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PeakOil is You

NO SOLUTION

General discussions of the systemic, societal and civilisational effects of depletion.

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Unread postby JohnDenver » Sun 06 Feb 2005, 19:42:40

lorenzo wrote:I'm calculating how much oil we would save per year if we stopped flying jumbojets full of Kiwis from New Zealand to Europe and America.


Why bother? Using less oil isn't going to solve the problem. It's going to run out and kill 95% of humanity no matter what we do. Conservation of sugar by the yeast in a jar isn't going to save the yeast. They're all going to die anyway, whether they conserve or not. In fact, this is the "disconnect" I'm pointing out. If there is NO SOLUTION, then there is no point in proposing so-called "solutions" like conservation.
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Unread postby clv101 » Sun 06 Feb 2005, 19:57:12

JohnDenver wrote:Why bother? Using less oil isn't going to solve the problem. It's going to run out and kill 95% of humanity no matter what we do. Conservation of sugar by the yeast in a jar isn't going to save the yeast. They're all going to die anyway, whether they conserve or not. In fact, this is the "disconnect" I'm pointing out. If there is NO SOLUTION, then there is no point in proposing so-called "solutions" like conservation.


I don't agree with you connecting oil running out (let alone peak oil) and 95% population dieing. What lorenzo will show with his Kiwis from New Zealand calculation is how much oil we can lose without one single person dieing. If you go to the store tomorrow and there aren't any Kiwis from New Zealand your quality of life will have been lowered but your life is not threatened.

How do you think over a billion people already live on planet Earth hardly using any oil at all? Why can't 6+ billion people live in the same way? These current bottom billion have very little impact on the planet. Without oil the rest of us will have our ecologic footprint reduced to similar levels.
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Unread postby JohnDenver » Sun 06 Feb 2005, 20:00:42

Liamj wrote:There are dozens of widely agreed small-step solutions that, if implemented, would perhaps stretch out remaining resources so most ppl can at least die at home in bed.


Dying at home in bed? Wow, that's a great motivation for folks to pitch in and help out with all the "small-step solutions" you mention.

There is no silver bullet; if that makes it all too hard, then you're no loss to the species.


Dude, if the species goes through the big die-off, and 5% come out the other side, it's just a matter of time until that 5% gets wiped out too. They'll eventually be killed, one way or another, just like the dinosaurs. So who gives a rot about the health of the "species"? It's dead.

Repeatedly insisting "95%" are going to die might be thrilling but has no constructive value, its a self-fullfilling prophecy.


Constructive? That's funny. 95% of the human population must inevitably die in the greatest mass-death conceivable, and you're complaining about people not being constructive? Why should they do anything "constructive"? They're going to die.
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Unread postby jato » Sun 06 Feb 2005, 20:35:07

Don't have any stats to hand... but I think it's an incredibly small proportion of "the third world" that are significantly supported by the West through vaccination programmes, food aid etc. The vast majority live relatively happy and content lives.


Question: Why wasn't the world population around 6 billion (or more) before the "modern" use of fossil fuels/technology?
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Unread postby JohnDenver » Sun 06 Feb 2005, 20:36:22

clv101 wrote:Why can't 6+ billion people live in the same way?


Because we've massively overshot the sustainable carrying capacity of the earth. I am taking that as a given. Isn't that the very basis of peak oil theory?

Sure, we might be able to postpone things briefly, but that isn't a real solution. We'll just die slow instead of fast. Is that really preferable?

These current bottom billion have very little impact on the planet. Without oil the rest of us will have our ecologic footprint reduced to similar levels.


Can you sustain 6+ billion people on renewable energy? Peak oil theory says "No". At some point, the non-renewables must run out, like the sugar in the yeast jar, and 95% of them must die. It's just a matter of time. Why should people who are doomed worry about trivialities like "environmental impacts" and "ecological footprints"? Caring about such things isn't going help them. It's like telling some community: "A nuke is headed your way, and will be incinerating everyone in a 10 mile radius. Please be sure to neatly sort your garbage for recycling before the nuke hits."
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Unread postby Liamj » Sun 06 Feb 2005, 22:21:14

JohnDenver wrote:Sure, we might be able to postpone things briefly, but that isn't a real solution. We'll just die slow instead of fast. Is that really preferable?

Yes. Would you rather die in bed of old age, surrounded by (prob worn & unfacelifted) nearest & dearest, or of a 2x4 behind the ear as you compete for yr neighbours left leg? How about from botulism from eating same leg for dinner? Starting to see any point in preparation?

JohnDenver wrote: It's just a matter of time.

Everything is a matter of time, were you all doom & gloom when you discovered the sun would eventually cool? What about when discovered yr own inevitable death?
I'll bet you manage to get out of bed for breakfast, but (using your illogic) why bother, death is just a matter of time?!?! Such a position is ridiculous, like an child preferring to sulk about lacking icecream rather than just eating the plain pie.

It is the manner of my living and dying i'm concerned about, my death i don't need to arrange (no appointment reqd, no dress code, no qualifications or membership fee..). Sitting around whining and waiting for it makes you a waste of space (& food, energy..).

To anyone who really has lost the will to live (a perspective i can respect), i say 'All who remain thank you for the generous fatal action that you will no doubt soon perform'.

Just out of curiousity, where did you (JohnD) get that 95% figure, and does it have any parameters? i.e. 95% of currently living, dead by tomorrow? by 2050? 95% of 2030 population by 2100?
95% of nihilists by 2006? The rest of us might be in with a chance then..
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Unread postby Jack » Sun 06 Feb 2005, 23:03:26

Tyler_JC wrote:Has anyone here heard of the UN vaccination programs? They go into 3rd world countries and give vaccines to children.
What happens when the UN isn't there to protect these dirty, overcrowded people from disease?
What happens when grain and other foodstuffs aren't given to them in times of famine?
What happens when global warming turns the savana into a desert?

The third world is more overpopulated than most people here want to believe. 2 Billion people could die in Africa/Asia/South America before anyone in Europe or the USA even notices.

Yes, some fat Westerners will die, but a fat guy can live with half the calories. Try cutting the food rations of an Ethiopian...


Well said!

Also...let's take a look at some hard facts.

The global population was just over 2.5 billion in 1950 - Census Bureau

The third world population increased dramtically, due to the "Green Revolution", a phrase coined by William Gaud whilst Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). (Just Google green revolution william guad)

Lest anyone has forgotten what the Green Revolution was, it was a program to substantially increase crop yields via

. New crop cultivars (often strains genetically modified to maximize yields)
. Irrigation
. Fertilizers
. Pesticides
. Mechanization

And the results?
The effect has been called spectacular. Over the past 40 years, annual wheat production in India has increased from 12 million to 76 million metric tons; in Pakistan, from 4.5 million to 21 million metric tons; and worldwide, from 300 million to 600 million metric tons.



USA Today

(Now, let's watch a certain poster named Lorenzo point out that these increased crop yields are all America's fault! )

Anyway, the first world nations don't have nearly the overshoot that the third world does. As seed stocks revert to native, non-engineered types, as fertilizers, pesticides, and mechanization increase in price, who will get crowded out first? Quite probably, the third world.

As for me, I think I'll have a Godiva truffle. The chocolate comes from the Ivory Coast, you know. Interestingly enough, they sell chocolate to the first world while the locals suffer starvation. I suspect that paradigm will persist into Peak. 8)
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Unread postby JohnDenver » Mon 07 Feb 2005, 02:57:58

Liamj wrote:Everything is a matter of time, were you all doom & gloom when you discovered the sun would eventually cool? What about when discovered yr own inevitable death?
I'll bet you manage to get out of bed for breakfast, but (using your illogic) why bother, death is just a matter of time?!?!


What makes you think I'm depressed about anything? I'm having a great time. The point is this: why should I listen to all the peak oilers telling me we have to "conserve" and "cut back" and "live in harmony with nature" blah blah blah. Why not just blow all the non-renewables like there's no tomorrow, enjoy ourselves, fuck up the earth royale and then die? Why limit ourselves and scrimp if it's not going to solve the underlying problem? We blow it all... we have a die-off. We don't blow it all... we have a die-off. What's the difference?

If the doctor diagnosed you with a terminal disease, would you worry about keeping in shape and eating right?

Just out of curiousity, where did you (JohnD) get that 95% figure, and does it have any parameters?


I got it from the peak oil/enviro literature. You can refer there for more details. Try dieoff.org.
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Unread postby clv101 » Mon 07 Feb 2005, 03:05:00

JohnDenver wrote:Can you sustain 6+ billion people on renewable energy? Peak oil theory says "No".
How much energy per capita do the poorest 1 billion people of the world use? Sure we can't maintain a Western lifestyle on renewable but the poorest 1 billion maintain a lifestyle on a fraction the amount Westerners do. That amount of energy x6 billion could well be doable.
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Unread postby Doly » Mon 07 Feb 2005, 05:12:49

JohnDenver wrote:If the doctor diagnosed you with a terminal disease, would you worry about keeping in shape and eating right?


As a matter of fact, a lot of people diagnosed with terminal diseases do exactly that. My father worked with a lot of these patients. Most people seem to prefer to increase their chances to live a bit longer.

And, by the way, the dieoff.org site is known for being among the most pessimistic. Most people here think that it won't be that bad.
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Unread postby JohnDenver » Mon 07 Feb 2005, 09:32:38

clv101 wrote:
JohnDenver wrote:Can you sustain 6+ billion people on renewable energy? Peak oil theory says "No".
How much energy per capita do the poorest 1 billion people of the world use? Sure we can't maintain a Western lifestyle on renewable but the poorest 1 billion maintain a lifestyle on a fraction the amount Westerners do. That amount of energy x6 billion could well be doable.


Maybe so, clv101. I guess the bottom line here is that peak oilers fall into two very different camps: survivalists who believe in the die-off, and moderates like yourself who do not. Therefore, the public at large is going hear mixed messages. On the one hand, the survivalists will be saying: "There is no solution. The die-off is inevitable. Save yourself. Panic, hoard, buy farmland, buy gold, buy guns." On the other hand, the moderates will be saying: "Don't panic, we still have a glimmer of hope. If we play our cards right and do the right thing environmentally, there is still chance that we can all pull through at the level of the poorest butt-poor people on earth." Likewise, the cornucopians (the mainstream) will be saying: "Just hang tight, and keep consuming like there's no tomorrow. A breakthrough is on the way."

So who has the best ad campaign? I'd rank their appeal to the public at large in this order:

#1: Cornucopians
#2: Survivalists
#3: Moderates

A lot of environmentalists seem to be looking to peak oil as a way to "sell" environmentalism to the masses, but I don't think it's going to work. The whole peak oil vision is too negative to inspire the masses in a positive way. It will drive people into survivalism and strife, not civic spirit and environmentalism. How can you win people to your side, when all you are offering to them is hard labor and poverty?
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Unread postby WhistleWind » Mon 07 Feb 2005, 12:20:09

Jack Wrote:
Lest anyone has forgotten what the Green Revolution was, it was a program to substantially increase crop yields via

. New crop cultivars (often strains genetically modified to maximize yields)
. Irrigation
. Fertilizers
. Pesticides
. Mechanization

And the results?


This is the first post in this thread to post real evidence in support of dieoff. The populations which will be worst hit will be the ones
which benefited most from the green revolution, namely India and
China (although China's brutal birth control policies in the
70s and 80s has delayed their demise). These are the very
countries which are industrialising fastest and trying to buy long
term supply contracts for oil and gas. Their leaders are not stupid.

The damage will be very patchy. It is further complicated by the
effects of global climate change (which are very real and going
to be very severe in many of the most densely populated parts of
the world within 30 years). Africa will be very hard hit
(if it wasn't already hit hard enough by the effects of Aids, brutal
civil/resource wars, past droughts, floods etc.) Even if the main
use of oil is kerosine for cooking, many people cannot live without it,
because they have already denuded their environment of trees,
their previous source of fuel, and destroyed their soil's
productivity through over grazing/fertilizer based farming/slash and
burn etc.
A further factor in your chances of survival is your country's
trade policy and relationship with WTO, etc. Basicly, if you are trying
to trade your way out of poverty by using your best land to grow luxury
food crops for the first world, then you are history. Your government
would most likely commit genocide against you (eg. Sudan , today)
rather than relinquish control of your land.

I suspect that a starving mass of humanity will behave like a plague of
locusts in their search for food, so when the monsoon patterns shift
and permanent drought hits, expect to see large areas denuded of
all higher animal are most plant life.

In the first world, when PO takes hold, and the world economy
collapses, people will not die in such dramitic fashion. Russia, in
the post communist years, went through a population decline. This
was not due entirely to emigration (clearly not a realistic option
PO - where would you go? If anywhere else was doing better they
wouldn't let you in). Many people drank themselves to death.
Many older people died of malnutrition/cold/heat/disease. The exact
cause in many cases is impossible to decide. The birth rate went
right down. When women cannot feed themselves well, their
furtility goes down, and their libido can disappear altogether. The
infant mortality rate shot up, due to poorer health care, malnutrition,
environmental polution, etc. Even the murder rate went up, but
that was a very small component.

That was the effect on a country going through 'economic
liberation'. For the effect on a totalitarian country with a centralised
economy see North Korea in the 1990's or China in the 1960's. That
was a lot worse.

This does not take into account world politics and nuclear weapons.
This is a real pandora's box which makes all prediction almost
impossible. It may be that the US will go down without a fight, but
with Bush and Co. in charge that looks very unlikely. If we do
get over that hurdle then I see India and China slugging it out over
the remaining oil and they could well resort to the bomb. When you
control a country of over billion people and hundreds of millions of
them face starvation, it will be very tempting to try a sneak attack
on your arch rival and risk a couple of dozen nukes coming back
on your major cities. At that point all bets are off.

So I do think global die-off will happen, maybe with a bang,
maybe with a wimper. The US is in for a bad time, Europe mostly
less so, Africa is a lost cause. World leaders could make the
transition less acute, but past performance implies they will make
if far worse than it has to be.
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Unread postby lorenzo » Mon 07 Feb 2005, 12:23:42

Does anyone know any good studies in which energy consumption and human development are correlated?

I haven't found any good info. But if you take a quick look at the Human Development Index, and then at per capita energy consumption, it's clear that there's no correlation.

In the top 10 of most developed countries the differences between the development indices are very small, but the differences in per capita energy consumption are spectacularly big. One example:
-The Netherlands rank fifth on the HDI;per capita energy consumption is 4,831.3 [kilos of oil equivalent]
-The United States rank eight, but their per capita energy consumption is almost double (8,920.9)
-Ireland ranks 10th, and uses 3,876.1 kgoe.
-While some countries swallow a lot of energy but rank somewhere in the middle of the HDI ranking.

In short, at the top end of the scale, there's no clear correlation between development and energy consumption any longer. Development is a matter of social policy, not of the intensity of capitalist consumption (as some right wing economists believe).

This also means that we can keep our development standards, while lowering our energy consumption, if we choose the right policies (the NorthEastern European model is most suited here, I think).



Sources:
Per capita energy consumption interactive database:
http://earthtrends.wri.org/searchable_d ... _countries

Human Development Index:
http://hdr.undp.org/statistics/indices/
http://hdr.undp.org/docs/statistics/ind ... i_2004.pdf
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Unread postby Liamj » Mon 07 Feb 2005, 18:10:37

JohnDenver wrote:Why not just blow all the non-renewables like there's no tomorrow, enjoy ourselves, fuck up the earth royale and then die? Why limit ourselves and scrimp if it's not going to solve the underlying problem? We blow it all... we have a die-off. We don't blow it all... we have a die-off. What's the difference?

The difference is YOU, and NOT YOU.
If in an aeroplane about to crash, do you take off yr seatbelt cos you think the pilot & first ten rows are doomed? We're all going to die, that is not in doubt, but (i know i'm repeating myself but its seems reqd) HOW & WHEN are of interest. I'd rather die in comfort, knowing i tried the best for me & mine.
JohnDenver apparently wants to die in squalor, hungry, desperate & ashamed of his selfishness.

liamj wrote:Just out of curiousity, where did you (JohnD) get that 95% figure, and does it have any parameters?

JohnDenver wrote: I got it from the peak oil/enviro literature. You can refer there for more details. Try dieoff.org.
Is this a joke? you repeatedly quote a dire figure but have no idea where it comes from? I'd call that irresponsible, misrepresentation even. [smilie=5baby.gif]
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Unread postby JohnDenver » Mon 07 Feb 2005, 20:29:41

Liamj wrote:
JohnDenver wrote:Why not just blow all the non-renewables like there's no tomorrow, enjoy ourselves, fuck up the earth royale and then die? Why limit ourselves and scrimp if it's not going to solve the underlying problem? We blow it all... we have a die-off. We don't blow it all... we have a die-off. What's the difference?

The difference is YOU, and NOT YOU.
If in an aeroplane about to crash, do you take off yr seatbelt cos you think the pilot & first ten rows are doomed?


Maybe. It's not like there'd be any harm in doing so. :P
Anyway, the fact remains that we are going to blow it all like there's no tomorrow. The environmentalists have nothing positive to offer, and the survivalists like yourself are a fringe minority.
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Unread postby 0mar » Mon 07 Feb 2005, 21:37:16

Selfish thinking. The #1 thought you can have right now is :

How can I better the survival of the human species in the context of peak oil?

Giving up and consuming yourself to death is the height of selfishness. It may not matter to you, but it is reasoning like that lead to this predicament we are in today.
Joseph Stalin
"It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything. "
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Unread postby Whitecrab » Mon 07 Feb 2005, 21:56:13

Why must it be 95%? Even dieoff.org acknowledges we could probably feed 1-3 billion people on subsidience agriculture.

We still have half the oil left, more than half the gas, and tons of coal and uranium. If we are careful and smart and cognizant, we may be able to keep the current generation going while we restrict births, scale down living, and leave a serviceable planet for a much smaller next generation.

I appreciate what you're saying, John, but there's no reason it has to always be X% no matter what we do. Theoretically, western societies still have some control over their own #s, at least. (Barring war).
"Our forces are now closer to the center of Baghdad than most American commuters are to their downtown office."
--Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, April 2003
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Unread postby JohnDenver » Tue 08 Feb 2005, 02:22:51

Whitecrab wrote:We still have half the oil left, more than half the gas, and tons of coal and uranium. If we are careful and smart and cognizant, we may be able to keep the current generation going while we restrict births, scale down living, and leave a serviceable planet for a much smaller next generation.


Hi Whitecrab,
IMO, the program you propose is impossible. It would require a world dictatorship to implement. People want to have children, and they want to scale up their living, not scale it down. Perhaps if there was some payoff at the end, you might be able to democratically convince people to have less children or scale down their living, but the greens don't seem to be offering any payoff. That's why people aren't listening to them. They're not trying to help people -- they think people are the problem, and they want to squeeze them down into a smaller and smaller box.
Suppose the greens get their way. They turn us all into childless ecopeasants, and make everybody miserable. Then one day a scientist somewhere cooks up a way to produce cheap, limitless energy. What's the green dictatorship going to say to all those miserable people then? Oops? Sorry?
I think we need harder evidence that a breakthrough is impossible before we start meddling in everybody's lives.

I appreciate what you're saying, John, but there's no reason it has to always be X% no matter what we do.


I agree. Personally, I don't think there's going to be any die-off at all. I'm simply pointing out that telling people that humanity is doomed is a bad way to start if you're trying to convince them to act more responsibly.
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Unread postby jato » Tue 08 Feb 2005, 03:11:14

Post subject: NO SOLUTION


John Denver, do you even think there is a problem? If so, what is it?

You always seem to play both sides of the coin.
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Unread postby johnmarkos » Tue 08 Feb 2005, 12:40:12

I can see a few positive sides to a lower-energy way of living.

1. Less cursing in traffic.
2. Bicycling gets you into shape and can be a lot of fun.
3. It's easier to make ends meet with fewer kids.
4. Gardening makes you happy.
5. It's interesting to learn where your food and energy come from.
6. Organic, locally-grown produce tastes better than factory farmed food (our CSA food is the best produce I've ever tasted).
7. Walking is a healthy way to get to know your neighborhood and spend time with family.

Check out gg3's posts on hedonism

http://www.peakoil.com/fortopic2239-0-asc-15.html

and the thread on "hobbit materialism"

http://www.peakoil.com/post57609.html#57609

for more thoughts on a non-dismal peakeriarity.

You can't transition from affluent suburbanite to "childless ecopeasant" in a heartbeat and I'm not sure it's reasonable to expect anyone to do so. However, most North Americans could probably eliminate 80% of all car trips with little pain. In addition, it's quite possible to live without a car in an urban area or in the suburbs. By itself, eliminating the car would reduce energy consumption by about 50%.

North Americans could also reduce electricity consumption by 50% with little pain.

People don't want more, they want to be happy. Consuming more is not the path to greater happiness.
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