Peak Energy Peak Oil Social Change

Peak Everything

Just because we’ve reached the summit doesn’t mean the mountain’s about to disappear. But we have to recognise that, from now on, things are going to be heading in a sinking and falling away direction.

Some will fear and shake, as the Earth seems to slip away under their feet. Some will have psychological tremours as they have to adjust their world views extremely radically, and rather rapidly.

Take a reflective view of the computer you have in front of you. What is is made of ? Where did all the pieces come from ? How was it constructed ? Where will it go when it ceases to work ?

The answers to these questions reveal that current manufacturing production is rapacious, chaotic and toxic. There are countless goods manufactured each year that demand high levels of resources that are diminishing. It’s hard to de-construct a dead computer to safely re-use the materials it’s made of. Many gadgets and machines are too complex to repair and service.

Electronics could be a much finer, higher, cleaner, greener art. But this is not the only sector of technological production where there are problems. We are reaching geological limits which cannot be circumvented with current production techniques. This could be called “Peak Everything”. It includes the peaking of the supply of sweet crude petroleum oil. It also possibly includes the highest point of economic efficiency.

Things will not happen in future in the way they happen now. It would be foolish to expect it. Here are some of the statistics on the timeframe for the exhaustion of good quality mined resources :-

“What do other agencies have to say about these projections? The World Nuclear Association issued a report called Supply of Uranium in June 2008 in which it explains how there will be plenty of supply. These are excerpts from the report: “From time to time concerns are raised that the known resources might be insufficient when judged as a multiple of present rate of use. But this is the Limits to Growth fallacy, a major intellectual blunder recycled from the 1970s, which takes no account of the very limited nature of the knowledge we have at any time of what is actually in the Earth’s crust. Our knowledge of geology is such that we can be confident that identified resources of metal minerals are a small fraction of what is there.”…”Uranium supply news is usually framed within a short-term perspective. It concerns who is producing with what resources, who might produce or sell, and how does this balance with demand? However, long-term supply analysis enters the realm of resource economics. This discipline has as a central concern the understanding of not just supply/demand/price dynamics for known resources, but also the mechanisms for replacing resources with new ones presently unknown. Such a focus on sustainability of supply is unique to the long view. Normally-functioning metals markets and technology change provide the drivers to ensure that supply at costs affordable to consumers is continuously replenished, both through the discovery of new resources and the re-definition (in economic terms) of known ones.”…”Figure 3. WNA Explanation as to why Supply Concerns are Unwarranted”…The World Nuclear Association (with the above faith-based statements) also published a report for £375.00 called The global nuclear fuel market: supply and demand 2007-2030. I do not have a copy of this report, but according to the EIA Energy Outlook 2008, WNA is forecasting that world uranium production will peak in 2015, before slowly declining to 90% of its peak level in 2030. It is strange that the report I quoted above, available on their website, fails to mention this.

There are some interesting scenarios outlined in the up-to-date EIA report – including mention of ditching coal-fired power generation and relying on Natural Gas :-

What else could be peaking ?

We are already getting the flavour of Peak Credit :-

“Peak credit has been reached. That final wave of consumer recklessness created the exact conditions required for its own destruction. The housing bubble orgy was the last hurrah. It is not coming back and there will be no bigger bubble to replace it. Consumers and banks have both been burnt, and attitudes have changed. It took nearly 80 years for people to get as reckless as they did in 1929. 80 years! Few are still alive that went through the great depression. No one listened to them. That is the nature of the game. The odds of a significant bout of inflation now are about the same as they were in 1929. Next to none. Children whose parents are being destroyed by debt now, will keep those memories for a long time.”

Peak Tesco ?

“Tesco’s debt-fueled growth sparks investor backlash : Bloomberg / London June 22, 2009, 0:19 IST : Tesco Plc’s decade of international expansion has pushed debt ratios at the UK’s largest retailer to record levels, endangering the company’s credit rating and sparking a backlash from fund managers and bondholders…”

Peak Nonsense ?

“Page last updated at 20:21 GMT, Thursday, 9 July 2009 21:21 UK : World powers accept warming limit : UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon criticises G8 climate efforts : Developed and developing nations have agreed that global temperatures should not rise more than 2C above 1900 levels, a G8 summit declaration says. That is the level above which, the UN says, the Earth’s climate system would become dangerously unstable. US President Barack Obama said the countries had made important strides in dealing with climate change. But the G8 failed to persuade developing countries to accept targets of cutting emissions by 50% by 2050. On Wednesday, the G8 agreed its own members would work towards 80% cuts by the same date. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the G8 had not done enough and should also set 2020 targets. He said that while the G8’s Wednesday agreement was welcome, its leaders also needed to establish a strong and ambitious mid-term target for emissions cuts.”

I have a feeling that a good deal more nonsense has yet to be uttered, but the time for the peak is near.

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