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Societal Effects of Vast Rises in Fossil Fuel Prices in the West

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posted on Apr, 7 2005 @ 03:01 PM
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You all know it's coming. It's happening slowly now. I've referenced this chart before, but here it is again:


external image

Oil production is going down, and demand is going up. Eventually, this will result in gasoline hitting 5$ a liter, probably 10$ shortly therafter. Now, of course, this means big things for society.



1. Depopulation of Rural Areas

With gas prices up, so increases the cost of living, even in urban areas. Electricity and food prices will shoot up, and means of getting both into rural areas will become less maintained. Please observe:


Everyone pays for such failure to tend to critical elements of the infrastructure. Trucks deliver the bulk of all goods moved in the nation. They need good roads. Food, chemicals, coal and a host of other goods move by rail. The ASCE report estimates that $12 to $13 billion per year needs to be spent to maintain existing rail infrastructure for future growth.


From: www.canadafreepress.com...

That is merely to maintain rail lines, much less roads, power stations, telephone lines, etc. There will be a flood of people moving to cities, cramping them further and putting more stress on an already shaky system. I know that even with government subsidies, the TTC (Toronto Transit Commision) is barely keeping its head above water. As well, one should note that asphalt is composed partly of fossil fuel products.

2. Degredation of Food-Production Systems

Do you know why fertilizer makes such great bombs? It's because fertilizer is saturated with fossil fuels.


America’s biggest crop, grain corn, is completely unpalatable. It is raw material for an industry that manufactures food substitutes. Likewise, you can’t eat unprocessed wheat. You certainly can’t eat hay. You can eat unprocessed soybeans, but mostly we don’t. These four crops cover 82 percent of American cropland. Agriculture in this country is not about food; it’s about commodities that require the outlay of still more energy to become food... In 1940 the average farm in the United States produced 2.3 calories of food energy for every calorie of fossil energy it used. By 1974 (the last year in which anyone looked closely at this issue), that ratio was 1:1


From: www.harpers.org... [mad props to Transient on this link]

This, of course, does not count fuel used for processing or transportation. More expensive oil means less fertilizer, which means less yields, which means less farmers and less food. Cost of living costs begin to skyrocket as population expansion begins to slow and finally stop.

3. Crippled Industries, Crippled Economy


The US plastics industry is the fourth-largest in the country. Overall, the U.S. plastics industry employed approximately 1.4 million workers nationwide in 2002. Another 772,000 persons were employed by upstream industries that supplied the plastics industry, which brought the employment impact to 2.2 million – about 2 percent of the U.S. workforce.

The nearly 20,000 plastics industry establishments operating in 2002 generated approximately $310 billion in shipments. Another $83 billion was generated by upstream, supplying industries, bringing the total annual shipments from plastics activity to $393 billion.


From: www.plasticsdatasource.org...

Now, what happens to this industry when the price of oil, and ergo plastics, rises? What happens to automobile manufacturers? With more and more people struggling to make ends meet, and these people (along with people from industries relying on plastics and retail) will probably go out of bussiness. Those who remain gainfully employed will probably not be looking to buy, as the cost of living reaches ever skyward.


Can this be staved off? Perhaps, but not for long.

DE

[mod edit: resized image to fit on the page]

[edit on 4/9/2005 by Gools]




posted on Apr, 8 2005 @ 06:44 PM
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In Ireland in the 1840s, there was a massive economic breakdown due to the deprivation of one, simple resource- potatoes.


Britain then reaped the benefits of being the world's sole modern, industrial nation. Following the defeat of Napoleon, Britain was the "workshop of the world", meaning that its finished goods were produced so efficiently and cheaply that they could usually undersell comparable, locally manufactured goods in other markets.Within half a century agricultural produce dropped in value and estate rentals declined while the rural population increased substantially. When harvests of potato, the staple food of rural Ireland, were devastated through the onset of blight in the mid-1840s, thousands died of starvation or fever in the Great Famine that ensued, and thousands more fled abroad.


In a parallel to the modern west, America is the main economic powerhouse of the world. Years of low costs of living have left us unprepared for quick inflation. Similarly to potatoes, cheap fossil fuels are what form the basis of the economy of the west. When the modern west suffers, the rest of the world suffers doubly so. Foreign aid will drop, as will exports, trading and spending.


From the middle ages onwards, Irish ownership of the land of the island had been in decline, as waves of settlers, from the Elizabethan plantations on, assumed control of large tracts of land. A practice of consolidation of lands into large estates was widespread in Europe, but in Ireland it was complicated by the discriminatory laws applied to all faiths other than the established Church of Ireland, but which most directly affected Irish Roman Catholics, by far the largest religion on the Island, and the religion of the overwhelming majority of Irish people.


Now, this particular section has a particularly specific relevance to modern politics, as farming practices are also stripping individual owners of their lands. Small farms are on the decline, and the main source of food is foreign instead of domestic. What happens when food prices skyrocket due to rising transportation costs? trade will slow, and the West cannot provide for itself properly.


Even small plots could provide enough food energy for a family (and also to feed pigs, providing access to meat, while they could also be sold, providing extra income.) Other lands were used for cash crops like flax. The abundance of food and cash led to a rise in population in Ireland. The potato's benefits also led to a dangerous inflexibility in the Irish food system. The majority of food energy was being provided from a single crop.


Sound familiar? The potato formed the basis of the Irish economy, much like the cheap oil forms a basis for much of the Western economy. It provided food, a rise in population, and a frightening dependence on a single resource.

Lessons can be learned from this example. All taken from : en.wikipedia.org...

DE



posted on Apr, 8 2005 @ 10:00 PM
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We have got to take a hard look at alternatives to oil. I hear cost is an issue with alternatives, and this and that is an issue. Blah, blah, blah.

My answer to that, is, where is the pioneering spirit in thinking in this way. Of course it costs. So it does with every new venture. The new business man opens his doors, and it costed him, but he can make it if he persists. Why is switching to an alternative fuel any different than anything man set out to accomplish? We spend billions and billions on blowing each other up, why doesn't the money go toward alternative fuel research and promotion. If we are truly running out of fuel, then if we don't find something else, I guess we won't be going anywhere in airplanes, cars, etc.

We can accept all the "stops" or we can plow on through and figure out some viable alternatives.

Troy



posted on Apr, 9 2005 @ 12:55 AM
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In regards to transportation the trucking industry is finding that as fuel costs continue to spiral out of their profit margins (because it really isn't a matter of control) they will have no choice but to either become more efficient or stick to only the most profitable routes. Trains on the other hand are the most fuel efficient means of moving large amounts of people and cargo. This can easily be shown in the fact that many large trucking companies are now using their Tractors to move their Trailers from a Railyard to either a Supplier or Consumer destination. The ultimate outcome of the slow crash of the trucking industry is that Industrial Parks will become ghost towns as Industry moves into the cities to be closer to the chain of supply and demand. A further reflection of the process will be the eventual abandonment of the suburbs as transportation costs become to high for working commuters and cities spend their transportation infrastucture monies on mass public transportation systems within the city boundaries.



posted on Apr, 9 2005 @ 01:19 AM
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Originally posted by cybertroy
We can accept all the "stops" or we can plow on through and figure out some viable alternatives.


I've tried to make this clear- there aren't any viable alternatives. Biodiesel requires vast amounts of farming, which in turn requires vast amounts of fossil fuels for machinery, processing, harvesting, fertilizer, etc. Hydrogen gives us back -at best- 2/3 of the energy we use to get it. Photovoltaics are also out of the question. There's also the matter of implementation. You need to grow a crop for biodiesel, which takes time. You have to convert all the cars, trains, and other vehicles to that fuel source, which also takes time and money.

Time is probably the commodity we have the least of. We have no viable alternatives, so we need to find a new source of energy, then implement it fully in the next five to seven years or all trade and more than a few industries come crashing down aroudn our ears. Call me a doomsayer if you wish, I'm looking at it realistically.

DE



posted on Apr, 9 2005 @ 09:52 PM
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How far are we away from using fission?

Troy



posted on Apr, 9 2005 @ 11:35 PM
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Originally posted by cybertroy
How far are we away from using fission?


We've been using fission for decades: Nuclear fission

All nuclear reactors and atomic bombs are based on this principle: Nuclear reactor

You are probably thinking of fusion: Fusion power

You may be interested in reading the discussion about cold fusion on this thread: www.abovetopsecret.com...

.



posted on Apr, 10 2005 @ 12:27 AM
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en.wikipedia.org...

Only about 19% of the US's power needs are being met by nuclear power. That leaves a lot to be desired, for sure. And nuclear pollution is extremely bad- the waste materials don't disappate into the atmosphere.

DE



posted on Apr, 10 2005 @ 12:36 AM
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And a viable solution to this would be what exactly, DeusEx?
I think its great for all of us to be on the bandwagon screaming and hold-up signs that there will and is an impending oil crash that will effect the entire planet, but very little in the way of solutions is being mentioned or seriously considered.

Pointing fingers is not going to solve this or get the world thru this: only viable solutions.
The world cannot just switch on and off the oil-based industry that many upon many nations have. If nuclear power is not the answer, then someone better tell the Chinese cause they getting ready to produce the hell out of them.

Warnings are great, but solutions are the answer. IMHO, we all need to be working towards some possible viable solutions.






seekerof



posted on Apr, 10 2005 @ 12:40 AM
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I've said it repeatedly- the oil crash is coming, and there is nothing we can do about it, seeker. It's about more than electricity- it's abotu trade and transportation. it's the main issue- because without them (and they are, by far, the largest consumers of fossil fuels) society would all but collapse.

DE



posted on Apr, 10 2005 @ 01:25 AM
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so, how long till we're all riding horses again?



posted on Apr, 10 2005 @ 01:33 AM
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By this time in one decade, I suppose. If people are alive then. I'd say 2025, tops. please, read my other posts.

DE



posted on Apr, 10 2005 @ 01:37 AM
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with the way things are going with the oil prices, i doubt anyone will be left...
global economic collapse is inevitable... stock up on ammo so you'll be able to eat and defend yourself... lol



posted on Apr, 11 2005 @ 11:50 PM
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Yeah, I meant the other nuclear power that hasn't been used yet. The solution may involve a combination of things.

Hydrogen can be produced by bacteria right?

Ummm, what do UFO's propel themself with?

Troy



posted on Apr, 27 2005 @ 02:20 AM
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DeusEx you've made the fatal mistake of assuming that a) what goes for the U.S. goes for everyone and b) that the system has too be the same save for the power source.
First of all most if not all of your arguments are focused around the powering a car dilemma which is indeed a challange but completely unessesary to address as cars are not nessesary for modern society. Europe for one has a very well developped train and subway system that would allow for a lot of travel to continue with minimal use of oil(not burnt for movement). Now it certainly wouldn't be enough on it's own but will the roads being rapidly emptied will leave lots of room for a return of the tram to replace buses and the like. Such a system could get people around while only using electricity, which is much more flexible in methods of generation as well as more efficient.
In the worst case scenario people will give in and use fission power because when faced with economic collapse will do whatever it takes screw long-term problems, that's how we got here in the first place and there was no economic collapse threatening.
More optimistically one of the many alternative power generation methods will bear fruit, probably fusion, and things will keep some sort of order. This dosen't mean they're uneffected but people can still get to their jobs and stuff can get done. North America dosen't have the same infastructure as Europe and neither does most of the world, this particular solution being infastructure heavy would be impossible to pull of post-peak-oil.



posted on Apr, 27 2005 @ 06:00 PM
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Oil and fuels will not be unavailable---that would lead to a collapse---but they will be expensive.

Today, people drive large cars and trucks to commute to work.
Probably 50% of them (young healthy) could take a motorcycle or scooter at 4 or 5 times the fuel efficiency, if they needed to.

Locals will carpool to the supermarket and malls to save on gas costs.

There will be less 'freedom to go' anywhere at your own desire.

Cars---today---can and do run on LPG or natural gas.

Everybody is wondering what the "next" technology is---it's already here. Natural gas is also limited, but the timescale for depletion is longer. Russia has large reserves---but liquification technology is fairly new to permit long-haul intercontinental commerce.

Scooters and motorcycles running on compressed natural gas will be the future.

Rural living will be very expensive if everything has to be done by car.



posted on Apr, 27 2005 @ 08:16 PM
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.
We will most likely turn to coal.

Lots of dirty [high sulphur] coal around.
For many puposes coal can technically replace oil [power plants], but many places will end up with soot filled Skies. Remember historical Pittsburg in the US,or other industrial revolution cities fueled on coal?

Eventually coal will run out. [50 or 100 years or so]

Collectively speaking we are NOT an intelligent species.

The major drive is reproduction [usually to excess] and immediate survival, and pretty much blind to anything further out than next week or month.

Party while times are good. They never last.
.



posted on Apr, 27 2005 @ 08:35 PM
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Originally posted by Amur Tiger
DeusEx you've made the fatal mistake of assuming that a) what goes for the U.S. goes for everyone and b) that the system has too be the same save for the power source.

Well, I don't see the leap to cold fusion happening in the next five years. As for the US and the rest of the world...no gas for anyone will cripple a lot of the west and other advanced countries. I will give you this- Some places, it won't change a thing. Tribal wars will go on deep in the amazon, and the countless wars in Africa will most likely continue unabated.

First of all most if not all of your arguments are focused around the powering a car dilemma which is indeed a challange but completely unessesary to address as cars are not nessesary for modern society. Europe for one has a very well developped train and subway system that would allow for a lot of travel to continue with minimal use of oil(not burnt for movement). Now it certainly wouldn't be enough on it's own but will the roads being rapidly emptied will leave lots of room for a return of the tram to replace buses and the like. Such a system could get people around while only using electricity, which is much more flexible in methods of generation as well as more efficient.

What about airplanes? Boats? Food doesn't get to the stores via train. America alone needs to dump 13 billion dollars to maintain the crumbling railways, much less improve them. This of course will also take time. People won't jsut wake up one day and forget the convinience of cars. it'll be pried out of their hands when it simply becomes too expensive.

In the worst case scenario people will give in and use fission power because when faced with economic collapse will do whatever it takes screw long-term problems, that's how we got here in the first place and there was no economic collapse threatening.

Fission trucks? I doubt it. Fission airplanes? Absolutely not. Fission boats? maybe. The west is too set in its ways to change. As for the rest of the world, China and India are rapidly westernizing, developing a similar infrastructure. Between those two countries, there is one third of the planetary population.

More optimistically one of the many alternative power generation methods will bear fruit, probably fusion, and things will keep some sort of order. This dosen't mean they're uneffected but people can still get to their jobs and stuff can get done. North America dosen't have the same infastructure as Europe and neither does most of the world, this particular solution being infastructure heavy would be impossible to pull of post-peak-oil.

We might already be post peak oil. It might already be too late, in fact I'm guessing it is. This infracture won't simply spring out of the ground once you plant your gold and sacrifice it to the train gods. The materials are getting more expensive. What abotu farmers, what will they do? International travel? The economy? It's a long, slow, and slippery slide down to a second dark age.

DE



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