for every food calorie produced. And that works because FF calories are a lot cheaper than food calories. But the fraction of FF going to food production is not large (and fertilizer is made from NG, not oil) And that usage is critical/inelastic enough that as long as there is any FF left, we will send it to the farm if it is needed there.
  19. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    The engineers? I find this to be the most amusing in my debates with people about the future. Along with 'science will save us, because it always has'. "Someone will always come up with a solution" does not always happen. Being an engineer I see how things are developed and marketed. I see marketing and/or management come to us and demands that we defy the laws of physics, over and over again. I have seen many many attempts at new technological systems fail for a variety of reasons. Most breakthroughs are the result of pure dumb luck. I do not see humans worming their way out of Peak Energy and Peak Critical Resources. They will happen, sooner or later. You can slash at the models all you want and find fault and say, "See, it has not happened as predicted!" We are just extending the inevitable, pushing population overshot father with more energy sources coming online, and living in borrowed time. We live in a finite system, not an endlessly open one. Looking at anthropological, archeological and geological evidence of the past, I conclude that we cannot escape our fate of doom. But as always, few want to listen to that. They want the candy coated version with the promise of forever.

    GW is another aspect to the mess we are in. I was on board with GW long ago looking at stuff that was coming out of Scripps and Woods Hole. At least the debate has changed on that front. I spent years debating with people that still refuse to believe it exists. I was hoping that PO would come sooner so that the effects would dampen GW. But that has not happened. Well, in the case of the US it has (with NG), but in the case of world consumption, it has not. We export a massive amount of coal. Also pollution is not just Co2. Methanol and other gasses are in the greenhouse mix. Also pollution still includes a lot of smog. Just look at China's many larger cities on any given day. They say when it rains in China it rains dirt. We get China polluted rainfall here in Oregon now, and that is where a large part of the mercury in our rivers comes from. Japan was hit with several huge clouds of China smog this winter as well. It is an issue on a massive scale as a result of the massive industrialization of China. Also other types of pollution exist, like fallout from Fukashima (and coal burning), the dumping of coal ash, and NG fracking which has the potential to do great damage to the fresh water supply. In the case of CO2? This thing will run its course. We should have started doing something about it 30 years ago. But the candy coated happy jingle of 'everything is fine' was dumped on the populations by the politicians, FF and auto industry, and here we are today. If anything, the GW models lag far behind the actual accelerated pace of GW, and entropy is unleashing its... energy on us.
  20. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    We're talking past each other....I am saying that I think the CoR models DO describe the future, I am not slashing them or discounting them. I think both PO doom, AGW doom and various other dooms were included in the original scenarios. I think we are still driving as fast as we can towards AGW doom, and that so far, things are shaping up pretty much as that scenario predicted in 1975. I also agree that some who were aware of AGW hoped a little PO might help AGW, by reducing usage. While transportation might be getting more efficient, other FF sectors are still booming, no bueno. And I know there are other pollutants, both GW and not, just that I didn't appreciate the pollution as a limit to growth issue via AGW in 1985. Now I 'get it'.

    At the same time, I think we can/should all try to adapt to the coming new reality as best we can, and try to advocate/vote for/buy/invent things that might mitigate future issues. That is not escapism, its the Standard Operating Procedure of humans and living things. Yes the warning should have been heeded in 1975, but I think that failure has more to do with human psychology (which still contributes to almost 50% disbelief in AGW models) than policy leaders.

    As for engineering.....there are a lot of ideas/designs/solutions that were never fielded b/c the front office said they wouldn't be profitable. When the financial situation changes, voila, new tech appears as if from nowhere. One example is fracking....known and used for decades, and as soon as the price point favored it, boom, out it comes. There are a lot of other technologies out there in the wings, coal-to-liquid, biomass feedstock techniques, single cell protein, that will 'boom' get rolled out if/when they can make a buck, little to no R&D required.
  21. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    I like the aqua culture food process were fish provide fertilized water for the plants and the plants clean the water for the fish and you can harvest both plants and fish. Some models are set up in abandoned buildings close to or in the cities .So far seems to be working well and is sustainable.
  22. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    I just got around to catching up on the last week of this thread. This has now gone far beyond my level of research on the topics so I cant add much - but I do want to say that it has been a very interesting and informative read. Thanks to everyone, especially woodgeek and stillhead and jebatty for the detailed and thoughtful responses. Ive learned a lot today.

    I'm glad that we got past the "PO means mad max tomorrow, run run" and "mad max didn't happen so PO is bunk, party on dude!" positions and actually are digging into it.
  23. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    Always said a Farm is the most valuable thing you can own,even a pile of gold wont feed you and keep you warm in winter if no one will trade those things for it.. the amish are the closest thing to living like what you describe. Live off the land, commonly DONT have even electricity. For sure dont have ipods,cell phones,Flat screen TVs, .Not petroleum dependent at all,horse transportation, im pretty sure they are all organic as far as farming.
    I may try this on a limited basis in my cabin in the woods. I will have electric but try to develop systems that dont need it,like water delivery ect.
  24. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    In my understanding the Amish are a little more complex than you describe. The ones that trade goods in Philly DO have cell phones w/voicemail. IIRC, every new technology is evaluated for its pros/cons by a council, and some new tech can be allowed if it decided that the pros outweigh the cons. With cell phones, I think they have a rule that they are only for customer contact, and can't be used in the house. IOW, they use them the way they previously used payphones, before payphones went away.

    I have also heard a lot about the amish using power tools in woodworking/construction. Since elec is out, they exclusively use pneumatic tools, and have various kinds of ways of making compressed air. Apparently, they have quite modern looking woodworking shops, where the only odd thing is the air hoses and the funky (steam?) compressor out back. Anyone know better?
  25. Delta-T

    Delta-T Minister of Fire

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    thats a pretty accurate description of some of the modern Amish....but there are still many peoples throughout the world who live without technology, and they seem to get along just fine. I'm sure they'd be happy to have access to medicine, and the occasional use of the ICE to help them transport their wares about. Highly doubt their societies will fall to nothingness if/when PO kicks the rest of us in the shin.

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