A wave of revulsion rolls around the world. Approval ratings for incumbent leaders are everywhere collapsing. Symbols and slogans trump facts and nuance. One in six Americans now believes that military rule would be a good idea. From all this I draw the following, peculiar conclusion: no country with a McDonald’s can remain a democracy.
Nafeez Ahmed writes: A new research study by HSBC on global oil supply shows that the bulk of the world’s oil production has peaked and is now in decline. Welcome to a new age of permanent economic recession driven by our ongoing dependence on dirty, expensive, difficult oil — unless we choose a fundamentally different path.
The final stages of capitalism, Marx predicted, would be marked by global capital being unable to expand and generate profits at former levels. Capitalists would begin to consume the government along with the physical and social structures that sustained them. These assaults would destroy the host. This final stage of capitalism is what Trump represents.
Gail Tverberg writes: Underlying problems are sufficiently severe that we seem to be headed for a crisis far worse than 2008. Our fundamental problem is that neither high nor low energy prices are now able to keep the world economy operating as we’d like it to. Increased debt can’t seem to fix the problem either.
As 2017 dawns, in a great many ways, modern industrial civilization has flung itself forward into a darkness where no stars offer guidance and no echoes tell what lies ahead… We’re not discussing the end of the world; events like those that can be found repeated many times in the histories of other failing civilizations.
To try to solve the energy problem, we use approaches that involve increasing complexity, including new technology and globalization. As we add more and more complexity, these approaches tend to work less and less well. In fact, become problems themselves, tending to redistribute wealth toward the top, increasing “overhead” for the economy as a whole.
Ugo Bardi writes on Cassandra’s Legacy: The essence of propaganda, as it is well-known, is not so much telling lies, but presenting only one aspect of the truth. That’s true also for the depletion debate. Saying that a certain resource will last decades, centuries, or more is not a lie, but not the truth, either.
As the world’s leading superpowers struggle to make the transition from fossil-based energy systems, 47 of the world’s poorest nations have pledged to skip fossil fuels altogether and jump straight to using 100 percent renewable energy instead. The ambitious goal was laid out during the final day of the UN Climate Change Conference in Morocco.
Instead of the scenario envisioned by many Peak Oilers, it’s likely that we will in the very near future hit a limit similar to the collapse scenarios that many early civilizations encountered when they hit resource limits. We don’t think about our situation as being similar, but we too are reaching decreasing resources per capita.
Dennis Coyne writes: I expect World Fossil fuel output to peak in 2025. If the World economy continues to grow, a gap between Energy produced (including non-fossil fuels) and the demand for Energy will grow. If the gap is not filled by growth in non-fossil fuel energy demand will reduce due to reduced economic growth.
Kurt Cobb writes: Hubbert is much maligned and much praised these days. But he is perhaps not well understood. Mason Inman’s compelling biography gives us all a chance finally to understand this scientific giant and the context within which he spawned insights on the future of energy that continue to be central to our lives.
The introduction to Our Renewable Future, a new book on the profound, all-encompassing energy transformation that will be witnessed throughout the world over the next few decades. Two irresistible forces will drive this historic transition: the necessity of avoiding catastrophic climate change and the ongoing depletion of the world’s oil, coal, and natural gas resources.
David Blittersdorf writes: Our industrial society can handle about a 10% voluntary energy reduction across the board, doing things like walking more and carpooling. To get to the necessary level (which, by some estimations, will be about a 60-80% decrease in energy usage), will be impossible unless we change the way we think about things.
There’s No Tomorrow is a half-hour animated documentary about resource depletion, energy and the impossibility of infinite growth on a finite planet, a theme that rarely finds its way to the mainstream media. Inspired by the pro-capitalist cartoons of the 1940s, the film is an introduction to the critical energy dilemmas facing the world today.
Gail Tverberg writes: Growth in energy consumption is dependent on the growth of debt. Both energy and debt have characteristics that are close to “magic” when it comes to economic growth, which can only take place when debt (or a close substitute, such as company stock) is available to enable the use of energy products.
The common assumption has been that the world will eventually “run out” of oil and other non-renewable resources. Instead, we seem to be running into energy surpluses and low prices. The real situation is that as prices rise, supply tends to rise as well, because new sources of production become available at the higher price.
It is a peculiar combination of technological, economic and geopolitical factors that has led to the present crash in oil prices, lulling many observers into dismissing peak oil. Through it all, the fact remains that the production of ‘conventional oil’, drawn mostly from established oil wells, has not gone up since its peak in 2008.
Nafeez Ahmed writes: An extensive new analysis says that proved conventional oil reserves as detailed in industry sources are likely “overstated” by half. According to standard sources, the world contains 1.7 trillion barrels of proved conventional reserves. However, according to the new study, this official figure is almost double the real size of world reserves.
The focal point of The Oracle of Oil, the first biography of King Hubbert, is his distinction as the first person to recognize the phenomenon of peak oil. Hubbert spent decades studying petroleum and natural gas reserves data, hypothesizing that output from large regions—such as the United States, or the whole world—would tend to follow a bell-shaped curve.
The physics of energy and the economy evokes some trepidation. An economy seems to be a dissipative system, but what does this really mean? Not many people understand dissipative systems, and very few understand how an economy operates. The combination leads to an awfully lot of false beliefs about the energy needs of an economy.