Are we there yet? revisited

6 02 2012

In December 2011, I posted a Post Carbon Institute video entitled “Are we there yet”.  A visitor called Ed posted a very long winded reply, which whilst it totally disagrees with everything I believe in, I allowed in the interest of free speech and all that…. you can read it under the video here.  Because it is so long, and because it raises lots of interesting points, I decided to address it here as a new post rather than another long winded reply to a comment.

Ed, if I may say so, slots into my Conspiracy Theory Believer type. But here goes….

Yes Ed, life expectancy is much higher now than say 100 years ago, and it’s all down to Fossil Fuels.  When everyone has 200 slaves working for them, it allows them to specialise considerably, so we have specialists who turn oil into drugs, into MRI machines, into food, into air conditioners, ambulances, fire fighting helicopters, the list is very very long…  That’s why everything will change a lot post Peak Everything.  Having said that, I believe this will not last as a whole generation of young people will die even before their parents from malnutrition.  When I see what people put in their shopping trolleys believing it to be food, I just shudder…..

Ed says “there is more oil on the market now than ever before”.  Well…. yes and no.  There is less “conventional oil” than ever before plus a rising amount (for the time being) of “unconventional oil”.  Big difference.  The net energy of “conventional oil” is currently about five times bigger than that of “unconventional oil”.  I cannot stress how important this is.  Yes we can make oil (and gas) out of coal, waste plastic, horse shit, almost anything that contains Carbon and Hydrogen atoms…. but unlike oil that comes out of the ground for FREE (well, almost for free), all those alternatives have to be manufactured.

Check this out….. :

See that blue stuff…?  It’s SURPLUS ENERGY.  It’s the energy we currently run the world with.  Now when the surplus is even as low as 80%, there’s loads more blue stuff than red stuff (which is the energy input for making the blue stuff).  Think of it as a tax; you take home the blue money, and government taxes you the red money.

NOW…  and this is the crucial bit, as we roll over the energy cliff, some of those things you talk about with glee, desalination, methanol, alcohol, hydrogen, all have very low net energy, maybe under 50%.  That’s like your income being taxed 50%!  Now you don’t have to be Einstein to realise that if you go home with only half your pay, you won’t be able to do anywhere near as much with your money as you did before.  And so it is with energy…. it’s not how much is left that matters, it’s how much energy “tax” (NOT like a Carbon tax I hasten to say) Geology and Physics will take away from you…

Even Deep Sea Drilling is becoming unviable now.  The Deepwater Horizon failure is a classic case in hand.  For what was basically just one and a half days’ worth of global oil production, BP cut corners to drill a mile below the sea, and another mile below the bottom.  They cut corners because they could not sell this oil for $200 a barrel (just picking numbers out of the air I know), and at “just” $100/barrel, there was insufficient profit in it for them to spend the extra billions to ensure the safety of the operation.  I predict many more such disasters in the future…

Ed further states “We are forced to wired (sic) into the electric company, we are forced to buy fuel from the makers of the fuel.”

This isn’t true.  Nobody forces you to do anything.  My old boss Ernest has a house in suburbia that is not wired to the grid, and runs a stand alone solar power system.  We are wired to the grid to actually make money!  We profit from “the Matrix”!  And nobody makes you own a car or buy fuel for it.  I didn’t own a car for six years and survived… and BTW, we do not have a generator to keep the lights on when the grid fails, we have backup solar power.  Have you bothered to read the wealth of information I have freely distributed on this blog Ed?

Regarding desalination, I am totally opposed to the idea.  I must admit, I had never thought of where ships get their fresh water from, but a ship is a totally different proposition to a town or city.  It’s an ideal place to desalinate when surrounded by salt water with a huge source of waste heat in the engine room called a diesel engine (or two or three or four!)  Desal requires huge amounts of energy, and that we are now attempting to keep growth going by using such idiotic technology is a symptom of humanity having hit limits to growth…..  We are so clever….

“Peak oil only exist because Governments regulate it” continues Ed….  Really Ed… the government wants to crash the economy by restricting oil supply through regulation?  I know they’re all morons, but this bad?  If this were true, why are governments everywhere pushing all this mad fracking business to get oil and gas trapped in rocks thousands of feet below the ground, poisoning the water so we can use the fracked gas to power desalination plants?  Fun?  I call it clutching at straws.

The problems with cars is not that they are not diesel electric (Chevy’s Volt is a petrol electric BTW…) but that they are too big, and designed to go way too fast…  And while I hear you re diesel vehicles, you may be surprised to learn that it’s an American problem; in Europe they already build small diesel cars that easily do 75 MPG.

Now to the reason your road and pipeline infrastructure is crumbling…  This is a typical symptom of Limits to Growth.  I know you’ll believe this is more propaganda Ed, but you see, we have reached the stage where old infrastructure has to be replaced at the same time as new stuff has to also be built to keep up with “growth”  Worse, as we run out of “conventional oil”, new infrastructure to replace it has to also be built.  You know, like those pesky wind farms and solar power stations…  And all this development is generated with debt, just as we fast approach Peak Debt.

I don’t need the government to tell me everything’s falling apart…. it all makes perfect sense, it was in fact predicted by the Club of Rome way back in 1972.  Am I the only person capable of critical thinking?  Ooops…  sorry, didn’t mean to insult my readership!

Fact is the morons in charge cannot do a thing about it, it’s all too late, the Exponential Function has us by the balls…  like the exponential event in a nuclear explosion, the Matrix is right on course to blow up in our collective faces.  Hang onto your hat Ed, you’re in for the ride of your life!

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One response

8 02 2012
Don Smith

No Mike you’re not the only person capable of critical thinking, but it seems that most of the rest have suffered a temporary paralisis. I just hope they snap out of it in time.
A recent instance of this from my experience was when I asked some friends how much the “Carbon Tax” had added to their living expences. A trick question I know but still a good indicator. The answers varied from “a fair bit” to “I don’t know”. This when a price on carbon here doesn’t start being applied till 1st July this year so there has been no increase to their living expences by the “Carbon Tax”. These people are not dummies. One is a computer tech who leaves me for dead and I have been using computers since they used punch cards to enter data.
I have also noticed an increasing tendency to blame those of us who have installed PV systems and are accessing the various Solar Bonus Schemes for the increase in the power bills. They had me feeling a bit guilty until I read a recent report by the Auditor General in NSW that indicates that these schemes here have contributed only 1% to power bills. Actually most of the increases come from the upgrading of infrastructure. The maintenance of the infrastructure has been neglected for many years so that government could rip out a “profit” from their “power companies”. The insurance response to the Victorian bush fires put paid to that neglect.
The matrix seems to have many people by the mental short and curlies.

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