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Resource Crisis

Peak Oil In A Fact-Free World: The New “Oil Bonanza” In West Texas

Peak Oil In A Fact-Free World: The New “Oil Bonanza” In West Texas

So, the USGS comes out with a press release that the media immediately diffuse in terms of a great discovery: 20 billion barrels, somewhere in Texas in a place called “Wolfcamp”.  Bloomberg multiplies the number by the current oil price and comes up with a title that reads: “A $900 billion Oil Treasure,” for a piece that tells of “bonanza”[Read More…]

Peak Oil By Any Other Name Is Still Peak Oil

Peak Oil By Any Other Name Is Still Peak Oil

One of the most compelling charts I have ever seen is the “Growing Gap” chart that used to appear in every ASPO Newsletter. This is the one from the last ASPO Newsletter, written by Colin Campbell and published in April 2009. Since then, more than seven years have passed, and peak oil has disappeared from the mainstream press headlines–almost. On[Read More…]

Tiffany’s Fallacy: The Mineral Pie Is Shrinking, And Most Of What’s Left Is In The Sky

Tiffany’s Fallacy: The Mineral Pie Is Shrinking, And Most Of What’s Left Is In The Sky

In the debates that deal with energy and fossil fuels, it is rather common to read or hear statements such as “oil will last for 50 years at the current rate of production.” You can also hear that “we still have one thousand years of coal” (Donald Trump stated exactly that during the US presidential campaign of 2016). When these[Read More…]

Why Energy Prices Are Ultimately Headed Lower; What The IMF Missed

Why Energy Prices Are Ultimately Headed Lower; What The IMF Missed

We have been hearing a great deal about IMF concerns recently, after the release of itsOctober 2016 World Economic Outlook and its Annual Meeting October 7-9. The concerns mentioned include the following: Too much growth in debt, with China particularly mentioned as a problem World economic growth seems to have slowed on a long-term basis Central bank intervention required to produce[Read More…]

Transforming Global Resources Into Commons

Transforming Global Resources Into Commons

The greatest problem of our time is that for centuries we have been steadily weaned away from treating our common resources responsibly and carefully so that they can either regenerate or be repaired or replaced after use. Until the Middle Ages local resources such as pastures, woods and fishing waters were really handled that way. But since the 16th century,[Read More…]

‘Gandhi Was Perfectly Sensible To Call Industrial Civilisation “A Nine Days Wonder”’

‘Gandhi Was Perfectly Sensible To Call Industrial Civilisation “A Nine Days Wonder”’

Ecological economist, Gandhian thinker and author Mark Lindley has some stark warnings for the future of hi-tech societies, and a few ‘prescriptions’ for India and for economists, who he says vastly underestimate the gravity of the looming environmental crises. Ecologise and Graama Seva Sangha recently organised a lecture series by Lindley in Bangalore.

What Really Causes Falling Productivity Growth:An Energy-Based Explanation

What Really Causes Falling Productivity Growth:An Energy-Based Explanation

What really causes falling productivity growth? The answer seems to be very much energy-related. Human labor by itself does not cause productivity growth. It is human labor, leveraged by various tools, that leads to productivity growth. These tools are made using energy, and they often use energy to operate. A decrease in energy consumption by the business sector can be[Read More…]

An Asteroid Called “Peak Oil” – The Real Cause Of The Growing Social Inequality In The US

An Asteroid Called “Peak Oil” – The Real Cause Of The Growing Social Inequality In The US

In a recent article on the Huffington Post, Stan Sorscher reports the graph above and asks the question of what could have happened in the early 1970s that changed everything. Impressive, but what caused this “something” that happened in the early 1970s? According to Sorscher, X marks the spot. In this case, “X” is our choice of national values. We[Read More…]

Fossil Fuels: At What Price?

Fossil Fuels: At What Price?

We often read comparisons between the prices of solar energy or wind energy with the prices of fossil fuels. It is encouraging to see that renewables are rapidly becoming competitive, and are often cheaper than coal or oil. In fact, if coal, oil and natural gas were given their correct prices renewables would be recognized as being incomparably cheaper than[Read More…]

An Updated Version Of The “Peak Oil” Story

An Updated Version Of The “Peak Oil” Story

The Peak Oil story got some things right. Back in 1998, Colin Campbell and Jean Laherrère wrote an article published in Scientific American called, “The End of Cheap Oil.” In it they said: Our analysis of the discovery and production of oil fields around the world suggests that within the next decade, the supply of conventional oil will be unable to keep[Read More…]

“You Can’t Handle The Truth!”

“You Can’t Handle The Truth!”

Movie buffs will recognize this title as the most memorable line from “A Few Good Men” (1992), spoken by the character Colonel Jessep, played by Jack Nicholson (“You can’t handle the truth!” is #29 in the American Film Institute’s list of 100 top movie quotes). I hereby propose it as the subtext of the recently concluded Republican and Democratic national[Read More…]

Depletion: If A Jellyfish Stings You, You Know Why

Depletion: If A Jellyfish Stings You, You Know Why

Just a few days ago, a friend of mine showed me three bright red stripes she had on her arm. It was the result of an unfortunate encounter with a jellyfish while swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. Today, it has become a normal occurrence; it seems to be normal that, when you swim in the sea, you have to maintain[Read More…]

Overly Simple Energy-Economy Models Give Misleading Answers

Overly Simple Energy-Economy Models Give Misleading Answers

Does it make a difference if our models of energy and the economy are overly simple? I would argue that it depends on what we plan to use the models for. If all we want to do is determine approximately how many years in the future energy supplies will turn down, then a simple model is perfectly sufficient. But if[Read More…]

by Comments are Disabled Resource Crisis
Poison In The Heart: The Nuclear Wasting Of South Australia

Poison In The Heart: The Nuclear Wasting Of South Australia

“Nuclear weapons and nuclear power are both leading instances of the irrationalities  that result from a social world that has been constructed to concentrate power  in the hands of tiny minorities, and to make it possible for them  to maintain and defend their power.”  Andrew Lichterman, 2012 “. . . because a few, by fate’s economy, shall seem to move[Read More…]

Some reflections on the Twilight of the Oil Age (part III)

Some reflections on the Twilight of the Oil Age (part III)

Our predicament, as we have just begun to slide down the fossil fuels thermodynamic cliff, similarly requires such a nexus if we are to succeed at a new “energy pool shift”. Just focusing on thermodynamics and technology won’t suffice. The kind of paradigm change I keep referring to integrates technology, social innovations and innovation concerning the human psyche about ways of avoiding cognitive failure. This is a lot to ask, however it is necessary to address Tainter’s questions

Some Reflections On The Twilight Of The Oil Age (Part II)

Some Reflections On The Twilight Of The Oil Age (Part II)

I call the process we are in an “Oil Pearl Harbour”, taking place in a kind of eerie slow motion. This is no longer retrievable. Within roughly ten years the oil industry as we know it will have disintegrated. The GIW is presently defenceless in the face of this threat

Some Reflections On The Twilight Of The Oil Age – part I

Some Reflections On The Twilight Of The Oil Age – part I

This three-part post was inspired by Ugo Bardi’s recent post concerning “Will Renewables Ever ReplaceFossils?” and recent discussions within Ugo’s discussion group on how is it that “Economists still don’t get it”?  It integrates also numerous discussion and exchanges I have had with colleagues and business partners over the last three years. Introduction Since at least the end of 2014[Read More…]

What We Need To Do To Survive And Have A Good Life

What We Need To Do To Survive And Have A Good Life

We must assess the consequences of our lifestyle on the planet’s declining liveability, as we already have a rising chemical imbalance in the biosphere which impairs life’s ability to control its climate. Furthermore, we’re expecting  9 billion people within thirty odd years; this, in a world of depleting organic and inorganic resources, rising sea levels, and increasing temperatures, that will[Read More…]

by Comments are Disabled Climate Change, Resource Crisis
Energy Limits: Why We See Rising Wealth Disparity And Low Prices

Energy Limits: Why We See Rising Wealth Disparity And Low Prices

Prices of oil, coal, and natural gas tend to rise and fall together–just as we would expect, if they are all responding to the same changes in debt levels, and indirectly, the same changes in world economic growth rates. If energy prices are based on debt levels, our concern should be that all fossil fuels will peak within a few years of each other. The cause of the peak will be low prices, not “running out” of energy products

Oil, Interest Rates And Debt

Oil, Interest Rates And Debt

The recent lower oil price predictably stimulates more consumption, but as more consumers will continue to struggle with their balance sheets, they are now more sensitive to considerable increases in the oil price. This creates for an interesting situation; the price a growing number of consumers find affordable may be lower than what the oil companies need to go after the costlier oil and retire their debts in an orderly way.

by Comments are Disabled Resource Crisis
Brexit And The Energy Equation

Brexit And The Energy Equation

The fretting in the financial markets after Great Britain’s voters narrowly decided to leave the European Union (EU), a move dubbed Brexit, was less about immediate effects–there aren’t any since it would take Britain up to two years to withdraw–and more about a foreboding that other countries will want out, too. In addition, some think it likely that Scottish independence[Read More…]

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A labourer searches for usable coal at a cinder dump site on the outskirts of Changzhi, Shanxi province October 27, 2009. Spot thermal coal prices in China's top coal shipping port Qinhuangdao continued to rise this week to their highest levels in about 11 months, and the strength is likely to remain as demand grows, traders and analysts said on Tuesday. REUTERS/Stringer  (CHINA ENERGY BUSINESS) CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA

China: Is Peak Coal Part Of Its Problem?

The world’s coal resources are clearly huge. How could China, or the world in total, reach peak coal in a timeframe that makes a difference? If we look at China’s coal production and consumption in BP’s 2016 Statistical Review of World Energy (SRWE), this is what we see: Figure 1. China’s production and consumption of coal based on BP 2016 SRWE. Figure 2[Read More…]

by Comments are Disabled Resource Crisis
Demand Destruction And Peak Oil

Demand Destruction And Peak Oil

We are fully under the influence of petroleum demand destruction. The global oil market can’t function without real oil production price discovery, which doesn’t exist in the currently deflationary global economy, which forces indebted producers to sell far below cost. Both supply and demand seem to cyclic in nature and we are not finished with the supply destruction phase, which[Read More…]

by Comments are Disabled Resource Crisis
The Real Oil Limits Story; What Other Researchers Missed

The Real Oil Limits Story; What Other Researchers Missed

For a long time, a common assumption has been that the world will eventually “run out” of oil and other non-renewable resources. Instead, we seem to be running into surpluses and low prices. What is going on that was missed by M. King Hubbert, Harold Hotelling, and by the popular understanding of supply and demand? The underlying assumption in these[Read More…]

by Comments are Disabled Resource Crisis
The Physics Of Energy And The Economy

The Physics Of Energy And The Economy

I approach the subject of the physics of energy and the economy with some trepidation. An economy seems to be a dissipative system, but what does this really mean? There are not many people who understand dissipative systems, and very few who understand how an economy operates. The combination leads to an awfully lot of false beliefs about the energy[Read More…]

by Comments are Disabled Resource Crisis
Why “Supply And Demand” Doesn’t Work For Oil

Why “Supply And Demand” Doesn’t Work For Oil

The traditional understanding of supply and demand works in some limited cases–will a manufacturer make red dresses or blue dresses? The manufacturer’s choice doesn’t make much difference to the economic system as a whole, except perhaps in the amount of red and blue dye sold, so it is easy to accommodate. Figure 1. From Wikipedia: The price P of a[Read More…]

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How Our Energy Problem Leads To A Debt Collapse Problem

How Our Energy Problem Leads To A Debt Collapse Problem

Usually, we don’t stop to think about how the whole economy works together. A major reason is that we have been lacking data to see long-term relationships. In this post, I show some longer-term time series relating to energy growth, GDP growth, and debt growth–going back to 1820 in some cases–that help us understand our situation better. When examining these[Read More…]

by Comments are Disabled Globalisation, Resource Crisis
Oil And The Economy: Where Are We Headed In 2015-16?

Oil And The Economy: Where Are We Headed In 2015-16?

The price of oil is down. How should we expect the economy to perform in 2015 and 2016? Newspapers in the United States seem to emphasize the positive aspects of the drop in prices. I have written Ten Reasons Why High Oil Prices are a Problem. If our only problem were high oil prices, then low oil prices would seem to[Read More…]

by Comments are Disabled Resource Crisis