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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    You couldn't get a 90% die off of all species if you tried. You're really going to kill off soil bacteria? Cockroaches? Rats? Lichen? Frogs? Heck, you couldn't even kill off people if you tried; not even ice ages have managed to do that, and ice ages are a lot worse than having expensive oil or lots of debt.

    People nowadays have their priorities all screwed up; they think that losing their credit cards will mean the end of the world as they know it. Spend a few weeks in rural Africa and then decide if:

    1) A lack of industrial civilization makes them any worse off
    2) They would even care if we ran out of oil, credit and Wal-Marts
     
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  3. Futilitist This so called forum is a fraud... Registered Senior Member

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    Please. I did not say 90% die off all species. I clearly meant a 90% die off of the human species. I thought it was clear from the context.

    As far as rural Africa is concerned, there is not much population living a true aboriginal lifestyle. A lack of industrial civilization would affect their supply lines, at least. They would also be affected by the lack of international aid and assistance. They would also be affected by collapsing cities nearby.

    Rural Africa may be less affected than us, but what difference does rural Africa make to us while we are experiencing a much more severe die off?

    Personally, I am more concerned with how collapse will affect us.

    Also, there is a lot more to this than losing our credit cards. It does not sound like you read the Korowicz paper. Did you?

    ---Futilitist

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

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    On the subject of wasted energy, here is an interesting graph:

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    ---Futilitist

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

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    Hello everyone,

    Here is Joseph Tainter's graph of the diminishing returns on complexity.

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    Here are a couple of graphs of human "progress". The first is increasing wheat yields due to the Green Revolution.

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    This is an example of diminishing returns. Seems like the ever upward trend might be topping out. This is due to the fact that it is physically impossible for the upward trend to continue, since we are already stressing the environment far beyond sustainability. The yield gains are due to the introduction of dwarf varieties, and the use of fossil fuel based fertilizers and pesticides. The gains from dwarf varieties are basically played out and the dwindling supplies of fossil fuels will mean price increases and yield decreases in the future. We are also nearing peak Phosphorus, and, as far as I know, there is no substitute. I haven't heard any ideas about what to do about that.

    Sustainable ecosystems are not high tech factories. They can only be pushed so far.

    Next is a graph of world population.

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    Uh oh. What would be the logical outcome if the upward trend in world food production can't continue?

    ---Futilitist

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  8. Carcano Valued Senior Member

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    Thats rather easy to fix...simply pass a law requiring all oil futures contracts to take physical delivery. This will remove speculators from the market and the price will fall, as only distributors will be able to buy.

    To do this however will require a different breed of politician...as the current variety tend to BE speculators themselves.
     
  9. Carcano Valued Senior Member

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    Europe, Japan and parts of North America actually have falling birth rates less than 2.1...but the rest of the world is making up for it and crowding into the west as immigrants.

    Politicians LOVE it because rising populations allow them to run up bigger debts...on expectations of rising GDP and thus more tax revenues.
     
  10. Carcano Valued Senior Member

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    Banks have been going bust for centuries without precipitating the end of civilization.

    The shareholders lose their money, the executives lose their jobs, the assets are sold off to other banks...life goes on.

    Yes, there is a resulting systemic credit shortage...but thats exactly what an over indebted economy needs.

    IndyMac, Washington Mutual, and Lehman Brothers all went belly up and were some of the largest institutions in the country...which is still very much intact.
     
  11. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    They don't have much in the way of supply lines. They'd lose things like batteries and logo T-shirts. They wouldn't lose food, water, clothing or housing. What you consider the end of the world would be gossip for them.

    And again, they wouldn't much care.

    Because they are people just like we are. The fact that we have flatscreen TV's and SUV' does not mean that we are more important than them when it comes to the human species.

    Yes, I did - and it's mostly alarmist claptrap. He joins the ranks of people who have been predicting the end of the world for over 4000 years. All have been wrong.

    (If you'd like details as to why I think it's alarmist, refer to my earlier post where I listed several.)
     
  12. Futilitist This so called forum is a fraud... Registered Senior Member

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    1. Oil prices are rising because of the rising cost of oil production, not speculation. Oil speculation is a zero sum game. For every up bet, there must be a matching down bet. Speculation drives prices up and down, not just up.

    2. Your hypothetical "different breed of politician" does not exist, in any case.

    Rising or falling birth rates don't make any difference. Populations in industrialized nations are already well beyond sustainable carrying capacity without oil. And oil is about to go into irreversible depletion. Alternatives are inadequate and not in place now.

    Politicians are not God. They cannot defy the laws of physics. We must maintain positive net energy or collapse will overtake us.

    The credit shortage that you say we need also effects future oil exploration negatively. Deep water, Arctic oil, tar sands, etc. require massive credit. When the economy gets worse, this will be a terrible positive feedback, leading to further energy shortages and a worse economy, which will lead to further restrictions on credit.

    And I don't think the damage from the recession is so trivial. The bailout, which saved us from a total economic collapse, has run it's course and the economy still hasn't recovered. Interest rates are as low as they can go. The fiscal cliff is very real. The US debt ceiling needs to be raised again, taxes must increase, and spending must be cut. This will cause another recession, just as we are about to enter irreversible oil depletion.

    We have reached the end of economic growth. Collapse is next.

    ---Futilitist

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

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    Just like I wouldn't much care what happens to them. The industrialized nations are facing a more severe collapse than rural Africans. Why are we talking about this?

    I never said we were more "important", whatever that means. Flatscreen TV's and SUV's are not the issue. We are facing a complete collapse of all of the systems that currently make it possible for us to be alive. We get our food from grocery stores and grocery stores get food delivered by trucks. When the trucks stop running, the store shelves will soon be empty. That means a lot of us are going to die. That is just common sense.

    All have been wrong only so far. Your line of reasoning here is just invalid. Past performance is no guarantee of future performance (see gambler's fallacy). Civilization must eventually collapse unless you are proposing perpetual motion (see the second law of thermodynamics, net energy, and EROEI).

    Did you read the David Price essay called Energy and Human Evolution?

    http://jayhanson.us/page137.htm

    It is a pretty quick read and a good foundation for understanding the issues. Eventual collapse is inevitable. Please tell me why that essay is wrong.

    ---Futilitist

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  14. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Because you were talking about humanity. If you mean "the end of affluent Western societies" then that's a different discussion. Yes, many societies will likely be poorer in the future.

    Really? Farmers won't have dirt or sun any more?

    We get most of our produce from a local farm that is well within the range of my electric vehicle, and is (with some effort) within the range of my bicycle. If oil became very expensive many people would do something similar - find more local sources of food.

    Really? So until we had gas-powered delivery trucks, most people died?

    Nope, no perpetual motion required.

    As an exercise, calculate how much solar energy reaches the Earth every day. Now calculate how much energy the entire planet uses every day. See if you can see a way we can survive without oil.

    Sure. Some points:

    "But the exhaustion of fossil fuels, which supply three quarters of this energy, is not far off, and no other energy source is abundant and cheap enough to take their place. A collapse of the earth's human population cannot be more than a few years away."

    This assumes that 1) there will be no alternatives and 2) the end of fossil fuels will happen instantaneously. Neither is true. We survived the loss of whale oil as a means of lighting by finding a new source of oil. We survived the end of acetylene as a method of lighting by finding an alternative. We survived the loss of horses as transportation by finding alternatives. Etc etc.

    "Ever since Malthus, at least, it has been clear that means of subsistence do not grow as fast as population. "

    Not any more. Population is slowing down, and if current trends continue, will peak near the end of the 21st century and begin declining. The US's birthrate is already below the point at which our population will increase on its own, despite being one of the most prosperous nations on Earth. Malthus hypothesized that population growth is limited only by famine, disease etc; this has been shown to be false.

    "The environment, moreover, is under no obligation to carry a constant population of any species for an indefinite period of time."

    Definitely true! Our population will wax and wane as most populations do. Indeed, I would be worried if that did NOT happen.

    "According to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, energy flows from areas of greater concentration to areas of lesser concentration"

    True!

    "and local processes run down."

    Not true at all. Thermodynamics clearly states that steady-state operation is no problem at all with an external source of energy (which we have) and a place to dump the resulting waste heat (which we also have.)

    So that's three false assumptions in the essay. Let me know if you would like to continue.
     
  15. Carcano Valued Senior Member

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    Thats correct...speculation creates volatility in both directions, but abnormally low prices dont count because the public cannot stock up on gas.

    When the price of oil dipped below $40 a barrel after the crash of 2008 we did not see the public lining up to buy huge containers of gasoline.

    Only the high price spikes are important as it has a real impact on the current 'living arrangement' as Kuntsler likes to call it.

    60 Minutes did an article on this very subject of fuel speculation a few years ago.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKunHXtQYuo
     
  16. Carcano Valued Senior Member

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    They do exist...but are currently outnumbered.

    This can and will change.

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  17. Carcano Valued Senior Member

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    Populations are already well beyond UNsustainable capacity.

    Again, we live in a culture where waste is valued more than wealth.
     
  18. Futilitist This so called forum is a fraud... Registered Senior Member

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    A perfect world

    If populations are already unsustainable, we are in trouble.

    And in a perfect world we wouldn't waste so much. But we don't live in a perfect world and we aren't ever likely to. So it doesn't really matter when it comes to the topic of collapse, does it?.

    ---Futilitist
     
  19. Carcano Valued Senior Member

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    Remember, it is only the waste that is unsustainable.

    The collapse of excess is an asset to civilization...not a liability.
     
  20. Futilitist This so called forum is a fraud... Registered Senior Member

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    Here is a long term graph of oil prices. The rise in price is due mostly to the rising costs of production as the easy oil is exhausted.

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    ---Futilitist

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  21. Carcano Valued Senior Member

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    That graph is not adjusted for inflation (currency devaluation) which rose spectacularly in the early 1970s.
     
  22. Carcano Valued Senior Member

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    The red line is adjusted for inflation.

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

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    Why will they likely be poorer? Peak oil perhaps?

    Farmers will have dirt and sun, but no fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, or fuel for their tractors. Some people will still farm, of course, but overall yields will be around 30% of what they are now. Most people will starve.

    Maybe you will be lucky and survive. But most people will not have the options you have. Those people will be dangerous to you and your family.

    That is silly. There weren't as many people before we had gas-powered delivery trucks. Now we are reliant on them.

    As an exercise, ask yourself why we don't survive on solar energy only right now. You make it sound so simple.

    1. No, it doesn't. It assumes correctly that alternatives will fall short of requirements. They currently do. And a crisis could start any day now.
    2. No, it doesn't. It assumes that the price will rise rapidly to unaffordable levels.

    The population grew while energy was cheap. Population growth is now slowing because energy is getting more expensive. It is a bad sign, not a good one.

    Then you will be very pleased by how fast the scales will rebalance. It sounds like you are endorsing my premise.

    Then why have we been wasting our time these last few centuries developing fossil fuels? Once again, your imaginary solar civilization does not exist today and we are about to have a crisis. We will not be able to adapt fast enough even if your vision for the future were possible, which it is not.

    That won't be necessary.

    ---Futilitist

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