I have written three articles on energy scarcity and why despite many proclamations of tight resources, why we may be entering another energy boom in the near future. Instead of posting them here, I'll just link the articles.
The first one researched thorium and the comming revolution in nuclear energy. Thorium is in great abundance, is much safer than uranium, is more powerful, is more weapon resistent, and in the LFTR design, basically eliminates the chance of conventional nuclear meltdown. Better yet, we have so much of it here in the US that we only need to perfect our proposed LFTR design to have centuries of cheap grid energy.
Capitalizing on the Energy Scarcity Myth
The second article talks about oil scarcity. Even though we have less cheap oil, there is a current abundance of heavy oil that is still very profitable to manufacture. So while Hubbard talked about running out of oil by now, we are not quite at that stage yet.
Beyond Thunderdome: The Facts on Oil Scarcity
The last article discusses Natural Gas and the overwhelming abundance we have both in the US and globally. I predict we have enough to cover transportation needs for up to 250 years. Whats better, the US has first mover advantage in this market and is actively building infrastructure both to market naturgal gas overseas and build infrastructure in the US for a natural gas fleet of cars.
The Answer to the Oil Dilemma? Natural Gas
Why do I post all of this here? It's not to spam the forums or to promote myself (all my articles are free). It is to help spread the truth on energy and to combat a lot of the fear mongering that goes on in regards to rapidly depleting resources. We still have plenty, and if we use them wisely, we'll continue to have plenty for the foreseable future.
There is no 2012 Mayan calendar resource crash. It is a myth, in my opinion, that is spread to control people through fear. To force them to give up their freedoms in the name of solutions to problems that don't exist. The approach is to create an imaginary problem, and then propose a solution to it which benefits the few at the expense of the many. Problem, reaction, solution. An old manipulation, and one that is being promoted in energy now.
While yes we know the debt ponzi system is imploding and there is a current depression, the energy abundance we possess may lead us into yet another boom and out of the debt ponzi crash. It may lead to another manufacturing based economy in the US. The question is, how will we use these resources? How will we change our economy to export more goods than we import, to get off of fiat money and into hard currency, to wrestle the stranglehold of banks and corporations on productive activity, and to eliminate the warfare/welfare state choking the US?
There is no reason to be afraid of energy. And there is no reason to be afraid of debt default. It is a natural occurence, one that we must accept, and then we must build a more stable financial base for our economy that will allow us to use our abundant natural resources in the most productive manner possible to give our children and their children a chance at a better life.
Thanks for sharing this. And kudo's on your hard work. It does help give hope for a better future.
Is there any salient debate on these articles out there that we could read? I'd like to see both sides obviously and hear what, if any, valid criticisms exist.
As pointed out in the lectures, we need oil not just for energy but also for petrochemicals. Thus, the problem isn't just energy scarcity but material scarcity, especially given petrochemicals.
Heavy oil has lower energy returns, and we will likely need more than what is available. A more serious problem is the extraction rate, not reserves.
The same goes for natural gas. That is why the IEA forecasts around a 9 pct increase in production for the next two decades from all oil and gas sources worldwide put online. Unfortunately, in order to maintain economic growth (or even increase the rate given a growing global middle class in BRIC and emerging markets), demand has to go up around 2 pct a year.
Similar problems can be seen in particular areas. For example, the most optimistic scenario for North America is a 6-mb/d addition to oil and gas for the next two decades. That's a very good number, except that global demand has to go up around 2 mb/d to maintain growth. And given a global capitalist system, this will be important. In general, the IEA states that we will need the equivalent of one Saudi Arabia every seven years to accomplish such.
With that, all sources of energy will have to be put online just to meet necessities. Whether or not they will be able to meet demand needed for growth in the long term will be another matter.
And when conventional oil production starts dropping, then we face two problems: declining conventional production pulling down total energy output coupled with rising energy demand.
And then bring in the effects of environmental damage and global warming on crop damage, mining and manufacturing disruption, etc., not to mention the lag time needed to switch from an oil-based global economy to one that uses much less of it.
Plenty of people have been suggesting we fall off an energy cliff. That argument, however, typically fails to talk about anything but oil as an energy source. While oil is important, it is obviously not the only option. Chris's fantastic video course falls into this category .. it focuses on oil and doesn't examine, in the same depth, other sources of energy. That's a one sided debate, in my opinion, that needs counter balance of articles such as I have posted.
As is suggested by the other poster here, petrochemcials are important part of our economy. So if oil stopped flowing tomorrow, that would be yet another transition we would have to make. More short term pain.
But at the end of the day, these are short term issues and not long term ones. We can always develop substitutes for chemicals and I have full faith the market will do so. It always has in some form or another. We may have to make some sacrifices in quality of life in certain areas, but these will be offset by gains in other areas of vast abundance.
My advice is to do your own research. If you limit yourself to another's ideology, including any ideas I have posted, you are limiting your own potential. Those who excel tend to take bits and pieces from many philosophies. It's also natural to, upon discovering your own truth, to take our own path. Beware those who may wish to steer you down their path without regard for your freedom to make your own choices.
The extraction rate for natural gas is so fast that the price dropped precipitously when the Barnett Shale came online. Natural gas is currently in the same abundance now that oil was in the beginning, and companies in Texas are burning excess capacity off instead of transporting it to market because prices are so darn cheap.
I do not think that we can set back and be relaxed by having those numbers in mind. For example: concerning the supply of natural gas. I went to one of your sources:
There it is stated that the CIA says that there is a storage of 6 quadrillion cubic feet world wide! Wow, sounds like much. But if you look further at the end of that page there is a plot showing that the worldwide consumption at the moment is at 3000 billion cubic meters per year already.
This results in a 54 years of supply. Not too much, so I am still be concerned as everbody else younger than Fifty should be.
We are using natural gas primarily as a grid fuel, which while it works, is the worst possible allocation for the fuel. IT is the most valuable transportation fuel we have for our future. The numbers I quote were very clear: they were for natural gas as a transportation energy. Obviously if we use it for everything, it will not last long.
However, if you read the other articles (which it is obvious you did not), then you would realize there are even better options for grid fuel than natural gas. These options will push natural gas to the sidelines, and allow it to serve as our substitution energy.
I appreciate your comment, however, please read the whole series and realize it was not just about natural gas.
As a final note, I understand being concerned about the future. But we have enough information to show the problems we think are looming on the horizon aren't quite so dire. All we have to do is make smart decisions about our energy use, and we will be fine. We hold the key to our own futures in our hands.
sorry for the double post
Fast? The extraction rate is either higher or low, not fast or slow.
According to the Citigroup report, at best all additional oil and gas resources in North America will add 6 mb/d to production for two decades. Global demand has to go up 2 mb/d a year to maintain economic growth.
You just compared US resources to world demand. Why not world resources to world, demand, as I have done?
The facts do not argue for immediate term resource shortages. Sorry, but it is a myth.
No, I compared world resources to demand. Read my first post.
Sorry, it's not a myth. The fact that you refer to using other sources of energy proves energy scarcity. The problem is EROEI, availability of petrochemicals, etc.
According to the IEA, we will need the equivalent of one Saudi Arabia every seven years to maintain economic growth, and it has to be oil because global manufacturing and even mechanized agriculture are heavily geared towards the use of oil.
We can retool the whole process to use less oil, but it will take decades. See the article "It will Take 131 Years to Replace Oil" from Business Insider, for example.
Handsome is as Handsome does. (Dont watch the other persons lips. Watch his hands.)
If oil is easily available why do we look in the deep ocean? Why do we wait with bated breath for the ice to melt in the high Arctic so we can fight bloody wars for the right to explore this last untapped potential?
At the risk of creating a straw man, there is a lot of oil bubbling up in my driveway; right under where I park the car. Being of a lazy nature and a fool to boot, I will let you have the lot for a mere $1 million.
"fact that you refer to using other sources of energy proves energy scarcity."
No, actually it implies choices and that we have more alternatives than we presently believe. Having more choices does not prove energy scarcity, but rather the opposite.
Energy scarcity is a myth. We have alternatives that are in place right now and we have enough of the existing energy regime to hold us until we convert. It will not be without pain, but it will not prove to be the end of life as we know it either.
The next five years should be the toughest, but if we make good decisions, energy issues will get better then they are now.
It will not take us decades to retool from oil, nor are we are not at the point of being out of oil. It is not an either or situation. We don't run out of one form of energy spontaneously, and have a 100 year trek to build infrastructure on the other one and have to live off of candles and wood burning stoves in between.
The facts are that we have many companies ALREADY building nat gas transportation infrastructure in the US and across the world, and they are quite successful doing it. In fact the third world nations are way ahead of us in recognizing nat gas as a proven alternative. Be careful not to cast our failures in the US here across all peoples.
We can make up for oil shortages with natural gas, and transfer nat gas demand on the grid to thorium. Coal and wind power are grid backups and contributors, with some cons that we would like to avoid by using less of them (coal moreso than wind).
You obviously did not bother to read the articles that explain it in both detail and length. Your argument lacks a consistent logical thought process.
Still a myth...
As far as agriculture, I could argue quite easily that getting off of mechanized ag with GMO seeds would be the best thing for food quality we could do. If everyone had their own victory gardens, and we employed more people on farms, we would have a higher quality end product. More expensive, but healthier and in the long run probably cheaper than the medical bills that are building especially in the industrialized world with mechanized food. You see, it is easy to argue one way without considering the other and how it affects the end result.
Frankly I am disappointed. I expected the posters at CM to challenge me more substantially than they have.
Where is the hard data behind the energy fearmongering? Even Chris recognizes thorium as a legitimate energy alternative.
Prove me wrong!
If you read my article on oil, I clearly point out that oil is getting much harder to obtain. The only way you didn't know that is because you didn't bother to read the article. I also point out the folly (twice) of engaging in oil wars in the Middle East when that money we have spent could have nearly built the entire natural gas infrastructure needed around the entire world.
Searching for a quick fix to oil involving more fossil fuels and nuclear energy strikes me as a bit similar to Ben Bernanke's reaction of always throwing more money at every financial problem. What's the end result? If you follow this line of thinking through to a conclusion you know we will end up right back to where we are now but with even greater challenges. So why not face reality now and stop borrowing against our future to pay for today? I know clean renewable energy isn't currently an equal replacement to oil but it has something else that puts it light years ahead of oil, its clean and renewable! This isn't just about making sure we have fancy cars to drive to the mall for the rest of our lives, or picking the next great energy stock, its about having clean air and water too. I'm not saying fossil fuels aren't needed to play a role in the transition but that should be the only role. They are old dinosaurs that need to be replaced, literally.
"We can't solve problems by using the same line of thinking we used when we created them." Albert Einstein.
I'm not sure where I stand on the overall energy debate, although I lean toward peak oil and some abundance in gas. However, what I do know is that we are a decade(s) from shifting largely away from natgas. Even with new thorium reactors designed, sighted and constructed tomorrow (10 yrs early), even with wind gen increasing 50% overnight, you still couldn't offset gas because of the way we use electricity. We cannot currenlty store electricity on a large scale, so have to make it on demand. So when we all turn on our lights at 5:30, there is a ramp in demand and supply has to come on at essentially the same rate. Gas ramps up VERY well. Coal ramps, but not as well as gas. Nuclear generators hate to ramp, because it causes wear and tear, is less efficient and increases malfunction risk (big scary). Wind generates when the wind blows - its the opposite of "dispatchable" - and actually requires a smaller amount of gas gen to be spinning, but not generating, to offset its instability. All this may change in the future, but its important not to underestimate the complexity of our embedded technology base. Changes can certainly occur, but they will occur slowly. apologies for the long, perhaps overly-detailed post.
I want to second SolarSean's comment: regardless of whether alternatives exist or not to the energy predicament of our time, if we don't change our core philosophy of limitless growth, we're going to run into trouble. We'll just end up at peak thorium, peak heavy oil and peak nat gas at some point down the road all in the name of maintaining an unsustainable system. We must keep in mind all the costs of progress, including the damage done to the environment, which robs future generations of useful capital.
I highly suggest, redrob, that you listen to Chris' podcast with John Michael Greer. Greer provides a very balanced, and historically proven, view of the predicaments we face. The core message is that we need to accept that there are limits we cannot ignore, no matter how much we'd like to. It really is a paradigm shift in humanity's worldview that we can't grow indefinitely. Since that's unlikely to happen without first bearing the painful repercussions of our wasteful actions, it's wise to assume that we, collectively, will take the least effective path in that transition.
Today, we've got Fatih Birol of the IEA saying the US will surpass Saudi Arabia in oil equivalent production by 2020:
Three years ago in summer 2009:
"In a stark warning to Britain and the other Western powers, Dr Birol said that the market power of the very few oil-producing countries that hold substantial reserves of oil – mostly in the Middle East – would increase rapidly as the oil crisis begins to grip after 2010...The market power of the very few oil-producing countries, mainly in the Middle East, will increase very quickly..."
In 1954, the head of the Atomic Energy Commission predicted that before too long, electricity would be too cheap to meter due to nuclear fusion generators...still waiting on that one:
Anyway, I just figure I'm going to have to keep an open but critical mind and try to evaluate and integrate all the new info as it comes in. At this point, it still seems that the financial burden (in an already debt bubble burdened world) created by the historically higher percent of GDP cost of extracting nat gas and of converting traditional liquid fuel/transportation infrastructure to deal with the new energy mix, whether that be nat gas or electricity, may in the end be the key gating factor and difficulty, as Chris and others have pointed out, regardless of nat gas abundance. Guess we'll have to see how things develop.
This article does a little review of how wildly wrong so many expert predictions are over time:
Still, we try to make our best appraisals based on possibilities and probabilities rather than certainties - I just need to remind myself sometimes that no matter how confidently someone makes a case, we don't really know for sure.
This site is quite inetersting to me, as I have been pondering about the limits of growth for some time.
Here is an interesting fact: Assuming that exponential growth of energy use will continue on the same trajectory as it has in past, then based on a total world power consumption of 26 TW as of today, we will use the the entire energy of the sunlight hitting the earth in about 350-400 years. That would mean, were we able to capture all this sunlight, that the earth would be black when looking at it from space. Furthermore, it would be interesting to estimate the temperature of the earth should this happen. This is hard to calculate, but estimates put it at around 100 degree centigrade.
I think this quite impressively demonstrates the limits of exponential growth.
Obviously something will have to give or change well before then.
For some context, consider that Cleopatra was born closer to the launching of the space shuttle than the building of the great pyramids of Cheops.
What I mean is, 350-400 years may seem like a long ways a way to people alive today but in the sweep of geological and evolutionary and even recent cultural time, it is nothing.
Further, we will not even get close to the 100 degree black body you describe before some other forcing function takes place (er, no food or oxygen anyone?) so recent history will prove to be a rather poor guide as to what the future trajectory may resemble.
The problem is that our entire monetary and economic system(s) is(are) geared for exactly the sort of exponential growth you describe. If that cannot occur, then what?
That is the precise core of what this site is about. Figuring out how to identify the false trend, bet against it, while fashioning a high-quality life for ourselves and those around us nonetheless.
Why are we celebrating the possibility of continuing to burn oil, natural gas, and coal? Over the long term, even over the medium term, our consumption of these products can only hurt us. We DO need to regard our energy sources with caution -- by how many more degrees would we like to heat up the planet? For an alternative to these overly cheerful comments, I suggest reading Bill McKibben's article in a recent issue of Rolling Stone. In it, he explains why we can't afford to burn even the oil that's easy to get, why we need to leave these dubious assets in the ground. Its title: Global Warming's Terrifying New Math.
cmartenson: "Further, we will not even get close to the 100 degree black body you describe before some other forcing function takes place (er, no food or oxygen anyone?) so recent history will prove to be a rather poor guide as to what the future trajectory may resemble."
I agree with that 100%, other physical limitations will become apparent long before we reach that limit. The global warming problem may solve itself, due to the limitations of oil reserves and other fossile fuels. However, the direct link between economic growth and growth in energy use will be hard to beat, even if we were to make nuclear fusion happen.
So the question is: How can a sustainable econmic system work without growth? Any answers to that?
"So the question is: How can a sustainable economic system work without growth? Any answers to that?"
There are a bunch of people who have been thinking about and trying to answer that question for many years, cg1. It's surprising there aren't a lot more given the obvious insanity of the notion that you can infinitely grow population, economy and consumption eternally in a resource limited world. A ecological economist named Herman Daly, associated with the group in the link below, edited a book about it in 1973 called "Toward a Steady State Economy." Of course, there is an aspect of capitalism creates our current, unsustainable ponzi scheme and helps maintain our intentional blindness to its unsustainability, so the powers that be, including the Ronald Raygun administration zapped the feeble nacent impulses of the Carter administration and others to recognize limits to energy consumption - or any limits after the '70's energy crisis. We haven't heard much about steady state economics in the ~40 years since from Democrats, Republicans, or anyone here in the US, have we? The Europeans took the energy crisis a bit more to heart and revamped their energy efficiency and public transportation across western Europe - though they still seem far from a sustainable, steady-state social welfare/demographic economy as the continent implodes financially due to low to negative growth.
Here's the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy website page on envisioning what that would be like:
It answers some questions and not others, but at least gives a starting point for visualizing and thinking about the idea.
new article-- Natural Gas Liquids: No More Running on Empty
This article is an examination of how NGLs affect our supply of petrochemicals and their products. Enjoy!
If you can prove that burning fossil fuels leads to global warming, then I'll join the conversation. Most of the science supporting that theory (if you can call it reputable science) has been debunked in numerous ways. For example, it was proven that the US and UK researchers blatantly lied about global warming data, by their own admission, in one of the biggest studies conducted on the issue. This data actually showed we were in one of many cycles of global cooling, which fluctuate with warming periods mostly affected by solar activity.
Also, if you can prove C02 is a greenhouse gas, then I would like to see that evidence. Considering C02 is one of the main 4 gases in our atmosphere, and we know human fossil fuel consumption affects very little, percentage wise, of C02 gas in our atmosphere, I think you'll have time finding reputable science there. Most of that has been debunked as well.
Now, if you are talking local affects of mining and burning fossil fuels on the environment, and how we can regulate and clean that up, then you are on to something and we can have a good discussion there!
Notice how the media doesn't call it global warming anymore, but instead it is now 'climate change' suggesting any variation in the climate must be caused by human behavior.
George Carlin was correct in his late comedy routine when he noted that if the world is tired of us, it will simply rid itself of the human race and be just fine for another several billion years. Plastic bags or no plastic bags...
"So the question is: How can a sustainable econmic system work without growth? Any answers to that?"
I don't think we have the growth limitations in energy some people are advocating, so there is no point in answering your question to seriously.
However, should energy scarcity become an actual fact at some point in the future (which I am sure it will someday), I would venture to say human population would have to decrease, or the style of living of each human would have to decrease. I suspect, depending on the circumstances, both may occur.
Luckily, I am not worried about energy limits in the next couple of generations. I am more worried currently about big government, statist policy, war, and the lack of individual freedom. Those are actual problems in the here and now.
If you can prove that burning fossil fuels leads to global warming, then I'll join the conversation. Most of the science supporting that theory (if you can call it reputable science) has been debunked in numerous ways. For one example, it was proven that the US and UK researchers blatantly lied about global warming data, by their own admission. This data actually showed we were in one of many cycles of global cooling, which fluctuate with warming periods mostly affected by solar activity.
Also, if you can prove C02 is a greenhouse gas with a peer-reviewed and supported scientific study, then I would like to see it also. Considering C02 is one of the main 4 gases in our atmosphere, and we know human fossil fuel consumption affects very little, percentage wise, of C02 gas in our atmosphere, I think you'll have time finding reputable science there. Most of that has been debunked as well.
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