Straw poll on Peak Oil..

Discussion in 'General chat' started by ho-hum, Jan 16, 2007.

  1. ho-hum

    ho-hum New Member

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    Working off the premise that Peak Oil is here and we are on the downside.

    Do you believe there will be widespread economic collapse or will be muddle our way through it?

    I am of the 'muddle our way through it' school of thought.


    floot
     
  2. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    Hi Floot,

    Some of my thoughts...I've lived more than fifty years without much hardship so it's hard to really grasp a downfall that would plunge us into world-wide economic collapse and all the associated strife.

    On the other hand, history says that I've lived during a very "charmed" period of human history and in a very insulated place (USA). There are many in the world who probably wouldn't even notice world-wide economic collapse!

    My hope is that we will muddle through it all somehow (and having read significant science fiction most of my life there is a certain core belief in this). My minimal historical knowledge whispers in my ear that we may very well be headed for yet another period of human oppression and strife until things finally get sorted out in a new human awareness some time in the future.

    So I guess I'm a "fence sitter"! :lol:

    9anda1f
     
  3. Jez

    Jez Junior Member

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    Geez Floot, there's a lot of 'loaded' terms in that question... :lol:

    ...depends a lot on your definition of 'widespread,' 'collapse' and 'muddling your way through it.'

    Unquestionably, our best modern frame of reference for economic turmoil is the Great Depression (GD).

    Economic poverty and general deprivation was 'widespread' in the GD, but those who went into that period with significant assets, invariably came out much better off (financially speaking) at the end of it.

    'Collapse' was widespread - if unemployment, drastic drop in average standard of living and purely economic statistics form the definition of 'collapse.'

    No doubt mate, generally speaking, most people did 'muddle their way through it'...personally, I think the important thing to focus on is how they managed to do so, and whether the same factors will be available in our near future.

    Firstly, global 'recovery' was driven largely by the US and to a slightly lesser extent, the USSR, who at that point in time, both possessed vast reserves of oil. US loans to allied European countries and USSR subsidisation of satellite countries coupled with a mammoth industrial capacity (totally oil based), secured in turn, the victory of WWII and the post-war boom period. Although the GD is popularly and in some cases, historically classified as finishing in the early-mid '30s, in reality, only wartime spending, loans, subsidisation etc raised economic activity (and all that goes with it) back to pre-war levels.

    In essence, at its most basic and simplified level, we can unequivocably state, that we (Western and Eastern hemispheres roughly divided along political allegiances) spent a significant portion of our 'fossil fuel inheritance' on pulling us out of a massive global recession.

    All the 'prosperity' we've enjoyed since has been based on three factors: widespread peace; the (self-evidently massive) population growth which stems from widespread peace; and an abundance of cheaply available fossil fuels.

    Secondly, from a purely Australian perspective (which also has significant relevance on a global scale), we have to make the mental leap back to when our continent was only populated by 6 million or so people, most of them possessing at least the rudimentary skills needed for survival from the 'wild food sources'...or able to easily learn them from others. A cursory perusal of oral histories from the GD period, really underlines the significant impact which their being able to procure food from 'wild food sources' had upon the average family's survival. Rabbits, kangaroos, wild berries, fish, bush foods, backyard production, produce from the much larger than the present smallholders who stayed on the land and whose ability to produce relied on hard physical work far more than mechanisation...all of these things contributed enormously to the basic survival of the millions of people who managed to 'muddle through' the GD and survive to later enjoy an era of petro-fueled abundance. Perhaps most importantly, from an Australian perspective, during the GD, commodity prices absolutely slumped...only to regain their former worth through wartime spending and the post-war 'boom' period (again, all driven by fossil fuels).

    A dispassionate, realistic analysis of how the above compares to today, leads one to conclude that times were obviously very different back then compared to what they are now - the balance in the present has turned very much against most people in most regions, where most people once 'muddled through.' The vital question becomes; how many people, with their present skill level, location, debt level etc, could 'muddle through' the way they once did?

    That question opens up a far reaching range of scenarios and conclusions which I won't get into at this time, but personally, I think it's both fair and logical to say that 'muddling through' takes on a whole new meaning to what it ever has in any past we could compare it to.
     
  4. kathleenmc

    kathleenmc Junior Member

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    Good question Floot,

    I think we will muddle thru for a little while and then there will have to be some harsh restriction stuff come in...as happened in the past with many recessions and depressions, we will be forced to adhere to restrictions. Just look at what's happening with water in many regional towns in NSW.

    I don't mind. I think we as a nation (and a world) have been living in a way that is not really working...you can only take so much without a massive impact. I do know there are a lot of scientists freaking out about our future (listening to Radio National brings me a lot of interesting views).

    Some of the things I have noticed lately here in my part of the world (small coastal town, southern NSW):

    All the big houses that city people built or bought as a holiday retreat and investment property are empty. The rents are $1500 - $2000 per week at peak times, but the local camping grounds are full.
    Along the side of the road, nearly every week, are big petrol guzzling cars going cheap.
    There are workshops happening now thru community education programs for people to learn how to grow their own food.
    People are setting up roadside stalls out the front of their place selling anything from poo to food.
    The big dairy farms are subdividing to make some money instead of milking cows.

    I don't think things are going to "get worse" I just think things are going to get really interesting and I think a great opportunity exists for people to help take on the challenge of living more sustainably.

    That said I was thinking of how am I going to travel o/s quickly and cheaply? Big travelling ships will have to come back in I suppose and it will have to be a bit slower.

    Kathleen
     
  5. blinkblink

    blinkblink Junior Member

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    I'm a bit of a doomer, well OK a lot of a doomer.

    My take is that we'll have a roller coaster of recessions and weak recoveries until we are in the 'Grand Depression'.

    After that the TSHTF in a big way. The worlds population will drop from 7 billion to somewhere around 500 million to 1 billion over the next 30-50 years. The population has been able to grow exponentially since the beginning of the oil age and it will shrink exponentially at the end. The human population is in overshoot and is artificially sustained by cheap energy.

    Not only do we have to deal with peak oil but climate change (probably man made), desertification, water shortages, ocean fish stock depletion (by 2048 at the current rate) and loss of biodiversity.

    It's going to end in tears.

    Chris
     
  6. ho-hum

    ho-hum New Member

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    Nice replies all.

    Jez, the question wasnt meant to be loaded per se just general to allow for replies.

    When I hear of peak oil predictions, our side of things is not given much air play. In this I mean that very little is said about folk like ourselves who are potentially doing more than just keeping a 'weather eye' on this issue as we gradually move ourselves towards lower consumption.

    The world must face the very real issue of how many barrels of oil we consume to produce a barrel of food. I have seen some sketchy stuff on this but nothing concrete on the cost say of just how much oil is consumed to use australian wheat to make pasta in italy that is sold in helsinki? How much oil is used to put canadian bacon, danish ham & spanish tomatoes on a Bungle Boys pizza and then deliver it? Extreme examples but not beyond the realms.

    Free Trade Agreements must be a bonus for the oil barons as more oil is used merrily dumping excesses in one market into another.

    floot
     
  7. blinkblink

    blinkblink Junior Member

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    Here is an interesting read on what mankind will have to deal with over the next little while. Converging Catastrophes
     
  8. greeny

    greeny Junior Member

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    great link blink blink!

    And interesting thread Floot.
    Thinking as I type...
    I'm just piecing it together , Here in Australia it seems the economy is totally dependent on cheap fossil fuels, mainly because we hardly produce anything we need. Nearly everything we use is imported from overseas, and very little of the food we eat is produced locally.

    So what will happen when fuel triples in price? Firstly all transported goods will increase in price depending on how far they are transported. Every consumer will be faced with having to go with less for the same amount of money. This will put the squeeze on people who are already doing it tight, they may have to relinquish their homes , cars etc that they can no longer afford to pay off.

    The consumerism that is keeping the economy turning will weaken. People will no longer be spending surplus money on luxury items, as the basic needs will be so expensive.
    This will cause many business serving non essentials to go broke. A sudden large influx of unemployment will follow. As more people become unemployed and unable to spend what they were used to, more business will fail. In the end business that service needs and essentials that will mostly survive.

    As we know the government is already scared about the number of people who will expect to be on a pension in the near future. Well add the huge unemployment which will rapidly follow post peak oil prices, and there will not be enough money for pensioners at all. In addition, there will be less people able to pay the taxes that fund them. This is where we get a good government or go hungry.
    I expect food vouchers to be here in less than ten years. This is the short term prognosis based on expensive oil. All the other factors like climate change, global war , and economic collapse would make matters worse. Oh dear , this sounds bad.

    The other scenario is what if fuel becomes unavailable , This one sends shudders down my spine because all healthy economies depend on the ability to trade but what can I or my neighbor trade? Only food, if I happen to have surplus. But who will sell me a shovel, a bag to put my potatoes in, paper or pens, the part to fix the pump, the matches or lighter, the pot for the stove , the scissors, fabrics, glass, spoon, we have no skills here to trade!
    We crazy Aussies have allowed ourselves to be lulled into a false sense of security, when the shit hits the fan many people wont even realise that the seeds they buy will not produce viable seed themselves.

    It is so frustrating knowing that answers exist,
    we could thrive,
    with the right leadership.
    Cmon people!
     
  9. Jez

    Jez Junior Member

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    Absolutely Greeny...our two biggest industries come from a booming resource sector and tourism, with retail a fairly distant third.

    The resource sector is dependant on never ending global growth to remain healthy, plus a significant portion of its workforce is fly in fly out.

    Tourism and retail are both reliant on people having extra to spend. We're a long way away from most people who come here as tourists...it's easy to foresee a time when Europeans, Asians and Americans choose to holiday much closer to home if at all. The retail sector is largely built on 'want' rather than 'need.'

    The above industries going through hard times would create a lot of unemployment just by themselves...without the knock-on effects for the rest of the economy.

    Imagine the added price of getting a tradesman or getting a house built once fuel prices go through the roof. The people that on average do a few jobs a day and do a lot of miles to do so will have huge overhead increases. If you have to get multiple vehicles and people to a jobsite...it's gonna hurt.

    A solid government job is about the safest way to go IMO...without getting into self-employment in a safe and soon to be much more needed area.

    There's about 20-30 good paying government jobs with great super in regions of Far North QLD I know of...they can't find any people to fill them.

    It's quite strange how things change from one end of the country to another.
     
  10. Jez

    Jez Junior Member

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    Sorry, meant to add...

    Floot, yeah I was just kidding with the 'loaded' question comment...it's my natural reaction to terms which I often seem to interpret differently to others.
     
  11. blinkblink

    blinkblink Junior Member

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    In the US 1 in 6 jobs are in the car industry. Death of the car means massive unemployment. Australia would have similar percentage of our employment in or related to the car industry.

    The biggest problem for the world will be food. That Pink Lady apple you're eating has 80 calories in it. It takes nearly 1000 calories of energy for it to be grown, fertilised, packed, shipped and presented for you to buy.

    6 of the last 7 years the world has consumed more grain than has been produced. This year the production will again be lower do to the drought here and in the US.

    Modern agriculture required great quantities of fertilisers and pesticides which are both petroleum based. Also, the ploughing, seeding, spraying and harvesting activities are very energy intensive.

    There is just no way in a Post Peak Oil world that we'll be able to produce enough food for the billions of people on earth.
     
  12. heuristics

    heuristics Junior Member

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    Watched a doco on El Nino on either ABC or SBS last night.
    It was fascinating.

    We ARE experiencing global warming and consequent climate change, but there have also been periods in the past of dramatic climatic events.

    In studying El Nino some scientists reviewed severe El Nino events occuring over the last several thousand years.

    Dramatic changes to regional weather patterns have happened and can happen extremely suddenly.

    Stupendous fast die-off of almost entire populations have been the result.

    It was quite shocking to absorb how quicky weather patterns have changed in the past, and how many people almost immediately died as a direct consequence.

    There is absolutely no bloody way this planet can feed 9 billion people in a post peak oil world.

    Our oceans are already almost devoid of fish - and are already criminally overfished. Across the planet our soil is salinated and dry... our forests (the lungs of the planet) are being logged at an insane rate. The oceans are rising, the ice-caps are melting every day.

    BUT we continue on in our state of denial. Pollies are still "√ľncertain" that climate change exists (because the big business lobby pays them to have doubts).

    We are living in a humicrib/respirator situation. At some point in the very near future the life-support system will flick from on to off - and that's it folks - end of the world for several billion of us.

    I think people in the west will be the worst hit because we are so spoilt and insulated from reality.

    Dudes living in mud huts in the middle of Africa already struggling by on a feed a day will be better able to adjust and cope.

    Remove the Maccas and cokes and x-box of this current generation and they will simply keel over in shock - quickly followed by starvation.

    If you have kids the best education you can give them is to teach them how to grow food and question the prevailing consumer culture that dictates they must immediately acquire the latest new thing.
    I think practical trades like carpentry and building and constructing workable housing from second hand materials would be the best skills.

    If I had a HSC aged kid - I'd take him or her out of school and send them off to Africa and other third world countries to learn how to survive on very little. Dramatic, terrifying changes are about to occur rapidly in the lifetime of people who are now 0-20.

    Survivable skills are hands-on practical skills, and an understanding of what is happening and why, and the ability to teach others practical skills and a way to survive.
     
  13. Tezza

    Tezza Junior Member

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    SOOOOOOOOO Sad isnt. Futere fears are now allmost around the corner...

    Forget oil crashes,stock markets crashes,nasty dictators, "Its the Weather"


    Your own back garden is where you live..Time to fix our own back gardens.

    Time to learn how to cope because no pollie from canbera is going to help you.Learn to help oneself.....Watch starving refugees on the telly, you might pick some tips on walking or a spot of rough camping.....

    Talking Permaculture saves lives.....Thinking of scenarios that just dont solve anything, but spread mass fear is no good....

    I think its getting a little late to continue worrying about....ITS HERE NOW!!!!

    get that food growing going start stocking up on lighters,solar generators,
    also for us hotter climate person,get your clothes off and enjoy natural air conditioners,the wind,shade...

    I think weve become so soft and vunerable in the west,we woudlnt be fit enough to be refugees, Wanna know whats gunna happen?..Everything and Anything..Bad orWorse..

    Im sure permaculture will survive if nothing else will...It works!!!


    Permaculture. Just Do it

    Tezza
     
  14. MonteGoulding

    MonteGoulding Junior Member

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    Hi Heuristics

    I've been thinking about this one and I've got to disagree. My reasoning is there is something like 50 percent of the world earning less than 2 bucks a day and these people will be priced out of the staple crop market by ethanol production. It's already started with Mexicans protesting over corn tortilla prices. I agree that western countries have the most in material value to lose but we are unlikely to see the loss of life (percent of people) that the third world will because we have our pretend money to buy us a small amount of reaction time.

    We have given loans of pretend money to these countries so their leaders will be obliged to send us their crops even though their people are starving. One by one the starving people of those countries will revolt but it will take years and the western world will be sheltered with only slowly rising prices. Those prices will hurt our economies for sure but because we currently spend such a small percentage of our income on food we have significantly more room to move.

    I don't mean to paint a rosy picture here. I think it's a serious moral issue that we can drive a car on ethanol while someone starves. But let's face it, what should happen and what actually does are always different.

    Food for thought???

    Monte
     
  15. Alex M

    Alex M Junior Member

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    My parents lived through the Great Depression, and it is clear to me that they were greatly traumatised by it. Mother said that it didn't matter how much money you had, you couldn't buy anything. Money itself, had become worthless. For many, it meant only misery heaped upon suffering.

    But for many others, who were resiliant and able to grow or collect food, and were surrounded family and community, where resources and skills were shared, it was the best time of their lives. They were truly FREE. And a large part of the world's population didn't even notice it; they lived, and died, as they always had.

    The brief explosion of activity that followed the GD was only ever going to be temporary, and even if it drags on for a few more years or decades, it is, in many ways, a fools paradise.

    Bill Mollison told us not to expect Permaculture to change the world, because the world is going to change itself. "Permaculture," he said, "is a response to those changes."

    Want to change the world? Be the change. Respond.
     

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