Today I wanted to reflect on a lecture that was held in Oberlin a few weeks ago. Featured was the travelling speaker and energy writer Nicole Foss. She worked on biogas and has a BSc. So I don’t have to re-invent the wheel, here’s a brief synopsis of her thesis: “Nicole believes that the depression will cause demand for energy to go down, creating further energy shortages and less and less economic growth.”
Peak oil (no longer increase production) causes the availability of a finite resource to go down, and a plateau and decline of the ability to produce it. prices to relatively skyrocket. It is a real deflation because everything seems more expensive, and a monetary inflation. Where is our energy going to come from? This is a collective emotional recession that we need to be prepared for! Notably from her presentation, this is not something that is adaptable, you no longer have a source.
1. What are the sources?
Cheap, easy sources are almost expired. See my other post where I actually have a picture of how an oil well stops up. However, you have to put back in more energy to harvest a single unit from these sources. We need about 10:1 energy return:investment for the same socio-economic complexity by her calculations. This is about what we have now. 5:1 means a real decline in the capacity to do work. A recession, even without finance.
Tar sands are expensive in money terms and energy, making them less “efficient” in net energy return on investment, and lay in national parks which is illegal, and destroys the water system in that area.
Coal is getting destroyed morally that we could even mine more of it. It is not just in burning it, but in it’s whole life cycle that it is harmful. If it were to replace oil… would require a thousand times more of it…
Nuclear, while feasible in China, is no longer feasible here because of regulation and the “NIMBY”‘s- “Not in my backyard!”. Very notably, nuclear fission is not compatible with any social upheaval– it requires a lot of different components going right in society. However, that’s the kind of energy quantities we’re talking about satisfying.
Natural gas … she said something about it but I do not know much about. It occurs with oil. Fracking is dangerous/evil.
Utility-scale renewables are a key innovation, which happen to also require a new grid and for society to reduce the amount of energy we need. It requires a lot of work (and.. government subsidy) in R&D before it is competitive in price/kw*H as the ones above. I even heard a dirty fuel exec on the radio support this policy.
Since energy is one of the main focuses of this blog, I will post the Huppert’s curve- where your peak is and a steep decline after. Speaks for itself. We need to find an alternative soon, because the oil will run out.
2. My notes from the conclusion:
Mutually reinforcing virtuous circle of optimism.
Our markets: are food, the dollar, and emotion.
Since God is a force for good, faith will let me make the right decisions going forward.
Economy- Supply & Demand (not indicator), agricultural, value.
Is this a giant Y2K-type threat?
Could fusion save us?
Some technological innovation?
–> would just encourage our bad habits, inequality..
&& Q. Would the world still be a habitable one afterwards with climate change..
3. Recommendations: Move forward within the scope of what you can achieve…
be a non-discretionary role in Society.
Supply essential goods and services.
Cheap escapism? will be actually a smart thing (see TED vid)
Radical philosophy.. watch out for it! DO NOT SUCCUMB. YOU ARE NOW INOCULATED AGAINST IT.
3. more Nicole Foss: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvoFJsqF1wQ