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Peak Oil and Collapse in the United States

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

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Re: Peak Oil and Collapse in the United States

Unread postby Squilliam » Mon 17 Apr 2017, 06:33:45

ralfy wrote:
Squilliam wrote:I doubt that at this point peak oil will be a disaster. Given recent trends anything less than a sudden fall in production can be worn by the global economy. A major volcanic eruption such as the year without a summer would be more of a significant problem, but as that would be a black swan who can predict when/if it will happen within a relevant timeframe. Alts can just about replace any fall in net energy from fossil fuels at this point, so I am not particularly worried about that aspect.


Alternatives generally have low energy quality and quality, oil is needed even for components used in them (as seen in heavy machinery in mining, manufacturing, mechanized agriculture, and shipping), there is a lag time for implementation, and various corporations and governments worldwide are geared towards the assumption that there will be no long-term fall in production.


A 10% fall in oil production means that 90% of oil production is still available -- not a disaster by any means. It just means that less will be wasted, or alternatives will be sought to substitute. Then prices rise, and more supply will be bought online, albeit lower quality. Trains, buses, trams, bikes, electric cars, feet, motorbikes are all substitutes for cars.

Given the fact that oil makes up what? 40%? Of total U.S. energy consumption, and a 10% fall would of that would mean total energy consumption would be down by 4%. It isn't what you'd call a 'deadly blow'. That represents what would be a severe peaking of oil supply too.
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Re: Peak Oil and Collapse in the United States

Unread postby Tanada » Mon 17 Apr 2017, 09:31:10

Squilliam wrote:A 10% fall in oil production means that 90% of oil production is still available -- not a disaster by any means. It just means that less will be wasted, or alternatives will be sought to substitute. Then prices rise, and more supply will be bought online, albeit lower quality. Trains, buses, trams, bikes, electric cars, feet, motorbikes are all substitutes for cars.

Given the fact that oil makes up what? 40%? Of total U.S. energy consumption, and a 10% fall would of that would mean total energy consumption would be down by 4%. It isn't what you'd call a 'deadly blow'. That represents what would be a severe peaking of oil supply too.


This is a point that has been made by many people around these parts many times, and yet the true believers insist it will be the end of the world as we know it.

Guess what, the end of the world as we know it does not equal the end of civilization, or the end of the whole world, or mass extinction of humanity. It just means change and as much as i dislike change I am well aware change is part of modern life.

For example in 1980 an 'office computer' meant either a mainframe that was shared by all the employees of the company or at best a 'minicomputer' the size of a refrigerator that was for the CEO/Board of Directors members that was able to independently work but which was also connected to the company mainframe for networking. By 1990 that style of computing that had been born in the 1950's and prospered for 3 decades was effectively dead, replaced by desk top personal computers each with about 20 Mb of disk memory, networked together with a server of some form or fashion.

Or take telephones. A landline telephone became common in the 1920's and dominated personal communication for the next 70 years. Then one day the FCC decided to restructure radio frequency allocations in the USA. Within 5 years of that decision pagers became all the rage in the younger crowd, you could be anywhere and get a page with a short message and phone number to call back. Just a couple years after that the big telecom companies figured out they could use the pager towers for cell phone service and analog bag phones appeared. Five years after that a flip phone about the size of a landline hand set appeared, which was light enough and convenient enough to be very popular. A couple more years and digital radio encryption cut the power demands so far down that the handset size phone was replaced with a palm size phone, and Apple decided to make it as useful as the palmpilot and other PDA electronics. Now smart cell phones are the majority of phones in the USA and the payphone has almost completely disappeared from our culture in the USA. Of course this comes with a cost, disaster after disaster has demonstrated that landlines continue to function long after cell service ceases. Yet because the media is all about selling the latest and greatest technology landline phones are becoming rare in private homes. Businesses still have them because they are in a fixed location and they work cheap and well for customer communication, but for personal use nearly all the landlines remaining are in homes of older members of the population.

Back in 2005 when Oil prices were steadily increasing a number of institutions did exactly what Sqwilliam predicts above, they substituted other forms of energy. Specifically it made a splace when several public schools in the midwest switched from oil fired boilers to cheap fuel coal fired boilers for their heat and/or power supplies on campus. The modern coal burners are very clean and efficient compared to the ones that were replaced with fuel oil back in the 1960's that had by 2005 long since passed their replacement age. In fact in many cases they were much more energy efficient than the old fuel oil burners they were replacing in 2005-2008. Here is the thing, if you are not located on the natural gas network you have a limited range of portable fuels to choose from for your needs, you can use fuel oil from a large tank, you can use propane from a large tank, or you can use coal that gets dumped in a large pile. Before Fracking took off in 2008 for Natural Gas and its liquids like Propane coal was by far the cheapest of the three options. Now today Propane has spiked up and down based on international demand because life any petroleum product there was never a restriction on exports so it was always in competition with international demand. If you want a deliverable fuel that is stable in price Coal is still financially the winning proposition. Fortunately or otherwise the Obama Administration did everything it could to discourage coal use domestically so the switch to coal which began in 2005 ground to a rapid halt in early 2009. It remains to be seen if the Trump Administration will encourage domestic coal consumption, but given the size of the coal lobby I suspect it is likely. If that turns out to be true we may see domestic coal consumption in the USA resume its growth as it was doing in the 2005-08 period when oil prices were first rising as oil demand grew rapidly internationally.

Why does any of this matter? Simple, if you take away the propane and fuel oil through price rationing for locations not on the natural gas pipeline network coal becomes the obvious energy source. Without active discouragement from the government economics become the driving force of decision makers on the state, local and individual level. To be perfectly frank and earnest if I could heat my home for half the expense of natural gas by burning coal I would switch today. Personal need out trumps my belief in AGW, plus I believe we have already passed the point of no return on AGW so why should I go broke to burn methane when China, India, Russia and Germany are all burning coal like there is no tomorrow?
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Re: Peak Oil and Collapse in the United States

Unread postby AdamB » Mon 17 Apr 2017, 12:08:17

Squilliam wrote:I doubt that at this point peak oil will be a disaster.


Good call, considering you can look around and see the consequences of it, a decade after it supposedly happened now. Nothing like a little decade dose of reality to get a chuckle over the fears of the uninformed!
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Re: Peak Oil and Collapse in the United States

Unread postby pstarr » Mon 17 Apr 2017, 15:40:21

If I may sum up your position Tanada: cell phones, computers, fuel switching will save industrial civilization from collapse?
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Re: Peak Oil and Collapse in the United States

Unread postby asg70 » Mon 17 Apr 2017, 16:32:47

Technology has and will continue to kick the can down the road for some time. The longer term trends (ala limits to growth) are alarming, but mostly in the area of ecological collapse and not oil scarcity.
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Re: Peak Oil and Collapse in the United States

Unread postby Squilliam » Mon 17 Apr 2017, 17:28:13

Tanada wrote:
This is a point that has been made by many people around these parts many times, and yet the true believers insist it will be the end of the world as we know it.

Guess what, the end of the world as we know it does not equal the end of civilization, or the end of the whole world, or mass extinction of humanity. It just means change and as much as i dislike change I am well aware change is part of modern life.


There are other instabilities in the system. The system of finance/wealth distribution is incredibly broken still, so there can be flow on effects. However the fundamentals of the system in question are not changed by a small drop in oil production. A rise in oil prices can be dealt with if there is political will to do so. It only becomes a problem IF there is a shock AND then the responses to it are inadequate.

For example in 1980 an 'office computer' meant either a mainframe that was shared by all the employees of the company or at best a 'minicomputer' the size of a refrigerator that was for the CEO/Board of Directors members that was able to independently work but which was also connected to the company mainframe for networking. By 1990 that style of computing that had been born in the 1950's and prospered for 3 decades was effectively dead, replaced by desk top personal computers each with about 20 Mb of disk memory, networked together with a server of some form or fashion.


And now we're back at mainframes given the incredible rise of cloud computing. Moving the complexity of managing complex IT systems back to a cluster of professionals is more efficient, and they can do things like make the data far more portable and accessible. I remember how cool it was to have a 40GB HDD (I was a very young adopter of technology).


Why does any of this matter? Simple, if you take away the propane and fuel oil through price rationing for locations not on the natural gas pipeline network coal becomes the obvious energy source. Without active discouragement from the government economics become the driving force of decision makers on the state, local and individual level. To be perfectly frank and earnest if I could heat my home for half the expense of natural gas by burning coal I would switch today. Personal need out trumps my belief in AGW, plus I believe we have already passed the point of no return on AGW so why should I go broke to burn methane when China, India, Russia and Germany are all burning coal like there is no tomorrow?


In a pragmatic sense that is probably the reason why we haven't done much at all as a species to combat climate change. It's all about game theory -- everyone has the incentive to 'cheat' or game the system. Probably one of the biggest public policy failings of the 20th and 21st century so far is the fact that when countries applied environmental controls for things like CO2 emissions they didn't also apply a corresponding tariff on imports, so that other countries couldn't simply shift excessive CO2 production elsewhere. When people cut down a centuries old olive tree to provide heat for themselves they are doing far more damage than the gain of whatever heat they get. The same applies to much of the existing CO2 emissions because if they were charged at a rate that corresponded to the actual damage of those emissions we would have been well on the way to getting off fossil fuels by now. However people always want to cheat, so we haven't.

Technologies often have two curves. The first curve happens when the applications of that technology seem to show great promise, but there are severe or several minor shortcomings that have to be overcome. One of the better examples of this is the PDA/smartphone. I remember selling those when they cost a lot and did practically nothing. Then they moved onto the second curve after having solved most of the initial problems due to a congruence of multiple factors. Technologies like electric cars have done this too. First there was GM's EV1 (IIRC) that was by most accounts an inadequate car. Now we can have batteries that cost $227 KW/H down from over $1000 that can power electric cars to ranges that are more than adequate. People can now effectively go 'off grid' for $15,000 and provide all their power at home with the Tesla (or equivalent) home battery.
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Re: Peak Oil and Collapse in the United States

Unread postby sparky » Mon 17 Apr 2017, 18:31:19

.
Some unpleasantness in the straight of Ormuz could do the trick
like the Iranians mining it during a shooting war
I know it's childish but a video showing a LNG tanker hit by an anti ship missile should be pretty impressive
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Re: Peak Oil and Collapse in the United States

Unread postby AdamB » Mon 17 Apr 2017, 19:54:58

asg70 wrote:Technology has and will continue to kick the can down the road for some time. The longer term trends (ala limits to growth) are alarming, but mostly in the area of ecological collapse and not oil scarcity.


Now that strikes me as a statement as reasonable as any when it comes to the future.
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Re: Peak Oil and Collapse in the United States

Unread postby ralfy » Tue 18 Apr 2017, 05:17:38

Squilliam wrote:
A 10% fall in oil production means that 90% of oil production is still available -- not a disaster by any means. It just means that less will be wasted, or alternatives will be sought to substitute. Then prices rise, and more supply will be bought online, albeit lower quality. Trains, buses, trams, bikes, electric cars, feet, motorbikes are all substitutes for cars.

Given the fact that oil makes up what? 40%? Of total U.S. energy consumption, and a 10% fall would of that would mean total energy consumption would be down by 4%. It isn't what you'd call a 'deadly blow'. That represents what would be a severe peaking of oil supply too.


You did not address my points: I wrote that alternative sources of energy have low returns and quantity.

As for your new point, a global capitalist system does not operate with a 10-pct fall in production each time but the opposite.

Finally, U.S. energy consumption <> world energy consumption. And all that credit created to make the U.S. "wealthy" has to be backed up by increasing production and sales of goods and services worldwide. In short, global capitalism.
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Re: Peak Oil and Collapse in the United States

Unread postby ralfy » Tue 18 Apr 2017, 05:22:17

Tanada wrote:
This is a point that has been made by many people around these parts many times, and yet the true believers insist it will be the end of the world as we know it.

Guess what, the end of the world as we know it does not equal the end of civilization, or the end of the whole world, or mass extinction of humanity. It just means change and as much as i dislike change I am well aware change is part of modern life.

For example in 1980 an 'office computer' meant either a mainframe that was shared by all the employees of the company or at best a 'minicomputer' the size of a refrigerator that was for the CEO/Board of Directors members that was able to independently work but which was also connected to the company mainframe for networking. By 1990 that style of computing that had been born in the 1950's and prospered for 3 decades was effectively dead, replaced by desk top personal computers each with about 20 Mb of disk memory, networked together with a server of some form or fashion.

Or take telephones. A landline telephone became common in the 1920's and dominated personal communication for the next 70 years. Then one day the FCC decided to restructure radio frequency allocations in the USA. Within 5 years of that decision pagers became all the rage in the younger crowd, you could be anywhere and get a page with a short message and phone number to call back. Just a couple years after that the big telecom companies figured out they could use the pager towers for cell phone service and analog bag phones appeared. Five years after that a flip phone about the size of a landline hand set appeared, which was light enough and convenient enough to be very popular. A couple more years and digital radio encryption cut the power demands so far down that the handset size phone was replaced with a palm size phone, and Apple decided to make it as useful as the palmpilot and other PDA electronics. Now smart cell phones are the majority of phones in the USA and the payphone has almost completely disappeared from our culture in the USA. Of course this comes with a cost, disaster after disaster has demonstrated that landlines continue to function long after cell service ceases. Yet because the media is all about selling the latest and greatest technology landline phones are becoming rare in private homes. Businesses still have them because they are in a fixed location and they work cheap and well for customer communication, but for personal use nearly all the landlines remaining are in homes of older members of the population.

Back in 2005 when Oil prices were steadily increasing a number of institutions did exactly what Sqwilliam predicts above, they substituted other forms of energy. Specifically it made a splace when several public schools in the midwest switched from oil fired boilers to cheap fuel coal fired boilers for their heat and/or power supplies on campus. The modern coal burners are very clean and efficient compared to the ones that were replaced with fuel oil back in the 1960's that had by 2005 long since passed their replacement age. In fact in many cases they were much more energy efficient than the old fuel oil burners they were replacing in 2005-2008. Here is the thing, if you are not located on the natural gas network you have a limited range of portable fuels to choose from for your needs, you can use fuel oil from a large tank, you can use propane from a large tank, or you can use coal that gets dumped in a large pile. Before Fracking took off in 2008 for Natural Gas and its liquids like Propane coal was by far the cheapest of the three options. Now today Propane has spiked up and down based on international demand because life any petroleum product there was never a restriction on exports so it was always in competition with international demand. If you want a deliverable fuel that is stable in price Coal is still financially the winning proposition. Fortunately or otherwise the Obama Administration did everything it could to discourage coal use domestically so the switch to coal which began in 2005 ground to a rapid halt in early 2009. It remains to be seen if the Trump Administration will encourage domestic coal consumption, but given the size of the coal lobby I suspect it is likely. If that turns out to be true we may see domestic coal consumption in the USA resume its growth as it was doing in the 2005-08 period when oil prices were first rising as oil demand grew rapidly internationally.

Why does any of this matter? Simple, if you take away the propane and fuel oil through price rationing for locations not on the natural gas pipeline network coal becomes the obvious energy source. Without active discouragement from the government economics become the driving force of decision makers on the state, local and individual level. To be perfectly frank and earnest if I could heat my home for half the expense of natural gas by burning coal I would switch today. Personal need out trumps my belief in AGW, plus I believe we have already passed the point of no return on AGW so why should I go broke to burn methane when China, India, Russia
and Germany are all burning coal like there is no tomorrow?


USA <> world. Stop assuming that your anecdotes reflect global circumstances.

AGW eventually trumps your personal needs.

You also end up burning methane because of this phenomenon called "peak oil," and as part of limits to growth. Look it up.
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Re: Peak Oil and Collapse in the United States

Unread postby sparky » Tue 18 Apr 2017, 05:47:17

.
A good article from the BBC on societal collapse
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/2017041 ... d-collapse


it's main points is that , excluding a massive disaster event ,societies collapse due to two factors .

environment degradation and excessive stratification of classes
the dominant group getting smaller and sucking more and more wealth to themselves
while the increasing majority , receive even less per capita .

Environmental degradation is , I believe , only a trigger
Certainly a very stratified society must find ever more convoluted discourses to prevent the vast majority from doing the rational thing and just cutting their throats
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Re: Peak Oil and Collapse in the United States

Unread postby Squilliam » Tue 18 Apr 2017, 08:26:56

ralfy wrote:
You did not address my points: I wrote that alternative sources of energy have low returns and quantity.

As for your new point, a global capitalist system does not operate with a 10-pct fall in production each time but the opposite.

Finally, U.S. energy consumption <> world energy consumption. And all that credit created to make the U.S. "wealthy" has to be backed up by increasing production and sales of goods and services worldwide. In short, global capitalism.


Alternative sources of energy are good enough. You can replace some oil with substitutes or even forgo the consumption of it. It isn't as if every single drop of oil is critical to the survival of civilization. There is some leeway. If I prick you, you will bleed, but you certainly will not drop dead. Capitalism can survive this kind of thing because for every adversity new opportunities are created.

So what do we have? Essentially no sign of *any* drop in oil production in the near future. The opportunity to ramp up pre-existing supplies of oil, and soon to a limited extent the option of replacing oil fueled transportation in the west with electric cars and the expanding public transport networks. This is good enough for the foreseeable future, or at least the next 5-10 years. A significant proportion of oil is used as a lifestyle commodity, so whilst lifestyles may be forced to change the overall society can still function with significantly less of it.
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Re: Peak Oil and Collapse in the United States

Unread postby ROCKMAN » Tue 18 Apr 2017, 11:22:49

S - All good points and leads back to the same issue. An issue that makes me avoid such debates: lack of specificity. "Collapse" and the other doomer euphemisms (including those used by cornucopians) mean only what each person thinks they mean. Which, in essences, results in those terms being meaningless.

How can two people sensibly debate the possibility of X happening if they each have a different view of what X is. IOW: what is "collapse"? 15% unemployment... 30%? Incomes dropping 20%...50%? Stock market falling 10%...40%? Govt tax revenue dropping 10%...30%? Federal debt increased in 4 years from $20 T to $25 T to stimulate the economist...$35 T?

By now you get the point. You can't even debate the future of the critical metrics until you mutually decide which of the dozens of metrics are the best representatives of the US economy.

So to test my assertion it might be handy to see how each one here defines the "collapse" of the US economy by listing just 3 metrics. And keep it short: not where and why you think each is heading but just what they are.

IOW until there's an agreement on what those metrics would be there's no point in debating where they are or aren't heading IMHO.
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Re: Peak Oil and Collapse in the United States

Unread postby Hawkcreek » Tue 18 Apr 2017, 11:33:46

Ok, my three are:

1. All of the damned Californians moving to Washington state all at once.
2. Not being able to buy a new barrel for my favorite pistol.
3. Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon, closing down.
Number 3 is probably the most important.

Ok, to be more serious:
1. People literally starving on the streets in the USA, and no help available.
2. Armed violence or rioting in over 50% of the major cities in the USA.
3. Total shutdown of 50% of the USA power grid.
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Re: Peak Oil and Collapse in the United States

Unread postby Squilliam » Tue 18 Apr 2017, 16:34:59

R - how would I define collapse? Eek

For sudden types:

total collapse: Sustained breakdown in law enforcement across a whole region or society. Once law enforcement goes, and people are in it for themselves because they no longer trust the system/each other and go native/primitive the society has reached a point that it can't come back from because this would cause too much damage to existing infrastructure. Your society can survive if it gets starved, the $%^& bombed out of, but it can't survive a loss of law enforcement at the same time as massive lawlessness.

sectoral/partial collapse: The loss of important services such as energy (both or either electricity or fossil fuels), banking system breaking down, government breaking down, limited/localised rioting, major loss of food supplies etc. Essentially an unpleasant situation you could live through, but wouldn't want to get any worse that if sustained can lead to total collapse.

Long term:

Mild-major: Severe (10-60%) loss in prosperity sustained over 5 years.
Total: Extreme (61-99%) loss of prosperity sustained over 5 years.
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Re: Peak Oil and Collapse in the United States

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Tue 18 Apr 2017, 17:34:38

1. The banks and ATMs close and peoples income stops coming in or if it comes in has been made worthless by inflation.
2. There is no food in the stores or at least none you have the means to buy.
3. The electric and communications grid goes down including the internet and satellite TV. (The electricity is the main thing here but the internet will be what gives everybody the message they can't ignore.)
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Re: Peak Oil and Collapse in the United States

Unread postby AdamB » Tue 18 Apr 2017, 18:39:12

ralfy wrote:You did not address my points: I wrote that alternative sources of energy have low returns and quantity.


Such things haven't stopped the ongoing transition, or even the economy, so the only people who think this matters appear to be folks like you that haven't figured out they are mostly irrelevant.

ralfy wrote:Finally, U.S. energy consumption <> world energy consumption. And all that credit created to make the U.S. "wealthy" has to be backed up by increasing production and sales of goods and services worldwide. In short, global capitalism.


Global capitalism defeated LATOCs claims of peak oil more than a decade ago, perhaps you haven't noticed? Or is the inability to learn one of those common defects that led folks there, before it imploded?
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Re: Peak Oil and Collapse in the United States

Unread postby wildbourgman » Tue 18 Apr 2017, 19:01:52

Man this is a difficult one to nail down. I'd say that many folks on this site and others would have never thought the United States would have lost 10% of it's crude oil consumption as quickly as we did in 2008. Now having the earlier debate on whether that came from the financial crisis or it came from oil scarcity is probably a fruitless endeavor. Does it matter if we have if our debt fueled inflation causes the problems or if being overly dependent on energy resources forces us to create massive debts. What's the difference ? We won't get TPTB to address the problem regardless why it's happening. So now we are being told that the U.S. economy is growing but we still have not got back to 2007 oil consumption rates. We still haven't really got back to earnings growth at home or in industry. Hell that's how we elected Trump. People know that we've been in collapse so whether it's due to peak oil or not or it may not matter when folks are too broke to buy the product anyway.

Let's define collapse.
1. Go from 20+ million bbls/day consumption to 18 MBPD. Done that once!
2. Have you real per capita work force shrink to levels that are unsustainable to your welfare state. Done that!
3. Even having a system that one of the very efficient bright sides is the "just in time" delivery system. That's really good until we have any disruption that causes cities and suburbs to run out of supplies within days. We have that!

I tend to agree with George W. "this sucker will go down”
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Re: Peak Oil and Collapse in the United States

Unread postby Plantagenet » Tue 18 Apr 2017, 19:48:22

Squilliam wrote:R - how would I define collapse? Eek.....

Long term:

Mild-major: Severe (10-60%) loss in prosperity sustained over 5 years.
Total: Extreme (61-99%) loss of prosperity sustained over 5 years.


No need to go "Eek!" You are exactly right.

We had significant economic recession in 2008-9, which resulted in a sustained loss of prosperity here in the USA.

However, it wasn't big enough to cause collapse.

We'll need a sustained economic depression to move things along towards full collapse.

Image

Maybe we'll get that in the next economic downturn coming up soon under Trump. :idea:

Cheers!

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Re: Peak Oil and Collapse in the United States

Unread postby ralfy » Wed 19 Apr 2017, 06:45:11

Squilliam wrote:Alternative sources of energy are good enough. You can replace some oil with substitutes or even forgo the consumption of it. It isn't as if every single drop of oil is critical to the survival of civilization. There is some leeway. If I prick you, you will bleed, but you certainly will not drop dead. Capitalism can survive this kind of thing because for every adversity new opportunities are created.

So what do we have? Essentially no sign of *any* drop in oil production in the near future. The opportunity to ramp up pre-existing supplies of oil, and soon to a limited extent the option of replacing oil fueled transportation in the west with electric cars and the expanding public transport networks. This is good enough for the foreseeable future, or at least the next 5-10 years. A significant proportion of oil is used as a lifestyle commodity, so whilst lifestyles may be forced to change the overall society can still function with significantly less of it.


5 to 10 years is definitely not good enough.
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