This is all scary stuff isn't it. Mind you I don't think it will be quite as bad as some people make out, but only because I think prices will climb and people will be scared into moving into renewables. I think that carbon based energy prices will increase and that the rate of increase will also increase, in other words I think we will see exponential increases in price.
I think there will be a growing conversion to renewables and it will be a ground up change, people like us doing our own thing. The government will eventually catch on and facilitate better infrastructure etc.
I read a report last year (Heinberg et al). Where it was stated that the oil production decline rates would determine how well we adjust. A 2% decline rate was proposed as manageable. 4% was deemed catastrophic. It looks like the slope is 6%. I don't know what word to use after catastrophic. I think we are in the period of inflation right now. Basic needs such as food and fuel are becoming unaffordable for many people already. Food and fuel is the bottom line. One cannot trade down from there. We are too far down the slope to get much in the way of community or municipal renewables going to take over from carbon fuel. Most of the housing stock is so energy dependent that none of the renewable technologies will be replace the current domestic heating arrangements. The UK has all but declared nuclear as the future and has set a timetable which misses the oil production decline curve by many years. People who are in a position to afford stand alone renewable energy systems are unlikely to be feeling the pinch yet. The mainstream media is talking it up and spoofing about growth and good times around the corner. The wool is pulled well down over the eyes. A few of those who watch TV are starting to notice that the world presented on the 'box' is quite different from the one they inhabit. Where I live, unemployment is visible, poorer folks are cold and some are hungry. There are no soap operas about this.
Hi Caveman, It will certainly be a rough time for people, moving from an oil based economy to a renewables based economy, but at the end of the day I don't think there will be an option. I don't disagree with what you are saying but I have a feeling that all the predictions of doom are a bit over done. As the availability of oil/gas goes down then the price will go up, this will force demand for some things to go down but likewise the demand for some stuff will go up. The items which have an energy intense manufacture or transport will just not be that popular while items that are produced locally from non energy intense methods will become more popular.
My point though is that I think community led initiatives will take over and big business and government will not react quick enough. For example if you take the generation of electricity, as you say the government is probably going to go with nuclear, but the first station at Hinckley will be at least 10 years in the building, I think we will be reaching an energy crisis in 5 years or less, if electricity prices rise as they have been. There are already community groups setting up power generation facilities all over the place, and add to that the number of people who are installing their own facilities. Not only will people start to produce more but they will also start to use less, either by having technology that is less demanding or insulating their homes or just not using as much energy ( like cutting back on holidays).
One of the biggest problems with installing the various electrical generating facilities around the country has been complaints and planning restrictions, however as the oil crisis builds and prices go up I feel that the planning restrictions will ease and the number of complaints will drop, especially if the projects are local, community owned, and having a direct impact on the local peoples pockets.
Anywho, I have more to say, but I have just been called for my coffee :-)
The 6% oil production decline rate is quoted from the experts (http://www.postcarbon.org). The implications of a decline that steep have also been calculated by experts. There is very little speculation in this view. Oil (conventional) peaked in 2005 and world oil production has flat-lined since then, there is now 7 years of data in to prove that this is the case. Economic growth is directly tied to energy and has also flat-lined. Nearly 60% of everything we use and eat is energy. There are far too many facts in this to dismiss the whole thing as the work of doomsters. We are in the poo full stop.
My second point about the UK nuclear choice is that it is too far from coming on line to meet the oil production decline rate. Even if it could be brought forward electricity cannot do what oil does in many important instances. The problem is very close to us now which is why I doubt that anything useful will be done in time, even if our govs 'got with the program'. It is no longer a question of willpower. There simply isn't the time now to get our acts together. Individuals can do things to help themselves but that individualistic approach is part of the problem. We need to work together, to cooperate rather than compete. The bottom line is that our society is built on competition and cheap oil. To try to change that paradigm is to try to change everything. My third point addressed a problem of numbers. We are too few. We can type away at our obscure forum and run workshops when asked, letters to the papers and public meetings but the ugly truth is that it will take a crisis to get the rest of the population (7+billion) to wake up and there may not be much breakfast for them when they do.
Hi, I'm not disagreeing with you about the main points, we have a problem, it's getting worse, and not enough is being done right now.
That being said it is hard to know which experts to listen too, there are so many saying so many different and conflicting things, to be honest I gave up listening to the experts after the millennium bug fizzled out, not even so much as a failed cash machine, never mind the end of society as we know it. The first time I read about oil running out the experts predicted that the wells would be dry before the end of the century, the last century that is.
With the nuclear power thing, if we set aside the fact that I'm not a fan and I think they are also building the wrong type of nuclear power station, they are saying that it is due to start producing electric in ten years, so hands up anyone who thinks it will be close to ten years and even remotely close to budget, anyone.
If in fact oil production drops by 6% per year, it will cause the price to go up faster than inflation and this will drive down demand, and at the end of the day consumption will meet supply. Things that we have become used to will become so expensive that we will not be able to afford them anymore, so our habits will have to change, and I am sure that it will be difficult but we will have little choice but to change. The speed of change is what is going to cause problems as this problem will come on pretty quickly, but I do think that once it does start to hit home then we will see a much faster change in our lifestyle and what we will have to do to cope with it all. Even the change over the last five years has been pretty dramatic. If you had taken a drive around five years ago how many wind turbines would you have seen, or solar panels, or eco type cars, while now they are everywhere, five to ten years from now I think houses that dont have panels on the roof will be in the majority, most houses will have improved their energy efficiency, most appliances will be energy efficent, foreign holidays will be a lot fewer. Things will change, and they will change faster.
It is not hard to know which expert to listen to. Personally, I am fond of experts who have facts to hand and who have a track record of being right, like New Scientist and The Post Carbon Institute. I am much more skeptical of experts who quote GDP numbers or who are paid directly or otherwise by the energy industry. Incidentally, to make the choice even easier, this later group have a track record of being wrong. If, as you claim, the last opinion you listened to on this matter was in 2000, you are seriously out of date. If you want to catch up quickly watch anything by Nate Hagens on You tube. I posted links to his presentations here on the forum a few times.
Yes, the last expert I listened too with respect to the Millennium bug was in 1999, I dont think I'm too out of date on that issue (Really I was just trying to make a point about experts)
My point is that there have been years of experts telling us all sorts of things that don't turn out to be true, in pretty much every field there is from astronomy to automotive science. In my opinion most of these experts are doing little more than guessing, perhaps their guesses are based on the facts that they have presented. In my opinion the subject is so complex and has so many variables that I feel that it is too difficult to be able to accurately predict anything specific, maybe in general terms, but nothing specific.
My thoughts on this are basically that there will be two or three things that will happen when oil runs out, either there will be a catastrophic failure of our civilisation as we know it, or we will adapt to the situation before it reaches that point (with a reduction or change in lifestyles) or there will be a technological advance that will solve or soften the problem.
Are there any other options?
I think that we will adapt to the situation, and then grow from there, what do you think will happen.
Umm, Sorry but I will have to disagree with your first statement, we are running out of oil. Oil is a finite natual resource which is not being replenished (unless were thinking in Geological durations), but we are using it up at a faster rate than ever. You may be referring to the rate that it is being pumped out of the ground, that rate may increase a bit, but it is just a function of price, it is becoming more and more expensive to produce oil. In reality we could probably double oil production if we were willing to pay the price for it. My point is that the more expensive oil becomes the more it will impact our lifestyle, we will simply not be able to afford to do and have the things we currently do and have.
I had a look at the Wikipedia page and the Youtube video, I haven't gone through it all, just skimmed it, but it all seems to be fairly familiar stuff (i'll read/watch it all again, I don't have time now)
The thing is I'm not disagreeing with this stuff (in fact quite a bit of it is exactly what I'm saying), my point is that there is a crisis coming with among other things the decline of our oil/energy supply and all I have been doing is commenting on how I think we will react to it. I have a feeling that we are perhaps talking about different things, but I'm not sure what exactly.