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Page added on February 14, 2017

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Peak Oil: Start With Reality



[S]o we have this physical constraint that’s coming because of Peak Oil. There’s nothing we’re going to do about it. We can’t out-clever that. It’s just a constraint, it’s a limitation, there it is. We could manage it well or we can manage it poorly, but it’s there. We have a political system that’s not really geared for the magnitude of the change that we’re seeing, so the most likely outcome is that we’re going to wait, we as a culture are going to wait until we’re forced to deal with this. That’s probably going to come with disruptions….

At some point, we’re going to have to accept the facts for what they are and begin the long, complex, not-always-satisfactory process of planning for and then implementing change on a grand scale beyond our individual capacity to fully appreciate at this moment.

There can be no defined, clear timetable as to when this process must begin. But what must be understood today is that a finite resource drawn daily for more purposes by more people has some inherent limitations. Coupled with the daunting realization as to how much we depend on finite resources to conduct daily living, the process of transitioning away from that dependency to some still-undefined Plan B is going to be an undertaking to exceed all undertakings.

While the strategy of disseminating misleading and/or disingenuous statements has been a “successful” one–if measured by the degree in which keeping the public uninformed or at best confused about the facts is the standard. But what happens when the reality of peak oil’s challenges becomes obvious to them as well? Every day lost to the denial/misleading nonsense is one we cannot back when it will be needed most.

Since when has planning ahead become a four-letter phrase? [Not that planning ahead for a transition of this magnitude has a precedent.]

Without the steady supply of high quality, affordable, always-at-the-ready crude oil to provide the energy which makes possible almost every aspect of our personal, economic, and cultural lives, adaptation and transition to a Plan B primary source of energy to sustain us and supply our needs will be a nearly incomprehensible undertaking under the most ideal of circumstances.

If we do not begin the process of conducting honest discussions coupled with planning, what then?

While a defining characteristic of the conservative personality is the need for closure–satisfied by arriving at quick conclusions coupled with an inherent aversion to examining the full range of issues and perspectives on most matters–acknowledging that trait is a far cry from accepting it as the end of a discussion. The steady flow of statements uttered as if they were factual conclusions [among the more noteworthy examples are the repeated references to the “trillions of barrels of oil” yet to be extracted, with not a word of explanation as to why we’ll never have most of it] is but one confirmation of extensive research conducted on the behaviors and characteristics of both conservatives and liberals.

It certainly keeps the deniers focused on their cheat sheet of Happy Talk messages [whose prime objective is to disclose only certain facts favorable to their interests], while keeping them untroubled about consequences. No need to worry about any ambiguities when you can rattle off a few snarky comments to show off to loyal followers as the beginning and end of the debate–such as it is.

The inference they hope others will draw is that since the availability of oil has not come to a crashing halt today, nor has the world economy collapsed into itself as a result of the pro-peak oil arguments, proponents obviously don’t know what they are talking about. Nice to be able to get away with it, but the facts remain unbowed by those determined efforts to mislead.

Not one moment’s worth of effort on the part of those denying or disputing the fossil-fuel-production challenges we’ll soon be facing changes the reality that we will soon be facing fossil-fuel-production challenges.

When dealing with a finite anything depended upon by literally billions of governments, industries, and individuals in countless ways on a daily basis–a finite supply with no adequate, long-term substitute currently in place–the simple skills of subtraction and division tell us that there will be a reckoning at some point.

Peak oil’s impact will in all likelihood be a gradual one given the expected production from resources still realistically available. But with a resource this widely-used by as many individuals and entities as it is now and has been for decades, and with so many others waiting for their chance to modernize on the back of fossil-fuel resources, those same math skills make it clear that the reckoning caused by supply disruptions–gradual or not–will not be pleasant.

We have some options left, but we need those casting doubt to start paying attention to all of the facts and how all of those facts will play out over time. That’s not their preferred approach, but it’s the only one offering all of us opportunities to deal with the reality of a depleting, finite resource.

Adapted from a blog post of mine

OP Ed News

8 Comments on "Peak Oil: Start With Reality"

  1. Rockman on Tue, 14th Feb 2017 8:57 pm 

    “There can be no defined, clear timetable as to when this process must begin.” Sure there is: the “process” should have started in earnest no later then the eartly 70’s and progressed aggressively and without pause.

    “Peak oil’s impact will…be a gradual one given the expected production from resources still realistically available.” The impact of the peak oil dynamic has been gradual in general with periodic spikes”.

    Other the some glaring ignorance of the realities of the global energy situation for the last half century not a bad analysis. LOL.

  2. Antius on Wed, 15th Feb 2017 9:34 am 

    Only a small part of the solution I know, but how about fossil fuel upgrading?

    There are deposits of coal and lignite that are presently stranded and not economically profitable to mine and transport. In addition, there is a great deal of stranded renewable energy, which is too distant from grids to be economically competitive. Renewable electricity could be used to heat the coal/lignite, yielding hydrogen, liquids and coke. The hydrogen can be combined with the coke at high temperatures & pressures to yield liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons. More hydrogen could be derived from renewable energy sources using electrolysis and combined with residual coke. That way, the low grade coal is converted to high grade liquid fuels that can be transported by pipeline.

    By doing this, we are storing renewable energy in the chemical structure of the liquid hydrocarbons and making them more transportable at the same time. It could work the other way as well. We could transport coal or heavy oil to a stranded renewable energy source located on a distant coast – i.e. wind power in Greenland or solar power in Southern Australia. Renewable heat and hydrogen would upgrade the low grade fossil fuel into light oils. The liquids can be stored in concrete tanks until the volume is large enough to allow transfer to a tanker. It can then be sent anywhere in the world.

  3. penury on Wed, 15th Feb 2017 11:43 am 

    “Start with reality?” it appears to me that the first problem is to informs people with what reality means. No we will not be mining the planets or asteroids to provide the humans with more. The rate of decay in systems is increasing. I think that more and more predicaments will be encountered,

  4. Jerome Purtzer on Wed, 15th Feb 2017 2:22 pm 

    No candidate from any political party seemed to have even the slightest clue as to what is happening with the energy situation worldwide. All their proposals centered around ramping up the economy either with techno dreams or drill baby drill schemes. They did set the stage perfectly for running into the wall of reality. All movies rely on suspension of disbelief to maintain the momentum of the narrative.

  5. peakyeast on Wed, 15th Feb 2017 4:23 pm 

    OT: An old favorite peak-oil video of mine:

    The small comments from his wife makes it perfect..

    Absolutely hilarious !

  6. rockman on Thu, 16th Feb 2017 5:21 am 

    Jerome – “No candidate from any political party seemed to have even the slightest clue…”. Or most politicians understand the energy situation quit well. And they also understand quit well what it takes to get the voting fossil fuel consumers to elect them to office.

  7. CAM on Thu, 16th Feb 2017 11:36 am 

    We will hit the wall with afterburners flaming at full throttle. It will be very sudden. Think of the panic in U.S. at the gas stations during the oil embargoes and extrapolate that to the entire world.

  8. Sissyfuss on Thu, 16th Feb 2017 4:43 pm 

    CAM, go with throttle up.

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