Life after the oil crash

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Nigel
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Life after the oil crash

Post by Nigel » Thu Sep 09, 2004 2:14 pm

I stumbled across this site, and not quite sure what to make of it.

http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/Introduction.html
On one hand, oil is finite, and given the instability of the current political situation around the world (right - what's new?), it seems fair to say that it's not inconceivable that prices could go up to $70-100 a barrel or more. The other hand says that this is chicken little paranoia woo-woo crap.

Thoughts? Opinions? Observations?
Civilization as we know it is coming to an end soon. This is not the wacky conclusion of a religious cult, but rather the result of diligent analysis sourced by hard data and the scientists who study global “Peak Oil” and related geopolitical events.

So who are these nay-sayers who claim the sky is falling? Conspiracy fanatics? Nostradamus fans? Apocalypse Bible prophecy readers? To the contrary, they are some of the most respected, highest paid geologists, physicists, petroleum engineers, and investment bankers in the world. These are logical, rational, and conservative people and they are absolutely terrified about the situation. This is why it's so scary.

The situation is so dire, even George W. Bush's Energy Adviser, Matthew Simmons, has acknowledged "The situation is desperate. This is the world's biggest serious question." In an August 2003 interview, Mr. Simmons was asked if it was time for Peak Oil to become part of the public policy debate. He responded:

"It is past time. As I have said, the experts and politicians have no Plan B to fall back on. If energy peaks, particularly while 5 of the world’s 6.5 billion people have little or no use of modern energy, it will be a tremendous jolt to our economic well-being and to our heath - greater than anyone could ever imagine."
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Post by Kilted_Canuck » Thu Sep 09, 2004 4:32 pm

According to The Sacred Balance by Dr. David Suzuki we have less than a century of oil reserves left on the entire planet, so it is coming most likely in my lifetime. The faster we reform the global economy to include green energy and phase out oil(which is a pipe dream until the last drop is refined) the less of a global crash we'll face.

Its going, just a matter of when unfortunately.[/url]

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Post by Badger » Thu Sep 09, 2004 5:12 pm

Seems a bit over the top to me.

Oil's cheap right now, but as it increases in price, things like cgigeothermal.com, and http://stirlingtech.com will become more economical, as well as fostering more use of wind power, solar power, biofuels, etc.

There is also the issue of vast hydrate fields (methane and water under great pressure, at low temperatures) on the ocean floors that, given the right economic incentive, could be mined in one way or another.

I see nothing on the site about how close to maximum production OPEC is running at, nor do I see anything about reserves in Russia, particularly Siberia, or the Alberta tar sands.

So, yes, conservation should be an issue for all of us, but there are things that will mitigate the doom and gloom scenario presented in that website.
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Post by Blue Monk » Thu Sep 09, 2004 6:32 pm

I’ve looked into this before and this is often referred to as ‘Peal Oil.’ The term describes the point when oil fields are at there maximum output. After the peak is reached it costs more and more to produces less and less oil. The U.S, which at one time was the leading oil producer, peaked in the 60’s and the Soviet Union peaked in the 80’s.

There is some debate over when the Mid-East fields will peak, ranging from some who claim they already did in 2000 to some that say they won’t peak until 2020.

The point is that long before we run out we will start to run low even as demand increases and this will drive prices higher. It is often overlooked at how ingrained oil is in our society as it extends far past automobiles. Most of our national water and electric systems are dependent of fossil fuels. Hydro electric damns and nuclear power only make up a small percentage.

Also many medicines and chemicals require petroleum directly or in the process as do many other things such as plastics and fertilizers.

There is, no doubt, a great deal of hyperbole attached to this issue which I feel has the unfortunate effect of causing it to be overlooked or summarily dismissed by skeptics who should consider it more thoughtfully.

While people look toward conservation and alternative energy sources it is often done with the idea of alleviating the burden but there is one very distinct fact that many overlook. The supply of fossil fuels is finite. Eventually, whether we like it or not, the supply will run out and we will have to survive totally independent of any fossil fuels and it may be coming quicker than many think.

While I do not buy into the more hysterical aspects of this subject I think that if one starts considering the implications from all angles it is clear that there is a very serious potential problem here. Even alternatives often require a great deal of investment and in some cases actually require an initial cost in petroleum, the very thing that may drive the price up if one waits to long.

Here are a couple of aspects to consider that I believe I can state as fact.

1. Fossil fuels are finite. Anything dependent on fossil fuels must someday find an alternative to remain viable.
2. There is no guarantee that an alternative can be found for every current application of fossil fuels, especially in the area of medicines and chemicals.
3. The use of fossil fuels is so ingrained in so many aspects of Western Industrial society that any major long term increase in the price of the fuel itself or its alternatives can affect the economy across the board and include such basic needs as food production and delivery, electricity, water and medical care.

Long before the days of oil are over the days of cheap oil will be long gone and that’s the point. If alternatives can be found there isn’t any reason we can be assured that they will be even remotely as inexpensive as the oil we have built our society upon.

Personally I am an optimist and have a great deal of faith in man’s ingenuity, however, the approaching problem is very real and concrete and to date few of the solutions are proven viable or economical and none of them address the problem in it’s entirety across the full spectrum of it’s potential influence on our society.

I cannot, however, overlook even the more moderate worse case scenarios. If the problem were to escalate to the point where there is a significant increase in the cost of most everything (which is the heart of the problem) then I think the potential for a cascading effect is not that unreasonable to consider.

First it would simply become more expensive to live and marginally profitable business could begin to fail putting more people on the unemployment lines and tax revenues would begin to drop. If we wait until that point to do something then we may have waited too long and be facing some very serious and difficult problems to solve with diminishing resources to do so.

I believe the problem is real and though I reject the ‘all is lost’ opinion I do think it is important that we take this seriously and not simply rely on our faith that it will work itself out.

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Post by WildCat » Thu Sep 09, 2004 11:03 pm

There's already a clean, economical alternative nuclear power. The waste can be concentrated and buried in one place, instead of just spewing it into the atmosphere like coal or oil. There's enough fuel to last thousands of years, and electric cars could be truly clean, now it's as likely or not the batteries were charged w/ fossil fuel generated power.

Of course, the sky-is-falling "no nuke" crowd may never get over their paranoia about things they don't understand.

Of course, wind and solar power can supplement it.

Bio-fuels still need to get over the efficiency hump. Now it takes more fuel to produce it than it yields. And there's not enough arable land to suit our energy needs unless it becomes many, many times more efficient. It's just farm policy masquerading as energy policy.

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Post by The Central Scrutinizer » Fri Sep 10, 2004 1:07 am

Kilted_Canuck wrote:According to The Sacred Balance by Dr. David Suzuki we have less than a century of oil reserves left on the entire planet, so it is coming most likely in my lifetime. The faster we reform the global economy to include green energy and phase out oil(which is a pipe dream until the last drop is refined) the less of a global crash we'll face.

Its going, just a matter of when unfortunately.[/url]
Except that 30 years ago they said we had about 20 years left.

I think the answer is, yes it is a finite amount (obviously), but I have seen no consensus whatsoever on an educated guess. Generally the ones making the predictions have an agenda or an axe to grind.

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Post by Nigel » Fri Sep 10, 2004 1:14 am

The Central Scrutinizer wrote:
Kilted_Canuck wrote:According to The Sacred Balance by Dr. David Suzuki we have less than a century of oil reserves left on the entire planet, so it is coming most likely in my lifetime. The faster we reform the global economy to include green energy and phase out oil(which is a pipe dream until the last drop is refined) the less of a global crash we'll face.

Its going, just a matter of when unfortunately.[/url]
Except that 30 years ago they said we had about 20 years left.

I think the answer is, yes it is a finite amount (obviously), but I have seen no consensus whatsoever on an educated guess. Generally the ones making the predictions have an agenda or an axe to grind.
And that's what I wonder about the guy with the site in the OP. Does he have an agenda? I just found the site today (others may have seen it and be more familiar with it, or not). As I said previously, and has been said since, it's obvious oil will run out someday, and the fact is most of our products are petroleum based or use petroleum in some way. So it won't be easy to distance ourselves from oil.

But then again, why wait til the last minute (even if that minute's 30, 50, or even 100 years from now)? Oil prices may decrease somewhat, but I don't think it will be cheaper to the point that gas will be $0.28 a gallon again, so why not think 10 years ahead, and stop thinking 10 minutes ahead?
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Post by Cecil » Fri Sep 10, 2004 6:38 am

WildCat wrote:Of course, the sky-is-falling "no nuke" crowd may never get over their paranoia about things they don't understand.
This and waste disposal, I think, are the only real problems with fission.

New plants are designed so that Chernobyl-type meltdowns are impossible. The materials won't melt and an out-of-control reaction is automatically contained and stopped. Radiation emissions at the perimeter of a plant are usually less that 10%, sometimes less than 1%, of background levels. And of course, uranium is also non-renewable, though I believe we have at least a several-thousand year supply.

IIRC, the usual technique for disposing of used uranium is to dump the rods in a pool of water for 10 years or so, until the radiation drops by about 99%. This is low enough that they can be handled and moved to long-term (~10,000 year) storage. Most waste produced today is mixed with sand, melted into glass beads, and stored in underground sealed caverns. The one part of this method I'm not clear on is what happens to the (presumably) radioactive water.

Other that than, the only difficulty lies in convincing those who stage demonstrations surrounded by mock barrels of nuclear waste and carry signs like "GO GREEN, NO MORE NUCLEAR" or "WE DON'T WANT MUTANT FISH". (No joke, these are real signs :roll: )

I also have high hopes for fusion. A commercial fusion reactor would produce about 4 gigawatts, about four times as much as an average fission reactor. Controlled sustained fusion reactions have already been acheived, though none have produced more energy than they consumed. We're getting close though, and I think we could have one up and running as soon as 2030, though 2050 is probably a better bet.

Blue Monk's hit the nail on the head, though. Fossil fuel suuplies ARE going to run out, and the sonner we can get a plan ready for when the time comes, the better.
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Post by a_unique_person » Fri Sep 10, 2004 8:06 am

The Central Scrutinizer wrote:
Kilted_Canuck wrote:According to The Sacred Balance by Dr. David Suzuki we have less than a century of oil reserves left on the entire planet, so it is coming most likely in my lifetime. The faster we reform the global economy to include green energy and phase out oil(which is a pipe dream until the last drop is refined) the less of a global crash we'll face.

Its going, just a matter of when unfortunately.[/url]
Except that 30 years ago they said we had about 20 years left.

I think the answer is, yes it is a finite amount (obviously), but I have seen no consensus whatsoever on an educated guess. Generally the ones making the predictions have an agenda or an axe to grind.
That is still not a logical response. Some people were wrong with that prediction, therefore all people are.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5945678/

The consenus still appears to be that production has peaked. Saying that it wouldn't have if there was peace in the Mid East, or that Saudi should blow it's treasure chest in one hit to suit the needs of the US, is not going to make it flow any faster.

Shell has already had problems with it's forecasts, because assumptions it had made about being able to use advanced technology to improve its reserves and rate of production have been overly optimistic.

Regardless of how much oil remains in the ground, says Deffeyes, the critical bottleneck is production capacity. “I can’t drive into the filling station and say fill her up with reserves.”

Deffeyes argues that production capacity has grown more slowly than demand – based on production figures that are a lot more reliable than reserve data.

“Production is a pretty firm number,” he said. “Oil gets counted twice: once when it gets produced and once when it goes into the refinery. So we pretty much know how much is produced, and my Thanksgiving Day prediction is entirely based on production.”

....

Deffeyes is perhaps the leading proponent of the work of the late M. King Hubbert, a Shell Oil geologist who accurately predicted, in a controversial 1956 paper, that U.S. oil production would peak in 1970. Deffeyes has applied Hubbert’s work to global oil supplies and has come up with his own projection for peak global production. He expects world production to peak around Thanksgiving of 2005, give or take a few weeks.
The US is a good example. Oil production in the US has peaked, no argument there. It was predicted it would peak, and it did.

Once you start talking about all the rest of the oil in the world, you are also entering the realm of the political.

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Post by Grammatron » Fri Sep 10, 2004 8:53 am

a_unique_person wrote: That is still not a logical response. Some people were wrong with that prediction, therefore all people are.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5945678/

The consenus still appears to be that production has peaked. Saying that it wouldn't have if there was peace in the Mid East, or that Saudi should blow it's treasure chest in one hit to suit the needs of the US, is not going to make it flow any faster.
No there is no consensus on global supply you need to read the articles you post better
The outlook is muddied by the data. Estimating oil reserves — how much is left in the ground — is a notoriously perilous endeavor. The task is complicated by the secrecy of OPEC producers, who are reluctant to dislose just how much oil they’ve found.
Not to mention oil that we know to be in some parts of the ocean but is to expensive to drill for. If the prices go up suddenly it's not expensive but reasonable.
The US is a good example. Oil production in the US has peaked, no argument there. It was predicted it would peak, and it did.

Once you start talking about all the rest of the oil in the world, you are also entering the realm of the political.
It may peak, it all depends on China and India, and if they take off they would need oil. However, it's not really a problem, if it's too expensive than other modes of transportation become very reasonable and I can always ride a bike to work if pressed.

Quoting Deffeyes you are committing the same logical mistake you accused Central Scrutinizer of, just because Hubbert was right once (and I take his word for it I have not done any research on this) does not mean the same data applied to today's world will be right again. Plus let's consider this, his own words "I emphatically do not understand economics..." well perhaps he should before betting on a crisis.

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Post by a_unique_person » Fri Sep 10, 2004 10:27 am

Grammatron wrote:
a_unique_person wrote: That is still not a logical response. Some people were wrong with that prediction, therefore all people are.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5945678/

The consenus still appears to be that production has peaked. Saying that it wouldn't have if there was peace in the Mid East, or that Saudi should blow it's treasure chest in one hit to suit the needs of the US, is not going to make it flow any faster.
No there is no consensus on global supply you need to read the articles you post better
The outlook is muddied by the data. Estimating oil reserves — how much is left in the ground — is a notoriously perilous endeavor. The task is complicated by the secrecy of OPEC producers, who are reluctant to dislose just how much oil they’ve found.
Not to mention oil that we know to be in some parts of the ocean but is to expensive to drill for. If the prices go up suddenly it's not expensive but reasonable.
The US is a good example. Oil production in the US has peaked, no argument there. It was predicted it would peak, and it did.

Once you start talking about all the rest of the oil in the world, you are also entering the realm of the political.
It may peak, it all depends on China and India, and if they take off they would need oil. However, it's not really a problem, if it's too expensive than other modes of transportation become very reasonable and I can always ride a bike to work if pressed.

Quoting Deffeyes you are committing the same logical mistake you accused Central Scrutinizer of, just because Hubbert was right once (and I take his word for it I have not done any research on this) does not mean the same data applied to today's world will be right again. Plus let's consider this, his own words "I emphatically do not understand economics..." well perhaps he should before betting on a crisis.
All I was claiming is that it has peaked. The other commentator says that the amount of oil is unknown, which is really a pretty stupid comment to make. We know it is less than the volume of the eart, much less, in fact.

His notion that there are unquantifiable amounts also ignores the ability to make it flow. I think the days of countries just selling it off as quickly as possible are gone. Polititical instability, even if it doesn't fit in with economic models, is still a reality. And, as I pointed out before, production in the US has peaked. For all the 'unknown' amounts out there, it is pretty well known these unknown amounts don't appear to be in the US.

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Post by Grammatron » Fri Sep 10, 2004 5:16 pm

a_unique_person wrote: His notion that there are unquantifiable amounts also ignores the ability to make it flow. I think the days of countries just selling it off as quickly as possible are gone. Polititical instability, even if it doesn't fit in with economic models, is still a reality. And, as I pointed out before, production in the US has peaked. For all the 'unknown' amounts out there, it is pretty well known these unknown amounts don't appear to be in the US.
That's not correct as well, well I should say not entirely correct. We still have oil in the USA that we have yet to tap into be it because of environmental regulations or the expense of operation. To say that USA can't produce more oil is a lie; to say that USA can't produce more oil and make profit or with out breaking its own laws would be correct.

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Post by a_unique_person » Sat Sep 11, 2004 1:38 pm

Grammatron wrote:
a_unique_person wrote: His notion that there are unquantifiable amounts also ignores the ability to make it flow. I think the days of countries just selling it off as quickly as possible are gone. Polititical instability, even if it doesn't fit in with economic models, is still a reality. And, as I pointed out before, production in the US has peaked. For all the 'unknown' amounts out there, it is pretty well known these unknown amounts don't appear to be in the US.
That's not correct as well, well I should say not entirely correct. We still have oil in the USA that we have yet to tap into be it because of environmental regulations or the expense of operation. To say that USA can't produce more oil is a lie; to say that USA can't produce more oil and make profit or with out breaking its own laws would be correct.
As the guy said, I can't fill my tank with reserves. Oil production, from the US, has peaked.

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Post by Mr.Weasel » Sat Sep 11, 2004 2:04 pm

AUP is right in saying that politics is closely tied to this issue. If America could reduce its dependence on foreign oil, then international politics would be a very different game.

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Re: Life after the oil crash

Post by DanishDynamite » Sat Sep 11, 2004 6:22 pm

Nigel wrote:I stumbled across this site, and not quite sure what to make of it.

http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/Introduction.html
On one hand, oil is finite, and given the instability of the current political situation around the world (right - what's new?), it seems fair to say that it's not inconceivable that prices could go up to $70-100 a barrel or more. The other hand says that this is chicken little paranoia woo-woo crap.

Thoughts? Opinions? Observations?
Civilization as we know it is coming to an end soon. This is not the wacky conclusion of a religious cult, but rather the result of diligent analysis sourced by hard data and the scientists who study global “Peak Oil” and related geopolitical events.

So who are these nay-sayers who claim the sky is falling? Conspiracy fanatics? Nostradamus fans? Apocalypse Bible prophecy readers? To the contrary, they are some of the most respected, highest paid geologists, physicists, petroleum engineers, and investment bankers in the world. These are logical, rational, and conservative people and they are absolutely terrified about the situation. This is why it's so scary.

The situation is so dire, even George W. Bush's Energy Adviser, Matthew Simmons, has acknowledged "The situation is desperate. This is the world's biggest serious question." In an August 2003 interview, Mr. Simmons was asked if it was time for Peak Oil to become part of the public policy debate. He responded:

"It is past time. As I have said, the experts and politicians have no Plan B to fall back on. If energy peaks, particularly while 5 of the world’s 6.5 billion people have little or no use of modern energy, it will be a tremendous jolt to our economic well-being and to our heath - greater than anyone could ever imagine."
Interesting site, Nigel. While the site is clearly promoting a book ("The oil age is over") it does have a lot of links to what appears to be reliable sites.

Most, if not all, of the objections in posts above are addressed either in the link itself or in the linked sites.

While I think the author of the site is painting too black a picture in regard to what can be done to avert his scenario, it seems clear that a real problem is around the corner.

For those who are still too lazy to read the link, I can tell you that the problem isn't just that oil reserves are diminishing and that demand is continously rising. The problem is also that so much of our infrastructure is dependent on oil, either as a source of power or as a raw material. Changing the infrastructure which uses oil as a source of energy would by itself be a massive undertaking. Changing the infrastructure which uses oil as a raw material can't be done, or rather, we don't know how at the moment.

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Re: Life after the oil crash

Post by a_unique_person » Sun Sep 12, 2004 3:36 am

DanishDynamite wrote: The problem is also that so much of our infrastructure is dependent on oil, either as a source of power or as a raw material. Changing the infrastructure which uses oil as a source of energy would by itself be a massive undertaking. Changing the infrastructure which uses oil as a raw material can't be done, or rather, we don't know how at the moment.
For me, this is the real issue, too. And why the ostrich heads who make money out of the existing infrastructure want us to believe that oil is not an issue. Convincing everyone that there is not an issue, because they make money out of things staying the way they are now, does not solve the problems the issue raises.

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Post by DanishDynamite » Mon Sep 13, 2004 5:39 pm

Has anyone who considers this a tempest in a teapot actually read the link provided? Perhaps even read a few of the links available on that homepage?

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Post by Grammatron » Mon Sep 13, 2004 5:41 pm

DanishDynamite wrote:Has anyone who considers this a tempest in a teapot actually read the link provided? Perhaps even read a few of the links available on that homepage?
I don't understand the question Danish.

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Post by DanishDynamite » Mon Sep 13, 2004 5:52 pm

Grammatron wrote:
DanishDynamite wrote:Has anyone who considers this a tempest in a teapot actually read the link provided? Perhaps even read a few of the links available on that homepage?
I don't understand the question Danish.
Gosh, am I already becoming unintelligable this early in the evening? :)

I'll try to rephrase: Have any of the posters above who seem to think that the disappearance of oil won't be a real serious problem (serious as in much worse than the oil crisis in the 70's), actually read the website and some of its links?

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Post by Beleth » Mon Sep 13, 2004 6:09 pm

WildCat wrote:There's already a clean, economical alternative nuclear power. The waste can be concentrated and buried in one place, instead of just spewing it into the atmosphere like coal or oil. There's enough fuel to last thousands of years, and electric cars could be truly clean, now it's as likely or not the batteries were charged w/ fossil fuel generated power.
But then you're stuck with that waste for the next 100,000+ years. In the amount of time that has elapsed since the Greeks developed democracy, we'd have maybe 2% less radioactive waste than we started with.

Think about what would have happened if the Greeks had developed some sludge that was as deadly when they developed it as it is today, and then just left it in a cave somewhere.

The truth is, we have no idea of the long-term effects of nuclear waste, and whatever we do today, people for unimaginable generations to come will have to deal with.
Of course, the sky-is-falling "no nuke" crowd may never get over their paranoia about things they don't understand.
Better to scream the sky is falling than to have your head buried in the sand.
Of course, wind and solar power can supplement it.
Well then we don't need nuclear at all! Case closed.

I'm not a big fan of our dependency on oil either. But going nuclear is not the right solution.