Friday, May 31, 2013

Apocalypse Slow


   I've been reading Greer again.   His current theme is how we get caught up in our world views about how things _should_ happen, which throws off our expectations about things _will likely_ happen.   He contrasts the the over optimism of those who believe that progress is inevitable  with the apocalyptic views of those who who assume that things will soon fall apart.    If you are interested in the history of ideas, its worth a read   here

    As applied to "peak oil" - these two attitudes  create different scenarios.  The optimists - assume technological changes - new drilling techniques etc, and a continuation of the trend toward more and more energy use.  The pessimist, on the other hand, a rapid decline in energy use - not only will energy be more expensive, but those high costs will cause the financial system to collapse.

      An interesting illustration of those poles might be the EIA and Gail the Actuary   (Our Finite World).   As usual, the IEA is making optimistic predictions about oil production.    Kurt Cobb notes their dismal track record, and  a few reasons why these predictions will also fail..      And here's a report  from Chatham House ...  which has a nice illustration of how far off the IEA has been

       On the other side, we have Gail the Actuary who predicts a (fairly imminent) financial crisis, one from which there is no recovery.  As a result the amount of energy use, and CO2 declines rapidly.     
Figure 1. One view of future energy consumption for the world as a whole. History is based on BP's 2012 Statistical Review of World Energy.
Figure 1. One view of future energy consumption for the world as a whole. History is based on BP’s 2012 Statistical Review of World Energy.
This, too,   seems unlikely.    And she doesn't offer much in the way of a compelling evidence.     So as much as we might like the sound of this story, in term of climate change, it doesn't look like this type of "solution" is in the cards.
Greer implies that the actual future will be somewhere in the middle.  Energy will be become more expensive, and society will make various attempts to deal with it.    As always the financial system will have booms and busts.   For many of us, there will be a slow decline in living standards.  The "New Era", will be much anticipated, but will not arrive.   And , Peak Oil will not stop Climate Change 
And so it goes.



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