Fossil Fuel shortage

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wroth5's picture
wroth5
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Fossil Fuel shortage

It's all guesswork and make believe.

wroth5's picture
wroth5
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A. M.'s picture
A. M.
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Great post!

This is a really compelling argument Wroth5!

Worldkingnews.com's blog is highly credible and I really like the layout.
The kindergarten letters and multiple colors help me jump from word to word without really reading anything. It's really super. I also like that it's an opinion piece using quotes from super-wealthy people ~ voices we know we can trust ~ to gloss over a topic with absolutely no sources showing datum on the state of the U.S. economy in factual terms, which would give a more precise measure of what this extra $900 per family would really mean. I mean, that's a tremendous amount of money, but what does it mean to the economy other than the proposed $150 billion dollars being generated for our economy? 

I don't think it's all that important how that money is spent, or how they got their numbers. The important thing is optimism! My favorite part was this:

Wilbur Ross believes this is going to revolutionize the entire world’s energy needs because the US will be exporting natural gas to Europe, China, and other parts of Asia to assist with their energy needs.

I said to Wilbur, “I’m hearing from you the world is not going to have an energy problem going forward because we are going to be exporting (natural gas) to Europe, we’re going to be fine here (in the US), and the Chinese have their own shale gas, and until they get that going, we are going to help them out there (by shipping natural gas to China).”  Wilbur Ross responded, “Yes, that’s true, as long as the federal government doesn’t get in the way with excessive regulation.”

Really? That's neat. For how long? 
This is not even 2 dimensional thinking, and it's also indicative of the American mentality of "Let's consume something until things are alright". While this might be absolutely insane, I think of it as mentally divergent in light of statements like this:

The IEA (International Energy Agency) estimates that if natural gas becomes the main energy source, it could save the average family as much as $900 a year of post-tax income.  That’s a huge, huge amount for the average family.  That equates to around $150 billion a year more spending power that the average family would have.  So we are excited about this phenomenon, both from the point of view of exploration and production, and from the point of view of marine transport.

While no one at all is talking about how much it would cost to re-invent the American Economy to run on Natural Gas, I'm going to make a bold statement that I sadly, cannot substantiate. The good news is, it's well within the spirit of the article. 

It will cost a lot more than $150 Billion Dollars to convert our economy to a Natural Gas economy. What happens to all the debt held by automotive dealerships who have fleets of petrol-powered autos on their lots? What happens to fuel stations? What happens when legions of government owned vehicles need to be converted? How about public transportation? Most importantly: How about air travel? How much do you think it'll cost?

The article sourced at the bottom states that we have enough Natural Gas for a century at present rates of consumption. If this doesn't make you spit out your coffee, you're not thinking critically. 

Present rates of consumption are not exactly high. If we replaced gas with natural gas, how long do you think it'd last at that rate of consumption?

So, this is now compounding: We have an expensive, time consuming shift in energy resources being touted as a "solution" that will use a less efficient energy source that will last for - at absolute best case scenario - less than 100 years.

Another small, but criticcal bit of divergent thinking: How in the hell will we be exporting Natural Gas to China (~1.6BN people at present) and Europe (~740MN) and still  call it "present rates of consumption? With the U.S. Figured into this with ~350MN people, we're looking at close to 3 billion people demanding natural gas. According to the EIA, we have ~71 Million Natural gas customers. So, present rates of consumption (which is 1/42nd the projected amount, by my admittedly sloppy math) we have 100 years of Natural Gas. Increase that 42 fold. How many years do we have?

This article is babytown frolic, and misses the entire point, over, and over and over again.

Sorry for the tone of this reply, but here's the point - you want guesswork and make believe?
Keep relying on information like that and you've got it.

Cheers,

Aaron

http://e360.yale.edu/feature/natural_gas_role_in_us_energy_endgame/2561/

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RNcarl
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Huh...

And here I thought wroth5's post was a tongue-in-cheek attempt at humor...

then Aaron came along and spoiled the joke...

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A. M.
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Oh

I don't really get sarcasm, and it's especially lost on the internet. I'm going back to being quiet now.

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fionnbharr
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Aaron, You weren't wrong with

Aaron,

You weren't wrong with your estimate of Wroth5. From reading his history he's been hitting the site for over four and a half years with opposition to peak oil.

He made one such post directly under an article by Chris Martenson in November 2010 called Chris on Financial Sense: Preparing for Peak Oil, and brought up a link to Steven M. Gorelick's book - Oil Panic and the Global Crisis: Predictions and Myths.

Chris swiftly debunked Gorelick, and of course Wroth5:

Chris Wrote:

The arguments of Gorelick, I hope, have been badly taken out of context or misrepresented.  Otherwise he is clearly not talking about a subject with which he has much familiarity.

To begin, his statement in response to the question "Are we running out of oil?" (itself a horribly naive question that should have been corrected by him on the spot....peak oil is not about 'running out' it is about maximum flow rates) he responds:

"Regarding whether or not we are running out of oil, estimates of the world's oil reserves have continually increased over the past 50 years, and global reserves are at an all-time high. From that perspective alone, the world is not running out of oil."

Oops.  That's a big whiff right there.  

Reserves and flow rates are entirely different concepts.  For instance the putative reserves in the North Dakota Bakken formation are very high, but the flow rates from that thin band of highly compressed rock will never be very high.  To confuse reserves with flow rates already has my alarm bells ringing.

There are many other pretty significant errors in the rest of the article, but I'll pause here to point out another biggie:

As far as the timing goes, transitions in technology happen relatively quickly. At the turn of the last century, every major city in the U.S. depended tremendously on horses for transportation. The automobile rapidly replaced them in a matter of about two decades. So when a physical or technological substitute is found, it will rapidly take over. One rarely goes back to an older, less efficient product or technology.

Moving from horses to oil-based transportation is not the same thing as moving from oil to electricity-based transportation.   The first is an example of a technology transition (where the energy source is abundant and the capital investment in horses is very low) and the second would be an example of both an energy and a technology transition.

As Vaclav Smil has amply demonstrated again and again, energy transitions take decades and decades, typically 40 or more years and that's when there's been a new, exploitable energy source to move towards.  His claim that moving from oil to electricity is just an example of a technology transition (and not also an energy transition) displays a profound ignorance.  

I sincerely hope that quote from him above is somehow in error, because otherwise this guy's ideas are not just poorly researched, they're actually harming the conversation by removing some illumination from the room.

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RNcarl
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Sorry Aaron

Aaron Moyer wrote:

I don't really get sarcasm, and it's especially lost on the internet. I'm going back to being quiet now.

Twas my comment that was the sarcasm...  You were spot on!

A. M.'s picture
A. M.
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No prob!

Carl,

After I read you comment I thought to myself:
"Oh man... he's right - there's NO WAY this guy posted this article as a serious challenge to the concept of resource depletion. It had to be a joke."

Then, I proceeded to feel like a total dork for taking it seriously.
I haven't had much time to post lately, and whenever I do, it seems I miss something, so thanks for the heads up to you and Fionnbharr =D

This is the kind of topic I'm interested in, and especially the "cost" of switching to natural gas, and what that would mean for an economy already teetering. 

Cheers,

Aaron

Mark Cochrane's picture
Mark Cochrane
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Posts: 492
Counting the costs

Aaron,

I thought that you raised the very important point of the costs involved in taking advantage of any potential energy bonanza that can't be carried by our existing infrastructure. Too many people view 'energy' as a completely liquid currency that can be applied wholesale to our economy. Even if we suddenly found a viable source of cold fusion (the next best thing to free energy) there would be tremendous costs involved in adapting to its existence. There is a reason why previous energy transitions took decades to become established. Now that we have 'more' of everything, it is hard to see how this will be any less difficult.

Thanks too for pointing out how the math needs to work. Although math seems to have fallen out of favor in the modern era of media-enhanced snake oil salesmen, I think that both sides of any calculations ultimately need to balance.

Mark

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wroth5
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Very well said, but really

Very well said, but really there is a larger point here-the future is not predictable!! Nobody, and I mean nobody has a time machine to look into the future. Economic systems are too complex and poorly understood to be predicted. Sorry, that's reality!

wroth5's picture
wroth5
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Also very well said, but

Also very well said, but again, nobody has a crystal ball!! Sorry, that's reality!

A. M.'s picture
A. M.
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Joined: Oct 22 2008
Posts: 2318
Wroth, No, I agree - there is

Wroth,

No, I agree - there is always a possibility that something will come up and solve our problems. It happened before with oil. It's not impossible for it to happen again. It's just tremendously unlikely.

My trade for most of the last decade has been meteorology. I'm not very good at it, but I can tell you a couple things:
1. No one is, or would be without the help of technology
2. When we suspect something good, it's better to under-promise and over-deliver.
3. When we suspect something bad, it's beter to over-estimate and under-deliver

What I mean by this is that if I think a storm is going to come in with winds at 20 knots and 3 days of rain, I ratchet up the outlook to make it worse within reasonability. When I think it's going to be nice out, I give forecasts that reflect "decent" weather conditions. 

My reasoning? People. do. not. plan. for. the. worst.

Good God, if they did we wouldn't be looking at such a serious dilemma. While forecasting the future of geopolitics is not the same as meteorology, they're both tremendously stochastic, and probabilities can be narrowed down using some very coarse tools; Principles, continuity, regime influence, local effects.

...While I know there is no mathematical correlation, I do believe that these same principles apply.

Through human history, we have only had one instance where technology rescued us from the uglier portions of "descent with modification"; and arguably, that technology brought us to the verge of full tilt nuclear holocaust, on the tail end of a holocaust.

For this reason, I put humans squarely in the "predictably violent" category with regards to principles.
As for continuity, unless some massive change occurs, we can follow present course and heading to fiscal catastrophe and subsequent depression. I believe our local effects (nationally) favor balkanization, if not civil war. From there, it's anyone's guess.

But, if someone were to ask me to forecast where fossil fuel shortages will take us, I'd reply with:
Where we're already heading, but faster.

Cheers,

Aaron

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