I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
Well Newshoggers has closed it's doors so Middle Earth Journal is active once again.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Peak Oil - Yes it's Real

Chris Martenson, creator of the Crash Course reminds us that the good old days are not going to return.
You really should go to the link and read the entire thing but here is a sample and a graph.

The really big picture goes like this: Humans discovered about 400 million years worth of stored sunlight in the form of coal, oil, and natural gas, and have developed technologies that will essentially see all of that treasure burned up in just 300 to 400 years.

On the faulty assumption that fossil fuels will always be a resource we could draw upon, we fashioned economic, monetary, and other assorted belief systems based on permanent abundance, plus a species population on track to number around 9 billion souls by 2050.
There are two numbers to keep firmly in mind. The first is 22, and the other is10. In the past 22 years, half of all of the oil ever burned has been burned. Such is the nature of exponentially increasing demand. And the oil burned in the last 22 years was the easy and cheap stuff discovered 30 to 40 years ago. Which brings us to the number 10.

In every calorie of food that comes to your table are hidden 10 calories of fossil fuels, making modern agriculture and food delivery the first type in history that consumes more energy than it delivers. Someday fossil fuels will be all gone. That day may be far off in the future, but preparing for that day could (and one could argue should) easily require every bit of time we have.


What galls me at this stage is that all of the pronouncements of additional oil being squeezed, fractured, and otherwise expensively coaxed out of the ground are being delivered with the message that there's so much available, there's nothing to worry about (at least, not yet.) The message seems to be that we can just leave those challenges for future people, who we expect to be at least as clever as us, so they'll surely manage just fine.
Instead, the chart above illustrates that on a reasonably significant timeline, the age of fossil fuels will be intense and historically quite short. The real question is not Will it run out? but Where would we like to be, and what should the future look like when it finally runs out? The former question suggests that "maintain the status quo" is the correct response, while the latter question suggests that we had better be investing this once-in-a-species bequeathment very judiciously and wisely.

Energy is vital to our economy and our easy, modern lives. Without energy, there would be no economy. The more expensive our energy is, the more of our economy is dedicated to getting energy instead of other pursuits and activities. Among the various forms of energy, petroleum is the king of transportation fuels and is indispensible to our global economy and way of life.
Our leveraged economy is built on cheap fossil fuels and at least the cheap ones are gone.  We complain about 2% economic growth but we are approaching a time when there will be none.

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