Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Biggest Problem in the World

It's not terrorism, nuclear proliferation, or even global climate change, it's the availability of energy. The increase in the standard of living over the past century is entirely proportional to our use of energy, as is the growth of population. And we are running out of our main energy source!! This resource is, of course, oil. Experts who study oil production place the date at which oil will peak at 2010, just two years from now. This is the date when the supply of oil can no longer meet the world's demand. What does this mean? More than anything it means economic shock. Our entire way of life is built upon the foundation of oil. As the price of oil continually increases so will the price of everything else, particularly anything that uses oil in production or shipping. Drastic changes in the price of oil have drastic effects on the US economy, the 1970's the most notable example of this. But the future will be worse. Other countries realize this problem as well. China's demand for oil is growing faster than any nation, as its economy is growing at over 10% a year. As a result China has attempted to buy as many oil fields around the world as it can and has been expanding its navy to secure "sea lanes" in a future where they decide not sell the oil they need on the world market. As people living at this time in history, we must realize that we are in for difficult times. The good news is that we can solve this problem. The answer is clean, renewable energy. But we don't have forever. We can delay the switch as we have before, by increasing the efficiency in our use of oil (the overall increases in technological efficiency, a most recent example being hybrid vehicles), but we must start switching. The sooner we start the better chance we have and the smoother the transition will be. This is a transition that MUST occur if we want to mantain any resemblance of our current way of life. A failure in making this transition will result in disaster, and possibly an early demise for a great number of the over six billion people living on this planet.


Step Back said...

The good news is that we can solve this problem. The answer is clean, renewable energy.

I'll take it that you specialize in something other than science and engineering. (An accountant?)

The bad news is that the "them" (the scientists, engineers and other cogs of the Matrix) don't know how to do what you expect them to do. So it's all up to you to build an economical and practical "clean, renewable energy" thing-a-ma-bob by tomorrow morning.

Good luck.
We're, ah, counting on you to come through for us. Thanks. :-)

NewBobo said...

I'm glad someone finally read and commented on one of my posts. Unfortunately this person is a Peak Oil Pessimist (POP) who decided to insult me for not sharing his gloom and doom view of the future. In reponse I just have to say that I have a B.S. in Biology and am not familiar with any accounting principles. This hit and run poster (and probable Ron Paul supporter) should abandon his absolutist viewpoints and try to have a more open mind. Although it's probably too late for that to happen, I wish him luck.

Step Back said...

Hi Bobo,

It's me again.
It is propbable that many people view your blog but none bother to write in.

Call me a POR (realist). I've been PO aware for a number of years and studying the ramifications. I have an engineering degree and work with some of the most innovative scientists in the world. The "magic' that you expect probably won't happen (unless fusion becomes practical in short order). Lot's of very smart people have studued the PO problem and have not found a single bullet solution. Renwables have problems. Big problems relative to oil. I recommend that you make The Oil Drum a daily read and slowly learn some of what the very many highly technical folks write there. Most of us wish we could be optimisitic. It's not a doomer site. It's a realist site. Unfortunately, sometimes reality sucks. Best wishes. No hard feelings. Iunderstand your current point of view. Been there done that. If you have "an open mind", you'll continue reading TOD and at some point "get it" as to why renewables are not a complete answer.

NewBobo said...

I appreciate step back's previous comment, offering a more logical argument style (claiming proficiency of the subject and offering a source of information, The Oil Drum) than his first comment. I confess that I'm new to the problem, I haven't been thinking about it for years and I don't know all the technical arguments. I do understand there are problems with renewables, particularly with biofuels, as recent research argued land use for certain biofuel production releases more greenhouse gases then is saved by using the fuel. Corn is a terrible option for ethanol production and government subsidies should be dissolved. When looking at solar and wind, the total energy cycle must be considered when analyzing their effectiveness. Fusion energy would be the magic bullet, but that option remains a distant hope. I hope to learn more about the complexity of these issues over time. I also believe that individuals have a natural tendency to be either optimistic or pessimistic when thinking about the future. I tend to vary back and forth between these outlooks when thinking about this issue at different times. Of course my perspective isn't as relevant without a more complete knowledge of the technical realities involved. I am committed to enhancing my understanding and appreciate the time others take to share their viewpoints.