Preface. I’ve noticed that in the half dozen science magazines and several newspapers I get practically the only environmental stories are about climate change. Yet there are 8 other ecological boundaries (Rockström 2009) we must not cross (shown in bold with an asterisk below) and dozens of other existential threats as well.
Global peak oil production may have already happened in October of 2018 (Will covid-19 delay peak oil? Table 1). It is likely the decline rate will be 6%, increasing exponentially by +0.015% a year (see post “Giant oil field decline rates and peak oil”). So, after 16 years remaining oil production will be just 10% of what it was at the peak.
If peak oil happened in 2018, then CO2 ppm levels may be under 400 by 2100 as existing and much lower emissions of CO2 are absorbed by oceans and land. The IPCC never even modeled peak oil in their dozens of scenarios because they assumed we’d be exponentially increasing our use of fossils until 2400. They never asked geologists what the oil, coal, and natural gas reserves were, assumed we’d use methane hydrates, and many other wrong assumptions.
Meanwhile, all the ignored ecological disasters will become far more obvious. They’re papered over with fossils today. Out of fresh water? Just drill another 1,000 feet down. Eutrophied water? Build a $500 million dollar water treatment plant. Fisheries collapsed? Go to the ends of the earth to capture the remaining schools of fish.
The real threat is declining fossil production, yet climate change gets nearly all the coverage. And I’ve left out quite a few other threats, such as “nuclear war” with 17,900 results since 2016 in scholar.google.com.
Alice Friedemann www.energyskeptic.com author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer, Barriers to Making Algal Biofuels, and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts: Collapse Chronicles, Derrick Jensen, Practical Prepping, KunstlerCast 253, KunstlerCast278, Peak Prosperity , XX2 report
|scholar. google. com 2016||USA Today 2013||Wall Street Journal 1997||NYT 2016|
|2,360,000||11,100||28,400||9,379||“climate change” *|
|74,800||260||255||47||“soil erosion” (50,900) “soil degradation” (23,900)|
|43,000||7||10||3||eutrophication * (a result of too much nitrogen & phosphorus applied to farmland)|
|32,800||19||100||23||“biodiversity loss” *|
|22,800||63||38||44||“ocean acidification” *|
|11,800||23||17||15||“chemical pollution” *|
|8,743||58||5||2||“groundwater depletion” (7100) “aquifer depletion” (1320) “freshwater depletion” (323) *|
|5,100||18||3||0||“stratospheric ozone depletion” *|
|2,259||4||0||0||“phosphorus depletion” and “phosphate depletion”|
|2,210||34||207||25||“Proven oil reserves”|
|1,320||0||0||0||“land system change” *|
|971||0||0||0||“atmospheric aerosol loading” *|
|900||2||1||1||“fishery collapse” (657) “fishery depletion” (89) “fishery decline” (154)|
|47||0||0||0||“net plant production” * NPP encompasses 5 of Rockstrom’s 9 boundaries: land-use change, freshwater use, biodiversity loss, global nitrogen and phosphorus cycles as well as affected by climate change and chemical pollution. Running, S. W. 2012. A Measurable Planetary Boundary for the Biosphere. Science.|
|304,380||1,244||2,576||636||Total of not climate change|
* Rockstrom J, et al (2009) Planetary Boundaries: Exploring Safe Operating Space for Humanity. Ecology and Society
Table 1 shows that in all of scholarly literature, NON-climate change issues comprise just 1.2% of publications, USA Today 11%, WSJ 9%, & NYT 6.8%.
The rant continues. The reason I am so annoyed with the attention to Climate Change is that it became THE PROBLEM and THE SOLUTION was to generate electricity with wind and solar power to lower emissions. But as we all know, there have been no closures of fossil fuel plants (coal plants were replaced with natural gas plants double their size) because of lack of energy storage for renewables, the inability of wind and solar to scale up, and because fossil plants still supply two-thirds of generation and peak power. Since rebuildables require fossils every single step of their life cycle, they were never were a solution. They were simply a distraction from reality.
If the actual problem is that finite fossil fuels power our civilization and their peak production is near at hand, then carrying capacity will be far less. Pimentel (1991) estimated 40 to 100 million without fossil fuels in the U.S. So we should have been reducing LEGAL immigration to far less than the one million a year since the 1960s, made birth control and abortion free and easy to get, and have high taxes on more than 1 child.
Most importantly, by far, is that since peak fossils is the problem, rather than CC, we need to return to organic farming and stop using pesticides, build up the soils with composting and cover crops, plant windbreaks so that soil on thousands of square miles can’t wash and blow away so easily, stockpile phosphate, start growing multiple crops everywhere locally, and so on. We need to train the youngest generation how to do this, since eventually 90% of Americans will be farmers. And anyone who can grow a victory garden should be doing it since less consumption will lower standards of living until a new economic system not dependent on endless growth develops.
There needs to be less consumption across the board, and very high taxes on the top 1% to redistribute wealth.
There needs to be a year or two of mandatory service after high school to do infrastructure and other worthwhile projects in agriculture, irrigation, and more to prepare for a low energy world and to lessen the need to create private sector jobs in an economy that is shrinking.
Planting of hardwood trees and no more export of forests to Europe to burn for their “renewable” energy since we’ll need a lot of trees when we return to biomass as our main source of energy and infrastructure for ships, buildings, and charcoal to make bricks, metal, ceramics, glass, etc.
Just look at postcarbon.org and transition towns for ideas, the reason for their existence.
Climate change efforts have done nothing and distracted us away from what needs to be done. CC activists didn’t even try to lower the speed limit or ration gasoline usage or days when people could drive or mandate less consumption, and just about every single paper on anything to do with energy was how to lower emissions rather than energy efficiency.
I’ve collected reasons for why people deny a future energy crisis in “Telling others about peak oil and limits to growth”. Here’s an excerpt:
- It’s impossible because whad’ya mean energy crash, never heard of it.
- Because we’re doing fine. Just some hiccups in the supply.
- Because they know what they’re doing and would have told us by now.
- Because I haven’t got time for an energy crash right now.
- Even if I had time, I couldn’t afford one. Look at my credit card.
- The oils wells have never run dry before, so they never will.
- Rain refills water wells. For oil wells: acid rain or something.
- Because oil wells are big slot machines, put money in, get oil out.
- Because they’ll think of alternatives-ha-ha-silly-billy.
- The oil companies have things up their sleeve they’re going to bring in.
- Because God looks after me.
- I need a car for work so it’s impossible.
- Impossible because you’re just trying to scare us.
- It’s impossible because you’re crazy.
- It’s impossible because ya have to stay positive.
No wonder everyone preferred Climate Change. With windmills and solar panels we could continue our lifestyle and be squeaky clean and green.
Meanwhile, we’ve wasted decades of preparation on Climate Change instead of the energy crisis.
Pimentel, D. et al. 1991. Land, Energy, and Water. The Constraints Governing Ideal U.S. Population Size. Negative Population Growth.