Will we be around in 100 years? That is an open question. Some will point to
the fact that we did not blow ourselves up during the cold war, and we
didn't, but times change and the planetary resource equations have also
changes, and dramatically so in some cases. During the cold war both the
Soviet Union and the USA were for the most part resource rich and energy
independent. 

The world has become on one hand more unipolar with a twenty year era of
American ascendance, but also increasingly multi-polar as well with the rise
of powers such as China and India and to a lesser extent Brazil. The other
thing that has changed is that both the USA and Russia are not nearly as
rich in resources as they once were. No new super mega fields have been
discovered in Russia and the eastern Siberian mega fields are in depletion
now. The Russians seem to pin their hopes and dreams on global warming
melting the polar ice cap and them seizing control of hypothetical super
mega fields that some think may exist in that basin. 

The Americans meanwhile are in full blown bubble fever with the shale play -
America the new Saudi Arabia and all that glossy PR BS. To see how
unsustainable this boom is one only has to look at the depletion rates of
drilled wells. Fracking will open up a flow of gas and in shale oil bearing
rock an oil like tar that can be made to flow if sweated out of the rock
with a witches brew of chemicals and heat. But it is sucking the water
tables dry and the wells after only a few years begin to deplete at a rate
that is much higher than the typical depletion rates of gas and oil wells
that have been assumed in the costing and financial statements that have
formed the bases for funding. In order to sustain this boom an ever
increasing number of well will need to be sunk and the fever pace of
drilling sustained just in order to stay abreast of the depletion rates.

This is not just a matter of return on capital invested, which as the impact
of rapid depletion on a projects lifetime costing estimates and revenue
projections etc. begins to fall back down to earth, will be huge, but also
in terms or EROI (or ERoEI) - or energy returned on energy invested. During
the 1930s-1960s in the epic supermega fields, such as Gawar the EROI was
even above 100X in some cases. Now it is down way down and as the overall
energy costs of say developing the Bakken formations becomes apparent as the
sector matures it will sink in that the energy payback is getting down
towards marginality.

While I certainly hope we can manage our energy and resource availability
decline with grace I fear we are more likely to go out instead in some
existential desperate energy war - and the US military has a strategy in
place since 1973 called Last Man Standing that I think pretty well sums up
the kind of strategic thinking (insanity perhaps) going on in these circles.
It's not just the US that is eying the last places on earth that have oil
(and other strategic resources as well) - as the downward pressure of
depletion begins to really put the squeeze on the world's industrial and
military powers the last remaining places that have oil will become flash
points of wars that will become central for the survival or not of large
powers.

Look - I am saddened by these thoughts and wish it could be otherwise,
perhaps it will. I have hope in our better nature, not much though.

When millions of people in the former well off areas of the world - in the
US & Europe & Japan - within decades find their worlds falling down around
them as energy starvation leads to chronic contraction of the economy and a
massive social dislocation as people get shed en mass and increasingly left
to fend for themselves. Imagine the potential for the rise of fascist
demagogues who fire up masses of angry confused people with easy answers and
easy enemies (internal and foreign) In times of rapidly falling living
standards there is upheaval. Now look at the Asian powers. at China & India
- which cling to a social contract premised on an unachievable materialist
dream. What happens when hundreds of millions of people in these countries
realize they, nor their children will ever climb out from under grinding
poverty and that the future that had been promised them will never
materialize for them. for the 1% sure, but not for them.

I just cannot see happy stable societies thriving in this kind of world. I
also do not see any disruptive technologies on the energy front that will
allow us to side step the planets looming fossil energy bottleneck. 

I hope our world can transition to a lower energy and more resource frugal
life style versus pedal to the metal straight over the cliff, which is our
current trajectory, but the momentum of current systems and powerful
psychological/behavioral drivers in us such as greed, short term thinking.

-Chris

 

 

From: everything-list@googlegroups.com
[mailto:everything-list@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of LizR
Sent: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 4:25 PM
To: everything-list@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: Is Earth F**ked?

 

On 31 October 2013 12:13, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net> wrote:

Of course if there are 7 billion people it's more likely there will be
survivors than if there are only few million.  But an asteroid strike could
easily be big enough to wipe-out all terrestrial life bigger than bacteria.
We have the concept now, but we don't have any ability to do anything about
it and we probably still won't fifty years from now.

 

But we might in 100 years, or 200, if we continue to advance
technologically, which still gives us a good chance of averting any
impending impacts. Whereas if we revert to, say, a Medieval level of
technology, we'll have no chance whatsoever.

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