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Peak oil

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Feb. 9th, 2004 | 11:32 pm
mood: isolated

I'm rather convinced of the upcoming problem of peak oil.

But the event will occur, and my analysis is leaning me more by the month, the worry that peaking is at hand; not years away. If it turns out I'm wrong, then I'm wrong. But if I'm right, the unforeseen consequences are devastating. (Quoting Matthew Simmons)

The three basic results that I see are: another disruption like the great depression which energizes humanity to make the necessary infrastructure changes to switch to a sustainable energy source; a collapse of our current complex societies through war, famine, and disease; or the extinction of humanity through resource wars using nuclear and biological weapons. I do think that extinction the most unlikely scenario.

I am annoyed because I think the Mormons with their close knit society and encouragement to have one years food on hand have a competitive advantage over most everyone else. It really bugs me that it seems likely that the survivors will be telling their children about how the golden age was ended by homosexual marriage (or feminism, or atheism, or any of the other ideas I find near and dear).

(Today's first step to doing something useful about this was to buy a 3 gallon container to store water in, which is useful in all sorts of disaster scenarios, including boring ones like earthquakes.).

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from: irilyth
date: Feb. 10th, 2004 09:32 am (UTC)

I haven't read all these articles, but why does this have to end in sudden tragedy?

It seems to me that one of the big factors against alternative energy source development now is that oil is so plentiful and cheap. As it becomes less plentiful and cheap, alternatives will become more competitive. This only seems like a problem if oil suddenly and drastically goes from "really cheap" to "insanely expensive". Why is the shift supposed to be sudden rather than gradual?

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Diane Trout


from: alienghic
date: Feb. 10th, 2004 03:21 pm (UTC)

Oil is such a critical resource to our society that it seems difficult to replace it with alternatives. For instance none of the alternatives are all that useful for transportation, nor can any alternative energy source produce fertilizer like we currently use fossil fuels for.

Simmons was thinking that natural gas will have a sudden drop as of Jul 16, 2002 in The growing natural gas supply imbalance.

The basic idea for natural gas depletion is that as prices climb they increase drilling which should increase supply. However even with the "exponential growth in drilling" supply has remained flat. What's happening is that the increase in drilling is offsetting the depletion of all the various gas wells. However since the total extractable amount of resource is fixed, eventually the production curve must decline. The end result of the current increase in production will show up as a faster decline in the future.

He's predicting that this is likely to happen soon for natural gas in the lower-48.

For oil production since it becomes increasingly expensive to extract the supply is likely to decline more smoothly than with natural gas, but increases in prices could fuel an increase in extraction, which will then show up as a more sudden depletion.

From a societal standpoint the worst case scenarios involve extracting all of the resource without ever investing in alternatives. When the depletion finally strikes, you don't actually have any energy sources available to build renewable energy power plants.

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