Peak Oil, Climate Change and the threat to food security

Guest post by David Archibald

In May, WUWT kindly hosted a post with slides from a presentation I gave to the Institute of World Politics in Washington. Following are some further slides from a presentation I gave during the week to the triennial Nuffield Conference in Perth, Australia.

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Figure 1: US Wheat and Corn prices 1916 – 2011 in 2011 constant dollars

Grain prices fell 70% in constant dollar terms from the Korean War to the end of the 20th century. In 2008, energy-related inputs relative to total operating expenses were about 60% for both wheat and corn. A $200 per barrel oil price will raise operating costs by 60% from the 2008 level. A similar price response was experienced during the First Oil Shock of 1973. This time the price increase will be permanent.

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Figure 2: Tunisian Wheat Consumption 1960 – 2010

The Arab Spring began with a vegetable vendor, but what they mainly eat is wheat. Figure 2 shows Tunisian wheat consumption per capita from 1960. A 2,500 calorie per day diet is 267 kg per annum of wheat and that is shown as the red line in the graph. The population of Tunisia is 10.4 million growing at 1% per annum. On that basis, Tunisian wheat demand is ratcheting up at 28,000 tonnes per annum.

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Figure 3: Yemeni Grain Consumption 1968 – 2010

Yemeni agricultural production falls well short of what is required to feed them. While the average per capita consumption of wheat is half that of Tunisia, the median age is also about half that of Tunisia at 18 years. Tunisia’s is 30 years. Similarly, 43% of Yemenis are under 14 years old while the figure for Tunisia is 23%. Therefore Yemen’s biggest wheat-eating years are ahead of it. Note the big jump in grain imports in 1988.

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Figure 4: Yemen Oil Production 1982 – 2015

The big jump in grain imports in 1988 is explained by the fact that 1988 was the year that Yemeni oil exports took off. Production peaked a decade ago and is now in steep decline. With or without a civil war, by the end of the decade there will be very little oil production to pay for wheat imports. The population of Yemen is 24 million growing at 2.6% per annum. Population is currently increasing at 630,000 per annum. If we assume that they all make it to adulthood and eat 267 kg of wheat per annum for a 2,500 calorie per day diet, wheat imports are ratcheting up at 170,000 tonnes per annum.

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Figure 5: Afghanistan Wheat Consumption 1960 – 2010

As unpleasant as Yemen is, there is a place that is yet more execrable. To paraphrase Mark Steyn, Afghanistan is a pestilential nation of pederasts, the chief exports of which are terrorism and heroin. As Figure 5 shows, the modern history of that country is written in its wheat consumption. Wheat imports started in the mid-1970s when Afghanistan was no longer able to feed itself from its own efforts. Imports keep rising during the early years of the Russian invasion and then collapsed along with domestic production. Population growth didn’t fall below 2% per annum during this period of restricted supply. Wheat imports rose dramatically after the US started its turn at running the country. Afghanistan is very similar to Yemen in having a median age of 18 years and population growth rate of 2.4% per annum. At that rate, the current population of 29.8 million is growing by 715,000 per annum. Thus wheat demand is ratcheting up at about 190,000 tonnes per annum.

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Figure 6: Population of Afghanistan from 1960 with a projection to 2025

Heroin is 25% of Afghanistan’s GDP. One day the world may stop paying for that heroin and the Danegeld for its terrorism. So where will the wheat come from then? Another alternative is that there may be a will to send Afghanistan some grain but there will be a physical lack of grain due to a climatic event. Figure 6 shows a possible future for Afghanistan’s population in the event of a sudden cessation of grain imports. Population can be expected to collapse below the natural carrying capacity of the country of about 12 million.

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Figure 7: Pakistan Wheat Production 1960 – 2011

Wheat imports into Afghanistan would have to come through Pakistan which would have first call on them. Figure 7 shows that Pakistan’s wheat production profile is quite impressive with a five-fold increase from 1960 to nearly 25 million tonnes per annum.

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Figure 8: Pakistan Wheat Production per Capita 1960 – 2032

Figure 8 shows that Pakistan’s per capita wheat production from 1980 has been static in the range of 120 to 140 kg per annum. If population keeps growing at its established trend rate, by 2030 Pakistan will be needing another 8 million tonnes of wheat per annum.

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Figure 9: Wheat yields in developing countries 1950 – 2005

The biggest driver of higher wheat yields over the last 60 years has been the development of dwarf strains, pioneered by Norman Borlaug. In a sense, that put off the problem for a generation and made it twice as bad. Wheat yields have plateaued from 1996.

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Figure 10: Egyptian wheat and corn consumption by source

Two hundred years ago, Egypt’s population is estimated to have been about 4 million. It is now 82 million and growing at 2% per annum – another 1.6 million Egyptian souls are created each year. As adults, their temporal bodies will want to consume an extra 440,000 tonnes of grain per annum. Figure 10 shows that on established trends, Egypt will be needing to import two thirds of its grain consumption. The projected import requirement matches the current level of US wheat exports.

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Figure 11: Egyptian oil production and consumption 1965 – 2020

Food and fuel are subsidised in Egypt. What has helped fund that is Egypt’s oil production. That peaked in the 90s and Egypt’s oil consumption is now higher than its production. Oil and grain imports are now rising in tandem. Whoever controls Egypt from here, either the Muslim Brotherhood or the Army, will have a hard time balancing the budget.

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Figure 12: US production of major grains and soybeans 1960 – 2010

The biggest increases in agricultural production in recent years have been from the US and Brazil. The mandated ethanol requirement has increased US corn production by 100 million tonnes per annum. That quantum could feed some 300 million people. In fact total US grain and soybean production could feed some 1,500 million people on a vegetarian diet, with the soybeans offsetting corn’s deficiency in lysine and tryptophan.

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Figure 13: Mexican major food imports 1960 – 2010

South of the border, the situation isn’t as rosy. As Figure 13 shows, Mexico imports about half of its food requirement. With a population of 113 million growing at 1.1% per annum, there are another 1.2 million Mexicans created each year who, as adults, will need another 370,000 tonnes of imported grain to feed them.

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Figure 14: Mexican oil production and consumption 1965 – 2021

Mexican oil production has peaked and is now falling rapidly towards the level of domestic Mexican consumption. That line will be reached in 2016, beyond which Mexico will have to pay for oil imports as well as increasing food imports, or do without something.

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Figure 15: Brazilian sugar and soybean exports 1960 – 2010

Demand pull from China, importing 50 million tonnes of soybeans per annum, has created a supply response in other places. Figure 15, showing a dramatic increase in Brazilian soybean and sugar exports starting in the mid-1990s, begs the question of how much more land in Brazil could be put to the plough. With protein content of 38%, Brazil’s soybean exports equate to 100 million tonnes per annum of wheat in terms of protein content.

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Figure 16: Russian wheat production and consumption 1987 – 2010

In accordance with good economic theory, Russian wheat production rose as a consequence of the end of communism in 1990, though it was a very lagged response. The drought in 2010 reduced production by 20 million tonnes and the Russian Government banned exports as a consequence.

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Figure 17: World production of major grains in 2009

The World produces about equal quantities of wheat, rice and corn for a total of 2,200 million tonnes. This equates to 311 kg per capita for the seven billion people on the planet. The recent increase of US corn production by 100 million tonnes per annum in response to the price signal from the mandated ethanol requirement suggests that production of grains in the US could increase as the price signal increases. On that basis, there may be the ability to return more land to cropping in the US and increase production by a further 100 million tonnes per annum.

It has been estimated that Brazil has 190 million hectares of currently uncropped land that could be brought into production. Assuming 2 tonnes per hectare, Brazil’s production could rise by a further 380 million tonnes per annum. Similarly, Russia has 40 million hectares of cleared land that could be used for agriculture but currently isn’t. That might provide a further 80 million tonnes of grain per annum. The total is 670 million tonnes per annum of potential further production from the US, Brazil and Russia, which might feed 1,675 million people at 400 kg per capita.

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Figure 18: World population growth rates 1950 – 2050

Figure 18 shows the World’s population growth rate from 1950 with a projection in blue to 2050. China’s Great Leap Forward shows up clearly in the chart. 30 million Chinese died as a result of a Government requirement to meet grain quotas while not allowing the peasants to retain enough to live on. This was 5% of China’s population at the time. Assuming that the World could produce a further 670 mtpa of grain and that would feed a further 1,675 million humans, that limit would be reached about two decades from now. There are likely to be some bumps along the way. At one stage in 1816, blocks of river ice from the Mississippi River were encountered by ships 100 kilometres out in the Gulf of Mexico. This was due to the Tambora eruption the year before. As the current de Vries cycle event progresses, the chance that a major volcanic eruption will have an agricultural impact continues to rise.

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168 thoughts on “Peak Oil, Climate Change and the threat to food security

  1. So are you saying if they have us over the barrel with our demand on oil, then we should do the same with their demand on food?

  2. So this is why our leaders have been building all them secret well stocked bunkers to hide themselves away during the great population collapse.
    On a more serious note what will be the effect of all the new shale oil, tar sands and shale gas on the ability of the world to maintain crop yields? Another thing to consider is the rapid depletion of the Ogallala out West in the USA it is not being replenished and once it’s gone a lot of Prairie out West will revert to desert or be only good for cattle ranching.

  3. In large areas of the world the limiting factor in agricultural production is water availability.

    Here in Australia proposals to double food production by damming northern rivers, as has been done in the Ord River, have been met with howls of protest from the Greenies.

    In other places like the Middle East desalination could rapidly increase agricultural production.

    I think the danger isn’t in being able to progressively increase food production to meet rising demand, albeit at a higher cost. The danger is from a volcanic eruption that dramatically reduces agricultural production for one or two years.

    I have long argued that rather than spending money on AGW, something that will happen slowly (if at all) giving us plenty of time to prepare and adapt, we should spent the money stockpiling food in preparation for an abrupt cooling that doesn’t give us time to prepare and adapt.

    Otherwise I’d agree with David, as food demand rises relative to supply, the risks associated with a sudden cooling event rise.

  4. Typo: “It has been estimated that Brazil has 190 hectares of currently uncropped land” is missing “million”.

    By the way, India is doing fine in its food grains production. There is enough to feed everybody, only, the poor might not get it on their plates because of lack of purchasing power, bureaucratic indifference and/or corruption. This is even without GM varieties. A higher oil price does increase fertilizer and transport prices. Unfortunately western ideas and subsidies for bio fuel did raise Indian food prices a lot the last 3 years.

  5. A quick research of the Ogallala leads me to the North Plains Groundwater Conservation District
    web site where I find that at present usage, if it never rains again there, the water will run out by the end of this century. Is it expected to not rain there much for the rest of this century? Am I missing something?

    http://npwd.org/new_page_2.htm

  6. Could Kilter explain by what mechanism change the aquifer is not being replenished please?

  7. Don’t get me wrong, but by them fleecing us on oil, it in turn cost more for us to produce food, well it cost us more to produce everything,that in turn drives the cost of everything up. So when I asked or said “So are you saying if they have us over the barrel with our demand on oil, then we should do the same with their demand on food?” It boils down who wants to play fair now doesn’t it, because turning the other cheek sometimes can make a difference, if they slap us in the face then they need a slap back to even things out, or what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, so to speak.

  8. About 3200 years ago, within a space of 56 years, city states around the Mediterranean & in the Middle East collapsed.

    Possible causes of collapse?

    2.1 Volcanoes
    2.2 Earthquakes
    2.3 Migrations and raids
    2.4 Ironworking
    2.5 Drought
    2.6 Changes in warfare
    2.7 General systems collapse

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

    That list seems ominiously familiar. Read it & weep.

  9. Developed countries tend to grow far more of their own food, and export some. Africa needs development to push this assumption into fact. Zimbabwe used to feed Africa when white farmers worked their own lands. Now they have their land confiscated and given to locals who have no expertise or desire to farm by a government led by a criminal Mugabe. The funds wasted trying to prove AGW could have been better spent pushing African development and easing the world food problems.

  10. Me says:
    October 8, 2011 at 12:33 am

    “So are you saying if they have us over the barrel with our demand on oil, then we should do the same with their demand on food?”

    I think you’ll find that is already the case.

    Peak oil is likely to affect countries that have to import most of their food the hardest. In Western areas such as NW Europe, economic problems are the most likely symptom i.e. economies nosedive once oil gets beyond a certain price – this has happened several times over the past 50 years. What this means on the ground is far much less vehicle use and far more grow-yer-own food in any available space. Have been doing this myself for the past few years. Best get prepared.

    In climate terms, drought is the big one to watch out for – and that can occur during warming OR cooling trends – for example, the ice-age climate was a relatively dry one. Human populations aside for a moment, this is primarily as geographical issue, as e.g. Texans may well have noticed this past 12 months.

    Cheers – John

  11. Without being alarmist at all there is going to be conflict between production and consumption. We are facing water shortages and we are losing arable land. We are also losing farmers who have been screwed by grain and produce buyers for decades. The bAustralian government have no farming policies and as stated above the city greens are opposed to new dams and water schemes. Problems are looming and governments everywhere are more concerned with a trace gas. Talk about fiddling while Rome burns.

  12. Perry says:
    October 8, 2011 at 1:46 am
    “2.7 General systems collapse

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

    That list seems ominiously familiar. Read it & weep.”

    I’ve read somewhere that historically civilisations have collapsed when their EROEI dropped under 3. (EROEI = Energy returned on energy invested). As one major component of their energy infrastructure was agriculture, and their yield was not high, a cooling climate leading to failed harvests could push them over the edge.

  13. We have the capacity to gradually increase global food production, political stability, infastructure, education and price are the biggest factors. A cataclismic event will undoubtedly happen at some stage in the future,as it has in the past, no planning will avert that.

  14. “Heroin is 25% of Afghanistan’s GDP. One day the world may stop paying for that heroin and the Danegeld for its terrorism. ”

    The Afghan business model looks pretty sound to me. People never stop paying for dope.

  15. The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy keeps land out of production by subsidising set-aside (it’s a price maintenance thing). What difference, if any, would bringing that back on-line make? They are, after all, the closest suppliers to North Africa with spare capacity.

  16. Here is some simple arithmetic which is worth watching and puts some perspective on this subject.
    You will then see why this lecture by Dr R. A. Bartlett, from the University of Colorado, has over 3 million hits!!

  17. The solution seems quite simple. According to the theory we need to pump increasing amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere thus increasing world temps by four degrees, consequently moving the production area about 4 to 600 miles further North and releasing the vast areas of tundra in Northern Russia, China and Mongolia, alongside increased areas of Canada for grain production. As the major land masses are in the far north the loss of the sub-tropical south would be irrelevant. (Sorry Aus!)

    I am going to throw an extra shovel full of coal on the fire right now.

    Does anyone have the figures for how much land would be released per degree increase in global temps?

  18. Seems like an opportunity for a new Borlaug to develop a non-plant equivalent … possibly a protein and starch mix grown by bacteria or yeast.

  19. Rising quakes – volcanic activity – cloud cover – storms – floods, as happened before world devastating 5year 1815-20 volcanic winter and during most of the Little Ice Age, that provoked the cannibalic COLLAPSE of deforestating Mayas, Aztecs, Incas…

    If altruist rescuers coordinate, humankind may revive truce and mutual-aid to AVERT next ice age!

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-nvSG3nbwTJU/TikXuPeac1I/AAAAAAAAAvg/gQthSGp13JQ/s1600/volcanic+crater+cap+2.jpg.

    We immediately must test the proposal to AVERT volcanic winter through crater-caps/grids hold by zeppelins over extra active volcanoes to prevent ash ejection to the stratosphere: the begining of every ice age.
    OPEN PUBLIC DIALOGUE, DECENTRALIZATION and GLOBAL AFFORESTATIONS offer food and wood, promote mutual-aid and prevent

    cannibalism.

  20. I do not quite agree with David about the timing of peak oil -there is lots still to be found in Alaska and arctic waters and also in the southern ocean around the Falklands, southern Chile etc. However, I do agree with his early presentation where he wrote about coal to liquids which is now viable at present oil prices, only politics is a problem, nuclear energy -in particular Thorium reactors which the Chinese will have up and running in about seven year. Countries that ignore or restrict nuclear energy (like Germany) will get left behind. It is notable that the Swiss have voted to lift the restriction on nuclear expansion.

  21. Re Neil Jones – compulsory set-aside, as such, ended a few years ago in the EU, what we have now (in the UK) are schemes to use bits of land for ‘envronmental’ benefit, eg 6m grass strips alongside ditches and streams to reduce fertliser and pesticide runoff, field corners and strips of flower and clover mixes for pollinators and other insects and areas planted for overwinter bird feed.
    These are part of ‘environmental stewardship’ shemes or what is called ‘cross-compliance’ see:

    http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/farming/funding/es/els/default.aspx

    I understand that the details vary from country to country.

  22. Worth reading. An ongoing series on the issue of food security from DTN: http://www.dtn.com/ag/food_security/
    ==========================================================
    Agriculture’s Greatest Challenge

    Growing enough food to feed a hungry world will create new opportunities for America’s farmers. But it also means greater volatility and uncertainty for your financial future.
    Risk And Rewards Of Food Security – A letter from Editor In Chief, Gregg Hillyer

    9,000,000,000 – It’s a daunting number of people to feed by 2050. Can the world’s farmers meet the challenge?

    Volatility, The New Norm – Sure, the world can’t get enough of what you produce. But strong global demand creates more risk for your farming business.

    The Hungriest Continent – Africa struggles to feed its people in a world of plenty.

    Producers Prepare to Serve Billions and Billions – The world’s appetite for beef, chicken and pork offers a promising future for the U.S. livestock industry.

    Bye Bye Ethanol Boom? – Corn is a key food and feed ingredient. Will the corn ethanol industry win out over feeding the world?

    The Food Futurists – These distinguished experts share their thoughts on the challenges of feeding a hungry world and how agriculture will respond.

    A New Land Grab? – For some countries, securing their future food supply means looking beyond their borders.

  23. Afghanis exporting terrorism? Last time I looked, the terrorist were mostly of other nationalities. And Muslim activists, at least in Europe, together with mosque building, are paid by Saudis. BTW – there was even a proposal to make Afghan farmers produce raw opium legally, bought and exported for medical purposes, but USA blocked that.

    Back to grain – maybe someone should notice European Union leaders – they still favor converting of fields to nature-close meadows or wetlands, cultivating energy plants instead of edible crops and planting fotovoltaic panels instead of sowing cereals.
    I’ve read in a British governmental pamphlet, that farmers should change from food producers to landscape guardians.

  24. Chas said
    schemes to use bits of land for ‘environmental’ benefit, eg 6m grass strips alongside ditches and streams to reduce fertliser and pesticide runoff, field corners and strips of flower and clover mixes for pollinators and other insects and areas planted for overwinter bird feed.
    Oh yes.
    And now there starts a completely new research on how to get ergot from cereals.
    You know – that pesky poisonous fungus, whose presence in cereals was limited already in 50′s by simple measures as NOT leaving grass strips near fields or mowing such strips twice a year to prevent grasses from blooming and using an occasional fungicide spray. All these things are now a big no-no because of “ecological” approach to agriculture. Necessity of reinvent a wheel again…

  25. Excellent analysis. Fossil fuels are essential to any advanced economy. But food is more essential.

    The rise in CO2 is closely tracked by the rise in agricultural productivity. But in their ravenous desire to demonize “carbon” in order to tax the air we breathe, the climate alarmists are deliberately condemning hundreds of millions of poor folks to death by starvation. But they don’t care in the least. They only crave those tax dollars.

  26. Short term risk is the man made economic collapse.

    When farmers can no longer afford buying the seeds, the insecticides and the fuel to work their land…

    When the distribution system collapses….

    When the US dollar decline, rising oil prices and speculation triggered price hikes buy’s less food, less oil and less seeds….

    We are already seeing a second wave of food riots similar to 2008 building quickly.

    Things will get worse short term and wide spread famines in Asia a.o. North korea, the Middle East, the Magreb, East- and West Africa and Middle and South America will fill the International agenda’s very soon.

    Armed conflict, waste of capital and resources due to the climate change doctrine including the transformation of food crops into bio fuels, more expensive modified seed concepts, rising oil prices, speculation and corruption are driving trends and forces that will deprive a large part of the current world population from affordable food short term.

    In the news now:
    China ploughs a new corn furrow

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/MJ08Ad04.html

    Nestle Chief warns of new food riots

    http://globalnation.inquirer.net/14847/nestle-chief-warns-of-new-food-riots

    North Korea famine looms

    http://tvnz.co.nz/world-news/north-korean-famine-looms-4454826

    Also read what Spengler recently wrote about Egypt and China

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/others/spengler.html

  27. How many of y’all think that all the cropland in a country is owned by the citizens or govt’ of that country? You might be surprised to know that there is a rapidly growing international market for crop and forest land.
    =====================================================================

    Jeff Conrad has been in the business of farmland investment for more than 20 years, and he’s never seen more interest in buying property internationally than now.

    “There is definitely a change in the U.S. and elsewhere,” says Conrad, the president of Boston-based Hancock Agricultural Investment Group, which purchases and manages farmland in the U.S., Canada and Australia on behalf of institutional investors. It currently has more than $1 billion invested in permanent crops, such as almond groves and major row crops. “We have people calling us out of the blue who want to learn more about our products.”

    Interest in farmland isn’t limited to individuals or institutional investors. Countries like China and some in the Middle East are purchasing or leasing large tracts of land in Africa, Australia or South America. The reason? With little arable farmland and limited land resources to expand agricultural production, they are seeking to secure access to crops in the future.

    “The primary concerns of the funds from the Middle East,” Conrad says, “is food security. That is my sense of their No. 1 concern.”

    Land lovers. The world demand for farmland is further encouraged when you consider today’s existing global “fundamentals,” such as rising commodity prices and economic development around the world, Conrad says. The establishment of burgeoning middle classes in China and India”with increased demand for grain and meat”are further driving the interest in land.

    A World Bank report, “Rising Global Interest in Farmland,” released last year, showed international farm sales totaling 111 million acres (about 45 million hectares) in 2009. Prior to that, the average rate of international sales was about 9.9 million acres annually.

    Cont’d at link: http://www.dtn.com/ag/food_security/land.cfm

  28. Food shortages will never hit home in the U.S. as long as we can visit our local supermarket and see their shelves stocked to the brim with food products we need and use, and priced reasonably.

    If the progressives have their way, we will eventually see empty shelves and long lines to obtain basic food items due to shortages. This is because they are doing everything they can to ruin our economy – just look at the lazy progressives who are participating in the Occupy Wall Street protests.

    And then, of course, there are the wealthy government science elites like Jim Hansen who want to kill both jobs and energy security (all while hypocritically consuming petroleum products). This is why CAGW-ism must be fought now. It is my fervent hope that after next year’s elections in the U.S., we’ll be able to finally zero-fund the government portion of the CAGW climate industry…

  29. This ia a very interesting analysis. Does it assume increasing amount of arable land continues to be used to grow corn for ethanol, a foolish, misguided, inefficient, uneconomic use of resources? The US and Canada , together, absolutely should use their ability to grow grains as an economic lever to counter OPEC and the natural gas cartel that Russia is trying to create in Europe.

  30. Frank K. says:
    October 8, 2011 at 5:20 am

    “Food shortages will never hit home in the U.S. as long as we can visit our local supermarket and see their shelves stocked to the brim with food products we need and use, and priced reasonably.”

    Unfortunately, that’s like saying, “nothing will ever go wrong so long as it doesn’t”!

    The issue has nothing to do with political protests in Wall St or anywhere else. It has everything to do with geological constraints and EROEI with respect to finite natural resources. Oil is finite. If it was infinite, why do you (and Redneck, above) think we are having to drill the Deepwater sites, and why are companies drawing up plans to explore the Arctic as soon as the retreating ice makes that feasible?

    Cheers – John

  31. Some what OT for this blog, but people who demonize ‘speculators’ simply don’t understand how markets work

    What a speculator does is increase supply and decrease prices at times of greatest demand.

    In a famine, the foresight of speculators will save lives.

  32. I’m skeptical of peak oil claims. Shale oil and gas is a game changer. For example, Egypt has shale deposits. The amounts in Egypt are small compared to many other oil shales, but even Egypt has some. From the link:

    “An estimation of the total volume of all potential organic rich Cretaceous shale amounts to 4.5
    billion bbl of oil in place concerning the area Safaga-Qusseir. In the area of Abu Tartour 1.2 billion
    bbl of oil in place was calculated by Troger, (1984).
    The obtained results favor that the black shale widely distributed in Egypt represent promising
    target for detailed evaluation studies as high potential resource for energy.”

    http://geoconvention.org/archives/2007abstracts/055S0129.pdf

  33. I was going to leave the peak oil aspect alone, but my 2c worth.

    What David’s graphs show is that the current oil exporting, food importing, mostly Middle East nations will be in deep trouble, not because of Peak Oil, but because of peak low technology oil.

    The trend over the last 20 years is toward higher technology oil/gas/coal extraction.

    The trend is accelerating with shale gas fracking and expanding oil sands production.

    The next wave is robotic mining. A mine is about to open here in Western Australia with no underground workers. All the underground work is done by robots controlled from 2,000 Ks away in Perth.

  34. [snip - sorry Telford, not going to allow you to start your own thread hijack here because you don't like one of Archibald's slides, your trolling is tiresome - Anthony]

  35. David
    The expansion of the Yemini population with the falling trend for oil revenues implies a dire future for Yemen and trouble for it’s neighbours. However, why do you imply that Yemen’s demand for wheat is increasing at 170,000 tons a year when it is probably stable on that falling consumption trend? (Assuming, of course, that trend continues, I don’t know what they’re eating, but only 40% of those 2500 a day come from wheat based on your figures. Is that trend following the oil revenues down?).

  36. Please don’t ever fall for the sophistry of “peak oil”. We do not burn crude oil in our cars, trucks and airplanes. We burn very carefully refined fuel products made of molecules that are assembled, atom by atom, by a process that breaks down the molecules from some raw, hydrocarbon rich, feedstock.

    Crude oil is the primary feedstock for the only reason that, for the time being, it is the least costly source of those atoms. But when crude oil was in short supply during World War II, the Germans used coal as the source of molecules. Based on today’s prices, it becomes less expensive to convert coal to diesel fuel when crude oil costs more than $80/bbl. But we can use other sources of hydrocarbons. A company in Carthage, Missouri was selling a form of diesel fuel that was made by rendering the waste products of slaughtering turkeys. It went bankrupt not because the process didn’t work, but because the resulting product was more expensive than customers wanted to pay. The company had previously run successful tests to convert municipal solid waste and sewage sludge into diesel fuel. They computed that there was enough sewage sludge in the US to supply around half of its diesel fuel needs if properly converted.

    The end issue is cost. Presently, fuels made by refining crude oil cost less than fuels made by refining coal, sewage sludge, or turkey carcasses. But the instant those later sources are less expensive, the market will start to use them. We don’t fret about ‘peak whale’ because when overhunting caused the price of whale oil to rise, other sources of oil for lamps was found from coal and crude oil. Then electricity came into use for lighting of homes and streets. Today, even the use of Coleman lamps (that burn a form of gasoline) for illuminating camp sites is giving way to lights that use efficient LEDs and batteries. We can no longer buy whale oil, and who would light their home with it anyway? Neither would they use an open gas flame, as was done for decades.

    An exciting frontier of research is to use genetically engineered algaes to produce usable fuel molecules. A recent article stated that at the present time, the break even costs were in the ballpark of $200/bbl. The carbon atoms for algae-produced fuels would come from the CO2-rich gasses from coal-fired power plants.

    The plain truth is that we are awash in hydrocarbons that can be converted to usable fuel products. The only issue is cost, that is if government will not intrude and distort economic decisions like it presently does with corn-based ethanol.

    “Peak Oil” is a lie that is used in an attempt to stampede policymakers and the public into choices that cannot be productive in the long run, and certainly ones will raise costs and destroy liberty in the process.

  37. John Marshall says:
    October 8, 2011 at 2:00 am (Edit)

    Developed countries tend to grow far more of their own food, and export some. Africa needs development to push this assumption into fact. Zimbabwe used to feed Africa when white farmers worked their own lands. Now they have their land confiscated and given to locals who have no expertise or desire to farm by a government led by a criminal Mugabe. The funds wasted trying to prove AGW could have been better spent pushing African development and easing the world food problems.

    ——————————————————————————————————————————–

    If the west hadn’t pumped in large quantities of food to Zimbabwe Mugabe’s government would have fallen in the first couple of years of the “Land reforms”. The west has actually propped up Mugabe, as they have many corrupt and incompetent regimes in Africa.

  38. Philip Bradley says:
    October 8, 2011 at 6:01 am
    *****
    For Middle Eastern countries, nuclear is their salvation. Of course, there is a concern due to their belligerent nature, but with nuclear, they can make enough electricity to desalinate sea water. They have plenty of sunshine. Then they can grow food. It would be best to grow the food in a closed system so that water could be recycled. Extra CO2 would also help ;)

  39. Of course, our population is limited by solar energy (crop production), and fossil energy (crop planting, harvesting, transport). We consume much more energy per capita to live in the comforts of civilization than say a family living on a few acres growing their own food. Who wants a new Cultural Revolution where we all go back to the farms? Oh, yeah, the idiots occupying Wall Street and the White House.

    Gosh, it looks like the world is headed for a serious crash. Yes, that would be true if the same people running government now keep making decisions. There are two ways out:
    1) Extend the benefits of civilization to more of the world’s population. When that happens, the birth rate will fall. Europe’s population is shrinking except for the third-world immigrants who still retain a culture of high birth rate. The United States is also headed toward a negative population growth rate also except for immigration.
    2) Develop methods to produce more food, eventually, through biosynthetic food production facilities. The goal is to decouple the human population from arable land area.

    In the first approach, we would hope to keep the population limited voluntarily. Seems to work well in some places. However, the benefits of civilization require higher per capita energy consumption. In the second approach, we substitute another energy source for the sun, converting that energy into food. If we can do that, we convert the process from 2 dimensional geometry to perhaps 3 dimensional geometry, or at least reduce the land-area footprint required to produce food. Here again, a very potent energy souce will be required.

    Greens are not giving us a way out. Their policies do not lead to the production of enough energy to maintain civilization. They convert our energy supply to one that is also dependent on land area. That’s going in the wrong direction. We need compact forms of energy. Oil is not the answer. Nuclear energy is. The solution is natural gas -> fission -> fusion. Hand wringing about Fukushima is missing the point. If we don’t produce enough energy per capita, the world population will crash. There is better technology available to produce energy from fission, and we need to figure out how to sustain better than break-even fusion in the next couple of centuries.

    The Greens are leading us to starvation disease and death on a scale the world has never seen. The Black Death was terrible, with a 50% drop in population. The Green Death certainly will be worse.

  40. Encouraging is that the volcanic activity has ramped down as the sun has recently shifted into a higher gear.
    Discouraging though is the issues about the really big bad boy eruptions may not follow what the kids do.

  41. “(Technology advances).. pioneered by Norman Borlaug. In a sense, that put off the problem for a generation and made it twice as bad. ”

    That’s the key to the whole article: if we concentrate only on increasing food supply, we temporarily can raise the carrying capacity and allow a harder, deeper fall in population when a crisis in another limiting factor inevitably occurs.

    I keep hearing this deep, booming voice in my head. Anybody know what a “cubit” is?

  42. Global warming should generally stabilize weather and improve crop production. However, if there is a 60 year ocean cycle that brings cold water to the surface ~ every 30 years, extreme weather could be worse as the difference between the ocean and atmosphere temperature would be greater than it otherwise would be during cold phases (at least initially). Increased windshear would mean more storm risk and higher humidity from increased winds would mean low temps and high humidity leading to increased communicable disease and crop blight and other diseases.

    This would be for part of cold phases, the rest of the time things would be better.

  43. On my land in Canada, I could double of triple production with the appropriate price signals. If wheat reaches the equivalent price that it did in the early 1970′s, that would motivate me to break up forage land and add to grain production.

    At the end of the day, production will increase if prices increase provided that the transportation and market systems are in place to move those goods to market.

  44. Like all single and multiple celled living organisms our population expands and contracts in direct correlation with the food supply. Our ingenuity has allowed the carrying capacity of Earth, regarding humans, to increase dramatically. This ingenuity has been built on the availability of cheap energy. When the current food supply is curtailed by a natural disaster or anything else the severity of the famine will be a direct measure of governance. Those nations that are well governed will be a great deal better off than those badly led.

    Those calling for capitalism to be smashed, calling for us to stop using ubiquitous energy, stop crop research and GM , are all unable to see how evolution rather than revolution got us this far. We baby boomers have a lot to answer for if these children are the products of our world vision. We brought them up to question everything but it seems we didn’t require them to understand anything and just to see confrontation with the “establishment” as an end in itself.

    Fortunately humans are innately conservative and change comes slowly but it always comes. Let’s just hope that the big volcanic eruption or meteor strike doesn’t arrive while our defenses are down.

  45. David Archibald,

    Thanks for an interesting article.

    It all seems to me to boil down to the need for increases in energy for production of desalinated water for increased agriculture in arid regions. The food to feed 10 billion can be produced, but it will require more water in arid regions. In the very long term, only nuclear power can provide the energy humanity needs. Those who try to block it’s expanded use are acting both irrationality and immorally.

    While peak oil production and dramatic price increases may be further away than currently anticipated by many people, in some regions (as you point out) the peak in oil production is long past, and the future economic ability of many countries (with rapidly growing populations) to feed themselves looks problematic. If the UN wants to do something useful, they can stop worrying so much about climate change and start worrying about how to avoid this impending humanitarian catastrophe. Increased efforts to encourage population growth rate reduction in parallel with programs to increase economic and agricultural growth are clearly needed in these countries.

  46. What these graphs do not show is the “why” not enough wheat is produced in the various countries.

    I know that Greece up into the 70s was self sufficient in wheat, i.e. it produced enough wheat for its population’s demands and imported only in order to improve the quality ( hard soft etc). The fields are there, and they can produce bumper crops. An uncle of mine in the 70s planted wheat as a hobby and we still have some wheat from that time. Every village had a mill for making flour out of the domestic wheat, etc.

    Why did this stop? Globalization and EU entry where directives were given for changes in cultivation, subsidies made people lazy and a great push for university education of sorts sent the young to civil service jobs that were created by the politicians in order to accommodate the demand. In addition prices for the farmer are very low and do not cover the expenses. And Greece finds itself importing onions and garlic from China and asparagus from Peru. The global economy is an enormous cazino and it affects not only banks but also who cultivates what.

    If there is a global shock people will go back to the land and fortunately it was not possible to destroy it.

    My point is that these plots divorced from the global cazino where countries are forced to be exporters and importers so that other countries can be exporters and importers may not make much sense for future projections.

  47. I believe that, in spite of our politicians, the U.S. has risen in domestic oil production (in recent years) to the number 3 spot world wide. We import half of our oil currently. 40% of our oil comes from Canada and Mexico. The rest comes from other sources. This is an improvement from 20 years ago when we imported 2/3 of our oil. Add to this the tremendous reserves in PA. (gas shale), NE (Bakkan reserves) and Canada. Not to mention the ANWR and you have a totally different picture. And this is just on land. If you add in the sea drilling too…

  48. The post does not seem to take into account some basic facts:
    1. Food security is not about producing your food in your own country (or in your own province, district, village or backyard), but about global availability and about economic access to food by people. “Food security exists when all people at all times have physical and economic access to sufficient nutritious and healthy food according to their needs and food preferences” (definition coined by FAO and adopted by almost all countries in successive World Food Summits since 1996). The Summits’ documents stress the importance of trade to ensure physical access, and the importance of economic development and higher incomes to ensure economic access. Global availability already exists, and is expected to be attained without particular strain once world population peaks at about 9 billion by the mid 21st century.
    2. Food production no longer depends on additional land. “Figure 15, showing a dramatic increase in Brazilian soybean and sugar exports starting in the mid-1990s, begs the question of how much more land in Brazil could be put to the plough”, says the author, probably ignoring the fact that agricultural land in Brazil stopped expanding about 20 years ago, and agricultural employment is decreasing in Brazil since the 1980s, so that all the recent (1990-2011) spectacular growth in agricultural production (crops and livestock) and most of the not less spectacular growth in the preceding decades is due to increased productivity, not to increased use of land and labour. The same is true for the world as a whole, even in Africa.
    3. Different foods have different income elasticities, and thus human cereal consumption tends to pan out and even decrease when higher incomes are reached. Use of cereals for fodder (e.g. maize fed to pigs or poultry) does increase at higher incomes, but overall cereal human consumption tends to grow more slowly as incomes go up, while other foodstuffs (meat, dairy, vegetables, fruit) keep increasing. Detailed studies of this matter, including projections to 2050-2100 under conservative income growth hypotheses, suggest world food availability will be enough, and access to food much better than now, even if world population does not peak by mid century but continues to grow to be 15 billion by 2100, and even if the tendency to overeating and obesity as income grows keeps regrettably going on.
    There are many references on this matter, both about current situation and future prospects. The main basic studies applying integrated assessment methods (combining economic and climatic models, agroecological zoning and crop technology) have come from the Laxenburg (Austria) IIASA (International Institute of Advanced Systems Analysis), in collaboration with FAO and involving a lot of scholars from different countries (main coordinator is Dr Günther Fischer). FAO has also conducted their own simulations such as those contained in the recent publication on ‘How To Feed The World in 2050′ and in ‘World Agriculture Towards 2015/2030′ which is now being updated to 2050 (current main coordinator is Dr Jelle Bruinsma, with former and now retired coordinator Dr Nikos Alexandratos acting as a consultant).
    Of course, some countries may face a more difficult situation, such as some in the Middle East that are accustomed to heavily subsidized food consumption funded by oil revenues; the scheme may face problems if oil exports diminish (and the reduction is not made up by rising oil prices) and populations keep growing without modernizing their food habits, but these changes are part of the general transformation those countries would surely undertake (and are already undertaking in the form of economic reform, social change and political upheaval). How this particular situation turns out remains to be seen, but no food catastrophe is expected. Population growth is slowing down in Arab countries, out-migration is increasing, the economies are indeed diversifying, the price of oil is expected to rise if it becomes scarcer, and the social-political-economic system is under rapid transformation.

    It may perhaps be opportune to mention that I have recently published a book on the matter of food and climate change (co-authored by my son Emiliano), ‘Climate change, agriculture and food security in Latin America’ (available at Amazon.com). The book’s focus is on Latin America but includes abundant material for the whole world.

  49. Very interesting. Never know what to expect from WUWT.

    I remember many years ago (30-40) stock piling grain was important to avert shortages due to possible crop failures and now we burn it as fast as we can grow it. This is change I can’t believe in.

    The mindset of the masses today need to look ahead past tomorrow and do a little planning for at least somewhat into the future. Energy, food, security, etc. resources take years to materialize. How did the masses ever get diverted into chasing after CO2 as a real threat? Again, I just can’t believe these changes.

  50. Is this horse ready to leave the gate?

    “And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see that thou hurt not the oil and the wine.”

    Grains in short supply, but plenty of olive oil and wine to go around.

  51. “Wheat imports into Afghanistan would have to come through Pakistan which would have first call on them”, says the author of this post, probably ignoring that a lot of imported wheat reaches Afghanistan from the North (originating mainly in Kazakhstan). Other import flows pass through Iran, and not only through Pakistan. As a landlocked country, of course, Afghanistan faces increased freight costs for bulky commodities such as cereals, but that does not mean that countries located along the way would have “first call” on shipments destined to Afghanistan.

  52. Kitler says:
    October 8, 2011 at 12:55 am
    So this is why our leaders have been building all them secret well stocked bunkers to hide themselves away during the great population collapse.
    On a more serious note what will be the effect of all the new shale oil, tar sands and shale gas on the ability of the world to maintain crop yields? Another thing to consider is the rapid depletion of the Ogallala out West in the USA it is not being replenished and once it’s gone a lot of Prairie out West will revert to desert or be only good for cattle ranching.

    ———–

    It has to do with flow rates. Peak oil is not about what’s in the ground, it’s about how fast you can extract it. Those sources will not be able to keep up with depletion from all other sources. So over all world wide, oil production is going to fall, if it hasn’t started already. The one’s affected by this will be the major importers of oil, as exporters keep more of their dwindling oil for themselves.

  53. For those that take issue with the peak oil concept, PLEASE go watch the video that Fit_Nick posted. The math is very basic, and inarguable. Unless some basic factors change in very unpleasant ways, peak oil is real and imminent, or has already happened.

    This is not all bad. As oil supplies collapse, there will be less CO2 emitted (can’t have fossil fuel CO2 without fossil fuel), so that particular red herring will go away. The energy need of the world are not going to significantly decrease, because most energy doesn’t go into SUVs or evil lightbulbs, it goes into feeding the ever expanding population, so nuclear energy is going to be the only answer – a few more years of windmills will destroy that particular idea very effectively.

    “Greens” will become more and more obviously either brain damaged, or clearly interested only in reducing the world population by encouraging starvation, war and disease.

  54. Frumious Bandersnatch says:
    October 8, 2011 at 8:03 am
    I believe that, in spite of our politicians, the U.S. has risen in domestic oil production (in recent years) to the number 3 spot world wide. We import half of our oil currently. 40% of our oil comes from Canada and Mexico. The rest comes from other sources. This is an improvement from 20 years ago when we imported 2/3 of our oil. Add to this the tremendous reserves in PA. (gas shale), NE (Bakkan reserves) and Canada. Not to mention the ANWR and you have a totally different picture. And this is just on land. If you add in the sea drilling too…

    ————-

    Within a few short years Mexico will no longer be able to export as Cantarell dies. Again, it’s not about what’s in the ground, it’s about how fast it can be extracted. The debt crisis will mask the effects of deminishing oil production as demand is killed off as currencies collapse, credit evaporates, starting in Europe.

  55. theBuckWheat says:
    October 8, 2011 at 6:29 am

    “Peak Oil” is a lie that is used in an attempt to stampede policymakers and the public into choices that cannot be productive in the long run, and certainly ones will raise costs and destroy liberty in the process.

    ———–

    Peak oil is a physical fact. Don’t confuse geological peak, which we are no where near, and flow rate peak. The latter is what peak oil refers to, always has. Flow rates peaked in 2005.

  56. Burning food in vehicles – biofuels food crisis –
    Patrick Dixon, for Red Prairie, audience of logistics and supply chain executives. …

    Biofuels scandal + food prices. Biofuel crisis, biofuel oil, biofuel production, cars, algae, systems and basics
    Why biofuel industry is dead — biofuel by converting food into oil is stupid and immoral. Biodiesel, biomass, biowaste and …Patrick Dixon

  57. charles nelson says:
    October 8, 2011 at 1:39 am
    Could Kilter explain by what mechanism change the aquifer is not being replenished please?
    ======================================================================
    From Wikipedia, the Ogallala Aquifer:
    It was only after World War II that affordable technology became available to substantially extract water. This transformed the High Plains into one of the most agriculturally productive regions in the world. During the early years, this source of water was thought to be inexhaustible, and its hydrology a mystery. But, because the rate of extraction exceeds the rate of recharge, water level elevations are decreasing. At some places, the water table was measured to drop more than five feet (1.5 m) per year at the time of maximum extraction. In extreme cases, the deepening of wells was required to reach the steadily falling water table. The water table has been drained (dewatered) in some places, such as Northern Texas.
    ——-
    Charles, it seems as though much of the area overlying the aquifer is semi-arid (little to no rain). In other areas where it does rain a non-porous “caliche” has formed at surface so that evaporation takes much of the rain away. Add to that the areas that do allow penetration of surface water into the aquifer (the playa lakes) are being destroyed by farmers, reducing the incoming flow. The USGS estimates the aquifer has declined by 9% since widespread irrigation began in the 1930s.

    Our increased use of fossil fuels makes it easier for us to do things efficiently on a larger scale – like slowly drain a 7 state aquifer. We will run into these problems head on before we start running out of oil.

  58. Buckwheat, I don’t mean to get into a semantics argument, but it’s more than costs. For sustainable energy production, energy out must be much greater than energy in.

    Your statement that hydrocarbon fuels assembled “atom by atom” is a little bit melodramatic. A significant amount of fuel from crude is simply fractionally distilled, which is a physical process. It’s true that chemically, more effort today is expended for hydrotreating to remove nitrogen and sulfur species and to reduce aromatics, but it would be more technically correct to says that crude oil refining involves separating and transforming molecular species.

    Now the Fischer-Tropsch process is more akin to your atom by atom assembly.

  59. Nobody includes wastage in the food production numbers. China & India have numbers that are probably inflated to begin with, and, then you have the problem of how much of their production goes to waste before it can be consumed as something other than fertilizer or fuel. What do those numbers look like when you include wastage, and, does it change the complexion of food production?

  60. Hector M. says:
    October 8, 2011 at 8:17 am
    =================================================
    Hector, I think you downplay the relationship between oil production (and therefore revenue) and food imports. While it is nice to think that as countries lose oil revenue they will replace it with some other form of revenue to pay for their food imports – the argument is missing on the “how?”.
    What seems to be happening in the world is that the countries with growing oil production are getting richer and countries with declining oil production are getting poorer. Take Brazil. Oil production up about 50% since 2000 and their economy has been growing rapidly.
    I would be concerned about countries that are highly reliant on food imports and domestic oil production, where oil production is declining.

  61. David, that was almost interesting and it would have been if you hadn’t taken huge leaps of logic in unfounded assumptions.

    Is it surprising that areas rife and abundant with turmoil has drops in oil and food production? Further, you don’t address the potential increase in crop production of land already in use. For instance, do you believe the farmers in most Africa have all of the tools and techniques 1st world nations have at their disposal? The yields in 2nd and 3rd world nations have the potential to have exponential increases. And, it is likely that they will as soon as the technologies disseminate to those nations.

    It has been established OPEC throttles oil production. It is also established that there are huge reservoirs of oil that remain untapped. Oil production is limited to desire at this moment. You do rightfully point out the asinine stupidity of pouring our food down our fuel tanks, but again, that’s rectified by simple desire.

    Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen? Are you kidding me? You think you can draw trend lines and conclusions from those countries?

    Now, if you want to draw a trend line, quantify the advancements in technology in both food production and oil production and explain why you think this will halt. Or are you of this mindset?……… Everything that can be invented has been invented.”
    Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. patent office, 1899 (attributed)

  62. For over 60 years I have heard this same OLD song. It’s ending always turns out WRONG.
    Humans, left alone, will always produce more wealth then they consume. Only government interference and disruption cause collapse in production. Bureaucratic regulation and taxation is the cause of that collapse in production. At 40% taxation production slows, regulation adds to that burden. When bureaucracy runs wild, civilization collapse follows, ALWAYS. When the population will no longer pay enough in taxes, slavery follows with starvation and revolution and then civil society ends.
    Only very cheap and abundant food has permitted our present overburden of taxation and regulation to reach its present level in the developed world. THE END IS NEAR. Let us hope the reset is carried out by wise people or devastation will follow. In the underdeveloped world they are kept in servitude and poverty by their governments bureaucrats, creating only a surplus of population. “The government that governs best, governs least” pg

  63. Steve from Rockwood,
    declining export revenue is trouble for any country facing it, not only declining OIL exports, and not only for countries funding food imports with oil exports. Countries depending on copper or diamond exports to finance food and other imports (as is the case for several countries in Africa) may be also in trouble. But these things do not happen all of a sudden, and all other things do not remain equal while something so momentous is happening.
    For one thing, natural population growth (fertility and mortality) is slowing down, while international migration is rapidly increasing. Economic structures are diversifying, and even a modest degree of economic progress along coming decades would undoubtedly reinforce that diversification. In some oil exporting countries (especially the major ones in the Gulf) most of the working population is foreign, and will go out (home or somewhere else) as their labour is gradually no longer needed, thus leaving a smaller population to feed in the oil exporting country. Growth in non oil industries, including some with export capacity, is also happening, and would accelerate as the social and political structure modernizes.
    I have not studied the case of the Middle East countries in detail, but existing projections for that area of the world do not support a catastrophic prospect in terms of access to food, even in the (most unlikely) worst scenarios of slower growth, fragmented world and high demographic growth (such as IPCC’s A2 scenario).

  64. @theBuckWheat says:
    October 8, 2011 at 6:29 am:

    Ditto. ‘Peak Oil’ is a story used to scare us into quit using oil now, because someday we will run out. As you point out, there are plenty of substitutes available and it’s only economics that make oil our best fuel choice now.

    What the ‘Peak Oil’ panic-people don’t understand is economics. The market is not static. As the price of oil goes up, reserves that aren’t feasible to harvest now become economically viable. As does coal to liquid and other oil substitutes.

    The issue is NOT whether or not there is an absolute, fixed amount of oil available. Let’s assume for argument’s sake that the geological processes that create the oil we have now have stopped and no more oil is being produced. That’s not the issue. We have decades worth of usable oil and centuries worth of oil replacements available using today’s technology.

  65. Where to start?

    1. Peak Oil. We don’t give a cr*p about “peak oil”. We give a cr*p about cost effective energy. Unshackle the nuclear industry, ramp up thorium and other options, unshackle coal and natural gas…we still would have a peak I suppose, in a couple of millenium. The “peak” problem is an energy rpoblem not an oil problem, and it is a problem we have imposed on ourselves.
    2. Food supply. I consider those numbers interesting, but meaningless because they exclude food production other than a select number of grain crops. Do fruit, vegeteables, beef, pork, mutton, fish and poultry have no calories in them? Is the production of these insignificant and so they don’t need to be included in the big picture? Come on!
    3. Past performance is no indicator of future trends. You simply cannot take countries that have had recent violent strife, note their median age, and extrapolate their growth as if that were “normal”.
    4. Some countries that have low rates of education, low standards of living, have had huge oil profits with which to subsidize food prices, and as their oil production falls, they’ll need to import both food and oil. Gee. Most countries that are self sufficient in food are also importers of oil, have high levels of education and free market economies. See the problem here? Egypt and Yemen and so on COULD have invested in better education systems, free market economies, and so on, but they didn’t. Now they appear to be running out of oil, and so that’s an indication of a global problem? No. That’s an indication of bad government.
    5. Sudden events devastating to agriculture. Yup, that could be bad. Of course with plentiful energy we could get a ton more food out of greenhouse systems. With plentiful energy we could irrigate the Sahara and other deserts were even if a drop in temperature whiped out crops in Canada, it would still be more than warm enough to grow almost any crop you can think of.

    We’ve little to fear here other than our own fear of the unknown shackling our creativity and inventive spirit. The limits we have to respond to both short and long term problems are simply limits that we have set upon ourselves.

  66. Figure 1 shows that prices of corn and wheat are not high by historical standards. Those prices are coming off a long-term low. So current high food prices, if they are high, cannot be blamed on corn or ethanol.

    As stated with the figure, 60 percent of the cost of production is the cost of the energy. Additional production can come, by shifting land from other uses or by increasing yields. The capability of an acre of land by itself to produce has been maximized and exceeded in the US. Yields can be increased from what they are but that increase requires larger inputs, inputs that are highly related in cost to energy. More corn can be produced per acre, but that requires fertilizer and water. Either one requires energy to produce, the fertilizer is produced directly from methane as a chemical not energy input. If you want more grain produced, and it can be with existing technology, the price of the grain has to be higher in relation to the price of the energy.

  67. Gary Mount says:
    October 8, 2011 at 1:27 am

    A quick research of the Ogallala leads me to the North Plains Groundwater Conservation District
    web site where I find that at present usage, if it never rains again there, the water will run out by the end of this century. Is it expected to not rain there much for the rest of this century? Am I missing something?

    http://npwd.org/new_page_2.htm

    Yes, you are missing something. Check your assumptions. Check also the assumptions of the special interests whose sites you link.

    A few points worth noting about the Ogallala aquifer. First, it is very large, second, not all areas of the aquifer are experiencing declines, and third, most of the “alarming” projections are based on linear trends applied to a non-linear phenomenon.

    Beyond those points it is abundantly clear that other sources of water need to be developed where declines are not sustainable. This however takes precious resources – time, money, and commitment from political leaders. Currently way too many of those precious resources are being sucked into the vortex of global warming nonsense.

  68. jrwakefield says:
    October 8, 2011 at 8:45 am
    Frumious Bandersnatch says:
    [snipped out]
    Within a few short years Mexico will no longer be able to export as Cantarell dies. Again, it’s not about
    what’s in the ground, it’s about how fast it can be extracted.
    =====================================
    jr, Mexican oil is not dead yet. Yes they have had problems and yes the Cantarell field (Mexico’s largest producer) is declining despite the injection of massive amounts of nitrogen.
    But PEMEX is a state-run entity that can’t easily raise money to develop fields that require a longer term strategy. This is more a problem for the government. Massive amounts of infrastructure and technology are required to develop new fields and this will take time. But there is more oil and one day it will be extracted.
    Yes oil production has peaked. It will peak again. And it is what’s in the ground that is important. If it isn’t in the ground, it can’t be extracted. Exploration 101.

  69. RE: Fit_Nick: (October 8, 2011 at 3:09 am)
    “Here is some simple arithmetic which is worth watching and puts some perspective on this subject.”

    I think this is a very good video series indicating why we may be on the verge of a period of general resource depletion crisis. It appears that we have already reached and fallen back from peak per capita oil production several decades ago. It is obvious from the nature of the exponential function that the exponential growth, of which we have become accustomed, cannot continue indefinitely.

    Some may find this “end of abundance” scenario disturbing, and may choose to avoid it as this is a problem out of our control and it will announce itself in its own good time.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/10/08/peak-oil-climate-change-and-the-threat-to-food-security/#comment-762366

  70. Worse than we thought then, but in a monotonously depressing way.

    I’m not sure the ‘unpleasant’ and ‘pestilential’ humans of Yemen and Afghanistan (respectively) will have too much time for these simplistic catastrophic fancies.

  71. I do not know about peak oil, never did research on that, but I can say we are not near “peak food” (even as food production requires energy). This post, methinks, should have been better (even if highly debatable) if it was limited to oil, not letting food get in the middle: that only confuses things.

  72. I am afraid to say that the post mixes several facts together, when they have to be separated. Wheat is used for human food production in most of the world, with the exception of Europe, where it goes into animal feed, competing with corn. Corn is used as feedstuff for animal feeding in much of the world, with the exception of Mexico, where is used for tortilla production while sorghum (milo) goes into animal feedstuff instead. In Venezuela white corn is used for human food and yellow corn as animal feedstuff.
    In the US, about 30% of all corn harvested is used now for ethanol production. Ethanol is used as car fuel just because it is subsidized. In Brazil, Colombia and other tropical countries, ethanol is produced from a by-product of sugar manufacturing. As from a by-product, the cost is lower than that of ethanol from corn.
    Animal feeds now use lots of DDGS (Distiller’s Dried Grains and Solubles) co-products from corn fermentation for ethanol. Too rich in protein and low in energy, requiring re-balancind the diets for steady growth.
    And as for human nutrition, very little food is unprocessed grains. Most grain production goes to feed manufacturing for animals. Most of it is for poultry (chicken and eggs). Humans have learned to increase yield of reared animals to meet the demand for protein as the population grows. It was necessary to provide 20 kg of feed to obtain one kg of breast meat from chickens in 1957; that figure was 8 kg in 2003.
    The cost of meat inthe supermarket does not linearly reflect energy or grain prices. Efficiencies can be found and exploited everywhere. As example, Argentina is changing their meat production pattern from free ranging to feed-lot (confined) growth and the freed land is put to corn and soybean production, adding to the world grain supply.
    The cost of energy and agricultural inputs are indeed a problem, however this stimulates research in food production technologies to provide wholesome and, still, economic food for the masses.

  73. The Peak Oil argument is no different than the “hockey” stick argument made by warmists. Its a millenial cult like y2k or 2012 or any of the other doomsday arguments.

    There are at least 3.5 trillion barrels of recoverable oil in oil shale. About half of which is in the US and Canada.

    http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/08/progress-to-unlocking-over-800-billion.html

    As for food, we can raise a lot of it in the developing nations if Enclosure is used. Europe moved from the commons to enclosure around the 1600s and this is when food production took off. First in Denmark, then in England. Most agriculture around the world is very inefficient and subsistence based.

  74. More Soylent Green! says:
    October 8, 2011 at 9:31 am

    davidmhoffer says:
    October 8, 2011 at 9:34 am

    I agree with these two posts – well said.

    Peak oil and peak food arguments I find unconvincing; but I am interested in the arguments. I am also interested that how fabulously inaccurate they always end up being. Are we thinking about these problems correctly?

    Here’s food for thought if you want to think big: Space Based Solar Power

    http://spacesolarpower.wordpress.com/

  75. Not an agricultural expert, but just by looking around I get the impression that North America and Europe (don’t travel enough elsewhere) have quite a bit of potentially arable land from which to squeeze more corn or wheat if needed. The prices so far just don’t seem to make it worthwhile.

    How some poor country or other is going to pay for its needs is an entirely different matter – as it always has been; deplorably, people have been going hungry despite globally abundant food supply for a long time.

  76. Hector M. says:
    October 8, 2011 at 9:28 am
    ———————————————–
    Thanks for that Hector. I do not subscribe to the catastrophic theories either. But immigration will become more difficult as rich countries struggle to stay out of recession. This is another reason why I see serious problems for countries having declining domestic oil production. It is tough to diversify during a world wide economic slow down and revenue from oil is a relatively easy game.

  77. “there is a place that is yet more execrable.”

    What unit of measure is used for this scientific fact.

  78. >>Redneck says: October 8, 2011 at 5:10 am
    >>Peak oil? Not that old canard again.

    Sorry Redneck, fossil fuels are a limited resource, and therefore Peak Oil (a maximum peak in production) is a foregone conclusion carved in stone. The only controversy, is the timing of Peak Oil – over which there is much debate.

    Note also in these many graphs, that it isnprimarily the lands of Islam that are overpopulating the world. The horn of Africa may well complain to the world of drought and famine, but will not admit to trebling their population in 30 years. Likewide the North Afican nations, that have doubled their populations. Why should the West, which is being largely responsible with its population levels, support the irresponsible?

    Wars are won by ‘boots on the ground’. Demographic wars are won by infant ‘bootees in the cot’. If we are not careful, we in the West will be feeding the hand that outbreeds and bites us.

    .

  79. Actually, what I find unconvincing are claims of unlimited food, unlimited petroleum, and unfettered population growth. If the world population were to double every forty years, as it did between 1960 and 2000 we would have populations of 3 billion (1960), 6 billion (2000), 12 billion (2040), 24 billion (2080), 48 billion (2120), 96 billion (2160), 192 billion (2200), 384 billion (2240), 768 billion (2280) . . .

    Exponential growth applies where a quantity can grow in proportion to its size, where every particle of the measured size contributes to the production of more particles. I expect that ‘can’t grow pains’ will be worse than ‘growing pains.’ Perhaps some of the unrest we have seen of late may have been caused by the mordant effects of natural population control mechanisms.

  80. …fossil fuels are a limited resource, and therefore Peak Oil (a maximum peak in production) is a foregone conclusion carved in stone. The only controversy, is the timing of Peak Oil – over which there is much debate.

    This is simply incorrect. The percentage of the Earth where we have searched for oil is very low. The more we look, the more we find. And that does not take into account shale, which as someone mentioned above is a game-changer.

  81. Steve from Rockwood says (in response to comments on mine): ” I do not subscribe to the catastrophic theories either. But immigration will become more difficult as rich countries struggle to stay out of recession”.
    This, Steve, mixes short and long term analyses. A recession slows down immigration, and may also send some immigrants back home (voluntarily or not). The subsequent recovery would attract them back. But here we are discussing long term issues. As most developed countries (especially in Europe) have intrinsic fertility rates way below replacement, and ageing fast, they will require additional manpower from abroad. They may come from Eastern Europe, or from elsewhere (Africa, Middle East, Latin America, Asia), but they will come because they are needed. As the supply of skilled labor increases in those places, they will fit ever more easily into Western labor markets. Of course this trend will encounter resistance (immigration restrictions, etc.) but ultimately economic forces would prevail, as they usually do.
    On the other hand, a real force that may somewhat slow down emigration is the creation of jobs in the countries of origin, which is already happening: many workers in South Asia or in some other places are kept home just because they are working in growing industries (many of them for export), from textile manufacturing to software programming to call centers. However, I doubt job creation would cancel emigration: poorer countries would still have a negative net migration rate anyway, sending a flow of labor to the developed world, even if lower than they would have in the absence of new jobs in their own country.

  82. Spector, you loon. Population will self-limit at under 8 bn by 2030 or so, per the always-accurate lowest bound of the UN’s Population projections.
    You really are trying to prove the truth of Mencken’s jibe:

    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace in a continual state of alarm (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing them with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

  83. Is it really surprising that oil production peaked when cheap natural gas became available? With coal a fraction of the cost of oil for the equivalent energy, is it any surprise that coal use has doubled while oil has remained flat?

    While the supply of cheap oil is decreasing, the world has no shortage of expensive oil. What has peaked is the supply of buyer for expensive oil. They are switching to less expensive
    alternatives.

    Electric cars, solar and wind energy are not cheaper alternatives if the subsidies increase taxes and power bills. The money spent on subsidies has a cost. It reflects roads that can’t be repaired, schools that must be closed, houses that can’t be heated, jobs that move overseas, pensions plans that go broke . Over time the global economy will defeat any nation that goes this route.

  84. jrwakefield says:
    October 8, 2011 at 8:50 am

    Peak oil is a physical fact. Don’t confuse geological peak, which we are no where near, and flow rate peak. The latter is what peak oil refers to, always has. Flow rates peaked in 2005.

    Don’t confuse an ‘economic peak’ with physical or flow rate peaks.

    40 years ago oil was the ‘fuel of choice’ for powering transportation, heating our homes and businesses and generating electricity.
    We’ve been phasing out the use of oil for electricity and heating for 40 years because the economic said it was the thing to do. The efficiency of our transportation has also increased because the economics say’s it is cheaper to pay for efficiency then it is for the oil.

    That’s the beautiful thing about a ‘free market’…the price of one good rises and a substitute good fills its place. It’s been a long time since dentists used gold fillings. There is still plenty of gold to be mined at a price.

  85. Hector M. says:
    October 8, 2011 at 2:12 pm
    ————————————–
    Hector, I agree with your analysis, although I wasn’t thinking of a typical 2-3 quarter recession (the short term). The dynamics that should lead to higher immigration will also serve to limit the growth of those same countries (lower birth rate, ageing population etc). While a longer term recession is not predictable, a slow growing world economy should be expected in EU countries and North America as a growing older population moves from consumption to savings. These are the very countries expected to shoulder the bulk of immigration. So I don’t see much obvious upside to countries that are not able to grow through commodity export without a magic wand. The countries that are growing rapidly (China and India for example) don’t strike me as immigration friendly.

    The bulk of immigrants into developed countries will be unskilled and cheap labour. This will take some pressure off the countries they emigrate from but it won’t naturally raise the standard of living in these countries. Somehow, without the advantage of oil or other commodities they are expected to grow richer, raising the money needed to pay for the increasing imports of food. As you note, the birth rates are coming down, but they are still above replacement rates so the populations are still all increasing.

  86. I could feed my family from a garden in the backyard. At the moment I prefer to work in a University and buy my food. But perhaps I should haul out the cultivator, dig up the back lawn, and start planting.

  87. Cementafriend says:
    October 8, 2011 at 4:08 am
    I do not quite agree with David about the timing of peak oil -there is lots still to be found in Alaska and arctic waters and also in the southern ocean around the Falklands, southern Chile etc. However, I do agree with his early presentation where he wrote about coal to liquids which is now viable at present oil prices,
    +++++++++++++++

    Every prediction of peak oil in the last 100 years has been completely incorrect. Expect more of the same for centuries to come.

    As for coal to liquids, SASOL is break-even at about $20 a barrel. That is a sort of industrial secret. Suppose it is $40. Hardly a losing propositon. Even by pointlessly ramping up the complexity and costs and overheads just to waste money to make it look more expensive, it is still a gigantic cash cow in today’s markets.

    Letting people know how much oil and gas and coal there is simply drives down prices so expect the ‘shortage and looming peak’ meme to continue on all channels. Willem Nel’s analysis (PhD, U Jhb) talked about peak carbon as being more relevant than peak oil. Coal can be turned into oil products (plastics, chemicals) and oil itself at the drop of a hat. Once it is admitted that most or all oil is abiotic and manufactured in the Earth’s crust or upper mantle the ‘green game’ will be about ‘unsustainable abstraction’ not its ‘running out’. Lotsa CO2 then!

    Look forward to better yields in the fields and maybe a slightly warmer planet, or at least one where the heat is spread farther north to increase the productive area. The future is still looking very good.

  88. Where to start….

    FOOD
    The matter of food is a heck of a lot more complicated that those charts show.

    From recent developments I get the nasty feeling that Food is seen by the world’s big players as the next big “Gold Rush” I mean investors like Goldman Sachs, and Soros and Rothschild. not to mention the Ag Cartel. They are of course interested in stacking the deck in their favor using trade treaties and national laws as well as market manipulation.

    If you check the charts you will see that the food import spikes are starting at about 1995. This is directly related to the WTO and changes in US food policy and most important, deserting the practice of US (and EU) grain stores. (See August 2008 Letter to Bush from grain exporters link )

    Clinton even admitted it. The 1995 WTO demanded the cutting of import tariffs, the 1996 US farm bill greatly increased the land US farmers put into production the result was very cheap grain and the bankrupting of US and foreign farmers. Then the Biofuel law was passed soaking up all the excess grain and prices (thanks to speculators) doubled.

    Wiping out farmers:
    MEXICO: http://www.ieim.uqam.ca/IMG/pdf/chro_MOHANTY_08_12.pdf
    INDIA: http://www.chrgj.org/publications/docs/every30min.pdf
    The EU: http://www.i-sis.org.uk/savePolishCountryside.php
    AUSTRALIA: http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/national/maverick-mp-bob-katter-warns-major-parties-he-wants-action-if-he-holds-balance-of-power/story-fn5z3z83-1225901306928

    In depth history
    Recent: http://www.financialsense.com/contributors/william-engdahl/2011/06/29/getting-used-to-life-without-food-part-1
    1942 to present (USA): http://www.opednews.com/articles/History-HACCP-and-the-Foo-by-Nicole-Johnson-090906-229.html

    There is another fallacy that is “common knowledge” just as CAGW is. That is that modern farming methods produce more food per acre. The actual fact is modern farming methods produce more food per LABORER not per acre because Monoculture farming wastes land. The more traditional method of intercropping produces more food.

    “…Small farmers, especially in the Third World, are much more likely to plant crop mixtures — intercropping — where the empty space between the rows is occupied by other crops. They usually combine or rotate crops and livestock, with manure serving to replenish soil fertility.

    Such integrated farming systems produce far more per unit area than do monocultures. Though the yield per unit area of one crop — corn, for example — may be lower on a small farm than on a large monoculture farm, the total production per unit area, often composed of more than a dozen crops and various animal products, can be far higher….” http://www.foodfirst.org/pubs/policybs/pb4.html

    Peak population:
    Advanced Civilization depresses birth rates. The EU and several other countries are in NEGATIVE population growth.

    Total Fertility Rate (TFR): “This entry gives a figure for the average number of children that would be born per woman if all women lived to the end of their childbearing years and bore children according to a given fertility rate at each age….Rates above two children indicate populations growing in size…
    Note this is the birth rate and does not take into account deaths of women of child bearing age or the deaths of children before the age of one. For a measure of life expectancy, prior to decent medicine in the USA the life expectancy was about 35. A low life expectancy probably means women die young (complications from child birth)

    COUNTRY…….. TFR……..(deaths/1,000 live births)……..Life expectancy at birth
    ………………………………………(infants under one year)

    Niger………………..7.60…….112.22………………………………….53.40
    Uganda……………..6.6…….62.47…………………………………….53.24
    Mali ………………….6.44…….111.35………………………………….52.61
    Somalia…………….6.35…….105.56………………………………….50.40
    Afghanistan……….5.39…….149.20…………………………………45.02
    Venezuela ………..2.42…….20.62…………………………………..73.93
    Ecuador……………..2.42…….
    U. Arab Emirates..2.40…….11.94………………………………….76.51
    Peru…………………..2.32…….22.18………………………………….72.47
    Argentina……………2.31…….
    Saudi Arabia………2.31…….
    South Africa……….2.30…….
    Mexico………………2.29…….
    Brazil…………………2.18…….
    Turkey……………….2.15…….23.94………………………………….72.50
    United States…….2.06…….6.06…………………………………….78.37
    China………………..1.54…….16.06…………………………………..74.68
    Russia……………….1.42…….10.08………………………………….66.29
    Germany……………1.41…….
    Japan………………..1.12…….2.78…………………………………….82.25
    stats and quote from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2127rank.html and https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2091rank.html and https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2102rank.html?countryName=Mayotte&countryCode=mf&regionCode=af&rank=175

    Peak Oil?

    Simple – start using thorium mini-Nuclear power plants. Japan/Korea have a join project to produce nuclear powered ships.

    THORIUM: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/default.aspx?id=448&terms=thorium

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/30/anti-nuclear-power-hysteria-and-it%E2%80%99s-significant-contribution-to-global-warming/

  89. RE:Brian H: (October 8, 2011 at 2:23 pm)
    “Spector, you loon. Population will self-limit at under 8 bn by 2030 or so, per the always-accurate lowest bound of the UN’s Population projections.”

    Perhaps I am, but I was only pointing out how ridiculous it was to assume things will continue on as they have gone in the last century. Hard population control is going to have consequences–I do not claim to know what those might be, nor do I claim to know any “path to safety”–there may be none, but mankind should survive. In the words of Dr. Albert Bartlett, “It is obvious; zero population growth is going to happen.”

    He also says, “If any fraction of the observed Global Warming can be attributed to the action of humans, then this is clear proof the human population, living as we do, has exceeded the carrying capacity of the Earth. So as a consequence, it’s an ‘inconvenient truth’ that all proposals and efforts at the local, national, and global levels to slow global warming, to achieve sustainability that do not advocate reducing populations to sustainable levels are what Mark Twain called ‘silent lies.’”

    I would modify the above to say “any significant fraction” and I see Government mandated population control to be an unworkable, utopian concept—potentially like those cases he points out where the cure was worse than the disease.

    Here is a bracket-denatured link to the complete, 59-minute presentation by Dr. Bartlett presented at UBC on 5/19/2011
    [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0ghHia-M54]
    As opposed to the eight segment video link to the same basic presentation referenced above:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/10/08/peak-oil-climate-change-and-the-threat-to-food-security/#comment-762366

  90. Peter Dunford says:
    October 8, 2011 at 6:24 am
    Yemen’s population is still increasing at about as fast as human populations can increase. Why they don’t currently have a per capita consumption as high as that of Tunisia is because a much higher proportion of the Yemeni population is under 14 years old. Therefore their currently sub-adult bodies consume less wheat. But one day they will grow up and consume about 267 kg of wheat per annum each.

    Kip Hansen says:
    October 8, 2011 at 7:23 am
    That is wheat yield per hectare in developing countries, not total quantum of wheat grown.

  91. One further thing. I had not incorporated the fertilising effect of increased atmospheric CO2. Currently, plants use about 100 water molecules for each carbon atom they capture from the atmosphere. Studies on wheat show a 50% increase in yield for a doubling of the atmospheric CO2 concentration. At 2 ppm per annum and a 0.178% increase in yield for every ppm added to the atmosphere, the 40 ppm that might be added over the next 20 years will increase grain production by 7.1%, which equates to 157 million tonnes per annum on the 2,2000 million tonnes of current total grain production. That in turn would feed another 400 million people.

  92. Austin says:
    October 8, 2011 at 11:03 am

    “The Peak Oil argument is no different than the “hockey” stick argument made by warmists. Its a millenial cult like y2k or 2012 or any of the other doomsday arguments.

    There are at least 3.5 trillion barrels of recoverable oil in oil shale. About half of which is in the US and Canada. ”

    Austin, while we all know about such non-conventional sources of oil, how many have paused to consider the one absolutely critical factor? Flow-rate.

    Current global demand is in the region of 85-87 million barrels a day. As conventional crude sources continue to decline the shortfall will be made up by non-conventional sources up to a point: however the processing of such sources is a relatively elaborate process compared to simply drilling a well and pumping its contents to a refinery. In other words they are rate-constrained. For example, three or four years ago the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers claimed that with the stops pulled out they could possibly get to almost 5 million barrels/day Syncrude production. That leaves us with the rather glaring question, in the absence of conventional Crude, “so where’s the other 80 million barrels gonna come from?”. I’m not saying it’s about to run out, far from it. The problem, instead, occurs when regular Crude starts depleting beyond the point where the non-conventional oil sources can make up the shortfall, and it manifests in price-spikes that drive down economic activity. The 2007 price-spike, when one might think that the oil companies would go hell for leather to get the stuff up, refined and sold was interesting in that it coincided with – in three of four quarters – oil demand actually outstripping supply by a little. The price-spike was IMO the pin that burst the already very fragile banking bubble. Just a year or two earlier in my first presentation on this subject I predicted that Western economies – and especially the U.S. – were going to take a very big hit from an oil price-spike in the near future. At the time, I didn’t realise how soon this would be.

    WRT other sources of oil, Earth’s geology is pretty well understood these days especially in terms of where there exist the sedimentary basins in which crude oil has a) been formed and is b) still likely to be there. The low-hanging fruit was long ago picked and a lot of it was squandered. There exists some potential in areas that are slowly becoming accessible, thanks to that damned hockey-stick of temperature – hence the oil companies busily drawing up plans to go and start looking in earnest up in the Arctic. Odd in some ways that global warming might actually put off the real oil-shock, should any significant discoveries be made up there!

    But yes, we need to start rolling out alternatives – a wide spectrum of them – as soon as possible, and among the alternatives will be the need for behavioural change in terms of energy use and diet. Many have already started on this transition, recognising that doing such things at a grassroots level gives us a better chance than waiting in vain for our useless governments/politicians to do anything smart!

    Cheers – John

  93. Gail Combs says on October 8, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Where to start….

    Ouch! Too much info w/too little meaningful content!

    Can that sort of thing (pointing out ALL the worlds ills) be saved for the EOTW (end of the world) blogs instead? It’s difficult as it is decoding the wheat from the chaff without HUGE 3 1/2 scrolled pages of content in blog format …

    .

  94. Ralph says on October 8, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    >>Redneck says: October 8, 2011 at 5:10 am
    >>Peak oil? Not that old canard again.

    Sorry Redneck, fossil fuels are a limited resource, and therefore Peak Oil (a maximum peak in production) is a foregone conclusion carved in stone.

    Yes, and we see more and more idled refinery capacity EVERY year … QED?

    /sarc

    .

  95. RE: Gail Combs: (October 8, 2011 at 5:30 pm)
    “Peak population:
    “Advanced Civilization depresses birth rates. The EU and several other countries are in NEGATIVE population growth.”

    To me, this seems a little too pat, although having the technology to voluntarily limit reproduction is certainly a factor in modern population growth. The countervailing force, in my opinion, is that those who have a greater instinctive emotional need for large families will eventually become the more dominant population represented in the gene pool of succeeding generations. If only free choice were involved, it seems likely that the ‘Octo-moms’ would out-reproduce the ‘mono-moms.’

  96. >>Ian H
    >>I could feed my family from a garden in the backyard. At the moment
    >>I prefer to work in a University and buy my food. But perhaps I should
    >>haul out the cultivator, dig up the back lawn, and start planting.

    Ahh, the pipe-dream fantasies of the liberal ‘intelligentsia’. Been watching too much ‘The Good Life’ obviously. Gentle hint – that was a comedy show, notnreal life.

    You are describing the surf system of strip-farming popular in England in the Middle Ages. And it produced nothing but grinding poverty and insufficient production. That is why we had the Enclosures Act, to make farms larger and more efficient, plus mechanisation.

    If we returned to strip farming, 95% of the population would die of starvation. Or perhaps that is what you want.

    .

  97. Spector says:
    October 8, 2011 at 10:03 pm
    If only free choice were involved, it seems likely that the ‘Octo-moms’ would out-reproduce the ‘mono-moms.’

    Your hypothesis presupposes that the desire to have a lot of children is an inherited thread.

    If the desire to have many children is randomly distributed in the gene pool, and the octomom’s babies pull from that lottery, the desire to have a good life which exists for all living species will predominate and limit the number of children, if having many children means a worst life within the norms of the time.

  98. >>Jim
    >>Sorry Redneck, fossil fuels are a limited resource, and therefore
    >>Peak Oil (a maximum peak in production) is a foregone conclusion
    >>carved in stone.

    >>Yes, and we see more and more idled refinery capacity EVERY year … QED?

    Show me where demand for oil is reducing. Links? All I see is rampant demand in China, India and much of the developing world outstripping any slight moderation in the West.

    And what I said is true. Fossil fuels are a limited resource, and therefore Peak Oil (a maximum peak in production) is a foregone conclusion carved in stone – even if you think it will take 500 year to get there. A limited resourse will eventually run out, and that is an undeniable fact.

    As it happens, I think we are already about there. All the cheap and easy oil has already gone, or is in declining production. All the new fields are either small, expensive to extract, or expensive to process, like shale oil. Yes, Germany did manage to make oil from coal in 1944, but at a cost that was about 10 times that of normal refined oil products.

    If you do not think that an oil cost at 10 times current levels will not effect our economy, you are in for a rude awakening. In other words, it matters not how much oil you think is recoverable, we need better and cheaper energy than this RIGHT NOW, otherwise our economies will take a plunge of epic proportions.

    .

  99. I’m rather skeptical when I come across pessimistic articles writen on the subjects of ‘population growth’, ‘food security’ and ‘peak oil’, particularly when they are all lumped together… I’ve done my own detailed investigations into these topics over the last few years, and dug much deeper than this article, frankly I’m not concerned.

  100. RE: anna v says: (October 9, 2011 at 12:02 am)

    “Your hypothesis presupposes that the desire to have a lot of children is an inherited thread.”

    Yes, I believe an instinctive desire to have a large family can become favored if people with that instinct tend to have an above average number of descendants in a world where optional birth control technology is generally available.

  101. Yet more `we’re doomed’ apocalyptic scery stuff.

    Ooooohh…

    How will the Bear ever get to sleep, tonight?

    In an epistemological beauty contest, the Bear rates Peal Oil right up there with CAGW and all other forms of Malthusian-Crunch-Crisis-Whatever.

  102. Mike H. says:
    October 8, 2011 at 12:47 pm
    Afghani heroin causes about 30,000 deaths per annum in Russia. To paraphrase Bismarck, Afghanistan isn’t worth the bones of one Pommeranian grenadier.

  103. I just sat through the full series from Dr. R. A. Bartlett from the Univ. of Colorado. I started out excited when he talked about exponential functions. But then he fell into the standard Malthusian error trap. He first argued that exponential functions can’t go on forever :-). Then he argued that growth strategies are doomed to fail because they make that assumption :-(.

    The standard error is to confuse growth in wealth, consumption, and population. Wealth can grow forever because there is no law that requires it to be tied to resource consumption. Nor is it tied to population growth. The concepts that tie these together are explained by Adam Smith in his second book (Wealth of Nations – 1776).

    As resources become scarce we find alternatives. The signaling mechanism is price. That’s why free markets are crucial to orderly transitions in resource consumption. We’ll stop using hydrocarbon energy when we need to.

    Fertility rates started to decline in the early 1960s. Absolute population will soon peak and either stabilize or decline. Wealth will continue to grow because we will seek it out in free transactions among individuals. Assuming we can still do that.

  104. My problem with this essay is its choice of nations (Afghanistan and Yemen) as a baseline for its thesis. I selected the following population numbers to illustrate that in the future it will not be over-population that will be our problem. The opposite, in fact, will be the problem (the UN population data I posted are measured in units of Total Fertility Rates or TFR):

    Nation Period TFR
    World 1965-1970 4.85 births per female
    World 2005-2010 2.52
    Brazil 1965-1970 5.38
    Brazil 2005-2010 1.90
    Canada 1965-1970 2.61
    Canada 2005-2010 1.65
    Egypt 1965-1970 6.20
    Egypt 2005-2010 2.85
    Indonesia 1965-1970 5.57
    Indonesia 2005-2010 2.19
    Mexico 1965-1970 6.75
    Mexico 2005-2010 2.41

    Everyone knows of Europe’s demographic problems. But, the rest of the world is under going similar population decay. In order to have a stable population (niether long term loss or gain), a nation must maintain a TFR of 2.1 children per female generation to generation. Since 1970, our TFR globally has been halved. Even in Muslim nations like Egypt and Indonesia TFRs are plunging. If current trends continue, the global TFR will slip below replacement levels around 2020. Yes, nations like Yemen, Afghanistan and Niger have “healthy” replacement levels. West Africa especially have the highest birthrates in the world. However, AIDS, famine, and war continue to decimate thier populations.

    From a policiy point of view, there are some things to consider. Aging populations do not consume and produce as much as younger populations. Look at Japan; Japan is now losing population, and deflation (not inflation) is the reality. In the US, where our TFR’s have been more or less stable since 1990, we had to depend upon immigration (both legal and illegal) to grow our population. You subtract the Hispanic population, and our growth since 2000 would have been flat. The 2010 Census data indicated that even with immigration, the rate of growth in the US was the slowest since 1930. The TFR amongst Caucasions and Blacks in the US was 1.77 in 2010. Amongst Hispancis it was 3.66. However, as the UN data above showed, even Mexico has plunging brithrates. If current trends hold Mexico will go below replacement level TFRs during this decade. And as writer Jonathan Last points out, US immigrants adopt to thier host nation’s TFRs within a generation.

    I think policiy makers and analysts need to radically change thier emphasis. As one writer once quipped, China will get old before it gets rich. The demand for finished goods, food, and other rescource will slowly but steadily decline. And we should also realize that with falling birthrates the pool of fertile females also falls. With fewer females available to each future generation it takes more births per female just to stop the trend.

  105. @Ralph October 8, 2011 at 1:10 pm & October 9, 2011 at 12:09 am

    Sorry Ralph but peak oil is a neo-malthusian construct to put the fear of an impending apocalypse into the heads of the naive and gullible. As someone pointed out the low hanging fruit has been picked, but it is a very big tree. Of course new sources of oil will be more expensive to produce but as the first graph in this post indicates, regarding the price of food, the price has gone down in real terms over the period of the graph, despite intermittent up swings. I suspect the same could be shown for oil. It was precisely this principle which Julian Simon used to win the first wager with Paul Erlich and his acolytes John Harte and John Holdren.
    As someone else noted part of what determines a reserve is the price of production. Once demand is high enough uneconomical resources are converted into reserves as they have become economically viable. Furthermore advances in technology also help to convert non-viable resources into viable reserves, as has recently been shown with fracing. Another person pointed out that we have only looked for oil in a small part of the globe and there are many places yet to explore, provided governments allow it. I suggest you read up on Cretaceous Rudisted reefs offshore on the east coast of the continental US.
    This may be a somewhat hard thing for you to believe but the formation of oil is occurring at present at the same rate as it has in the past, as implied by the principle of uniformitarianism. It matters not one bit whether it is of abiotic origin, of which I am doubtful, or conventional origin it is still being formed as you read this. Of course how much is formed on a daily basis I doubt anyone knows and therefore it is impossible to say if it keeps up with consumption.
    Don’t forget around 70% of all oil in a reservoir remains in the ground when the wells go “dry”. But if the well is capped the reservoir over time will re-pressurize allowing for some limited future production. And there will always be the development of new technologies which will allow for additional production from formerly “dry” wells.
    So maybe you are right we may run out of oil in as little as 500 years (sarc) but after that we have gas, coal, methane clathrates, uranium, possibly even thorium, something of which I remain doubtful. By the time that all runs out humankind may have already developed fusion, perfected solar or come up with an entirely new and unimagined technology to supply us with unlimited cheap energy.
    Yes Ralph there is a future and it is bright indeed. The only thing standing in the way are the neo-malthusian luddites of the environmental movement who want everyone, excluding themselves of course, to don hair shirts, move back in to caves and sit around fires singing Kumbaya. I honestly hope Ralph that you are not one of those.

    David Archibald I saw the term peak oil in the title of your post but did not take the time to read the post throughly. Peak oil is one of those terms which I really have no time for but now that I better understand what you were getting at I would like to apologise for my initial harsh comments.

  106. Spector says:
    October 8, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    RE: Gail Combs: (October 8, 2011 at 5:30 pm)
    “Peak population:
    “Advanced Civilization depresses birth rates. The EU and several other countries are in NEGATIVE population growth.”

    To me, this seems a little too pat, although having the technology to voluntarily limit reproduction is certainly a factor in modern population growth…….
    ____________________________________________________________________
    Actually it makes a lot of sense. In the US and EU farmers are about 1% of the population. Most people live in cities or the burbs. Therefore each child COSTS the family.

    “…A middle-income family may spend $226,920 to raise a child born in 2010 to the age of 18, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in a report….” http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-06-09/u-s-child-born-in-2010-may-cost-226-920-to-raise-usda-says.html

    In a farming family especially in the third world the child CONTRIBUTES to the families wealth by doing work often at ages as young as four and five. Heck my ex-husband was driving a tractor by age five, I have seen kids in that age range (with a dog) and free range livestock in both France and in Mexico. A friend of mine was grumbling because her farmer husband wanted a bunch of kids to help him on the farm.

    Consider the cost analysis of hiring some one to do the work or producing a kid you can feed off your farm for “free” AND who is a tax break to boot.

  107. _Jim says:
    October 8, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Gail Combs says on October 8, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Where to start….

    Ouch! Too much info w/too little meaningful content!
    ________________________________________________
    Sigh

    If I do not back what I say up then you complain. Now if I do back my statement up you complain.

    I will be very blunt.

    Over the long run we are headed towards high food prices/famine and it has to do with concentration in the control of the land/ grain trade and manipulation of the “Futures Markets” not the weather. It also has to do with the WTO and the “Harmonization” of law/regulations across the world. Independents do not stand a chance competing against the International corporations once the business is regulated AND the corporations control the bureaucracy.

    I remember when pig farmers in the USA fed table scraps from the Armed Forces, restaurants and even homes to their pigs. (The scraps were cooked to sanitize them per USDA regs) Now pig farming is completely “Vertically integrated” by the big corporations who use tax payer subsidized grain instead. The large corporations got the use of table scraps outlawed so the independents could not compete.

    Once a monopoly is gained food prices will rise. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

    The drive for the monopoly is happening now. There is plenty of data available to show that is true and not a “Conspiracy” As usual the willfully blind will not acknowledge that until they are actually starving and even then they will likely blame it on CAGW and not the real cause.

    Purdue University has several pdfs on the global ag cartels and price fixing: http://www.agecon.purdue.edu/staff/connor/papers/index.asp

  108. Max_B says:
    October 9, 2011 at 1:21 am
    I’m rather skeptical when I come across pessimistic articles writen on the subjects of ‘population growth’, ‘food security’ and ‘peak oil’, particularly when they are all lumped together… I’ve done my own detailed investigations into these topics over the last few years, and dug much deeper than this article, frankly I’m not concerned.

    ————

    Have you read these?

    http://www.tsl.uu.se/uhdsg/Publications/GOF_decline_Article.pdf

    http://www.jfcom.mil/newslink/storyarchive/2010/JOE_2010_o.pdf

    http://www.tsl.uu.se/uhdsg/Publications/PeakOilAge.pdf

    http://www.tsl.uu.se/uhdsg/Publications/IPCC_article.pdf

    http://www.ukerc.ac.uk/support/tiki-index.php?page=Global+Oil+Depletion

    http://www.energybulletin.net/node/50234

    https://www.msu.edu/~ralsto11/PeakOil.pdf

    The German military did their own analysis and they are worried:

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,715138,00.html

  109. Redneck says:
    October 9, 2011 at 8:01 am
    @Ralph October 8, 2011 at 1:10 pm & October 9, 2011 at 12:09 am

    Sorry Ralph but peak oil is a neo-malthusian construct to put the fear of an impending apocalypse into the heads of the naive and gullible. As someone pointed out the low hanging fruit has been picked, but it is a very big tree.

    ——–

    Usual mistake of all who dispute peak oil. Peak oil is not about what’s in the ground, it never has been. It’s about how fast it can be extracted, the flow rate, and the energy it takes to extract it. Flow rates from unconvensional sources will be lower than convensional sources. Not only has the easy oil been extracted, but easy also in it’s ability to flow quickly. ERoEI is vital. Studies have shown that the min for society is 4:1. The Alberta tar sands is 6:1. Ghawar when it first started was 100:1. Today the world average is 20:1 and dropping. Soon as it hits 1:1 for any field, the field is spent, exhausted, regardless of the technology thrown at it.

  110. Steve from Rockwood says:
    October 8, 2011 at 10:17 am
    jr, Mexican oil is not dead yet. Yes they have had problems and yes the Cantarell field (Mexico’s largest producer) is declining despite the injection of massive amounts of nitrogen.
    But PEMEX is a state-run entity that can’t easily raise money to develop fields that require a longer term strategy. This is more a problem for the government. Massive amounts of infrastructure and technology are required to develop new fields and this will take time. But there is more oil and one day it will be extracted.
    Yes oil production has peaked. It will peak again. And it is what’s in the ground that is important. If it isn’t in the ground, it can’t be extracted. Exploration 101.

    ——–

    Cantarell was the world’s third largest oil field. There won’t be another (formed from the impact 65myo) found in Mexico. What’s in the ground is irrelevant, what counts is how fast you can extract it. Within 10 years Mexico wont produce enough oil for itself let alone export to the US.

    http://www.aspousa.org/index.php/2010/01/mexican-oil-production-continues-to-dive/

  111. Crispin in Waterloo says:
    October 8, 2011 at 5:02 pm
    Cementafriend says:
    October 8, 2011 at 4:08 am
    I do not quite agree with David about the timing of peak oil -there is lots still to be found in Alaska and arctic waters and also in the southern ocean around the Falklands, southern Chile etc. However, I do agree with his early presentation where he wrote about coal to liquids which is now viable at present oil prices,
    +++++++++++++++

    Every prediction of peak oil in the last 100 years has been completely incorrect. Expect more of the same for centuries to come.

    ———

    Just because previous predictions where wrong, does not mean current predictions are. Facts change, evidence mounts. The evidence is clear, flow rates world wide has peaked. Those of you arguing against peak oil are still making the same mistake. It’s about flow rates matching demand, not what’s in the ground.

  112. Spector says:
    October 9, 2011 at 2:44 am

    Yes, I believe an instinctive desire to have a large family can become favored if people with that instinct tend to have an above average number of descendants in a world where optional birth control technology is generally available.

    In the last 1970′s the Saudi’s wanted some US built tanks and the US Government wanted the Saudi’s to educate their girls and a deal was struck and the Saudi’s provided Universal education for girls. The fertility rate in Saudi Arabia has fallen from 6+ to 2.5 in the space of a generation.

    The inverse correlation between fertility rate and educational attainment of girls is quite strong even in countries with substantial cultural and religious attitudes towards female reproduction.

    Everyone tends to do what they do best in order to secure their own future, including illiterate females. Unfortunately, illiterate females don’t know how to do much besides make babies…so they do what they do best.

    Afghanistan…which has one of the highest fertility rates in the world was run by the Taliban for quite some time. The Taliban prohibit the education of girls.

  113. harrywr2 says:
    October 8, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Don’t confuse an ‘economic peak’ with physical or flow rate peaks.

    ———————

    That is another peak factor of oil production, economics. The Oil Drum recently did a bit about that. The basic premise is this. Oil price increases as demand reaches maximum flow capacity (regardless of the reason). But there is a limit to how much that price can increase before it triggers a recession, then demand drops, and prices drop. Demand slowly grows, price slowly increases again, but then that price ceiling gets hit, at a lower price, and recession hits, dropping demand even lower, and on and on in a cycle of decline for decades. Each rise lower than the previous, each drop lower than the previous. We have started to see this since the $149 oil in 2008. So yes, economics is very important. Lack of credit due to the banking crisis could very well prevent some oil production from going forward. So production drops even more as no new fields can be brought on line because there is no money in the economy.

  114. jrwakefield says:
    October 9, 2011 at 9:40 am

    “……..Usual mistake of all who dispute peak oil. Peak oil is not about what’s in the ground, it never has been. It’s about how fast it can be extracted, the flow rate, and the energy it takes to extract it. Flow rates from unconvensional sources will be lower than convensional sources…..”
    ___________________________________________________________________
    Sounds like a very good reason to look at decent energy sources like Thorium Nuclear. It is idiotic to burn a very good source of plastics and other useful products when a reasonably safe and viable energy source is available and abundant and stockpiled.

    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf62.html

    American Chemical Society:

    http://pubs.acs.org/cen/science/87/8746sci2.html

    http://pubs.acs.org/cen/80th/print/thoriumprint.html

    EnergyFromThorium

    http://energyfromthorium.com/2009/11/17/dr-mitch-jacoby-introduces-thorium-to-the-acs/

    How to Throw Away Eight Years Worth of Electricity: http://energyfromthorium.com/2006/07/07/how-to-throw-away-eight-years-worth-of-electricity/

  115. I farm and ranch in Nebraska. We sit right on top of the Ogallala Aquifer. Everybody needs to be humble about their knowledge of groundwater and the recharge mechanism. We don’t know much and we understand even less. “Wild Guess” is as scientific an estimate as we have as to consumption and recharge. We know a whole lot more about the atmosphere, weather and climate. And look at how meteorology and climate science fails to answer so many simple questions (the weatherman and the climatologist need to double-down on humility too). Why won’t people accept the honest answer: “We don’t know” There is always some fraudster saying “Yes we do too know – I have the secret knowledge!” And lamentably, the believers flock to him.

    We are at peak oil, and we always have been. History. The history of oil production is the history of peak oil. The term “peak oil” was coined in the 50s. Its useful in modelling the decline of a given play or field using the current extraction technology. But the new technologies used to extract oil and gas from shale and deep ocean drilling, let alone the heavy oils of Alberta and Venezuela make world peak oil a very bad joke – Its just silly to draw the little declining charts…. I too expected better of David Archibald.

  116. 1. Money is a “Medium of Exchange”. If you have salt or oil or whatever, and I don’t –but I have corn or wheat or whatnot and you want what I have, and I want what you have, we can trade or use money. Got it!

    2. Land, and current on-site technology, can only produce so much food. We eventually reach a point when there’s less food for most of us if the population keeps popping. Got it!

    3. Climate changes. Always has, always will. Got it!

    4. People aren’t always very smart. Got it!

    5. Stock Options, Short Sales, Margins, and other tricks and games of the market only cover (or not) the rich guys and gals who buy them. Got it!

    6. Life’s a beach. If we’re not careful, we’re all going to freeze, roast, starve, die of thirst, drown, or something. Got it!

    7. When you have more than I have or I have more than you have, and one of us gets mad about such a bad bad situation; or you don’t like my way of life, or religion, or god, or music, and/or I feel the same about you, then regardless about everything else that’s happening in our lives, or the price of tea in China, we just might start blowing each other up. Got it!

    Hummmmmm…

  117. RE: harrywr2: (October 9, 2011 at 10:06 am)

    “The inverse correlation between fertility rate and educational attainment of girls is quite strong even in countries with substantial cultural and religious attitudes towards female reproduction.”

    I believe that countries with traditional high fertility rates have also had high child mortality rates. The net population growth rate is the only thing that really counts.

    But aside from that, I think that any inherited mental attitude in favor of large families that results in an above average number of descendents will be favored as long as it has that advantage. This could be seen as a genetic adaption to whatever might be suppressing the normal tendency for population growth.

    In excess, of course, such an attitude could have a deleterious effect on reproductive success, thus such extreme tendencies would not be favored.

  118. RE: JohnL: (October 9, 2011 at 4:47 am)

    “The standard error is to confuse growth in wealth, consumption, and population. Wealth can grow forever because there is no law that requires it to be tied to resource consumption.”

    Yes, ‘wealth’ is a relative term. Some of the wealthiest persons in history lived without electric power, without internal combustion engines, and without access to the advanced medical care we all take for granted today.

  119. @ jrwakefield October 9, 2011 at 9:40 am

    The usual mistake of those who support the peak oil argument is that they do not take in to account new technology. Who, 50 years ago, would have imagined the advent of the personal computer or the internet and how it would fundamentally change our society. Who, 25 years ago, would have forseen fracing and how it would result in the upgrading of oil resources to reserves. Nobody knows what the future holds but one certainty is things will not remain static.

    One other point, allowing oil production at maximum flow rates is not good if you are trying to maximise the production from your oil field as it results in formation of “bubbles” within the oil. This reduces permeability with a subsequent reduction in the amount of oil which can be recovered from the oil resevoir.

  120. Reneck: “This may be a somewhat hard thing for you to believe but the formation of oil is occurring at present at the same rate as it has in the past, as implied by the principle of uniformitarianism. ”

    That oil may be forming at the same rate as it did in the past is neither here nor there. The relevant question you need to seek the answer to instead is whether oil is forming at the same rate as we are extracting & burning it (~85-87 million barrels per day). If it was, then oil could be termed a renewable resource. Hint: it isn’t!

    I’ve always thought it’s a shame that some genius or other has not invented an in-car gizmo that takes the principle Internal Combustion Engine products i.e. CO2, CO and H2O and recombines them cleverly back into Octane. The ultimate in recycling, it would eliminate further AGW and Peak Oil at a stroke! There would only be the traffic-jams etc left to get annoyed about!

    Cheers – John

  121. @ MarkB says:
    October 8, 2011 at 9:50 am

    [SNIP: Sorry, but there ARE certain banned topics here at WUWT and this is one of them. It is best not to let the discussion get started at all. -REP]

    So are you calling the former head of the Senate Intelligence Committee a “nutter” too? Perhaps it’s time you retire the pejorative term “nutter” and begin to honestly asses the facts? I’d also like to point out the bias against certain areas of research and enlightenment here at WUWT which is ironic in it’s similarity to the bias displayed by AGW church-goers against anything contrary to their religion of human-hating devolution.

    In regards to this post there is another key issue which needs to be considered: artificial scarcity. Used by the DeBeers diamond cartel for decades to prop up the price of diamonds, this tactic is clearly in use today by the oil cartel. Deliberate restriction of refining facilities is obvious to anyone who bothers to look: no new refining facilities in America despite obvious demand, massive government regulations which inhibit new refining operations, and a general “back to the stone age” mind set of the new watermelons such as Obaaama manifesting in current shutting down of coal-fired power generation across the USSA. The “carbon is bad” mantra is totally debunked, yet it continues to be used to justify the watermelon’s agenda.

    Another key issue here is lack of vision. While this website is one of the largest collection of geniuses on the web it’s stunning how limited the vision can be at times. How about we innovate our way out of this mess through the application of genius to solve problems and invent solutions? How about we investigate the many inventions in the past century which have been bought out & shelved or outright killed? Are we to believe that 400mpg vehicles are totally impossible for instance?

    Oops looks like they are already commercially available:

    400 MPG… Or Conspiracy Theory?

    http://epautos.com/2011/09/18/400-mpg-or-conspiracy-theory/

    Just as climate change is an immensely complex area of study, so too is the alleged “peak oil” theory. The more you know, the less you know ….

  122. Redneck says:
    October 9, 2011 at 5:25 pm
    @ jrwakefield October 9, 2011 at 9:40 am

    The usual mistake of those who support the peak oil argument is that they do not take in to account new technology. Who, 50 years ago, would have imagined the advent of the personal computer or the internet and how it would fundamentally change our society. Who, 25 years ago, would have forseen fracing and how it would result in the upgrading of oil resources to reserves. Nobody knows what the future holds but one certainty is things will not remain static.

    ———-

    All technology does is get extractable oil faster. Cantarell did this, now in terminal decline. The area under a production curve is the total volume of extractable oil. One recent study showed tha current new technology isn’t affecting flow rates. There are physical limits.

    ————

    One other point, allowing oil production at maximum flow rates is not good if you are trying to maximise the production from your oil field as it results in formation of “bubbles” within the oil. This reduces permeability with a subsequent reduction in the amount of oil which can be recovered from the oil resevoir.

    ———-

    This is EXACTLY why Texas peaked early.

  123. Dirk, I think you can generalize on this statement:
    “The Afghan business model looks pretty sound to me. People never stop paying for dope.”

    People will never stop paying for the apparent essentials in life – dope, sex, energy, clean water and some convenient protein.

  124. If you look at world per capita oil production, it appears that this did peak in 1979 at about 5.5 bbls per person per year and since the mid 1980′s it has held generally steady at about 4.5 bbls per person per year. Of course, typical automotive efficiency is higher now than in 1979. The last micro-peak I see is 4.6 bbls/P/yr in 2005 and the last value I have is about 4.3 bbls/P/yr in 2009. These are from my own calculations.

    The primary message that I see is that the impending ‘Peak Oil’ event is a wake-up call to seriously start developing long-term alternative energy sources or in the unlikely event it is proven that no such sources exist, prepare for the coming of a lower energy lifestyle. Perhaps one of the existing energy supply corporations should think about creating something on the order of a ‘Thoridyne’ subsidiary to develop, if practicable, a thorium based nuclear power technology while they still can afford it.

    Of course this is a very controversial issue and nobody is saying “The science is settled.” The following official document seems to cover the range of estimates for global peak production(yesterday to never):

    Peaking of World Oil Production:
    Recent Forecasts
    DOE/NETL-2007/1263

    http://www.netl.doe.gov/energy-analyses/pubs/Peaking%20of%20World%20Oil%20Production%20-%20Recent%20Forecasts%20-%20NETL%20Re.pdf

    One notable included comment by D. Greene (Oak Ridge National Laboratory energy analyst) is, “Peaking of conventional oil production is almost certain to occur soon enough to deserve immediate and serious attention.”
    What that attention should be is, of course, open to many options.

  125. >>Ian H
    >>I could feed my family from a garden in the backyard. At the moment
    >>I prefer to work in a University and buy my food. But perhaps I should
    >>haul out the cultivator, dig up the back lawn, and start planting.

    >Ralph
    >Ahh, the pipe-dream fantasies of the liberal ‘intelligentsia’. Been watching too much ‘The Good >Life’ obviously. Gentle hint – that was a comedy show, notnreal life.

    You haven’t seen my backyard, so don’t judge. I was stating a literal fact. With the extremely fertile soil and mild and wet climate in the area I live, and with a third of a hectare of backyard to play with, I could in fact very easily feed a bunch of families.

    >You are describing the surf system of strip-farming popular in England in the Middle Ages. And it >produced nothing but grinding poverty and insufficient production. That is why we had the >Enclosures Act, to make farms larger and more efficient, plus mechanisation.

    I’m not describing or advocating any system. I’m stating a fact about the unused productive capacity of my backyard. At present the effort required to bring that land into production is simply not justified. But in a world where global famine were in the offing, my family would most definitely not go hungry.

    >If we returned to strip farming, 95% of the population would die of starvation. Or perhaps that is >what you want.

    What a nasty comment! All I said was I could feed my family from the unused productive capacity of my backyard and suddenly you are accusing me of advocating genocide! Get a sense of proportion and calm down.

    My point (which you seem to completely have missed) is that there is an awful lot of unused productive capacity out there which graphs of grain production and so forth do not capture. Were global famine really in the offing, that land would soon come into production. Things are not as dire as they seem.

  126. I put this here, suppose that i don have to explain more, dont have other link to Anthony Watts.
    “”On August 22nd, 20011 Polarstern reached the geographic North Pole. At slow speed our bridge officer steered her vessel through a dense ice-flow field, and stopped it exactly at the pole. As expected, the compass showed directions changing wildly,”

    “http://www.awi.de/en/infrastructure/ships/polarstern/weekly_reports/all_expeditions/ark_xxvi/ark_xxvi3/29_august_2011/”

    Ilkka Mononen, alias Sähköteurastaja , both are public, rather Sähköteurastaja , means Electric butcher.

  127. Ilkka;
    Say what? The geographic North Pole is not the Magnetic Pole, and compasses would not “swing wildly”.
    That sounds like one confused or mendacious report.

    • Its seems that 140 of worlds most extreme scientist at Polarstern didnt knew that.
      Anyway they tells us it´s true north pole via institutes text on their own link.
      Is this same scam as north pole row, tey didn´t reac any pole, etc.

  128. A non-magnetic, GPS or gyrocompass system might give erratic east-west readings at 90 degrees true north.

  129. Riiiggghht, Spector. Tell it.

    Ilkka, it’s really disgusting that such semi-official bodies are prepared to lie so loudly, stupidly, and obviously. Send them a blast.

    • Why you don´t give a tip to somebody who can spread it.
      I dont have any contacts here far north in our small circles in Finland, where media does not
      publish it, and nobody cares.
      Its all yours.
      This was my point.
      Seems that nobody hasnt regonized possibile scam.
      Ilkka

  130. However, to be fair: “directions” expressed as N, S, E, W might “change wildly” if you were moving back and forth over the pole, even with a non-magnetic system. Sitting directly on the pole, all directions would show “South”. Slightly off the pole, it would depend on the direction you were facing how stable the reading would be.

    But normally, the swinging wildly phenomenon is attributed to magnetic compasses on or very near the Magnetic Poles.

  131. RE: Brian H: (October 13, 2011 at 8:31 pm)
    “But normally, the swinging wildly phenomenon is attributed to magnetic compasses on or very near the Magnetic Poles.”

    True, but I was thinking that the use of magnetic compasses for navigation might have gone the way of the use of sliderules for calculation in this day and age.

    • You are right, but does gps display “spins wildly” because pole is only one calculated position ?
      The arrow if used is only the show direction from location a to location b.
      Never cared to watch what happened when GPS arrives to destiny, in some mearurement flights.
      Maybe it beeps, if wanted.
      Also i suppose that gyro systems if used, don’t regognize any pole, i´ts a location along the others.
      Something strange case “spinning wildly”.
      I dont trust these AGW hockeystickers, at any point, as you see.
      Maybe i’m a´little bit paranoidic, or more, it´s theirs fault.
      I´continue to check what mentioned systems are supposed to show at “pole”.
      Ilkka

      • No spinning compass at gps system, link near near norh pole, only settled location , and
        display whitc shows coordinates etc.
        Sipinning compass remembered me, about history of finding north pole with magnetic compass.
        Magnetic compass does the same today.
        Did Polarstern really reach geodectical pole, as media touted, on same day as magnetic?
        I´only wonder.

        http://seymourlaxon.blogspot.com/

        Ilkka

  132. The phrase “As expected, the compass showed directions changing wildly” *could* be referring to a digital readout, which is what I would expect most electronic compasses to have. At least as quoted here, there is no mention of spinning. If there were, then that would be another story, especially if there were a reference to a compass ‘needle.’ I have no comment on any other aspect of this except that only an electronic compass could be ‘expected’ to behave erratically over the true North Pole. Google Earth has a similar problem at that place.

    • Thats the way, it goes, a new text from source. Little bit of pharsing.
      “On August 22nd, 20011 Polarstern reached the geographic North Pole. At slow speed our bridge officer steered her vessel through a dense ice-flow field, and stopped it exactly at the pole. As expected, the compass showed directions changing wildly, ”

      Not spinning wildly anymore.
      That explain all.
      Chancing wildly it that, was exceptet with gsm or gyro data analyses, generating when reaching
      destination, whatever it is located.
      Anyway, spindling needle is missing, and why “spinning compass” is chanced to “directions changing wildly”, witch can be explained theorethically, but probably newest measurement aplications, dont produce mentioned “changin wildy”, rarher reasonable
      description, Goal, etc, maybe beep? Who Knows.
      I mean that nowdays electronics have done the best that GSM system newer shows sipinning
      wildy, or chancing wildly becouse it its very dangerous.
      Before GSM, happened a nasty lecture in navigation near north pole. (and USSR those days)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_Air_Lines_Flight_902

  133. Still doesn’t make sense. At “exactly” the North Pole, all directions are South. There’s nothing to change, wildly or otherwise.

    • What is exactly south.
      GPS data around near the pole.
      “Waypoint: (A) (B) (C) (D)
      Location: N88° W089° N88° W001° N88° E001° N88° E089°
      GPS Readouts
      (X Axis, Easting) Y 1777952 Y 1996124 Z 2003876 Z 2222048
      (Y Axis, Northing) UTM 1996124 UTM 1777952 UTM 1777952 UTM 1996124
      Numbers are the location around pole, how they are spinning, no zero value.
      In my mind, magnetic compass is only device that should show at noth pole all south,
      but its impossible to show all the south directions at same time.
      Maybe one direction or an other randomly.
      But why spinning, as we are told in history.
      Is there any phenomena to explain spinning, or is it from arctic adventures publiciations?
      Also it reads (last link) that some other measuremet devices misoperated on magnetic north
      pole. Are there devices connected to magnetic compass, it still easier connect location to
      GPS, why magnetic compass, still wondering, is this some kind of fairy tale.
      There is some kind of graphic evidence that Polarsterns route to real north pole
      on map.
      But straigt line at the pole, and text says “towards”, after Polarstern reaching north pole.
      Still waiting for coordinates, i´cant find Polarsterns N W at the pole, neither
      ship satellite tracker.
      We are told only north poles coordinates, not Polarsterns at north pole.
      Ilkka

    • John Daly lives forewer, cheerio to him.
      I,m almost alone in Finland agaist AGW, and need ammunitions for fighting.
      Found plenty around the world, special thanks to WUWT.
      I must ask you, whats is the best place that i shoud involve.
      First time that i try get contact to tell what is AGW situation in Finland.
      As: WWF leader is also FMI leader (FMI : Finnish Metereological Institutute) etc.
      What shall i do?
      Coming on this way, i also understand that that this chain is merely economic.
      I was some kind of space tecnology designer, without any merits,
      but main designer.
      I dont´now my place to do my best other side of the Atlantic for all?
      My motive is to fight against the media, main media, in these days, has not spoken
      theme named “climategate” in Finland.
      Here is no censorchip, but things like climategate newer published main media.

      Ilkka

  134. What I would expect to see changing rapidly near the North Pole is a reading of a ships longitude, as all 360 degrees of longitude come together at that point. A reading of the ships heading would rapidly switch from north to south going over or just past the pole.

    As there are pictures of clear water at the North Pole going all the way back to 1958, I do not think that the ability of a ship to navigate to the North Pole says all that much about recent arctic melting.

    I can only imagine that the incomprehensible reference to a ‘South Magnetic Pole’ in the Canadian Arctic (Alfred Wegener Institute; ARK-XXVI/3, Weekly report no 4) is a mistranslation of a phrase indicating the (North) Magnetic Pole’s placement relative to the true geographic North Pole.

    ————————————
    Back to the Topic

    Here is a recently found video talk by someone who *appears* knowledgeable on the on the economics of oil exhaustion, but that is tainted by an apparent assumption of a linear CO2 effect, common to many in the public, and a false belief that 450 PPM CO2 concentration would constitute a worldwide death tipping level. Thus he expects that “we are going to have to put a price on carbon emissions”–I do not think so, even though they have done this in Australia.

    Most interesting, however, is his claim that oil prices are driven up by increased producer usage at cut-rate prices.

    Peak Oil & $225 Oil by 2012 Predicts CIBC Economist Jeff Rubin
    Dec, 2009
    207 likes, 5 dislikes; 58,350 views; 45:53 min

    “Jeff Rubin, the former Chief Economist of CIBC World Markets and the author of Why Your World Is About To Get A Whole Lot Smaller built his reputation as one of Canada’s top economists based on a number of successful predictions including the housing bust of the early 90s and the rise of oil prices. In his recent book, Mr. Rubin predicts $225 per barrel oil by 2012 and with it the end of globalization, a movement towards local sourcing and a need for massive scaling up of energy efficiency.”

    • Spector;
      AFAIK the North/South Magnetic Poles thing is just a reference to the “opposites attract” phenomenon — the north pole of your compass points to the south geomagnetic pole, and versa visa. ;)

  135. Just one of a plethora of mega-quibbles with Rubin’s Rant, above: Desal plants are being set up with NG power plants in most places, and with the crashing of shale gas prices, will displace oil for all such use for the foreseeable future. Energy sources are not perfectly cross-fungible, but substitution is the tyrannosaur in the living roon.

  136. Mike McMillan: Well, the big question is whether or not your co-worker knew the radar shape of all natural phenomenon. I’d in particular want to ask the person if radar waves at that frequency could be bent by density differences in the atmosphere (which if possible might vary with frequency), whether the red jets from the tops of high altitude clouds reflect radar, whether the particular radar would reflect volcanic ash clouds – just examples of probing questions.

    As for the term “UFO” perhaps the term should be broadened to include other than flying objects, i.e. broadened to mean a visual observation that cannot be explained by known phenomenon or things. (Jeff Alberts makes a good point.)

  137. RE: JFA in Montreal says: (October 15, 2011 at 11:22 am)
    “What about intensive development of Liquid Fluoride Thoriums Reactors ‘lifter reactor’ ?”

    This appears to be a back-burner issue in the USA. After the failure of Solyndra, the government may be less likely to get involved in the intensive development of any unproven energy source especially now with baseline public opinion so strongly opposed to any power source that has the word ‘nuclear’ attached to it.

    “Col. Bryan Bennett (USAF ret.) @ Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future”

    “On May 13th 2011, Col. Bryan Bennett (USAF ret.) presented to BRC on Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor.”
    0 likes, 0 dislikes; 51 views; 3.25 min

  138. jrwakefield says:
    October 9, 2011 at 9:34 am

    “Have you read these?”

    Nope.

    The continental USA alone, has sufficiant ‘unconventional’ oil reserves to supply it’s own oil requirements for at least 400 years. Frank Wolak claims that this oil can be profitably produced today at under $60 per barrel.

    As prices go up, people adjust their behaviour…

    Its obvious that exploiting a finite resource to exhaustion will eventually lead to a production peak followed by a decline and rising prices, so when I say I’m unconcerned about “Peak Oil”, it isn’t the principle I’m dismissing, rather, the simplistic, doom-laden, outcome that is regularly trotted out.

    Who knows how problematic “Peak Oil” will be, or indeed when it might occur since there’s plenty of oil washing about, the real issue is cost, and we can only guess where new technology will take us in the next 50 years…

  139. Great graph on Mexican oil extraction and consumption! What’s the source of the data? I was shocked yesterday when I discovered that EIA changed their forecasts on when Mexico will become a net oil importer to 2020, even as the previous estimation on oil extraction has been proven optimistic.

    • Aller-owned Suomi24.fi forum, the most popular forum in Finland has been infiltrated by activists.

      Several messages and complete threads have been removed b.o. containing criticism against their agenda.

      Finland is one of the most educated countries in terms of the climate discussion. Infiltrated activists have found no other way than to remove all criticism from the climate change board.

      Help needed, please make people aware.

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