Thursday, July 3, 2008

I have a confession...

I'm a bit of a conspiracy theorist. Either that or I'm prone to paranoia when it comes to doomsday scenarios. I watched Children of Men a couple of days ago, and it made me think of a piece I wrote a few months ago about peak oil and its potential to drastically change the world.

It didn't help that I read an article that sounded strikingly similar this week. I think I should sue. LOL.

Anyway, enjoy my earlier rant:

I’m not crazy, I’m just concerned.

Many have said that today, this age, is one of the best to have been born into. Technological advances have made our lives easier and the world smaller. Energy resources have made it easy for us to move around and do almost anything we like to. The majority of us, in America, eat well, live above standard, and generally have good lives.

I tend to disagree. Today, many things are going on that are foreshadowing what is going to be a very difficult time for a whole lot of people. The reality of peak oil and the elevated effects of climate change are threatening a lot of the lifestyle that we have become used to. What’s even more alarming is that too many people have no idea what is going on.

To keep it short, the earth is too hot and major cities and countries are beginning to run out of water (yes, even in the USA), there is less oil available today then there was two years ago even though demand is on the rise, and for six out of the last seven years, the world has consumed more food that it actually produced.

Take a breath, let that sink in, and do the math.

When I say the earth is too hot, I am not referencing the melting polar ice caps which I’m sure we’ve all heard about. I’m referring to the lack of rain that has fallen on much of the world. As it stands today, the city of Atlanta along with the states of North Carolina and Alabama could completely run out of water in less than three months.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/16/us/16drought.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

What happens to them when the water runs dry? Even Boyz 2 Men warned against that. Seriously. And when what the last time is really rained in Southern California? Looking at that map makes me think that we’re not that far behind.

People are already being killed over water disputes in Australia.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7072917.stm

I’m not crazy, I’m just concerned.

On to peak oil. Some of you have heard about it; more have dismissed it coming out of the mouths of people with “Conspiracy” in front of their names, but the fact of the matter is that oil is a finite resource that we are going to run out of. This information is going to be extremely oversimplified, but you can research this topic VERY easily. It’s near criminal if you don’t.

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

Christophe de Margerie, the CEO of the French group of Total, one of the largest oil companies in the world, opposed the notion that the world’s capacity to produce oil is going up. It has been predicted that the world will be able to produce up to 116 million barrels a day by 2030, up from 85 million today. According to Margerie, “even 100 million is optimistic.”

To put it in perspective, the United States alone consumes over 20 million barrels of oil each day. China is at over 6 million and is poised to overtake the US in a few years with increasing demand. In totality, the entire world consumes around 85 million barrels per day.

So…there is rising demand, and unstable production numbers that are teetering between just being able to supply the demand actually supplying the demand. We need oil, but what happens when we can’t have it? What happens when we can’t afford it?

Near the end of 2006, the price of oil was $56/barrel. Hurricane Katrina caused a massive jump in the price of oil, landing it at a record (and “unthinkable”) $60/barrel.

As of November 1, 2007 oil is $96/barrel.

There is much debate on when the peak of production will actually be. Some think it has already happened. Some think it will happen in the next 15 years. Point is, it’s going to happen. No one thought it would happen in America when Dr. M. King Hubbert predicted it back in 1956. America is no longer the world’s largest producer of oil. Other countries have followed a similar pattern of discovery, pumping, and depletion. The world is certainly soon to follow. And the world, in turn, will most likely delve into a conflict filled rat race to get their hands on what’s left.

I won’t even start on how many global conflicts going on right now that are the results of the desire to control waning resources. It’s more than Iraq. Think of that huge poverty stricken landmass that is to the lower left of it on the map that has been consistently raped for resources since the age of industrialization. Yeah, that one.

What this means for you is rising gas prices, rising prices in goods that have to be shipped from other places (umm…everything), rising prices in food (because that has to be shipped, too), and the systematic shutting down of suburban communities that rely on having to commute in order to live the lives they have.

So on one hand, there are people running out of water and everyone potentially having to struggle to afford food and necessities. Unless your income increases to reflect the change in prices for the things you need to survive, very bad things have the potential to happen.

Again, I’m not crazy, I’m just concerned.

One thing that is almost never mentioned is population overshoot. As of today, the world is holding around 6,602,224,175 people. In 1856, when America, credited for the first modern commercial oil well, first started pumping oil, the population was 1 billion. Between 1856 and 1930, that doubled to 2 billion. From 1930 to 1970, it doubled again to 4 billion. And now we’re at 6 billion with a growth rate of around 80 million per year.

This growth was at one point feasible because the world had enough resources to allow for it. Now, that isn’t the case.

A similar model can be seen in the deer population in California. Cali is a fairly dry state, but every now and again we have a very rainy year. Because of this rain, there is an abundance of grassy food and a correlated explosion in the deer population. However, in the following years, when we don’t have enough rain to keep the food supply constant, the excess in the population begins to starve for a lack of grass to eat.

I mentioned before that the world has been consuming more food than it has been producing for the last six out of seven years.

I’ll give you a minute before I say this. Breathe in.

We could actually see nearly 4 billion people starve to death in our lifetime.

http://www.countercurrents.org/goodchild291007.htm

Again, I’m not crazy, I’m just concerned. Actually, I’m scared. I’m scared because I don’t really know what I can do about it IF I can do anything about it. I’m scared because I have a family and friends and I don’t know what is going to happen to them. I’m scared because every alternative I can think of is screwed over by one of the things I mentioned in this piece.

Love each other. And whether you choose to keep your head in the sand like we’ve been doing for years or to be proactive, good luck.

1 comment:

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

it all depends on good
technology makes folks lazy