Double Peak-Oil: None More Black

A recent study ( determined that: we’ve not just passed “peak oil” in terms of the apex of the supply-demand curve, where the Earth’s reserves have been so depleted, that demand will always outstrip supply (from here on in); but we’ve also outstripped usage versus ecological consequences, ie – any further oil wells means that exceeding 2 degrees of global warming is inevitable … and thus, the amount of new oil wells we can drill is NONE, NONE MORE BLACK.

So in other words, we’ve hit a double peak:

  • Supply vs. Demand;
  • Usage vs. Consequences.

… and as a consequence, the amount of additional oil we can use is none, none more black.

Now … if you’re a supporter of capitalism, please explain to me how a system – that is apparently so brilliant – does next to nothing to prepare for the supply versus demand peak, and in fact actually motivates people to undermine any efforts to prepare for this … BUT ALSO … is so successful at rewarding those whom fight against & sabotaging change, they actually extend this period of near total inaction (relative to required change), such that we pass that second peak … and we’re still barely even starting to gear up the alternatives.

Where exactly is the brilliance of this system?

As I’ve mentioned in another article on the topic of thermodynamic momentum & resistance … what we do to damage the Earth’s resistance to ecological change, and to simultaneously create momentum for such ecological change, can be thought of as thermodynamic momentum & resistance … ie – the amount of energy & emergy driving change, versus the reduction of energy & emergy resisting such change.

  • Robust & biodiverse ecosystems resist & recover from ecological change;
  • Weak, water starved, polluted & otherwise biodepleted ecosystems, do not resist change as well.

In less technical terms, think of it like this:

  • Imagine you have a big ecosystem like the continent of the Northern USA;
  • Imagine no human beings yet live there, and so its 100% pristine virgin wilderness with great biodiversity;
  • Now imagine you have a giant space hammer, where the surface area of the striking face of the hammer head, is approximately the size of the state of Colorado, or maybe even a smaller state like Maine;
  • Now, imagine you smash that ecosystem just once with the hammer … what happens?

Well, the consequences of such an event are going to depend on the speed of impact, but for simplicity’s sake:

  • We kill a large number of species of plants & animals;
  • Some of those go extinct as they were unique to the impact site;
  • But thanks to a robust biosphere, the area is repopulated from adjacent ecosystems, and eventually recovers.

Now … imagine over time, because you see these ecosystems recovering, you come to the false conclusion that no permanent and unacceptable consequences of your actions exist, and you keep smashing it.

Then, over time:

  1. Your skill and speed with the hammer improves;
  2. The hammer technology is more “efficient” per strike, and;
  3. You build hundreds & thousands more of them … then millions.

Now … imagine for 2 centuries with an ever increasing population and ever evolving technology, you keep smashing the planet, faster & faster & faster with all these hammers.

Does the ecosystem still recover? No, of course not … you’ve killed it and every adjacent ecosystem from which it was previously repopulated, and caused the absolute extinction of countless species over more than 2 centuries.


2 Replies to “Double Peak-Oil: None More Black”

  1. The World as we know it is so entirely dependant on oil and it’s byproducts, for everything that we consider to be of modern benefit, that the studious could readily surmise that we as a species, have painted ourselves into a corner. Problem is compounded by the fact that who employ the painter do not wish to let the paint dry… and it’s not a quick drying paint.

    1. Very true, but engineering challenges are easy to solve, and this issue of the use of materials & chemicals, if we just remove for a minute the economic element of the equation – in the sense of how inbuilt obsolescence & other waste occurs … is solvable by simply getting the onus of responsibility onto manufacturers (as I detailed in 1 or more other articles), such that:

      1. IF a company wants to manufacture something using non-biodegradable &/or toxic materials;
      2. THEN it must first show cause as to why no alternative material is technically viable (economic arguments not allowed);
      3. AND (either way) it must show a lifetime management plan of all materials used, such that the amount of unrecovered materials cannot build up in the environment faster than it can break down, NOR can it cause ecological damage prior to its breakdown greater than nature’s capacity to repair that damage;

      By such a regime, we would create a level playing field where companies collaborate to solve these challenges, especially within their vertical supply chains, but also within their horizontal market places … as no individual or collective failure to reclaim resources for recycling, may exceed nature’s capacities to breakdown & repair damage.

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