To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence. - Sun Tzu

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Peak Oil and the End of the World

Basically, we're doomed. Global oil production is peaking, and the coming increase in energy cost will force a ~80% shrink in civilization as we know it.

More here.

The main misunderstanding that "the market will save us" crowd has is that they expect someone to invent something which will replace oil. At present, there is not enough impetus to seriously research alternatives. Gas might be $100/barrel before there is, and $150 per by the time it's viable. But by then, how will we manufacture and distribute the solution? It takes energy to move energy, and things are not as simple as supply-and-demand when the literal fuel of the economy is what needs to be replaced!

Think of it this way: The cost of researching most new technologies is linear (all other things being equal), because it doesn't take, for example, TV's in order to research better TV's. Given a pile of TV parts and no TV's, TV's could be made. But oil doesn't work that way, because oil is an energy source and it takes energy to make everything else. It takes energy to make TV's, and it takes energy to research replacements for energy sources.

Oil is not just a commodity; it's energy. Since it takes energy to do anything, this makes theoretical ROEI (Return On Energy Investment) very important. Non-standard oil sources, such as the Canadian Oil Sands, have a surprisingly low ROEI. What this basically means is that, if conventional oil disappears tomorrow (and that day will come at some point- maybe tomorrow, maybe 100 years from now), there is currently no replacement.

In summation, there will not be impetus to find a replacement until a replacement becomes theoretically more profitable than oil, but by that point it will be too expensive to research a replacement! Hail Eris!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

A Whistleblower Without a Face is Worthless

from this story by MSNBC which explained how the EPA blatantly ignored a study by Harvard which directly contradicted its politically motivated denial that tighter Mercury regulations would be beneficial.

But the EPA staff member involved with developing the rule said the reference deleted from rule-making documents would have told the public about the Harvard results. "The idea was to say Harvard School of Public Health had quantified these [cardiac] benefits and the amount of these benefits was -- " a blank that was to be filled in with a figure in the billions once the final report became available, said the staff member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

On the slim chance this gets back to you, Nameless EPA Staff Member: Say who you are next time. Show some confidence. If the corruption continues, resign and take your message to the media. Start a movement. Open eyes. Get things done.

As an honest employee of the EPA, logically you must honestly care about the environment. Therefore, shine the light on the cockroaches, even if it's your end. We're all soldiers, but you're on the front lines.