Peak Oil: Say Hello Again to $100 Oil

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Darth_Yuthura, Dec 1, 2009.

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  1. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    As everyone knows, oil is a non-renewable resource. It had replaced coal as the dominant fossil fuel in the 20th century, yet it's not as abundant as its dirty counterpart. Since the oil crisis of the 1970's, the future of this resource had been a matter of debate. It was then that we came to realize just how critical oil had become to our economy, as well as what would happen if it were denied to us.

    Yet demand for oil has since continued to climb all over the world. Despite importing roughly 66% of its oil from foreign sources, almost 90% of all transportation in the US depends upon petroleum-based fuel. That has only made the US more and more vulnerable to the effects of global oil prices. Of course, that's nothing new.

    Peak oil is the point when the maximum rate of global oil production has been reached, entering a state of terminal decline. That, in addition to an ever-increasing demand, will cause the price of oil to skyrocket beyond the likes of which we've ever seen before.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_oil

    I'm focusing this debate primarily on the United States because it's the only nation in the world that is almost completely dependent on oil and the automobile for transportation. Rather than focusing on alternate forms of energy, such as hydrogen and ethanol, I believe there are much simpler and effective solutions to handling the inevitable oil crisis once global oil production peaks. Rather than changing the fuel used for cars, a more effective solution would be to reduce the demand for cars altogether by providing alternate means of transportation.

    The biggest obstacle in the way of providing public mass transit is the extremely low population density in American cities. Public transportation depends heavily on high population density, or it can't generate enough revenue to pay for itself. It is for that reason it isn't provided in the vast majority of American suburbs. When oil prices spiked in 2008, the majority of Americans had no choice but to pay the high gas prices, given as they had no alternative for getting to work each day.

    If the United States really is to prepare itself for the upcoming oil crisis, it must focus its attention more on providing mass transit than in the promotion of alternate fuels or more efficient vehicles. This would require that Americans be willing to live in locations with higher population densities, as well as providing mass transit to as many as possible. With mass transit comes a more efficient method of moving people about, as well as using electricity instead of petroleum. This wouldn't mean Americans would have to give up their cars, but it would at least allow them an alternative to the automobile.

    Thoughts/suggestions/ideas?
  2. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    We will need to completely redesign our urban planning, transportation networks, and overall infrastructure. The price tag will be enormous. Tens of trillions of dollars. And it will only become more urgent and more expensive the longer we wait.
  3. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    Now comes the next logical question: where is this money going to come from?

    Then the next question after that: where will all the money come from to pay for oil once its price skyrockets?

    The best solution is to embrace a solution which relies on reducing overall demand. That means public transportation. That means increasing population density by redesigning American urban landscapes. It's a far better outcome than whatever will happen when oil skyrockets and we are caught completely unprepared for it.
  4. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    You're not being nearly nutjob doomerish enough. Allow me:

    The problem is so much bigger than peak oil, a mere symptom of the real catastrophe: population growth. The human population has overshot the carrying capacity of the planet to an astonishing degree. Peak oil represents the end of any possibility for global per capita growth in energy consumption. The collapse has already started in the form of the demise of energy grids in the developing world. You'll see it increasingly in India and Africa. Brownouts and blackouts and of course inflation as the third world is priced out of the market for food. Then comes starvation and chaos for Africa and India and parts of Asia as the water supply fails on top of the per capita energy collapse. What looks like peak oil will rapidly start to look like the general failure of our commodity resource base.

    The only question is how long can we keep resource wars between the first world from going nuclear.
  5. Jedi_Keiran_Halcyon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2000
    star 6
    How about this for nutty:

    Every time I really stop to consider the overpopulation crisis, I become less and less convinced that it is an exaggeration to say that the religious twits who fight to cut off access to contraceptives (especially in the third world) ought to be put on trial for crimes against humanity.

    Just as bad are the idiots who HAVE easy access to contraceptives but refuse or neglect to use them even when they have 4+ children already. The Octomom proved by the irresponsibility of her super-conception that she is unfit to raise those eight children.

    Adoption needs to become a much more viable and common option, and those who engage in excessive over-breeding need to begin to be punished like any other polluter.

  6. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    I'm aware of the scale of the problem. I simply want to address a single issue, which is how the US intends to deal with peak oil when it happens. Given that the US relies almost entirely on petroleum for its transportation infrastructure, how best should we prepare for that day when oil supplies can no longer be relied upon?

    Although I have little faith that the US will do anything short of invading other states to steal their oil supplies, I still believe that it would be far more prudent to start modeling our infrastructure after that of Europe. They use automobiles as well, but do provide alternate methods of transportation which don't rely upon oil.
  7. J-Rod Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2004
    star 5
    Aren't the "peak oil" guys the same guys speading the false rumors claiming that man is causing global warming?

    When will you guys learn?

    Huh?

    Really?
  8. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    Do you think our pollution levels, or our dependency on fossil fuels, are sustainable?
  9. Lord Vivec Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 17, 2006
    star 7
    So you're saying oil is sustainable?
  10. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    Are you saying that oil's sustainable?

    What development in transmutation came about that made this possible?
  11. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Personally, I don't think that the U.S. will be able to compete successfully for the resources needed to rebuild our infrastructure and society almost from the ground up once peak oil throws the global economy into the next crisis. People like to talk about the global financial meltdown that led to the current recession, but an equally important root cause was the dramatic run up in energy and commodity prices to unsustainable levels caused at least in part by fundamental constraints on the oil supply. There is nothing to prevent that from happening again and capping the next economic upturn. The world economy is going to continue to cycle downward in a series of oil shocks and failed recoveries, one after another.
  12. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    Is it really peak oil we should be worried about or really this population situation?

    From what I've gathered, oil is, ultimately, replacable. Not EASILY replacable -- at all -- but in the end replacable. We've yet to find energy sources as easily affordable with the same potency, but we've yet to try all that hard, it seems.

    I think if we fixed peak oil we'd really be facing the same situation. And if peak oil was our only problem we'd actually be able to find a way around it with a few sacrifices.

    But the real issues are some of the basics: food, water, etc. With population soaring and oil on the wane I'm not sure that it's a question of entirely running out of these things, but that we're looking at increased demand followed up with an increased price of doing business due to oil's relative absence.

    In other words it's not that we can't grow the potatoes for you, it's that all these people want potatoes and the tractor your grandfather worked with was a lot cheaper to use and maintain than the ones going to be used in the future.
  13. J-Rod Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2004
    star 5
    Honestly, I don't know. But I'll tell you two things that I do know;

    1) We are in another situation where "the science is settled." Really? Where in the living Hell have we heard that before?

    2) If and when oil prices increase, the market will move (all on it's own, mind you) to a desire for an alternative. At such a time good ol' American ingenuity will satisfy that demand.

    Capitalism: It Works.
  14. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    J-Rod, capitalism "works" to do what? Yes, no one doubts that there we will one day switch away from oil when its price becomes too expensive relative to energy alternatives. But that doesn't make the alternatives magically cheap--it just means they're slightly less expensive than the new absurdly high price of oil. Both could still be far too expensive for our economy to function in it's present state. We're not doubting that economies can self-correct (though, as both the Great Depression and the economic collapse last fall demonstrate, even that's not absolute). We're trying to discuss how they can do so in a way that doesn't bring loads of preventable suffering and a sharp global decline in living standards.
  15. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    But that's the thing, ingenuity doesn't come in bottles you can buy. We have been searching for a solution, seriously, since at least the 1970's. If the market simply desires something, that doesn't mean it will get it. Civilizations have collapsed from this before. There can be demand without supply, even for a critical resource like oil, even with the entire world basically opened up. Our physical environment and its resources are not in infinite abundance, and demand for scarce resources like oil will skyrocket exponentially as world population booms and countries like China and India continue to develop (and naturally aiming to have their average citizen live in the same luxury as Americans do, when today 80% of Indians live without electricity still). There's simply not enough for everyobody under current conditions, like technology. I really do hope that science and ingenuity can come in and save the day, but we cannot depend on it. We cannot gamble on the future of our world and our species, and the fate of our descendents.

    Also, whether you believe the world climate is experiencing change or not (althought I think it's a silly argument, "global warming" by itself isn't the main threat), you have to know that all the pollution we are producing is bad for public health and for the environment, even contaminating some resources which could have been used but are instead wasted. Nevermind how we are running out of places to put our trash, and that giant plastic island in the Pacific. And things aren't going to get better without public policy changes, because we are on track to pollute and throw more into the garbage, more people to do it, and poor nations that are rapidly developing which are doing even a worse job in their rush to escape extreme poverty. How can this possibly be sustainable?
  16. LtNOWIS Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2005
    star 4
    We already have the technologies to address this problem. Namely, electric cars and alternative sources for electricity.

    Solar panels are getting cheaper, and they're lasting for 30 years instead of the expected 20. Wind power is abundant. Geothermal has enormous potential. Nuclear is vastly under-utilized outside of France. Cellulose-based ethanol isn't feasible yet, but it would be a complete game-changer.

    And of course, coal will last a lot longer than oil.
  17. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    Coal's about the worst polluter imaginable, though. Even with CFB tech.
  18. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    That is an overly jejuned way of answering that question. Science and R&D can only go so far. Capitalism: it's what killed the electric car in 2000.

    Throughout the last few centuries, humans have focused their efforts towards obtaining resources more easily, faster, cheaper, and in greater quantity. It would make sense that the American dream would have worked when there were vast, unexplored lands to have. As more people emerge, we are starting to confront how finite the world's resources are.

    Sorry, but good ol' American ingenuity can't defy the laws of physics. It's going to require the average American to make sacrifices to their ways of life. When farmland becomes too valuable to waste, they're going to have to give up meat. When oil becomes scarce, they'll have to be willing to use public transportation.
  19. LtNOWIS Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2005
    star 4
    Well, if there's very little oil, there's going to be a massive incentive for feasible electric cars, economically feasible alternative fuels, and the like.

    It's well within the laws of physics for either geothermal power, wind power or nuclear to supply all our current energy needs or more, all on their own.
  20. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    First obstacle: People don't want to have their lifestyles changed. I presented this argument on Lucasforums and got kicked off the site for presenting my views. If people don't like electric cars... as they have a limited range and take a long time to charge... then they aren't suitable replacements for the gasoline car.

    These sources are unreliable. Statistics show that you can't expect to replace more than 20% of the power grid without risk of brownouts and failures. You can't store abundant electricity from the grid, so you always have to provide more than enough to ensure all demand is met. This might be possible if excess wind energy were to be used for pumping water into a reservoir to be used as hydroelectric power.

    Oh, and these sources are very expensive in regards to their capital costs compared to their energy output.

    Yes it has potential, but there are only so many locations within the US where you can harness geothermal energy for powerplants.
  21. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    When peak oil begins slamming world economies, we're going to throw coal at the problem. All the coal we can get our hands on. There's a distinct possibility that the 150 years of alleged coal supply [at current consumption rates] is too optimistic, but even if it isn't, the effort to compensate for the decline of oil resources by burning as much coal as possible as quickly as possible (what you're really saying when you say the words "electric car") will ramp up coal consumption to the point where we peak that supply within 20 or 30 years.

    But aside from that, the stampede to burn all the remaining coal as a stopgap against the end of the oil age will create an ecological disaster the likes of which we're already beginning to see in any case.

    Again, all this goes back to trying to maintain a certain per capita energy level for an ever growing population. As much as I grit my teeth about the Chinese and the catastrophe of trying to increase the per capita energy consumption of a billion people, the Chinese nevertheless have given all of us the greatest gift any nation has bestowed on humanity: their population policies have prevented 300 million children from being born. In that very real sense, no nation has ever done more on the issue of climate change than the Chinese.
  22. J-Rod Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2004
    star 5
    Darth_Yuthura, High costs and poor performance killed the electric car. Capitalism simply gave people a choice.

    All of the "solutions" you guys are talking about have been driven by the government. That's a very ineffective way to create change. Change happens best when the market wants it.

    Government mettling only creates inferior solutions. While reguations and rule of law are required to have capitalim work, it has to be carefully thought out.

    Two disasters created by too much government interferance:

    1) The housing meltdown. Fanny and Freddie should never have been commanded by the government to underwrite risky loans. The government caused this fiasco.

    2) Corn syrup. The market wants Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Mountain Dew that is sweetened with sugar. But because of unchecked government influence, a bottler cannot compete in the marketplace using sugar due to the government incentive on corn syrup.

    While that last example is a little tounge-in-cheek, think about this...the government is so deeply involved in our everyday lives that we cannot even drink the soda that we would like to.

    Think about that...
  23. SithLordDarthRichie London CR

    Chapter Rep
    Member Since:
    Oct 3, 2003
    star 8
    There is lots of technology available to provide alternatives for oil, but due to a combination of governments not wanting to cough up the funds and hugely power influential oil companies paying out to have the tecyhnology supressed I doubt much will be done until hands are forced by oil being almost non-existant.
  24. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2000
    star 6
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  25. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    And yet there were customers who wanted to keep their EV1, offering to buy the cars with no-risk or liability to GE. That would have allowed the company to at least recover some of the investment they made into a failed concept... instead of refusing and dismantling everything involved with the electric car. Some within GE now regret that decision... given as they 'could have had the volt almost ten years ago.'

    It was not a mistake that GE made with the EV1, but a deliberate choice by the company's former CEO's to pursue profit. To GE, the car simply wasn't profitable enough; so they dismantled the project.

    What? So it's just the drive to make the most profit you think is the best solution?

    First: the market isn't an entity. You may have been referring to consumers.
    Second: Macroeconomics is a VERY elaborate subject. The problems we face now had escalated for decades, mainly because of the removal of progressive taxes. The war in Iraq happened because the influence of corporate CEO's on government had become too great. The war had harmed the US, yet it benefited war profiteers.

    ?????

    Either you don't know what you're talking about, or you didn't explain it very well. Remember that is was the market that instigated the crisis in the first place. The government bailouts wouldn't have happened if the market didn't malfunction in the first place. And it's a very complex subject... you can't shift the blame to any one cause. There were many causes that brought about the latest economic crisis.
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