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Page added on January 31, 2016

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‘Occupied’ Norway a window into our fossil fuel addiction

‘Occupied’ Norway a window into our fossil fuel addiction thumbnail

Okay, I admit that the premise of Norwegian television’s new political thriller series “Occupied” is far-fetched. But that premise is a window on just how addicted to fossil fuels we are.

In “Occupied” Norway’s Green Party wins parliamentary elections and makes good on its (not-altogether-fictional) promise to shut down oil and natural gas production in the country as a way of addressing climate change. This fictional Green Party simultaneously builds a thorium-fueled reactor to provide electric power. The Greens promise many more reactors as they embrace the electrification of transportation to reduce Norway’s need for liquid fuels.

Norway’s oil and gas customers–the countries of the European Union and Sweden–object to the loss of critical fossil fuel supplies. They conspire with Russia to force Norway to restart oil and gas production. At first this involves a smallish invasion by Russian soldiers and a takeover of offshore oil and gas platforms which are restored to production by Russian work crews.

When the series was conceived, Norwegian television thought the idea was too implausible. But with the Russian annexation of Crimea and the war in Ukraine, “Occupied” has touched a nerve in a newly anxious Scandanavian population who now see Russia as more of threat. (And, of course, there is the memory of Germany’s occupation of Norway during World War II that still arouses fear and loathing in the hearts of many Norwegians.)

Coincidences aside, it does not seem surprising that the world would react strongly to a major oil and gas exporting nation deciding it will end all oil and gas production. If we were to substitute Saudi Arabia for Norway–where a partial shutdown is plausible if radical Saudi elements were to come to power in a messy coup–I can confidently predict that the United States and other Western powers would use whatever force is necessary to turn the oil spigots back on full blast.

Attempts to control the flow of oil have led to war after war. But little Norway–peaceful, democratic, white, European–could never be the target for such violence under these unusual circumstances, could it?

Of course, if Norway were to do the improbable and shut its oil and gas taps, it’s more likely the Russians would be celebrating rather than assisting in opening those taps. It would mean Europe would have to import more Russian natural gas and possibly more Russian oil. Hey, maybe Great Britain would like to join Norway and shut down its production, too? The Russians could only dream of such an outcome.

Naturally, it is inconceivable that any country would voluntarily shut down production of one of the most valuable commodities in the world and the lifeblood of the world economy. No country would choose to go without the economic benefits that significant domestic oil and gas production bestow.

And, that is perhaps the point of “Occupied” after all. It shows us what we must do to prevent catastrophic climate change, and in doing so, simultaneously demonstrates that we simply won’t be able to bring ourselves to do what we know we must. At least, not yet.

Despite all the rhetoric coming out of the Paris climate summit–and it was very encouraging rhetoric–any country with significant oil and gas production which decides to curtail or end such production would quickly be prevailed upon to resume that production–perhaps not today with the current glut, but surely just 18 months ago and surely in the future when the glut comes to an end. Governments around the world believe that oil is just too critical to let any country make such a decision all on its own.

Regarding “Occupied” as a piece of entertainment, once you forget about the implausible premise, you can focus on the changing allegiances and calculations of the Norwegian and Russian characters. It is a delicate and tense dance that these characters perform–the Norwegians not wanting to provoke an all-out war, a war that would surely demolish them; the Russians not wanting to resort to undue force for fear that they will get bogged down in a guerrilla conflict that could drag on for years.

Will each side get its calculations right? For the answer you’ll have to watch. And, I think you will like what you see even if the most implausible part of the series is that we will someday go cold turkey to end our addiction to fossil fuels.

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29 Comments on "‘Occupied’ Norway a window into our fossil fuel addiction"

  1. Go Speed Racer on Sun, 31st Jan 2016 1:53 pm 

    Interesting the script writers include a Thorium reactor, as part of the future energy mix. Too bad it’s just a movie. Thorium reactors are the only thing that could supply enough energy to replace oil. Script writer gets it. Politicians, all psycho and they don’t get it.

  2. Steve on Sun, 31st Jan 2016 2:48 pm 

    Go Speed Racer, I’m not sure that ALL politicians are psycho but recent research has confirmed the obvious and suggests that politicians are more likely to Be psychopaths than .

    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/research-suggests-politicians-are-more-likely-to-be-psychopaths-11364143/?no-ist

    R

  3. Apneaman on Sun, 31st Jan 2016 3:50 pm 

    Evolution Under The Maximum Power Principle

    “Only physical hardship can force us to rewire our collective-political agendas. I am certainly not the first to make the observation, but now, after 25 years of study and debate, I am totally certain. The “net energy principle” guarantees that our global supply lines will collapse.

    The rush to social collapse cannot be stopped no matter what is written or said. Humans have never been able to intentionally-avoid collapse because fundamental system-wide change is only possible after the collapse begins.

    What about survivors? Within a couple of generations, all lessons learned from the collapse will be lost, and people will revert to genetic baselines. I wish it weren’t so, but all my experience screams “it’s hopeless.” Nevertheless, all we can do is the best we can and carry on…

    I am thankful for the Internet where I can find others bright enough to discuss these complex ideas and help me to understand them.

    Today, when one observes the many severe environmental and social problems, it appears that we are rushing towards extinction and are powerless to stop it. Why can’t we save ourselves? To answer that question we only need to integrate three of the key influences on our behavior: 1) biological evolution, 2) overshoot, and 3) a proposed fourth law of thermodynamics called the “Maximum Power Principle”(MPP). The MPP states that biological systems will organize to increase power[2] generation, by degrading more energy, whenever systemic constraints allow it”

    http://www.dieoff.org/

  4. Homer on Sun, 31st Jan 2016 4:46 pm 

    The reason that script writers “get it” when it comes to thorium reactors is that script writers specialize in fiction.

    There are lots of issues to resolve before thorium reactors are ready for prime time.

    When nuclear power was first proposed, the promise was “power to cheap to meter”. Not exactly reality, is it? And who will pay to babysit the waste for hundreds of thousands of years to come?

    Splitting atoms is inherently complex, inherently dangerous and inherently expensive. Thorium may be a big improvement but I’d like someone to prove it first.

    Meanwhile, there is geothermal, solar and wind.

  5. ulenspiegel on Mon, 1st Feb 2016 3:42 am 

    @Homer

    Had the same thoughts in respect to the thorium reactor. 🙂

    The second aspect of course is that you have to build a lot when – let’s say in ten years – there may be a commercial design – large numbers of unproven design, what may go wrong?

    It is obvious, if one can do some basic calculations, that it is much easier to build the necessary numbers of wind turbines: we have working designs and it is only a question of ramping up production. Nice byproduct: we know the costs. 🙂

  6. Go Speed Racer on Mon, 1st Feb 2016 4:09 am 

    If the windmill is rated at 50 Megawatt, on average it produces 2 Megawatt. But the proponents will say it produces 50.

    To handle rapid increases and decreases in power, other power stations must ramp up and down quickly.

    Thorium reactor plants actually could ramp up and down quickly. So you could have your cake and eat it too. Build some of those landscape-obliterating windmills, and some Thorium power plants to deliver power when the wind stops.

    Except then you didn’t really need the windmills….. :O) LOL. Just some Mr. Spock logic for U guys …

  7. Go Speed Racer on Mon, 1st Feb 2016 4:12 am 

    Watch this video. I carefully cherry-picked. Worth the time. Amazing stuff.

    Depressing for doomers, cause it shows there is way to produce energy w/o fossil fuel.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knofNX7HCbg

    But don’t worry, lots of psychopath power-mad suicidal politicians, won’t ever allow it to be pursued. Thus the doomers will win out in the end. :O)

    Scope out Richard Nixon showing himself to be a complete and total schithead, at 20:48 bragging that he doesn’t understand nuclear physics. He doesn’t even understand how to put air in a tire, too stupid.

  8. Apneaman on Mon, 1st Feb 2016 4:56 am 

    Speed Racer, so say it was to happen and fast. No more fossil fuel, but the same amount of power or more – what do you think is going to happen? Suddenly apes will stop being voracious rapacious cancers? All the existing CO2 and methane will magically disappear and we will get the former stable climate back? Will soil spontaneously regenerate? Positive self reinforcing feedback loops come to a dramatic halt? Ape population solved or keep growing? 6th mass extinction due to ape expansion going to cease and desist? I think you may have also cheery picked your definition of doomer. A doomer is not a do this or else proposition – it’s a its too fucking late matter. There is absolutely nothing – not one fucking thing that can save the apes. Damage done and waiting on the inertia. The problem lies with the ape brain. Somewhere in our evolutionary past we took a great cognitive leap. That was the beginning of the end. like all living things we seek rewards, but we live in the abstract and are never satisfied, so we’ll never stop – not possible. Dopamine is the driver and that’s never going to change. Not up to us because we are not in control. Enjoy the final act.

  9. Go Speed Racer on Mon, 1st Feb 2016 6:33 am 

    Hi sleep apnea,

    i feel a sudden need to eat bananas.
    :O)

  10. peakyeast on Mon, 1st Feb 2016 6:52 am 

    @GSR: As apeman points out.

    It is not only a lack of energy. Its also what we have done with the energy we had. Which has been waging war on everything.

    What we have now are competing causes of death stemming from our own actions.

    Overshoot is mercilessly solved and we see it all the time. Famines, malnutrition – just because its not happening equally to all countries does not mean millions are not experiencing it right now.

    These numbers are going up. We literally has outfucked any progress and more – and that in the best of all times.

  11. Apneaman on Mon, 1st Feb 2016 7:16 am 

    I luvs me some bananas too. Better get your fill while you can.

    Bananas facing extinction, scientists warn

    http://www.dw.com/en/bananas-facing-extinction-scientists-warn/a-18915262

    take those bananas

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6y-pdLyZPJ8

  12. rockman on Mon, 1st Feb 2016 7:32 am 

    Nice that they’ve been able to go all electric thanks to such a massive leap in reactor tech. But they also need to figure out how to make up for the loss in govt revenue which funds much of the country’s social programs. From the Norway govt: the petroleum sector’s share of GDP: 15%; its share of govt revenue: 20%; its share of total export revenue: 39%. Of course the Green party could suck dry their huge oil fund they’ve accumulated by selling oil/NG over the decades. And when that’s gone they can just start turning off the govt teat. That should go over well with future generations including all their new ME immigrants.

  13. Davy on Mon, 1st Feb 2016 7:35 am 

    “Thorium reactor plants actually could ramp up and down quickly. So you could have your cake and eat it too. Build some of those landscape-obliterating windmills, and some Thorium power plants to deliver power when the wind stops”. The problem is we are actually in an energy and economy trap which is being manifested currently as a demand and supply destruction spiral. Good traps generally don’t let their prey out. If they do get out it is minus a leg. We are not going to get out of this predicament whole.

    There are no silver bullets to save what we have today. If we cannot have what we have today we will not have the complexity and energy intensity to build out new and complex energy production sources. Alternative energies and experimental technologies are not going to get off the ground as an energy transition paradigm if globalism is dying. Someone may build out some but even then they will likely be stranded assets because the new lower output economic system will not accommodate them.

    We are going to be lucky to get out of this trap without a total collapse. It is possible we could muddle through this into a new reality lower in consumption and population. What is more and more apparent is there will be no alternative globalism. We are likely going to break to a lower level of economic reality which will not allow just-in-time global production and distribution. Trade and exchange will likewise not be possible at that level. We may be able to fall back to regional economies with local strong points.

    Thorium is a global technology requiring global level production and distribution realities. Thorium will likely die when globalism dies. Globalism is not healthy now at multiple levels. Even if Thorium is perfected the scale of time and resource requirements are likely not there to make it a transition energy source that will substitute for oil. Systematically we are likely in a break point and much like “peaks” we will not know it until a few years hence.

  14. GregT on Mon, 1st Feb 2016 7:37 am 

    “i feel a sudden need to eat bananas.”

    Enjoy those bananas while you can Go Speed, because they too are being wiped out due to the activities of the rapacious ape.

    “A potent fungus is killing off banana plants and could eventually wipe out much of the fruit around the world, according to a new study. Research published in PLOS Pathogens reveals that a disease strain called Tropical Race 4 has affected banana crops in southeast Asia for decades and in recent years has expanded to the Middle East. Eventually the disease is expected to hit Latin America, where the majority of the world’s bananas are grown.”

    http://time.com/4136886/banana-extinct/

  15. simonr on Mon, 1st Feb 2016 7:41 am 

    Electricity Generators, come in different flavors, generally the ones that can ramp up quickly (Peakers) are quite inefficient and are used to cover peaks or troughs, so you cannot replace wind (very cheap after building) with peakers, you need a baseline.
    Norway has enough land to pretty much use wind/solar/geo in conjunction with pumped storage, however I would have a few peakers around … just in case

    Simon

  16. JuanP on Mon, 1st Feb 2016 8:03 am 

    GSR “Depressing for doomers, cause it shows there is way to produce energy w/o fossil fuel.”

    This is depressing for doomers, but not for the reasons you think. I am often amazed by how frequently unrealistic optimists like you reach the right conclusions from the wrong premises. You completely fail to understand human nature. If humanity had more energy available, it would just destroy the biosphere faster and more thoroughly. It was the energy contained in fossil fuels and Uranium used so far that has allowed us to ravage global ecosystems the way we do.

    In conclusion, more energy is bad news, not good news. The essence of the problem is human nature, not available energy. Energy availability is nothing more than a catalyst. We will totally destroy the biosphere no matter what. The damage has already been done. Sit back, grab a cold one, and enjoy the show!

  17. JuanP on Mon, 1st Feb 2016 8:07 am 

    This movie sounds like anti Russian Western BS propaganda. Who financed it? The CIA? The US DOS? I no longer watch Western movies or TV, they have become unwatchable.

    I watched a handful of non Western movies at the Miami Jewish Film Festival recently that were surprisingly good. I especially recommend “Fire Birds”.

  18. JuanP on Mon, 1st Feb 2016 8:28 am 

    The banana TR4 fungal infection is destroying commercial monoculture Cavendish banana plantations and devastating industrial banana production, but there are other types of banana cultivars that are resistant to it. Permaculturists like myself and local small growers in the tropics will still have bananas. We grow 7 types of banana cultivars in the gardens I frequent, and 5 of them are resistant to Panama Disease TR4.

  19. Anonymous on Mon, 1st Feb 2016 3:00 pm 

    Sounds like more anti-Russian propaganda and fear-mongering. Disguised, as ‘speculative fiction’, of course.

    All the usual ‘enemies’ are there is sounds like, the EU, ‘Greens’s, those nasty Russians. Nothing like paranoia-porn produced by zionist war-mongers to keep the proles distracted from thinking too hard about just who the actual enemy is.

  20. Go Speed Racer on Mon, 1st Feb 2016 6:21 pm 

    Yeah, there is a song, we have no bananas today. It was written when the Big Mike bananas went extinct maybe 1920’s ?

    Well if I can’t have bananas then I will jump up and down, and scratch my armpits.

  21. GregT on Mon, 1st Feb 2016 7:35 pm 

    Speed,

    Or you can do what rapacious apes usually do when they run out of their own resources. Go kill other apes and take theirs.

    Don’t forget to pound your chest and chant the name of your ape clan. Repeatedly. It works real good.

  22. Go Speed Racer on Mon, 1st Feb 2016 8:49 pm 

    Taking notes. Resources running low.

    -> kill some other apes.
    -> Pound chest
    -> If no bananas, scratch armpits, jump up and down.
    -> chant name of my own ape clan.
    -> vote for Donald Trump
    -> take resources from other apes.

    :O)

  23. GregT on Mon, 1st Feb 2016 10:02 pm 

    -> vote for Donald Trump

    Never underestimate the apes without penises Go Speed. They can be every bit as rapacious, and in some cases, much worse.

  24. Apneaman on Mon, 1st Feb 2016 10:50 pm 

    JuanP, I watch plenty of foreign language films for the same reasons. I recommend Wild Tales out of Argentina for a hilarious take on the fucked up ape condition.

  25. Apneaman on Mon, 1st Feb 2016 10:53 pm 

    The Demonization of Vladimir Putin

    “Vladimir Putin is probably the most popular Russian leader there has ever been, polling up around a phenomenal 80% as recently as November 2015 in a study carried out by a team of American researchers. This makes him inarguably the most popular world leader today, though you would think the opposite given the way he’s routinely depicted and demonized in the West.

    Paradoxically, the main reason for Putin’s popularity in Russia is the same reason he’s so reviled in the US and Western Europe. It comes down to the simple but salient fact that when it comes to leadership and political nous Vladimir Putin is playing chess while his counterparts in London, Washington, and Paris are playing chequers.

    This is not to ascribe to the Russian leader the moral virtues of Nelson Mandela or the humanitarian instincts of Mahatma Gandhi. But neither is he the caricature regularly and vehemently described in the UK and US media. Putin is not a villain straight from a Bond movie, sitting in a spooky castle somewhere in deepest Russia planning and plotting world domination.”

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/01/29/the-demonization-of-vladimir-putin/

  26. Boat on Mon, 1st Feb 2016 11:46 pm 

    Apeman,

    George Walker Bush had a 90+ approval rating also. Then he went to war and crashed the economy. Sound familiar to what’s happening in Russia?

  27. Apneaman on Tue, 2nd Feb 2016 12:35 am 

    Apples to oranges boat

  28. GregT on Tue, 2nd Feb 2016 12:51 am 

    Boat,

    GW Bush is a mental moron. For him to have a 90% approval rating speaks very badly about the American public in general. Bush did not plan the wars in Iraq, or Afghanistan. They were both in the planning stages long before Bush was installed in the White House. Bush did not crash the economy. It was a result of very high oil prices, central banker’s greed, and an entire system that bows down to these corrupt institutions.

    As usual, you are spouting utter and complete non-sense. You don’t appear to be much more intelligent than GW, probably less.

  29. Davy on Tue, 2nd Feb 2016 1:36 am 

    “The Coming Wave of Oil Refugees”

    https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/falling-oil-prices-possible-cause-for-migration-by-michael-meyer-2016-01

    “Sub-Saharan Africa will certainly be one epicenter of the oil crunch. Nigeria, its largest economy, could be knocked to its knees. Oil production is stalling, and unemployment is expected to skyrocket. Already, investors are rethinking billions of dollars in financial commitments. President Muhammadu Buhari, elected in March 2015, has promised to stamp out corruption, rein in the free-spending elite, and expand public services to the very poor, a massive proportion of the country’s population. That now looks impossible.”

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