Predictions by scientists and engineers

Charles A. Hall and David J. Murphy.  Predictions for 2011

We predict (with relatively little certainty assigned to it) that there will continue to be (for a while) a mild economic recovery, which will increase the demand for oil, and thus require the increased use of higher-priced oil. This will eventually require that 10 percent or so of the US GDP will go to the price of energy, which, as in the past, will lead to an economic downturn which will lead, in time, into the same cycle again. While we are not sure of the details of timing or prices we think that Jean Laherrere’s and Colin Campbell’s concept of the “undulating plateau” will continue to describe the US (and European) economies for the forseeable future — at least until serious peak oil and declining EROI kicks in.

Mid-East unrest could increase global phosphorus threat

Feb 2 2011 Terry Clinton University of Technology Sydney

Two Australian experts, Professor Stuart White and Dr Dana Cordell, in global phosphorus have warned instability in the Middle East and North Africa could threaten world food security, due to the high proportion of global phosphate rock reserves in the region.

Phosphorus is required to produce fertilizer and is not able to be substituted in food production.

Morocco alone controls the vast majority of the world’s remaining high quality phosphate rock,” Professor White said. “Even a temporary disruption to the supply of phosphate on the world market can have serious ramifications for nations’ food security.”

Professor White and Dr Cordell, from the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology, Sydney, are leading an international research initiative on the likely peak in phosphate rock production before the end of the century.

“Demand for phosphorus is increasing globally due to changing diets in developing countries, biofuel production and population growth,” Professor White said.

“Peak phosphorus is often highly misunderstood as the ‘year we will run out of phosphorus’. The peak actually refers to the point in time when production will no longer be able to keep up with demand due to economic and energy constraints. Whilst the exact timeline is uncertain, it will be much sooner than the time when all the reserves have been depleted. Even before the peak in production occurs, there is the prospect of significant price spikes and impact on farmers and global crop yields.”

“The solutions rest in improving the efficiency of use, as much of the phosphate resource is wasted between the mine and the dinner plate,” Dr Cordell said. “No governments have a plan for securing sufficient access to phosphorus for producing food in the long-term. Whatever the exact year of peak phosphorus, it is clear we need to start taking action now. This means investing in renewable phosphorus fertilizers (by recovering and reusing phosphorus from our excreta, manure and food waste) and increasing the efficiency of phosphorus use from mining to fertilizer application to food processing.

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