My Daughter

My Daughter
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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Squanderland vs Thriftville

In the post-peak world, I see two distinct camps of thought: Those who want to consume as before, and those who wish to find stability. The first group will be the capitalist/economist type, forever-looking for new ways to exploit the environment based upon the economic mindset of supply/demand. They are always quick to adopt solutions that are brilliantly successful and perhaps understandable in the short run, but that fail or else create fatal problems in the long run, i.e., the current plethora of ills. The second group will consist of those who realized that it was the mindset of the first group who got them to post-peak, although they had little choice as to whether or not to participate, and most did not know it was a path that led down a dark one-way alley.

You can solve most problems with enough money, energy, raw materials, and time, but you cannot solve an energy crisis by using more energy, more materials, and less time. This is what the cornucopians believe. Energy is a unique commodity. It takes energy to do anything. And since you can’t create it, or destroy it, you had better make good use of it when you transform it from one form to another, as you are going to lose some of it in the process.

I see a two-fold, actually a three fold approach. We need to move toward renewables; that is a given. But if we do so without a drastic change in consumption, we will overshoot—if we haven’t already. In other words, if you are starving, eating the remaining food faster won't save you, it will hasten your demise. Non-renewable resources should continue to be used, but at a declining rate equal to the creation of renewable substitutes. And lastly, there can be no possible solutions to the world's energy problems that do not involve stabilization of the world's population.

If we can have $55 a barrel of oil on the speculation of a shortage, imagine then what the price of a barrel might be when we do have real shortages. Since we have done little to nil to prepare for the coming oil shocks, we are completely reliant on increasing our supply of oil to power all of our transport needs, our food production, our manufacturing of goods and 40% of our total energy needs.

I keep coming back to a question that appears to be tugging at more minds, and with more urgency, every day: What if the die has already been cast? Suppose for a moment that we have passed the point of no return, and that some form of collapse is now already in the cards. Nothing new, you say. But I look at this in a way few have considered: As the reality of oil depletion goes mainstream, the direct use of available oil resources for energy consumption may well take precedence over their indirect use to produce another form of energy, whether it be wind or nano-technology. And, of course, a fascist government could ration what we can have, so they have enough to wage war to get more.

Or this: The Islamic fundamentalists are becoming savvy to the notion that if you want to hit America or the West, you go after the oil, which, of course, is right in their backyard. The market today cannot sustain any loss of production or supply. Some have likened this new terrorism to a “shadow OPEC.” The control of oil doesn't rest in the hands of the OPEC or the free market, but in the hands of the guerrillas who can stop the flow—and knock the needle out of the junkie’s hands. Anybody ever seen a junkie in need of a fix?

Authors note: My title was inspired by an article by Warren Buffet, entitled, The Mercantilist’s Tale.

2 comments:

Dimitar Vesselinov said...

Acceleration Watch (Understanding Accelerating Change)

http://www.singularitywatch.com

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