Apocalypse Soon?

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by Futilitist, Jan 1, 2013.

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  1. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Really? The scientists who predicted the LHC problem were nut jobs?

    Hmm. How about Paul Erlich? Using methods very similar to the ones you quote in your first post he predicted widespread starvation and death - and a significant decline in population - in the 1970's. From his book: "The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate."

    He supported this by showing that the maximum yield per acre of the world's farms could not support much more food production. Fertilizer production (based primarily on natural gas) was about to dry up. Potable water would run out. Insect plagues and blights would become even more common than they were.

    Things changed, as they always do.

    OK. In order:

    1) The world is still increasing in human population, but the second derivative is now negative. That means that population will soon stop rising and start leveling off. Thus we do not need an infinite carrying capacity; we just need a sufficient one.

    2) Life does indeed need energy. Our energy comes primarily from the sun, and secondarily from fossil fuels, radioactive elements etc. We are in no danger of losing the Sun's energy.

    3) The fact that we did quite well while our per capita energy needs were decreasing indicates we do not need constantly increasing energy sources to do well. Ten years ago all my personal transportation came from oil; now most of it comes from solar power feeding an electric car. Overall I am using far less energy (EV's are a lot more efficient than internal combustion engines) with no loss in lifestyle, calories etc.

    4) Most of our energy does NOT come from the power grid. It comes in the form of fertilizer used to fertilize our fields, and energy to transport our crops, and energy to move us around, and energy (and materials) used to build the stuff we use, from paper cups to houses. Thus "a failure of the long distance high voltage network" even if likely would not drastically decrease our energy usage per capita. Heck, I don't even need electricity from the grid (although it's definitely nice to have.)

    5) As you pointed out we hit peak oil in 2008 - and it turns out to be not much of an event. We did indeed run out of cheap oil, and will never return to those days. What happened then? Prices went up dramatically and it became economically viable to find unconventional sources of oil, like oil shale and bitumen sands. This will continue, and as these alternative sources run dry alternatives to _them_ will be developed. The future will still see plenty of gasoline (and diesel) vehicles - but it will also see EV's, and biofuel vehicles, and alternative methods of transportation. Hardly "mother eating baby melting" territory.

    6) Increased complexity in economic systems both increases the number of failure points AND increases the resilience of the system when it is perturbed by shocks, recessions and shortages.
     
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  3. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Nothing ever changes. In the 1920's, the parents of the "flapper" generation lamented the loose morals and instant gratification culture of their children. In the 1960's - same thing. With all the irresponsible "free love," drug use, beatniks etc the future was sure to be grim.

    Fortunately, that generation of instant gratification types grew up to be the parents of the next generation. This allowed them to complain about that next generation, in a cycle that is as old as humanity.

    Yep. And in the 1940's people were unwilling to write each other letters any more like decent people - they wanted the instant gratification of the telephone. And in the 1950's they weren't willing to make the sacrifices their parents made to walk everywhere - they wanted the instant gratification of a car. And the instant gratification of being able to flip a switch and have a light come on, instead of doing the simple labors of buying and lighting candles. We survived all that, too.
     
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  5. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    I never said we wouldn't survive it.

    But there's NO contesting the fact that few people today save toward a purchase. The age of easily accessible credit is what changed that. And that's something that simply didn't exist 60 years ago. At that time, the most anyone had was one or two "gas cards" and they had very, very limited usage. (And I'm not ignoring the old "company store" thing that ruined quite a number of millworker families - but they weren't very prevalent across the country.)
     
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  7. elte Valued Senior Member

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    From what I can see, what has been happening will continue, which is that the standard of living of westerners will continue to decline as that in the US has been doing since for about the last half century. The damage to the ecosystem is building faster than humanity is able to implement fixes, and that will likely continue.

    J. Kunstler did a New Year commentary on the outlook. I see some of his pet views on manliness as being old-fashioned, but I found his forecast comprehensive. One thing that I noticed is a coincidence between the boom years around Clinton's time in office and rock-bottom oil prices. Prosperity has depended on cheap, easy energy, as Kunstler has said.

    http://kunstler.com/blog/2012/12/forecast-2013-contraction-contagion-and-contradiction.html#more
     
  8. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Brilliant consistency, just brilliant.
     
  9. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Why thank you! People don't change; their drives, motivations, desires etc remain pretty much the same. Technology DOES change.
     
  10. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Well, I'd go with 80 years ago. Mortgages really started around 1930 or so. But yes, that was a big change. Overall it's improved our standard of living since it makes it possible for people to buy houses and condos early in life, as opposed to nearer the end of their lives. There are definitely negatives to it as we saw 4 years ago.
     
  11. LaurieAG Registered Senior Member

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  12. Futilitist This so called forum is a fraud... Registered Senior Member

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    I think this is interesting. Robotic trading will act as a positive feedback, accelerating any crash. And the markets are due for a major correction very soon. Also, watch out for an oil spike. Market crash + oil spike = a perfect storm.

    ---Futilitist

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  13. Futilitist This so called forum is a fraud... Registered Senior Member

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    Good link. Kunstler has a way with words.

    ---Futilitist

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  14. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    All hail robots! Stepford rules.
     
  15. Futilitist This so called forum is a fraud... Registered Senior Member

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    Nothing can go wrong...go wrong...go wrong...

    And so does Westworld.

    [video=youtube;rQYItJHmR-Q]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQYItJHmR-Q[/video]

    ---Futilitist

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  16. Futilitist This so called forum is a fraud... Registered Senior Member

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    The History of Oil

    Humor in the face of great danger or tragedy is a very human trait. There is generally not much humor in a peak oil Apocalypse, but there are exceptions. The best humor has an internal consistency and point of view that reveals underlying truths. Did you know, for example, that World War I was an oil war? They don't teach this in school.

    Here is Robert Newman's History of Oil:

    [video=youtube;GIpm_8v80hw]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIpm_8v80hw[/video]

    Enjoy.

    ---Futilitist

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  17. Futilitist This so called forum is a fraud... Registered Senior Member

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    There's No Tomorrow

    Continuing in the spirit of multimedia presentations, here is a video produced by the Post Carbon Institute. This is good overview of how we got into this mess, and the problems facing humanity in the coming years.

    [video=youtube;VOMWzjrRiBg]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOMWzjrRiBg[/video]

    Perhaps this will generate some conversation.

    ---Futilitist

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  18. Carcano Valued Senior Member

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    Again, there is a critical difference between WEALTH and WASTE.

    People usually assume that our civilization's wealth has vastly increased over the last 50 years, and in some ways this is true.

    But equally true is that much of what we assume to be wealth is actually waste.

    As a simple example, the classic Fiat 500 car originally had a power rating of 13-17 bhp...and people got around just fine with it.

    Nowadays, you could not sell a car with so little power...because people now expect more than what they need. In other words...we want waste.

    The new version of the Fiat 500 has a power rating of 84 bhp.
     
  19. Futilitist This so called forum is a fraud... Registered Senior Member

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    The difference between wealth and waste is not critical. Once efficiency is forced, we are in trouble. We must have around a 3% or so surplus of net energy for our economy to function properly. This year we are expected to begin oil depletion. Estimates of depletion rates vary, but somewhere between 4% and 8% seems reasonable based on known depletion rates of existing wells. That is like having a 1970s style oil shock X2 every year from here on. Year after year. Have you considered that we might have a social collapse instead of just figuring out new ways to do things? What do you think of the Korowicz paper? It outlines very realistically how fragile our highly complex interconnected systems really are.

    When humans made the transitions from wood to coal to oil , net energy rose in each case. The population rose in proportion. We are about to experience a decline in net energy world wide for the first time in the last 10,000 years. A smooth transition to a lower net energy is basically impossible. We are very near collapse, but it seems like just another day. We simply don't have any experience with this type of situation, and we have an optimism bias that makes us imagine we can deal with anything, since we are so amazing and we have always pulled through before.

    This time is different.

    ---Futilitist

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  20. Carcano Valued Senior Member

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    What 'functions properly' in the context of our current economy is largely waste...not wealth.

    Waste becoming dysfunctional is an asset...not a liability.

    Take a slow walk through a Shopper's Drug Mart and count how many items are actually useful to life. I doubt you will find this amounts to even 10% of the total inventory.

    My own electricity consumption has actually fallen by almost 37% in the last ten years. I use an induction stove, compact fluorescent lights and hang up my clothes to dry on a home made rack.
     
  21. Futilitist This so called forum is a fraud... Registered Senior Member

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    How does any of this save us from an Apocalypse?

    ---Futilitist
     
  22. Carcano Valued Senior Member

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    The real apocalypse has been the accumulation of waste within the economy...not its implosion.

    The same thing has occurred in financial markets where there has been a vast accumulation of toxic debt...which should have caused an implosion of the corrupt lending institutions, were it not for the government bailing them out.

    Switching to a Credit Union system of banking will hopefully follow another catastrophe in private banking, and remove its corrupting influence on politics to boot.
     
  23. Futilitist This so called forum is a fraud... Registered Senior Member

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    The Real Apocalypse

    The real apocalypse will be a complete and total social collapse, the collapse of industrial civilization, along with a rapid 90% mass die off of the species.


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    The "vast accumulation of toxic debt" began in the early 1980s, not long after the world passed peak energy/capita. Jimmy Carter tried to warn us and get us onto a path of energy conservation. Ronald Reagan promised us "morning in America" instead, and we chose the easy path. Reaganomics was born. The housing bubble began to float. The pattern repeated itself across the globe in almost all industrialized countries. The easy credit system requires cheap oil to continue to function. Between 2003 and 2008, oil prices rose almost 500%, leading to a world wide recession. This caused the housing bubble to finally burst, and the great credit unwind began. The term "toxic debt" is a red herring. We call it that to hide from the fact that we ran up too much debt because the system was already running short of affordable energy. Debt we can't afford because of high energy costs is "toxic". The governments of the world bailed out the financial system because they had no choice. It was the only thing they could do to avoid a total economic collapse. This has worked, sort of, for about 4.5 years, but interest rates are now effectively at their bottom, meaning that the governments no longer have any way to control the system. Thus, collapse is next. The fiscal cliff/debt ceiling fiasco is the final act of political Kabuki theater. There is no solution to the debt crisis.

    A credit union system will not save us.

    ---Futilitist
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2013
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