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Thursday, July 24, 2008

The North American Energy Diet

Been catching up on my reading (things have been awhirl back at the lily pad) and -- is it just me? - or is the news kind of...depressing? Are they hiding the good news somewhere in a different newspaper?

I'll have some of what HE'S reading!

For instance, this link on The Oil Drum says that fossil fuel consumption in the G7 nations has peaked and is unlikely ever to get any higher, because the oil won’t be there to LET it get higher. That means the prices of oil, natural gas, food, coal, etc. will skyrocket, and go increasingly to the wealthy while the poor starve and freeze. Heating shortages are projected in the next couple of years – the first hard winter, we’ll be in trouble.

Former subprime mortgage holder makes do after giving up last paycheck to help bail out Fannie Mae.

Of course, there are many opinions expressed around the pond; the cormorants are incurable optimists, whereas the water-striders tend to alarmism and the koi are all gloom and doom. But as I listen to conversation after conversation about how our energy crisis could be solved by new efficient solar cells, or third generation nuclear power, or T. Boone Pickens’ wind turbines, or concentrated solar energy from space, I feel more and more like the truth is that we’re about done. I think we’ve built pretty much everything that’s ever going to get built, give or take several thousand wind turbines or a few solar thermal farms in Djibouti. On the scale of planet Earth – and on the scale of the energy loss we’re about to experience - I think these last few additions will be just a drop in the pond.

So the message seems to be: We’re there. Time’s up.

The little skull on the left is Mayan for "peak oil".

That means we need to start thinking about how to get by on the energy we’ve got right now, less whatever we’re about to lose. And what we stand to lose pretty quickly is the stuff we're importing. The Cantarell field in Mexico is about used up. The Saudis may end up using all their new production to keep their own teenagers happy. And China and India are ready to buy up all the leftovers. If North America - the US and Canada - had to get by on just what's in the fridge, we'd all be on a combined diet of a bit less than 11 million barrels/day, as opposed to the 23 million barrels/day we use right now. What kind of life can we have on 11/23 the oil we’re using now?

I think we’re going to find out pretty soon.


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Too true - reminds me of "Song on the End of the World" by Milosz

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