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Thursday 10 November 2005

Energy Crisis? [Slim]

I've been thinking quite a lot recently about how the next 25 years will pan out. We've seen some pretty compelling evidence that societies obsession with growth isn't really a sustainable plan long term unless we have some pretty major breakthroughs. Already global demand for fossil fuels has ramped up dramatically despite the price going the same way, with demand from emerging economies adding to the traditional industrailised nations already heavy needs.
So today the bbc says the follow:"Up to the year 2050, fossil fuels will remain the dominant energy source - there really is no alternative,"
Basically there's nothing really to replace fossil fuels, and our nuc plants are to be shelved too with no new ones planned. The article seems to assume fossil fuels will still be cheap and plentify by 2050. If they're not, we're basically fucked, and this is without taking any theories of global warming into account.
There's not really much we can do individually. If there is an impending oil crisis, we need action from governments, and action fast. We need oil to be priced to restrict demand and control it's use to the important areas like food production, drugs and medicine, etc and not wasted in vast quanties on shopping trips to Hong Kong. But of course the capitalism growth model doesn't allow this, if any country taxes oil to restrict consumpion it will become uncompetitive, nobodys going to price themselves out of the global market in this way.
There's other views on this point of course, some folks believe we'll have some breakthroughs to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, some say it won't run out that fast. Some say the only solution is the collapse of society with global famine to reduce the human race back to a survivable and sustainable number. Either way, it'd be nice to have some sort of contingancy planning and long term decision making up front, given the scale of the problem, don't you think?
I've friends who's recently got married in South Africa, they flew their immediate family and mates down there from the UK, and then jetted off somewhere else very hot and distant after that. The total wedding probably consumed enough oil to fuel 100 odd cars for a year. I can't help thinking that we're going to look back on this flippent waste of resource with a big chunk of regret in a few years time.


  1. We are the head in the sand generation. Of course all those heads are wearing oil detection goggles!
    We think we have evolved with our little gadgets beyond our basic surival needs (shelter, light, heat), anything is possible etc..
    Better to meet your maker before it all goes pop. fucksake think about it, we'll all need our own stills!

  2. The main deal is the agitation to work on the alternatives as mentioned. This really really matters.
    Restriction on current usage is, in my opinion which is of course only one opinion, essentially irrelevant. Now you're bridling, here's why;
    I say this because of course, fossil fuels running out is going to happen to the human race and is 100% absolutely guaranteed. So far, so obvious. But imagine, for instance, the unimaginable, and you could spontaneously cut world consumption of oil by 25%. It will NEVER happen but say it did. How much difference would that make to the run-out date?
    The answer is, absolutely fuck all. Realise this. Banging on about personal conservation of oil resources is simply pointless as an overal problem-solver. Even if we took the whole world down by 25% it would represent at best a single figure years difference in the time before the oil ran out. We're so close to the vanishing point now, it's basically fiddling around with the decimal points. In the scope of societal history let alone wider history, the difference in time is just utterly irrelevant.
    The stuff is going to go and I absolutely don't buy the "if we could delay the exstinguishment point a tiny bit longer we might have a technological breakthrough that'd solve all the shit" shit. This is just logic. Of course at some point there will be some serious stock-piling particularly for medicinal purposes and probably military considering the world is so fucked up.
    But my point is, in many of our life times there will be no oil. This will happen regardless. This is why the alternatives is the real debate and pushing for them. The huge majority of usage of oil is in power and cars. Avoiding getting on a plane in our hundreds of thousands, might help preserve oil but it will only shift the needle by a tiny tiny amount. It's probably measurable in months not years. If you add up all the stuff you could do (see above) it still, sadly, simply won't matter.
    In 200 years time, the human race will look back (if it hasn't twatted itself) at the industrial age between 1870 and 2050 as an amazing period of innovation where the planet gassed itself stupid. With any luck my great great great great grandchildren will inhabit a world, in the absence of fossil fuel burning where the air will be as clean as it was in the hundreds of millions of years of human development until this infinitessimally tiny blip of history. This change is beyond our control in terms of the extinguishing of the predominant energy force in any way meaningful. This is why we need to max out on the replacements and not get diverted on what is, sadly, essentially, a pointless preservation obsession. It's like trying to bail out the sea....