Global Energy Use in the 21st Century

File:World energy consumption by type 2006.png

World energy consumption by type in 2006 - Image: Wikimedia

Guest Post by Thomas Fuller

This is a great time to talk about energy use worldwide. Not because it’s topical, or politically important, or anything like that.   It’s a great time because the math is easier now than ever before, and easier than it ever will be again.

It’s similar to a time a few years ago when there were almost exactly 100 million households in the United States. It made a lot of calculations really easy to do.   And this year, the United States Department of Energy calculates that the world used 500 quads of energy. Ah, the symmetry.

Even more conveniently, the United States and China will each use roughly 100 quads. Comparisons, contrasts–you don’t even need a calculator!   A quad is a quadrillion British Thermal Units, and is roughly equivalent to the energy liberated from 36 million tons of coal. It’s a lot of energy, and 500 of those quads is really a mind stretcher. (For those of you who are counting, about 52 of those quads came from renewable energy. Of those 52 quads, about 50 came from hydroelectric power… urkk…)

In 2035, the DOE figures the world will consume about 683 quads, give or take. The UN, more ambitiously, thinks it’ll come in at about 703 quads. Either way, they anticipate a 40% growth in energy requirements.   Is it okay if I say I think they’re both wrong?

Here’s why:   The UN (and pretty much everybody else) believes that the world’s population will be at or around 8 billion in 2035. The UN (and pretty much everybody else) believes that world GDP will grow by about 3% per year between now and then–which is pretty much what it has been doing for quite a while. But most of that growth is projected to occur in the developing world. And most of that growth will be very energy intensive.

Here in the U.S., our energy consumption per person has been declining for a while, now. We’re down from 337 million btu’s per person to 323 mbtu’s per capita. But it’s going in the other direction in the developing world. They need the energy to actually, well, develop. And then they want the energy to enjoy the fruits of their development. Makes sense–that’s exactly what we did here.

Price Waterhouse Coopers has projected GDP growth to 2050 for major economies. For the U.S., they predict per capita growth in GDP from $40,339 in 2005 to $88,443 in 2050. Most of the very well developed countries show the same level of growth–a bit better than doubling.

The Department of Energy has energy use per person for many of the same countries.   So let’s look at China. Before I start, remember that China has doubled its energy use since 2000. And they’re not done yet.

Their 2005 GDP per capita was $1,664 and their energy usage per capita was 58.8 mbtu’s. Their 2050 GDP per capita is projected to be $23,534, similar to Spain’s present GDP per person. Spain’s energy use is 164 mbtu’s. So who wants to predict China’s energy use per person in 2050? In 2035?

We’re always picking on China, and we don’t need to. The scary part is we can do the exact same thing for Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Turkey and India.   The developing world is developing. They are going to be energy-sucking monsters for the next 80 years–just like we were.

My calculations show that, if we succeed in persuading the developing world to use energy efficient technologies wherever possible, switching from coal to natural gas, adopting wind and solar, buying best of breed turbines, etc., the world’s energy consumption in 2035 will be about 1,100 quads.   However, if they proceed as they are (mostly) doing now, throwing up dirty coal to avoid blackouts and brownouts, cobbling together solutions however they can, world energy use in 2035 might well approach 2,000 quads–or even surpass it.

Imagine a world of 8.1 billion people, 7 billion of whom are using energy at the same rate as we do here in America–323 million btu’s per head. (3.23 x 7, for Joe Romm). That’s over 2,100 quads.   It is at this point that some ugly questions appear. If we burn coal to obtain this energy, that’s 2,100 x 36 million tons of coal. If we withhold energy from these people, we condemn them to lives of starvation and poverty. If we subsidize clean energy solutions for them, we are spending our hard earned tax money on the poorest of the poor, many of whom live in countries that are not friendly to us. Oh, wait… we’re already doing that, aren’t we?

I favor the third solution. Using your and my tax dollars to help the poor afford electricity that comes from natural gas, nuclear and other cleaner solutions, so they can afford to buy our video games and see our movies (and, well, pay for them…).   I do not expect my idea of the best solution to be very popular. Not with climate alarmists, who already don’t like natural gas or nuclear, and want to limit energy consumption by everybody except for themselves. Probably not with many readers here, who have seen taxpayer money go up in smoke on so many poorly-designed projects.   But I think it’s our duty to ourselves, as well as the poorest of the poor.

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242 thoughts on “Global Energy Use in the 21st Century

  1. It is at this point that some ugly questions appear. If we burn coal to obtain this energy, that’s 2,100 x 36 million tons of coal. If we withhold energy from these people, we condemn them to lives of starvation and poverty. If we subsidize clean energy solutions for them, we are spending our hard earned tax money on the poorest of the poor, many of whom live in countries that are not friendly to us.
    Are you asking for a “them or us” vote? Cause if you are, I vote for us. The history of life (all life, not just people ) is one of violent conflict – mostly over resources of one kind or another. Why should this be any different?

  2. No. It is not he duty of American taxpayers to subsidize hostile, corrupt, disfunctional, despotic (the list goes on) thirld world governments.

  3. Using natural gas for electrical generation, versus direct heating, is so inefficient it could be considered immoral.

  4. A very sensible and practical suggestion, Mr.Fuller. it’s time the world Governments understood reality and act practically, instead of wasting quadrillions on silly non-issues.

  5. The author is firmly in la-la land if he thinks that he can write a credible post on energy and not mention a word about Peak Oil/Gas/Coal/Uranium, not mention a word about the capability of renewables to provide for an industrial civilization the size of ours, let alone one 3 or 4 times bigger, while talking about growth in consumption all the time.
    The world will most definitely not be using 2000 quads of energy in 2035, it will in fact never use 2000 quads of energy because simply there won’t that much energy available. In fact, it is highly doubtful that even the projected 40% growth will happen, for the same reason. It is also highly doubtful that population will level off at 9 billion, because that assumes economic development in the Third world followed by the demographic transition we’ve seen in other places, which, again, isn’t going to happen because the resources aren’t there.
    But when you are blinded by your ideological commitments, it is all too easy to miss such obvious, if unfortunate, realities of the world we live in

  6. I can agree with Tom’s opinion up to the very last sentence. No Tom, it’s not our duty, nor our moral obligation, nor anything else a liberal will conjure up to make a case for taking action for an unsolvable problem. Simply put, no American should feel guilty about the piss-poor conditions that multiple countries and cultures find themselves in, ever.
    Like many others, I feel sympathy for those without. And the best thing we can do is to keep fighting for them to have the opportunity to have cheap, reliable sources of energy, including fossil fuels. This objective can be pursued without the usual liberal/leftist emotional-guilt nonsense that always drives practical solutions into the nearest ditch of UN incompetence and corruption.
    Just my 2 cents.

  7. kdk33 says:
    September 1, 2010 at 5:02 am
    No. It is not he duty of American taxpayers to subsidize hostile, corrupt, disfunctional, despotic (the list goes on) thirld world governments.

    You realize that those words describe very well the US government too, right?

  8. Venter says:
    September 1, 2010 at 5:04 am
    A very sensible and practical suggestion, Mr.Fuller. it’s time the world Governments understood reality and act practically, instead of wasting quadrillions on silly non-issues.

    If by “wasting trillions on silly non-issues” you mean stimulus packages aiming at sustaining the unsustainable, which we don’t even need to sustain, then I think we can all agree it is time to stop that

  9. Lonnie Schubert says:
    September 1, 2010 at 5:04 am
    Using natural gas for electrical generation, versus direct heating, is so inefficient it could be considered immoral.

    It hardly matters. Efficiency is measured on a linear scale from 0 to 100/0 to 1. In contrast, growth is exponential. 20% efficiency vs 40% efficiency, or whatever the numbers are, doesn’t really matter when you’re trying to beat exponential growth; you have no chance either way.
    And did I mention that natural gas is a non-renewable resource?

  10. There’s two views: resources will run out, resources won’t run out.
    I never understand how people are so sure of either position. It is just a big unknown?

  11. GM, you sound just like an academic with zero real world experience. There is plenty of energy available. The Universe is awash in energy. Human ingenuity, guided by the free market [as one type of energy becomes too expensive, other types will replace it] will provide plenty of energy. Hand-wringing is pointless.
    There is no such thing as “sustainability.” If a system is unsustainable, it will be replaced. Really, get with the program: Malthusian thought is dead. Quit flogging that particular horse.

  12. Every country, including the developed world, should use the cheapest fuel available to them. These fuels will be carbon fuels with a huge growth potential for shale gas.
    And we should deliver the technology to burn this fuel in the most efficient and clean way in regards to particle and SO2 emissions to prevent the dirty air we had in the sixties and seventies. But we shouldn’t move a finger to reduce CO2.
    The so called “Green, renewable energies are all based on carbon fuels and I bet the carbon fuel needed to produce wind mills and solar panels are not calculated into
    the equation. Bio fuels are in need of huge amounts of water, not available in many development countries. They will need every drop for food production.
    So it’s nice to have the math available to make the energy calculations and project a policy based on the “feel good principle” but it only works if you combine the calculations it with common sense.
    And that is what I miss in this article.

  13. Tom,
    You wrote: “Imagine a world of 8.1 billion people, 7 billion of whom are using energy at the same rate as we do here in America–323 million btu’s per head. (3.23 x 7, for Joe Romm). That’s over 2,100 quads. ”
    – What about the other 1.1 billion?
    – In Europe the per capita energy consumption is a bit more than half that of the US, whereas our GDP is in a similar ballpark. Why do you think that the vast majority of the world population will follow the energy intensity of the US rather than that of Europe? I think the reverse is more likely: It’s cheaper.

  14. “GM says:
    September 1, 2010 at 5:20 am”
    Yes, there will be a peak with known reserves. 7/10ths of the planet haven’t been explored yet.
    Australia alone has enough coal, at current consumption rates, to supply coal for 500 years. Not sure about gas, but I know LNG is being shipped to China at rediculous cheap prices and high volumes. I understand too, Australia has the worlds largest uranium reserves.
    Mind you, the Australian military are training to deal with conflict with a major neighbour. Hummmm….

  15. GM,
    If breeder technology is used, and thorium technology is developed and used, there is a huge potential for nuclear energy production. The real limitation for nuclear power is political will. A few thousand nuclear plants would meet the short term (2050) demand for energy.
    Do I think that will happen? I am not sure. I hope eventually it will, but Galileo did not recant until he was shown the rack, and the public will not accept widespread use of breeder nuclear power until there are serious shortages of power.

  16. @GM says: September 1, 2010 at 5:20 am
    “The author is firmly in la-la land if he thinks that he can write a credible post on energy and not mention a word about Peak Oil/Gas/Coal/Uranium, not mention a word about the capability of renewables to provide for an industrial civilization the size of ours, let alone one 3 or 4 times bigger, while talking about growth in consumption all the time.”
    Sorry, GM. The one firmly in la-la land is you.
    If any of the so-called renewables (other than Hydro, or in a few lucky countries Geothermal) was remotely capable of “provid[ing] for an industrial civilization the size of ours” then how come they only exist when massively subsidised and how come the actual output achieved is absolutely derisory? Have you bothered to look at the actual figures?

  17. Smokey says:
    September 1, 2010 at 5:32 am
    GM, you sound just like an academic with zero real world experience.

    Statements like this reveal the hard to conceal anti-intellectualism of their authors. But let’s not go into that

    There is plenty of energy available. The Universe is awash in energy.

    Yes, there is plenty of energy in the Universe (although at the present 3% growth rate we will have consumed to WHOLE GALAXY in less than 5 million years, not that’s going to happen, but something to think about). How much of it is available to humans to do work is a completely different matter, something that free market believers refuse to understand, either because they thought that it was better to take one more economics class than to take thermodynamics, or if they took it (and understood something in it, which isn’t at all certain), as true believers, they put ideology before science and ignore it completely

    Human ingenuity, guided by the free market [as one type of energy becomes too expensive, other types will replace it] will provide plenty of energy. Hand-wringing is pointless.

    We’ve heard that nonsense before, and every time it has been thoroughly debunked. Why bring it up again? It takes a person completely detached from reality (how ironic given that those are the same people telling other that they need to stop doing that sciency stuff and look at how the “real world” of jobs and money works) to make such a statement. You can’t beat the laws of physics, no matter how hard you try or how smart you are. And we aren’t particularly smart, nor are we trying…

    There is no such thing as “sustainability.” If a system is unsustainable, it will be replaced

    .
    Our whole socioeconomical system is totally unsustainable. Yet keeping BAU going at all costs is what you want us to do. Either take your words back or don’t talk complete nonsense again.

    Really, get with the program: Malthusian thought is dead. Quit flogging that particular horse.

    So what exactly is the “Malthusian program” if it is not a secret? I never knew I had anything to do with such a thing. That limits to growth exist and they will cause the collapse of any civilization that refuse to acknowledge their existence is a semiaxiomatic conclusion following from the finiteness of the planet and the exponential and supraexponential nature of our growth. Malthus had very little to do with that conclusion, so I don’t know why you’re bringing him up. The reality is that the Limits to Growth study projections from 1972 have been holding up quite well against the actual course of events, so I don’t understand why anyone would claim that the limits to growth have been falsified (as if you could falsify the exponential function)

  18. The article assumes that the developing world will use the same amount of energy per head as in North America. This is far too pessimistic. Western Europe uses much less energy per head than the United States and I expect the third world to approach this level of energy use in Europe rather than North America’s level.

  19. Since coal is by far the most abundant resource, particularly in China and Africa, how about addressing its real problems, which to a certain extent we have here in the US, too:
    * Increased mine safety — casualties have greatly decreased in the US over the last decades, but only because mechanization has reduced the number of miners; the per-man casualty rate has remained about the same. Mine safety in China is terrible, of course.
    * REAL pollution: Particulates, NOx, and sulfur compounds — largely fixed in the US through scrubbers and advanced burner design, both of which are relatively expensive. Reduce the expense and watch the brown haze over East Asia dissipate.
    The “dirty coal” epithet reminds me of the old Woody Allen line about sex: “Of course it’s dirty, if you do it right.”

  20. Stefan says:
    September 1, 2010 at 5:29 am
    There’s two views: resources will run out, resources won’t run out.
    I never understand how people are so sure of either position. It is just a big unknown?

    If you throw a stone in the air with your hand (no rocket propulsion involved), there are three options:
    1) it stays suspended there
    2) it continues going up indefinitely
    3) it falls down
    How certain are you that 3) is what is going to happen?
    It is the same thing with resources – it is not a wild guess that resources will eventually run out, it follows from the basic nature of reality and the laws of physics. How exactly they will run out is a more complicated question, but we have a pretty good idea based on historical data

  21. Patrick Davis says:
    September 1, 2010 at 5:41 am
    “GM says:
    September 1, 2010 at 5:20 am”
    Yes, there will be a peak with known reserves. 7/10ths of the planet haven’t been explored yet.

    Which 7/10th haven’t been explored???? The polar regions definitely aren’t 7/10th of the planet. And it’s like you’re going to find oil in the Himalayas
    You sound like someone completely ignorant of the geology involved…

    Australia alone has enough coal, at current consumption rates, to supply coal for 500 years.
    Supply it to whom? To itself – maybe; to the rest of the world – no way. And we aren’t talking about current consumption rates (an often used canard), we have to take future growth into account too. We probably had thousands of years of oil at the consumption rate of 1900, we have 50 years if that at present.

    Not sure about gas, but I know LNG is being shipped to China at rediculous cheap prices and high volumes. I understand too, Australia has the worlds largest uranium reserves.

    That confirms my suspicion that you have no idea what you are talking about. Largest reserves doesn’t mean anything. 10 billion barrels of oil is a huge quantity, but the world uses 30 billion a year, so it’s a drop in the bucket. Same with uranium and everything else

  22. I was about to reply when I discovered that Smokey had already said it. There is an inexhaustible supply of energy and a very small, but potent, supply of ingenuity.

  23. One other thing; Mr. Fullers post smacks of “noblesse oblige”. Which has never gone down very well with the “poor masses”.
    Also, many of the comments so far reflect the views of “us rich folks”. I suspect the reaction of the average 3rd world “poor savage” to this topic would be quite different than what I’ve read so far.

  24. Steve Fitzpatrick says:
    September 1, 2010 at 5:44 am
    GM,
    If breeder technology is used, and thorium technology is developed and used, there is a huge potential for nuclear energy production. The real limitation for nuclear power is political will. A few thousand nuclear plants would meet the short term (2050) demand for energy.

    That’s correct with respect to energy. But it would require a WWII-type of mobilization effort to build those on time to meet the shortfalls due to Peak Oil (which is already here). And a WWII-mobilization is politically impossible. However, breeder reactors aren’t going to solve all the other crises we’re facing – topsoil loss, fossil aquifer depletion, general ecosystem collapse, depletion of various minerals (phosphorus being the most important), etc. And they definitely aren’t going to help if we continue insisting on growth at all costs.

  25. Anybody who recommends subsidies of any kind is economically illiterate. If you want the poor to have access to cheap energy then you need to free up their economies and remove the regulatory and tax burdens that is preventing them from developing.
    It is clear more people need to read these books,

    The Bottomless Well: The Twilight of Fuel, the Virtue of Waste, and Why We Will Never Run Out of Energy
    (Peter Huber, Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering, MIT, 2005)
    Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future (Robert Bryce, 2010)

  26. Bart notes that Europe’s per-capita energy consumption is around half the US’s. True, but I would attribute that largely to two factors not directly connected to energy policy:
    a) Less extreme climates — between the warming Gulf Stream and the cooling Meterranean, there is less need for heating and air conditioning through the year. Europe really has nothing like Phoenix, New Orleans, Minneapolis, or Fargo.
    b) More compact cities with generally better (and subsidized) train and bus service, plus high taxes on gasoline and auto use generally.
    Trying to get Americans to accept (b) is fruitless. And once India gets its electricity widespread and cheap, how popular do you think air conditioning will become?

  27. “Peak uranium” is a joke. The US has enough “spent” fuel rods to provide their electricity for a considerable number of years – estimates are in the hundreds of years. They almost got to the point of using them with the IFR (Integral Fast Reactor), but NRDC got Clinton to cancel it in 1994, just in the nick of time to stop commercialization of the concept. Talk about a history-changing event…
    Go nuclear.

  28. I hereby call that Thomas Fuller never posts here again as he is not only economically illiterate but has no remote clue about energy. There are plenty of educated people on this issue we do not need arm-chair emotional types making posts here.
    REPLY: Ya know, at least he has the courage to put his name to his work. He’ll likely be here again, see the announcements thread. – Anthony

  29. “Probably not with many readers here, who have seen taxpayer money go up in smoke on so many poorly-designed projects. But I think it’s our duty to ourselves, as well as the poorest of the poor. ”
    From each according to their ability to each according to their need. Kind of a catchy phrase ….
    From each according to his ability, to each according to his need (or needs) is a slogan popularized by Karl Marx in his 1875 Critique of the Gotha Program.[1]
    Really and how does one distribute the 2100 quads.

  30. R de Haan
    “The so called “Green, renewable energies are all based on carbon fuels and I bet the carbon fuel needed to produce wind mills and solar panels are not calculated into
    the equation. ” This is not strictly accurate, but it is an interesting question. The embedded carbon in renewable energy systems is a subject of much interest from researchers at the moment and there are big unknowns such as the embedded energy required to provide conventional generation backup to relieve the intermittency problems inherent in wind energy. We certainly don’t know the full answer and from a personal perspective I would prefer that we were counting the embedded energy rather than the embedded carbon. The obsession with carbon is absurd.

  31. Human beings are best left to their own devices. Using one’s own resources to shore up another person’s resources is a fool’s errand, exponentially enlarged when applied to countries. You will both end up in the poor house.
    Your best bet on improving the countries around you is to continue to build and maintain your own infrastructure (IE roads, educational opportunities, and energy availability) and by providing ample opportunities without roadblocks for your own citizenry to act on their own initiative and drive to make use of that infrastructure.

  32. GM
    You are or appear to be another worrier about ‘exponential’ population growth, energy shortfall and all the rest of it.
    Human population will not reach the 9 billion mark. War, famine, plague and poverty will stem the flood.
    If you know a virologist, have a chat with them about influenza in particular and pandemics in general. Then you will have something completely different to worry about.

  33. I favor the third solution. Using your and my tax dollars to help the poor afford electricity that comes from natural gas, nuclear and other cleaner solutions, so they can afford to buy our video games and see our movies (and, well, pay for them…).
    The Federal government is flat broke, and we are staring into the abyss of a potential 2nd Great Depression. We don’t have the luxury of deciding whether or not to spend our tax dollars helping 3rd world nations pursue clean energy options. Very soon we are going to have to slash spending on our own problems (education, health care, Social Security, defense) just to survive.
    We need to solve our own very serious, very pressing problems. Maybe then we can worry about helping other nations.

  34. Do people know what has been done to improve the burn efficiency of coal? You remember, Bush’s clean coal initiative? Raising the efficiency up into the range of 50-60%. It’s called IGCC — integrated coal gasification combined-cycle. The Polk Power plant in Florida has a full scale plant online —- http://www.tampaelectric.com/news/powerstation/polk/
    Why don’t more people know about it?
    If your cause is global warming driven by CO2, then why isn’t your savior nuclear power?

  35. Can we have this silly unit of the “quadrillion BTU” defined in SI ? I reckon its 1 EJ OR 10^18 Joules.

  36. Steve Fitzpatrick (wrote):
    “If breeder technology is used, and thorium technology is developed and used, there is a huge potential for nuclear energy production. ”
    Yep. Currently, these are the only viable short to medium term options for large scale energy production, so they certainly get my vote. I really can’t believe that so little work is being done on Thorium reactors as the world is certainly on the way to running out of Uranium. Still, let’s stick up another wind turbine – that’ll sort it out – If you’re very, very, very lucky, it might just about pay for istelf just before it’s time to rip it down and replace it – I wouldn’t hold your breath though 😉

  37. The WUWT crowd’s dismissal of GHG emissions as a factor in the world energy picture is not surprising. One needn’t be concerned with the elephant’s destructive potential if one denies it’s in the room.
    Alas for the group here, even their darling Bjørn Lomborg has at last admitted to the presence of the climate change pachyderm:
    http://tinyurl.com/33hbt8f

    “If we care about the environment and about leaving this planet and its inhabitants with the best possible future, we actually have only one option: we all need to start seriously focusing, right now, on the most effective ways to fix global warming.”
    -Lomborg

  38. It’s our duty to ourselves here in the U.S. to concentrate on our own energy policy and our own economic woes. A bankrupt U.S. is no good to anyone.
    It is not up to us, or anyone else to tell, or influence another country how they should develop their energy base. If they have coal available, then that is what they will, and should use. Simple as that.

  39. Unfortunately, much of this is academic.
    What we are likely to see first is that as the weather gets cooler there will be more food shortages with growing time reductions. These will occur as we start seeing the effects of being past peak oil and energy prices increase. All the byproducts of oil refining that we now take for granted will also become more expensive and in short supply. As energy costs increase and energy and food supplies reduce – we have the recipe for some very ugly times ahead. Unless, as Steve Fitzpatrick says we move to thorium and pebble-bed reactors.

  40. Resource (energy is the master one) is more than a stock of stuffs. Summing Julian Simon’s work, Ben Wattenberg wrote (in The Wall Street Journal February 11, 1998):

    [Simon’s] central point is clear: Supplies of natural resources are not finite in any serious way; they are created by the intellect of man, an always renewable resource. Coal, oil and uranium were not resources at all until mixed well with human intellect.

    That said, some countries are more energy efficient than others: see for example this interesting perspective [PDF].

  41. If we keep being dependent on fossil fuels as we currently are, we will bear most of the damage of increasing fuel prices.
    Are we able to fight wars to get access to fossil fuels? No matter who wins the war, the oil/gas/coal goes to the global market, we buy from the global market and we pay global prices.
    The dependence on fossil fuels makes our country vulnerable, and we might cease to be the world superpower. If that happens, it is going to be a sad situation, with many people suffering and in debt.

  42. Steve Fitzpatrick: If breeder technology is used, and thorium technology is developed and used, there is a huge potential for nuclear energy production. The real limitation for nuclear power is political will. A few thousand nuclear plants would meet the short term (2050) demand for energy.

    By that time oil will be so expensive so that all those useful oil byproducts such as plastics will become expensive. It’s a shame and stupidity to use oil for electricity production while we could save it for more appropriate uses.

  43. Mr Fuller wrote: “I favor the third solution. Using your and my tax dollars to help the poor afford electricity that comes from natural gas, nuclear and other cleaner solutions, so they can afford to buy our video games and see our movies (and, well, pay for them…). ”
    Dollars directed by politicians and bureaucrats is not as efficient nor flexible as dollars directed by consumers into the hands of producers. Bureaucrats and politicians are always susceptible to corporate interests and the more hands and mouths between the money in my pocket and the bank account of the person that made the ‘stuff’ I buy the less money ends up in his or her pocket.
    If despotic regimes had to raise money through taxing their own people rather than survive on handouts taken by force from foreign taxpayers they would rapidly have to up their game or get kicked out of office. Trade is the key not redirecting tax revenue.

  44. R. de Haan: The so called “Green, renewable energies are all based on carbon fuels and I bet the carbon fuel needed to produce wind mills and solar panels are not calculated into the equation.

    Wind mills and solar panels have a lifetime of around 20-30 years. The net benefits are enormous to cancel out any production footprint.
    Let’s talk about a single solar panel, that produces 200W at peak. Let’s assume that it produces at peak for five hours per day (very modest estimate). Per year, our single solar panel produces 73KWh and for the 30 years of lifetime this makes 2.2MWh.
    How much energy do we need to produce this single solar panel in terms of the 2.2MWh we get back?

  45. GM>
    Your lack of logic is astounding. If we use 500 quads per year now, then, unless we’re set to run out totally within four years, there is enough to produce 2,000 quads. We’re talking about power output over a sustained period, not a one-off event. Just bizarre, but then, about what you expect from someone who thinks peak oil a) exists and b) is related in any way to peak coal, peak gas, or any other peak.

  46. Why does all this hand wringing remind me of the following?
    In 1898, delegates from across the globe gathered in New York City for the world’s first international urban planning conference. One topic dominated the discussion. It was not housing, land use, economic development, or infrastructure. The delegates were driven to desperation by horse manure.
    […]
    The situation seemed dire. In 1894, the Times of London estimated that by 1950 every street in the city would be buried nine feet deep in horse manure. One New York prognosticator of the 1890s concluded that by 1930 the horse droppings would rise to Manhattan’s third-story windows. A public health and sanitation crisis of almost unimaginable dimensions loomed.
    And no possible solution could be devised. After all, the horse had been the dominant mode of transportation for thousands of years. Horses were absolutely essential for the functioning of the nineteenth-century city — for personal transportation, freight haulage, and even mechanical power. Without horses, cities would quite literally starve.
    All efforts to mitigate the problem were proving woefully inadequate. Stumped by the crisis, the urban planning conference declared its work fruitless and broke up in three days instead of the scheduled ten.

  47. “Imagine a world of 8.1 billion people, 7 billion of whom are using energy at the same rate as we do here in America–323 million btu’s per head”
    Won’t happen. Half the world population will be as poor or poorer than they are now. And, as Bart said, even the middle class will consume less energy.
    Technology advances, there will be new enrgy sources, new gadgets to improve efficiency.
    The future is hard to predict, and harder to direct to some contrieved goal.

  48. Developing the third world is no more than giving our wealth away to people who will eventually turn on us with the technology we gave them. China is a prime example. Does anyone think developing China is good for us. Look at the effort to build up Mexico and look at the results. And is Mexico grateful for our sacrafice, no and in fact their president slammed the US before our congress. I believe the first world is being stripped and robbed and why would we want that.

  49. In about 2 years we may be able to start using fusion energy. Google Polywell and see one company that is working on a fusion reactor that has great potential to work where the other type fusion reactors have failed. This type energy production would solve lots of energy problems but would do nothing to solve population problems. It might keep the “war” level down somewhat.

  50. I have long believed that subjective CAGW research has been for the purpose of finding ways to redistribute the use of those three big carbon based fuels between those that have and those that don’t. The poorest countries with the highest population densities don’t have. International treaties and national laws using carbon credits and offsets is probably the worst way to redistribute natural resources. While burning dirty coal is bad and should be controlled because it contains pollutants, CO2 is not a pollutant, does not have a measurable effect on climate, and should not be controlled. I would like to see pie charts of geographic distribution of the different energy sources(including known reserves) and energy consumption.

  51. The problem with option #3 is that, too often, the money ends up in nefarious hands, who use it to purchase arms and proceed to use them. It follows that same old tired pattern: Here’s a couple of billion. Investigative reporters look to see what happened to the aid money. Nothing gets built, or a fraction of what could have been isn’t. The $$ goes for arms that are used to seize food aid, which doesn’ t get where it’s supposed to, or to support faction fighting.
    It is not the US job to go around the world supporting governments that are bound & determined not to use that support for peaceful or productive uses. Then, as a last resort, we send our young men & women over to those places, to put the fires out that should never have been fueled in the 1st place.
    No thank you.

  52. There are already several examples in the world of “succesful” green policies which would deserve that some economist could make here a post to show all of us the wonderful consequences of these.

  53. Why do you think governments need to take action. Real solutions grow from the bottom up. Let markets work. If resources are as scarce as the peak oil folks say, then the world economy just won’t grow that fast. Or, new technologies will emerge when someone can figure out how to make a buck. People are ingenious and resiliant. Get governments to stand asise and let the future unfold.

  54. I doubt that there is or will be a peak uranium problem. Breeder reactors make more plutonium than they burn.

  55. I read abook, regret not to hand, with good “back of envelope” calculations of the max possible from renewables like wind, tide, waves, hydro, solar thermal, some solar PV etc – not the economic max, but the physical max with eg all the coast of the UK surrounded by wind farms and wave machines. Result? Not enogh energy to meet even current energy demand.
    Conclusion: massive energy efficiency needed in housing stock, transport (electric cars to act as store for variable renewable output, via demand management via smart “meters”). Still problematic, need nuclear/thorium or other, or population decline/mud hut living… it is the maths we need to examine, not La La land or CO2 panic…
    Articles like this are a good start, more needed. Sorry I haven’t got the book at the moment, its in the UK whereas I’m in Boston USA awaiting Hurricane earl!!

  56. “If we burn coal to obtain this energy, that’s 2,100 x 36 million tons of coal. If we withhold energy from these people, we condemn them to lives of starvation and poverty. If we subsidize clean energy solutions for them”
    India and China are both net importers of coal. The price they are currently paying for imported coal exceeds $100/ton. The price for coal in Wyoming is $12/ton.
    A 1,000 megawatt coal fired plant burns in about 4 million tons of coal per year.
    If China or India builds a coal fired plant they are dooming themselves to spending more then $400 million per year on coal.
    A Westinghouse AP1000 1,000 megawatt nuclear reactor can be built in China for $2-$3 billion. So the Chinese can build a nuclear reactor for the price of 5-7 years of coal imports for one coal fired electricity plant. Sounds like the economics is beyond brainless.
    Now one wonders why anyone in China or India would build a coal fired plant.
    It’s simple, Clean Coal(Coal fired plants with more then 40% efficiency) are eligible on a case by case basis for Carbon Credits under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism and Nuclear Power isn’t.
    Here we have an article about building coal fired plants in India and China
    http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/SGE67O04X.htm
    The Money Quote,
    “I think it will be very difficult for such projects to survive without the CDM,” said an official at a USC plant now being built in China’s eastern province of Jiangsu by a joint venture involving state-owned utility Guodian.”

  57. It’s both sad and historic watching the start of the perhaps “final battle” over resources on this planet and how to solve the energy needs of a growing human population. Reading this thread it’s actually amazing to me how shortsighted everyone seems to be. All they can see is the Earth. It’s like everyone has just accepted that we’re all stuck in a closet and the arguing over space and positioning for the upcoming fisticuffs are a necessary part of life.
    The answer has always been space exploration. There’s incalculable amounts of resources off-planet and we know how to survive off-planet, yet instead of spending $30-50 billion a year to have a real space program, we spend $Trillions on propping up our housing values by purchasing public debt.
    There is only one solution to just about every problem discussed on this site. That solution is moving humans off of Earth. It would solve our problem of impacting earths climate. It would solve our energy issues. It would solve our space issues. Yet this long-term goal is never mentioned in any arguments over peak-of-the-month. It’s like the whole world just accepts that we’ll never leave, and that’s sad.
    Just throwing it out there. Please continue to bicker over how best to deal with the closet.

  58. harrywr2 says:
    September 1, 2010 at 7:46 am

    Is that CDM really working? I mean “really” with real cash payments or it is just another “model” IF next Cancun jamboree is succesful. Because to make such big expenditures based on a Pachauri’s novel would be just crazy and I don’t think chinese people are either crazy or fool; instead they would fool all green–first-world-silly-believers.
    I am sure they control themselves so as not to die by laughing at the utterly funny peculiarities of the occidental psyche.
    They are just waiting, as the Confucius proverb reads: ” Wait at your front door and you’ll see the corpse of your enemy passing by”

  59. Quote:
    “I favor the third solution. Using your and my tax dollars to help the poor afford electricity that comes from natural gas, nuclear and other cleaner solutions, so they can afford to buy our video games and see our movies ”
    That’s nothing but perty eco-Socialism. How about fixing our own problems here at home first? How about helping out our brownouts and high electricity costs? Force through the permitting of nuclear power and clean coal generation. When we have our economic and elecricity-budget problems solved, then we can worry about people who are the poorest of the poor (who don’t have money for buying cars, let alone building power plants).

  60. Well, you nailed it. I like your assessment, (with a few caveats) and hate your solution, but you were partly correct as to why. Now, we’re to subsidize their electricity use so they can watch our movies? Uhmm, no. First, it is apparent, at least to myself, that this nation, (the U.S.) needs to do an about face regarding what comprises our GDP. We’re exporting services and other amenities of little intrinsic value.(Shown by the drop in energy use per person) We produce less and less goods with a value. If we continue in this manner, we won’t have the money to subsidize much of anything. Further, from a purely economical view, coal is the best(cheap and reliable) source of energy in forms of electricity. In some places in the developing world, hydro would be cheaper and almost as reliable. There are techniques that allow for the free flow of the poor fishies around the dams.
    Gas is too expensive here. We should encourage people that can’t afford it to use it there? I like nuclear power, but obviously, put in improper hands, there are several ways things could go real bad.
    So, it looks like the world is screwed………but wait! There is an answer! Things do not remain static! There is a proverb that has served mankind quite well, I believe it is attributed to Plato, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” The saying has been amended with, “if, necessity….,then ingenuity is surely its father.”(I think Challoner) There is no reason to believe mankind cannot overcome this minor difficulty with the abundance of energy sources yet untapped.
    All of the predictions about GDP, population, and energy use is based upon what is known today and not what is unknown. In 40 years, the methods of transportation is likely to be significantly different as also the sources for electricity. To what or in what form, I haven’t a clue, but I know things change, and things are changing quicker now than what they had in the past. We’ll be fine if we don’t over-react and make small difficulties large ones.

  61. I cannot really understand how anybody would think that a specific amount of energy is going to be an issue. Surely it is obvious that if we use more energy than we can extract energy will become more expensive and people will use less of it. Americans use as much as they currently do because it is so cheap. Suggesting everybody will use that much, and then saying it will not be there surely gives the obvious conclusion that the price of energy will increase, and so everybody would use less.
    There are numerous sources of energy -it just so happens fossil fuels are currently the cheapest. When they are not other sources like solar will take off like a rocket. 20 years ago the energy required to make a solar panel was about the same as it generated in its entire lifetime – that is no longer the case and if oil was about to run out solar would be an option – an expensive option but an option. We would also accept nuclear more readily.
    20 years ago they used to say that solar panels on 2% of the sahara desert would provide the entire energy usage of the human race. What percentage is it now, and what percentage are you predicing with this?

  62. And will someone tell me how much energy they will be using in India or Indonesia to heat their houses? Try zero – it’s hot all the time. Such is extrapolation. In the 1970s there were rock solid predictions of mass famine by the 1990s. All the experts agreed – except they were wrong.
    The problems with all future predictions – 1. You have to keep every other variable fixed which in this case means energy efficiency, and 2. you really don’t know what future technology will produce. 8 billion people will not be driving around in 2010 cars in 2050.
    The one word answer is Thorium. It would only take 5000 tons a year to provide all the electricity. There are 1.2 million tons of known reserves and no-one is looking for the stuff so there will be a lot more than that. The nuclear industry gravitated around Uranium because they really wanted the Plutonium for bombs. Thorium has always been more suitable for power generation. And then there’s solar thermal…

  63. Sorry, my previous post should read ‘It would only take 5000 tons a year to provide all the electricity used in the US’

  64. Interesting post – thank you Thomas Fuller.
    I do disagree with you that we should use our tax dollars to subsidize the developing world or that we should even fight for them. Let them fight their battles themselves. If they have a corrupt and restrictive government that is preventing them from bettering themselves, it is their problem, not ours.
    I am not interested in us being the police or even the conscience of the world. I’ve had enough of it. We have plenty of problems with our own corrupt, over-grown, opportunity-killing government to deal with here at home. We’ll all be better off when we learn to mind our own business.

  65. Martin Brumby says:
    September 1, 2010 at 5:47 am
    …then how come they only exist when massively subsidised and how come the actual output achieved is absolutely derisory? Have you bothered to look at the actual figures?
    http://www.elistore.org/Data/products/d19_07.pdf
    Applying a conservative approach, explained in further detail below, ELI found that
    • The vast majority of federal subsidies for fossil fuels and renewable energy supported
    energy sources that emit high levels of greenhouse gases when used as fuel.
    • The federal government provided substantially larger subsidies to fossil fuels than to
    renewables. Subsidies to fossil fuels—a mature, developed industry that has enjoyed
    government support for many years—totaled approximately $72 billion over the study
    period, representing a direct cost to taxpayers.
    • Subsidies for renewable fuels, a relatively young and developing industry, totaled $29
    billion over the same period.
    • Subsidies to fossil fuels generally increased over the study period (though they decreased
    in 2008), while funding for renewables increased but saw a precipitous drop in 2006-07
    (though they increased in 2008).
    • Most of the largest subsidies to fossil fuels were written into the U.S. Tax Code as
    permanent provisions. By comparison, many subsidies for renewables are time-limited
    initiatives implemented through energy bills, with expiration dates that limit their
    usefulness to the renewables industry.
    • The vast majority of subsidy dollars to fossil fuels can be attributed to just a handful of
    tax breaks, such as the Foreign Tax Credit ($15.3 billion) and the Credit for Production
    of Nonconventional Fuels ($14.1 billion). The largest of these, the Foreign Tax Credit,
    applies to the overseas production of oil through an obscure provision of the Tax Code,
    which allows energy companies to claim a tax credit for payments that would normally
    receive less-beneficial tax treatment.
    • Almost half of the subsidies for renewables are attributable to corn-based ethanol, the
    use of which, while decreasing American reliance on foreign oil, raises considerable
    questions about effects on climate.
    Fossil fuel industries are already heavily subsidised. Removing these subsidies, would at least level the playing field to allow renewables to compete on a fairer footing…IMHO.

  66. Martin Brumby said
    September 1, 2010 at 5:47 am
    @GM says: September 1, 2010 at 5:20 am
    “The author is firmly in la-la land if he thinks that he can write a credible post on energy and not mention a word about Peak Oil/Gas/Coal/Uranium, not mention a word about the capability of renewables to provide for an industrial civilization the size of ours, let alone one 3 or 4 times bigger, while talking about growth in consumption all the time.”
    Sorry, GM. The one firmly in la-la land is you.
    If any of the so-called renewables (other than Hydro, or in a few lucky countries Geothermal) was remotely capable of “provid[ing] for an industrial civilization the size of ours” then how come they only exist when massively subsidised and how come the actual output achieved is absolutely derisory? Have you bothered to look at the actual figures?

    Someone has severe reading comprehension problems. Of course renewables can’t do the job, they are too diffuse. Combined with fossil fuels non-renewability, this means is that we are in even greater need of reduction of population and consumption

  67. Mr Lynn said on Global Energy Use in the 21st Century
    September 1, 2010 at 6:15 am
    Re GM:
    I just love hitting the ‘Peak Oil’ (and ‘Peak Whatever’) doomsayers with these two posts by E.M. Smith:
    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/05/08/there-is-no-shortage-of-stuff/
    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/03/20/there-is-no-energy-shortage/
    “THERE IS NO SHORTAGE OF STUFF, AND THERE NEVER WILL BE”—E. M. Smith
    So far, I’ve heard no rebuttals.
    /Mr Lynn

    If you haven’t heard any rebuttals (as if the claim that the planet has infinite resources needs some sort of rebuttal) that’s because you have either:
    1) you have lived all your life in the cave of free market ideology
    2.) you have managed the impossible feat of learning how to write/type without ever learning how to read
    3) you have never learned basic arithmetics
    4) you are in dire need of mental hospitalization

  68. There is no energy shortage. There never will be, either. Man’s ingenuity has always (Always, except when idiot governments intervene) provided more than sufficient energy to meet any situation.
    Without resorting to toxic, dangerous, far-too-expensive nuclear power, the world has far more than enough oil, natural gas, wind-power, solar power, and ocean-based power to meet any need at any time.
    There is no Peak Oil problem, either. Never has been, and never will be. Oil is much like picking fruit from a tree. The lowest-hanging fruit is picked easily by simply walking up to the tree and grabbing the fruit by hand. This is the equivalent of land-based, shallow oil, which is very cheap to produce. Middle-level fruit, higher up the tree, requires a ladder of some sort, so its production requires a bit more cost. This is the equivalent of deeper wells on-shore, and shallow wells off-shore. The highest fruit on the tree requires a mechanical lift, with higher cost. This is the equivalent of deep-water offshore, or from hostile environments such as the Arctic north slope, or more recently, Russia’s Sakhalin Island. The oil is there, always has been, and we know where it lies. When the price increases sufficiently, we will produce that oil. This is exactly what happened after the oil price increases of the 1970s, when drilling and production occurred in the North Sea and Alaska.
    Really, it is astounding that the over-abundance of energy resources on this planet are overlooked by so many people.
    There is no energy shortage. There never will be, either. The engineers will see to it, as we always have.
    For those who want to read more on this, see the articles with key words “Grand Game” on my blog.
    http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/search?q=grand+game

  69. Dave said on Global Energy Use in the 21st Century
    September 1, 2010 at 7:02 am
    GM>
    Your lack of logic is astounding. If we use 500 quads per year now, then, unless we’re set to run out totally within four years, there is enough to produce 2,000 quads. We’re talking about power output over a sustained period, not a one-off event. Just bizarre, but then, about what you expect from someone who thinks peak oil a) exists and b) is related in any way to peak coal, peak gas, or any other peak.

    “Lack of logic”????????? So if oil has practically reached its all time production peak , we have no substitute for it and therefore, we’re in for severe reduction of industrial activity and energy consumption (because of the effects of that so badly neglected discipline called systems dynamics, a reduction in the availability of one resource often means that the whole system will quickly fall apart), then how exactly is there enough to consume 2000 quads in 2035??? Someone doesn’t get the concept of oil flows vs oil reserves at all

  70. Adam R. says:
    September 1, 2010 at 6:29 am
    The WUWT crowd’s dismissal of GHG emissions as a factor in the world energy picture is not surprising. One needn’t be concerned with the elephant’s destructive potential if one denies it’s in the room.
    Alas for the group here, even their darling Bjørn Lomborg has at last admitted to the presence of the climate change pachyderm:

    It’s certainly not surprising that a Warmist troll will take any opportunity to make an elephant out of a mere flea, which is all C02 amounts to.
    Nice try on the “news” about Lomborg. He was always a believer in the fairy tale of manmade C02-produced warming/climate change/climate chaos (gee, what do they call it now?), just not on board with the spending part. Lomborg is nothing more than an opportunist, and saw a way to make some money on the S.S. Climatanic, which has raised up in the water in preparation for its final descent into the history books and total ignominy.

  71. @ Tim
    Oh brother. Why not post the DOE numbers for dollars per kWh for wind/solar. Put things into perspective.
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/servicerpt/subsidy2/pdf/chap5.pdf
    Refined coal is a high subsidy, but it at least produces a net increase in electricity output. Neither wind or solar can do that. If the playing field were leveled as you suggest, “renewables” (wind/solar in this case) would go belly up in a week.

  72. Larry said on Global Energy Use in the 21st Century
    September 1, 2010 at 8:48 am
    I cannot really understand how anybody would think that a specific amount of energy is going to be an issue.

    Apparently you are totally unaware of the fact that our socioeconomical system requires perpetual growth or it collapses otherwise. This means that an ever increasing energy supply is required too.

    There are numerous sources of energy -it just so happens fossil fuels are currently the cheapest

    .
    Yes, there are numerous source. What you leave out is that they aren’t all the same.
    EROEI if shale oil is 3, EROEI of Ghawar was probably 100 some 50 years ago. Big difference, but it requires some thought to appreciate, and thought is the thing that’s in shortest supply in the world right now

    20 years ago they used to say that solar panels on 2% of the sahara desert would provide the entire energy usage of the human race. What percentage is it now, and what percentage are you predicing with this?

    It couldn’t have been 2%, it is between 500,000 and 1,000,000 km2 currently. Sahara is less than 10,000,000 km2. It looks very easy on paper, but the reality is that we simply don’t have the resources to cover 500,000 km2 with solar panels

  73. Enneagram says:
    September 1, 2010 at 8:23 am
    “Is that CDM really working? I mean “really” with real cash payments or it is just another “model” ”
    The UN CDM issues ‘purchasable carbon credits’. The value of those credits is determined by the European Carbon Markets.
    The Chinese aren’t stupid, the Carbon Credits aren’t working out to be as valuable as originally anticipated and becoming dependent on coal imports when you are already dependent on Oil and Natural Gas imports doesn’t make for ‘energy security’.
    As a result they are building nuclear power plants without UN subsidy as fast as the Japanese can make the critical reactor forgings. Unfortunately that is slower then their rising energy demand.
    India doesn’t have much in the way of Uranium deposits and is doing some research work on thorium. They had loads of thorium deposits. I expect as soon as they get a ‘commercially viable’ thorium reactor worked out they’ll abandon coal but it’s not going to be tomorrow morning at 9.
    The world has an enormous supply of coal. Unfortunately the vast majority of it is not ‘economically recoverable’ or is too far from markets. It costs 2-3 cents/ton mile to transport coal by rail. Then $20-$30 for ton if it needs a boat ride. The $12/ton coal in Wyoming isn’t ‘cheap’ once it has to be transported 1,000 miles by rail to a seaport.
    Hence, while electricity from coal is still cheap in the US Midwest it’s not cheap anymore in the US Southeast. Not surprisingly the electric utilities in the US Southeast are trying to build nuclear power plants.

  74. harrywr2 says: September 1, 2010 at 7:46 am
    “….. A 1,000 megawatt coal fired plant burns in about 4 million tons of coal per year.
    If China or India builds a coal fired plant they are dooming themselves to spending more then $400 million per year on coal.
    A Westinghouse AP1000 1,000 megawatt nuclear reactor can be built in China for $2-$3 billion. So the Chinese can build a nuclear reactor for the price of 5-7 years of coal imports for one coal fired electricity plant. Sounds like the economics is beyond brainless.”
    The Chinese are definitely NOT brainless. They are currently building 24 nuclear power plants, with 33 more on order and 120 additional planned.
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/reactors.html
    How many new starts in the US in the past 30 years? None, zero. Chinese nukes cost about half as much as US plants (same plant) because Chinese projects don’t get held up in court for 5 years while the lawyers get rich. And yes, harry, some of those Chinese plants under construction are Westinghouse AP1000 models.

  75. Humankind has a long history of those that “have”, “fixing” things for those that “have not”. Usually to the detriment of those being helped, and enriching the helper.
    Make the technologies available and let then decide for themselves.
    Oh, and by the way, while you are at it let us decide for ourselves too.

  76. A new way to produce electricity!:
    REPLY: snip – oh puhleeze, none of that pyramid stuff here. – Anthony

  77. Peak Oil is a myth,
    Myth: The World is Running Out of Oil (Peak Oil)
    Peak Uranium is a myth,
    Uranium resources sufficient to meet projected nuclear energy requirements long into the future (Nuclear Energy Administration)
    I am so tired of the fantasy (renewable) energy source delusional types. All forms of renewable are NOT economically viable. If they were we would be using them. Over 88% of the world’s energy comes from hydrocarbons the remainder is nuclear (5%) and hydroelectric (6%). That is right less than 1% from everything else.
    Fine remove all subsidies (I am all for it). Renewables will NOT be economically viable because they are low in power and energy density. People pushing fantasy energy solutions don’t understand basic physics or economics.
    I always ask people if they are for renewables and then I ask them if they are for paying higher electricity, heating and fuel costs and you will find you will get two very different answers to each question. Emotionally people want the magic energy sources, realistically they pay for what works.

  78. ..”Using your and my tax dollars to help the poor afford electricity that comes from natural gas, nuclear and other cleaner solutions, so they can afford to buy our video games and see our movies (and, well, pay for them…)..”
    Minor Edit –
    “Using your and my tax dollars to help the poor afford electricity..” by ‘subsidizing’ American industry -not multi-nationals- to build and transport American products that are better and more cost-effective and that help supply “natural gas, nuclear and other cleaner solutions so they can afford to buy our” high tech, state of the art, superdupper, cheapo, numero uno other products “(and, well, pay for them…)..”
    Re-Build and Re-Tool America First! Protect America Always! Help our friends! Defeat our enemies! And dream of a better world, with no poverty, no disease, no plagues, or whatever, whenever we have the time. Those who think we’re about to turn the corner, so to speak, and enter a brave new world under the UN Manifesto are smoking, popping, sniffing, and shooting the ‘real’ hard stuff –stay away from these people.

  79. Tim Williams says:
    September 1, 2010 at 9:01 am
    I think you’re viewing the subsidy argument incorrectly. Personally, I’m not in favor of public monies going to private enterprises, but if we must, I’d prefer a decent return on the investment.
    You say, “Subsidies to fossil fuels—a mature, developed industry that has enjoyed government support for many years—totaled approximately $72 billion over the study period, representing a direct cost to taxpayers.
    • Subsidies for renewable fuels, a relatively young and developing industry, totaled $29 billion over the same period…….”
    While the pie chart above is representative of global use, it follows fairly close ratio for the U.S. Or go here for a nice table.
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/aer/txt/ptb0802a.html
    We’re getting a much better “bang for our buck” with fossil fuel subsidies in terms of production, retail and wholesale cost. In other words, it is fallacy to pour more money down a more costly, less reliable, inefficient source of energy. Again, I’m not much on subsidizing private energy industry of any kind, but if you ask me, we’re spending way too much on the renewables for the results we’re getting.
    You say, “Fossil fuel industries are already heavily subsidised. Removing these subsidies, would at least level the playing field to allow renewables to compete on a fairer footing…IMHO.”
    The renewable energy market is getting almost 30% of the subsidies while producing, 13% of the energy, and that’s with traditional hydro, which I don’t believe is receiving the renewable subsidy. Without hydro, they are producing about 4.5%. Nice, we’re paying so companies can charge us more for electricity.
    I’d say renewables wouldn’t even exist without the significant subsidies they get. But, that’s just my opinion, too.

  80. You want to replace worldwide hydrocarbon energy? No problem just find me the energy output (in oil equivalent) of twenty-seven Saudi Arabias per day.
    Should be easy!

  81. Excellent post Mr Fuller….. I see you have got some of the hyper-ventilators going into super hyperventilation mode…. Ah, th’ blood is shooting from their eyes… You could run a small city on their apoplexy alone…:-)
    As for me, I don’t think there is all that much of a problem…. Energy use is going to go up as societies modernize. But as they become more technologically able, they’ll strike a balance between useage and efficiency…. Secondly, as people’s standards of living rise and they adopt open liberal, free market societies, their women will on average have less babies. It has happened in our societies…. It will happen in theirs too. Thus populations will stabilize…
    I see a pretty rosy, future. Don’t know what all th’ fuss is about actually.

  82. Tim Williams – After checking out ELI ‘s web site , I have little faith in their objectivity . None the less , an interesting read . I keep hearing about how heavily subsidizes the coal is , but your report suggests that this isn’t really so – especially when compared to oil . Taxing coal royalties as a capital gain hardly qualifies as a subsidy in my opinion . Furthermore , most of the tax breaks afforded the fossil fuel industry seem fair , IMHO . Obviosly the ELI doesn’t agree .

  83. GM – Apparently you are totally unaware of the fact that our socioeconomical system requires perpetual growth or it collapses otherwise.

    Wrong,
    Is the Economy a Perpetual Motion Machine? (William L. Anderson, Ph.D. Professor of Economics)

    GM – Yes, there are numerous source. What you leave out is that they aren’t all the same. EROEI…

    Thermodynamics and Money (Peter Huber, Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering, MIT)
    “Eroei calculations now litter the energy policy debate. Time and again they’re wheeled out to explain why one form of energy just can’t win–tar sands, shale, corn, wood, wind, you name it…
    In the real world, however, investors don’t care a fig whether they earn positive Eroei. What they care about is dollar return on dollar invested. And the two aren’t the same–nowhere close–because different forms of energy command wildly different prices. Invest ten units of 10-cent energy to capture one unit of $10 energy and you lose energy but gain dollars, and Wall Street will fund you from here to Alberta…
    The economic value of energy just doesn’t depend very strongly on raw energy content as conventionally measured in British thermal units. Instead it’s determined mainly by the distance between the BTUs and where you need them, and how densely the BTUs are packed into pounds of stuff you’ve got to move, and by the quality of the technology at hand to move, concentrate, refine and burn those BTUs, and by how your neighbors feel about carbon, uranium and windmills. In this entropic universe we occupy, the production of one unit of high-grade energy always requires more than one unit of low-grade energy at the outset. There are no exceptions. Put another way, Eroei–a sophomoric form of thermodynamic accounting–is always negative and always irrelevant. “Matter-energy” constraints count for nothing. The “monetary culture” still rules. Thermodynamics And Money.”

  84. Although most of you have good argument, remember to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. I hate to pick on one person, but the only person who is really really wrong is GM. Lets look at this qoute first:
    “If you haven’t heard any rebuttals (as if the claim that the planet has infinite resources needs some sort of rebuttal) that’s because you have either:”
    No one has claimed the planet has infinite resources. You are just repeating mathusian philosophy which has been around for over 2 centuries. If you are going to argue this philosophy, you need to go research it and come up with points that have not been already disproven by economic PHD’s who know more then philsopher’s on economics. Prove it versus just going on the “I am right” band-wagon.
    There are finite resources on the Earth, but for all practical purposes, the classic economical model is that there are enough resources on the Earth for about 100k years of development if not more. The cost of mining versus taxes versus other things is what keeps the true numbers down. When something becomes scarse, its price goes up, less profitable mining sources are opened up, and the price comes down again. Classic economics…..but do not take it from me, go do your research…
    Start with Population Bomb and start reading about the famous “Wager”. Economics crashed the Population Bomb theory in the 70’s, and even though his every prediction has been incorrect, this guy still has tenure and still is looked up upon. Do I dare mention his name?
    The all encompassing exponential growth theory does not work either. Growth overall is slowing down as far as the exponential curve goes, but to someone unversed in mathematics, this appears like growth is accelerating. The thing to remember is that growth is never linear, its a different scale. Even a slowing growth will appear to be faster then what it will be just because most people do not understand the basic math behind the equations.
    Energy usage is another one of these variables that appears to be worse then it is for those who do not understand math. Growth (acceleration) is different then the actual linear trend. Comparing these two forces is apples and oranges, and should be elementary, but for some reason its not. I have not looked at the developing countries energy curves to determine whether their exponential curves are going up or down, but that is different then their increase in energy usage and should be stated as thus.
    But heck, we are all wrong sometimes, I just have this to really say. Subsidies are always mis-used, I have no problems with getting rid of them all-together personally, lets do it.
    Research and development, now that is something that never has a tangible benefit, but by far economically speaking is the best way to invest money. Ask any big company this and look at what happens when you cut this budget….
    What if hypothetically speaking, we would have spent every dollar we invested into subsidies (for both coal and renewables) into research and development or space exploration? The benefits are impossible to quantify, but we can go by history and look at what space exploration brought us technologically speaking from landing on the moon.
    Society as a general rule would benefit much more from us investing in R&D and to me this does not mean we have to “go to Mars” or something else like that. Spending the money on clean energy is missing the point where once again we are going back to subsidies which overall just keep unproductive or less profitable alternatives in the running. Sure, coal usage would sky-rocket at first under no subsidies anywhere…you will notice that a majority of the subsidies are for oil….which I have no love affair with, but with no alternative right now, let the market take its course.
    R&D will result in expensive alternatives that eventually with economics will become commercially viable someday. The thing with transforming society is that people think this can be done instantly when in reality it takes decades to achieve any tangible accomplishment/achievement with R&D. This may not always be the case (Sometimes results are quick) but you must take the long view on society.
    We all think we have the one solution that will resolve the world’s problems, but the truth is any result today will produce 3 problems tomorrow in society. The best we can do is rely on capitalism which like democracy is inherently a terrible system…but like Churchill says “Its the best system we have.”

  85. GM says:
    September 1, 2010 at 9:23 am:…………..”this means is that we are in even greater need of reduction of population and consumption…”
    Well, off ya go GM. You first. Show us your dedication to a smaller world population…. Don’t let the celestial door hit you on the arse on yer way out, eh….;-)

  86. GM
    That quote was from a book at the time, I have no comment on the accuracy.
    If the price of oil goes up consumption eventually goes down. All I was saying was that if the resources arent there the price will go up, and consumption will go down. Solar power is supposed to be price neutral with oil round about 2018 – presumably 3rd world first, due to incident energy. Energy is just not the issue you are making it, and the replacements get cheaper every year.
    Why would you not have the resources to make the solar panels? The energy required itself would be a problem nowadays if you used photovoltaics – although I didn’t actually state that. photovoltaics are currently more than 99% silicon (i.e. sand) so what did you think would not be available? It is prohibitively expensive currently but it will eventually be cost effective with oil – rapidly if the peak oil theorists are correct longer if not. If I recall you can make photovoltaics using several different materials, and the non photovoltaics can use pretty much anything reflective. Which material did you have in mind to run out of?
    I wasnt actually suggesting you use the sahara, just suggesting that the energy consumed by man is a tiny percentage of the radiant energy hitting the earth. When oil gets rare enough or solar becomes cost effective everybody will fit solar – unless a cheaper alternative becomes available. Oil has competition – it is just currently the cheapest. When the price goes up the others become cost effective. The longer you delay it the less expensive the replacement is. The idea that there is a major problem because oil will peak 20 or 30 (or frankly 2) years from now is not realistic. Consumption will get squeezed and other stuff will take over unless somebody tries to co-ordinate it in which case it is liable to lead to war. The universe is absolutely full of energy and the human race will just use the most cost effective one at any given time (except when directed by real or imaginary environmental concerns). fossil fuels are currently the most cost effective because they are so plentiful. When it peaks it will not be and we will use something else or less of it. It is hardly something anybody needs to plan for at the moment.

  87. “Using your and my tax dollars to help the poor afford electricity that comes from natural gas, nuclear and other cleaner solutions, so they can afford to buy our video games and see our movies … … I think it’s our duty to ourselves, as well as the poorest of the poor.”
    Send them all the video games you want at your expense. You have no duty and no right to distribute anybody else’s largesse, thank you Karl. You also have no business thinking about what is my duty, as it is not yours either.

  88. Thomas Fuller may be overestimating, but even conservative estimates of “third world” fossil fuel usage in 2050 show the futility of limiting CO2 emissions in only the “developed” world (and to “solve” a nonexistent problem at that!). And as others have pointed out, his idea of funneling taxpayer dollars through government development programs is probably the worst possible approach. I thank him for his article, however, and I thank commenters here for a wealth of references.
    GM says (September 1, 2010 at 5:47 am): “The reality is that the Limits to Growth study projections from 1972 have been holding up quite well against the actual course of events…”
    BWAHAHAHA! Good one, GM!

  89. My calculations show that, if ………developing world to use energy efficient technologies wherever possible, ……..the world’s energy consumption in 2035 will be about 1,100 quads. However, if they proceed as they are…….throwing up dirty coal to avoid blackouts…..energy use in 2035 might well approach 2,000 quads”
    You make the mistake of assuming that usage will stay the same with ever improving technology (especially that youngster nuclear).
    The Nuclear technology is just starting to move to a production line type industry with manufacturer replaced power modules, when that happens there will be an explosion in production with a corresponding massive price drop.
    Just as in other areas such as televisions, mp3 players where technology makes production easier – and much cheaper, we will natrually use more, how about 3000 quads using green thorium technology.

  90. Gary Hladik said on Global Energy Use in the 21st Century
    September 1, 2010 at 11:06 am
    GM says (September 1, 2010 at 5:47 am): “The reality is that the Limits to Growth study projections from 1972 have been holding up quite well against the actual course of events…”
    BWAHAHAHA! Good one, GM!

    If you had actually read what those projections are instead of believing what the propaganda machine has been feeding you, you would not be laughing

  91. Some hydrocarbons are abundant in the solar system. Lakes of liquid methane and ethane have been found on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, confirmed by the Cassini-Huygens Mission. I suspect that before we ever come close to using up our supplies of hydrocarbons and metals, we will be mining various moons and the asteroid belt for the abundant materials that are there.

  92. larry says:
    September 1, 2010 at 10:52 am
    GM
    That quote was from a book at the time, I have no comment on the accuracy.
    If the price of oil goes up consumption eventually goes down. All I was saying was that if the resources arent there the price will go up, and consumption will go down. Solar power is supposed to be price neutral with oil round about 2018 – presumably 3rd world first, due to incident energy. Energy is just not the issue you are making it, and the replacements get cheaper every year.

    Price isn’t the issue, in fact it is tragically misleading to think about these things in terms of $ signs. Net energy is what matters, and it doesn’t look good

    Why would you not have the resources to make the solar panels? The energy required itself would be a problem nowadays if you used photovoltaics – although I didn’t actually state that.

    To begin with, the high-efficiency PV cells use rare earth elements that are in very short supply. But when I say “resources”, I don’t mean just the materials, I mean societal resources in general. What the free market religion tells you is that when the price signal comes, substitutes will be found and the infrastructure will be build. In reality, it doesn’t work that way, because we are talking about infrastructure that will take decades to build, while the price signal will come on a much shorter time scale, and when it does society will most likely not be able to organize itself into building the infrastructure. When the blackouts and food riots start, it is too late.

  93. Poptech says:
    September 1, 2010 at 10:30 am
    You want to replace worldwide hydrocarbon energy? No problem just find me the energy output (in oil equivalent) of twenty-seven Saudi Arabias per day.
    Should be easy!

    Yes, even easier when Saudi Arabia itself peaks…

  94. Smokey said
    “Human ingenuity, guided by the free market [as one type of energy becomes too expensive, other types will replace it] will provide plenty of energy.”
    Question for GM -when in the world’s history did this not happen?
    Also GM how about cutting out the ad hom attacks. RC and JR etc welcomes it but not here.

  95. As an alternative to sending our tax money to frequently-corrupt third world governments, the most productive — and cost-free — measure that could be taken would be to can the EU bureaucracy’s ban on importation of genetically-modified foodstuffs.
    There are pest- and disease-resistant strains of grain and root vegetables that have been developed that would greatly increase yields, as well as enhanced varieties of rice that would relieve widespread dietary-deficiency diseases. But none of this is being planted in Africa due to fears that exports to Europe would be cut off.
    If we can increase the prosperity of Africa, energy will take care of itself — as long as the sanctimonious greens can be kept at bay.

  96. Poptech says:
    Thermodynamics and Money (Peter Huber, Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering, MIT)
    “Eroei calculations now litter the energy policy debate. Time and again they’re wheeled out to explain why one form of energy just can’t win–tar sands, shale, corn, wood, wind, you name it…
    In the real world, however, investors don’t care a fig whether they earn positive Eroei. What they care about is dollar return on dollar invested.

    I am sorry to say but my alma matter has produced a good number of idiots over the years in addition to the really large number of really smart and educated people. Ironically, it also produced the original Limits to Growth study, but I don’t see you attaching its name to it, I wonder why.
    [snip], anyone who claims that money and not energy is what matters, [snip]

  97. kdk33 says:
    September 1, 2010 at 5:02 am
    “No. It is not he duty of American taxpayers to subsidize hostile, corrupt, disfunctional, despotic (the list goes on) thirld world governments.”
    Actually, one theory is that violent overthrow (ie war) on despotic, corrupt, disfunctional, hostile governments, though bloody and costly pays off better for us and those being oppressed within those countries, with less long term violence, bloodshed and misery than does sending them money which is stolen by their rulers and used against us. But then, we seem to no longer have the stomach for such endeavors. Worked fine with Japan which had an extremely despotic, violent and hostile situation prior to our 25 year occupation of them. We taught them how to be like us and how to woop us with an economic stick rather than a sword. Unfortunately, their democracy is now suffering from the same corrution now as ours.

  98. “GDP will grow by about 3% per year between now and then–which is pretty much what it has been doing for quite a while”.
    Is that normal then? Is that OK? I just confirmed using a spreadsheet that that is actually an exponential rate of growth, which is, by further thinking, unsustainable.
    I think a little economic truth is required.
    Remember that all those resouces have to come out of the earth at some point. It’s not a bottomless pit.
    Anyway, why do we all fall to our knees at the altar of GDP?

  99. Ben D. says:
    September 1, 2010 at 10:44 am
    No one has claimed the planet has infinite resources.

    People like Julion Simon have definitely done that:
    “Our supplies of natural resources are not finite in any economic sense.”

    You are just repeating mathusian philosophy which has been around for over 2 centuries. If you are going to argue this philosophy, you need to go research it and come up with points that have not been already disproven by economic PHD’s who know more then philsopher’s on economics. Prove it versus just going on the “I am right” band-wagon.

    Excuse me, what exactly does a PhD in economics know about the real world?? All he knows is some basic math and a lot of politics disguised as science. The real world, however, is governed by the laws of physics, not by money. Which means that economists should not be allowed anywhere near society’s decision making process, which should be handled by scientists who actually know how the world works. Why is it that economists tend to be on the “Resources not a problem” side, while physical scientists tend to be on the “Resources very much a problem” side? Is it simply a coincidence?
    Of course, if you firmly believer that science doesn’t matter and the Universe is governed by the rules of economics (that didn’t exist for 13 billion years and still doesn’t exist in the vast majority of it), then I can’t help you (which doesn’t mean you’re not in a dire need of help)

    There are finite resources on the Earth, but for all practical purposes, the classic economical model is that there are enough resources on the Earth for about 100k years of development if not more.

    And you pulled this number out of???
    Currently we use 35% of the Earth’s land surface for agriculture, cities, and roads, we are wrecking the oceans, killing the terrestrial ecosystems, destroying topsoil, depleting aquifers, we’re at Peak Oil, gas and coal will follow, phosphorus is running out, as are a number of other high-grade ores, and in general, we are on course for complete societal collapse at some point in this century. Where exactly are the resources for 100,000 years of development??

  100. GM and et.al. Please correct me if I am wrong.There are only two “green” energies in the world…..
    1) photosynthesis
    2) nuclear
    And photosynthesis uses nuclear(sunlight).
    And as to running out of power…..LOL….there is enough uranium in a little place called Uranium City,Sask,Canada to run ALL the nuclear plants needed for the WORLD,if only we were allowed to build them!

  101. Mr. Fuller,
    I respect many of the points you make, but like all of us your crystal ball is cloudy, and we simply do not know what the future will bring. I am puzzled why you seem to almost ignore nuclear power? I have done the math before, and if I remember correctly, there is enough Thorium alone to supply even the most energy comsuming society with electric power for many thousands of years. Thorium reactors are safe from runaway reactions, consume old nuclear bomb materials (U235 and/or plutonium), and the technology is here NOW. Fourth generation Uranium reactors are also very attractive. This does not even consider that many top scientists believe fusion power is only a few decades away at most. Where is the problem with running out of energy?

  102. This post and comments sucks. Who is GM? Why is he allowed to take over? Why do too many commenters bother to acknowledge or rebut him?

  103. This is why all that trouble with CO2:
    Mauna Loa has erupted 39 times since 1832….just to keep fools believing CO2, measured IN MAUNA LOA, it is increasing because of YOU.
    Do YOU still believe that TALE?
    Things, as told by “The Group of Rome”, to Al Baby, is like this: The only way to distribute wealth is to make believe to the people of the biggest economy of the world to live poorer lives, which means not to spend that “dirty and sinful” energy.
    However, most probably, they have also cheated Al Baby (which it is not surprising). The real issue it is the total control of the world and all its resources by a very small number of people.

  104. Renewable is dumb word.
    You cannot renew the Sun. It is just there. Except at night.
    Can’t renew the wind, but you can mess it up, with giant machines that are not renewable.
    You can grow food for fuel but it’s a very bad idea.
    Fossil fuels ARE renewable, given enough time or pressure.
    Peak oil was I believe predicted for 1978 and didn’t happen. There is more now than then.
    So forget “renewable”.
    The answer is …Space.
    Lots of Nickel in space for batteries.
    Raw materials aplenty.
    http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/080213-titan-oil.html
    We have already landed an automated spacecraft on Titan.
    Large scale inflatable spacecraft have been tested successfully.
    Only one technical hurdle remains. The Space Elevator. ( to return the gas to Earth)
    Laugh at me now, but even if we go real full nuclear, you’re still going to want to cook a hot dog .
    PS it is a big universe, there are no limits to growth unless you think small.

  105. GM says: September 1, 2010 at 9:29 am
    Mr Lynn said on Global Energy Use in the 21st Century
    September 1, 2010 at 6:15 am
    If you haven’t heard any rebuttals (as if the claim that the planet has infinite resources needs some sort of rebuttal) that’s because you have either:
    1) you have lived all your life in the cave of free market ideology
    2.) you have managed the impossible feat of learning how to write/type without ever learning how to read
    3) you have never learned basic arithmetics
    4) you are in dire need of mental hospitalization
    —————————————————————————–
    GM. I have read all your posts here and apart from noticing that you are extremely rude to other correspondents (which seems to be your main goal) you are also quite negative. You offer nothing.
    Get a life.
    Doug

  106. Let’s look at oil for one thing. A Chevy Volt now gets 40 miles per charge. Is a 2x increase in battery capacity per decade a reasonable assumption? If so, then by 2050 we will 16x or 640 miles per charge. Anyone think that might just reduce our oil consumption a tad bit? And this assumes no other improvements.
    That would mean almost all the current personal transportation would be removed from oil and placed on the grid. What’s left would probably also improve from hybrid technology improvements. And, let’s not forget about algae bio-diesel that could potentially remove the need for any *drilled* oil once the demand is reduced sufficiently.
    This is the kind of technology advancements that critically thinking deficient folks like GM never consider. To them the world will never change.
    I won’t even start on the potential for nuclear. I don’t want GM’s head to explode.

  107. The Nuclear technology is just starting to move to a production line type industry with manufacturer replaced power modules, when that happens there will be an explosion in production with a corresponding massive price drop.

    See here for an example of such move.

  108. GM says:
    September 1, 2010 at 9:29 am
    If you haven’t heard any rebuttals (as if the claim that the planet has infinite resources needs some sort of rebuttal) that’s because you have either:
    1) you have lived all your life in the cave of free market ideology
    2.) you have managed the impossible feat of learning how to write/type without ever learning how to read
    3) you have never learned basic arithmetics
    4) you are in dire need of mental hospitalization

    That’s a rebuttal?
    As someone pointed out above, the claim is not that “the planet has infinite resources ,” but rather that coupled with the mind of man the Earth’s resources are effectively inexhaustible. We are constantly finding new pools of oil under land and sea, but if one day we do run out (and if Thomas Gold is wrong about the Earth’s mantle creating more all the time), we can make it from coal, as the Germans did during WWII, or from trash (as Plasco is doing), or grow it from algae or bioengineered plants.
    But that’s just oil. What else? Coal? There are hundreds of years worth in the ground. Natural gas? We discovering so much in shales that there’s a glut of it coming. Minerals? Ever hear of recycling? Apart from our deep-space vehicles, not one atom of them has left the Earth, and the oceans are a practically inexhaustible source of elements like uranium and manganese.
    And, as Jeremy says (September 1, 2010 at 8:09 am),

    The answer has always been space exploration. There’s incalculable amounts of resources off-planet and we know how to survive off-planet, yet instead of spending $30-50 billion a year to have a real space program, we spend $Trillions on propping up our housing values by purchasing public debt. . .

    Read John S. Lewis’s Mining The Sky: Untold Riches From The Asteroids, Comets, And Planets. The Moon and the Asteroids are just waiting for us to develop cheaper ways of getting out of Earth’s gravity well (and if we needed more methane than bioengineered plants could make, there’s plenty of it on Titan). Quite literally, the sky’s the limit.
    Take your head out of the Ludditic sand, GM, stop with the insults, and look at what your fellow men are truly capable of.
    /Mr Lynn

  109. Richard M said on Global Energy Use in the 21st Century
    September 1, 2010 at 12:40 pm
    Let’s look at oil for one thing. A Chevy Volt now gets 40 miles per charge. Is a 2x increase in battery capacity per decade a reasonable assumption? If so, then by 2050 we will 16x or 640 miles per charge. Anyone think that might just reduce our oil consumption a tad bit? And this assumes no other improvements.

    Batteries have been around for 2 centuries. How much improvement has occurred over that period? It is completely unjustified, and extremely foolish to posit that a technofix will happen and bail us out just because, well, something has to bail us out as nothing can ever go wrong. Newsflash – there is nothing that guarantees that a technofix will be available. Nothing. So the only rational thing to do is to operate under the assumption that no technofix will be available, and if a breakthrough happens, great, but if it doesn’t we need to be ready because otherwise it will be a disaster.
    And BTW, a 16x increase in battery capacity is hardly going to solve the sustainability crisis, as this only a very small aspect of it.

    This is the kind of technology advancements that critically thinking deficient folks like GM never consider. To them the world will never change.

    A very convenient fallacy is that people who warn about the Limits to Growth are some sort of Neo-Luddites who are against technology. Where this assertion comes from is beyond my ability to understand without assuming some very bad things about the mental abilities/hidden motivation of the people it comes from, as the people who warn about the Limits to Growth tend to come from highly technical backgrounds. As opposed to the people who believe that technology will always bail us out, who tend to come from economics backgrounds.
    Technology is a very good thing. Blind reliance on its ability to solve all problems (which it doesn’t have) is a very bad thing

    I won’t even start on the potential for nuclear. I don’t want GM’s head to explode.

    It is a safe bet that I am much better informed on the topic than you are

  110. tmtisfree says:
    September 1, 2010 at 12:44 pm
    @Ben D.
    A sensible comment, thanks.
    GW can begin here.

    Julian Simon was a person who should have never been let out of the straight jacket and allowed anywhere close to a keyboard. The same goes for everyone who believes his writings, which are the equivalent to claiming that if you jump from the 88th floor of a skyscraper, nothing bad will happen to you because by the time you reach the ground you will have learned how to fly. And that’s a very precise analogy.

  111. GM says:
    September 1, 2010 at 5:26 am
    And did I mention that natural gas is a non-renewable resource?
    ___________________________________________________
    Actually maybe it’s not. According to David Suzuki, you can inject CO2 into iron rich porous stone deposits with iron reducing bacteria and get methane as a resultant product. He hates the idea since methane is a more potent GHG than CO2 … but we have been using coal bed methane for years. So there you go, CO2 may be a reuseable resource … just add methanogens, produce methane, burn it, get more CO2 and do it over again. Other sources refer to Methanogenic bacteria and don’t mention the need for iron but symbiosis with other organisms.

  112. Mr Lynn says:
    As someone pointed out above, the claim is not that “the planet has infinite resources ,” but rather that coupled with the mind of man the Earth’s resources are effectively inexhaustible. We are constantly finding new pools of oil under land and sea, but if one day we do run out (and if Thomas Gold is wrong about the Earth’s mantle creating more all the time), we can make it from coal, as the Germans did during WWII, or from trash (as Plasco is doing), or grow it from algae or bioengineered plants.

    OK, tell how can one not use sharp language when faced with lunacy like this??? Each year we are using 5 times the oil we are consuming, and it is getting worse and worse every year. Yes, we are finding oil, but we are replacing less than 20% of what we consume. Is your brain capable of understanding this? Can you even work with numbers?? I have hard time believing it.
    How could you ever say that “Oh, no problem, oil is constantly generated in the mantle” when first, that’s not what the science said, and second, the experience of hundreds and thousands of depleted and abandoned oil wells and oil fields all over the world says that even if it was, the rate at which this is happening is hardly enough to keep us going??? Does that fact that the US peaked 40 years ago and is now producing half of what it was producing back then, at much lower EROEI tell you something???
    Are you capable of understanding such things as energy flow from the sun, conversion efficiency by photosynthesis, nutrient cycles etc.? If you are not, you have absolutely no right to even talk about biofuels as a solution, and neither does anyone else who doesn’t/is not willing to understand these really very simple things

    But that’s just oil. What else? Coal? There are hundreds of years worth in the ground

    Again, you pulled these numbers out of???

    Natural gas? We discovering so much in shales that there’s a glut of it coming.

    Once again, you have zero clue what you are talking about. Shale gas has so many issues, from EROEI, through severs ground water contamination, to, finally, the steepest decline rates ever seen (most wells are abandoned in just a few years). It’s not a solution, and what gas provides right now is hardly the only problem

    Minerals? Ever hear of recycling? Apart from our deep-space vehicles, not one atom of them has left the Earth, and the oceans are a practically inexhaustible source of elements like uranium and manganese.

    Ever heard of entropy? Apparently not.

    The answer has always been space exploration. There’s incalculable amounts of resources off-planet and we know how to survive off-planet, yet instead of spending $30-50 billion a year to have a real space program, we spend $Trillions on propping up our housing values by purchasing public debt. .
    Read John S. Lewis’s Mining The Sky: Untold Riches From The Asteroids, Comets, And Planets. The Moon and the Asteroids are just waiting for us to develop cheaper ways of getting out of Earth’s gravity well (and if we needed more methane than bioengineered plants could make, there’s plenty of it on Titan). Quite literally, the sky’s the limit..

    Again, you have to be absolutely out of your mind to claim such things. We can’t even send a man to Mars, and we are due for global societal collapse in the next few decades, yet you are claiming that we will mine other planets????????? By now I know that basic reasoning, arithmetics, physics, and mental sanity aren’t your strong points, but I will still encourage you to do the math of how much energy it will require to go to Titan, and transport the methane from there to here (hint: it is a hundreds of times more than the energy contained in that methane). Simply idiotic

    Take your head out of the Ludditic sand, GM, stop with the insults, and look at what your fellow men are truly capable of.

    Insults that are well deserved are insults only in the eyes of those who receive them, because usually they also suffer from a severe case of the Dunning-Kruger effect. For the people who can actually see the reality, those “insults” may actually be rather accurate descriptions of the situation

  113. I am a very firm believer in the energy production route to follow is nuclear. The Chinese recognised this a long time ago. When the French company Framatome built the first Chinese reactor at Daya Bay in 1993 (with technical assistance from Hong Kong-based China Light and Power) the biggest problem on site was the crowds of Chinese technicians and engineers forever getting in the way while they looked and learned. The looking and learning continues, China soon will not have to purchase reactors, they will build their own, and they will be world-class.
    One point which nags me is the computation of population growth. I presume that this entails looking at previous growth records and present birth rates. Has anyone thought of putting death rates into this equation?
    From personal experience I can vouch for the fact that in 2000 far more people were dying at much younger ages in Zambia that at any time in the previous 20 years I’d lived there. In Ndola, a Copperbelt town, the municipality extended their cemetery by 2.5 hectares, the clearance of the land was announced when I had just returned. When I left Zambia six weeks later, Ndola Municipality announced that the cemetery was full and that no more internments would be accepted until they could afford to clear more land. Simple observations indicated that the townships where most of the urban working class live, were nowhere near as crowded as they were ten years before. The squatter townships around every urban area had either ceased expanding or were declining in size, with swathes of derelict huts visible.
    Zambia’s urban population was visibly decreasing. Why? The principal cause was AIDS, colloquially known as ‘slow puncture’; the next cause of death was malaria (thanks USA for banning DDT); and the third in line for fatalities was the complete inability of hospitals to provide even the most rudimentary forms of medical care. Life expectancy is 38 years in Zambia. It is only 31 years in Swaziland (in the USA life expectancy at birth is 78 years). (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy).
    Does this level of mortality, which is prevalent throughout the sub-Saharan continent, figure in anyone’s computations to do with energy consumption, food consumption or any other “computation” involving population figures and the purported growth thereof?

  114. As someone pointed out above, the claim is not that “the planet has infinite resources ,” but rather that coupled with the mind of man the Earth’s resources are effectively inexhaustible. We are constantly finding new pools of oil under land and sea, but if one day we do run out (and if Thomas Gold is wrong about the Earth’s mantle creating more all the time), we can make it from coal, as the Germans did during WWII, or from trash (as Plasco is doing), or grow it from algae or bioengineered plants.

    The planet does NOT have infinite resources, per se. It is, however, a closed system — practically everything that was here, is still here. It cycles. CO2 fixed by plants/marine life, to limestone, subduction happens, volcanoes spew out CO2. Rinse, lather, repeat.
    The question is how long is it in a useful state and how much?
    We are finding new, useful reserves frequently. Some of them more useful than others as costs to recover them are still prohibitive. But they are there.
    Personally, I’m for the nuclear power option. It’s clean and cheap. Handled correctly, very safe and low on emissions.
    I’m 100% behind a clean, green world. Just not at the expense of killing civilization to get it.

  115. Good post, Thomas, but you forgot to mention Africa, particularly black Africa. It appears that, in order to save the planet, African nations must cease developing and starve to death for lack of electrical energy and technolog in general.
    Back here in Blighty, less than one pence worth of electricity from windmills adds 18 pence to our bills, and it’s still early days!

  116. James Sexton says:
    September 1, 2010 at 10:28 am
    We’re getting a much better “bang for our buck” with fossil fuel subsidies in terms of production, retail and wholesale cost. In other words, it is fallacy to pour more money down a more costly, less reliable, inefficient source of energy. Again, I’m not much on subsidizing private energy industry of any kind, but if you ask me, we’re spending way too much on the renewables for the results we’re getting.
    You say, “Fossil fuel industries are already heavily subsidised. Removing these subsidies, would at least level the playing field to allow renewables to compete on a fairer footing…IMHO.”
    The renewable energy market is getting almost 30% of the subsidies while producing, 13% of the energy, and that’s with traditional hydro, which I don’t believe is receiving the renewable subsidy. Without hydro, they are producing about 4.5%. Nice, we’re paying so companies can charge us more for electricity.
    I’d say renewables wouldn’t even exist without the significant subsidies they get. But, that’s just my opinion, too.”
    The current subsidy to the fossil fuel industry comes after generations of publicly subsidised investment in technology and infrastructures, that is why the bang for your buck is relatively cheap. These companise now represent some of the profitable and powerful enterprises in the business world.
    Renewable energies need investment to kick start the technology. Efficiency will soon improve and, as the raw resources are not finite, the future outlook for the public investment is likely diminish with time rather than increase as is case for many sources of fossil fuel.
    All this in the context of the likely external costs of fossil fuels.
    If anyone believes that global warming is at least a risk, then at the very least, let the fossil fuel industry pay for the right to pollute from it’s own purse.

  117. GM says: September 1, 2010 at 9:23 am
    Combined with fossil fuels non-renewability, this means is that we are in even greater need of reduction of population and consumption.

    Using your and my tax dollars to help the poor afford electricity that comes from natural gas, nuclear and other cleaner solutions, so they can afford to buy our video games and see our movies.
    If the US dollar wasn’t the world’s reserve currency, this entire thread would already be a moot point. Almost 50% of the US population isn’t employed for various reasons, and don’t pay any income tax. Some will be able to survive on unearned income for a time. We are almost to the end of our ability to spend other peoples’ money. There will be a time in the very near future where G.M.’s desires above will come to fruition.
    At that time, Tom Fuller and G.M., drop us a note and let us know how the foolish are handling the fiat money, help the non-working poor, Obamanated socialist utopia.

  118. After all is said and done WHAT IF nuclear fusion becomes a practical reality? New discoveries, processes and inventions in energy are being made gradually over time.

    “In 1894, the Times of London estimated that by 1950 every street in the city would be buried nine feet deep in horse manure. One New York prognosticator of the 1890s concluded that by 1930 the horse droppings would rise to Manhattan’s third-story
    windows.”
    Source – Pdf

    See also The Freeman
    We really just don’t know how the energy forecasts will pan out in 40 years.

  119. There is a beautiful paper on many of the concepts being talked about here. I have pasted the reference and abstract here. The focus of this paper is that the concept of finite resources (peak oil) is based on the unrealistic case that things in the future will be as they are now, and that energy resources consist in a bubble outside of the larger economy. This is of course incorrect. Give the abstract a quick read, and I highly recommend that anyone interested read the paper.
    MY EDUCATION IN MINERAL (ESPECIALLY OIL) ECONOMICS
    Annual Review of Energy and the Environment
    Vol. 22: 13-46 (Volume publication date November 1997)
    M. A. Adelman
    Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139
    The crude oil and natural gas markets have a long colorful history. To understand them, one needs some economic theory. The dominant view, of a fixed mineral stock, implies that a unit produced today means one less in the future. As mankind approaches the limit, it must exert ever more effort per unit recovered. This concept is false, whether stated as common sense or as elegant theory. Under competition, the price results from endless struggle between depletion and increasing knowledge. But sellers may try to control the market in order to offer less and charge more. The political results may feed back upon market behavior. These factors—depletion, knowledge, monopoly, and politics—must be analyzed separately before being put together to capture a slice of a changing history.

  120. come on GM … lets have some more peak oil/coal/uranium comments … if you are going to be a moron you should go full moron …

  121. 4 said on Global Energy Use in the 21st Century
    September 1, 2010 at 1:40 pm
    The crude oil and natural gas markets have a long colorful history. To understand them, one needs some economic theory. The dominant view, of a fixed mineral stock, implies that a unit produced today means one less in the future. This concept is false, whether stated as common sense or as elegant theory.

    Due to that inconvenient principle, called the law of conservation of energy and matter, the only way it can be false is if there was another unit of mineral stock created for every unit we use up. Which is not the case. Therefore you are talking BS

  122. James Allison said
    September 1, 2010 at 11:31 am
    Smokey said
    “Human ingenuity, guided by the free market [as one type of energy becomes too expensive, other types will replace it] will provide plenty of energy.”
    Question for GM -when in the world’s history did this not happen?

    Every time. Apparently we have to add history to the long list of things the cornucopians are completely ignorant of. If human ingenuity always comes to the rescue there would not have been any civilization collapsed due to environmental reasons. Yet, history is full of such examples. Eastern Islanders were smart enough to find a way to erect those huge statues (something that it took a long time to Europeans to figure out how it had been done, and only after the remaining islanders showed it to them). But it didn’t help them to prevent their ecological overshoot

  123. Janice said
    September 1, 2010 at 11:27 am
    Some hydrocarbons are abundant in the solar system. Lakes of liquid methane and ethane have been found on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, confirmed by the Cassini-Huygens Mission. I suspect that before we ever come close to using up our supplies of hydrocarbons and metals, we will be mining various moons and the asteroid belt for the abundant materials that are there.

    Another one…
    Once again, what would it take for people to figure out that if it will take many times the energy contained in a hydrocarbon to bring it from Titan to the Earth, it makes absolutely no sense to do that?

  124. GM says:
    September 1, 2010 at 5:50 am
    It is the same thing with resources – it is not a wild guess that resources will eventually run out, it follows from the basic nature of reality and the laws of physics. How exactly they will run out is a more complicated question, but we have a pretty good idea based on historical data

    If the following is correct then it can only get “more complicated” over time.
    Geochemist Says Oil Fields May Be Refilled Naturally
    Sustainable oil?
    Oil and Gas Discoveries
    Surprise discovery off coast of Brazil may confound the oil and gas doom-mongers
    [Carioca field]
    Massive oil field discovery in North Sea

  125. It seems my post got lost, so I will try to recreate it.
    [no, I trashed it, and will continue to do so on these tangential ideas ~ ctm]

  126. It seems my post got lost, so I will try to recreate it.
    Nuclear Energy is the best bet see WUWT Tips and Notes.
    Biofuel is a waste of fossil fuel and results in food riots and in record profits for Monsanto, Cargill and the other dozen or so transnationals. click
    Wind power is a Scam
    POPULATION:
    The maintenance level for the population is a birth rate of 2.1%
    The USA has a birth rate of 1.3% click
    France 1.3%
    UK – 1.1%;
    Canada – 1.0%;
    Germany – 0.8%;
    Switzerland – 0.9%;
    Greece – 0.9%
    Georgia – 1.0%;
    China – 1.4%;
    Paraguay – 2.8%;
    Niger – 5.2%;
    Cambodia – 2.5%;
    Hong Kong – 0.7%
    57% or 129 of the 224 countries are below the 2.1% benchmark. click Those above 2.1% are mostly in Africa.
    The Rockefeller Foundation has funded vaccines implicated in sterilizing women: Covert Sterilization
    “Between 1963 and 1965 more than 400, 000 Colombian women were sterilized in a program funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. Dr. Louis Hellman, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs in the PHS, presented statistics confirming that 150,000 low income people were sterilized in the U.S. from federal grants. “
    A Look at the Indian Health Service Policy of Sterilization, 1972-1976 by Charles R. England
    “In 1975 alone, some 25,000 Native American women were permanently sterilized–many after being coerced, misinformed, or threatened. One former IHS nurse reported the use of tubal ligation on “uncooperative” or “alcoholic” women into the 1990s.” Broken Treaties, Empty Promises: An Introduction to Native American Women’s Reproductive Health Issues by Jay Heavner
    The USDA has funded spermicidal GMO corn to sterilize men
    “Epicyte, in 2001 announced the development of genetically engineered corn which contained a spermicide which made the semen of men who ate it sterile. At the time Epicyte had a joint venture agreement to spread its technology with DuPont and Syngenta, two of the sponsors of the Svalbard Doomsday Seed Vault. Epicyte was since acquired by a North Carolina biotech company. Astonishing to learn was that Epicyte had developed its spermicidal GMO corn with research funds from the US Department of Agriculture, the same USDA which, despite worldwide opposition, continued to finance the development of Terminator technology, now held by Monsanto.
    In the 1990’s the UN’s World Health Organization launched a campaign to vaccinate millions of women in Nicaragua, Mexico and the Philippines between the ages of 15 and 45, allegedly against Tetanus, a sickness arising from such things as stepping on a rusty nail. The vaccine was not given to men or boys, despite the fact they are presumably equally liable to step on rusty nails as women.
    Because of that curious anomaly, Comite Pro Vida de Mexico, a Roman Catholic lay organization became suspicious and had vaccine samples tested. The tests revealed that the Tetanus vaccine being spread by the WHO only to women of child-bearing age contained human Chorionic Gonadotrophin or hCG, a natural hormone which when combined with a tetanus toxoid carrier stimulated antibodies rendering a woman incapable of maintaining a pregnancy. None of the women vaccinated were told.
    It later came out that the Rockefeller Foundation along with the Rockefeller’s Population Council, the World Bank (home to CGIAR), and the United States’ National Institutes of Health had been involved in a 20-year-long project begun in 1972 to develop the concealed abortion vaccine with a tetanus carrier for WHO. In addition, the Government of Norway, the host to the Svalbard Doomsday Seed Vault, donated $41 million to develop the special abortive Tetanus vaccine…”
    click
    I wish the people who write articles would do a little research.

  127. GM says: September 1, 2010 at 1:19 pm
    Again, you have to be absolutely out of your mind to claim such things. We can’t even send a man to Mars, and we are due for global societal collapse in the next few decades, yet you are claiming that we will mine other planets????????? By now I know that basic reasoning, arithmetics, physics, and mental sanity aren’t your strong points, but I will still encourage you to do the math of how much energy it will require to go to Titan, and transport the methane from there to here (hint: it is a hundreds of times more than the energy contained in that methane). Simply idiotic

    You earn no points, and please begone Mr Troll.
    Yes, we can send men to Mars. The reason we haven’t yet is that we simply stopped trying. We knew less about sending men to the moon in 1960 than we knew about sending men to Mars in 1995, yet we haven’t done it. We haven’t done it because instead of NASA’s budget increasing after Apollo, it was decreased. It’s current level is nearly 0.5% of the federal budget. Read that again. Americans spend ~0.5% of their entire federal budget on the future of humanity. That’s like having children as fast as a multi-wived bigamist in Utah while throwing a few quarters at the kids each day for food. It is *pathetic* and you want to hold up a huge banner that says, “oh, we can’t do this, we wont ever do this.” without even acknowledging how little we’ve tried.
    Please stop trolling, it’s clear you haven’t fully studied everything you’re commenting on.

  128. Jimbo said
    September 1, 2010 at 2:04 pm
    GM says:
    September 1, 2010 at 5:50 am
    It is the same thing with resources – it is not a wild guess that resources will eventually run out, it follows from the basic nature of reality and the laws of physics. How exactly they will run out is a more complicated question, but we have a pretty good idea based on historical data
    If the following is correct then it can only get “more complicated” over time.
    Geochemist Says Oil Fields May Be Refilled Naturally
    Sustainable oil?
    Oil and Gas Discoveries
    Surprise discovery off coast of Brazil may confound the oil and gas doom-mongers
    [Carioca field]
    Massive oil field discovery in North Sea

    Yet another one…
    Ever heard of depletion? If not, read about it.
    Also, remember the number 30 billion barrels a year and keep it in mind every time you hear about a “giant discovery” (at 1/10th the volume of the glorious Middle East fields) somewhere…

  129. GM says:
    September 1, 2010 at 5:50 am
    “It is the same thing with resources – it is not a wild guess that resources will eventually run out, it follows from the basic nature of reality and the laws of physics. How exactly they will run out is a more complicated question, but we have a pretty good idea based on historical data.”
    Wrong!
    Resources never run out, rather the price increases until demand no longer exists.
    The reason for this apparent paradox is that humans are not stupid. History shows man is highly intelligent and new ways will be found to provide the cheap energy we need. The % of geniuses amongst homo sapiens is slowly increasing over time, along with a slow general increase in intelligence. The larger the population of our planet becomes, so too does the absolute number of geniuses. Look at the way technology has developed in the last 30 years, then imagine – if you can – what we will be capable of by 2040.
    History shows that trying to predict the future based on what has happened in the past is foolishness of the highest magnitude. Mankind does not make progress in a linear fashion, instead it moves forwards in a series of leaps and bounds, usually driven be one persons intuitive flash of brilliance. For humanity to try to eke out an existence by trying to ration a supply of dwindling resources would be a recipe for disaster and only by retaining a free market will mankind continue to prosper.

  130. I’m with you GM.
    Peakoil has already occured (juli 2008)
    Peak-coal and peak-gas wil occur within the decade.
    Read all about in the 35 year old book “Limits to Growth”.
    The financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 is at least partly the result of oil shortage (and the rising oil price). If the warmists won’t accept that, fine. They can pump up their models some more and live happily ever after.
    The end of growth and the end of fossil fuels will happen, for sure.

  131. Gail Combs
    POPULATION:
    The maintenance level for the population is a birth rate of 2.1%
    The USA has a birth rate of 1.3% click
    France 1.3%
    UK – 1.1%;
    Canada – 1.0%;
    Germany – 0.8%;
    Switzerland – 0.9%;
    Greece – 0.9%
    Georgia – 1.0%;
    China – 1.4%;
    Paraguay – 2.8%;
    Niger – 5.2%;
    Cambodia – 2.5%;
    Hong Kong – 0.7%

    How much credibility does a person who doesn’t know the difference between percentages and total fertility rate have on issues of population???

  132. Jeremy said on
    GM says: September 1, 2010 at 1:19 pm
    Again, you have to be absolutely out of your mind to claim such things. We can’t even send a man to Mars, and we are due for global societal collapse in the next few decades, yet you are claiming that we will mine other planets????????? By now I know that basic reasoning, arithmetics, physics, and mental sanity aren’t your strong points, but I will still encourage you to do the math of how much energy it will require to go to Titan, and transport the methane from there to here (hint: it is a hundreds of times more than the energy contained in that methane). Simply idiotic
    You earn no points, and please begone Mr Troll.
    Yes, we can send men to Mars. The reason we haven’t yet is that we simply stopped trying. We knew less about sending men to the moon in 1960 than we knew about sending men to Mars in 1995, yet we haven’t done it. We haven’t done it because instead of NASA’s budget increasing after Apollo, it was decreased. It’s current level is nearly 0.5% of the federal budget. Read that again. Americans spend ~0.5% of their entire federal budget on the future of humanity. That’s like having children as fast as a multi-wived bigamist in Utah while throwing a few quarters at the kids each day for food. It is *pathetic* and you want to hold up a huge banner that says, “oh, we can’t do this, we wont ever do this.” without even acknowledging how little we’ve tried.
    Please stop trolling, it’s clear you haven’t fully studied everything you’re commenting on.

    Since you didn’t deny that it makes absolutely no energetic sense to mine hydrocarbons on other planets, it follows that:
    1) you agree with it, in which case you wouldn’t have posted what you posted
    2) therefore you don’t agree with it, in which the one who doesn’t belong to absolutely any kind of discussion is you

  133. GM
    What do you believe to be;
    a) A viable world population size?
    b) A consumption level you deem acceptable? The consumption of Chad? That of the US? Somewhere in between? f so which country currently has that level so others may judge if that is something they would be prepared to aim for. It inevitably means some would level down whilst others would level up
    tonyb

  134. GM says: September 1, 2010 at 1:19 pm
    Each year we are using 5 times the oil we are consuming, and it is getting worse and worse every year. —-Etc –Etc ad infinitum, ad nauseum.
    ————————————————————————————-
    GM. You are really no different from the man with the placard that said repent you sinners –the end of the world is nigh.
    I have to say however that the placard man was much more succinct. The world will go on more or less with or without man one way or another. What is your point? Do you want us to return to the cave? Do you want us to reduce our numbers? If so whose numbers should be curtailed? If it is one of these, I always think it is a good idea to lead by example.
    You seem to think that you can see into the future. You can of course, make all sorts of projections as to what might happen. We can all do that – we are all (well most of us – perhaps not in your case?) invariably wrong. You seem to overlook mankind’s ability to adapt and also our inventiveness which seems to be an inbuilt evolutionary phenomenon. Well I suppose we need hair shirts like you to amuse us but really Nostradamus was more interesting.

  135. GM,
    “If you had actually read what those projections are instead of believing what the propaganda machine has been feeding you, you would not be laughing.”
    Most of us come to this site to learn, not laugh at others. If you have evidence of any Limit to Growth prediction from 1972 becoming reality, please share with us.

  136. G.M. says
    Please provide some links for any of the juvenile claims you have made. Here are just a few relatively recent discoveries I found in 15 minutes disputing your beliefs.
    http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2010/3010/ 1.32 trillion barrels in Piceance basin, CO. Strip mineable. EPA won’t let us get to it.
    Here’s the Bakken field amount in North Dakota:
    http://geology.com/usgs/bakken-formation/bakken-formation-assessment-lg.gif
    Google Brazil offshore oil discovery.
    Don’t just spew unsupported dogma, give us references or leave.

  137. RE: GM
    Learned long ago not to waste my time, breath or computer on people with closed minds, ie liberals and greenies. They are proof that a little education is a dangerous thing. And don’t forget that anyone can obtain a degree in any discipline, nowdays, if they have the time and money thanks to our liberal educational system.

  138. Gail Combs says:
    September 1, 2010 at 2:09 pm
    “The maintenance level for the population is a birth rate of 2.1%
    The USA has a birth rate of 1.3% click”
    You are confusing birth rate with fertility rate.
    A birth rate(births per 1,000 population) of 1.3% with a life expectancy of 76 years = 100% replacement rate.
    The fertility rate of 2.1 children per female of child bearings years is considered also considered ‘replacement’.

  139. Tim Clark said
    September 1, 2010 at 2:36 pm
    Please provide some links for any of the juvenile claims you have made. Here are just a few relatively recent discoveries I found in 15 minutes disputing your beliefs.
    http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2010/3010/ 1.32 trillion barrels in Piceance basin, CO. Strip mineable. EPA won’t let us get to it.
    Here’s the Bakken field amount in North Dakota:
    http://geology.com/usgs/bakken-formation/bakken-formation-assessment-lg.gif
    Google Brazil offshore oil discovery.
    Don’t just spew unsupported dogma, give us references or leave.

    Well, if you don’t know the basic difference between oil in place and reserves and if you have never heard of EROEI, then I can’t help you. But if that’s the case, which apparently it is, you shouldn’t be opening your mouth because it makes you look extremely silly.

  140. TonyB says:
    September 1, 2010 at 2:24 pm
    GM
    What do you believe to be;
    a) A viable world population size?
    b) A consumption level you deem acceptable? The consumption of Chad? That of the US? Somewhere in between? f so which country currently has that level so others may judge if that is something they would be prepared to aim for. It inevitably means some would level down whilst others would level up
    tonyb

    What we should be aiming at is maximizing the long-term survival chances of the species. This, BTW, very much includes things like space travel, but for those things to happen, a lot of time is needed for the necessary technologies to be developed, if it is at all physically possible (it may very well not be). But it is never going to happen if civilization collapse this century, because we are maybe hundreds or thousands of years away from such technologies (again, if they exist).
    So what are short-term (and by short-term, I mean this century) target should be is a number of people that’s safely within the carrying capacity of the planet (and that will allow the planet to recover from the last 300 years of human terror) and who all live a comfortable lifestyle, have high level of education, and are involved in collectively useful activities. Chad-level of consumption is most definitely not what the target is, in fact it is what we’re trying to avoid. But the long-term carrying capacity of the planet at a comfortable level of lifestyle, and close to 100% recycling, is probably below the 100 million, possibly much lower than 100 million. There are huge uncertainties to any such number, but given what’s at stake, if there is uncertainty, this means that the target should be safely within the lowest estimate

  141. Vince Causey says:
    September 1, 2010 at 2:30 pm
    GM,
    “If you had actually read what those projections are instead of believing what the propaganda machine has been feeding you, you would not be laughing.”
    Most of us come to this site to learn, not laugh at others. If you have evidence of any Limit to Growth prediction from 1972 becoming reality, please share with us.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=QRyQiINGW6oC&printsec=frontcover&dq=limits+to+growth+the+30-year+update&source=bl&ots=GncNbKaaiY&sig=dR2eIbJZO_fWnicW0QtSjZKUeGo&hl=en&ei=Fst-TMGFJZDksQO5tr31Cg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CD0Q6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q&f=false

  142. GM
    September 1, 2010 at 11:46 am
    As a long time retired EPA environmental research scientist, I worked closely with economists. Economics is the quantification of human behavior in costs and benefits. I dare say that I believe most economists have a better handle on the “climate science” than you. Study objectively Carlin’s web page http://www.carlineconomics.com.

  143. GM says: September 1, 2010 at 2:19 pm
    1) you agree with it, in which case you wouldn’t have posted what you posted
    2) therefore you don’t agree with it, in which the one who doesn’t belong to absolutely any kind of discussion is you

    Actually, I was waiting for an apology for calling someone who is an aerospace engineer an idiot for suggesting that mankind can go to Mars. I figure since you’re just trolling, I’ll be waiting a long time.

  144. “Once again, what would it take for people to figure out that if it will take many times the energy contained in a hydrocarbon to bring it from Titan to the Earth, it makes absolutely no sense to do that?”
    Well, my liddle luddite, it is part of an overall process. The more things you do
    in space the easier and cheaper it is to do.
    Plus
    http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/solarsystem/deepspace_propulsion_000816.html
    An inflatable bag of frozen hydrocarbons accompanied by its small propulison/pump craft ( unmanned) is perfect for this new low power engine.
    You just have to know what you are talking about ( And if I know it, ‘s fair common knowledge) and maybe cut back on the jerkiness.

  145. GM says: September 1, 2010 at 2:51 pm
    But the long-term carrying capacity of the planet at a comfortable level of lifestyle, and close to 100% recycling, is probably below the 100 million, possibly much lower than 100 million. There are huge uncertainties to any such number, but given what’s at stake, if there is uncertainty, this means that the target should be safely within the lowest estimate
    GM. Now I know you are out of your tree.
    Doug

  146. GM says:
    September 1, 2010 at 9:35 am
    ” So if oil has practically reached its all time production peak”
    Those who proclaim a resource will ‘run out’ have very little historical standing.
    For example, diamonds are mined more then 2 miles deep.
    All the ‘peak’ predictions are based on an extraction cost. If one is prepared to pay an unlimited price for extraction then for all intents and purposes the resource is unlimited.
    The reality is that humanity has always used up the ‘cheap stuff’ first and then found an alternative. I.E. Cutting down trees for firewood is pretty cheap if the trees happen to be in your backyard. But as soon as you need to truck the wood across town, tree’s are a pretty expensive way to stay warm.

  147. “So what are short-term (and by short-term, I mean this century) target should be is a number of people that’s safely within the carrying capacity of the planet (and that will allow the planet to recover from the last 300 years of human terror)”
    Admit it , you just don’t like people.
    Somebody sold you this bill of goods , and now you are peddling it but I think
    most of us here, ( count me in with Jeremy, Tenue, etc) know better than to give credence to this gloom and doom when it is obvious that it goes nowhere.

  148. GM says (September 1, 2010 at 11:19 am): “If you had actually read what those projections are instead of believing what the propaganda machine has been feeding you, you would not be laughing”
    I’ve read the projections (has GM?) and I’ve seen how far off they are, and that’s why I’m still laughing. BTW, I’ve noticed in GM’s abundant (inexhaustible?) contributions to this thread a total absence of hard numbers. This is wise, because as the Club of Rome discovered, specific predictions of doom are proved wrong all too soon.

  149. Jimash says:
    September 1, 2010 at 2:58 pm
    Do some calculations. Compare the amount of energy required just to overcome gravity with the amount of energy that could possibly be delivered from distant space. Our solar energy technology may not be cheap, but there are no delivery costs.

  150. Jeremy says:
    September 1, 2010 at 2:55 pm
    GM says: September 1, 2010 at 2:19 pm
    1) you agree with it, in which case you wouldn’t have posted what you posted
    2) therefore you don’t agree with it, in which the one who doesn’t belong to absolutely any kind of discussion is you
    Actually, I was waiting for an apology for calling someone who is an aerospace engineer an idiot for suggesting that mankind can go to Mars. I figure since you’re just trolling, I’ll be waiting a long time.

    It matters very little what your credentials are, what matters is what your posts reveal about your actual competence.

  151. Fred,
    As I have said it is part of a process.
    Once there is a presence in space of an industrial nature, there would naturaly be a fleet of space vehicles that would only need to escape the gravity of the Earth once, and could go and come back many times delivering their cargoes in orbit. With Ion engines
    and nuclear electric propulsion.
    Getting it to ground requires a fixed installation.
    http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2000/ast07sep_1/
    http://spaceelevatorconference.org/default.aspx
    Put that puppy up , get the ions propelling, and we are in business.

  152. GM – I believe that Vince asked for proof , not the author’s press release . As far as I could tell , it was nothing but opinion . Do you have any real links , or did you just read some book ?

  153. GM says:
    September 1, 2010 at 2:51 pm
    Your arrogance is hard to stand. Since you seem to believe, that this plante can only sustain 100 mil inhabitants:
    “But the long-term carrying capacity of the planet at a comfortable level of lifestyle, and close to 100% recycling, is probably below the 100 million, possibly much lower than 100 million. ”
    So you want death for roghly 5.9 billion people. Go ahead, be the first, let your word be followed by action – as has been recommended to you before: Say farewell to the planet and stop using up valuable resources.

  154. Kitefreak says:
    September 1, 2010 at 11:41 am
    “GDP will grow by about 3% per year between now and then–which is pretty much what it has been doing for quite a while”.
    “Is that normal then? Is that OK? I just confirmed using a spreadsheet that that is actually an exponential rate of growth, which is, by further thinking, unsustainable.
    I think a little economic truth is required.
    Remember that all those resouces have to come out of the earth at some point. It’s not a bottomless pit.
    Anyway, why do we all fall to our knees at the altar of GDP?”
    =========================================================
    Yes, that’s about right, on average of course. The reason why we fall to our knees at the altar of GDP is a follows——— It is simply a reflection of what we do to earn our keep. If GDP is negative, then that nation(GDP is usually referenced by nation) isn’t producing enough to sustain itself. That is a very base explanation, but I’ve gotta run, though I’ll pop back on in a bit if you need further explanation. But just remember, GDP is as necessary to sustainability as energy sources.

  155. There’s no doubt GM is a narcissistic troll. I’ve seen them many times. They make one unsubstantiated claim after another. He will get nowhere here because the folks here know how to think. Here’s a particular gem:
    So the only rational thing to do is to operate under the assumption that no technofix will be available
    There is only one way to describe that level of thinking … foolish. The perfect precautionary thinker. The reason intelligent people don’t think like that is they have seen and been successful by taking the exact opposite approach. Entrepreneurs are not ALL successful, but we can actually look at the statistics and determine what success rate we should see in the future. This is exactly what GM says is impossible and should be ignored.
    Of course, GM’s mind is made up and no facts will stop him from tilting at his own personal windmills.

  156. GM says:
    September 1, 2010 at 11:32 am
    I am sorry to say but my alma matter has produced a good number of idiots over the years in addition to the really large number of really smart and educated people.
    psssst….it’s alma mater, but I suppose that wouldn’t matter if you happened to be from the former group.

  157. Richard M said on Global Energy Use in the 21st Century
    September 1, 2010 at 3:48 pm
    In response to Anthony Watts on September 1, 2010 at 4:30 am:
    Guest Post by Thomas Fuller This is a great time to talk about energy use worldwide. Not because it’s topical, or politically important, or anything like that. It’s a great time because the math is easier now than ever before, and easier than it ever will be again. It’s similar to a time a […]
    There’s no doubt GM is a narcissistic troll. I’ve seen them many times. They make one unsubstantiated claim after another. He will get nowhere here because the folks here know how to think. Here’s a particular gem:
    So the only rational thing to do is to operate under the assumption that no technofix will be available
    There is only one way to describe that level of thinking … foolish. The perfect precautionary thinker. The reason intelligent people don’t think like that is they have seen and been successful by taking the exact opposite approach. Entrepreneurs are not ALL successful, but we can actually look at the statistics and determine what success rate we should see in the future. This is exactly what GM says is impossible and should be ignored.

    You are very seriously misrepresenting what I said, which doesn’t speak well of your intellectual honesty, but anyway, I will restate it:
    We should do 2 things that we aren’t doing right now:
    1. Invest all available resources into technology development
    2. Operate under the assumption that those efforts will most likely be futile and bring our numbers and consumption levels safely within the carrying capacity of the planet

  158. “1. Invest all available resources into technology development
    2. Operate under the assumption that those efforts will most likely be futile and bring our numbers and consumption levels safely within the carrying capacity of the planet”
    And then what, Genius ?
    You are one of those “people are killing the Earth” nuts.
    It IS nuts. You DO need help. Take a tip. Everything you know is wrong.

  159. Jimash says:
    September 1, 2010 at 4:12 pm
    And then what, Genius ?
    You are one of those “people are killing the Earth” nuts.
    It IS nuts. You DO need help. Take a tip. Everything you know is wrong.

    A person who doesn’t understand the concept of EROEI is definitely more competent than me, yeah…

  160. Oh you are competent. Just wrong.
    You are wrong about EROIE.
    You are wromng about technology.
    Wrong about the envirnment.
    And criminally wrong about populatiuon.
    Anyone who thinks that 100 million people or less is a necessary adjustment to the Human condition
    has a wire loose.
    Doo YOUR math. 100 million or less world wide WOULD be like living on a desert Isalnd with no hope of rescue, which appears to be your fear AND your ambiton. Reconcile that , genius.

  161. Thomas says:
    September 1, 2010 at 3:29 pm
    So you want death for roghly 5.9 billion people. Go ahead, be the first, let your word be followed by action – as has been recommended to you before: Say farewell to the planet and stop using up valuable resources.
    Uh, let me see, 6.8 billion minus 100 million equals 6.7 billion, not 5.9 billion. But that’s completely missing the point, because the ideas is to actually prevent excessive deaths. You can decrease population by two ways – increase death rate or reduce birth rate. Nobody is talking about the former, the former is the way nature will do it if we don’t and it is what we should be trying to avoid; the only way to do that is to drastically decrease birth rates.

  162. I believe our future energy problems will be solved, and probably by Engineers. They will build the systems needed. I’ve already read about very small reactors (neighborhood size) being in the certification process.
    http://cleantechnica.com/2008/11/09/mini-nuclear-power-plants-for-your-neighborhood-in-five-years/
    Fusion is also a great possibility, and I hope we reclaim the high ground (the moon), where deuterium is laying around in the dust.
    http://www.technologyreview.com/Energy/19296/
    I really don’t wish to disagree with any of the cosmopolitans, but America needs to get it’s own act together, prior to “Helping” the poor down-trodden masses.
    I think the economy could get a great boost, racing the Chinese to the moon.

  163. Tim Williams says:
    September 1, 2010 at 1:31 pm
    “If anyone believes that global warming is at least a risk, then at the very least, let the fossil fuel industry pay for the right to pollute from it’s own purse.”
    Tim, I have a few problems with that argument. First, just for clarity, I don’t believe there is a risk. And, more to the point, I don’t favor subsidies. But even if I did(on both counts), I’d have to ask why just target the fossil fuel industry? Aren’t they simply providing a demand? Let’s target the electricity industry, too. Aren’t the investor own utilities(distribution and transmission) as guilty as the generation companies? The automobile industry, too? What about the gas stations? And aren’t we really kidding ourselves to believe the solar and wind industry don’t emit CO2? You should check the emissions required to build a large wind generation plant. The fact is, there isn’t a single person on earth that isn’t responsible for CO2 emission. The proportional subsidy to to alternate energy is hands down much greater than the “fossil fuel” industry. Another issue, whether you worry about CO2 emissions or not, today, CO2 emissions is analogous prosperity and prosperity is analogous to a higher standard of living. In the future it may not be so, and probably won’t be, but for today, CO2 emissions are why we live longer, healthier, and more comfortable lives. The article stated, “Here in the U.S., our energy consumption per person has been declining for a while, now.” This is true. Currently, we are reaping the benefits of our lower energy consumption in terms of slowing of our productivity and thus our recession. Many of us didn’t see it right away because the GDP includes services(something with no intrinsic or tangible value) into its equation. In the end, though, I agree. Let’s do away with subsidies. I believe any company(fossil fuels included) should rise and fall on their own merits and get off my teat. I simply wasn’t built for the function.

  164. GM says:

    1) you have lived all your life in the cave of free market ideology
    2.) you have managed the impossible feat of learning how to write/type without ever learning how to read
    3) you have never learned basic arithmetics [sic]
    4) you are in dire need of mental hospitalization

    Obviously GM is clueless about the free market. Doesn’t his rant sound just like the ravings of the eco-wacko who was shot and killed today? GM continues:
    “Of course renewables can’t do the job, they are too diffuse. Combined with fossil fuels non-renewability, this means is that we are in even greater need of reduction of population and consumption.” Reduction of population, eh?
    GM also parrots the Luddite misconception that peak oil is once again upon us. Throughout the history of petroleum the Luddites have predicted the same thing — and they have always been 100% wrong, just as GM is:
    Predicted peak oil:
    – 1885, U.S. Geological Survey: “Little or no chance for oil in California.”
    
- 1891 U.S. Geological Survey: “Little or no chance for oil in Kansas and Texas”
    
- 1914, U.S. Bureau of Mines: Total future production limit of 5.7 billion barrels of oil, at most a 10-year supply remaining.
    
- 1939, Department of the Interior: Oil reserves in the United States to be exhausted in 13 years. 

    – 1951, Department of the Interior, Oil and Gas Division: Oil reserves in the United States to be exhausted in 13 years.
    Actual reserves, 2010:
    – 1.3 Trillion barrels of ‘proven’ oil reserves exist worldwide (EIA) 

    – 1.8 to 6 Trillion barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Oil-Shale Reserves (DOE)
    
- 986 Billion barrels of oil are estimated using Coal-to-liquids (CTL) conversion of U.S. Coal Reserves (DOE)
    
- 173 to 315 Billion (1.7-2.5 Trillion potential) barrels of oil are estimated in the Oil Sands of Alberta, Canada (Alberta Department of Energy)
    
- 100 Billion barrels of heavy oil are estimated in the U.S. (DOE)
    
- 90 Billion barrels of oil are estimated in the Arctic (USGS) 

    – 89 Billion barrels of immobile oil are estimated recoverable using CO2 injection in the U.S. (DOE) 

    – 86 Billion barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (MMS) 

    – 60 to 80 Billion barrels of oil are estimated in U.S. Tar Sands (DOE)
    
- 32 Billion barrels of oil are estimated in ANWR, NPRA and the Central North Slope in Alaska (USGS)
    
- 31.4 Billion barrels of oil are estimated in the East Greenland Rift Basins Province (USGS)
    
- 7.3 Billion barrels of oil are estimated in the West Greenland–East Canada Province (USGS)
    
- 4.3 Billion (167 Billion potential) barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Bakken shale formation in North Dakota and Montana (USGS)
    
- 3.65 Billion barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Devonian-Mississippian Bakken Formation (USGS)
    
- 1.6 Billion barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Eastern Great Basin Province (USGS)
    
- 1.3 Billion barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Permian Basin Province (USGS)
    
- 1.1 Billion barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Powder River Basin Province (USGS)
    
- 990 Million barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Portion of the Michigan Basin (USGS)
    
- 393 Million barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. San Joaquin Basin Province of California (USGS)
    
- 214 Million barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Illinois Basin (USGS)
    
- 172 Million barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Yukon Flats of East-Central Alaska (USGS)
    
- 131 Million barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Southwestern Wyoming Province (USGS)
    
- 109 Million barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Montana Thrust Belt Province (USGS)
    
- 104 Million barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Denver Basin Province (USGS)
    
- 98.5 Million barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Bend Arch-Fort Worth Basin Province (USGS)
    
- 94 Million barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Hanna, Laramie, Shirley Basins Province (USGS) 


    For Comparison:
    
- 260 Billion barrels of oil are estimated in Saudi Arabia (EIA)
    
- 80 Billion barrels of oil are estimated in Venezuela (EIA) 
    That does not include natural gas, which is more abundant in the U.S. than oil. The only impediment to satisfying U.S. energy needs with fossil fuels under the jurisdiction of the U.S. is the U.S. government.
    For example, the desolate, unpopulated ANWR holds over 10 billion barrels of easily recoverable oil under only 3.13 square miles of unproductive wasteland. Only the government stands in the way of weaning ourselves off of 10 billion barrels of imported oil — while constantly telling everyone that we must wean ourselves off of foreign oil.

  165. GM says:
    September 1, 2010 at 4:18 pm
    Man, I sure am glad to see you posting here. When I was reading that nut job’s manifesto I saw where he referenced Malthus. I thought, “GM!!!!! NO!!!! DON’T!!!!!” Whew, glad to see you’re still with us, my friend.

  166. @ Smokey:
    How many times do I have to point to people in this thread that there is a very significant difference between oil in place and recoverable reserves? Yes, the same kind of interent mythology gets thrown at me time and time again.
    This is what US oil production has looked historically:
    http://www.mbendi.com/pics/graphs/USA-Lower48.gif
    Exactly as predicted BTW. As I also pointed out already, the petroleum geologists tend to be the ones concerned about Peak Oil, the economists tend to be the ones thinking that when price goes up, oil will magically start flowing from shales as it did in Saud Arabia in the 1950s. It doesn’t work that way

  167. This is all a rather fascinating academic discussion that doesn’t even delve into the point that would be relevant. What makes people believe the processes that made the oil have quit working? We call them fossil fuels, but that’s only because of the carbon content. Oil isn’t a patch in the earth where all the dinosaurs went to die. And trees weren’t confined to the areas where oil is found today. Its ridiculous to believe so. There was, and surely still is a process that occurs to make the oil. Same for coal. We just don’t know what it is, yet.

  168. GM says: September 1, 2010 at 3:23 pm
    It matters very little what your credentials are, what matters is what your posts reveal about your actual competence.

    Oh indeed, you are quite right there. So, then in looking over all of your posts and seeing how you consistently presume no one else here has any experience/viewpoint worthy of consideration, [snip]

  169. James Sexton said
    September 1, 2010 at 5:20 pm
    This is all a rather fascinating academic discussion that doesn’t even delve into the point that would be relevant. What makes people believe the processes that made the oil have quit working? We call them fossil fuels, but that’s only because of the carbon content. Oil isn’t a patch in the earth where all the dinosaurs went to die. And trees weren’t confined to the areas where oil is found today. Its ridiculous to believe so. There was, and surely still is a process that occurs to make the oil. Same for coal. We just don’t know what it is, yet.

    We know very well how oil, gas and coal were formed. The vast majority of it was formed during severe oceanic anoxic events in the Mesozoic period and during the Paleogene. Ironically, the continuing and unprecedentedly fast ocean acidification we are causing will most likely result in another such episode soon, if there is any plankton left to rot of course…

  170. GM says:
    September 1, 2010 at 5:13 pm
    This is what US oil production has looked historically:
    http://www.mbendi.com/pics/graphs/USA-Lower48.gif
    Yeh, GM, no other reason for lower production other than we’re running out. GM, you’re smarter than that.
    I live in SE Kansas, a place not known for oil, yet we have a bit under us. I can point to wells that only pump when the price of crude hits $90/barrel. Others, I can point to have been shut down for environmental reasons. Others have been capped for reasons unknown, but what is known is that they were pumping just fine until they turned them off. Further, seeing we haven’t opened a new refinery in about 40 years, there is only so much oil we’re going to be able to pump and process here.
    My point is, U.S. oil production is altered by many different concerns other than availability. But, you knew that already.

  171. Jeremy says:
    September 1, 2010 at 5:25 pm
    GM says: September 1, 2010 at 3:23 pm
    It matters very little what your credentials are, what matters is what your posts reveal about your actual competence.
    Oh indeed, you are quite right there. So, then in looking over all of your posts and seeing how you consistently presume no one else here has any experience/viewpoint worthy of consideration,

    I have yet to see anyone bring up a point that hasn’t been thoroughly debunked countless times. There is a causal relationship between this unfortunate fact and the way the people responsible for it are seen by me

  172. GM seems to deliberately misunderstand. The problem is too much government, not the amount of oil, which as shown above would be more than sufficient to end all foreign oil imports, if the oil was simply allowed to be extracted. Only the government stands in the way of complete energy independence.
    As oil is consumed, the free market, without regulation of any kind, through competition brings about the desired result, as more cost-effective alternatives replace oil: transistors took over the market for tubes [valves]; kerosene replaced whale oil, etc.
    The free market is not a thing, it is a process that provides immense prosperity. Now a ravenous government is strangling the market. For example, the EPA is insatiable in its quest to regulate everything it can. Almost every other bureaucracy is attempting to expand, and the pay of the average public employee [federal, state, local, [including tax supported community colleges, colleges and universities] is half again as high for comparable civilian work, and benefits are more than double those in the private sector.
    The way GM denigrates the free market, I’d bet there’s more than a little public tax money in his paycheck, maybe 100%. ☹

  173. GM says: September 1, 2010 at 3:55 pm
    We should do 2 things that we aren’t doing right now:
    1. Invest all available resources into technology development
    2. Operate under the assumption that those efforts will most likely be futile and bring our numbers and consumption levels safely within the carrying capacity of the planet.
    —————————————————————————————
    GM Who exactly are we? Is it you, yourself and your shadow? the government of the country in which you reside? The people of the world? Who exactly will be the ones who bring our numbers and consumption levels to what you define as ‘safely within the carrying capacity of the planet’.
    I see in another post here at WUWT about a man named James Lee who says on his website ‘FIND SOLUTIONS FOR THEM TO STOP THEIR HUMAN GROWTH AND THE EXPORTATION OF THAT DISGUSTING FILTH! (The first world is feeding the population growth of the Third World and those human families are going to where the food is! They must stop procreating new humans looking for nonexistant jobs!)’ we see what can happen to people like you —-
    He was shot today for wanting to blow people up.
    GM baby take a long look at what you are saying.
    Doug

  174. Doug in Dunedin says:
    September 1, 2010 at 6:06 pm
    GM says: September 1, 2010 at 3:55 pm
    We should do 2 things that we aren’t doing right now:
    1. Invest all available resources into technology development
    2. Operate under the assumption that those efforts will most likely be futile and bring our numbers and consumption levels safely within the carrying capacity of the planet.
    —————————————————————————————
    GM Who exactly are we? Is it you, yourself and your shadow? the government of the country in which you reside? The people of the world? Who exactly will be the ones who bring our numbers and consumption levels to what you define as ‘safely within the carrying capacity of the planet’.

    “We” refers to the whole species.

    I see in another post here at WUWT about a man named James Lee who says on his website ‘FIND SOLUTIONS FOR THEM TO STOP THEIR HUMAN GROWTH AND THE EXPORTATION OF THAT DISGUSTING FILTH! (The first world is feeding the population growth of the Third World and those human families are going to where the food is! They must stop procreating new humans looking for nonexistant jobs!)’ we see what can happen to people like you —-
    He was shot today for wanting to blow people up.

    There are mad people on any side of an issue. This is irrelevant with respect to who’s right and who’s not. You don’t see me using Glenn Beck as an example for why right-wing ideology is bullshit, right?
    The fact is there is an overwhelming disproportion here, with the people who are concerned about humanity’s ecological overshoot coming from scientific and technical backgrounds, and those people certainly aren’t crazy, while the people who aren’t think everything will be OK, just because it has been OK before, coming from economical and business backgrounds, often with very strong prior ideological commitment to the belief in the omnipotence of free markets and human ingenuity. Who do you trust?

  175. GM says: Yes, even easier when Saudi Arabia itself peaks…

    Yes we have all heard the late Mathew Simmon’s propaganda before but it does not hold up to reality,
    Crop Circles in the Desert: The Strange Controversy Over Saudi Oil Production (PDF) (Michael C. Lynch, President of Strategic Energy and Economic Research)
    “The actual evidence presented by the Simmons work suggests that (a) the Saudis are at the beginning of their resource curve, (b) they are developing their fields in a very careful manner, and (c) they have faced and overcome numerous technical challenges. Nowhere is there anything to support his conclusions that their production is going to peak, and historical evidence refutes this hypothesis quite clearly.

  176. Smokey says:
    September 1, 2010 at 6:02 pm
    As oil is consumed, the free market, without regulation of any kind, through competition brings about the desired result, as more cost-effective alternatives replace oil: transistors took over the market for tubes [valves]; kerosene replaced whale oil, etc.

    If this was the case, the price of oil would have been steadily rising from the very moment the first well was drilled in 1859. That’s not the case, so apparently the market doesn’t get resources right. So much for that fallacy

    The way GM denigrates the free market, I’d bet there’s more than a little public tax money in his paycheck, maybe 100%. ☹

    Actually I’m at a private institution 🙂

  177. Poptech says:
    September 1, 2010 at 6:17 pm
    GM says: Yes, even easier when Saudi Arabia itself peaks…
    Yes we have all heard the late Mathew Simmon’s propaganda before but it does not hold up to reality,
    Crop Circles in the Desert: The Strange Controversy Over Saudi Oil Production (PDF) (Michael C. Lynch, President of Strategic Energy and Economic Research)
    “The actual evidence presented by the Simmons work suggests that (a) the Saudis are at the beginning of their resource curve, (b) they are developing their fields in a very careful manner, and (c) they have faced and overcome numerous technical challenges. Nowhere is there anything to support his conclusions that their production is going to peak, and historical evidence refutes this hypothesis quite clearly.“

    And yet another lunatic.
    Once again, their is absolutely no way that Saudi Arabia will not peak. That’s the intellectual equivalent to claiming that the Earth is flat. Simmons book is very well researched and presents a compelling case. Not that it really matters, whether Saudi Arabia has already peaked, peaks today or peaks in 10 years, or 20 years, it will never produce 20 million barrels a day, it will in fact never produce even 15, and even 20 million barrels a day from Saudi Arabia isn’t going to provide for the projected economic growth over the next decades given what the decline rates everywhere else are.
    You have absolutely no idea about the numbers involved

  178. GM says: September 1, 2010 at 6:17 pm
    ‘There are mad people on any side of an issue. This is irrelevant with respect to who’s right and who’s not. ‘
    ————————————————————————————-
    You views seem to exhibit characteristics akin to the aforementioned Mr. Lee especially when you distil it down to ‘who’s right and who’s not’.
    —————————————————————————–
    ‘The fact is there is an overwhelming disproportion here, with the people who are concerned about humanity’s ecological overshoot coming from scientific and technical backgrounds, and those people certainly aren’t crazy, while the people who aren’t think everything will be OK, just because it has been OK before, coming from economical and business backgrounds, often with very strong prior ideological commitment to the belief in the omnipotence of free markets and human ingenuity’
    ——————————————————————————–
    I don’t think so. You are simply talking drivel.
    You seem to forget that you are advocating that ‘we’ whittle down the world’s population to about 100,000,000 people. You don’t define the ‘we’ (the 100 m) who will deal to the 8.7 b or so of ‘them’, or for that matter how ‘we’ will achieve this. This convinces me that you are (shall we say) rather suspect in terms of possessing rational thinking.
    ——————————————————————————
    ‘ Who do you trust?’
    ———————————————————-
    I think that I have conveyed my thoughts about that but in short, not you GM
    Doug

  179. From time immemorial human ingenuity has made life better.
    From fire to farming.
    From human labor to mules to trucks.
    From the simple electronics of Edison to the Tube( Valve) to the transistor to the chip.
    From candles to whale oil to gas to electric lightbulbs, people have not failed to adopt better cleaner technology when it becomes available.
    No one needed to legislate the adoption of Automobiles or telephones or electric lights.
    When WHEN, the better thing comes form the lab of some formerly unknown genius , or from a well known corporation people will adopt it.
    The EROEI will be worthwhile .
    But NOT if we force ourselves to adopt weak tech that will not power our world.
    That path short circuits the system , stifles innovation and leads to poverty.
    Your path leads to the very thing you claim to fear. Civilizational collapse.
    Are you warning against it, or selling it ?
    The latter seems more probable from the tone of your posts.

  180. After I quoted GM exactly he states:
    You are very seriously misrepresenting what I said, which doesn’t speak well of your intellectual honesty, but anyway, I will restate it:
    Not sure how an exact quote “misrepresents” what you said. Then GM spouts:
    We should do 2 things that we aren’t doing right now:
    1. Invest all available resources into technology development
    2. Operate under the assumption that those efforts will most likely be futile and bring our numbers and consumption levels safely within the carrying capacity of the planet

    I see, according to the limited mind of GM the world is completely black and white, yes and no, 1) and 2). That kind of thinking fits perfectly with his lack of comprehension of the real world. Come on GM, you’ve obviously done some reading. Now it’s time to put down the books and think for yourself.
    We don’t have to do either one. Technology development is a natural part of our current world. Our current investment is fine, no need to panic. We will continue to progress and you will eventually feel foolish (although I doubt you will ever admit it to yourself).

  181. Actually all of our energy needs could be met by building a Dyson Shell around the sun. The 400 septillion watts that the sun puts out should be enough to supply everyone’s energy needs for the foreseeable future.

  182. GM says (September 1, 2010 at 2:01 pm): “Eastern [sic] Islanders were smart enough to find a way to erect those huge statues … But it didn’t help them to prevent their ecological overshoot”
    The Easter Islanders were victims of European invaders, not “ecological overshoot”.
    http://www.staff.livjm.ac.uk/spsbpeis/EE%2016-34_Peiser.pdf
    GM says (September 1, 2010 at 5:30 pm): “Ironically, the continuing and unprecedentedly fast ocean acidification we are causing will most likely result in another such episode soon, if there is any plankton left to rot of course…”
    http://216.77.188.54/coDataImages/p/Groups/357/357094/folders/273650/2183619BS-meter2.gif

  183. @ GM
    “We know very well how oil, gas and coal were formed. The vast majority of it was formed during severe oceanic anoxic events in the Mesozoic period and during the Paleogene. Ironically, the continuing and unprecedentedly fast ocean acidification we are causing will most likely result in another such episode soon, if there is any plankton left to rot of course…”
    lol, right. Ocean acidification. You stick a litmus paper in the ocean lately? GM, its still blue. Further, that’s a theory that I find rather implausible. Our oil patches today is where the plankton went to die without getting ate first? K. Perhaps plankton was dispersed differently than today. It used to be widely accepted that the sun rotated the earth. It is easy to see why. The sun comes up in the east every day and goes down in the west every day. But some clever fellow said, “You know, there’s something off about this.”…..
    Newton was proven correct when he stated, “Bodies in motion tend to stay in motion……” That principle in physics has served mankind quite well. There is no reason to discard it because it doesn’t fit one’s world view.

  184. GM,
    I agree resources are finite, econ 101. Now what to do about it. Do you suggest bureaucrats decide winners and losers before shortages actually occur. For example, do you suggest that governments should somehow artificially limit oil consumption since you believe peak oil is nigh? If you do that is a different debate and one that you can’t win I think.
    I would leave such “decisions” to market forces.

  185. GM says (September 1, 2010 at 6:20 pm): “Actually I’m at a private institution :)”
    Must…resist…institutional joke…too tempting…don’t give in…to…dark side…

  186. Big Al says:

    Actually all of our energy needs could be met by building a Dyson Shell around the sun. The 400 septillion watts that the sun puts out should be enough to supply everyone’s energy needs for the foreseeable future.

    I expect the vast majority of that would immediately be used for A/C 🙂
    Personally I always preferred Larry Niven’s Ringworld. It was a more achievable structure and still insanely huge.

  187. There seems to be a pervasive misconception on this thread that GDP cannot grow without the consumption of more stuff. This is clearly false. GDP is an economic concept, it revolves around money. As societies develop, they get to a stage where most people already have all the “stuff” they need. They then start to value (ie pay for) things such as personal services that do not require “stuff” as an input. In most modern societies, the services sector is the dominant part of the economy. For example, in Australia (which is conventionally viewed as a mining-dominated economy) 70% of GDP is produced by the services sector.

  188. I don’t think GM should be allowed to post again until he has read every single page and link on this site: http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/progress/index.html
    All in favor?
    GM – how much electricity are you using to carry out this debate? All the buzzing PC’s of those debating you, the Google searches (7g CO2 released per search!), the servers and cohosts. How could you do such a thing to Mother Earth?

  189. GM says September 1, 2010 at 6:20 pm
    Smokey says: September 1, 2010 at 6:02 pm
    As oil is consumed, the free market, without regulation of any kind, through competition brings about the desired result, as more cost-effective alternatives replace oil: transistors took over the market for tubes [valves]; kerosene replaced whale oil, etc.
    If this was the case, the price of oil would have been steadily rising from the very moment the first well was drilled in 1859. That’s not the case, so apparently the market doesn’t get resources right. So much for that fallacy.
    ———————————————————————————-
    GM Oh! Come on! How can you say such a stupid thing as that and still have the gall to spend all this time here writing tripe.
    Gary Hladik says: September 1, 2010 at 7:14 pm
    GM says (September 1, 2010 at 6:20 pm): “Actually I’m at a private institution :)”
    Must…resist…institutional joke…too tempting…don’t give in…to…dark side…
    —————————————————————-
    Gary. Go on do give in to the temptation and give us all a laugh!
    Doug

  190. Daniel Taylor says:
    September 1, 2010 at 7:33 pm
    I don’t think GM should be allowed to post again until he has read every single page and link on this site: http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/progress/index.html
    All in favor?
    ========================================================
    No, he’s fun. He really seems to be a fairly sharp guy.(who’s read too many horror stories and now wets his pants every time he fills up his car.) And he keeps our wits sharp. He’s an honest to goodness Malthusian. Rarely, does one have enough fortitude to admit such lunacy. Most alarmists are closet Malthusians but won’t admit it.
    BTW, that is a great site. I’m not sure, but I think I visited it years ago. Memory is a strange thing, but I remember one in the same format with the same content!

  191. James Sexton said on Global Energy Use in the 21st Century
    September 1, 2010 at 7:58 pm
    Daniel Taylor says:
    September 1, 2010 at 7:33 pm
    I don’t think GM should be allowed to post again until he has read every single page and link on this site: http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/progress/index.html
    All in favor?

    This was sufficient to make me stop wasting my time:

    With the development of nuclear energy, it became possible to show that there are no apparent obstacles even to billion year sustainability.(1)

  192. “BTW, that is a great site. ”
    Yes it is good. Note how the truth is presented in a plain way while lies have to dress themselves up with fancy graphics and sob stories.

  193. Jimash said on Global Energy Use in the 21st Century
    September 1, 2010 at 8:08 pm
    “BTW, that is a great site. ”
    Yes it is good. Note how the truth is presented in a plain way while lies have to dress themselves up with fancy graphics and sob stories.

    Yeah, because all that fancy graphics stuff makes one’s head hurt…

  194. @GM
    This was sufficient to make me stop wasting my time:
    With the development of nuclear energy, it became possible to show that there are no apparent obstacles even to billion year sustainability.(1)
    ========================================================
    You don’t think you may be reading it too literally? Relative to mankind’s stay here, what’s a zero or two?

  195. Or, one could read it as an affirmation of mankind’s ability to find newer and better ways to sate the ever increasing demand for energy. Fission, fusion, cold, hot, …..later what? We haven’t even started on hydrogen. Thermal? GM, already, with what I’ve listed, if necessary, these sources of energy either are or will be readily available in the very near future. We’re not going to run out of sources for energy. Who knows what we’ll find tomorrow? Quit worrying about now, it’s already past. We’re fine. Worry about the recession. Worry about the boy your daughter is seeing. There’s plenty of things to worry about. Energy sources isn’t one of them.

  196. “Yeah, because all that fancy graphics stuff makes one’s head hurt…”
    So you don’t deny that they do that. A small step.
    Fancy graphics cna say whatever the author wants the too, and then be changed or denied.
    WOrds count.
    You words are a form of evil. Yu are peddling evil ideas formulated by unethical people with bad agendas.
    As someone mentioned you will realize this one day and feel shame.
    We do not need to live like marooned sailors.

  197. GM says:
    September 1, 2010 at 1:05 pm
    . . . Again, you have to be absolutely out of your mind to claim such things. We can’t even send a man to Mars, and we are due for global societal collapse in the next few decades, yet you are claiming that we will mine other planets?????????

    [my emphasis]
    By now others have taken care of most of GM’s wild assertions and calumny, but to claim that “we are due for global societal collapse in the next few decades,” presumably because of resource depletion (the topic of this thread), suggests that GM is either a fervent ideologue or a bomb-throwing provocateur—or both. I have seen the latter type of troll destroy an on-line political forum, but GM does offer a modicum of entertainment here—and even incidental instruction: I was not aware of this John McCarthy link posted by Daniel Taylor above: http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/progress/index.html
    “The Sustainability of Human Progress” (McCarthy) is a great phrase, which very neatly gives the lie to the fanatical exponents of ‘sustainability’, who would deny future progress and return us to the Dark Ages. And that’s where we’re headed, if we listen to the likes of GM.
    /Mr Lynn

  198. GM says: And yet another lunatic.
    Once again, their is absolutely no way that Saudi Arabia will not peak. That’s the intellectual equivalent to claiming that the Earth is flat. Simmons book is very well researched and presents a compelling case.

    And Simmons was not a lunatic? Everything Simmons claimed was debunked in the paper I provided,
    Crop Circles in the Desert: The Strange Controversy Over Saudi Oil Production (PDF) (Michael C. Lynch, President of Strategic Energy and Economic Research)
    “…In this case, we are being asked to believe whether it is more likely that a Harvard M.B.A. with no technical background has correctly perceived an extraordinary conclusion from engineering papers, contradicting all other data and observed reality as well as the vast majority of expert opinion, or whether he simply got it wrong. The evidence in this paper shows that what he has said, which can be tested, is demonstrably wrong.”
    It is funny how ALL of the recent peak propaganda claims revolved around Simmons. I watched every documentary on it and they ALL had Simmons in them as their chief spokesperson.
    Is Matt Simmons Credible? (Energy Tribune)
    “The purpose of this essay was not simply to dump on Simmons. But he is involved in sensationalistic fear-mongering, enabled by the media’s mistaken belief that he is an expert in all things oil-related. I want to make sure people know that they should take his claims with the grain of salt they deserve. As I have documented here, that grain of salt is warranted based on his history of sensational claims that never materialized.”
    I get so tired of the Matthew Simmons hysterics. Especially when the guy has not been right about a damn thing.

  199. Poptech says:
    September 1, 2010 at 8:40 pm
    GM says: And yet another lunatic.
    ========================================================
    It’s a form of misanthropy or autophobia. It doesn’t matter if Simmons is right or wrong. It fits with his belief system.
    I tell him we’re fine. I give him examples of sources of energy he knows we haven’t even begun to tap, yet he insists on the idea we’re all going to die because we used up all of the earth’s resources. Other people have given good arguments as to why we’re going to be ok, yet he clings to doom as if it is his salvation. And, in a way it is. It is part of his belief system, or part of his self. He will lose what he regards as part of his definition if he changes his beliefs.
    GM, you should come to the light side. Its way cooler here……………………………………just testing a different form of argument. Hope you don’t mind.

  200. “Peak Uranium” is such a fascinating theoretical concept.
    The Canadian-invented CANDU reactor uses low-level fuels, originally made for natural un-enriched uranium. It can use rather directly what we in the US consider spent fuel, no chemical reprocessing needed. And it can use many different nuclear fuels.
    If we start building CANDU reactors in the US, and stop this nonsense about permanently burying “spent fuel” from the Light Water Reactors, we already have many decades of usable fuel stockpiled in “holding pools” at LWR plants. We could go a half century or longer without needing any new fuel for energy production.
    Peak uranium? That people can believe such is anything to worry about anytime this century, makes me wonder if we’ve passed Peak Intelligence.

  201. Ah, the politics of scarcity.
    There is a natural cycle to everything, including population. We don’t need to worry about it, mama nature will sort it out in her own good time.
    The solution to the population bomb used to be to bomb populations. Hopefully we’ll grow out of that behaviour.
    However, the realpolitik is that China will look to extending its influence in Africa, Australia, and other mineable places. We in the west had better use our much vaunted technological prowess to come up with something clever sooner rather tha later, otherwise conflict is on the horizon.
    Our priority then, should be to find an efficient way to generate and distribute power to cater for our needs. If we don’t, we will find ourselves being client states to political regimes we don’t like. It’s not in China’s interests that the west should become energy poor, but it’s not in our interest to have them dictate the terms of our consumption either.
    The main thing preventing us having a robust grid supplied by distributed small scale production of energy from reasonably clean resources is the interest of our own corporate-governmental axis. Time for Joe Public to kick the asses of those we pay to serve US.

  202. Dozens of climate martyrs committed a mass self harming at Rommstown, today when the Wednesday Hate poster was replaced by a mirror.

  203. tallbloke says: September 1, 2010 at 11:13 pm
    Ah, the politics of scarcity. Etc.
    How true Tallbloke. And that is a real problem so much closer to our time.
    Doug

  204. This was sufficient to make me stop wasting my time: With the development of nuclear energy, it became possible to show that there are no apparent obstacles even to billion year sustainability.(1)
    Closed minded much?
    Maybe you have information that Professor Emeritus of Physics at Pittsburgh University Bernard Cohen did not when he computed this based on 1980’s technology?
    http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/progress/cohen.html
    Was he incorrect about the amount of uranium in seawater or the cost of extraction? Was he incorrect about the physics of fast breeder reactors? (I somehow doubt it.) If you don’t have hard facts and numbers that he did not have, numbers which alter his formula, then why do you dismiss his work out of hand?
    Try this: either demonstrate with hard facts and numbers that Cohen was wrong in his estimates of the sustainability of nuclear power generation, or finish reading every single page on that site, and with a mind open to the possibility that you are wrong and the information you are receiving is correct.
    Regarding all the other things that we’re supposedly going to run out of, name for me please a single material resource which:
    A) Our civilization cannot exist without.
    B) Is truly “used up” by man and cannot be recycled and reused from waste products, or created again from other input materials.
    C) Has absolutely no substitute what so ever.
    D) Will be gone well before technology provides a reasonable alternative through recycling, substitutes, manufacturing, or off planet mining.
    Hint #1: this going to be harder than you think given the conservation of matter and energy.
    Hint #2: it’s certainly not liquid petroleum which not only has substitutes, but which can be manufactured. Not only can we grow it (literally) today, but we’re actually quite close to being able to manufacture it out of thin air. We will certainly be capable of doing this, if desired, before we run out of coal and shale oil, perhaps even before we run out of liquid petroleum.
    http://www.lanl.gov/news/index.php/fuseaction/home.story/story_id/12554
    http://www.technologyreview.com/Energy/18582/
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19308-the-next-best-thing-to-oil.html
    http://www.science20.com/news/turning_carbon_dioxide_into_fuel_using_solar_power

  205. I’ve noticed on this thread, as have others, that GM has a shortage of hard facts to hand (apart from one book whose correctness is contested above by Gary Hladik. I’ve also noticed a lot of simplistic arguments and argumentation style – on both sides.
    I’m trying to get a handle on all these issues of sustainability and energy reserves and resources. And while I believe yes, the universe’s resources, and our ingenuity, are both pretty limitless, I also see other factors coming into the “real world” scenarios that can make for limits to growth at times. Like cashflow problems and insufficient foresight stopping R&D, let’s say, for thorium reactors, or tidal power, or ocean heat exchange, etc. Like claims that “space travel will solve everything” being at odds with the level of space travel, or costing for resources acquisition, actually attained. Short-term blocks, perhaps, nevertheless still real in history. Like the Depression-plus-WW1-treaty that combined to tempt Germany into the Nazi “solution” to bankruptcy – which happened between periods of growth.
    So I suspect that there are real “Peak Oil” issues, even if their manifestation is linked to politics, belief systems, and the rest, even though I also believe in our great capacity for invention eg thorium, LENR, and beyond, and even though I also believe in the existence of usable resources rather greater than “Limits To Growth” works with eg uranium from the sea.
    In my universe, optimists and pessimists both have important contributions; I suspect there are partial truths on both sides, and I would like to see a less polarized dialogue to bring out some of that, because in the synthesis which courteous debate allows, new ideas altogether can emerge, and wild ideas can become more tempered to what is really possible. Divisions into “we’re all goodies and they’re all out of their tree” rising levels of heated argument shift nothing and lack the Socratic element that says “do you agree with me that…” before leading into areas of disagreement. GM, you will have to work hard at that, to translate ad homs into science snippets we can understand and check, simply because you are the sole representative here of a whole “side”. But alas, I suspect you are a dyed-in-the-wool troll evangelist, and unable to change your approach. I remain open.

  206. The Stone Age did’nt end because of lack of stones.
    And it didnt end because some government decided it to end.
    And there was no commitee deciding it to end.
    It just ended because people adapted, found new materials, moved on.
    All by themselves.

  207. kadaka, I love it … “peak intelligence” … I know many places where that can be applied. Thanks for the chuckle.
    Sadly, it describes so many “educated” people these days.

  208. I strongly suspect GM is a card carrying member of the far, far left. A raging anti-corporatist.
    It is common for these types to jump on the sustainability bandwagon because it fits right in with their politics. Any facts presented to them will be summarily dismissed as we have already seen several times from GM. You can’t convert those with strong religious beliefs with facts. First you have to convert their religion.

  209. I’d ignore the troll that is GM, as regular posters here know ‘proof or it didn’t happen’ rules apply and Mr GM has not given a shred of evidence to his drivel.
    He appears to be the usual enviro-watermelon and refuses to educate himself with knowledge that does not go with his belief system. I believe these are called ‘closed-minded’.

  210. Many of the posters here are engineers. Although we have different backgrounds and different knowledge bases, we have one thing in common. Our daily jobs are applying our knowledge to solve problems. We are essentially problem solvers. Through our careers we’ve seen example after example of seemingly (at the time) unsolvable problems being solved … and sometimes quite easily.
    I believe this is why we don’t have the same view of problems as folks like GM. I’d guess Smokey pegged him right from the start. He is an academic with little to no practical experience. He simply doesn’t understand how progress works like those who have lived it for decades. Hopefully, he will learn something here although I rather doubt it.

  211. GM says:
    September 1, 2010 at 1:19 pm
    Each year we are using 5 times the oil we are consuming, and it is getting worse and worse every year.

    GM, you are throwing around a lot of insults, and in the process, providing examples of how you seem to be representative of those insults, not the people you decry.
    For reference, we are not “using” 5 times what we are “consuming”. What we are “using” is equal to what we are “consuming”. Whether it is efficient, effective or prudent is another matter.
    Sen. Ernest “Fritz” Hollings (D-SC)…”There’s too much consumin goin on out there.”

  212. I have a problem with some of the language used in this post. “Dirty Coal.” But then you push natural gas as a solution. Somehow natural gas is not dirty? It comes from the same places in the ground as that “dirty oil” does. Maybe you have heard about the Hydrofracing controversy going in in Pennsylvania right now? If not please go do some reading. I fail to see how using water laced with chemicals, that make their way into our groundwater supply, to push natural gas out of the ground is any better than strip mining a mountaintop.
    I get that natural gas can return a higher BTU value per lb than coal. But that does not mean you put all your eggs in that basket and forsake “dirty coal”. Especially if the world does need 2100 quads of energy. We will need a sane mix of technologies to sustain that much energy consumption.
    Lets not talk about the fact that you have to build pipelines to transport natural gas around. And if you want to ship it over an ocean you need to compress the hell out of it or liquefy it. At that point pushing it around is no better than pushing around coal barges. At least the coal barge isn’t an explosion waiting to happen.
    In my “humble” opinion (I’m a mechanical engineer working in the energy sector) we need to get back to building nuclear plants. Yes you need to deal with the radioactive waste but it really is the least impact way to make lots of energy. Queue up that post from a month ago about the salt cooled nuclear reactors. Why isn’t our government investing in this?!

  213. GM,
    I invited you to share evidence of any predictions that Limits to Growth have made that have come true. You linked me to an online bookstore containing the virtual dust cover of a new Limits to Growth edition. The dust cover explains something along the lines that the authors have used new modelling techniques to forecast that humankind is over using resources, which WILL LEAD TO DIRE CONSEQUENCES.
    In other words, this is just another prediction. There has not been to date any prediction by Limits to Growth that has become reality.

  214. Is this not the Seed of war? It’s taken this long for a nutter to watch the Nupty of Nashville present his toxic nonsense to rent-a-crowd in a studio and then go out and ‘do something about it!’ (at the Discovery Channel). In WWII, the British leaders were able to rally their citizens to total mobilization for war when Germany camped in France. The British leadership could make the case for their impending destruction. In the wrong hands, then the AGW case as presented, could present national leadership with that ability. The rubbish theory of AGW could appear to un-developed countries, with the carbon footprint of a flip-flop, the idea that industrialised nations are destroying their country, their environment, their earth. That lays down the gauntlet: what are you going to do about it?
    So, it is with glee that i read this article from Ambrose Evans Pritchard of the Telegraph about THORIUM ( BTW–there is a french puppet political show which once depicted the White House with George Bush as president, Stallone as defense secretary, Stallone as Chief of Staff, and Stallone as Secretary of State! War anyone?)
    Anyway, the answer to all our problems perhaps lies in THORIUM:
    (HI Anna. No idea what it is. Can you explain?)
    ‘………………. The International Energy Agency says the world must invest $26 trillion (£16.7 trillion) over the next 20 years to avert an energy shock. The scramble for scarce fuel is already leading to friction between China, India, and the West. nThere is no certain bet in nuclear physics but work by Nobel laureate Carlo Rubbia at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) on the use of thorium as a cheap, clean and safe alternative to uranium in reactors may be the magic bullet we have all been hoping for, though we have barely begun to crack the potential of solar power. Dr Rubbia says a tonne of the silvery metal – named after the Norse god of thunder, who also gave us Thor’s day or Thursday – produces as much energy as 200 tonnes of uranium, or 3,500,000 tonnes of coal. A mere fistful would light London for a week. Thorium eats its own hazardous waste. It can even scavenge the plutonium left by uranium reactors, acting as an eco-cleaner. “It’s the Big One,” said Kirk Sorensen, a former NASA rocket engineer and now chief nuclear technologist at Teledyne Brown Engineering. “Once you start looking more closely, it blows your mind away. You can run civilisation on thorium for hundreds of thousands of years, and it’s essentially free. You don’t have to deal with uranium cartels,” he said.
    Thorium is so common that miners treat it as a nuisance, a radioactive by-product if they try to dig up rare earth metals. The US and Australia are full of the stuff. So are the granite rocks of Cornwall. You do not need much: all is potentially usable as fuel, compared to just 0.7pc for uranium. After the Manhattan Project, US physicists in the late 1940s were tempted by thorium for use in civil reactors. It has a higher neutron yield per neutron absorbed. It does not require isotope separation, a big cost saving. But by then America needed the plutonium residue from uranium to build bombs. “They were really going after the weapons,” said Professor Egil Lillestol, a world authority on the thorium fuel-cycle at CERN. “It is almost impossible make nuclear weapons out of thorium because it is too difficult to handle. It wouldn’t be worth trying.” It emits too many high gamma rays. You might have thought that thorium reactors were the answer to every dream but when CERN went to the European Commission for development funds in 1999-2000, they were rebuffed.
    Brussels turned to its technical experts, who happened to be French because the French dominate the EU’s nuclear industry. “They didn’t want competition because they had made a huge investment in the old technology,” he said. Another decade was lost. It was a sad triumph of vested interests over scientific progress. “We have very little time to waste because the world is running out of fossil fuels. Renewables can’t replace them. Nuclear fusion is not going work for a century, if ever,” he said.
    The Norwegian group Aker Solutions has bought Dr Rubbia’s patent for the thorium fuel-cycle, and is working on his design for a proton accelerator at its UK operation.
    Victoria Ashley, the project manager, said it could lead to a network of pint-sized 600MW reactors that are lodged underground, can supply small grids, and do not require a safety citadel. It will take £2bn to build the first one, and Aker needs £100mn for the next test phase. The UK has shown little appetite for what it regards as a “huge paradigm shift to a new technology”. Too much work and sunk cost has already gone into the next generation of reactors, which have another 60 years of life. So Aker is looking for tie-ups with the US, Russia, or China. The Indians have their own projects – none yet built – dating from days when they switched to thorium because their weapons programme prompted a uranium ban.
    America should have fewer inhibitions than Europe in creating a leapfrog technology. The US allowed its nuclear industry to stagnate after Three Mile Island in 1979. Anti-nuclear neorosis is at last ebbing. The White House has approved $8bn in loan guarantees for new reactors, yet America has been strangely passive. Where is the superb confidence that put a man on the moon? A few US pioneers are exploring a truly radical shift to a liquid fuel based on molten-fluoride salts, an idea once pursued by US physicist Alvin Weinberg at Oak Ridge National Lab in Tennessee in the 1960s. The original documents were retrieved by Mr Sorensen.
    Moving away from solid fuel may overcome some of Thorium’s “idiosyncracies”.
    “You have to use the right machine. You don’t use diesel in a petrol car: you build a diesel engine,” said Mr Sorensen. Thorium-fluoride reactors can operate at atmospheric temperature. “The plants would be much smaller and less expensive. You wouldn’t need those huge containment domes because there’s no pressurized water in the reactor. It’s close-fitting,” he said. Nuclear power could become routine and unthreatening. But first there is the barrier of establishment prejudice.
    When Hungarian scientists led by Leo Szilard tried to alert Washington in late 1939 that the Nazis were working on an atomic bomb, they were brushed off with disbelief. Albert Einstein interceded through the Belgian queen mother, eventually getting a personal envoy into the Oval Office. Roosevelt initially fobbed him off. He listened more closely at a second meeting over breakfast the next day, then made up his mind within minutes. “This needs action,” he told his military aide. It was the birth of the Manhattan Project. As a result, the US had an atomic weapon early enough to deter Stalin from going too far in Europe. The global energy crunch needs equal “action”. If it works, Manhattan II could restore American optimism and strategic leadership at a stroke: if not, it is a boost for US science and surely a more fruitful way to pull the US out of perma-slump than scattershot stimulus.
    Even better, team up with China and do it together, for all our sakes……………..’

  215. I used to think about Limbaugh’s proposition that obortion would be the cause of the next civil war in this country. Then I used to think about the cause, if any, of the next big war, and peak oil for me has been replaced by AGW. Doesn’t the Nupty of Nashville, et al,’s theory of AGW, as presented to rent-a-crowd in recording studio/theater, lay down the gauntlett to under developed countries to ‘do something about it’. In WWII, the British leadership was able to rally the entire British citizenship to brace for war, because their destruction was camped over the channel in France. Doesn’t AGW do the same for under developed countries. I watched a French political puppet show which depicted Bush in the White House with Stallone as defense secretary, Stallone as Secretary of State and Stallone as chief of staff…..war anyone?? Here is an article on the answer to all our problems…
    (hopefully ANNA can tell us a little bit about Thorium)
    from AEP @ Telegraph:
    ‘…….We could then stop arguing about wind mills, deepwater drilling, IPCC hockey sticks, or strategic reliance on the Kremlin. History will move on fast. Muddling on with the status quo is not a grown-up policy. The International Energy Agency says the world must invest $26 trillion (£16.7 trillion) over the next 20 years to avert an energy shock. The scramble for scarce fuel is already leading to friction between China, India, and the West. nThere is no certain bet in nuclear physics but work by Nobel laureate Carlo Rubbia at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) on the use of thorium as a cheap, clean and safe alternative to uranium in reactors may be the magic bullet we have all been hoping for, though we have barely begun to crack the potential of solar power. Dr Rubbia says a tonne of the silvery metal – named after the Norse god of thunder, who also gave us Thor’s day or Thursday – produces as much energy as 200 tonnes of uranium, or 3,500,000 tonnes of coal. A mere fistful would light London for a week. Thorium eats its own hazardous waste. It can even scavenge the plutonium left by uranium reactors, acting as an eco-cleaner. “It’s the Big One,” said Kirk Sorensen, a former NASA rocket engineer and now chief nuclear technologist at Teledyne Brown Engineering. “Once you start looking more closely, it blows your mind away. You can run civilisation on thorium for hundreds of thousands of years, and it’s essentially free. You don’t have to deal with uranium cartels,” he said. Thorium is so common that miners treat it as a nuisance, a radioactive by-product if they try to dig up rare earth metals. The US and Australia are full of the stuff. So are the granite rocks of Cornwall. You do not need much: all is potentially usable as fuel, compared to just 0.7pc for uranium. After the Manhattan Project, US physicists in the late 1940s were tempted by thorium for use in civil reactors. It has a higher neutron yield per neutron absorbed. It does not require isotope separation, a big cost saving. But by then America needed the plutonium residue from uranium to build bombs. “They were really going after the weapons,” said Professor Egil Lillestol, a world authority on the thorium fuel-cycle at CERN. “It is almost impossible make nuclear weapons out of thorium because it is too difficult to handle. It wouldn’t be worth trying.” It emits too many high gamma rays. You might have thought that thorium reactors were the answer to every dream but when CERN went to the European Commission for development funds in 1999-2000, they were rebuffed. Brussels turned to its technical experts, who happened to be French because the French dominate the EU’s nuclear industry. “They didn’t want competition because they had made a huge investment in the old technology,” he said. Another decade was lost. It was a sad triumph of vested interests over scientific progress. “We have very little time to waste because the world is running out of fossil fuels. Renewables can’t replace them. Nuclear fusion is not going work for a century, if ever,” he said. The Norwegian group Aker Solutions has bought Dr Rubbia’s patent for the thorium fuel-cycle, and is working on his design for a proton accelerator at its UK operation. Victoria Ashley, the project manager, said it could lead to a network of pint-sized 600MW reactors that are lodged underground, can supply small grids, and do not require a safety citadel. It will take £2bn to build the first one, and Aker needs £100mn for the next test phase.
    The UK has shown little appetite for what it regards as a “huge paradigm shift to a new technology”. Too much work and sunk cost has already gone into the next generation of reactors, which have another 60 years of life. So Aker is looking for tie-ups with the US, Russia, or China. The Indians have their own projects – none yet built – dating from days when they switched to thorium because their weapons programme prompted a uranium ban. America should have fewer inhibitions than Europe in creating a leapfrog technology. The US allowed its nuclear industry to stagnate after Three Mile Island in 1979. Anti-nuclear neorosis is at last ebbing. The White House has approved $8bn in loan guarantees for new reactors, yet America has been strangely passive. Where is the superb confidence that put a man on the moon? A few US pioneers are exploring a truly radical shift to a liquid fuel based on molten-fluoride salts, an idea once pursued by US physicist Alvin Weinberg at Oak Ridge National Lab in Tennessee in the 1960s. The original documents were retrieved by Mr Sorensen. Moving away from solid fuel may overcome some of thorium’s “idiosyncracies”. “You have to use the right machine. You don’t use diesel in a petrol car: you build a diesel engine,” said Mr Sorensen. Thorium-fluoride reactors can operate at atmospheric temperature. “The plants would be much smaller and less expensive. You wouldn’t need those huge containment domes because there’s no pressurized water in the reactor. It’s close-fitting,” he said.
    Nuclear power could become routine and unthreatening. But first there is the barrier of establishment prejudice. When Hungarian scientists led by Leo Szilard tried to alert Washington in late 1939 that the Nazis were working on an atomic bomb, they were brushed off with disbelief. Albert Einstein interceded through the Belgian queen mother, eventually getting a personal envoy into the Oval Office.
    Roosevelt initially fobbed him off. He listened more closely at a second meeting over breakfast the next day, then made up his mind within minutes. “This needs action,” he told his military aide. It was the birth of the Manhattan Project. As a result, the US had an atomic weapon early enough to deter Stalin from going too far in Europe.
    The global energy crunch needs equal “action”. If it works, Manhattan II could restore American optimism and strategic leadership at a stroke: if not, it is a boost for US science and surely a more fruitful way to pull the US out of perma-slump than scattershot stimulus. Even better, team up with China and do it together, for all our sakes…………………………………………………………………………………………………….’

  216. RE: GM’s theories
    Malthusian minds are locked into 18th century thinking. Kind of like the Majinot minds of one of our WWII allies, preparing for horse drawn warfare against tanks.

  217. Lucy Skywalker says (September 2, 2010 at 1:52 am): “And while I believe yes, the universe’s resources, and our ingenuity, are both pretty limitless, I also see other factors coming into the “real world” scenarios that can make for limits to growth at times.”
    Indeed, and of course the doomsters see these temporary episodes as confirmation of their religion. Take our friend GM, for example (September 1, 2010 at 11:27 am):
    “…we are talking about infrastructure that will take decades to build, while the price signal will come on a much shorter time scale, and when it does society will most likely not be able to organize itself into building the infrastructure.” In other words, this time we’re DOOOOOMED! 🙂
    As economist Julian Simon has written, however, “More people, and increased income, cause resources to become more scarce in the short run. Heightened scarcity causes prices to rise. The higher prices present opportunity, and prompt inventors and entrepreneurs to search for solutions. Many fail in the search, at cost to themselves. But in a free society, solutions are eventually found. And in the long run the new developments leave us better off than if the problems had not arisen.” No wonder that, to an economic illiterate like GM, Simon is the Antichrist. 🙂
    Note the “free society” caveat in Simon’s quote. Politicians tend to hide/spin bad news and interfere with market responses to economic problems (often provoked by governments, e.g. inflation). GM’s vision of the future could still come true, not because we pass “peak resources”, but because we pass kadaka’s “peak intelligence”.

  218. I like reading all the comments and thinking how to add value (or incremental improvement) to the thread. To wit:
    It has taken a long time for this thread to come round to start to understand what’s got us into our current (and rhyming through history) predicament. And thus is my hypothesis: the human species (and individual humans in particular) has/(have) an inate ability to innovate technological solutions but an apparent inate INABILITY to develop governmental solutions to support the technology (the USA experiment has devolved into the “tyranny of the democracy” getting closer and closer to the “socialist” democracies growing in number across the world stage). In simpler and louder terms: OUR GOVERNMENTS STAND IN THE WAY OF OUR PROGRESS!
    They are inertia (literally!). They will kill billions of us just as surely as GM expects!
    We have a little bit more than an energy technology problem on our hands (easily solved by Thorium reactors, as I’m glad to see many have commented)… we have a greviously serious government technology problem to solve. Our politicians and bureacrats, left to their own devices, will somehow manage to get most of us killed (maybe GM’s 6.7B). This is where the CAGW’rs were headed before getting headed off at the pass by the skeptics (and, yes, they are definitely headed off at the CO2 pass: over 100ppmv increase with maybe 0.7C increase in temps (headed down now) when it should be 6C to 8C). “WHERE IS THE BEEF!”
    Just so everyone knows where I think we are, our politicians, bureaucrats, and banker consultants have, for the umpteenth, rhyming time in history, brought us to the point where our finances are based upon fiat currency and credit (only this time they’ve done it with computers (Models!? Do skeptics have problems with models?)). Only this time on a global basis. We don’t get a happy ending from this, and I can forgive GM if this is the basis of his angst (although he/she has not made a single reference to this worry). I can’t see an easy way out of this, but i’m open to suggestions.
    I’m going deep here, but WUWT wasn’t meant just for climate skepticism. If you are a skeptic (and I know you are from all my lurking), it doesn’t stop at the climate. We are declaring independence by pledging “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor!” We don’t want our current government. We want technologically advanced government. To match our technologically advanced thinking. Hint: let’s ditch the tribal chief and the witch doctor and use what we,ve found that works. If you know the answer (I do), it gives all 6.8B of us our best shot at survival, maybe even thriving despite GM’s negative waves! Any takers on the solution (I have it).
    h/t Andrew Galambos.
    God bless us all,
    Ralph Dwyer

  219. “Its a shame to use all that oil for electricity production….”
    Only 1.1% of US electricity production is from oil ( according to DOE for 2008 and its probably even less now)…..
    Hence all those cries to build renewable generation, etc. to reduce imported oil are either based on ignorance or intentional fraud.

  220. For Ralph Dwyer (September 2, 2010 at 10:07 pm), India and China may have already passed “peak socialism”, and perhaps in November the US will, too. 🙂

  221. Jeremy’s posts on extra-terrestrial resources and Wayne Delbeke’s post on making methane from CO2 reminded me of the “Mars Direct” concept:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Direct
    Fuel (methane & oxygen) for the return journey is made from Martian CO2, plus hydrogen imported from Earth or electrolyzed from Martian water. The power source is nuclear.

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