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!

1 Comments:

Blogger Wraith said...

Do what thou will, and that shall be the whole of it. Hail Eris, my Goddess, and pass me some of that Gold that Hagbard sells for Flax, for I come to enlighten you.
The main misunderstanding that
"the market will save us" crowd has ever made is that they think that the market will save us. The energy market has been making energy more and more expensive, and inefficient.
The market has been keeping alternative fuels from replacing oil for some time now. In fact the diesal engine, was designed to run on peanut oil. Developers bought the design, reworked it to use "Diesal Fuel" and boom. The creator of the first modern engine, that runs on a renewable resource, ends up with his name on the motor that is responsible for the most pollution, and the best Gas-Mileage. The point is that replacement sources of energy are availible, the Market is only waiting for the profit-potential of these outside sources of energy to equal that of oil, which it won't. Why?, Because You can't corner the market with a renewable resource. My advice to you: Sit back and watch the water circle in the great toilet bowl of life, as the last of civilization as we know it goes. Anyway, time to get on with my day... I know that you don't apreciate the merits of vulgar humour but my site really isn't that popular, and I think it's cute that we have the same name and similar influences in writing afluence. Although I do lean more toward the vulgarities of Mr. Thompson, and the Absurdities of Mr. Adams, Good Ol' Mr. Wilson and his three little ones are still a personal favourite of mine.

9:50 AM, April 04, 2005

 

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