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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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    Their biggest problem Delta will be us (the have's) will we invade them for their food water & other resources when ours get scarce? Enslave them & force them to produce for us? History says yes in a heartbeat, that the have's will take by force from the have nots.

    I don't see PO happening with the new tech being rolled out to get at more oil, I do see us using or fouling most/all of our fresh water in the quest for oil & then having to invade to survive/continue to thrive. After all without fresh water we wont grow much in North America, no longer the bread basket. Think of us in the future as being saharan Africa now, just with the ability to invade at will for what we don't have but want/need.

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  2. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    I bought an outbuilding from an amish craftsman who DID take credit cards but since he had no electric in his office had to (old style) swipe the card on one of those ink transfer CC forms. No plug in electronic reader.
  3. Delta-T

    Delta-T Minister of Fire

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    you may be very correct FC. History does show that when there is enough "want" then there's usually a way to extract from others to satisfy it. Saw an interesting piece on microcellulose this AM. Technology to the rescue? There's a lot of things happening in a very wide range of disciplines that have to potential to catapult us out of the traditional FF game. I dont know that we'll ever really master fusion in an economical way, but a few jumps in materials science (room temp super conductor, 100% organic plastic substitute, ginsu knife that cuts through cans and then a tomato...we are really close on this one) and we change the time tables a bit, and when you add a few of these sorta things together, we give ourselves a real chance of getting past the doom part and well into the hopeful part....hopefully.
    woodgeek likes this.
  4. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

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    Sure hope so Delta.

    Maybe I just have a different perspective/view on the rate of change. For me it's the same hours in a plane to go to the far north as to go to Disneyland.

    Everytime I go north I am amazed at the rate of change, it's happening much faster up there.

    We can easily absorb the population above the 60th, just not sure where all the rest of us go should that rate of change make it here & force us to move as well.

    I hope you are right & the new tech is able to undo the past 200 years in time. That would only leave us with the population thingy to deal with.

    In a way despite my constant curiosity I am glad that if I live my expected # of years I will be ashes before this plays out. Umm.....maybe.
  5. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    I find that most non-technical people have the most faith in technology saving us from ourselves in the future. Its always just over the horizon and will bail us out of the FF dilemma. Remember also that technology is what put us into this FF mess to begin with. At best they can extend the rosey era that we are in today, but I do not see alternative energy replacing the mountains of cheap FF energy that we have used during the industrial revolution to get us where we are today. Clean coal, clean(er) oil, solar, wind, hydro, nuclear, NG, better efficiency, etc. are good prospects. However, many of them still have the CO2 emissions issue somewhere in the process or development cycle, are limited, or actually depend on FF somewhere in production like ethanol, which in my view is a waste of oil in the long run, but politicians are demanding that we use more of it anyway. I believe that burning food is a bad idea, but burn it we will. That is leading to a new paradigm where energy = food & food = energy, as I have said above. Nuclear is the only real 'solution' longer term in my view, but it is very dangerous and proven unsafe in the cases of Fukushima, Chernobyl, and to a lesser degree at Three Mile Island. There is also the issue of peak fissile material; raw material to refine into fuel, and of course the issue of nuclear weapons that exist among the nations that have stockpiles, and that NK and Iran are developing.

    I would not hang my hat on fusion, breeder/thorium reactors, or some other large scale process that has been touted for a long time. I have looked long and hard at both and they just do not pan out for a lot of reasons. I used to support Lawrence Livermore Lab as an applications engineer and discussed this stuff over many drinks with those guys. You can read many blogs on them by the IEEE, a professional group of electrical engineers that publish a lot of data and research. Perpetual motion does not work either, but I see a lot of ads for them on the internet. "What the electric company does not want you to know about" and that type of thing. Also as I have said before, its not just about peak energy. Its peak everything. There are limits to growth even with an unlimited amount of energy. We have been growing at an exponential rate as it is, which is the mathematical limit. I believe it is the nature of nature, and that we cannot help it. Like any organism given favorable conditions, we have outcompeted our competition and predators, overcome disease and famine, and bred like rabbits to reproduce like crazy. Now the issue is how to put the brakes on this process, or let nature take its path if we decide not to. We do have some brakes: war, poverty, genocide, murder, birth control, WMDs, etc. Add to that nature's brakes of disease, famine, and environmental/geological/cosmic disasters. In the end its a numbers game no matter what we do. So the equation becomes energy and resources and environment vs. human population and demand and ingenuity.

    Everything in our civilization is based on growth. Growth growth growth. We do not do well in contractual periods. Systems fall apart and fail, civilizations collapse. Which is the premise of the PO concept. Its either grow, or face peril and demise. Its like Carnegie's statement on economics: you either grow or you contract; there is no leveling off. So rather than try to find technological solutions to feed the perpetual growth machine which simply has to fail at some point, or extend the process of growth by some synthetic means, I think it is more prudent to figure out how to dissolve our growth based capitalist systems and evolve a social process that allows for maintain a level, Earth carrying capacity population and work in harmony with the world that we have evolved on, rather than constantly **** it to death. Or at least try to. I seriously doubt that this will happen though, and it is a pipe dream of mine. I believe that we will simply peak and collapse, however fast or slow. I have been deeply involved in advanced technology development and energy systems as a professional engineer for over 25 years. I have invented and developed many systems for computers, military weapons platforms, and communications systems. I simply do not see a solution for endless human expansion that does not create more problems than it solves. We simply cannot expand forever. We either change and curb our rampantly growing population, resource appetite and environmental damage, or we eventually collapse as a civilization, and perhaps become extinct.
  6. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Not just non-tech folks. I've met the same techno-utopia thinking in non-physical technical fields like software/IT/etc.. Ive had discussions like this at work and all the software developers seem to be of this type. "there's an app for that!"

    The other problem is many of these processes for cleaner fossil fuels have dismal net energy returns. From my limited reading adding carbon sequestration uses what is it? about half of the energy you get from burning coal? And replacing oil with CTL, we should look at the process efficiencies of Fischer-Tropp. There is a reason the Nazis adopted it only as a last ditch option when they were unable to take the Caucasus oil fields.

    Adopting either (clean coal/CTL) on a global scale is only going to vastly accelerate depletion of reserves and bring the peak date closer, not push it back.
  7. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

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    My Amish friend has a full size woodworking shop. All Powermatic equipment, all electric. He says there's no rule against it, just a mater of choice.
  8. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Agree that perpetual growth is impossible on a finite sphere. Also agree that we have not yet developed economic and political systems that are stable with no growth. At some point human population will peak. But will it peak when we run out of oil, phosphate, arable land, fresh water, oxygen, space, all of the above, none of the above? Will the population peak because the majority of the world has 'developed', or because of war and famine and plague? My take away is that the whole thing is complex enough to be hard to predict, it needs some nice computer models. We need some Nate Silver-type brainiacs to try to crunch this prediction.

    The Great Doom Roundup....

    As modelers, I have decided that the PO gurus are all full of chit. They have a lot of scary stories (Kunstler) and stats (a new Saudi Arabia every three years!!), etc, but the only 'models' are extraction models, estimates of reserves and logistic extrapolation. And all of those have been proven unreliable again and again through history.

    In contrast, the models for AGW are great, and getting better all the time, multiple independent researchers coming to similar conclusions, a reliable set of results (as such things go). And they say that business as usual FF consumption, (assuming supplies hold out) results in a **destroyed biosphere** by ~2100±30 years. In my read, the 'baked in' warming from past emissions is not a civilization killer (I haven't seen any compelling tipping point stuff). So the models are kinda useless for predicting the future, because they don't know what we will emit. So....

    The models for the whole system (the intersection of PO and AGW and overpopulation), from the Club of Rome, starting 40 years ago, have stood the test of time. Those authors admitted their uncertainties back in the 70s, and predicted a lot of different futures. And the future we got by 2013 looks like a subset of those scenarios, nice job. And they say projecting those sub models forward shows a tough road ahead where population and industrial output and GDP per capita peak and (at best) fall 50% and then (almost) flatten out. The worse models are a lot worse. What makes the difference? Public policy. The ultimate wildcard.
  9. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    I think the biggest obstacle to reducing energy usage is behavioral change in a culture that is an energy hog with because of relatively cheap energy. In short, our culture of convenience trumps very real things we could do to reduce energy usage.

    So, 2 weeks into an effort to reduce electric usage, save the world, and what are the required behavioral changes? Surprisingly, very little, and the impact is 100% reduction in line power electric usage relating to the changes. Granted, not a big reduction in overall line power usage, but the change has been quite easy.

    Focus has been mostly on lighting and desktop computer, and a few other things.

    The desktop is "on" now only pretty much early morning when I do most of my computer time (about 3 hours/day), then shut off along with the power strip off for everything, including the UPS, printer, etc. -- 0 usage when off. Before the desktop would have been left "on" mostly all the time. Additional computer time during the day and evening is my notebook, which takes about 1/10 the power of the desktop. Wife now uses only her Kindle Fire.

    Impact on behavior: transition has worked very well, have modified my computer habits to adapt pretty well to the change, occasionally turn the desktop on again if a need for something the notebook can't handle.

    Lighting - we already are all CFL with some LED's, but I have switched to 5 Nokero LED solar rechargeables for all early morning lighting and some evening lighting. Put them outside in the daytime to recharge, and a few backup Eneloops if a charge runs out and still need light. The extra Eneloops themselves get charged from a 12v gel cell battery with a Nitecore charger that runs on either line power or 12vdc, and the Nitecore charges NiMH and Li-ion batteries. The 12v gel cell gets recharged from a 30w solar panel/charge controller.

    Impact on behavior: I'm surprised at how easy it was to make this switch. The Nokero's are not room bright lights, but are very good for "good enough" lighting. A recharge provides about 3-6 hours of light, depending on the extent of the charge based on sun/cloud conditions on the recharge. My wife has really tolerated this change well. She knows I'm a crazy experimenter anyway, so she goes with the flow. This switch represents a 100% reduction in electric usage over lights previously used.

    Other things: cell phones, Kindle and other USB chargeable devices are now charged from a 5200mah Li-ion USB battery pack (RavPower) as needed, not from the wall chargers, and the battery pack itself is recharged from the 12v gel cell with a 12v-USB charge adapter. This works very well and so far has not requiring much behavioral change at all. Just keep the battery pack and 12v gel cell charged. I still need to get a charge adapter for the notebook, which requires 19vdc based on the wall charger label.

    Heating and A/C: we heat with a wood stove, only electric backup heat; no A/C.

    Power suckers: all electric house, so electric dryer (wife not likely to want to change to a clothesline), electric cooktop/oven (change difficult, but will experiment with a solar cooker this summer), microwave oven (really convenient and efficient as compared to using oven or electric cooktop), electric dhw (off-peak rate is really low, no economy in trying to go solar on this now), refrigerator, freezer and dishwasher (not good options here, except could not use the dishwasher IF I washed all the dishes in the sink).

    Big energy sucker: two cars and gasoline, about 20,000 miles/year on each car. Ugh!
  10. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    Orrrrrrrr. . .

    We could focus on adapting to a warmer planet, eh?
  11. Circus

    Circus Member

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    This comment is going to be hated. People change out of malice. Tax oil enough to make renewables and economy cars cheap by comparison. Five years ago I went solar air and water only to spite those greedy LP suppliers. Designed and built it myself to spite those greedy solar contractors. Lets hate the tax man!
    Frozen Canuck likes this.
  12. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    The tax on gas should at least be as much as the oil companies subsidies. Id go for a tax on gas to fund electric conversions of the current fleet. That would have an immediate impact and level out fuel prices for many years to come.
  13. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    More like leave oil in the ground AND adapt to a warmer planet.

    The AGW models do not predict warmer and wetter, which might seem ok, or to have some upside. They predict hotter and drier. Sort of like the dustbowl or last year's drought being a 'typical' or 'wetter than average' year, rather than a once in a decade or century drought. Shall we shift agriculture to Canada to adapt? What if those formerly muskeg or tundra areas don't have topsoil suitable for agriculture? Shall we haul the topsoil from Iowa up to Hudson Bay?

    a primer: http://earlywarn.blogspot.com/2010/10/future-of-drought-series.html
  14. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

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    I would be interested to hear your thoughts on how this is to happen.

    Perhaps where X = temp rise. Y = native species (flora & fauna) made extinct by X. Z = changes we have to make relative to X & Y to survive. As well as any other data that you think would be relevant in such an equation. Very long & complex set of equations indeed.
  15. Delta-T

    Delta-T Minister of Fire

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    soil is soooo 20th century. hydroponics is the way to go. if you look at the valleys of Califonia, they've been pretty much teraformed to be productive for agriculture....no reason that same process couldn't be put to use in other places. I'm a fan of some of the very ambitious engineering ideas...like the Atlantropa concept of the early 20th Century. Big problems need big solutions. Invest heavily in the Speedo Co. for economic security in the much warmer near future.
  16. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    I'll see your hydroponics and raise....not only does agriculture have a huge eco footprint, green plants only convert sunlight to food calories at <<1% efficiency. Chemoautotrophs can live and grow off the energy in simple chemical feedstocks (like NH4 and H2) and covert them to biomass and protein calories at closer to 30% efficiency. An acre of solar panels feeding a chemical plant an a fermenter could generate >30X more edible single cell biomass than an acre of the most productive food crops.

    I'm sure we'll get used to the taste. :p

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  17. Delta-T

    Delta-T Minister of Fire

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    almost anything is palatable with enough hot sauce/bbq sauce/crushed red peppercorns.
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  18. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    Should work good in the desert,not many cloudy days.
  19. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    I see you're in Alberta. Assuming not all worst case scenarios of the pious and panic stricken GW alarmists are true, would it possibly mean a longer growing season for the farms of your fellow countrymen?

    (this is just one example - long, complex equations with made up variables are not my forte)
  20. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    I'm sure it will be wetter some places and drier in others. One can't very well raise global temperatures without a commensurate rise in ocean water evaporation (unless you are aware of some anti-axiomatic weather phenomena that is hidden from the rest of us).

    To answer your question about Canada - yes. Canada has millions of acres for productive farmland.
  21. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

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    It is possible for a longer warm period as well as many other possibilities, increased storms, tornado's becoming the norm etc. I don't think that the tilt of the earth is going to change radically giving us a longer growing season ie. more sunlight hours. Add to that the fact that roughly a third of the province is being used for enegy production-oil & gas & we probably have our maximum arable acres right now or very close to it. Still going to be a one crop growing season here & in most of the northern hemisphere until the tilt or the tech changes. Most 2 season growing relies upon irrigation.
  22. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

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    Not that I am against doing a larger portion of the planets growing here but if that is to happen we are going to have to adopt some big picture long term thinking rather than our capitalist model so there is more soil left should it be needed. Presently urban growth is consuming our best farmland.
  23. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Indeed, warmer climate in the past has been wetter. But the models are saying that fast warming is different from slow warming. Basically, the temperature of the ocean lags the temperature of the land, by a few centuries. During that period, evaporation over the ocean doesn't increase significantly, while condensation over the warm land decreases, less rain, and evaporation over the land increases, drying the soil. IOW, AGW inducing widespread drought IS axiomatic weather science.

    Not widely known, that's why I gave you links.
  24. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    A few questions for my small mind. I've followed this thread from its inception, and to say the least it's quite interesting. Some questions about GW, how long have we been able to accurately measure the temperature of air, water, or soil? How about the various gasses in the air, ice cores, etc? I'm certainly a science buff, and there seems to be little said about some of the assumptions of the past that we base out future predictions on. Seems like most of the data we have collected is less than 100 YO.
    Transportation (personal) seems to be one of the biggest consumers for we the haves. Stihlhead, as an electrical engineer, I'm sure your aware of out electrical consumption has been rising above population growth for several decades, why do you think that is? Converting more things (rail) to electric is very inefficient just as resistance electric heat as over half of the kW are generally wasted in transmission. Electricity is only good if it's locally generated, the farther it's "transported" even with new DC tech it's still hugely wastes the prime mover's HP, which may not matter if hydro is the PM, but NG or other fossil fuels, now linked to transportation is even more wasteful of finite recourses.
    I'm not arguing against such things, just wondering about some of the data these are based on.
    TS
  25. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    I'm not a climate scientist, but I read the papers.

    Ice core data is complex, since the top layers of the ice are still porous and open to the air...the result is that the ice you see (and can date by counting annual layers) is 4000-6000 years older than the gas bubbles trapped within. But with current methods, it is believed that we have direct samples of atmospheric composition (CO2 and CH4 and isotopes) going back ~500,000 years (!!). The data over that period show a number of semi-regular wild swings in CO2 composition that correspond in time to the multiple ice ages that occurred during that period. The analysis of various isotopes from the ice and the gas inside, or other locations like lake or ocean sediment cores shows variations that are correlated with each other around the world. Since water with different isotopic composition condenses at different rates, snowing out a lot of the water in the atmosphere should sequester O-isotopes, so those are commonly used to assess the total amount of global ice. The periods when the ice ages occur are driven by the tilt of the earth axis, which wobbles in a predictable way over that period. Those wobbles and positive feedback effects from ice drive the climate fluctuations.

    Paleotemperature is trickier. You can try to 'calibrate' different isotopes in the atmosphere with global average temperature if you have other data....i.e. growth rings in old trees or coral reefs. A lot of plants only grow at certain temps, so their pollen (in sediment) can be used to infer temperature. Similar thermometers can be built for plankton, fossil leaf shape for different (living) species, etc. At the end of the day. all these thermometers are reasonably consistent with each other...and the paleotemperature record shows large swings over the last 500,000 years, tracking the ice ages.

    There was a kerfuffle for a while when it appeared that the CO2 record and temp record were out of whack....it looked like the temp shot up at the end of ice ages, and CO2 shot up only several thousand years later. It is now clear that that is due to the above effect with the surface ice 'breathing' for a few thousand years before it gets buried deep enough...this is confirmed by finding things like freon in the gas down to core depth of 4-6000 years. Since this 'breathing period' varies with how fast the ice is laid down (and thus the climate), it means that most gas samples have an age uncertainty ±1000 years, while the ice itself is dated much more accurately.

    What does this have to do with climate models??? Not as much as you might think. Climate models are built using known physics and chemistry with other known inputs like the solar spectrum, shape of the continents, etc. There are plenty of unknowns that need to be 'fit', related to the mixing depth of the ocean, nucleation rates for cloud formation, how the biosphere produces CH4, etc. So, the last 500,000 years of atmospheric composition and temperature are used to test the climate models....can they reproduce the data, using the wobbling axis induced sunlight changes as input? The answer is yes they can. Of course there are still uncertainties...not all 'unknowns' are specified by this fitting process. And of course the old (read 20-30 yo) models were pretty crappy and primitive.

    Running the models forward, those uncertainties between models leave a factor of two uncertainty in the predicted warming. A factor of two is a lot, but none of the models say the future will be peachy or something that anyone can trivially adapt to. If we stopped emitting carbon tomorrow (impossible) the world would continue to warm for a while, but we would (IMO) all be able to adapt. If we continue to emit CO2 at the current accelerating rate, the models predict gross changes to the climate, consistent with a collapse of current agricultural methods through temperature changes and drought in most currently productive locations, and nearly all current natural habitats shifting (e.g. from tundra to forest, forest to grassland, grassland to desert), which would result in a mass extinctions and 'biosphere collapse' (my fancy term for 'all forests dying'). The factor of two uncertainty leads to uncertainty for when this badness will occur, ranging from 40-100 years from now (assuming current CO2 emission trends continue).

    The magnitude of the problem is tied (in my conservative opinion) to future emissions. I think humans will cut carbon emissions. Outside the US, a lot of people are taking AGW seriously...we americans are frankly bringing up the rear on the issue. While many blame others, such as the Chinese, for making the problem intractable, their CO2 per capita is still well below that in the US, and they have long term energy policies in place to reduce coal consumption, roll out RE, and keep their per capita emissions near current levels, and to reduce them longer term. We do not have any such policy in place, as we cheerfully persist in having 2X the per capita CO2 footprint of any other country (except Canada, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait).

    We need to get our own house in order.

    Personally, I am an optimist. I think the next gen of americans takes AGW seriously. I think we will reduce global emissions. And if we don't cut carbon emissions fast enough (or if the 40 year predictions turn out to be correct), I believe we will roll out geoengineering methods to mitigate the worst effects of AGW.

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