Peak oil vs peak energy 3

One issue I am having real difficulty with is in distinguishing between peak oil and peak energy. Peak oil is coming – it may already be here. But as there is no such thing as peak energy, what are the real implications of peak oil itself? Not necessarily an energy-poor society, if peak energy is nowhere in sight. So what then?

Specific issues I would like answers to:

  1. How much does the transition to a post-fossil fuel energy regime rely on making the most of peak oil – such that, the oil fails too soon, we won’t make it?
  2. Energy is a physical issue, but fossil fuels also have a major chemical role in our economy – in plastics, in fertilisers, and so on. How can this be dealt with?
  3. Biggest of all by far, it has been argued that a specifically capitalist economy relies on fossil fuels – its extremely rapid and highly focused cycles rely on such a mobile, flexible and instantaneous form of energy. To what extent is this true? And if it is true, what are the political implications of this fact, which vastly exceeds the planning of any current political system?
More of RJ Robinson at http://richardjrobinson.blogspot.com/

3 thoughts on “Peak oil vs peak energy

  1. Reply JBR Jul 19,2008 1:26 am

    I was pondering this myself today and stumbled upon your blog here.

    I spent some time researching things like the scale and tar and heavy crude and other less tasty forms of fossil fuels and it seems the end of their era seems exaggerated.

    From what I can tell a profitable ROI for those other fossil fuels is approaching.

    Just a thought.

  2. Reply RJ Robinson Jul 27,2008 9:00 pm

    I don’t think we disagree here. My great fear is that we will do exactly as you suggest – go for the dirty but familair and low-cost option, without regard for the longer-term effects.

  3. Reply JBR Jul 29,2008 9:18 pm

    Do you think dogs will ever stop licking themselves? How about if you have hope or fear?

    I hate to bring up your greatest fear, but it is not only plausible and possible, but totally predictable. We WILL as a people continue to consume like . . . we always have.

    The less tasty versions of fossil fuels will come into play. To think other than is to not think. To deny it is delusional.

    Now, I believe that the solution is to do two things . . .

    First, pursue cleaner sources of power with real zeal and . . .

    Second, to not let up that fossil fuels have both an economic and environmental cost usually not associated at the pump.

    The trouble is we can’t build wind power without folks worrying about birds. We cannot build water turbines without folks worrying about fish. We cannot build solar without folks worrying about turtles [not to mention the toxins in a power cell]. We cannot build nuclear without people worrying about . . . well . . . a lot!

    I’d drill in Anwar, but under severe environmentalist restrictions. It would be a good deal. I’d do wind, solar and nuclear with the same restrictions. Yet, environmentalists are a zero-tolerance crew when it comes to compromise.

    The trouble from the environmental left is not that they aren’t right, but they they refuse to negotiate.

    The math is simple. The U.S. people demands X amount of energy. The solutions are to deny them, appease them or destroy them.

    History says it’ll be “appease”.

    That does not mean we cannot shape an appeasement that does not benefit both the environmentalist as well as those who leave a yeti sized carbon footprint.

    There is a line from Rozencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead . . .

    “Pragmatism? Is that all you have to offer?

    Sadly, yes . . . it is all I have to offer. Fears and hopes will not prove anything. Only actions can. In poker terms . . . you play the cards you have, not the cards you wish you had. We can bluff, fold or play, but not sure we have a moral obligation NOT to play.

    “They” have a better hand and a deeper stack. That just means “We” have to play smart and smarter.

    Denial and delusion and disinterest . . . just means “they” win.

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