Kim Hill Saturday. RNZ. My letter to….

she read it out…… wonder how many ‘pollies were listening. Wonder if Bollard was?

To: saturday@radionz.co.nz
That was simply one of the most revealing, timely and thought-provoking interviews I’ve ever heard.

It begs the following question, though:  If energy underwrites global economic activity, and energy is “on the way down”, then what will the impacts be?

Society took a century to incrementally build itself a structure entirely dependent on oil. Now it has to morph that infrastructure, to some as-yet-to-be-determined form, even as the tank empties. In a very short time, in other words. On top of that, the fiscal structure we have constructed, was evolved in the energy-growth phase. Unsurprisingly, that fiscal system is based on that growth, to the extent that it assumes to continually borrow from the future, at exponentially-increasing rates.

Clearly, if energy underwriting diminishes, so too does the ability to borrow from the future, or at least, for the future to underwrite. Furthermore, we’re in overshoot already, due to currently held debt.

I suggest it is no coincidence that Peak Oil coincided with a fiscal crash, and no coincidence that interest rates – which represent the ability of the future to repay – are trending to zero, as with the Fed. Presumably, on the downslope, they would have to trend negative, but one suspects there would be a lack of eagerness on the part of investors in that paradigm

In a nutshell, peak energy represents the time at which we have to change our fiscal system, and our expectations. Growth will have to be seen as an irrelevant goal, and I suggest the replacement should be something along the lines of:  “Will or children thank us for this action?”

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183 hits – a new record.

Wednesday, we topped our previous, and Thursday did it too, slightly lower.

Bit humbling.

a funny old day

Well, it started with a blizzard – so cold out that my fingers vanished (and boy they hurt later) and the snow was piling up horizontally on my jacket.

It ended now – with 31 degrees upstairs, 28 downstairs, and the conservatory peaked at about 38. We won’t need the woodstove tonight, and probably for the next two.

Classic equinoctial gale, though. Forecast 40 and dropping in the Chalmers forecast. Nonsense, we’ve had 55 here, and that’s after it’s dragged over the trees.

My efforts totalled about 1500 words, and some wood chopped, losing productivity. oh dear.

Tomorrow is the Heinberg lecture – quite special to Powerdownkiwi!  2 till 4, Archway Theatre, anyone who can get there.

Energy Return on Energy Invested

Thought I’d revisit this, particularly after questioning David Caygill a week ago – I don’t think he gets it, and I don’t regard him as a mediocre intellect…

If it took a barrel of oil, to push, pump, cack and produce a barrel of oil, then the net gain is nil. It’s not worth doing.

That is true whether the barrel is trading at $!, or $1,000,000.

This is where economists get it wrong.

We started with the likes of Drake and Titusville, or Reynolds and Kirkuk (F7, Masjid-i-Sulaiman, for instance) and an EROEI OF PERHAPS 100:1.

We are now water-cutting the likes of Ghawar (the biggest field of them all, started 1948, peaked 1980-81) using more seawater pumped in, than oil is taken out. We are in the deep ocean, we are horizontal drilling, contemplating coal (and worse, lignite, which is one better than peat) and we have cherry-picked the light sweet crude, and avoided the sours – much like the bikkies that remain from the Christmas assortment.

So the energy return, for the effort expended, is reducing. Caygill put it another way – unwittingly. He defended rising power prices, noting that the cheapest generating option was next, followed by the next cheapest, and the next…. So they get more ‘expensive’. I see it as taking more effort, so less energy return.

Physics – and Mother Nature – care not a fig for $$$$$. Things either are, or they aren’t. Energy ‘is’.

We are down to somewhere around 15:1, globally. Think of China’s coal conveyor-belt from Australia, for example. Cant be as efficient as a Beverly-Hilbillies gusher in you own country, can it?

It takes energy to turn coal/lignite into fuel, and to extract same.

The worst part, is that if the Climate Science is right, we will need to sequester the carbon – presumably from the conversion process, hard to see it happening from the exhaust-pipes. That will take a lot of energy – if indeed it is physically possible. It hasn’t been proven yet – a discontinued effort in the North Sea, and a trial in Aussie.

My guess is that the resultant EROEI of lignite to fuel, sequestered, would be below 8:1, and that is the best estimate of the energy content required for Business as Usual.

Note: that’s not for exponential growth, that’s just to tread water.

Until your supply peaks.

Unfortunately, they don’t teach physics in Econ 101.

this is the whole of it, better put:

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

well put….

http://anz.theoildrum.com/node/6974#more

Cognitive dissonance? Denial? or Cranial Incapacity?

I’ve been thinking about this a bit this week. We had a Solar Action meeting, and the discussion turned to those around the University – from disciplines where they should know better – who don’t acknowledge the coming paradigms, indeed who seem to indulge in ego-bolstering activities as if in denial.

It’s something I’ve noticed around Campus before – the inter-disciplinary genuflection, nobody adjudicating in an overarching manner. Currently, Economics holds sway, and optimism is approved of. Vibrant, says the VC.

Here is a seat of learning, entirely capable of presenting the case to the public, but – we get Dr Susan Krumdiek (who knows enough to know better in my humble opinion) taking on the DCC look at Peak Oil. Google the questionnaire, and it’s only about transport. Who was the twit who decided that? For years, I and others, have pointed  out to the Council that it’s EVERYTHING, food proximity, food production, infrastructure (all pipework is oil-based) machinery, plastics, everything. It would include a look at the building regs, too, if you were addressing Peak Oil in any meaningful way.

Transport is the least of the issues, and could be fudged for 20 years in a gradual morph to public transport, rail, bikes and walking. It’s the other questions need answered, and I’m sure she knows that. So what’s she done? The customer is always right, take the money and run?

That’s not an acceptable approach from academia, in my book. If they don’t state it as it is, who will? It only leaves non-vested-interest aficionados like me.

The media fail miserably too. As I’ve mentioned before, the reporting of this issue, and the presentations about it from Sustainable Dunedin, Solar Action, Transition Towns, and folk like Bob Lloyd and myself, can be seen between the following brackets ( ). Sure, they’ve printed the odd op/ed, but not for a year, and it doesn’t get assimilated into their Business section, their Editorials, or anything.

That’s the ODT, but it’s the same for most NZ media. The thin-on-the-ground exceptions would be Bryan Crump on Nat Radio Nights, a wee bit Kim Hill and Chris Laidlaw, and that’s about it. Business on Nat Radio is a joke: “an economist said, an economist said, an economist said” and that’s just this morning. That’s just an off-load of responsibility for the opinion, but the falsehood is where it masquerades as news. It takes a conscious thought process to realise that.

Why?  Well, some will be religious-based. I see that as immaturity surely the sign of being grown up, is when you take responsibility for your actions, good or bad. Some will be because it impacts their dreams – paying off the investment renters, becoming whatever they haven’t become yet. Some probably guess/know what is coming, but are in parental denial, or just shut it out. I feel less grumpy with that lot, but they’re still no use.

We’re going to lose this race. The planet has less than 20 years of anything like societal cohesion left. Folk like Bob Lloyd and myself, experts like Heinberg and others, think it will be a lot less. Maybe we will just bump along down, from fiscal collapse to fiscal collapse, with episodes of QE and debt-forgiveness.

Maybe we just go for war over resources – which is the real reason for Iraq and Afghanistan, and watch the Arctic. Several local or a global doozie. The result won’t be pretty, or good for the survivors.

The Powerdown option is being ignored, probably because it doesn’t represent ‘growth’, or optimism.

I used to get grumpy with the individual persona, but I’m too long in tooth for that, and tend more to ‘forgive them, for they know not what they do’ these days.

But oh, it’s frustrating!

Monbiot – intelligent, and somewhat frustrated…

http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2010-09-21/short-happy-life-climate-change-enlightenment