This is truly a fascinating topic. While not directly related to atheism, i thought it was appropriate to bring it up in a forum of free thinkers...

There's a fascinating lecture by Albert Bartlett, a Colorado University Physics Professor, where he speaks of the coming oil crisis and makes it clear exactly how ill-equipped we are in dealing with it.

The Lecture

As to date, there are NO alternatives to oil which can replace the Quantity which humanity is using up.
For example, if we were to count on ethanol, we would have to use up all the agricultural land in the US just to answer the local demand.

And even that solution would only last for a few years, because humanity's demand for energy rapidly increases from year to year.

Thus the problem isn't shortage of energy- but rather overpopulation.

Professor Bartlett speaks of something called "Peak Oil" which is the point where oil production peaks, supply can no longer reach demand, and the quantity pumped from the ground begins to decrease each year.


"Peak Oil" is an important figure, because the moment it is announced that we have reached that point, the commodity becomes "Rare" and its price would hike. If the price is too high and no one can pay, pumping would stop- even though there is still oil in the ground.

All charts i've seen point that we have already passed peak oil, if not now, than in a few years. Why Doesn't Mainstream Media mention this?

If you did not know, the US already peaked, way back in the 1970's, and has been importing oil ever since to meet the ever increasing local demand.

Yesterday I saw another lecture on TED, by Physicist Professor Steven Cowley, who spoke on Nuclear Fusion as humanity's only real alternative to oil, since only it can answer the ever increasing demand.

He presented a chart of world oil reserves, and claimed that we have rougly ten more years before it runs out. By that estimate, WE ARE DEFINATELY PAST PEAK OIL.

A newly released fascinating documentary on the topic is the movie COLLAPSE, which is an interview with Michael Ruppert, a writer and conspiracy theorist who wrote extensively about 9/11 and its connection to peak oil.

Whether you're a conspiracy buff or not, it's interesting to see that Ruppert says the exact same things as professor Bartlett of Colorado University...

Is it paranoid to think that anyday now OPEC could come out with a declaration that would change our lives for ever?

Views: 28

Tags: oil, peak

Comment by dune on January 12, 2010 at 7:25am
At the outset, I am a big renewable energy supporter. I do not believe we are way past peak oil, or that the collapse will come in 2010. In 2040 maybe.

Then we have lots of natural gas, and lots more is still being discovered. It is less polluting than oil, and is more evenly spread in comparison. Greater natural gas use may hopefully lead to lesser geopolitical tensions than today. However, the world will have to work out the logistic challenges including transportation and storage, apart from moving everything from transportation to power generation to a greater natural gas usage.

In the long term however, and keeping our sci-fi dreams at bay, we have to learn to be more reliant on renewable energy sources like solar and wind energy, and other more locally concentrated sources as well. Wind energy may not be the absolutely best solution, but till the time solar photovoltaic and solar thermal technologies can be scaled up quickly, we can make the best use of whatever blows our way. It is already grid-competitive in some places, and closing in in more.

If we keep on waiting for somebody to find the magic solution, like the ever-elusive cold fusion, we are just inviting the oil depletion problem to become larger, and not developing long-term alternatives.
Comment by Thaddeus Dombrowski on January 12, 2010 at 9:21am
I do accept the peak oil proposition. I believe we are either at peak now, or slightly past peak.

You said, "For example, if we were to count on ethanol, we would have to use up all the agricultural land in the US just to answer the local demand." This is refuted by David Blume in his book, Alcohol Can Be a Gas. The book is very interesting and optimistic. I encourage everyone to read and consider it.

As for the idea that we are overpopulated -- maybe. In fact, probably. But, there is something else to consider when the level of population is debated. We are overpopulated in relation to the way we live. One thing is for sure -- we are overpopulated if everyone in the world wants to live like middle class Americans (or rich ones). But, maybe the problem isn't population so much as the American lifestyle. There is a lot we should change about the way we live if we are concerned about energy resources.

It's difficult to do things about population. This doesn't mean we shouldn't be trying. But, since we are already overpopulated we can't change that factor quickly in a moral way. What we can do is reconsider the manner in which we all live on this planet. How we design our living arrangements has a lot to do with how well we cope with the issue of peak oil.

Peak oil isn't the only big issue we are facing. I would also suggest reading Collapse, by Jared Diamond. He argues that we face a number of problems (I believe he identified twelve specific issues) ranging from peak oil to overfishing to deforestation. He says that we actually have to solve every one of them. Any one of the issues is sufficient to bring about a collapse of our own society if left unaddressed.
Comment by Wassabi on January 12, 2010 at 9:36am
what you wrote about ethanol is interesting. it's the first time i've heard it. however i would really reccomend you see the colorado lecture i linked to at the top of the post. the ever increasing rate of consumption is our biggest problem- and even if there is enough land now, there won't be for long. it's simple math, made apperantly clear in the lecture.
Comment by Thaddeus Dombrowski on January 12, 2010 at 9:41am
I will check out the lecture after work. However, simple math is based on assumptions. I think the math may be sound but the assumptions on which the math rests may not be. That's why I recommend Blume's book. He questions a lot of assumptions. If you follow the link to his page watch some of the video's posted there you will realize just how much we rely on assumptions that are wrong.

In any case, I'm glad you posted this because I think the peak oil problem needs to be understood.
Comment by Kirk Holden on January 12, 2010 at 5:16pm
It's always great to hear that science may have an answer but the economics of converting from oil to natural gas, in the limit a trivial technical problem, will be far worse than the "correction" in crude oil prices two years ago. That bobble lead to a world-wide global meltdown since it triggered a housing meltdown.

Electric utilities invest in dead certain, ancient technology because they sink huge capital outlays for 30-50 years at a pop. The next 50+ years are going to look worse than the last 50. We might stretch the Hubbert Cycle by 30 years to 2040 but it will cost much more on the back half than the front half. Every barrel of oil from now on will cost more than every barrel that came before.

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