posted on May, 20 2005 @ 05:45 PM
that's not in the "funny" sense, but in the "crazy" sense.
Half the homes in America are heated with gas. To further complicate matters, gas isn't easy to import. Here in North America, it is distributed
through a vast pipeline network. Gas imported from overseas would have to be compressed at minus-260 degrees Fahrenheit in pressurized tanker ships
and unloaded (re-gasified) at special terminals, of which few exist in America. Moreover, the first attempts to site new terminals have met furious
opposition because they are such ripe targets for terrorism.
That's nothing that $4.00 a gallon gasoline won't cure. LNG will have to be a major import. This won't be so bad or difficult. It's now a
proven technology and is expanding rapidly. Japan, which unlike the USA/Canada/Mexico, has no natural hydrocarbon resources, already imports lots of
LNG. The terminals will be built offshore, and the LNG ships will not come closer than a few kilometers of land. There will be regasification
facilities offshore and the gas comes in on a pipeline, exactly like normal gas pipelines in the industrial world.
Coal is far less versatile than oil and gas, extant in less abundant supplies than many people assume and fraught with huge ecological drawbacks --
as a contributor to greenhouse "global warming" gases and many health and toxicity issues ranging from widespread mercury poisoning to acid
yeah, but that's not stopping people now, so why will it stop people in the future?
You can make synthetic oil from coal, but the only time this was tried on a large scale was by the Nazis under wartime conditions, using impressive
amounts of slave labor.
The comparison to Nazi slave labor is ridiculous. Chemical engineering does not take large amounts of slave labor---it's not like building the
pyramids! The Nazis used slaves because they could and because they were evil bastards.
Consider also other facts: liquid hydrocarbons have a certain ratio of carbons to hydrogen. Natural gas (mostly CH4) has too many hydrogens. Coal
(plain C) doesn't have enough.
With sufficient motivation (price of oil high) it's pretty clear that chemistry can be developed
to combine the two.
It's true that once Peak Coal and Peak Gas have hit, then we'll be in for a real world of hurt. That's about 30-50 years away.
Food production is going to be an enormous problem in the Long Emergency. As industrial agriculture fails due to a scarcity of oil- and gas-based
inputs, we will certainly have to grow more of our food closer to where we live, and do it on a smaller scale.
It will be more difficult but not an "enormous" problem. Sure, price of chemical fertilizer and pesticides will increase with the oil price, but
how much? What fraction of the price of fertilizer is really tied directly to oil? I'd guess no more than 20%, and probably less. That's a
whole lot less than the 60% of retail gasoline in the USA.
OK, people will grow food closer to where they live. OK. Right now we can get fruits and meats from Chile and New Zealand in average
supermarkets! Even with a significantly higher price of oil I think we can get food from Nebraska to Illinois OK. We waste huge amounts of food
making vast soybean farms for who knows what and corn to stick our coca cola. Things get tougher, we can drink water and eat normal food. (We
should do it anyway for health!)
Remember that people HAVE to eat, and therefore food production is the one thing that you
can count on will somehow adapt, one way or another---in the absence of major political interference or violence.
The idea that somehow there will be a huge increase in agricultural labor is also somewhat silly. If food gets more difficult there will be even
more pressure to increase efficiency.
Huge gangs of people who have to be fed are not more cost effective even if it takes more expensive fuel to run the tractors.
Regarding suburbia. We could nearly halve fuel consumption per commuter if we really needed to, and we could do it nearly instantly if there were
will to do so. Consider cars like in Europe (existing technology) and those radical devices known as "motorcycles" and "scooters". Many healthy
people could commute by scooter at 80-100 mpg, and scooters have hardly been made for significant fuel efficiency (as if there were a need). Smog
release of modern motorcycles and scooters are much better than before.
Tens of thousands of the common products we enjoy today, from paints to pharmaceuticals, are made out of oil. They will become increasingly scarce
Like food, pharmaceuticals will certainly be available. The cost of oil in the price of pharmaceuticals is negligible. The costs for
pharmaceuticals are regulatory, in the required testing and documentation for government approval, large scale clinical trials paying doctors who make
$300k a year.
For many chemical processes there are "GTL" ---gas to liquids---synthesizing many hydrocarbon products from natural gas which is still more
available than oil. Since less of the price of the product is oil dependent, they can stand the increased price of GTL based feedstocks even better.
GTL is like the basic inputs for mobil-1 synthetic oil. There are advantages that they are very "clean" and precise molecularly over crude-based
New York and Chicago face extraordinary difficulties, being oversupplied with gigantic buildings out of scale with the reality of declining energy
Holy diversionary red herring, Batman! Buildings aren't the problem! We can pipe in plenty of energy using this technology known as "wires".
If we build nukes like we should, we aren't going to be facing Peak Electricity!!
No Peak Electricity means that industrial civilization is NOT going to collapse.
Transportation in some forms will become significantly more expensive.
I predict that Sunbelt states like Arizona and Nevada will become significantly depopulated, since the region will be short of water as well as
gasoline and natural gas.
water is a separate issue. Phoenix can do without golf courses.
Natural gas will fix itself with LNG terminals.
Imagine Phoenix without cheap air conditioning.
PEAK OIL IS NOT PEAK ENERGY
When's the last time you filled up your air conditioner at Shell?
Imagine Phoenix with the Palo Verde nuclear plants.