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the_partys_over [2010/01/20 04:05]
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the_partys_over [2010/11/18 12:00] (current)
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 An [[http://​www.postcarbon.org/​files/​EndOfOilBooklet_0.pdf|alternative synopsis]] is provided by the Post Carbon Institute on [[http://​www.postcarbon.org/​|their website]]. An [[http://​www.postcarbon.org/​files/​EndOfOilBooklet_0.pdf|alternative synopsis]] is provided by the Post Carbon Institute on [[http://​www.postcarbon.org/​|their website]].
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 ====== Energy, Nature and Society ====== ====== Energy, Nature and Society ======
  
-Ecology is the study of the way in which species interact with their environments and other species. ​ Humans conform neatly ​into standard ecological patterns; it is therefore possible to view social sciences in a sense as a subset of ecology, and to examine human society in the context of ecology'​s basic rules. ​ In this context it is useful to explain a few concepts:+Ecology is the study of the way in which species interact with their environments and other species. ​ Humans conform neatly ​to standard ecological patterns; it is therefore possible to view social sciences in a sense as a subset of ecology, and to examine human society in the context of ecology'​s basic rules. ​ In this context it is useful to explain a few concepts:
   - **Carrying capacity**: the number of members of a species (population load) that a given set of resources can support.   - **Carrying capacity**: the number of members of a species (population load) that a given set of resources can support.
   - **Climax phase**: this is the stable state of ecological systems, in which all species have coevolved in order to exploit available resources with the greatest possible efficiency. ​ Typically, in this phase, //​competition has been eliminated//​. ​ Where multiple species previously competed for a scarce resource, in the climax phase either all but one species has been eliminated or all species have evolved so as to stably exploit the same resource without infringing upon one another (eg by feeding at different times or in different areas). ​ In many cases, species will develop means of regulating their own populations other than through starvation of surplus members (such as becoming infertile when food supplies are not plentiful).(("​The urge to form partnerships,​ to link up in collaborative arrangements,​ is perhaps the oldest, strongest, and most fundamental force in nature. ​ There are no solitary, free-living creatures, every form of life is dependent on other forms."​ ---Lewis Thomas, quoted in Augros and Stanciu, //The New Biology//, p118.))   - **Climax phase**: this is the stable state of ecological systems, in which all species have coevolved in order to exploit available resources with the greatest possible efficiency. ​ Typically, in this phase, //​competition has been eliminated//​. ​ Where multiple species previously competed for a scarce resource, in the climax phase either all but one species has been eliminated or all species have evolved so as to stably exploit the same resource without infringing upon one another (eg by feeding at different times or in different areas). ​ In many cases, species will develop means of regulating their own populations other than through starvation of surplus members (such as becoming infertile when food supplies are not plentiful).(("​The urge to form partnerships,​ to link up in collaborative arrangements,​ is perhaps the oldest, strongest, and most fundamental force in nature. ​ There are no solitary, free-living creatures, every form of life is dependent on other forms."​ ---Lewis Thomas, quoted in Augros and Stanciu, //The New Biology//, p118.))
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 The size of officially reported Middle-Eastern known reserves increased significantly during the 1980s. ​ The pessimists are confident that this inflation of known reserves was politically motivated and did not represent any new data --- OPEC's quotas were based on known reserves and these adjustments allowed various countries to increase their output. ​ Pessimists'​ models generally exclude these revisions (although they'​re included in upper-bound estimates). The size of officially reported Middle-Eastern known reserves increased significantly during the 1980s. ​ The pessimists are confident that this inflation of known reserves was politically motivated and did not represent any new data --- OPEC's quotas were based on known reserves and these adjustments allowed various countries to increase their output. ​ Pessimists'​ models generally exclude these revisions (although they'​re included in upper-bound estimates).
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 ===== The Optimists ===== ===== The Optimists =====
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 The optimists are mostly economists and lawyers with the occasional engineering degree thrown in, but also include most relevant agencies of the US government (including the US Geological Survey (USGS), Energy Information Agency (EIA), Materials Management Service (MMS) and Department of Energy (DoE)). ​ They generally do not present alternative models or predictions,​ but rather criticise the models of the optimists, broadly arguing that it is not possible to make such predictions because things we don't know about will improve the situation before any of the predictions come to pass.  Predictably,​ their arguments divide into the simply idiotic and those that are at the very least coherent. ​ Ignoring the idiocy (Huber in particular),​ their main arguments: The optimists are mostly economists and lawyers with the occasional engineering degree thrown in, but also include most relevant agencies of the US government (including the US Geological Survey (USGS), Energy Information Agency (EIA), Materials Management Service (MMS) and Department of Energy (DoE)). ​ They generally do not present alternative models or predictions,​ but rather criticise the models of the optimists, broadly arguing that it is not possible to make such predictions because things we don't know about will improve the situation before any of the predictions come to pass.  Predictably,​ their arguments divide into the simply idiotic and those that are at the very least coherent. ​ Ignoring the idiocy (Huber in particular),​ their main arguments:
   - Known reserves increase with time and existing models underestimate them (even though expected increases in known reserves are included, even optimistically,​ in pessimists'​ models). ​ It is noted that previous predictions,​ particularly those made before 1960, were proven to be highly pessimistic. ​ Clearly, the fact that one prediction is wrong does not in itself imply that a different prediction will be wrong --- each must be assessed on its merits.   - Known reserves increase with time and existing models underestimate them (even though expected increases in known reserves are included, even optimistically,​ in pessimists'​ models). ​ It is noted that previous predictions,​ particularly those made before 1960, were proven to be highly pessimistic. ​ Clearly, the fact that one prediction is wrong does not in itself imply that a different prediction will be wrong --- each must be assessed on its merits.
-  - There is a lot of oil that we know about but don't yet know how to extract --- at present, it is common to only be capable of extracting 30 per cent of a known oilfield. ​ This is true and technology is slowly advancing to extract more, but the trend is very much that extracting more oil comes at an escalating energy cost --- and there is a physical limit at the point at which it costs a barrel-worth of energy to extract a barrel-worth ​of oil.  We are already not very far from this point.+  - There is a lot of oil that we know about but don't yet know how to extract --- at present, it is common to only be capable of extracting 30 per cent of a known oilfield. ​ This is true and technology is slowly advancing to extract more, but the trend is very much that extracting more oil comes at an escalating energy cost --- and there is a physical limit at the point at which it costs a barrel-worth of energy to extract a barrel of oil.  We are already not very far from this point.
   - Once the price rises, we will find alternative energies --- we will return to coal or use gas, or improve our methods of using oil shale or possibly tar sands. ​ Currently there are enormous known reserves of oil shale, and it is already being used to create energy in Canada. ​ However, it requires enormous energy inputs (2 barrels in for every 3 out) and creates larger amounts of toxic waste than the processes'​ raw material input. ​ A comprehensive discussion of whether there are viable alternative energies follows in the next chapter. ​ But some optimists claim that the oil age will end not when it runs out, but when superior sources of energy are discovered.   - Once the price rises, we will find alternative energies --- we will return to coal or use gas, or improve our methods of using oil shale or possibly tar sands. ​ Currently there are enormous known reserves of oil shale, and it is already being used to create energy in Canada. ​ However, it requires enormous energy inputs (2 barrels in for every 3 out) and creates larger amounts of toxic waste than the processes'​ raw material input. ​ A comprehensive discussion of whether there are viable alternative energies follows in the next chapter. ​ But some optimists claim that the oil age will end not when it runs out, but when superior sources of energy are discovered.
   - The final argument is that there are large unexplored fields in the Middle East, which the nationalised industries of the region have avoided finding but will be brought online as oil prices begin to rise.  It is true that much Middle Eastern data is considered a state secret, but also that the Middle East has been extensively explored, and that even a few enormous new finds (none of which have occurred since 1970) would only push back the peak by a few years.   - The final argument is that there are large unexplored fields in the Middle East, which the nationalised industries of the region have avoided finding but will be brought online as oil prices begin to rise.  It is true that much Middle Eastern data is considered a state secret, but also that the Middle East has been extensively explored, and that even a few enormous new finds (none of which have occurred since 1970) would only push back the peak by a few years.
the_partys_over.1263960344.txt.gz ยท Last modified: 2010/01/20 12:00 (external edit)