What is “Business as Usual” in terms of now to 2030 ? 2050 ?

A small blog listed Nextbigfuture among three optimistic future related blogs (Singularity Hub and KurzweilAI are the two others). He lists six blogs that are pessimistic about the future.

One of the pessimistic blogs is collapse of industrial civilization which has a sample article that proposes that a collapse will be well underway by 2047 (collapse of agriculture, collapse of economies and global trade, limited nuclear exchanges from Pakistan bombs getting into the hands of extremists) and virtually complete collapse by 2087 (only pockets of survival at the poles, the rest of the world uninhabitable because of the runaway heating). Collapse of Industrial Civilization looks silly in its doomer extremism. There are affordable technological options such as stratoshield that can be used in the event of climate change becoming a lot more serious. There are many other affordable and simple options to mitigate and reduce temperature changes (white roofs, dealing with soot).

Our Finite World is written by Gail Tverberg who one the main people at the Oildrum.com

Gail’s view. Widespread deflation and then Discontinuity

The traditional “peak oil” response to this question has been that oil prices will tend to rise over time. There will not be enough oil available, so demand will outstrip supply. As a result, prices will rise both for oil and for food which depends on oil.

I [Gail] see things differently. I think the issue ahead is deflation for commodities as well as for other types of assets. At some point, deflation may “morph” into discontinuity. It is the fact that price falls too low that will ultimately cut off oil production, not the lack of oil in the ground.

Even with little oil, there will still be some goods and services produced. These goods and services will not necessarily be available to holders of assets of the kind we have today. Instead, they will tend to go to those who produced them, and to those who win them by fighting over them.

* no more cheap resources
* people’s wages stagnate and go down and in particular what they can buy decreases
* A period of longer and more frequent recessions. Commodity prices go down during the recessions
* recessions tend to be global because of networked economy
* government cannot pay for social security, national medical, unemployment insurance, federal deposit insurance, education etc…
* businesses cannot pay pensions
* eventually a lot of people get pissed off leading to riots, civil wars and wars

Automatic Earth and Receding Horizons

Here is the nutshell of the Automatic Earth position

EROEI effectively determines what is and is not an energy source for a given society (ie to maintain a given level of socioeconomic complexity). Unconventional fossil fuels are caught in a paradox – that their EROEI is too low for them to sustain a society complex enough to produced them.

They can only be produced for the relatively short period of time that the complex society built on conventional sources continues to maintain its current capacities, but as the conventional sources disappear, and that society can no longer support itself, the ability to undertake all the activities required for unconventional production will be lost.

Post Carbon has a 178 page report (Feb, 2013) that talks about the US crude oil resurgence peaking at 7.5 million bpd in 2019 and then sharply declining. US crude oil production is already at 7.55 million bpd in July, 2013. Pessimists proven wrong within 5 months of some “detailed analysis” that took 178 pages.

Nextbigfuture Position

Gail is wrong about how much oil, gas and coal that can be obtained and the price of it.
The amount of resources will still go up for several decades.

There are other sources of energy that are being developed now which can be scaled up (biofuels, uranium from phosphate, laser enrichment deeper burn fission (breeders are being built in China, Russia, India etc… and new annular nuclear fuel is being developed. Those are over twice as efficient at using the uranium)

There is continued progress toward several new oilsand and tight oil production techniques which would reduce the cost and increase the EROEI of unconventional oil.

The EROEI of fracked gas is estimated to 50-85. The amount of energy returned is 85 times the cost of energy extraction.

There are many places in the US and Europe where pensions were not properly funded and where those over promises will have to be adjusted. This is the case in Detroit, Greece, Spain and their will be more adjustments.

Oil prices are up from the 1980s and 1990s. Part of the issue is that the US dollar has devalued against many commodities and currencies.

Many of the world economies (Europe, China, India, United States, Japan) are far too fragile and need to make adjustments. Debt levels, unemployment, financial systems need to be fixed.

The world should aggressively control soot. It has about 70% of the climate effect of the the carbon dioxide now and would cost over ten times less to reduce and it would save over one million lives per year as well. This could be mostly done in 10-20 years.

The world should shift to a lot more usage of nuclear energy. There is also benefit to using more wind and solar.

Actually dealing with soot and shifting to non-carbon based energy would be changes from the current Business as Usual.

If you liked this article, please give it a quick review on ycombinator or StumbleUpon. Thanks

Leave a Comment