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The significance of the Deepwater Horizon
May 2nd, 2010

BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded on the 20th of April, killing 11 men and losing containment of the well it was drilling.

It is what is called a “pressure fed” release. The upper limit of the Exxon Valdez disaster was limited to the inventory of oil on the tanker–about 11 million gallons. The upper magnitude [...]

Review: Tipping Point—Near Term Systemic Implications of a Peak in Global Oil Production
April 23rd, 2010

Civilisation depends on the availability of increasing flows of concentrated energy. We are on the threshold of contracting flows of concentrated energy and its partial substitution by diffuse energy. It is intuitively obvious that the net withdrawal of concentrated energy should have major systemic implications for civilisation. What are they?

Well according to the dominant social [...]

The real lesson of Eyjafjallajokull
April 22nd, 2010

John Michael Greer, writing today in his ever insightful blog “The Archdruid Report”, reminds us of the real lesson of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano eruption: nature cannot be ignored with impunity. He isn’t talking about volcanoes—he is talking about the turning tide of cheap and abundant energy—itself an expression of nature rather than something we created. [...]

The future of public debt: prospects and implications
April 13th, 2010

Public debt levels rose dramatically after the 2008 peak oil shock as governments recapitalized banks and defibrillated their sclerotic economies with large cash injections.

Many OECD countries now register public debt at around 100% of GDP. Although unpleasant, this is not new and economies have recovered from such debt positions before, most notable following the Second [...]

The UK election
April 6th, 2010

This country has £1 trillion national debt, a £250 billion hole in its pension system, a ballooning retired population and a collapsing working population.

We depend macro-economically on oil production for balance of payments, foreign exchange, interest rates and inflation—and it is halving every 10 years.

We have a culture of chronic welfare dependence and crippling public [...]

The end of airlines
April 3rd, 2010

Here is the airline’s business model and problem in a nutshell: use cheap fuel to propel people between healthy economies. Economies have flatlined, and fuel is becoming too expensive to burn. The global aviation business model is dead.

Hydrocarbon “lock-in” in universities
March 31st, 2010

How do we account for our growing inability to reconcile the “business as usual story” with every day facts? A look at the dynamics of academia provides an insight.

The “undulating plateau”
March 31st, 2010

The idea that energy descent will be preceded by a series matching falls and recoveries does not fit well with our intuitive sense of how complex things work.

Survival of the state
March 26th, 2010

Last week, the UK Government held a work shop, entitled “Policy Response to potential future oil supply constraints”. Transition Network’s Rob Hopkins summarises it as “potentially the day when the UK government finally started to ‘get’ peak oil“.[1]

As recently as a year ago, you could find no acknowledgement of peak oil in official UK government [...]

A smaller world
March 3rd, 2010

Leading Canadian economist, Jeff Rubin, sets out the premise of his book “Why your World is about to get a whole lot smaller” in this 45 minute video from 2009’s The Business of Climate Change Conference.

We aren’t running out of oil. But the supply of oil we can afford – the $30 a barrel Saudi [...]

The story of cap + trade
March 2nd, 2010

I have to admit, I waver on Climate Change. But the methodology employed to subvert climate change intervention, and in particular the distractions created by them to real action, are equally applicable to energy security interventions and efforts to expose them are valuable.

“The Story of Cap+Trade (why you can’t solve a problem with the thinking [...]

Arithmetic, Population & Energy
November 30th, 2009

Society, as we have constructed it, cannot function without an exponentially growing energy supply. Dr. Albert A. Bartlett, using nothing more than high school maths, demonstrates just how impractical this is.

Industry Experts Offer Growing Drumbeat of Supply Warnings
November 26th, 2009

Groups and individuals speaking out about forthcoming world oil supply challenges are frequently stereotyped as a fringe element with little knowledge about the oil industry. But their warnings are increasingly supported by some surprising allies: senior petroleum industry officials, consultants and analysts. Call these serious-minded critics the Harsh Realists.

Most prominent are CEO’s from several large [...]

Head in the sand
November 24th, 2009

The International Energy Agency was established in the wake of the 1974 oil crisis. Its functions are to provide authoritative information on the supply of oil, and energy policy advice based on it to its member nations. The IEA has admitted that, under political pressure from the US, for a decade it has grossly inflated [...]

U.S. Unemployment animation
November 22nd, 2009

There are now 31 million people unemployed in the U.S. as a result of the worst economic upheaval since the Great Depression. This animation of unemployment rate by county shows the deteriorating transformation of the U.S. economy from January 2007–approximately one year before the start of the recession–to the most recent unemployment data available [...]

The Global Oil Depletion Report
November 22nd, 2009

The report finds:

Despite large uncertainties in the available data, sufficient information is available to allow the status and risk of global oil depletion to be adequately assessed. But the available methodologies can frequently lead to underestimates of resource size and overly pessimistic forecasts of future supply The [...]

Key oil figures were distorted by US pressure, says whistleblower
November 10th, 2009

The world is much closer to running out of oil than official estimates admit, according to a whistleblower at the International Energy Agency who claims it has been deliberately underplaying a looming shortage for fear of triggering panic buying.

Did oil cause the latest recession? IEA weighs into the debate
November 10th, 2009

The IEA points out that it had warned in 2006 that the effect of high oil prices from the preceding four years had not yet worked their way through the world economy, and that further increases in prices would “pose a significant threat to the world economy, by causing a worsening of current account imbalances [...]

A post-oil world gets less sci-fi by the day
November 3rd, 2009

The IEA figures showed there could be a gap of 7m barrels a day between supply and demand by 2015. That represents about 8% of the expected world demand by then, 91m barrels a day. The gap will grow as demand keeps growing. Taylor warns that world supply levelled off between 2005 and 2008, so [...]

The elephant in the room
November 3rd, 2009

… Investment in these markets will, I believe, bring unprecedented growth for the entire world going forward. The downturn in the economy going forward is merely a correction. In the long term, growth will prevail. — Alan Greenpants, Economist and former char lady at the US Federal Reserve

Green Energy Experts: Why Do They Buy Solars?
November 3rd, 2009

The old adage “Invest in what you know” does not mean that a pilot should buy airlines. It means that that a pilot will have more knowledge of the airline industry than an industry outsider, and my be able to use this knowledge to either choose between well-run and poorly run companies, or to have [...]

Why carbon capture won’t fly
November 2nd, 2009

Carbon capture is the process of removing C02 from the exhaust fumes of power stations and storing them somewhere to prevent their release into the atmosphere. The UK is about to lose 22GW (40% of production capacity)[1]. It’s easy to work out how much extra capacity we will have to build to provide carbon capture for the replacement power stations.

Thinking the Unthinkable
November 2nd, 2009

The real estate bubble burst because Globalization itself has started to tremble and creak like so much old infrastructure that surrounds us. Basically, unfettered capitalism that is Globalization has hit absolute limits and growth cannot continue under any circumstances. As they say, the party’s over. What are these limits you ask? Basically they are set [...]

Reserves divided by consumption-rate
November 1st, 2009

140 years ago, British Economist William Stanley Jevons had the following to say, in response to the hubris then surrounding UK coal reserves: I must point out the painful fact that such a rate of growth will before long render our consumption of coal comparable with the total supply. In the increasing depth and difficulty of [...]

Is Nuclear Energy a Good Idea?
October 16th, 2009

Nuclear energy technology offers high energy density per unit of resource. Replacing diminishing hydrocarbon energy with nuclear energy is therefore an attractive proposal. However, a number of very significant challenges must be overcome before development of capacity at a scale necessary to address declining hydrocarbon resources can be undertaken. The purpose of this essay is to review these challenges to inform the question: “Is nuclear energy a Good Idea?”.

Ten things about oil supply
October 1st, 2009

In some cases, they have been obvious for decades, and yet depressingly, they seem not to have been acted upon. When taken together, the sheer scale of the imminent oil supply crunch, and the extent of missed opportunity and failed leadership become apparent.

1965 was the year in which the largest volume [...]

What can I do?
October 1st, 2009

As a rough estimate, in the UK a moderately affluent person consumes around 195 kWh per day. The maximum conceivable contribution from renewable energy sources in the UK is around 180 kWh per day per person[1]. Easy things

Stop flying. 35 kWh/d Drive less, drive more slowly, drive more gently, [...]

Oil Company culture of silence
September 30th, 2009

In January 2006 I was tasked with preparing a briefing paper for the management of my oil company employer on the vexing subject of “Peak Oil”. The briefing was simple: read the literature, condense it into a format suitable for the average attention-deficit manager, and supply the ammunition with which they could destroy the argument [...]