New person with questions
My first step was to watch the crash course (the 1hr summary of it).
Thank you. I recommend watching the entire comprehensive series of videos, as your questions may be better addressed with the more specific material therein.
As you can see, global energy slaves are primarily hydrocarbon entities. Transitioning global industrial civilization to non-terrestrial energy slaves, let alone so called renewable energy slaves will require a Herculean effort, one which will not be acquiesced “en masse” that easily. Do you believe that the entire planet will voluntarily transition to a sane and sustainable way of living? Key word being voluntary. This is the psychological cost of fate.
Cargoism is the concept that technology can and will solve any problem that faces humankind. It is the extension of the science-as-faith philosophy known as Scientism. Anthropologist Joseph Tainter (Collapse of Complex Societies) has posited that science and technology always reach a point of diminishing returns. Less discoveries are made, less technological breakthroughs designed, etc. It is a flawed assumption to believe that humankind has a never-ending supply of Promethean exploits to plunder. We are physiological beings that have physiological limits.
Our biggest hurdle is to discover humility and revel in wonder.
Welcome to the conversation.
Regarding probelm in the Bay, it would take very little effort to put in much better public transport. People do not want to share transport but once the cost reaches a certain point they will. For sure you might need to commute for 15 minutes on a bike to get to a hub but that would actaully do some good for the health of the population. Some people can’t use a bike, or an electric bike, they will move.
House prices will come down. If people walk away I think that basically means the declare bankruptcy right? There are a lot of costs to doing that and if the jobs are there and not elsewhere and the rent closer to the city is too high, then public tansport and shared transport will work. If we turned the highways into public transport and left 1 lane for private transport, the commute time would be halved and the usage of energy probably more than halved…
“Likewise, all the cars out there. Can we just rebuild them all smaller overnight?” I see you playing the “it all happens overnight” card again. This will not happen overnight, if you can’t afford to run your car by yourself, then share the trip cost, that divides by 2, if the car if big then you can divide by 2 again later (4 people in the car).
I agree that we should not wait for the problem to become obvious to make adjustments. This community seems to be acting. It should also be obvious that the adjustments need to be made based on the facts i.e. not on the immanent collapse of society because in less than 20 years there will be no oil (which is not the case.)
“Debt is funded (at the macro level) by surplus energy.” I’m unsure of that. Debt in the consumer market is tied into future labor. The growth potential of humanity is literally unlimited if we are basing it on available energy. We are just at the beginning of being able to extract energy from matter, nowhere near the end. We do not even have fusion reactors yet.
Consider the resiliance of the economic system, you just have to look at what happened in the pandemic. It was so badly managed and it was such a devestating shut-down of the economy. I could not believe how well the system kept running. There were virtually no food shortages, no runs on the banks, it is amazing how robust it was. I would never have believed it would hold up even under failed government. In the crash course we are told how fragile the sysmte is right? Things should have fallen appart already if that is the case, instead dosile populations have just accepeted their lot and got on with less.
Based on https://ourworldindata.org/how-long-before-we-run-out-of-fossil-fuels “whilst depleting reserves could become a pressing issue 50-100 years from now, there is another important limit to fossil fuel production: climate change.” this seems a more realisitc scenario than “running out” of fossil fuels any time soon. I will guess that, in our lifetime, it is the social dynamics that will decide a good or bad future not the arrival of peak oil.
Keep in mind that peak oil would actually drive a massive increase in GDP and investment/growth. If you have a technology for improving energy efficiency then it is suddenly worth a lot more money. There are paradoxs like this that need to be taken into account.
Regarding the social dynamics, it is interesting to note just how much money people are willing to throw away on vehicles and fuel so they can avoid sharing trnasport. This is perhaps a far bigger problem than peak oil.
Much of what you say I agree with – and it is covered in the Hirsch Report.
One issue: we have a lot of coal, but not so much oil left. Transport = oil. Coal? We haven’t had coal-fired transport for a century. Its probably not right to lump all fossil fuels together. They aren’t fungible. Otherwise – we’d still have coal-powered ships, since coal is just that cheap. And we have an awful lot left. Centuries, probably.
Short answer: transport = crude.
Another issue: the crude oil market is completely inelastic. That is, even a modest glut = super cheap oil. A modest shortage = super expensive oil. Once the current structure moves into shortage: oil gets super expensive. And it stays there. That’s the signal you are talking about: “quick, everyone, do a lot of adjusting. Now!”
The Hirsch Report details how much time it takes to make these adjustments – which you detail quite nicely, and I agree with also. Adjustments will be made. The question: how long will they take to make? And what happens – economically overall – while they are being made?
Mr Hirsch answers these questions. Perhaps you can read the report and you might find it to be illuminating?
Oh one last thing. Pandemic wasn’t about shortages. It was about surpluses. There was a glut of crude oil – and not even a massive glut. There was just no place to store it all. As a result, oil prices at Cushing actually went negative. The opposite will happen if/when a shortage erupts. Oil is a must-have for many, many things to function.
Hi Steven Kelso,
“I recommend watching the entire comprehensive series of videos, as your questions may be better addressed with the more specific material therein.” I think people here are familiar with the facts in thos videos. If there is a particular video that addresses the problems I mentioned, then please let me know. Right now watching 4 hours of video is not possible – I don’t have a TV and I don’t plan on substituting my PC for one.
“Do you believe that the entire planet will voluntarily transition to a sane and sustainable way of living?” I will reply with a similar question – do you believe that the entire planet is insane and trying to destroy each other and their children’s futures?
I am not familiar with cargoism, I assume it refers to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cargo_cult That seems out of place. Scientism is something that I certainly do not subscribe to. You should notice that I am claiming the problem is not technological (peak oil) but social/cultural.
The point of mentioning that there is a massive abundance of energy available for future humanity is a fact, it is not a hope of technoogy. We already have the technoology to generate much more energy than we use.
“posited that science and technology always reach a point of diminishing returns” I suspect this is due to a lack of understanding of exponential growth (outlined in the crash course). It is not that any particular technolgoy grows forever but that technology is compounding. Compare where we are today with life just 1000 years ago, and that to life 100,000 years ago, the compounding will continue if we don’t destroy the planet or ourselves. If you believe that technology is slowing down rather than speeding up then I hope you will researh this more. It is outright scary what is on the very short term horizon – much shorter timeframe than peak oil. Please take a look at this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rXrGH52aoM and tell me if it is not more worrying than peak oil.
“We are physiological beings that have physiological limits.” this is true but you will also notice that we are communicating as if by magic. When you use a calculator are you still human? I don’t think you can separate humans from their tools.
“Our biggest hurdle is to discover humility and revel in wonder.” I guess you are speaking for yourself and humanity in general. Personally, the more I understand about the world, the more I realize there is to learn, and the more wonderous it becomes. What we must be wary of is revelling in ignorance, which is unfortantely the situation for a large fraction of an de-educated population.
Waiting for science and technology to run out of steam is as dangerous (I would say more dangerous) than idly waiting for peak oil. Both of these problems need to be engaged with before they become obvious to everyone.
I think the implications of the Crash Course were proven to be wrong about a decade ago. It ends up that the “next twenty years” looks exactly like the previous twenty years.
It was all “bubble thinking”, transitory in nature like market bubbles, based on a misconception that in time is proven to be incorrect.
This is not to say that Dr. M’s work or this community doesn’t have value, rather it is to say that predictions don’t have much value.
The current bubble-thinking revolves around vaccines, politics, and inflation. No doubt, the implications drawn from this thinking will have us doing exactly the wrong thing at exactly the wrong time.
The best thing that I have gotten from this community over the last 13 years is a deep pantry. Having a deep pantry buys one the time to buy things cheap. I can wait for a sale to replenish pantry items. It also buys peace of mind.
Just make sure that you buy what you will cook and eat. Otherwise it is just a waste of time and money, aka “emergency food”.
It turns out that there’s a market that involves making predictions with a timeframe attached. It’s called “a put.” “The House” usually wins. It is very hard to make predictions with a timeframe attached. I only did well just once – during a pandemic – because of pandemic math.
The trend of increasing difficulty of finding new crude is really clear. Picking when the break happens – that’s the only question. Given the inelastic crude market, when it does break, it will happen very rapidly.
I think the Oligarchy has sorted out a strategy. “Climate Change!” = peak oil mitigation. Will it work? I have no idea.
And – doesn’t Chris have another 8 years?
FWIW, I think “someone” intervened in the shale market to fund non-economic oil production in the domestic US market. People just threw money at the shale drillers, who never made a buck for 8 years. All they did was lose, go bk, lose again, go bk.
A wise act of national strategy, but not so sharp as a “free market investment.”
Good contributions to the discussion.
“I think of it like a game of musical chairs. By design there is not enough money in the world to pay back the debt+interest, so we keep creating new debt and the music plays. If the music stops then someone is left in a position where they must default and then the house of cards may come tumbling down.”
In light of this insight, I wonder if you would comment on modern monetary theory (MMT). My understanding of the theory is that n?early endless creation of debt is not a problem as long as there is full employment and inflation does not rise. What do you think. One real world example that supports the theory is that 40 years ago Paul Volcker crushed inflation by raising fed interest rates. Since then we have had no meaningful inflation and US debt has more or less steadily risen as has the economy. How long can that continue?
The forum comes across as having a low signal to noise ratio i.e. lots of spam. I don’t see a way to flag spam nor a way to flag posts. Is the forum being moderated? I did see complaints in the forum about it not being moderated. Is this the best place to engage with Peak Prosperity members are there other channels that are being used?
Hi Mark, welcome, I’ll try your easy questions. Yes, this is the best place to engage PP members (other than lunch meetups) and there are no other channels that I’m aware of. And yes, there’s moderation but I don’t know any specific details. Chris recently hired new IT people so I’m hopeful that the website and forum features will improve soon.
The S/N ratio on this thread has been great, thanks for starting the discussion. Fwiw, I took me quite a while to understand the crash course. I like Gail Tverberg at ourfiniteworld.com for energy articles, I find them more at my level…Wilco
Not bad…I broke even on them last month and rolled them to December. Also, technically, they were (VIX) calls, not puts. The only puts that I ever bought were those on UAL that I bought when you did (which worked out nicely).
And BTW, at least I was honest about my mistaken prediction. I didn’t make up excuses for being wrong, I just took a shot and admitted I was wrong (even though I didn’t actually lose any money on that prediction, yet…)
How many people here were honest with themselves (and the community) when “peak oil” ended up just being another bubble?
Although it is not a great idea for CO2 emissions converting coal into liquid fuel is well understood. A similar process is used in the USA to produce substitute natural gas https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_liquefaction
I agree the pandemic created a glut of oil. My point was more about how surprisingly (for me) robust the system was. I would have thought a pandemic would bring down at least one card in the house of cards. Of course things may just be getting started.