Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Peak Oil, Thanks Dee Dee, I'm So Happy Now! :-)

Here follows an attempt at me communicating clearly and coherently. Yes, a tall order, perhaps. You see I am cursed with an agile brain and five fathoms of generosity and ten gallons of modesty - I skip from every third stepping stone to stepping stone, and couldn't bear to assume anyone else can't - which is why often my aberrant concision maketh me the object of the aficionado of obscurantism... well that's my excuse. I have just thrown a dinner party (YES! ON A TUESDAY! HORROR) which hasn't helped either.

But to the point. Peak oil. And related extinction events.

btw, credit where credit is due, this was prompted by Dee Dee here.

(switches the clear and plain speaking switch)


Whenever one reads an argument about peak oil on the internet, one runs up against two sides: economists and geologists. If you wanted someone to find some oil, would you go and ask an economist? (Caveat - I studied geology).

The economist's argument is based on the perennial old saw: (shit sorry, doing it again) - is based on this general premise: something is running out - as its price due to scarcity rises, it will become more valuable, more effort will be put into finding more, no matter the price, and it will continue to be available as a resource.

The geologist's argument is: there is x of this, and we've used this much so far, therefore there is this much left.

The problem with economics as a system is that it is not based in the real world. It's based in a world where if you lend a man a tenner, he'll always find an extra quid to pay you back the interest.

That's fine, if the world is limitless. But I think we have exploited all the far corners of this globe, all the people that we've enslaved, all the people we still use as our working class (speaking as a westerner). We've just 'out-sourced' the class struggle to Africa, India, etc. Put a couple of oceans in the way.

It's like different materials coagulating to themselves. Mix oil and water. Capitalism will end up with two blobs in the same bowl.

I digress.

There is argument among geologists etc about whether we have enough oil to last ten, twenty or forty years before catastrophic contraction. Who cares who's right? The people who argue that point are doing it to distract themselves from the implications.

To go to the extreme other end of the scale - it is unlikely that our planet and its life was lucky enough to have a stock of resources to become technologically proficient enough to escape our bounds. We will in all probability die with the earth (and bloody likely long before). This is a serious point. If it takes a certain quota, call it p, to crack the fusion mirage, then all being well, if p exists, then there is a chance. It might well be our planet is somewhere well short of being endowed with p. (There are good scientific articles estimating these things, I promise - I've read them - don't ask for references tonight).

So peak oil. Some idiots say it will be good, because it will ameliorate global warming. No. We'll just burn coal, and trees. And really fuck the planet up. That's what people do. That's what I would do too to keep my kids warm. We're idiot monkeys. What do you expect?

I like to think there could be a gentle slowdown - but all the evidence of history is against it.

I'm going to stop now, because I'll start to depress people.

The subject doesn't depress me anymore. It did about 7 years ago. Humanity will survive. Most of US won't.

As for the flowers of humanity, those fripperies... forget them. There will be new Michaelangelos for a time.

Last word - the geeks (bless them) seem sure the internet will survive. Bless them.

(I'm afraid I've left you some stepping stones to skip. But I have every confidence in each and every one of you. Dx)


edit - out of inconsistency, here are some stepping stones:

If we are tied to our planet, and if we somehow survive until the end... another couple of billion years or so, then it still doesn't matter.

People who argue about this sort of subject with their foremost eye on their own survival are always missing the point.

We're here because we're here because we're here because we're here because we're here because we're here


We're here until we're here until we're here until we're here until we're here until we're here until we're here.

(good WWI song, the original)

Enjoy the beauty. Enjoy the love. Enjoy the sun. Enjoy the anything, the coffee, the smile, the tear at the latest ghastly piece of news that tells you you've still got a heart.

Damn it - I sound drunk. I wish I bloody was. It would be an excuse for this incurable desperate hope and love for this ridiculous species I happen to be a member of.

My one dictum: graffiti my tombstone with it: "Live in the Now." Hardly original, but rarely achieved.

Love to all, Dx


actionreplay said...

This is pretty good. Much better than my post! And thanks for your comments!

Kate said...

It seems inevitable to me that in the very near future (next hundred years or so) the struggle for scarse resources combined with the four horsemen of the apocalypse will see humanity dwindling down to significantly diminished populations. I don't go along with so many of my eco-hippie aquaintances that this will be a good way of selecting those that can build rafts/weave baskets/nap flints/chew nettles from those that depend on ready processed resources. Ecological catastrophes consistently hit the poor and the sick especially those living in concentrated populations. Whether they wield them wisely or not, them that hold the power and resources will have the upper hand, as will those that have reasonable opportunity and can build rafts/baskets/flints etc. Ray Mears and kin will do alright but so will the family Burlusconi (or random wealthy cunt of your choice).I don't stand much chance (being poor, apparently afflicted and a cramped urban dweller)even though I believe I'm pretty deserving of inheriting the earth!
Not quite sure how this relates to your post. Oh yeah - about people continuing to fuck things up. I tried for half my life to have an optimistic view of humanity but It wouldn't hold. We're a destructive, rapacious, meddling species - occaisionally with good intentions.
I've even given up on environmentalism. For all their proffessed contempt for humanity, the envronmentalist conceives a state of equilibrium and optimal diversity in human terms.'Nature' will exploit the disruptions and sort itself out no matter what. Bacteria have always had the upper hand.
All this would probably make me a nihilist which perhaps I am. I don't think I have much hope for this 'ridicuous species' but that's not to say I don't find all the daily acts of kindness, instances of humour and imagination, not to mention a good tune or a fine painting (even the less fine ones) worth sticking around for.
Humanity's worst most destructive and enduring trait (much more so than regular sefishness) is to churn out ideology and I'm wondering (against my previous Marxist upbringing) whether it's not a 'given', I mean an inherent function of language. But steady on. This is going way off topic. I only meant to pop by and say that as a plain-speaking Yorkshire lass, I always have to brace myself for the obscure and euphemistic when reading your posts. Consequently I initially took 'throwing a dinner party' to imply that you'd been down the pottery-shed and banged out a 36 piece tableware collection.
Anyway, best shut up. I'll get my own blog soon, don't fret.

Hannah said...

well hello, i feel strangely obliged to put forth the geotechnical engineer's argument here, there are lots of important things and long words and scientific doodars crashing about in my head attempting to be heard. Except I don't want to be a geotechnical engineer today so you're not getting them. Finite resources can go swivel as far as I'm concerned today - although I might put my hard hat on tomorrow, unearth my rock hammer and hi-vis, and write a post on it.
Today, as David puts it, I'm here because I'm here because I'm here.....