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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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Originally posted by cybertroy
We can accept all the "stops" or we can plow on through and figure out some viable alternatives.
Originally posted by cybertroy
How far are we away from using fission?
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.