Thursday, August 30, 2012

I told you - "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"!

Peak Oil (Exports) looped its coils around the U.S., Europe, and Japan, and is in the process of squeezing the breath out of their economies, and the G7 begs for more oil.

It didn't come with a bang, but this ain't exactly a whimper, either. The cascading effects on state and local budgets are just getting going.

Peak Oil (Consumption/Exports) is NOT synchronous. It happened first in Greece, Italy, and Spain - take a good, hard, looooong  look at those economies.

The economic situation in the U.S. is pretty tough, but we are on easy street compared to much of Europe. The U.S. has substantial domestic oil production, and Canada will have excess production for some time to come. But these blessings will not change the outcome, nor delay it by more than a few years for the U.S. For Europe? I am afraid that Peak Oil is here in all its glory for the Europeans.

The fact is that for the first time the U.S. government is addressing this at their Energy Policy Information website.  U.S. Oil Consumption back to its 1996 level? Not to worry. That train has left the station. We will be back to 1960 consumption levels within the decade - with all of that outcome's concomitant effects. Though they try to spin this as solvable by increasing vehicle MPG efficiency, as I will address later in this article, individuals are far better off just driving less - it is the government (at all levels) that would be worse off when, not if, that comes to pass. Sorry... my bad; that has already passed.

The media keeps putting out these stories of the "Lost Decade" to come. Jeffers Media Theory says that all articles are bought and paid for by someone... so someone wants people to think that this is just temporary, that if we just hang tough through the end of the decade, everything is going to be back to "normal".

Look, maybe electric cars will come to the rescue of the American automobile-centric economy - but there is nothing in the market place that supports that contention at the moment.  See, the thing is, the economy has to produce something of merit that pays people enough to buy electric cars to commute with in the first place. I suspect that there is a great deal of low hanging fruit in the form of too many internal combustion engine ("ICE") cars and ways to cut down on their usage. Why buy a very expensive electric car when all one need do is buy a very inexpensive ICE car from the thousand year inventory we already have and on the road at this very moment - and then find ways NOT to use it? Look, there are enough ICE vehicles in existence right now to finish off the remaining Oil supply. As a practical matter we simply do not need to produce a single additional vehicle, ever. Americans do not need to each drive 15,000 miles per year. At 4,000 to 6,000 miles per year each, the Oil supply problem goes away... to be replaced by an incredible economic problem.  Of course, that was always the issue, wasn't it? People driving that little do not wear out their cars and tires, they do not get into accidents as often which cuts down fairly dramatically on hospital and rehab services for the hundreds of thousands that (soon to be) formerly were crippled each year in car crashes, not to mention those nice folks over at the Tort Bar. I could go on forever with this theme... and if you think housing is going to recover during this period of declining Total Vehicle Miles Traveled, then boy do I have a bridge to sell you!

The U.S. is already in a food shortage and a food glut. We have a shortage of EVERYTHING except corn derived processed foods and animal products (given the drought, we might want to reconsider that, too). The U.S. does not have enough broccoli, sweet potatoes, berries, wild salmon, nuts, etc., to provide each and every American with a healthy diet - and it shows.

But I digress.

Peak Oil is here for the West. Or should I say "Peak Oil Light", in the form of Peak Exports or Peak Consumption. Imports of Oil into the OECD peaked years ago, and they ain't NEVER coming back. Should get really interesting, given how FUBAR everything economic and employment is, when Peak Oil Production actually shows up.

Like I said: The Peak Oil Revolution will not be Televised. Look how the blogsphere has lost interest. People are too busy trying to make the rent and put food on the table. And speaking of food on the table: Look at the explosion of Food Assistance from the Government. Does the slope of those graphs look familiar? Exponential Function anyone? Every numerate person reading this knows what must happen here, yet our government continues to addict people to services and resources that absolutely, positively will not be there for them at some point. What then? And when is "then"?

Not too far off, me thinks.


tweell said...

The only way electric cars will save us is if there is a breakthrough in power production. As it stands, the greater efficiency of the power company (versus the IC engine) is reduced to equality when all the losses are taken into account. The hybrid uses the best of both types and so ekes out a modest gain.

Anonymous said...

What will happen is that a lot of people will die. Why is that so hard to figure out?

PioneerPreppy said...

Electric will have a long way to go to help us much as I don't see electric managing to reduce agricultural oil use.

Not sure what the final answer will be but if it comes slow enough we may adjust without really knowing it until the end.

oOOo said...

“Do you know the story about the guy who falls from a 50-storey building?” La Haine (1995)

“as he falls, he repeats to himself, So far, so good. So far, so good. So far, so good”.
But it’s not the fall that matters, it’s the landing.

The flip side of that and the one closer to the here and now is that most people are just making do as best they can and making the fall count.

Anonymous said...

But US vehicle efficiency gains of 2% per year, or even more, may be sufficient to reduce imports of crude in line with global crude availability, no? The US has cut its oil consumption by around 12% over 5 years and the economy may not be doing great, but it's still on its feet!