[colug-432] Peak Oil

Richard Hornsby richardjhornsby at gmail.com
Mon Dec 13 19:03:54 EST 2010

On Dec 13, 2010, at 17:12 , Stephen P. Molnar wrote:

> What the @$#Q%%^Q#$(*(*) does this have to do with Linux?
> Take your rants some place else, please

While I disagree with some of what has been said, it is at least somewhat on topic considering we need energy to power our homes, our cars, our offices, and yes, our Linux boxen.  Datacenters need massive amounts of electricity, and that doesn't come sprouting from unicorn butts.  We have to pay for our energy needs - and with the type of thinking that spawned a gem from our dear leader -- "Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlTxGHn4sH4) -- we're in for a rough ride should he get his way -- perhaps we're in for a rough ride one way or another sooner or later.

How/where we obtain the fuel to push the tiny electrons that power our stuff is something we rarely consider -- but a worthy topic of discussion, imho.  There are serious DR implications.  I'm pretty sure it was a valid discussion when ENRON was manipulating the energy market and California was suffering with rolling blackouts.  Nothing says that type of crap can't happen again for reasons other than ENRON -- copper theft is on the rise, and there is the possibility of resource/fuel starvation by lack or incompetence/failure of a central planning authority (Atlas Shrugged anyone?).

How would we deal with it?  How far would we have to go before power for computers - linux included - became a luxury?  What would it look like for ISPs and datacenters to be forced into fail overs on a regular (but unplanned/unannounced) basis from geographies without power to those with it?  Would the internet as we know it survive with large swaths of backbone suddenly being without power for extended periods of time, or rapidly power cycling (on for a day, off for two, on for 6 hours, off for 24 etc)?  Not only should we assume that generator fuel will go quickly, but generators take time to spin up -- and PSUs/UPSs can only take so much abuse.

Like I said, there are significant DR issues at play from a major fuel shortage. I'm speculating, but I'd bet many third world countries may share a critical feature - an unreliable or non-existent power grid.  What would happen if our power grid was suddenly as reliable as theirs?


> .On Mon, 13 Dec 2010 15:14:39 -0500
> Travis Sidelinger <travissidelinger at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Mon, Dec 13, 2010 at 12:57 PM, Joshua Kramer <josh at globalherald.net> wrote:
>>> Continuing the discussion from the list.
>>> "That last figure I've seen is that the cost to convert algae to diesel
>>> is about 50$ / gallon.  That's pretty far from the current $3.25/gal.
>>> You'll need massive amounts of water and fertilizer.  Solar and Wind
>>> are already here and in mass production.  We just won't be able to
>>> zoom zoom our SUV's around in the future."
>>> The *last* time I researched this back in 2008 the price/gallon for algae
>>> biodiesel was estimated to be around $5.  After reading what you wrote I did
>>> a quick Google search and found studies that pegged it more like
>>> $18-$40/gallon.  I'm guessing that folks have done much more research in the
>>> past few years to more accurately peg the number.
>> Can you share some of those links?  Also, what is the net energy equation?
>>> But keep in mind that wind/solar and biodiesel are two totally and
>>> completely different animals.  We should not focus on one at the exclusion
>>> of the others.
>>> "Yes, I'm panicking too.  I could have as little as a year to get solar
>>> cells installed and learn to garden."
>>> If the crap hits the fan as badly as you've surmised in previous posts on
>>> this thread, solar cells and gardening will be the *least* of your worries.
>>>  What do you plan to do about the gangs of roving thieves?
>> Yes I know.  People have been known to do dispirit things for
>> survival.  Some people may think this is too far fetch or that we are
>> too civilized for things to come to that.  I hope they are right, but
>> I suggest planning for a range of possible outcomes.  Bullets are
>> currently a cheap investment.
>>> If it really gets that bad - I'm guessing we'll enter some kind of dystopian
>>> future that is a mix of the new technology we can support without petrol,
>>> and the 1800's.  Personally I'd have no issue with going back to the 1800's.
>>>  The problem is that the population level that we can support using 1800's
>>> technology is far less than the population we can support using 2010
>>> technology.  Those who are not prepared in *all* areas will have a bleak and
>>> uncertain future.  I do not intend to be in this bleak and uncertain group.
>> Maybe they can eat the leather in their SUV's
>>> Looks like I have to start hoarding ammo again... :)  And learn some skills
>>> that are applicable using technology from any era... like fabrication,
>>> mechanical design, maybe blacksmithing or gunsmithing... and gardening...
>>> and animal husbandry...
>> Except for most people there are just too many things that you need to
>> know and be good at.  Communities are key.
>>> The people who get really deep in this have it all planned out.  How they'll
>>> eat or grow food, how they'll defend themselves, the best location to live
>>> (in order to ensure a good water and food supply, and reduce the chances of
>>> roving thieves), what kinds of people to associate with (it's recommended to
>>> join a church and, if you aren't religious, pretend you are), those kinds of
>>> things.  There are sociological and psychological problems you have to
>>> navigate in addition to the technical problems with this kind of occurrence.
>>>  The link I noted at Life After The Oil Crash has a lot of resources for
>>> this...
>> Yes, it will take strong communities if we are to survival.
>> People need to consider all the possibilities and plan accordantly:
>> Here are some possibilities I've come up with:
>>  * Oil is unlimited and we keep growing exponentially -> Current
>> facts are not on this side.  This is simply a fantasy.
>>  * Oil is limited, but with technology we will be able to keep our
>> status quo for another 20 years -> Problem is that the technology
>> already needs to be in massive production today.  We needed to start
>> this 15yrs ago.
>>  * Oil production remains flat until 2015 as prices rise because of
>> India and China, but people act quickly to switch to renewable energy
>> solutions -> Making this switch will not be easy.  Experts have
>> calculated that we will need 2000 times the number of solar cells.
>> Lets get building....
>>  * Oil production remains flat until 2015 and then starts a 3%
>> decline, prices rise, but economic output (GDP) is held down, people
>> slowly switch to renewables, but GDP reduces significantly until it
>> equalizes with renewable energy production and remaining oil/gas
>> production at a much lower level -> hopefully I can hang onto my job
>> why this all happens.  There are many different tipping points that
>> could cause our system(s) to simply fall into chaos while this
>> happens.
>>  * Oil production remains flat or in decline causing prices to rise
>> and then causing another (or consecutive) recessions, our level of
>> nation debt then causes the dollar to fault, but the government acts
>> quickly to secure food production and quell civil unrest  -> Scary,
>> but quite possible.
>>  * Oil production remains flat or decline causing prices to rise and
>> then causing another or consecutive recessions, our level of nation
>> debt then causes the dollar to fault leading to complete chaos (better
>> known as Mad Max).   -> Very scary and quite possible too.
>>  * It is also possible that different areas within the US will have
>> completely different outcomes, thus any combination of the about
>> outcomes.
>> I think the most probably outcome (with current information) is that
>> we will continue at current levels for at least another year or two as
>> oil prices slowly rise.  Eventually oil prices will cause a second
>> recession.  US debt and credit markets will be in really bad shape by
>> then and we could see the dollar collapse.  I'm hoping government will
>> step in and secure food production.  Though I'd expect mileage will
>> very with different areas of the nation.  Some will be in complete
>> chaos, yet others will have formed strong communities.    Keep in mind
>> that our current food systems supports 300+ mil people (plus exports
>> too), thus reductions in those systems may result in a reduction to
>> population before things can equalize again.  I'd expect the major
>> cites will be the worst off as they are furthest from food production
>> and contain the highest population densities.
>> Hopefully I'm wrong, but people just seem to be in complete denial,
>> which can only make this even worse.
>> It's amazing how there was a lot of talk about this two years, but
>> when oil prices dropped off during the peak of the recession people
>> just went back to their normal habits.
>> ~Travis

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