RE: Dangers of peak oil

From: Al Koop <koopa@gvsu.edu>
Date: Wed May 19 2004 - 15:36:15 EDT

Glenn Morton" <glennmorton@entouch.net> 05/18/04 10:51 PM wrote;

We interupt this program for the Quote for the day. The Wall Street
Journal is a bit overly pessimistic also:

        "Through most of the 20th century, the major petroleum companies
focused on exploring for oil and natural gas. But the age of 'elephant'
strikes is over. There has been just one great find in the past 30
years: the 1999 discovery of Kashagan, a field off Kazakhstan in the
Caspian Sea. Today, the oil fields in the Western oil majors'
traditional strongholds--Alaska, the North Sea, and Texas--are in
decline. Most of the world's untapped reserves are in the hands of
state-owned oil companies in the Middle East.

[snip]

Just so you know the incredible diversity of opinion that exists on this
topic look below at two recent documents written about oil depletion.
Note that Glenn Morton has a middle of the road view here compared to
these two guys.

A six page article that makes some astonishing claims by an emeritus MIT
economist who specialized in oil economics

http://www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/regv27n1/v27n1-1.pdf

Spring 2004 issue

 The Real Oil Problem
 By M. A. Adelman, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

An excerpt;

 There is not, and never has been, an oil crisis or gap. Oil reserves
are not
 dwindling. The Middle East does not have and has never had any "oil
weapon." The
 real problem we face over oil dates from after 1970: a strong but
clumsy
 monopoly of mostly Middle Eastern exporters cooperating as OPEC. The
biggest
 exporters have acted in concert to limit supply and thus raise oil
price -
 possibly too high even for their own good. The output levels they
establish by
 trial-and-error are very unstable. OPEC has damaged the world economy,
not by
 malice, but because its members cannot help but do so.

[Read the entire paper on Acrobat Reader. "This is all a myth" is the
way Adelman ends his article. He says that although some places like
Texas have experienced a decrease in oil, the global supplies will not
experience this.]

Then two pieces by Jay Hanson who has been writing about oil depletion
for many years and has a site:

http://www.dieoff.com

HOW COULD IT BE OTHERWISE?

 What becomes of the surplus of human life?
 It is either, 1st. destroyed by infanticide,
 as among the Chinese and Lacedemonians; or 2d.
 it is stifled or starved, as among other
 nations whose population is commensurate to
 its food; or 3d. it is consumed by wars and
 endemic diseases; or 4th. it overflows, by
 emigration, to places where a surplus of food
 is attainable. -- James Madison, 1791

 For want of a nail the shoe is lost, for want
 of a shoe the horse is lost, for want of a
 horse the rider is lost.

 Worldwide, more than 10 million hectares of agricultural land are
abandoned
 annually because of serious soil degradation. During the last 40 years,
 about 30 percent of total world arable land was abandoned because it
was no
 longer productive. About half of the current arable land now in
cultivation
 will be unsuitable for food production by the middle of the
twenty-first
 century. [34]

 Within the first decade of the 21'st century, industrial activity will
rise
 high enough for it to seriously degrade land fertility. This will occur
 because of contamination by heavy metals and persistent chemicals,
climate
 change, salinization, topsoil loss, falling water tables, and increased
 levels of ultraviolet radiation from a diminished ozone layer.

 Global oil production will peak soon and the spike in oil prices will
 quickly exacerbate other major problems facing industrial agriculture.
Food
 grains produced with modern, high-yield methods (including packaging
and
 delivery) now contain between four and ten calories of fossil fuel for
every
 calorie of solar energy. It has been estimated that about four percent
of
 the nation's energy budget is used to grow food, while about 10 to 13
 percent is needed to put it on our plates. In other words, a staggering
 total of 17 percent of America's energy budget is consumed by
agriculture!
 [35]

 By 2040, we would need to triple the global food supply in order to
meet the
 basic food needs of the eleven billion people who are expected to be
alive.
 But doing so would require a 1,000 percent increase in the total energy
 expended in food production. [36] But the depletion of oil will make it
 physically impossible -- thus economically impossible -- to provide
enough
 net energy to agriculture: "A recent review of the future prospects of
all
 alternatives has been published. The summary conclusion reached is that
 there is no known complete substitute for petroleum in its many and
varied
 uses." [37] Global food production will drop to a fraction of today's
 numbers: "If the fertilizers, partial irrigation [in part provided by
oil
 energy], and pesticides were withdrawn, corn yields, for example, would
drop
 from 130 bushels per acre to about 30 bushels." [38] Obviously, death
 certificates have already been issued for billions of unsuspecting
people.

 The dependence of industrial agriculture on fossil fuels, the declining
 fertility of the land, and the positive feedbacks imposed by declining
net
 energy will force the economy to divert much more investment into the
 agriculture and energy sectors as part of a desperate attempt to
maintain
 agricultural output. Government budgets must also decline in real terms
as
 greater and greater fractions of the economy are diverted into the
resource
 sectors.

 As resource quality and land fertility continue to fall, society will
be
 forced to allocate more and more capital to the agriculture and
resource
 sectors, otherwise the scarcity of food, materials, and fuels would
restrict
 production still more -- it's circular, there is no way to avoid the
 positive feedback. Ultimately, industrial capacity will decline rapidly
 taking with it the service and agricultural sectors, which depend upon
 industrial inputs.

 Constrained by the laws of thermodynamics, the availability of
 life-supporting resources will go into a permanent, steep decline.

 In less than 20 years, the self-regulating market system will have "run
out
 of gas" and vanished. With the market system gone, the ruling elites
will
 fall back on the good old-fashioned means of control: a police state.
In
 the US alone, 200 million guns in private ownership guarantee that this
 police state will quickly devolve into rebellion and anarchy.

 If the anarchy scenario were to reach its natural conclusion, the
global
 elites would be eliminated by the angry masses. Those who managed to
escape
 would die more miserably than the poor since they are unsuited for
 day-to-day survival because they lived their lives like queen bees.

 But when the above scenario seems inevitable, the elites will simply
 depopulate most of the planet with a bioweapon. [39] When the time
comes,
 it will be the only logical solution to their problem. It's a
first-strike
 tactic that leaves the built-infrastructure and other species in place
and
 allows the elites to perpetuate their own genes into the foreseeable
future:
 "War is a male reproductive strategy. All that is needed for the
strategy
 to evolve, is that aggressors fight and win more often than they lose".
[40]

 The global genocide will be rationalized as a second chance for
humanity --
 a new Garden of Eden -- a new Genesis. The temptation will prove
 irresistible:

 "Strangelove said, 'Offhand, I should say
 that in addition to the factors of youth,
 health, sexual fertility, intelligence,
 and a cross section of necessary skills,
 it would be absolutely vital that our top
 government and military men be included,
 to foster and impart the required principles
 of leadership and tradition.'

 "The arrow had not missed its mark, and around
 the table there was an outbreak of sober,
 nodding heads. Attention was concentrated
 more than ever on Doctor Strangelove.

 "Strangelove went on. 'Naturally they would
 breed prodigiously, eh? There would be much
 time and little to do. With the proper
 breeding techniques, and starting with a ratio
 of, say, ten women to each man, I should
 estimate the progeny of the original group of
 two hundred thousand would emerge a hundred
 years later as well over a hundred million...'"

 How could it be otherwise?

 

 [ references in http://www.dieoff.com/page185.htm ]

I have been thinking about this all day, and here is another view of
 the future:

 The inevitable global reduction of net energy -- and the inevitable
 collapse of the global economy -- will cause country after country to
 become "overpopulated" (here I mean insufficient resources for
 population). "Overpopulation" will cause a rise a nationalism and
 aggression. The countries that feel that they are able, will invent
 excuses to attack other countries and seize resources (Hitler did it
 for that reason, and we just did it for that reason). These large
 country wars will continue for a number of years.

 At some point, the larger countries will have insufficient resources
 to remain together and will splinter into smaller units. These
 smaller units that feel that they are able, will invent excuses to
 attack other small units and seize resources. This process will
 continue but the ability to make war decrease.

 As these large and small wars occur, many millions or billions of
 civilians will be killed and displaced. Starving people will kill
 and eat anything they can find (including each other). Freezing
 people will burn everything they can find. I expect that virtually
 all standing forests will be cut for fuel (e.g., Haiti) and virtually
 all wild animals will be killed and eaten (e.g., Zimbabwe). In
 short, the life support system we inherited 10,000 years ago will be
 gone.

 The dioxin load from burning plastics will be horrendous! All dumps
 will be abandoned and leak into the groundwater. Abandoned nuclear
 plants and waste sites (e.g., Hanford) will experience chemical
 explosions -- and some may melt down -- as maintenance is universally
 forgotten.

 Any country with nuclear weapons will be likely to use them as
 country after country disintegrates -- especially after Russian
 nationalists come to power and Islamic Fundamentalists take Pakistan
 (it's just a matter of time).

 I believe the foregoing scenarios are consistent with thermodynamics,
 evolution theory, and history.
Received on Wed May 19 15:36:41 2004

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