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Guest Post: The Really, Really Big Picture

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by Chris Martenson of Peak Prosperity,

[Many longtime followers of the Crash Course have asked Chris to update his forecasts for Peak Oil in light of the production increases in shale oil and gas over recent years. What started out as a modest effort at clarification morphed into a much more massive 3-report treatise as Chris sifted through mountains of new data that ultimately left him more convinced than ever we are facing a global net energy crisis despite misguided media efforts intended to convince us otherwise. His reports are being released in series over the next several weeks; the first installment is below.]

There has been a very strong and concerted public-relations effort to spin the recent shale energy plays of the U.S. as complete game-changers for the world energy outlook.  These efforts do not square up well with the data and are creating a vast misperception about the current risks and future opportunities among the general populace and energy organizations alike.  The world remains quite hopelessly addicted to petroleum, and the future will be shaped by scarcity – not abundance, as some have claimed.

This series of reports will assemble the relevant data into a simple and easy-to-understand story that has the appropriate context to provide a meaningful place to begin a conversation and make decisions.

Since completing the Crash Course in October of 2008, much has gone as I anticipated in the way of money printing, official neglect of the main predicaments we face, and generally higher petroleum costs (2012 was the record so far on a yearly basis).

What has not changed is the general trajectory of liquid fuels becoming increasingly expensive and more difficult to produce.  I know that this runs counter to virtually every news article that has come out recently.  It is time to separate the data and facts from the hype.  Much has recently been either muddied or presented so far out of context as to be more distortive than helpful.

This entire body of analysis is so large that it will be broken into three pieces. 

The first is a general world outlook for petroleum that presents the macro picture, provides some necessary clarifications on definitions, and illustrates that all of the data is consistent with the idea that the world is on a plateau of oil production.  Here we note that exactly zero of the major energy outlooks provided by the IEA, the EIA, PB, and especially the inexcusably sloppy piece put out under the auspices of Harvard (the Maugheri report of 2012) all failed to make any mention of the declining net energy provided by any of the new unconventional oil finds.  This is a crucial oversight.

The second report will focus on natural gas in the U.S., with a particular emphasis on shale gas, the supposed game-changer that we have read so much about.  There are some very important elements to this story, but the punch line is that there's nowhere near "100 years" of this magic fuel, it costs more to produce than it is being sold for at present here in early 2013, and – once we include the idea of future increases in consumption – there may only be in the vicinity of 20-30 years of proven and probable reserves. And that is if and only if prices rise by a factor of 2.5x or more from the current $3.30 per therm market price. 

The third will focus on tight oil, often called shale oil (not to be confused with oil shale, a very common mistake), and make the case that, while it may have some modifying effect to the Peak Oil story, it lacks the ability to return the world to anywhere near its prior glory years of ~2% per year growth in global oil output. 

The summary of all three reports leads to the conclusion that all efforts to cram the world full of fresh rounds of new debt lending are going to end in failure because the requisite net energy is simply not there to support continued debt accumulations running several-fold faster than actual economic productive output.

Enormous risks are continuing to build in the world's financial landscape, and the continued unwillingness to confront the truth about our global energy predicament is both puzzling and frightening. The conclusion is that our future resilience as individuals, corporations, or countries will hinge to a very large degree on whether or not we heed the warning signs and adapt our lives and habits to the actual circumstances.

The Really, Really Big Picture

The really big picture goes like this:  Humans discovered about 400 million years worth of stored sunlight in the form of coal, oil, and natural gas, and have developed technologies that will essentially see all of that treasure burned up in just 300 to 400 years. 

On the faulty assumption that fossil fuels will always be a resource we could draw upon, we fashioned economic, monetary, and other assorted belief systems based on permanent abundance, plus a species population on track to number around 9 billion souls by 2050.

There are two numbers to keep firmly in mind.  The first is 22, and the other is 10.  In the past 22 years, half of all of the oil ever burned has been burned.  Such is the nature of exponentially increasing demand.  And the oil burned in the last 22 years was the easy and cheap stuff discovered 30 to 40 years ago.  Which brings us to the number 10.  

In every calorie of food that comes to your table are hidden 10 calories of fossil fuels, making modern agriculture and food delivery the first type in history that consumes more energy than it delivers.  Someday fossil fuels will be all gone.  That day may be far off in the future, but preparing for that day could (and one could argue should) easily require every bit of time we have.

What galls me at this stage is that all of the pronouncements of additional oil being squeezed, fractured, and otherwise expensively coaxed out of the ground are being delivered with the message that there's so much available, there's nothing to worry about (at least, not yet.)  The message seems to be that we can just leave those challenges for future people, who we expect to be at least as clever as us, so they'll surely manage just fine.

Instead, the chart above illustrates that on a reasonably significant timeline, the age of fossil fuels will be intense and historically quite short.  The real question is not Will it run out? but Where would we like to be, and what should the future look like when it finally runs out?  The former question suggests that "maintain the status quo" is the correct response, while the latter question suggests that we had better be investing this once-in-a-species bequeathment very judiciously and wisely. 

Energy is vital to our economy and our easy, modern lives.  Without energy, there would be no economy.  The more expensive our energy is, the more of our economy is dedicated to getting energy instead of other pursuits and activities.  Among the various forms of energy, petroleum is the king of transportation fuels and is indispensible to our global economy and way of life.

To what do we owe the recent explosion in technology and living standards?  To me the answer is simple: energy. 


Because a very large proportion of our society was no longer tied up with the time-consuming tasks of growing their own food or building and heating their own shelter, they were free to do other very clever things, like devote their lives to advancing technology.  

When energy starts to get out of reach either economically or geologically, then people revert to more basic things, like trying to stay warm – such as this fellow:

Greeks Raid Forests in Search of Wood to Heat Homes

Jan 11, 2013

EGALEO, Greece—While patrolling on a recent cold night, environmentalist Grigoris Gourdomichalis caught a young man illegally chopping down a tree on public land in the mountains above Athens.

When confronted, the man broke down in tears, saying he was unemployed and needed the wood to warm the home he shares with his wife and four small children, because he could no longer afford heating oil.

"It was a tough choice, but I decided just to let him go" with the wood, said Mr. Gourdomichalis, head of the locally financed Environmental Association of Municipalities of Athens, which works to protect forests around Egaleo, a western suburb of the capital.

Tens of thousands of trees have disappeared from parks and woodlands this winter across Greece, authorities said, in a worsening problem that has had tragic consequences as the crisis-hit country's impoverished residents, too broke to pay for electricity or fuel, turn to fireplaces and wood stoves for heat.

I think it is safe to assume that all of the people in Greece who are chopping down trees to stay warm are not simultaneously working on the next generation of technology.  Energy first; everything else second.  In other words, our perceived wealth and well-being are both derivatives of energy. 

Like every other organism bestowed with abundant food – in this case, fossil fuels that we have converted into food, mobility, shelter, warmth, and a vast array of consumer goods – we first embarked on a remarkable path of exponential population growth.  Along with these assorted freedoms from securing the basics of living, we also fashioned monetary and economic systems that are fully dependent on perpetual exponential growth for their vitality and well-being.  These, too, owe their very sustenance to energy.

It bears repeating:  Not just energy is important here, but net energy.  It's the energy left over after we find and produce energy that is available for society to do all of its complicated and clever things.

Not only is the world struggling right now to increase global oil production, but all of the new and unconventional finds offer us dramatically less net energy to use as we wish. 

Where We Are, in Three Simple Charts

One narrative that is being heavily marketed right now is that the shale plays are true game-changers and there's really nothing to worry about for the foreseeable future.  Heck, the story says that the U.S. will soon exceed Saudi Arabia in oil production and become energy independent, that it has so much natural gas that it might as well build export terminals, and that there's 100 years of natural gas just waiting to be used.

Unfortunately, none of this is really true.  Here's how I can make the case for that assertion using just three charts. 

This first chart comes to us from the EIA courtesy of one Mr. Sweetnam, a former director at the EIA who was promptly reassigned to a distant position when his superiors discovered that this chart revealing declines in existing conventional oil fields had been released to the public.

What this graph shows is the projected decline of all known projects in 2009 (so this does not have the U.S. shale 'revolution' baked into it, but I'll get to that shortly), and it shows that those projects are going to slip from delivering 85 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil to just 45 million bpd between 2012 and 2030.  In other words, 40 million bpd will go missing.  But it's worse than that, because demand is expected to grow, leaving a gap of more than 60 million bpd by 2030.

If that sounds like a lot, it is, but that's just an assumed rate of production decline of 4.8% per year, which is right in the midzone of expert estimates.  Some estimate decline rates as high as 6.5%, which would really amplify the drop and the resulting gap.

The top line is showing how much oil demand would grow if it was going to expand at the usual historical rates.  The gap between those two modeled states is 43 million barrels.  To put that in a U.S. shale context, the EIA projects that the domestic shale plays might deliver as much as 3 million barrels per day by 2020, which is nothing to sneeze at, but even with that there's a projected 40 million bpd shortfall

The second chart I want you to look at is this one which shows total world crude oil production over the past 12 years:

Between 2004 and 2012, the total supply of global crude oil + condensates (a definition which excludes the non-transportation fuels known as natural gas plant liquids and biofuels) has just flopped around in a tight band with only 5% wiggle.

It bears noting here that the 2004 average spot price for crude oil (using the Brent contract, as that better defines the 'world oil' price) was $38.35/bbl, while the average 2012 spot price was $111.63, or 2.9 times higher than the 2004 price. 

Despite this near tripling in price, the global supply is just sitting there stuck on a plateau.  Economically speaking, this is not supposed to happen.  What is supposed to happen is that suppliers will react to these higher prices and deliver more to the market, and then prices will settle down.  But that hasn't happened, which indicates that global oil supplies are, as expected, constrained by something other than market forces.

This brings us to the third chart of global spending on oil projects:

What also happened during the time that global supplies of crude oil were undulating along that 5% plateau?  Global expenditures on oil projects jumped by 100% from $300 billion per year to $600 billion.  With a 100% increase in capital spending by the petroleum industry, we saw petroleum supplies remain more or less stuck in the exact same spot. 

I am of the impression that $600 billion a year is a lot of money and that the people dedicating that capital are applying it to the very best projects available.  I make the further assumption that when a project is identified and pursued, it is brought on line as rapidly as possible.  There are not that many ways to look at this data other than noting that we are spending more and more to get the same...for now.

If you want to know why oil costs over $110 on the world stage, the last two charts above give you the answer:  There's just not that much of it to go around.

Despite all of this effort and expense, the world is basically treading water with respect to overall production.  The reason for that is contained in the first chart out of these three:  The race is now on to bring new projects on line quickly enough to offset the losses from existing fields. 

Petroleum is neither a U.S. issue nor any other specific country's issue, but rather a global commodity of immense importance. While the development of the shale plays in the U.S. is of domestic importance, it has not altered the global dynamic of static oil production – at least not detectably in the global supply charts. Not yet.

Conclusion (to Part I)

In Part II: How Energy Woes Will Trigger Financial Crisis, we look at the latest global petroleum supply and demand data and see clearly that cheap oil has become extinct. That era is over for humankind. 

My prediction is that the underlying rates of depletion will continue to fight the recent production gains in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world until they soon come to a standstill, eventually swamping even heroic efforts. 

Steadily rising energy costs and decreasing net energy yields will simply not be able to fund the future economic growth and consumptive lifestyles that developed nations are depending on (and that developing nations are aspiring to). In fact, the persistent global economic weakness we've been experiencing over the past years is an expected symptom of the throttling constraint decreasing net energy places on growth.

If you care about the future of the economy, your standard of living (or that of your children), and/or your quality of life, you need to fully understand this relationship between growth and net energy. Your individual future (and our collective one) depends on it.

Click here to read Part II of this report (free executive summary; enrollment required for full access).


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Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:49 | 3158801 SgtShaftoe
SgtShaftoe's picture

Two words: Thorium LFTR, just to start.

Oil won't likely be depleted... ever, but oil may certainly become uneconomical to burn in a car. At some point in price it becomes economical to simply synthesize it.

Energy is not the issue, we can make energy pretty easily in almost an infinite amount of ways. The true problems we face are the top-down structure of society rather than bottom-up structures, (politics, banking, monetary theory, etc.).

Let people innovate, and create systems that encourage tinkering (bottom-up) and humanity will be fine.

“The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine the can design.”
? Friedrich A. von Hayek

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:53 | 3158834 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

Ah yes, remind me.  How many households get their electricity from these reactors again?  Where are we storing the waste?

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:23 | 3159022 FrankDrakman
FrankDrakman's picture

I don't care about thorium, but here in the Great White North (Ontario specifically), electricity from nuclear provides more than half the power consumed by our 13 million people. And we've never had a medium, let alone major, incident. And the waste thing is BS - they produce less than one railcar worth of waste in a year, and we have plenty of exhausted mines up in the Canadian Shield to bury it in.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:33 | 3159065 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

don't ruin a good thing.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 18:53 | 3160040 Matt
Matt's picture

"And we've never had a medium, let alone major, incident. "

Um, you consider Chalk River meltdown a minor incident? Bonus: Jimmy Carter came to save the day!

As for nuclear waste, by 2020 we will hopefully be able to use 10 Megawatt lasers to break down the waste:

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:00 | 3158835 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Remind us about how many thorium fuel cycle reactors are currently operating...

And to top things off, you are proposing a massive statist solution, unless you are so fucking stupid as to let profit driven private concerns build reactors (because we just know how well that is turning out...)

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:03 | 3158900 SgtShaftoe
SgtShaftoe's picture

The net of humanity will not allow the entire world to go into the 12th century. If some governments decide that's what they want to do, and they have the means, they could do it, but history is a bitch. Those leaders generally don't last long-term.

It doesn't matter who makes the first one, or who innovates it, or what specifically they innovate. It will happen, and it will be copied/pasted. It's like trying to prevent fire by government decree. Innovation will happen. It always has. Barring some catastrophe that destroys the entire planet, energy will become cheaper over long term charts. That's just economics.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:07 | 3158920 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

Unfortunately, it very much does matter when it is developed and that development will require real energy and commodity inputs.  If the latter isn't available, it doesn't happen.  Pretty simple really, unless of course you still believe that "ideas become real without any real inputs" as you posted on an earlier thread.  Another unemployed MBA posting on ZH.

I can think of several catastrophies in the making when it comes to delivering food right now.

FYI, the laws of physics and Nature really don't give a shit about eCONomics.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:22 | 3159019 SgtShaftoe
SgtShaftoe's picture

It does require real energy and real inputs, but those are economically conserved. Computers went from entire floors of a building, to ones orders of magnitude faster that fit in your palm. Commodities are conserved. Conductors and material is conserved with lighter cheaper materials, and less material (nanostructures).

Food is not produced currently in efficient ways, it's produced in the interests of the fascist companies that have captured the regulatory structure over the last 100 years, under the fairytale of massive economies of scale (doesn't really exist).

Most people, with a little work, can feed themselves using combinations of old and new techniques from their backyard. Just watch some of the food documentaries out there, and check out this guy:

I'm not an MBA. I'm self taught in economics, and I don't work anywhere near that field. The laws of physics and nature are the laws of economics. It's the same. Charles Darwin actually borrowed many ideas and concepts from Adam Smith and John Locke.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:39 | 3159107 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

Will not feed 7+billion, see my post above troll.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:49 | 3159159 Nothing To See Here
Nothing To See Here's picture

Calling "troll" people you disagree with is the best way to discredit yourself in a flash. But you are already doing fine in that regard with your economic illetteracy painted all over your posts...

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:58 | 3159207 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

And claiming pixie dust solutions is a sure fire way to advertise that you are not a serious thinker with a grasp of basic facts...

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 17:40 | 3159712 Jack Burton
Jack Burton's picture

"Magical Thinking" at work. I have seen it all before. Lots of magical solutions, we are all just too stupid to see them.

A case of "Magical Thinking" was Steve Jobs and his cancer. He did not get it treated, choosing instead to take vitamens, somehow he got the idea that the power of his brain could overcome cancer cells. Wrong! When he chose treatment, it was too late. He believed, but his belief was a useless exercise.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 22:25 | 3160856 trav777
trav777's picture

they already produce modular LFRs.

LFR is a good technology and actually proven.  It can burn down transuranics and other wastes and is pretty failure-tolerant.  Just combine with SCW...there are some promising mitigation technologies and there is a chance to make it to that other platform before this one collapses.

But again, "tough decisions" will have to be made and 3rd rails will have to be stepped on, including yours.  I know certain aspects of the truth simply don't sit well with you and that's something you've got to fix.  Everyone gotta face their demons

Thu, 01/17/2013 - 16:25 | 3163637 Going Loco
Going Loco's picture

If you are referring to the suggestion that above all agriculture must be changed if we are to survive, there is a better chance of success using the Polyface approach than we are offered by industrial agriculture.

(I have a sneaky desire to see the USA continue its industrial agricultural system so that it poisons even more of its own citizens, and thereby eats away at the 7b problem)

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 17:55 | 3159786 trav777
trav777's picture

physics is economics? I thought you weren't stupid.

Brayton cycle, Rankine cycle...learn it, b!tch.  There are HARD physical limits to things which don't change over time no matter how much we'd like them to.  Reality doesn't REQUIRE YOUR CONSENT.

Evolution is not physics.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 18:22 | 3159888 Five8Charlie
Five8Charlie's picture

"physics is economics? I thought you weren't stupid."

That's way beyond stupid....

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 18:59 | 3160069 Matt
Matt's picture

That is a tad disingenous restatement of the previous poster's comment. I believe the intent was to say that real economics are driven by the laws of physics.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 20:39 | 3160471 steve from virginia
steve from virginia's picture




"I believe the intent was to say that real economics are driven by the laws of physics."


No they're not!


The purpose of economics is to convince the public that 2 + 2 = 22.


Don't believe me, ask Bernanke. That's why they ('They') invented the Phillips Curve.



Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:46 | 3159142 Nothing To See Here
Nothing To See Here's picture

"FYI, the laws of physics and Nature really don't give a shit about eCONomics."

There's a good keynesian talking. Any Austrian knows that a free economy does operate like nature : self-organization, spontaneous order, unplanned adaptation, all the result of millions of free interactions among the agents of the system.  It takes a Keynesian to figure that economics are a mere mechanical thing that can be modelled with mathematical equations on a degree paper.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 16:00 | 3159221 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

It is also clear that Austrians don't have a fucking clue about the concept of entropy and the role of energy if they ascribe to the above nonsense...

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 17:22 | 3159632 Nothing To See Here
Nothing To See Here's picture

Don't you love it when some coffeehouse blogger called Flakmeister calls Austrians "clueless", those guys who have accurately foretold all the major economic developements of the past 100 years and whose advice, if we had followed it, would have us today in an economically stable and peaceful world?

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 19:26 | 3160182 Matt
Matt's picture

Darn it, the Austrians held the keys to Utopia, I knew we should have went with door number 2.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 17:56 | 3159789 trav777
trav777's picture

so the free market can violate the laws of physics? That is what you appear to be implying.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:00 | 3158883 centerline
centerline's picture

See Travs comments on this.

I stand in agreeent with him on this.  There is potential for us to avoid a calamity.  But exponential growth is simply not possible.  Unfortunately, the current systems in place (economic, social, etc.) are predicated on perpetual (exponential) growth.

Likewise, to avoid a calamity, we have to start talking about real problems like adults.  Chances of that happening right now are nil.  We are more than likely pushing way beyond the point of avoiding a calamity.  We should have thrown science full force into solving various "real" problems decades ago... instead we worship actors/actresses, thug athletes, and invest technology into new and creative ways to spy on and kill one another.


Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:02 | 3158899 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Chances of that happening at the Hedge or Congress for that matter are nil... In other places there are dialogues on going...

In all fairness, this site has come a long-long way on energy matters from the time I first showed up...

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:13 | 3158951 centerline
centerline's picture

Yeah.  I do recall being far more outnumbered a long time ago.


Wed, 01/16/2013 - 16:02 | 3159232 Almost Solvent
Almost Solvent's picture

They're all over on the Obama gun thread.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 16:08 | 3159271 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

You are likely correct...

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 17:59 | 3159800 trav777
trav777's picture

let this be a lesson to you:

do not EVER question the manner in which I do my work.  Ever.

The thing you cretins do not know about me is that I do know what I am doing.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 20:51 | 3160508 steve from virginia
steve from virginia's picture




Actually, the worst places are Naked Capitalism and Roubini's site, Econmonitor.


Dudes over there are true believers ... that fiddling with monetary policy will lead us all to the promised land. Serious economists are simply a reality death sentence: Matthew Pettis, Ed Harrison, Mark Thoma, Dean Baker, Bill Mitchell, James Galbraith, even James Hamilton. Keen discusses energy but subordinate to monetary strategies. 

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:06 | 3158912 SgtShaftoe
SgtShaftoe's picture

I'm not arguing there won't be a seismic shift, likely very painful, likely resulting in widespread war the likes of which we haven't seen. I'm saying that humanity will survive, and the end to cheap oil will not be the end. Society will have to develop new stable structures, city states, whatever (bottom-up). I don't expect the nation state to survive what is coming. Humanity however, will.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 16:09 | 3159274 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

There, that was not too hard, was it?

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 20:54 | 3160518 steve from virginia
steve from virginia's picture



I can't believe I saw what I just saw ... an Austrian turning in his rifle and steel helmet.


You'll never get my samurai sword, Flakmeister! I need it for when i meet Warren Buffett.



Wed, 01/16/2013 - 22:28 | 3160870 trav777
trav777's picture

"we can do this the easy way or the hard way.  In about 30 seconds, me and my 3 friends are going to unleash upon you your worst nightmare.  You're going to wish the earth opened up beneath your feet and swallowed you whole."

"What's the easy way?"

"heh...that was the easy way."

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:44 | 3158755 LongSoupLine
LongSoupLine's picture

Yep, just the other day I had a huge breakthrough on my Twinkie-fueled prototype car, now I can finally...oh wait...





Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:44 | 3158764 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

We're sorry, but the capital and resources you need for the type of innovation required to keep this ponzi (humanity) alive in it's present form has been mis-allocated and mal-invested.  Your quality of life will decline.  Let us know when you are all disarmed and we will come back from our private islands. - 


The Bankers and other members of the corporate/financial sector who own your representation and your ass.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:52 | 3158825 SgtShaftoe
SgtShaftoe's picture

read my post above. You're on the right track. The root cause is societal structure, not lack of energy. It will self correct in time, and there's nothing we can do about that. The new state will be beautiful, but the phase transition could be unpleasant.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:03 | 3158901 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

not quite.  There is a huge energy input required to accelerate a number of biological cycles and provide food for 7+ billion people.  Nature requires a delicate balance and there are limits to how far you can push elements to a certain oxidation state in order to allow a singal species to grow in numbers.

Thermodynamically, energy is pretty limitless, but it takes many forms and here in this "closed system" of earth many biological cycles must continue to turn (most still poorly understand and catalyzed by bacteria that have yet to be fully characterize).  No doubt life will continue should you interupt any one of a number of these cycles, however, it simply won't involve humans.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:11 | 3158938 SgtShaftoe
SgtShaftoe's picture

Just to feed people in the US could be accomplished using old methods by turning dead space into gardens. The Polyface farm guy has talked about this at length. Just from the medians and green space between freeways in this country, we could feed the entire population.

We can't get there by continuing to do things the way we do, but it certainly can be done, and it will. Farming will fundamentally change, monetary systems will fundamentally change, government will fundamentally change, but people will survive. The world is about to be turned on it's head, but it's not the end, just the beginning of something new.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:19 | 3158992 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

" The Polyface farm guy has talked about this at length. Just from the medians and green space between freeways in this country, we could feed the entire population."


Wrong, you still need reduced nitrogen as well as sulfur, potasium, fresh water, and a whole host of other elements in the correct oxidation state.

You seem to be clueless as to the significance of the oxidation state.  No doubt there is plenty of nitrogen gas in the world, unfortunately, it is useless to plants.  reducing it to a useable oxidation state requires a tremendous amount of energy.  "dead space" is dead for a reason dipshit.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:27 | 3159044 SgtShaftoe
SgtShaftoe's picture

There's fucking grass growing there now dumbfuck, as well as most cities in the US because it's "PRETTY". You've obviously never stepped foot on a farm or understand the first fucking thing about agriculture. Feeding people isn't a problem, we just can't do it the way we're doing it now.

You don't need fucking fertilizer, you don't need chemicals, you can do it completely organically if you just follow nature's rules. You need naturalish rotation of the appropriate animals and crops over the same ground to keep the soil, worms and dirt happy.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:37 | 3159090 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

You are beyond stupid, flux matters, that grass doesn't amount to shit in terms of biomass to support anyone.


The fact that you keep making ignorant statements like "you don't need fertilizer" has confirmed you as a troll.

You don't get plant mass from nothing and plants very much require chemical inputs in the correct oxidation state (whether or not the source is organic is fucking irrelevant).  

I have been in agriculture of 30+ years, our family manages over 30,000 acres.  Thanks for confirming you are a troll. 

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 16:02 | 3159212 SgtShaftoe
SgtShaftoe's picture

Oh, one of you mega farmers, makes sense, I should have known. A Fascist pig suckling from the .gov teat driving your new John Deere Starship sized tractor off the lot every year, getting your daddy gubmint mailbox money check, and having daddy gov knock off all the little farmers. Fuck you mega farmers. You are just as bad as the jack booted thugs that launch drone strikes, you just have other people do violence for you. You've killed the farming industry, saddled up to Monsanto, Syngenta, and Conagra to push out the little guy. You will have untold blood on your hands of those that go hungry when supply chain disruptions start.

There is a natural ceiling to how many animals can naturally live on an acre of land, but you people have shoved your fist up natures ass to turn her into a puppet for your abuse. There's plenty of land to grow things on, and support the population, and your monopoly will soon end.

Fascists are pigs, and I will not converse with fascists. Fuck you very much, fascist.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 16:14 | 3159284 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

Most of those in my operation are former military, like myself.  When the supply lines break (and they will) we will have food, and the blood on our hands will be yours.  Bring it.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 16:26 | 3159358 SgtShaftoe
SgtShaftoe's picture

Good for you! You win a gold star! I'm military too! And I wasn't some supply clerk for a public affairs group. Don't worry though, I'm not interested in you or anyone else. It's too bad you forgot your oath, so not only are you a fascist, but a traitor. Good for you.

Thu, 01/17/2013 - 16:42 | 3163732 Going Loco
Going Loco's picture

And there we have it. Laws of Physics is a real, honest-to-badness, unadulterated dyed-in-the-wool American badass gun-toting piece of Big-Ag worhlessness. He wrecks his 30,000 acres of the planet (note: doesn't own it, he "manages" it) and threatening to shoot anyone who challenges him. Poisoning the earth with his mad science. He doesn't know or care that agriculture was and will be again practised successfully without the ghastly nonsense that Big-Ag depends on now: artficial fertilizer from non-renewable finite eneregy-consuming extraction systems; genetically modified patented seeds with no seed saving allowed; intensively-farmed animals whose shit has no value because the food inputs and rearing conditions are so devalued; bulk shipping of almost worthless food products to remote food processors who process any remaining goodness out of it.... I don't have to list all this garbage, anyone who knows anything about carrying capacity will already know what I am talking about. 30,000 acres sounds like a lot of land to me. I only have 20 acres but I bet my land is in better heart than yours, you gun-toting American land-eater. I can live off my land when things go wrong. Your land probably couldn't grow a blade of grass if you stopped feeding it the garbage you call oxidants, and you will have to stop when the semi-trailers stop arriving, won't you?

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 19:40 | 3160229 Matt
Matt's picture

The Nitrogen is the easiest to solve, the bacteria in the roots of legumes can properly afix the nitrates, which is why the native Amerindians or MesoAmericans or whatever they want to be called today, planted crops together in complementary forms - three sisters, four sisters.

Keep in mind, this is talking along the lines of the previous posters small scale gardening, not 30,000 acre centralized farming production.

It is the sulfer that I don't know where to naturally source in useful form. We have tons of potassium nitrates here in the form of Giant Pacific Kelp, but they are getting loaded with radioactive iodine from Fukushima. 

Does volcanic ash have the right sulfer to be useful for growing crops?

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:47 | 3158782 SelfGov
SelfGov's picture

Malthus was right, just way early.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:54 | 3158845 SgtShaftoe
SgtShaftoe's picture

Malthus was an alarmist political twit, just like Keynes. Anyone who is Austrian in their economic world view, or Austrian leaning should be highly suspect of these top-down engineers of humanity.


“The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine the can design.”
? Friedrich A. von Hayek

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:12 | 3158952 OOONONO
OOONONO's picture

Take another look at the "A Brief History of Oil & Humans" graphic in the article above ...  and then try again

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 19:41 | 3160238 Matt
Matt's picture

That chart would be far more useful if it showed that Y = 0 is 2 Billion for human population, and if it included coal as well as oil.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:56 | 3158861 perelmanfan
perelmanfan's picture

It's not just a question of finding new energy sources. We will also simply use less, and be no "poorer" for it by any qualitative standard. Europeans use less than half the energy that Americans do, and lead better, healthier lives. If Americans are pushed by rising oil prices to drive smaller cars, bike, garden at home, double up in massive McMansions, install LED lights, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. it is a good thing, even if they think it is not. It's fun here on ZH to argue that all Americans are louts and mouthbreathers who would rather die than abandon their wasteful habits - and some certainly are. But not all. Not even most.  

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 19:43 | 3160251 Matt
Matt's picture

The problem is that much of North America is built around the car, and it will take a great deal of energy to restructure whole cities away from that design. European cities were built before cars, so walking everywhere is no big deal. Try that in Los Angeles.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:09 | 3158929 OOONONO
OOONONO's picture

You mean that "Julian Simon" - the moron that Al Bartlett (i.e., the most important video you will ever see) destroyed?

You are kidding, right?


Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:13 | 3158950 SgtShaftoe
SgtShaftoe's picture

This one:

and Matt Ridley would be a good read for you as well:

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:18 | 3158998 OOONONO
OOONONO's picture

Here is the link to old Al's famous talk:


Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:35 | 3159082 SgtShaftoe
SgtShaftoe's picture

Population is basically topped out, and is in decline in many countries, it's not exponential forever. I don't see any problem with the current population level, given that innovation is still accelerating, and population will begin declining globally in the next couple decades, and due to fewer families having children. Granted, you can't have exponential growth forever in a system with unknown but not infinite limits, but we're not going there, so it's largely academic.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 19:52 | 3160286 Matt
Matt's picture

Your generalizations about developed societies does not apply to Latin America, Africa, or much of Asia where fertility rates remain quite high. A portion of the excess population then migrates to the developed world. The developed world, in turn, continues to export food surpluses to these places.

This means the population will always increase to match the available food supply. Guess what happens if there is a sudden shortage?

Any sources for your model where population declines in the next few decades? All the ones I see have a target for 9 to 14 billion people ~2050.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:15 | 3158972 AnAnonymous
AnAnonymous's picture

When price signals make oil uneconomical, a new form of energy is developed and used.

Amen to that, bro.
We, Americans, are a special breed in humanity: we know how to overcome the environment. That is why the whole environment had to be trusted with us. We have been the safest, most well inspired managers of it.

Signed: an American.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:48 | 3159158 Almost Solvent
Almost Solvent's picture

No, a men to you my bubbling citizenship is full of energy. Ya Yo said the man in the club with 5 0 scent.

Once my finger pulled, energy all released into your dutch o van.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 16:15 | 3159293 TheFourthStooge-ing
TheFourthStooge-ing's picture


Once my finger pulled, energy all released into your dutch o van.

Very crusticular, AnAnonymous style.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 16:23 | 3159338 TheFourthStooge-ing
TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

AnAnonymen to that, bro.
We, Chinese citizenism hypocritizens, cook all special breeds of caninity and felinity: we know how to overcome their resistance to wokking. That is why the whole dog is stir-fried by us. We have been the crustiest, most well inspired managers of our JKC (Just Cooked Cat) fast food franchises, even introducing new delicacies to the menu such as pickled dog taint in hot mustard sauce.

Signed: AnAnonymous

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 21:28 | 3160624 steve from virginia
steve from virginia's picture



That stuff is called 'infant formula' over here ...


It's also fed to the geezers in Alzheimers' wings. They don't know so they can't care ...

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 19:55 | 3160299 Matt
Matt's picture

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

-George Bernard Shaw

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:31 | 3159056 Taint Boil
Taint Boil's picture



…………..At that 2.3% growth rate, we would be using energy at a rate corresponding to the total solar input striking Earth in a little over 400 years. We would consume something comparable to the entire sun in 1400 years from now. By 2500 years, we would use energy at the rate of the entire Milky Way galaxy—100 billion stars……….




You can’t have continuous growth rates – it just doesn’t work mathematically.


"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function."


Bartlett, 1998

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 19:59 | 3160308 Matt
Matt's picture

So, what you are saying is, we can use renewable energy to continue the current growth paradigm for the next 400 years while we work out a better system.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 21:16 | 3160586 Taint Boil
Taint Boil's picture



174 petawatts of sun hits the earth per year (30% is reflected but let’s ignore).


174 petawatts = 174,000,000,000 megawatts.


1 barrel of oil = .564 megawatts +/-


174 petawatts = 308,510,638,297 barrels of oil.


The world uses 87,000,000 barrels of oil per day.


So that is 3,546 times more barrels than we use today.


Ummm, what was your question again, Oh Yeah … to answer your question in one word - NO.





Wed, 01/16/2013 - 23:42 | 3161079 Matt
Matt's picture

1) was sarc, but anyways:

2) your first post, you said at 2.3% growth we would use 100% of all solar power recieved by Earth in "a little over 400 years", then you reply that, no, we cannot continue the current paradigm for 400 years. So your posts contradict each other.


Thu, 01/17/2013 - 06:29 | 3161561 Taint Boil
Taint Boil's picture



The first post (copied and pasted) was implying, I assume, that it would not be possible or practical for the earth to sustain such growth. I don’t think the author was suggesting that solar energy was the answer or possible; the sun was just used for a comparison so the sheep could get their arms around it.


I know you were being sarcastic in the 1st post.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:51 | 3159177 mind_imminst
mind_imminst's picture

Why all the down votes for the good sargeant? Peak oil theorists have been saying the same thing for a couple of decades now. At the very least, inductive reasoning should make people a little skeptical of ANOTHER claim of "peak oil" and the crash of civilization. Energy and the economy are in a dynamic equilibrium. Stop thinking in static or linear terms.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 16:02 | 3159230 Dark_Horse
Dark_Horse's picture

We already have another energy source somewhat comparable to petroleum, it's Nuclear.

but that didn't work out so well for 3Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima, ...

When petroleum is not longer feasable for largescale energy use, there will need to be a nuclear reactor near every town, and several around each city.

I myself, don't like the poor record of Nuclear reactors(should be zero disasters), and certainly not if I have to live near several of them.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 19:44 | 3160249 Citxmech
Citxmech's picture

The other problem is that we've peaked on nuclear fuel too.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 20:02 | 3160323 Matt
Matt's picture

On one type of nuclear fuel, you mean. One of the rarest forms of nuclear fuel, U-235, which is rarer than silver. If only there were other potential fuel sources ...

LFTR in 5 minutes

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 16:03 | 3159247 CrashisOptimistic
CrashisOptimistic's picture

Funny how when you sell a few books you decide you didn't say everything in the first one and write another.

And btw, as to sneering at the ability of a fucking commodity to kill you, how would you, naked and with no tools, innovate your way out of a locked and sealed closet with 5 minutes of air in it?

Don't delude yourself.  There is nothing sacred about human thought.  Human thought creaked population up to 1 billion people in 1900.  It's 7 now.  No one got smarter.  Oil arrived to drive 400 horsepower tractors over 100,000 acres of farmland before planting season expired.  Oil arrived to drive trucks to bring that food to your grocery store.

Were there no oil, there would be 1.25 billion people.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 18:31 | 3159926 AgAu_man
AgAu_man's picture

SgtShaftoe:  "Enough with the Malthusian doom bullshit."

What comes to mind when I read your post is this:  "People claim they want the truth.  But that's not true.  People want the 'truth' that is consistent with the world-view with which they've become accustomed." -AgAu_man.

People prefer information that support their existing view.  Few are keen on having them challenged or shaken.  Even fewer actually enjoy having them challenged, as they see it as a sport to improve their brains.

That's not because the clever parts of their brain can't process the truth, but because the emotional parts of their brain can't process it easily, i.e. the can't "turn on a dime" at the emotional level.  Most people solve problems and make (buying) decisions at a primal/visceral/emotional level first, and then use their abstract skills (more recently evolved, if at all) to justify their decisions.  Rather than doing it the other way around:  Problem solve first, then attach emotional anchors to the solution.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:33 | 3158681 Mercury
Mercury's picture

On the faulty assumption that fossil fuels will always be a resource we could draw upon, we fashioned economic, monetary, and other assorted belief systems based on permanent abundance, plus a species population on track to number around 9 billion souls by 2050.


Another faulty assumption might be that natural gas comes only from fossils.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:36 | 3158696 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Yep... thats the ticket, nothing a dose of wishful thinking can't cure...

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:49 | 3158803 Mercury
Mercury's picture

OK, name the five most common dinosaur species that once roamed this heavenly body with a methane-rich atmosphere.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:55 | 3158860 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

And remind me of the relationship between escape velocity and planetary temperature... I'll throw in at no extra cost, photo-dissociation data....

BTW, that dinosaur strawman only works at Yahoo! and boards of that calibre...

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:01 | 3158894 Ident 7777 economy
Ident 7777 economy's picture

sez you. And look who you are ...

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:36 | 3158703 RacerX
RacerX's picture

right. I know some folks that seemingly have an unlimited supply of un-natural gas.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:48 | 3158794 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

ever see what the production numbers look like over the lifetime of a natgas well?  You might want to take a look.  Flux matters.  there is a certain flux required to maintain a certain quality of life for 7 billion+ people.

Seems those falty assumptions keep piling up.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:34 | 3158688 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Oh goodie....

We have an article on Gun Control, now Peak Oil....

Must be a rating sweeps week or something...

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:37 | 3158707 Spastica Rex
Spastica Rex's picture

I want to discuss gay Muslims.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:40 | 3158730 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

There's nothing to discuss because there are none. Also there are no gay Republicans, just gay liberal Democrats.


Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:43 | 3158756 falak pema
falak pema's picture

dick cheney wil not agree. 

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 20:10 | 3160356 Matt
Matt's picture

If you look back, I think you will find last Wednesday was also filled with Gold, Guns, Oil, etc. It seems Wednesday is the day for high volume hot topic posts.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:47 | 3158781 otto skorzeny
otto skorzeny's picture

senator mark kirk is a little sweet- but it's nothing his handlers at AIPAC that put him in office can't keep quiet

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:52 | 3158823 Dr. Engali
Dr. Engali's picture


"Also there are no gay Republicans, just gay liberal Democrats".


Well there was that one know the one..who likes to play footsie in the toilet stall...Larry Craig.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:57 | 3158865 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

He was doing research....

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:01 | 3158891 fuu
fuu's picture

They may not be gay but they do seem to enjoy bending over the pages.

Jack it!

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:09 | 3158932 Spastica Rex
Spastica Rex's picture

It's easy to tell who isn't a gay politician. Look for sincerity in the eyes and an American flag in the background.


Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:54 | 3158852 samsara
samsara's picture

Don't tell that to Lindsey Grahm Cracker

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 21:33 | 3160637 steve from virginia
steve from virginia's picture



Most of the Republicans are punishment fags, none of them are ... 'gay'.


'Punishment fag' = J. Edgar Hoover.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:42 | 3158743 Dr. Engali
Dr. Engali's picture

I want to discuss gay gun carrying muslims who dress in drag and control all of the world's oil.....oh yeah and toss in how they are this close <> to getting a nuclear bomb. Is that nuclear or nucler? Let's ask W.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:42 | 3158744 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Got any more of those "intricate" stone carvings to share with us?

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:47 | 3158785 Spastica Rex
Spastica Rex's picture

Medieval European erotic art is pretty hard to come by.

It's also rare.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:46 | 3159141 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Tough crowd... *you* got junked for god knows what... Maybe it is the company you keep...

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:55 | 3159192 Spastica Rex
Spastica Rex's picture

I hope so, cuz that was my very best Henny Youngman impersonation.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:35 | 3158690 ZH11
ZH11's picture

Peak oil is just a lie, there's tons of it left and the US and the world have nothing to worry about.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:36 | 3158706 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Tons left... how much 2 or 3?

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 20:15 | 3160369 Matt
Matt's picture

He is right, you know. Peak Oil IS a lie. We can continue to extract 7% more oil every year than the previous one, forever. By my calculations, at a continues increase of 7 percent annually, compounding, by 2430 we will extract a volume of oil equal to the mass of the entire planet, EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. By the year 2440, we will extract TWICE the mass of the ENTIRE planet Earth, EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. 

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:40 | 3158725 Dr. Engali
Dr. Engali's picture

Would that be long tons or short tons? 

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:49 | 3158805 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

Details don't matter, if it is in print (especially on the net or from a propaganda mouthpiece) it must be true.  Who needs peer review or engineers when politicians and journalists can solve all our problems.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:56 | 3158862 Spastica Rex
Spastica Rex's picture

You forgot celebrities.


Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:17 | 3158986 AnAnonymous
AnAnonymous's picture


She looks like the person to ask.

She already managed to get a confession from that role model for 'americanism', the all American, all American Lance "Where is the syringe?" Armstrong.

She can probably give some insight on this peak oil story.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:22 | 3159018 Dr. Engali
Dr. Engali's picture

Has  chairman Mao confessed to killing 70 million people on Oprah yet?

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 16:25 | 3159352 TheFourthStooge-ing
TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

Great Leap Forward ...... into the grave.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 16:32 | 3159387 TheFourthStooge-ing
TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

AnAnonymous squawked:

She looks like the person to ask.

She already managed to get a confession from that role model for 'americanism', the all American, all American Lance "Where is the syringe?" Armstrong.

She will never get a confession from AnAnonymous of his inhalations at the Peoples Liberation Opium Parlours.

This is because nobody cares that that role model for hypocritizenism, the all Chinese citizenism, all Chinese citizenism An "I pooped on the side of the road" Anonymous, is addicted to the opium fumes. His drugs addled propagandation is the revealing bits.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:38 | 3158692 THE DORK OF CORK
THE DORK OF CORK's picture

The recent IEA energy outlook report talks about 45% of all new oil (2020) over and above todays oil coming from Iraq 

This remains cheap stuff............infact the last of the cheap stuff.

But they declare almost all of it will flow to Asia.

It makes one wonder was the Iraq adventure really in tha national interest of both the UK & US or was it in  global banking forces interests..............

PS You need to take the IEAs predictions with a lorry load of salt but if true.............We are talking about a breakdown of globalization with the world splitting into  east / west hemispheres.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:48 | 3158798 otto skorzeny
otto skorzeny's picture

IEA is a creation of that asshole Hebrew Kissinger-so I'll take it with a lot of salt

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:35 | 3158695 NoDebt
NoDebt's picture

I still like the idea of doing it here rather than importing it from over there.  Even if it only lasts 20-30 years instead of 100.

Where are Pons and Fleischman?  Did they ever work out the kinks in that whole cold fusion thing?

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:39 | 3158724 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

You don;t think that trading printed fiatcos for oil is the deal of the century?

P+F were inducted into the Grifter Hall of Fame....

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:57 | 3158846 NoDebt
NoDebt's picture

It was.  But now, I'd rather do it here.  Call me old fashioned, but I like it where we can control it.  Yeah, we got a buncha bastards running the show over here but at least they're OUR bastards.

Holing physical seems to be a wise precaution these days at both the individaual and national level.  Works for gold.  Works for oil.

Couldn't hurt our balance of trader none, either.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:11 | 3158945 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Do you even know what the breakdown of imported US oil is?

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:37 | 3158702 Abitdodgie
Abitdodgie's picture

Brown, Searl, Truman, Lafforgue are to name but a few of the people who invented free energy back in the 50's and 60's , but yet the black projects will not release it . Gravity pulse engines can get to Mars in 2 hours and they have been doing since the 80's . It is not about the energy it is about the CONTROL.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:37 | 3158711 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture


That is all I can say....

Just wow.....

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:43 | 3158731 Spastica Rex
Spastica Rex's picture

I think this is just a corallary of Matthew 17:20.

Oh we of little faith.

How did the Guild Steersmen transport spaceships in Dune? They did it WITH THEIR MINDS.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:49 | 3158804 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Yeah, but they had spice...

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:40 | 3158732 Forbes
Forbes's picture

Why does the third chart: World's Liquid Fuel Supply, use the AEO (Annual Energy Outlook) 2009 when AEO 2013 is available? Is it because the shale boom the last several years changes the impact? Or is there some other reason to not use the most current data? Seems funny.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:42 | 3158745 Spastica Rex
Spastica Rex's picture

What did the "shale boom" do to world oil production? It must have made it go off the charts.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:43 | 3158763 Sudden Debt
Sudden Debt's picture

will somebody please blow my windmill into motion?....

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:47 | 3158792 Almost Solvent
Almost Solvent's picture

That's what she said!

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:45 | 3158770 Sudden Debt
Sudden Debt's picture

if we all start smoking 4 packs of sigarets a day IT WON'T BE OUR PROBLEM!!!!


Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:45 | 3158773 pragmatic hobo
pragmatic hobo's picture

peak oil? are we still talking about this non-sense created by bush to reward his oil buddies?

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:50 | 3158807 Spastica Rex
Spastica Rex's picture

No, everybody already figured out that oil is made by a chipmunk living at the center of the Earth and the supply is unlimited. World oil production has been increasing at well over 10% each year for the past forever.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:08 | 3158922 pragmatic hobo
pragmatic hobo's picture

do you have any concrete evidence oil is NOT made by chipmunks living at the center of the earth?

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:11 | 3158936 Spastica Rex
Spastica Rex's picture

I'm boned.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:49 | 3158806 imapopulistnow
imapopulistnow's picture

If the price goes up, consumption falls, more $ are invested in efficiency and conservation and more $ are invested in previously uneconomical production and exploration.

You must agree, the global energy environment is far better today then it was 5 years ago before rapid advances in horizontal drilling and fracking that increased available supply. (unless you are an environmentalist who opposes fossil fuels regardless of the consequences to incomes, jobs and the elimination of poverty.)

The 100% increase in cap ex over the last 5 years most likely is not reflected in current production numbers since it oftentimes takes upwards to 10 years to bring new energy finds to the marketplace.  Thus over the next 5 years we could possibly be awash in oil temporarily if oil companies have in fact overinvested just as happened with natural gas. 

Fortunately we have Mr. Market to help work out the future.  Perhaps oil will peak, alternatives will not yet be ready for prime time and civilization will come crashing down.  But perhaps also, humans will muddle through with new technological advances and substitutes - as they are made more economical when the future price of fossil fuels rise.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:00 | 3158886 Spastica Rex
Spastica Rex's picture

How quickly do horizontal wells peak? How quickly are old traditional wells declining? Why isn't global oil production increasing?

Never mind - No limits!

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 17:32 | 3159682 NaN
NaN's picture

Indeed.  This is a competition between energy sources and increasing efficiency. At some point, the externalities and higher costs of drilling for oil/gas and digging up coal everywhere will make the abundant terawatts of solar energy worth harvesting, even to the point of making hydrogen (or other liquid energy form) in sunny areas for transportation fuel, including pipelines to non-sunny areas. Laying waste to areas that are only useful to wildlife in order to extract oil from sand/shale bothers some people, but when that has an impact on water table, agriculture, and real estate it bothers many, many more people.

Will thorium reactors be able to compete with solar? It might make some inroads for isolated areas, but it is way behind in the race (just ahead of fusion ;^)


Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:51 | 3158827 samsara
samsara's picture

The first graph is all you need to know.

In Biology it's called OVERSHOOT

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:01 | 3158898 mholzman
mholzman's picture

I agree with most of the shale synopsis. Looking at some of the author's views on energy, however, was disappointing The author assists lost hippies funded by petro-dollar, supported, green groups.

My suggestions: take some science classes before writing about energy because as you study, write and read -- time is lost on long-term, for real, energy projects.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:05 | 3158906 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Care to back up that assertion with quotes and examples from the article??

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 17:35 | 3159691 NaN
NaN's picture

Chris Martenson is a trained scientist.


Wed, 01/16/2013 - 23:30 | 3161046 mkhs
mkhs's picture

Interesting word choice.  Is that similar to a "trained" seal?  Why not just "Chris Martenson is a scientist?"

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:06 | 3158910 haskelslocal
haskelslocal's picture

Can we imagine a world where an economy grows WITH increased use efficiency?


Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:31 | 3159054 Argentbilly
Argentbilly's picture

No, but my bank acount has been growing since I started to increase efficiency.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:07 | 3158918 TrustWho
TrustWho's picture

1) Homo sapiens went from animal to human when the first human did not run from fire, but captured and controlled it. Energy consumption is hignly correlated to the quality of life for any animal organism.

2) Economics has always assumed labor productivty is the best, and maybe only, metric to measure an advancing human society. I have neen saying for decades that maybe energy productivity should replace labor productivity so society might make different decisions. For this reason, I support global cap and trade policies.

3) I believe this statement is from the Shah of Iran made in the mid 60s when he said: Oil is too valuable to be used for automobile transportation.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:34 | 3159070 Argentbilly
Argentbilly's picture

Why support a nex tax over bull shit global warming, sorry, climate change, since Earths lower atmosphere isn't warming. 

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:48 | 3159149 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture


Stupid one at that....

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 16:03 | 3159236 TrustWho
TrustWho's picture

You did not read well.... Global warming is bullshit if humans think they are in control. However, Peak Oil is a fact of life and if you are a human with moral attributes who think you have a responsibility to the next generations.

Energy productivity should be a concept of interest in a world totally dependent on cheap oil that is obviously becoming less cheap. The sole focus of labor productivity causes managers to replace humans with energy consuming processes/mechanisms as quickly as possible. (This is like putting people in houses they can not afford, so you can make some short term money as long as you have a chair when the music stops.) We currently have an abundant and growing labor pool and substituting energy for labor is a sloppy and lazy short term solution driven by stupid economist assumptions that more energy will always be available!

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 20:31 | 3160434 Matt
Matt's picture

I don't think you understand Cap and Trade. Cap and Trade is where Goldman Sachs pays a Kalihari Bushman $10 for a permit to emit 1 ton of GreenHouse Gases (GHG) and then sells that "Carbon Credit" to you for $100.

I suspect that robots are more energy efficient compared to human labor, in addition to being more labor efficient, more cost effective, less prone to error, and less desirous of constant increases in wages and benefits. Also less likely to vandalize the workplace and threaten suicide.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 21:22 | 3160606 TrustWho
TrustWho's picture

Cap and trade creates a market and is more efficient than taxing a barrel of oil, a ton of coal.

Well, FDA agrees with you that people are vermin and should be eliminated from all medical production processes because they are the source of most errors.

Thu, 01/17/2013 - 00:07 | 3161140 Matt
Matt's picture

You don't understand. Fundamentally, Cap and Trade was designed by Enron and people like them, to profit brokerage firms. The revenues generated from Cap and Trade are designed to redistribute wealth from developed to developing economies, NOT to reduce emissions as a whole.

As an example, Germany imposed a carbon system, and what happened? coal burning power plants were shut down, and new, dirtier coal burning power plants were built in Slovenia where the rules were more lax.

A Market based model means prices can fluctuate all over the place. A slowly increasing tax regime, with clear guidelines and a schedule for increases, can provide market participants with clear expectations, so they can more accurately price fossil fuels versus renewables over the long term.

As well, with the taxes, the government can then use the funds to improve the efficiency of government services, or to provide funding to large scale renewable energy projects.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 17:05 | 3159552 Seer
Seer's picture

"I support global cap and trade policies."

And just who is going to enforce these?  And when the population becomes so large that you're only standing on a small square of land and another human pops into existence, then what?

If you're SERIOUS about a "solution" then you've got to probe the outer edges, not just the feel-good stuff, you've got to ask what happens when limits are hit (and no, nothing is limitless, so anyone trying to crawl through this one should forget about pushing a camel through the eye of the needle.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 20:36 | 3160449 TrustWho
TrustWho's picture

I do not disgree with you. I think we are just like the, fuck, conceive, create until population outgrows the available food and poof. From my read, I believe nutrient phosphorous, remember your biology and ATP, will be the first limiting factor---and poof, 

Before we reach such constriant, we will kill each other and repeat Dark Ages.

However, for the utopian believers that the rational side of humanity can trump the emotional side, replacing labor productivity with energy productivity in a Peak Oil environment might delay POOF! 

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:12 | 3158927 Dre4dwolf
Dre4dwolf's picture

So the goal is to survive until the chart flat-lines? ;) Challenge Accepted.


The chart says it all, we aren't really burning oil more efficiently than when we started.... so we really can't do much more with less, I think population will drop about 70% from the top because we are pretty good at improvising, so the remaining 30% or so might be able to maintain a standard of living with less oil than when we started.

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 15:50 | 3159168 DrunkenPleb
DrunkenPleb's picture

we aren't really burning oil more efficiently than when we started

Lolwut? I don't think you read the charts correctly, as there is nothing at all in the article about thermodynamic efficiency of combustion systems over time. We are absolutely burning it more efficiently than before.

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