On Senders of Mixed Messages…..

26 10 2014

Dr Julian Cribb

Lately, I have come across more and more ‘experts’ who appear to be very well informed on the state of the multifaceted predicaments we face.  yet they seem unable to tell it like it really is, and send mixed messages about how ‘we’ll be saved’ if only we apply such and such a technology. Even Nate Hagens in the last video I published here surprised me with a few of the things he says at the end of his presentation.  I have just come across another… his name is Dr Julian Cribb.  The video below starts off discussing all the things you’d expect to find here.  He even mentions the Egyptian revolution being caused by food shortages and rising prices, and that alone makes him almost unique among ‘media operators’.  He praises Permaculture principles, and makes much about the state of our soils and how degraded they are and how the produce therefrom are very low in actual nutrients.

Plantagon project in Sweden

Julian Cribb, however, seems unaware of the Energy Cliff.  He mentions Peak Oil and Peak Phosphorus, water table depletion, and the way agriculture utterly relies on oil for food production, but then goes off at a tangent predicting cities will grow to 30, 40, even 50 million, and could become so green they could be designed to produce 30% to 50% of their food.  Yet, at an earlier stage of his presentation, he tells us that each person on Earth, at current agricultural efficiency levels, require 1.5 hA of land to produce the food they eat.  So a city of 30 million (like Tokyo today – which is actually 37.8 million, but let’s stick to round numbers here…) requires 45 million hectares of land to feed it.  Even 30% of its food requirement would therefore demand the use of 10 million hectares, yet Tokyo has an area of 218,800 hectares…..  something does not add up.

Cribb deploys images of ‘green cities’, including a dome under development in Stockholm, Sweden.  I’m frankly underwhelmed by such projects.  The surface area under food production doesn’t seem that great, and I can’t help wondering how many dwindling resources obtained with ever shrinking amounts of ever lower ERoEI energy is needed to feed what is simply just another unsustainable city.

And no mention of taking control of population growth either.  It’s a given that we will hit 10 billion within 25 years, and that’s that.

This youtube clip has only had 352 views, even though it’s been on the interweb for almost a year.  Just goes to show how interested people are in Peak Farming…..

 

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15 responses

26 10 2014
brendoncrook

I can understand why you’d shake your head Mike. I watched the new movie Surviving Earth, which was OK but there was Bindi Erwin carrying on about over population then she says she doesn’t want her kids in the future to grow up in a polluted world!! WTF?

26 10 2014
davekimble2

Julian Cribb is a “science communicator”, writer, lecturer, journalist, see http://www.sciencealert.com.au/jca.html
We have posted quite a lot of his stuff on roeoz-yahoo over the years. Being a science communicator, he is aware of all the problems, but claims science and technology can always fix things. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t be able to earn a living telling people about it, because people don’t want to hear stuff about collapse – they want scientific solutions.

Maybe he understands deep down that collapse is inevitable, but rather than saying it and ending up doing nothing, he thinks that we’ve got to at least try to fix things.

26 10 2014
Dr Bob Rich

As you may expect, Mike, I agree with your assessment. Cities are guaranteed dead when technology fails, even if people survive in out of the way places up in alpine areas.

26 10 2014
mikestasse

I can’t help thinking about living on the 100th floor of some skyscraper, and there’s no power….. to operate the lifts, pump water up, and sewerage down….. penthouse living won’t be so great then!!

27 10 2014
John Weber

Technology is already failing. It is ravaging the natural world and making it unlivable as well as taking out other life forms. I believe those that propose technofantasies like “renewables” don’t understand that they are simply a lateral step in BAU. The wind and sun capturing devices do not exist without the fossil fuel supply system and the massive industrial infrastructure to supply the materials. Promoting these devices is creating false hopes. The trauma of will be greater the longer people wait to wrap their heads, hearts and guts around the changes coming.

27 10 2014
mikestasse

Yes, the future will deeply disappoint……

28 10 2014
MargfromTassie

So, what do you think everyone ? 2050. Will we all be gone ?( Guy McPherson). Or will there still be quite a few of us living in a ‘World Made by Hand’ ? ( Kuntsler)

29 10 2014
mikestasse

We need a high tech crystal ball for this one Marg……!

There are so may forks in the road to the future that almost anything could happen.

29 10 2014
Julian Cribb (@JulianCribb)

I think you are unfair Mike. It’s not possible to solve all the world’s problems in a 30 min talk, especially one that is specifically directed at a farming audience. But give me some credit for thinking about them, at least. As to population, read my book: the women of the world are already solving it – reducing their fertility in all regions globally. However it is going to take another 100 years or so to get the population (smoothly) back to 4-5 billion. The simple reason – that never seems to occur to rich western people who scream about population – is that part of the upward pressure is due to them living longer lives, not just to birth rates. If you want to control it, you are not only going to have to enforce family planning at gunpoint – but also impose euthanasia on the over-50s. See how much popular support you get for that.

Of course I know about the energy cliff and have heard Ian Dunlop speak wisely on the issue, as regards oil especially. But there are innumerable forms of energy available. You may have noticed my observation that the entire world’s transport fuel could be produced from an area of algae farms about a tenth the size of the Pilbara. That’s just one option. So I don’t buy the ” ‘We’ll all be rooned’ said Hanrahan” philosophy. There are viable options, especially for those who don’t simply give up.

If you want to know what I really think, here it is: humanity has the brains and the technical skills to carry us through the population and demand ‘hump’ and into a measured decline to a sustainable number. But we don’t have the governments, the economic structures or the educated society needed to achieve it.

Worst case is the Schnellnhuber scenario, or about 9-10 billion dead and a billion survivors, mainly in north Russia and Canada, by the end of the present century as a result of climate, resource and religious wars, famines, migratory conflict and disease. That’s also pretty much the CSIS worst case scenario too. Both presuppose limited use of nuclear weapons.

Personally I thing there will be a few big wake-up calls well before we get to that. Like Bob Rich I think we’ll see a couple of megacities fall over, right on our iPhones. Mass killing, cannibalism, suicide, explosive emigration. If that doesn’t wake people up, then Homo don’t deserve the ‘sapiens’.

So rather than just grumble from your armchair, Hanrahan, lets start hearing some practical solutions.

30 10 2014
davekimble2

> But there are innumerable forms of energy available. You may have noticed my observation that the entire world’s transport fuel could be produced from an area of algae farms about a tenth the size of the Pilbara.

That’s where we differ. We have studied all these forms of energy and dismiss them all as totally impractical, unscaleable, of disappointing ERoEI, or requiring massive amounts of fossil fuels to build the infrastructure.

What’s worse is that the politicians haven’t even begun to look at the problem from an ERoEI perspective. Christine Milne of the Greens has had this explained to her in detail, but either didn’t understand, or, more likely, refused to accept that she would have to dismiss solar PV as a solution after making it a centrepiece of Greens policy.

That’s why we’re doomed.

30 10 2014
John Doyle

Dave, That’s what concerns me as well, that we can’t make the Maths work. Can you list some papers of videos that explain this?

30 10 2014
davekimble2

My own contribution is at http://www.davekimble.org.au/peakoil/news/index.php?energy_profit.htm . It is aimed at a general audience, so I didn’t use algebra but substituted actual numbers from the latest Government-commissioned report (ISA Report, 2006). Many people objected to the theory because they objected to the numbers used, or the oldness of the report, which is illogical. I recommend this audience download the spreadsheet linked in the article and insert their own numbers.

Whatever numbers you choose, we no longer have enough fossil energy to complete a transition to a renewable energy future.

Search [ “energy_profit.htm” ] for links where the article is discussed.

http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/10/the-energy-trap/ is a good article.

Ted Trainer has written extensively on the Beyond Zero “ZCA 2020” plan, picking apart the invalid assumptions and impossibly optimistic numbers. https://socialsciences.arts.unsw.edu.au/tsw/ZCAcrit.html
and more generally, the case against a renewable energy future
https://socialsciences.arts.unsw.edu.au/tsw/RE100pc.htm

30 10 2014
mikestasse

It’s interesting this should come up just now…. because someone else sent me THIS link…
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/10/28/3583720/solar-power-revolution-charts/

Of course I don’t think they are discussing NETT energy…… just energy used whose ERoEI is falling a little bit daily… every day.

30 10 2014
davekimble2

If the industry grows faster than a critical amount, then the fossil energy subsidy grows bigger and bigger:

The limit is given by (ERoEI/Lifetime)*100 % per year, so if the ERoEI is 25, you can grow at 100%, but if it is 2.5 you can only grow the industry at 10% – anything above that can never be energy positive.

30 10 2014
Michael Lardelli

Mike, its called “Relevant Professor Syndrome”. If they told the truth, nobody would listen to them anymore or employ them or fund them. So cognitive dissonance it is…

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