Oil, Dirt and Our Food Supply (July 20, 2007)
Longtime contributor Chuck D. recently sent in a thoughtful analysis on the interplay between food supply, development, soil and oil:
I don't know how far out you have planned this week's theme, but you might want to consider doing a segment on the insanity of our food supply system. For example, how insane is it that we:Thank you, Chuck D., for these insightful comments.
Another reader earlier this year described the same issue, that soil is a resource which cannot be scraped away, covered in compressed gravel and concrete, then exposed to air and expected to grow anything useful. Like air and water, soil is a resource which a market economy cannot value correctly. I have covered this before and recommended The Tragedy of the Commons, the seminal paper by Garrett Hardin which described the failure of the market to value/price common essential assets, i.e. "the commons."
The coming shortage of oil--i.e. the gap between the limited supply and insatiable global demand--is addressed by two Wall Street Journal articles, one in April and another in July, which was sent in by frequent contributor Michael Goodfellow. (Note that an online subscription is required to read the WSJ archives, but you can read the 7/16/07 story in a library.)
IEA Warns That Low OPEC Output Is Likely to Drain Global Oil Stocks (4/12/07)
The International Energy Agency warned Thursday that output by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries had hit its lowest level in over two years on production outages and self-imposed cuts, a factor likely to drain global oil stocks in the coming months.Potential Energy Crunch May Bring Other Fuels to Fore (7/16/07)
"It is a hard truth that the global supply of oil and natural gas from the conventional sources relied upon historically is unlikely to meet projected 50% to 60% growth in demand over the next 25 years," says the draft report, titled "Facing the Hard Truths About Energy."My own study of the subject (admittedly an amateur's research) suggests petroleum output is maxed out at 85 million barrels a day. New supply only replaces what is being lost in declining supergiant fields. The idea that the earth can produce 120 million barrels a day of petroleum is pure fantasy, on the level of hoping the Martians arrive bringing a techno-miracle to save the day.
The only solution is to use the planet's remaining petroleum much more wisely and efficiently than we do now.
Michael also recently sent in this piece on a technology which would use much less oil--an example of many alternative technologies which are under development that could radically cut petroleum demand:
Radical Engine Redesign Would Reduce Pollution, Oil Consumption
For a darker view of the slide down the slippery slope of Peak Oil, I highly recommend glancing at Life After the Oil Crash. You may find it far-fetched, as it refuses to concede technological fixes will actually enable the current global industrial and transportation complex to continue on more or less "as is." This is definitely worth reading, just to spark your own thinking on the long-term consequences of Peak Oil.
For more on this subject and a wide array of other topics, please visit my weblog.
copyright © 2007 Charles Hugh Smith. All rights reserved in all media.
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