Bohemian's Back Message Board › Humanity's pressing issues - the descent into darkness

Humanity's pressing issues - the descent into darkness

Omar M.
San Diego, CA
Post #: 18
Ok... the title was just a hook. I didn't mean it literally but again if we really mess up, it could be just that. The topic I'd like to present is that of global expansion and energy consumption...

No, this is not going to be an environmental discussion, it's one of illusion of control. Fossil fuels have formed millions of years ago and is limited. Wiki's conservative estimates states that years of production left in the ground with the current proved reserves and flows above :

* Coal: 148 years
* Oil: 43 years
* Natural gas: 61 years

But if you factor in the exponential population and economical growth we have seen in the last 100 years, these numbers could be a lot lower. Just google the words "Peak Oil", there are many experts in the field saying we have already exhausted half of all fossil fuels and that we have about 20 years of oil left. Yes, oil and gas companies don't want people to panic and look for other sources just yet, there is a lot of money to be made still.

So maybe this will affect us in this lifetime, or maybe the next generation. Here is the catch we don't necessarily have to run out of oil to have a problem. Our whole economy, formula for success, depends on low oil prices. If the prices go up a fraction, we can have serious food shortages. We build our modern society based on the notion that we will always have this incredibly dense fuel. The whole highway infrastructure, suburbia, farming, global trading, outsourcing etc... can go out the window in a flash. Why because Solar, wind energy are not power dense enough and just cannot replace fossil fuel completely. Coal can help but that's limited too. Nuclear raw material to enrich is hard to come about as well.

The question is: what will our society look like when the we start having shortages ? We have designed our whole lifestyle and survival into a corner. America's consumerism is built on oil. Will we survive a collapse in our economy. Will we need to scale back and go back to the basics, deserted suburbia, local farming etc... ? It will be a major shock to the system, that we know. I'd like to ask the group to think about the global effect of an oil crash, and how should society adapt to the new realities.

user 4143008
San Diego, CA
Post #: 70
This is a really good topic, Omar. Maybe we can try to look at societal best practices for dealing with impending resource scarcity.

"Britain is four meals away from anarchy"

A British designer's speech on addressing these challenges
A former member
Post #: 2
because Solar, wind energy are not power dense enough and just cannot replace fossil fuel completely. Coal can help but that's limited too. Nuclear raw material to enrich is hard to come about as well.

Its obvious that fossil fuels will eventually run out if continued at the rate its going, but the idea that other forms of energy are unreliable is false.

The age of Oil and fossil fuels, along with all the resulting pollution, is coming to a close. There is no reason to burn fossil fuels at all anymore, other than the profit oriented, vested interest which keeps new energy prospects at bay. Remember, the last thing the Energy Industry wants is abundance , for that translates into a loss of profits in the monetary system.

Now, one of the most important energy sources to recognize today is Geothermal Power. A 2006 MIT report on geothermal energy found that 13,000 zettajoules of power are currently available in the earth, with the possibility of 2000 zettajoules being easily tap-able with improved technology. The total energy consumption of all the countries on the planet is about half of a zettajoule a year, this means about 4000 years of planetary power could be harnessed in this medium alone. And when we understand that the earth’s heat generation is constantly renewed, this energy is really limitless and could be used forever.

Geothermal aside, Solar, Wind, Wave and Tidal energy sources also offer powerful possibilities if harnessed efficiently with technology. The solar radiation striking the Earth's surface each year is more than 10,000 times the world's energy use38. The problem then is not availability - it is the technology to harness it most efficiently. From simple photovoltaic panels that can capture energy into storage batteries for private use, to full scale solar power plants, new technology is constantly emerging which is improving this potential.

Wind power, while often denounced as weak and impractical, is a lot more powerful than most people think. U.S. Department of Energy studies have concluded wind harvested in the Great Plains states of Texas, Kansas, and North Dakota could provide enough electricity to power the entire nation.40 More impressively, a 2005 Stanford University study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research found that if only 20% of the wind potential on the planet was harnessed, it would cover the entire world’s energy needs.

And then there is Tidal and Wave Power. Tidal Power is derived from tidal shifts in the ocean. Installing turbines, which capture this movement, generates energy. Tapping the flow of the Gulf Stream, Icelandic current and other underwater currents can be harnessed. In the United Kingdom, 42 sites are currently noted as available, forecasting that 34% of all the UK’s energy could come from Tidal Power alone. More effectively, Wave Power, which extracts energy from the surface motions of the ocean, is estimated to have a global potential of up to 80,000 TWH a year. This means 50% of the entire planet’s energy usage could be produced from this single medium.

It is important to point out that tidal, wave, solar and wind power require virtually no preliminary energy to harness, unlike coal, oil coal, gas, biomass, hydrogen and all the others.

The fact is, energy is nothing but abundant on this planet.

The only reason people today think it is scarce, is because of the monetary/capitalist system and its strategic propensity to create scarcity.
- http://www.thezeitgei...­

Even though there is plenty of energy to go around, the scarcity caused by fossil fuels will allow oil companies to continually raise their prices. It is not until we free ourselves from the dependence on oil, which will not happen until we free ourselves from the monetary system, that we will be able to escape the economic chaos that may occur in the near future.
Omar M.
San Diego, CA
Post #: 19
Jake, you said "Its obvious that fossil fuels will eventually run out if continued at the rate its going, but the idea that other forms of energy are unreliable is false". Well...No one is saying that other forms of energy are "unreliable". I'm a huge proponent of sustainable energies in every form, and I know we will be able to harness it. The whole point I'm making is that oil companies are trying to block or slow down progress in alternative source of energies. Very much like the large text you copy pasted from Zeitgeist said :"the last thing the Energy Industry wants is abundance , for that translates into a loss of profits in the monetary system.". They are making a killing right now, and the have a huge shortsightedness for what they are causing. It's very much like the variable loan bubble fiasco that is hurting our economy right now. They sold loans while assuming that the market will grow indefinitely. In this case, we are fueling human population growth based on a fuel that will no longer be available.

Can you tell me how we are going to restructure in 20 years to avoid an economical collapse. All the cars on the roads right now run on gasoline. How are you going to retrofit 600 million motor vehicle to run on alternative fuels (1.2 billion vehicles in 30 years)? How are we going to rebuild the hundreds of thousands gas stations in the US alone ? In global trading, we have thousands of huge cargo ships and airplanes running on oil, no serious designs for alternative fuels for them yet ? Food travels 1600 miles to get to your table in the US. How is everything we import from china going to arrive to the US? Not to mention oil byproducts like PLASTICS will be scarce or expensive ...I can go on and on.

Yes Jake, I'm with you that everything will be OK when we finally switch. What I'm concerned about is the lack of sense of urgency. I'm an mechanical engineer and I'm well aware of the time to introduce complex products into the market, and that's what scares me. To equip a whole nation / world to run on a new alternative source is not an easy task. It will take all hands on deck, very much like when a country goes to a world war. That's the intensity needed. We are frolicking right now.

So the transition will be quite rough, because the deeper you dig in the more you find we are addicted to oil to run our machines and to produce plastics and rubber. ( oh yeah, where are wheels going to come from soon ?)
So while we are scrambling to figure out how to find replacements for everything, prices will go up, shortages will occur, the rich will get by, the poor and middle class will likely riot.

I don't think it will be pretty, and I'm not a pessimist, I'm just a realist.

A former member
Post #: 3
Forgive my misinterpretation Omar, I falsely inferred that you felt that oil was a necessity.

Anyways, I think I stand right with you that the scarcity of oil will not look pretty. I would even go so far to say that an economic collapse is almost inevitable. All the facts have been shown, and all the warning flags have been raised, and yet people still have the major "lack of urgency" you describe. I don't think it will be until it is too late that society will release its dangerous dependence on fossil fuels.
Omar M.
San Diego, CA
Post #: 23
I could have been a little clearer too :)

But if you have netflix, check out "Crude Awakening" and "End of Suburbia" documentaries. they are both instant download/Streaming for free.

I was hoping to have a thinktank / brainstorming session in one of the Bohemian's back meetup (Eventually) as to what would happen assuming a shortage of oil. and how to prepare for it. and what is the best case and worst case senario. I think it would be a fun exercise in imagination.

user 4143008
San Diego, CA
Post #: 74
Here are some others who have been working on this problem: They assume a coming collapse, and try to think about how to prepare, and are doing so by building low-energy locally sustainable communities:




The site global guerrillas also promotes the idea of "resilient communities", a similar idea, in preparation for the dislocations caused by urban terror, cyberwarfare, and peak oil, or global economic collapse.
Powered by mvnForum

People in this
Meetup are also in:

Sign up

Meetup members, Log in

By clicking "Sign up" or "Sign up using Facebook", you confirm that you accept our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy