Saturday, August 25, 2012

What Oil Crisis? We Got Plenty ! (Plus more)

Check out this page at WIRED. 
Generally, I like Wired: they have some great stuff- but this article is pure soap and my trust in them dropped when I saw it.
Just check this graph for example:
Note how the predicted area is not even shown with dotted lines: it's all SURE to happen folks. :)

I can only conjecture that they were paid a bundle of money to publish it based in the idea that it would reassure "investors" and help jolly the US consumery  economy along.
A lie is a lie is a lie, guys.

As for "renewables can't compete": nope, they won't be able to if you destroy their chance to reach practical levels before the oil and gas run out.
To make the change you need a lot of lead time, and you need a lot of energy to manufacture the equipment, most of which will come from oil and gas products, along with investment money from wise people who are not behaving like scared sheep or greedy brats.
All that might cover our collective a**es when the price of oil starts to climb as it inescapably will. The only question is when.

 . . . . but I'm still not very hopeful: there are too many huge rigid structures in our society that cannot be easily replaced or substituted for if something went wrong with the global economy/support network.
On that subject, I am currently reading this paper from David Korowicz. You can download it as a PDF from the page: it is meaty stuff on the nature of our social structure and why it really isn't good at coping with big failures. 

"A very important feature of these primary global hubs is that they tend to have little or no redundancy. That is, they have no substitutes at scale. For example, we are all dependent on fiat currency, fractional reserve banking, and credit. We have almost no resilience to a systemic failure of the financial system, as we hold little currency, no alternative delocalised trading systems, have little to barter (as our personal productivity is dependent upon the globalised financial system), and have little capacity to maintain ourselves at even subsistence level (low personal and community resilience).
Likewise, while we might have a choice of electricity providers, they share a common grid. If the grid were to fail there is no fall-back system. Diesel generators are limited. Further if grid failure initiated banking and IT system failure, diesel may be unobtainable. 

A reason for the concentration on hubs and a lack of redundancy arises from what is known as preferential attachment. That is, the greater the number of connections to a node, the greater the likelihood that any new connections will attach to the same node. For example, as the globalising economy grows, increased population, wealth and integration opens up the possibility of greater economies of scale and more diverse productive niches. When new technologies and business models emerge, they co-adapt and co-evolve with what is already present. Their adoption and spread through wider networks depends on the efficiencies they provide in terms of lower costs and new market opportunities. One of the principal ways of gaining overall efficiency is by letting individual parts of the system share the costs of transactions by sharing common infrastructure platforms (information and transport networks, electric grid, water/sewage systems, financial systems), and integrating more. Thus there is a reinforcing trend of benefits for those who build the platform and the users of the platform, which grows as the number of users grows. In time, the scale of the system becomes a barrier to a diversity of alternative systems as the upfront cost and the embedded economies of scale become a greater barrier to new entrants, especially where there is a complex high-cost hub infrastructure. Such economies of scale come to interweave whole socio-economic systems, such as road networks and settlement patterns. Thus, there is vigorous competition between mobile phone service providers but they share common information platforms and depend on electricity networks and the monetary system, both of which have little or no system diversity."
 . . . . . . and I haven't finished reading it yet. 
I became aware of this situation as a teenager, and this sort of systems analysis knowledge is not new. 

What can one person do about it?  Do you want to be like the "preppers" I have seen on cable teevee and stockpile food and fuel in hopes that things will "recover" before your supplies run out?  I don't really see that as a sensible approach, even assuming that I had the resources lying around to try it . . . . 
Any comments?

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