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Thursday, February 9, 2012

We are all fleas on an elephant

In our day to day, I forget sometimes how truly out of control life is for everyone.  Sure, I think I have some control over my job, my home life, my play time.  But really, I owe my entire life on some basic structures that dictate my entire living standard.

The largest one is cheap energy.  For without it, I couldn't have a career in Computing software.  The energy it takes to make one PC is amazing, my car, everything that is complex.  Without cheap energy, these items just wouldn't exist.   Not to mention my 99 cent burger at McDonalds.  Every aspect of my life depends on this building block, cheap energy.

I have posted before about peak oil, and it is REAL issue.  People can dismiss it, but those who look at the facts, that every production of a limited resource hits a bell curve.   It's a mathematical reality, it can't be escaped.  I was bouncing around on the web when I hit the wikipedia article on peak oil.  I highly recommend reading (or skimming it).

I cannot for the life of me even understand what we face, and how we will cope. Think I am over-hyping?  Read the quotes below.  The greatest hope is if we can accelerate alternative fuels we can sit at the top of peak oil for years as new demand, and shrinking supply, is offset from reduced net demand.  So it is possible we can avoid a severe economic calamity.  This isn't a crazy far-fetched possibility.  Peak oil was originally predicted to be in 1995, but has been pushed out by increasing efficiencies.

All the easy oil and gas in the world has pretty much been found. Now comes the harder work in finding and producing oil from more challenging environments and work areas.
— William J. Cummings, Exxon-Mobil company spokesman, December 2005

It is pretty clear that there is not much chance of finding any significant quantity of new cheap oil. Any new or unconventional oil is going to be expensive.
— Lord Ron Oxburgh, a former chairman of Shell, October 2008

In Feb 2010 the US Joint Forces Command issued the Joint Operating Environment 2010[114] warning US military commands "By 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear, and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 million barrels per day."

"A severe energy crunch is inevitable without a massive expansion of production and refining capacity. While it is difficult to predict precisely what economic, political, and strategic effects such a shortfall might produce, it surely would reduce the prospects for growth in both the developing and developed worlds. Such an economic slowdown would exacerbate other unresolved tensions, push fragile and failing states further down the path toward collapse, and perhaps have serious economic impact on both China and India. At best, it would lead to periods of harsh economic adjustment. To what extent conservation measures, investments in alternative energy production, and efforts to expand petroleum production from tar sands and shale would mitigate such a period of adjustment is difficult to predict. One should not forget that the Great Depression spawned a number of totalitarian regimes that sought economic prosperity for their nations by ruthless conquest."

"Energy production and distribution infrastructure must see significant new investment if energy demand is to be satisfied at a cost compatible with economic growth and prosperity."

"The discovery rate for new petroleum and gas fields over the past two decades (with the possible exception of Brazil) provides little reason for optimism that future efforts will find major new fields."

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