Sandpit

A new sandpit for long side discussions, conspiracy theories, idees fixes and so on.

To be clear, the sandpit is for regular commenters to pursue points that distract from regular discussion, including conspiracy-theoretic takes on the issues at hand. It’s not meant as a forum for visiting conspiracy theorists, or trolls posing as such.

51 thoughts on “Sandpit

  1. I prefer the term pseudoscience. That’s just a personal preference, I guess, but I don’t see the need for another term when we already have a perfectly good and well-defined term. The adjective “fake”, in this kind of usage, now comes with Trumpian connotations of something real being called fake.

    What pseudoscience does the paper “Deep Adaptation:A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy” by Professor Jem Bendell, rely on? Beginning with the section “Our Non-Linear World”, Bendall begins to review the climate science. I can see references to NASA/GISS and IPCC publications. I haven’t gone through the section in detail. In which parts does he refer to pseudoscience and pseudoscientific publications? It’s up to Akarog (IMHO) to point out the pseudoscience Bendall relies on.

    Or does Akarog mean Bendall’s interpretation of the science is pseudoscience? That might be supportable. I don’t know as I haven’t read Bendall’s paper in detail. The New York Times article waffles on so it is of no help. One would have to read Bendall’s paper in detail. I must admit I don’t feel inclined to read that paper in detail as it mentions “management”. That sets off my own “waffle and bulldust” alarm.

    Bendall seems to be writing from the point of view that we face civilizational and societal collapse and that somehow we can “manage” deep adaptation to that collapse (societally or just personally?). To my mind, that latter part is the problem with his thesis. It seems quite probable to me that we face civilizational and societal collapse. It seems quite improbable to me that we are going to be able to “manage” such a runaway, chaotic process. Bendall doesn’t seem to be promoting a cult except as and insofar as he promotes “management” which in itself is a kind of modern cult. It’s a real conceit to imagine that we will be able to manage catastrophic collapse in any way whatsoever.

    But I have noticed over the years that people close down and go into denial when you give them really bad news, even when it has a strong factual or scientific basis. The bad news about climate change. ecological collapse and thence possible civilizational collapse certainly falls into this category. People just can’t and won’t believe it is possible. On balance, I think this denialism is harming our chances of making the best of our remaining chances of saving this situation. It feeds complacency and the general feeling that we don’t really need to change things very much or very soon. “Lord, make me virtuous but not yet,” as Augustine said of his own concupiscence. Most of us take the same attitude today to the high levels material and energy consumption which we know, if we know any science, are rapidly taking us towards dangerous climate change.

    We need to change things radically, drastically and very quickly. Giving up is not really an option, at a species level or personal level. We need to fight the “long defeat” as Tolkien called it. A species is semi-immortal. This long defeat of a species has interim victories and those are what we live for, have always lived for. So keep going and for goodness sake start changing things rapidly. Who knows? We might have half a chance.

  2. Deep adaptation alarmists claim that societal collapse is inevitable, climate science does not support this.

    Doomers/deep adaptation alarmists say that there is no point in resisting the coming apocalypse, their despair leads to disengagement.

    Essentially they are anti expert, anti intellectual deniers.

  3. It all begins in the classroom. You have to turn graduates into mavens. This is what happened in the 1960s. University campuses became generation battlegrounds. If the politicians in power are not listening, just like back in the 1960s, then they must be confronted with their silence of death. This is the way to get quicker results. Trying for a top down approach just wont work. You get nowhere with rational intelligent people calmly explaining the dire situation. You need emotionally charged people screaming at you day and night. That telecasted speech by Great Thunberg at the UN did more for the cause of climate action that most of the fine speeches of the climatologists at the same venue.

    It might hurt the feelings of people in my generation but, it has to be said, that we are all tainted with oil on our hands and coal dust in our lungs. My generation will never achieve anything on climate change quickly enough to save the planet. This desperate problem needs the radicalization of the COVID-19 generation. They have seen first hand what happens when their elders do nothing. Like Ms. Thunberg they are screaming out: “HOW DARE YOU…”

    All we oldies who want climate change can do is run interference. We must push aside politicians who try to block climate action. At the very least we owe this to our children. Don’t wait for the Empty Nesters or the DINKS or even Generation X or Y to wake up to this harsh reality. Support Generation C-19 any way you can; but above all get out of their way.

    It hurts to know your generation and the ones you taught have failed so abysmally. Stop pretending that you can do anything to change the minds of certain politicians. Vote with your conscience, just like over 80 million Americans did to remove a large climate change roadblock. After that political action, the role for anyone over 30 years of age is to not make things worse. They cannot make things better no matter how hard they try to talk around climate deniers. These people must be radically shaken from their obstinacy by a generation that has known exclusion, radical change and death by natural disasters. They do not say things like:
    “Well its NOT as bad as the WAR years…”
    “No problems its just a little flu…”
    “We are resilient we can get through anything…”
    These are jus motherhood statements that our generation think calm down the situation.
    But as John Maynard Keynes once said, talking from the middle of a Great Depression in Britain,

    “Doing nothing is NOT an option..”

    His own government did not listen to his pleas in 1936, we cannot afford that to happen one more year. Let the children play, but radicalize the teenagers and the students. They are our last chance….

  4. akarog,

    You are simply indulging in name calling without any cogent arguments to back up your case. You haven’t detailed what pseudoscience Bendell is using or how his interpretation of science is turning it into pseudoscience. I think rather that his views are at one end of, but still on, a spectrum of views which it is reasonable to have, at least with respect to civilizational collapse. Civilizational collapse is quite possible though I wouldn’t consider it totally certain yet. Bendell also walked his prediction back a bit after criticism of the wording of the first version of his paper.

    All this smacks of the “narcissism of minor differences” or as Monty Python would have it, the arguments over whether to follow “the way of the gourd or the way of the sandal”.

    Extinction Rebellion attacks Bendell for “unfounded doomism” yet in their own name they clearly posit a real chance of extinction and the need for a full rebellion to prevent it. This is scarcely any different from Bendell’s position. It all smacks of sectarian bickering to attract followers to precisely one point of view with no deviation permitted. That’s the definition of fundamental ideology. Why Extinction Rebellion and Deep Adaptation can’t be in the same tent discussing variants of viewpoints rationally and shared ideas for actions is beyond me. There must be some practical actions they agree on.

    According to one writer Bendell advocates:

    1. “that Resilience component that everybody is already behind — seawalls and reinforced roofing, etc. —

    2. “but veers away in advocating for a second stage of “relinquishment” (giving up treasured things that make climate chaos worse, like present-day living standards and homes that overlook the ocean).”

    3. “And then a third: “restoration” of cultural values and practices “that our hydrocarbon-fuelled civilisation eroded”:

    “Examples include re-wilding landscapes, so they provide more ecological benefits and require less management, changing diets back to match the seasons, rediscovering non-electronically powered forms of play, and increased community-level productivity and support.”

    What is there in that that E.R. advocates would disagree with? Or do you also regard E.R. advocates as anti expert, anti intellectual deniers? What is your position? You haven’t actually explained it yet.

  5. Yes, but Bendell states that societal collapse will happen within 10 years then backs off by saying that it was just a guess.

    He justified this strategy by saying that he wanted to avoid the psychological escape provided by nominating a longer time period.

    He says it’s (collapse) happening right now citing crop failures as evidence.

    I think he is muddying the waters for his own benefit.

  6. The 10 years was maybe an underestimate. On our current trajectory, if we do not rapidly change just about everything, ecological and societal collapse will happen eventually. I think between 2030 and 2060 is a high probability.

  7. On the subject of “Denial and Alarmism in the Near-Term Extinction and Collapse Debate” Real Climate hosted Alastair McIntosh.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2020/08/denial-and-alarmism-in-the-near-term-extinction-and-collapse-debate/

    In an answer to a query Alastair McIntosh reminded all that as he wasn’t a climate expert; “I explicitly limit my positions to what is said by the consensus expert science. I am not a climate scientist and so feel I have no mandate to go beyond that…”

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2020/08/denial-and-alarmism-in-the-near-term-extinction-and-collapse-debate/comment-page-2/#comment-775535

  8. I watched to the end of the actual talk which is only about 35 minutes long. I didn’t bother with the questions.

  9. Estimated worldwide motor vehicle production between 2017 and 2019, by type:
    Passenger cars:
    2017 _ _ _ _ _ 72.833 million
    2018 _ _ _ _ _ 71.751 million
    2019 _ _ _ _ _ 67.149 million

    Light commercial vehicles:
    2017 _ _ _ _ _ 20.222 million
    2018 _ _ _ _ _ 20.635 million
    2019 _ _ _ _ _ 20.224 million

    Heavy commercial vehicles:
    2017 _ _ _ _ _ _4.086 million
    2018 _ _ _ _ _ _4.203 million
    2019 _ _ _ _ _ _4.143 million

    Heavy busses & coaches:
    2017 _ _ _ _ _ _ 296 thousand
    2018 _ _ _ _ _ _ 280 thousand
    2019 _ _ _ _ _ _ 271 thousand
    https://www.statista.com/statistics/1097293/worldwide-motor-vehicle-production-by-type/

    A thought experiment for hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) vehicle applications:
    Assume passenger cars to use average 10 grams of Pt each for HFC.
    10% of 68 million cars = 6.8 million cars requiring 68,000 kg Pt (per year)
    20% of 68 million cars = 13.6 million cars requiring 136,000 kg Pt
    30% of 68 million cars = 20.4 million cars requiring 204,000 kg Pt

    Assume light commercial vehicles to use average 20 grams of Pt each for HFC.
    30% of 20 million vehicles = 6 million vehicles requiring 120,000 kg Pt (per year)
    40% of 20 million vehicles = 8 million vehicles requiring 160,000 kg Pt
    50% of 20 million vehicles = 10 million vehicles requiring 200,000 kg Pt

    Assume heavy commercial vehicles to use average 100 grams of Pt each for HFC
    50% of 4 million vehicles = 2 million vehicles requiring 200,000 kg Pt (per year)
    75% of 4 million vehicles = 3 million vehicles requiring 300,000 kg Pt
    100% … 400,000 kg Pt

    Assume heavy busses & coaches to use average 60 grams of Pt each for HFC
    50% of 270,000 vehicles = 135,000 vehicles requiring 8,100 kg Pt (per year)
    75% of 270,000 vehicles = 202,500 vehicles requiring 12,150 kg Pt
    100% … 16,000 kg Pt

    I’m guessing the Pt requirements for heavy vehicles and busses, but the numbers give an idea of the magnitude of the Pt demand for near future HFCEVs.
    Add more demand for other applications like rail locomotives, marine, etc.

    World production of Pt in 2019 estimate was 180,000 kg (per USGS).

    The best estimate put the global count at around 1.32 billion cars, trucks and buses in 2016. These all need to be replaced/displaced in less than 20 years to eliminate GHG emissions.

    I’ve just stumbled across an article headlined “New catalyst resolves hydrogen fuel cell cost, longevity issues”, dated Dec 3, that includes:

    “The research team demonstrated a high-performance platinum-group-metal free (PGM-free) catalyst that effectively resolves the twin issues of cost and durability. They synthesized a cobalt-nitrogen-carbon catalyst with an ultra-fine dispersion of catalytically active sites. They demonstrated that the catalyst approached the performance of state-of-the-art PGM-free catalysts and was four times as stable as the best PGM-free iron-nitrogen-carbon catalysts.”
    https://source.wustl.edu/2020/12/new-catalyst-resolves-hydrogen-fuel-cell-cost-longevity-issues/

    The apparently newly discovered PGM-free catalyst technology maybe an alternative but IMO still looks far from commercial.

  10. (On platinum scarcity stuff)

    The units are at the top of the section on platinum under the title: it is all in kg (agree that it would be much less confusing to put the units in the table/caption). Bardi clearly thought they were in tonnes.

    How do you write a whole article about platinum scarcity and get the availability of platinum wrong by a factor of 1000? If you do basic back-of-the-envelope calculations with this number, then you would think there is plenty of platinum, so clearly the author never bothered. Also, this looks like a peer-reviewed article: seems like no-one that knows anything about platinum ever touched it.

    The simple reason platinum scarcity is not a major issue for electrolysers is that one of the dominant techs doesn’t need noble metals at all.

    I agree that you couldn’t immediately replace most of the ground vehicles in the world right now with FCEVs with current platinum supply and technology. No-one is really expecting that though. Indeed, as you state, due to basic energy efficiency considerations, FCEV cars are doomed. Battery electric has won that battle hands down. Even trucks look like they will be battery.

    But if we believe Toyota’s claim, there is enough platinum production (ignoring recycling) to produce 20,000GW of fuel cells a year. If you actually need 1g Pt/kW, that is still 2000GW of fuel cells a year. For any other purpose than road vehicles, that is way more fuel cells than anyone ever needs. World electricity generation is only about 3000GW. And there are a lot of other applications of hydrogen that don’t need fuel cells at all.

    There are a whole bunch of ‘niche’ applications though where direct electrification won’t work, but hydrogen looks good, and they add up to 20% or so of total carbon emissions. This is why people think hydrogen might be important.

  11. (Sorry, the first two numbers in the 2nd last para should be 2000GW and 200GW respectively).

  12. But coming back to the general problem of material scarcity arguments, people who make these arguments assume:

    1) Production is fixed.
    2) Technology is fixed.

    First, there is an obvious reason that platinum production might be 200 tonnes a year: that’s how much we ‘need’, and we aren’t running out any time soon. Supply and demand; supply-siders assume fixed supply and ignore demand.

    Second, in reality, technology for fuel cells is still very young, and likely to be very different if you were producing 1000x as many FCEVs than currently (suddenly doing it today with today’s tech is not a plausible scenario).

    You saw this over and over again with breathless arguments about running out of materials for wind turbines and PV cells and batteries, or arguments about them being ‘too expensive’ or ‘not energy positive’.

    It turned out that once you mass-produce these things, and scale up production by 1000x, the numbers look very different. e.g. you can make Lithium batteries with little or no cobalt. e.g. PV cells are actually very cheap and massively energy positive.

    I don’t have any special insight into fuel cells/platinum: it is just that doomers have been consistently wrong over decades about us being about to run out of material X, for combinations or reasons 1+2.

  13. Ben McMillan,
    You state: “First, there is an obvious reason that platinum production might be 200 tonnes a year: that’s how much we ‘need’, and we aren’t running out any time soon. Supply and demand; supply-siders assume fixed supply and ignore demand.”

    Price has an influence on demand.

    The current price of platinum as of December 28, 2020 is US$1,044.30 per ounce (troy). 1 ounce (troy) = 31.1 g.

    Toyota’s current model Mirai reportedly uses around 30 grams of Pt. The Toyota FC Stack achieves a maximum output of 114 kW (153 hp). The next model is expected to reduce FC Pt loading to around 10 grams.

    Cost reductions from a decline in platinum loading might be partially offset by an increase in the price of platinum. Historically, platinum prices have been sensitive to changes in demand, and the potential widespread substitution of fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) to displace internal-combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs) might significantly drive up platinum demand and hence platinum prices. The possible impact of rising platinum prices has been raised as a potential barrier to the production increases of FCVs.

    In contrast, the examples you give of lithium-based batteries, solar-PV cells and wind turbines utilise significantly more abundant materials compared with Pt for FCs. The “arguments about running out of materials for wind turbines and PV cells and batteries” are clearly not supported by the material resources data.

    A recent Nature paper suggests environmental, social, and governance factors are likely to be the main source of risk in metal and mineral supply over the coming decades, more so than direct reserve depletion. This could potentially lead to increases in resource conflict and decreases in the conversion of resources to reserves and production.
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s43247-020-0011-0

  14. I guess broadly my issue with the peak-X stuff is that it is roughly the same group of people making roughly the same arguments about peak-Pt as peak-Lithium, peak-oil, peak-rare-earth. For example, you can probably see now why I don’t trust Bardi’s arguments.

    There are indeed many issues that could cause minerals/metals shortages: if you choose an all-of-the-above strategy for decarbonisation, that minimises the risk of any single shortage becoming a big problem.

    I think an argument that FCEVs are too expensive is actually much better than worrying too much about Pt supply. The cost of Pt is an issue (30g is about $1000), but not a dominant reason why FCEVs are currently so expensive: if Toyota can make a vehicle with only twice as much Pt as in an ICE vehicle, it can’t be that big a deal. But there are just so many other reasons why FCEVs make little sense for normal road vehicles.

    For something like a ship, which is running at cruise power half the time, and where you can use a low power-to-weight powerplant, the economics are very different. For big applications, you can even use high-temperature platinum-free fuel cells.

    And then there is fertiliser, steel, etc. Limited but important uses.

  15. Ben McMillan,
    You state: “I guess broadly my issue with the peak-X stuff is that it is roughly the same group of people making roughly the same arguments about peak-Pt as peak-Lithium, peak-oil, peak-rare-earth.:

    ‘Peak-X’ isn’t about running out of ‘X’.
    ‘Peak-X’ is a critical problem if you need/demand more production of ‘X’.
    ‘Peak-X’ is not a problem if you need/demand less production of ‘X’.

    ‘Peak oil’ is inevitable and will be a problem for human civilisation **IF** there are no effective affordable alternatives deployed at large-scale in a timely manner to reduce petroleum dependency – human civilisation would then become energy starved. Nothing happens without energy. Currently, mining/transport of base materials primarily requires petroleum-based fuels – less oil means less mining, means less of everything.

    Similarly, ‘peak-Pt’ would constrain FC production and utilisation, unless effective alternative catalysts are found and implemented. My thought experiment above on potential Pt demand suggests there’s a potential risk of ‘peak-Pt’ if it’s used extensively for lighter vehicles. I’d suggest it’s probably more appropriate for considering applications for FCs in long-range heavy vehicles, locomotives on non-electrified rail lines, and marine applications (as you suggest).

    So-called rare earths (REs) are abundant in the earth’s crust but are primarily at low to very low concentrations. The elements range in crustal abundance from cerium, the 25th most abundant element of the 78 common elements in the Earth’s crust at 60 parts per million, to thulium and lutetium, the least abundant rare-earth elements at about 0.5 part per million. As depletions of ore bodies progress, concentrations will decrease, requiring more energy. Technology can mitigate the problem, but cannot solve it.

    Resource data suggests to me there are abundant lithium reserves. I’d suggest ‘peak-lithium’ is likely to come into play **IF** humanity cannot find and deploy timely solutions to reducing petroleum dependency in an inevitable post- ‘peak oil’ world.

    You suggest: “There are indeed many issues that could cause minerals/metals shortages” – I suggest our currently configured civilisation in a post- ‘peak oil’ supply world would do that.

    Overriding all of this is the time constraint of rapidly reducing human-induced GHG emissions. See the Carbon Crunch graph in: https://www.nature.com/news/three-years-to-safeguard-our-climate-1.22201

  16. As a general observation, there are many ways of doing most things, so it’s unlikely that any particular element is critical unless we use it in large amounts (as with carbon). If platinum didn’t exist, I’m sure we would find a different way of doing the things we do with it.

    As regards peak oil, it’s worth observing that the world reached peak oil production per person around 1980. Australians are using much less oil per person than we did then, and yet the country has not ground to a halt.

    https://johnquiggin.com/2011/08/05/peak-oil-point-falls-flat/

  17. After becoming interested in peak-oil a decade or so ago I also became relatively sanguine about possible shortages of minerals: it seems like the conventional economic view of finding substitutes, using less of something, and price pressures tending to induce more production/discovery is indeed usually what happens.

    Not only were the apocalyptic projections from peak-oilers in 2010 way off the mark, but the people who were making them didn’t seem to ‘mark their beliefs to market’. And peak-fossil in general is irrelevant because you cook the planet way before that happens.

    The view that energy consumption is so extremely tightly linked to wellbeing/the economy that any significant reduction in energy use would cause society to collapse is taken apart neatly in the post Prof Q linked.

  18. “As regards peak oil, it’s worth observing that the world reached peak oil production per person around 1980.”

    1 barrel of oil energy equivalent = 1.69941 WMh
    The Our World in Data website shows a graph of Oil consumption per capita, 1965 to 2015 for average oil consumption per capita, measured in megawatt-hours (MWh) per person per year.

    In 1978, world consumption peaked at 8.26 MWh (4.86 barrels oil energy equivalent) per capita.
    It then declined and plateaued, to a minimum in 1993 at 6.63 MWh (3.90 barrels oil energy equivalent).
    It’s been gradually rising since, in 2015 to 6.84 MWh (4.02 barrels oil energy equivalent).
    See: https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/oil-consumption-per-capita?country=USA~ARE~BRA~CHN~JPN~OWID_WRL

    Interesting! Thanks JQ.

    US petroleum geologist tweeted on Dec 24 a graph of US oil-related drill rig count with offset US oil production history + EIA projection through 2021 + Art Berman ‘thought experiment’. Interesting to see how reality in May to Sep 2021 matches with the graph.

  19. Environmentalism can be very identity focused and irrational up to the quasi religious. It often correlates with anti vax, taking globuli instead of proper medicine etc….. Nothing new there. The fringes are often more alike than opposed in some ways. Even outside the fringe, as always a lot is about identity and self presentation as opposed to actually doing anything good. Being vegan (at least declaring to be) to save the environment is cool! Relinquishing that trip to South America less so. Can´t do without a Machu Picchu picture on your tinder profile. Its just human nature unfortunately.

  20. Hix,

    There is nothing more irrational and quasi religious than the ideology of late stage capitalism as neoliberalism and market fundamentalism. It is pretty much in denial about all the real facts of the real economy, real environment and their interactions. It is mainstream, not fringe, and it consists of almost wall-to-wall loonies in denial of reality, in my opinion. Being mainstream is clearly no insurance against being a loonie. At the same time, being fringe is no proof that one is sane either. If having a good interconnected understanding of biosphere real systems and human socioeconomic formal systems (nomological machines) was to be taken as a necessary part of operative sanity in a complex, connected world, which it probably should be, very few if any of us would qualify as sane. That’s kind of the problem. We have created a massive, super-complex civilizational system with associated dilemmas too extensive and ramified for ourselves to understand, trace, diagnose, command and control. Its spinning out of control.

  21. This is about right but we need to really hustle to become more energy efficient as the traditional oil wells slowly fall away. The main thing to invest in is energy efficiency. So for example there is a plan afoot to make us one of the biggest steel producers in the world by making the steel here where the iron ore and coking coal is, by building a railway, across the northern territory and cutting shipping costs by two thirds. Great plan. And we would get a nation-building railway out of it.

    https://johnquiggin.com/2007/07/26/plateau-oil/

    Wooden high-rise is more energy efficient than concrete and steel high-rise. So at the same time as grabbing more of the international steel market we need to be building a lot of 100 foot tall buildings made of wood. In other words we want to make the steel market smaller but grab a lot more of it, by way of building wooden structures. Though the scheme emphasises coking coal there is certainly no reason why we can’t also pioneer using solar produced hydrogen to help with the process.

  22. Not claiming environmentalists got a monopoly on the nutty. Quite the contrary. It seemed too self-evident to even mention in more than a passing half sentence.

  23. Prediction is risky, especially about the future… and more especially when it is an economic prediction. It does raise the question of why economists are paid to make predictions or general prognostications at all. I guess they are the modern version of court astrologers. To be fair, economics is a wicked problem so it is no wonder that nobody has solved it.

  24. Electric cars work well. A Tesla 3 starts at around $73,000 Australian. That’s not cheap, but the median new passenger vehicle price in Australia is around $60,000 so it’s not as though there aren’t people who can afford them. Because they provide better performance than comparably priced internal combustion engine cars people will buy them. Lower cost electric vehicles are available and more are coming. Electric car production means we will never see sustained high oil prices again. High oil prices will be met with increased EV sales.

    Outside of edge cases, range is not a problem. Being able to charge at home means people effectively spend less time fueling their cars day to day and a little extra time using high speed charging when traveling long distances.

  25. Ronald,
    You state: “Lower cost electric vehicles are available and more are coming. Electric car production means we will never see sustained high oil prices again. High oil prices will be met with increased EV sales.”

    It seems to me you are assuming increased EV sales (and the consequent drop in petroleum fuel demand) will adequately offset the decline rate of global oil production in a post- ‘peak oil’ world.

    Dr. Robert Hirsch said in a keynote presentation on November 2012 (see the YouTube video below, from time interval 13:34):

    “Something else that’s important that a lot of people who are not technical don’t always grasp is… and that is a simple concept, namely, we’re consuming a great deal of oil every year. We’re consuming a great deal! That means that you have to… if you’re going to maintain that plateau which we’ve been on; you have to bring in that much new oil production every year just to keep the plateau flat. And that number turns out to be of the order of 5%, the order of 4 million barrels a day. So just to stay flat and make up for the amount of oil that we’re using on an everyday basis you’ve got to bring a lot in to being. At some point, it makes sense that you’re going to run out.”

    Later, Dr Hirsch says (from time interval 21:54):

    “If you take a look at the likely decline rate of world oil production, we’re talking about something of the order of 5%. Maybe it’s 4%, maybe it’s 6%. It’s going to be very complicated, depend on a whole variety of different parameters, and you assume that the best we can do (which is this world wide crash programme) is implemented. This is the kind of situation you’re talking about over a ten year period. And the reason for that, very simply, is the decline starts ahead of your mitigation. And so the things that you’re going to do to mitigate have to chase after something that’s in the process of decline.”

    Some estimates suggest there are more than 1.4 billion cars, trucks and buses operating globally.
    https://www.carsguide.com.au/car-advice/how-many-cars-are-there-in-the-world-70629

    The question is: can we reduce global oil consumption of the order of 4, 5 or 6% per annum, year-on-year, or better, in a post- ‘peak oil world, by adequately ramping up EV (and other suitable technology alternatives) production and sales to displace/replace the need for circa 1.4 billion petroleum fuel-dependent vehicles?

  26. “I posted about Plateau Oil in 2007 – seems to have held up fairly well, https://johnquiggin.com/2007/07/26/plateau-oil/

    Pretty well you reckon? I want to steal your crystal ball. Witchcraft. It was never going to drop off a cliff as many thought; if you are coming from my point of view. Because under my way of thinking oil is abiotic, but coal is probably fossil fuel, yet not totally 100% proven so. Even if coal isn’t fossil fuel (which I think it is) its clearly not juvenile, and it can stay put if we decide we want it to.

    Some people have the boo-hoo’s that China is blocking some of our coal. I myself am delighted. I see the coal as capital goods. So when we sell our coal so cheaply overseas I see this as diminishing our capital stock. There are many ways to justify a prudential policy towards CO2 release w and redefining our coal as capital stock is a good way to go.

    In terms of traditional oil wells your prediction has been spot on. The traditional oil wells will start trending down soon. But it won’t be quite the off-the-cliff experience that the fossil fuel hypothesis would seem to indicate. Those predicting that the traditional oil wells would fall off a cliff weren’t being illogical. But I don’t make it that way. Even if the oil falls away the same way it climbed up its an whole different world. I don’t remember the details. But I think far more than half the oil consumed has been consumed since 1980. And I think before about 1970 oil usage (from traditional wells) was doubling maybe every 10 to 12 years. I think the oil will fall away a bit quicker than it grew until 2005. But not so fast that we can’t adapt if we adapt in all areas leaving nothing off the table.

    So even if oil consumption trended down the way it trended up its still a big effort to maintain and improve living standards. Nothing can be off the table. But this cross laminated timber is easily the best news I’ve seen so far. I would say Thorium too, delayed a century. I think Thorium is a solution for the 22nd century. But CLT is happening now, nobody is really helping it along. Its just superior. Concrete and steel are rubbish building materials on their own or just combining the two. As an assist to this CLT we still need them. But for the most part they are rubbish and way too energy greedy.

    If people do the numbers and see us replacing nearly all high-rise concrete and more than half of the high-rise steel with CLT, I think thats a lot of energy and CO2 savings right there. And then if we use the CLT findings to get evangelical about slowly replacing suburbs with tight middle-rise villages surrounded by farmland, with a view to walkable energy efficiency … thats a total game-changer.

  27. Geoff, there’s no reason why people can’t switch over to electric road transport. A 50 kilowatt-hour battery pack is getting close to $7,000. Since an electric car is cheaper to build than an internal combustion engine one we are looking at a premium of perhaps $5,000 for mass produced vehicles which will be more than paid for through lower operating costs even if health and environmental benefits are ignored. It will be the lower cost option.

  28. Ronald, you state: “…there’s no reason why people can’t switch over to electric road transport.”

    Global manufacturing and logistics capacities.

    The IEA estimates electric vehicle sales will account for 3% of global car sales in 2020, surpassing the 2019 record of 2.6%.
    https://www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence/en/news-insights/latest-news-headlines/electric-vehicles-to-set-new-market-share-record-in-2020-59050766

    I’d suggest BEV sales need to ramp-up rapidly over the next 5 years from about 3% to 80-100% if we/humanity are to have anywhere near a chance to rapidly reduce GHG emissions in the transport sector in the required timeframe to avoid catastrophic climate change. There’s also the global legacy of an estimated 1.4+ billion fossil-fuelled cars, trucks and busses, etc. that need to ALL be retired before 2040.

    Then there’s the logistics of rolling out adequate networks of charging and/or hydrogen refuelling stations and energy generation capacities and transmission to support the expanding new technologies.

    It’s not just light vehicles (i.e. cars & bikes), but all the rest of the transport sector – commercial vans & light trucks, heavy trucks, busses, specialist and military vehicles, agricultural, forestry and mining vehicles, marine vessels, rail locomotives, aircraft, etc.

    It’s a question of whether there’s adequate global manufacturing and logistics capacities to achieve ALL of this in a timely manner. I’d suggest without consistent multi-government mandates (at local, state, and national levels) throughout the world relentlessly driving the transport transition there’s Buckley’s chance of the transition happening fast enough.

    I’d suggest a post- ‘peak oil’ supply world would throw a spanner in the works if there are inadequate alternative propulsion/energy solutions deployed for mining equipment and rail and marine transport. Base materials become expensive and scarce if the energy needed to mine, move and process them becomes expensive and scarce. Materials and goods won’t get moved if the energy to move them becomes scarce and unaffordable.

    The whole energy system needs to transition, not just parts of it.

  29. Geoff, we can sort this any time we want by putting a price on carbon emissions equal to the cost of removing them from the atmosphere and sequestering them. Of course we’re living in a world where tens of thousands are dying in rich nations because people didn’t want to wear masks or take simply public health measures, so I can understand a bit of despondency about the likelihood of that happening.

  30. But Ronald there is really only two places to put this excess carbon. 1. The soil and 2. Wooden medium high-rise using cross laminated timber. So I no longer see how a carbon price is relevant because we now know exactly what to do. When we didn’t know what to do sure a carbon price had a certain logic to it.

    We have to encourage all these buildings to refashion our low rise suburban sprawl into tight middle-rise villages. We can’t get enough of middle-rise wooden housing. About five stories because taller buildings are a vertical cul de sac. Now if we had a mature dirigibles industry perhaps a few extra stories would be optimal. But for now its really all about these tight little high-rise towns and make them of wood. Prince Charles Poundbury is a move in the right direction. And the cool thing is that its great economically and socially. Poundbury isn’t CLT but its thriving. Plenty of employment because the Prince and Leon Krier and associates have thought things through so carefully. You can have a car but you don’t need one and all the electricity is generated with renewables. Which is easily doable because in that type of setup ones energy needs are so much more modest.

    In terms of soil building the idea is to have silvopasture … partly because we need to grow all this wood. And combine that with tight herding. So great incentives for custom grazing is what we are after here.

  31. Two recent interesting tweets from Matt at CrudeOilPeak:
    Firstly:
    “…Shale oil has given the US an edge over China. Oil and energy are still not used in assessing the power of nations @ScottMorrisonMP @AngusTaylorMP
    However, US shale oil production has peaked (high decline rates)”

    And then:
    “#China imports more than twice the crude oil compared to the US and is therefore more vulnerable to disruptions. It is also more costly in strategic terms (Belt & Road Initiative)”

    Interesting to see how USA deals with a potential drastic fall in shale oil production later this year, and whether the rest of the world’s oil producers can meet demand. We’ll see.

  32. A lot of the angst about collapse seems to be built around fears in the West for decline of their geopolitical power (hat tip to ATTP).

    https://www.dw.com/en/amitav-ghosh-what-the-west-doesnt-get-about-the-climate-crisis/a-50823088

    ‘Looked at this way, it’s no wonder the Western anxiety about climate change is focussed on social collapse and extinction. “I think Western people sense that the entire order is changing in ways that are extremely threatening to them,” says Ghosh.’

    Especially the narratives around US shale oil have a very strong thread about dominance.

  33. This shale business, stripped of a cottage industry context, is not dominance. Its dysfunction. Its weakness. Its misallocation. Any economic, or investment analysis is going to reveal that this industry was made to grow ten times too quickly, thus destroying any sane EROEI. Some mature industries should be held back to improve their EROEI. Oil for example is ruining its EROEI by its ludicrous recovery techniques that amount to the futility of sucking with a larger straw.

    Other industries we should be patient with as they slowly improve their EROEI. Nuclear is way down at about 4 I think. Totally pathetic. But with many decades of patience in the next century it may be up at 30 or 50 even.

    But this shale and fracking business. This was a tremendous example of throwing good money after bad. It ought to have had a 5% growth rate in order to keep the EROEI high. Instead it became an Imperial Panacea and one of the greatest investment train wrecks in the history of pseudo capitalism.

  34. Ben McMillan,
    You state: “A lot of the angst about collapse seems to be built around fears in the West for decline of their geopolitical power (hat tip to ATTP).”

    I’d suggest it’s more than a “decline of their geopolitical power”. It’s about survival – nothing happens without energy. No energy, and then there’s no food (and other essentials for life), then you starve, become weak/sick and then you die.

    Air Vice Marshal (Retd) John Blackburn (for an Australian perspective) wrote in Sep 2018:

    “Energy security is fundamental to our way of life. Without energy security and without resilient supply chains, our Defence Forces will not be able to operate. Likewise, our society would also cease to operate if our national energy infrastructure and associated supply chains falter.

    The public awareness of these risks is relatively poor; even significant energy infrastructure failures, such as the 2016 South Australian electricity blackouts, seem to have faded from the news cycle around much of the country.”

    Blackburn finishes with:
    “The discussion of these issues is not just for our politicians; it is our collective responsibility to discuss these issues and to tell our politicians what we need to have done and not wait to just complain after our energy systems fail.”
    https://www.australiandefence.com.au/budget-policy/energy-security-is-there-a-problem

    I doubt attitudes of the many have changed since Blackburn wrote his piece referred above. I’d suggest most people are still energy blind.

    Complaining after our energy systems fail could be too late. We’ll see.

  35. Among those who understand the dire nature of the climate crisis, “a lot of the angst about collapse” is actually built around fears that the human race will go extinct. If the elites of the West and the masses of the non-West want to make it all about whose fault it is then we will certainly all die. And if the intellectuals and elites of the non-West want to make it all about “we have an untrammeled right to consume at current Western standards”, then again all humans will die. It’s that simple.

  36. Just for amusement.
    Ben McMillan said “A lot of the angst about collapse seems to be built around fears in the West for decline of their geopolitical power (hat tip to ATTP).”

    And Ikon to approve or disapprove of rankings.

    The Map of Doom: A Data-Driven Visualization of the Biggest Threats to Humanity, Ranked from Likely to Unlikely

    https://www.openculture.com/2020/12/the-map-of-doom.html

  37. Since you are so polite, Brenden Butler, I will respond.

    A carbon price is useful because it results in people and organizations choosing low or zero carbon options when they otherwise would have no financial incentive to choose them. For example, with a low carbon price manufacturers of precast concrete items would stop adding ash to the mix to speed curing and just let them sit for a few weeks and absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, reducing the net amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere from concrete production. This doesn’t make a huge difference, but it does help.

  38. Your example just shows what a nightmare taxation system you are talking about. Think of all the form-filling? All the verification and all the lies the big guys are going to be able to tell to avoid taxes?

    And what is wrong with internment of carbon as ash? Ash is practically all carbon isn’t it? Better still my solution trumps your example. Because if you are not using cement and are using wood instead thats carbon internment and less energy usage. So you’ve just made my argument for me. The carbon price may have one day seemed a reasonable option, when we did not know what we should do. But now that we know what to do it makes no sense.

    So you might want another stab at that apple Ronald, because your example fell flat. Can you think of another example that further shows the nightmare that this indirect tax will result in?

  39. If you read the interview, Ghosh is not trying to make it about whose fault it is, but he correctly points out that the injustice is a massive issue in getting the developing world to respond. Indeed the reaction of e.g. Chinese people is (in my experience) “this is largely your fault so you fix it”.

    The honorable (and effective) response from the West would be actually admitting and at least partially redressing this injustice.

    He also correctly notes that threats to energy supply are largely about distribution (not overall abundance), and about the control of production and trade routes.

    Mostly I think the important point is that people in developing nations don’t see the collapse and dysfunction of complex networks of materials and infrastructure as anything particularly new. “And indigenous peoples have already lived through the end of the world and found ways to survive.”

    Unlike in the West, where it really does threaten our comfortable way of life.

  40. If we do things wrong the reduction in both oil consumption and CO2 release threatens our existence. But if we do things right all it means to me is I have to walk up five flights of stairs a few times a day to be able to afford the rent. I’d rather live in a high-rise wooden village then a concrete jungle anyway. I can use the exercise and its a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

  41. Ben McMillan,
    You state: “If you read the interview, Ghosh is not trying to make it about whose fault it is, but he correctly points out that the injustice is a massive issue in getting the developing world to respond.”

    The ‘Laws of Physics’ and the limitations of chemistry and biology don’t ‘care’ who’s fault it is.

    Either we/humanity ALL respond cooperatively, effectively and in a timely manner to the existential threats of a) an escalating catastrophic climate change; and b) an inevitable post- ‘peak oil’ supply world; OR we ALL reap the consequences of an increasingly uninhabitable and energy starved world.

    Those societies that are less resilient will likely succumb first and collapse. Those that are more resilient will likely last sometime longer.

    You also state: “Mostly I think the important point is that people in developing nations don’t see the collapse and dysfunction of complex networks of materials and infrastructure as anything particularly new. “And indigenous peoples have already lived through the end of the world and found ways to survive.””

    No indigenous peoples – no modern humans – have EVER lived in a period in Earth’s climate history that has been at 1.5, 2, 3, 4 or 5 °C global mean temperature rise above Holocene Epoch (approximately the last 11,650 calendar years) pre-industrial age.

    Last year, Mauna Loa Observatory recorded atmospheric CO2 levels that reached a seasonal monthly average peak of 417.1 parts per million (ppm) in May.
    See: https://keelingcurve.ucsd.edu/

    When planet Earth last had as much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as it does today, during the Pliocene Epoch (5.332–2.588 million years before present age) trees were growing in Antarctica, sea levels were 20–25 m higher than now, and global mean temperatures were 2–4 °C warmer than Holocene pre-industrial age. The world is currently on a 3–5 °C warming path by 2100, meaning we are heading for levels of warming incompatible with an organised global community.
    See: https://www.climaterealitycheck.net/
    Also: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/18/climate-crisis-heat-is-on-global-heating-four-degrees-2100-change-way-we-live

    I’d suggest a weakened ‘West’ means less or no support/assistance for developing and vulnerable nations.

  42. My prognosis that Tesla stocks will underperform is not looking good so far, to say the least. There are no obvious good news about Tesla to justify that the stock value has doubled again since my prognosis. At this point, I’m still leaning more towards re-evaluating my estimates of market efficiency than to admit I was wrong.
    In many ways a bigger disaster for society, but less of a puzzle regarding market efficiency (the market for those crappy things simply is far further from efficient market conditions) are cryptocurrencies.

  43. We are all martians now! An a planet ‘B-mars’.

    hix, you may know more but won’t excess liquidity now flow to Tesla from pension funds etc? Bumping up wealth even more?

    “Tesla co-founder overtakes Amazon’s Jeff Bezos as car firm’s shares soar after ‘blue Senate’ victory

    “The 49-year-old entrepreneur’s net worth hit $186bn (£136bn) at 10.15am in New York on Wednesday, making him $1.5bn richer than Bezos, who had held the top spot since October 2017.

    “Musk said he intended to use half of his fortune to “help problems on Earth” and “half to help establish a self-sustaining city on Mars to ensure continuation of life (of all species) in case Earth gets hit by a meteor like the dinosaurs or WW3 happens & we destroy ourselves”.

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/jan/07/elon-musk-overtakes-amazon-bezos-world-richest-person-tesla-bloomberg-billionare-index-blue-senate

  44. Well, one got to believe fundamentals will matter eventually, otherwise such prognosis becomes entirely futile. The more or less mandated buying by some investors after the S&P500 inclusion is nothing that should keep prices up for the long (or mid) run and the effect does not explain another 100% in a short time either. There is a historical precedent which is often mentioned by market efficiency sceptics – Yahoo, which was included in the S&P500 after much hesitation due to lack of profits as well at an astonishing valuation just to collapse shortly afterwards. Not necessarily the best example in my opinion – since the big Internet monopolies did turn out to be incredible valuable eventually. At least Yahoo was a likely candidate to be Alphabet and then some. Other companies look a lot more questionable in hindsight. AOL to name the most expensive one. Or companies that never had any market position to begin with up to the point of almost or beyond fraud like non-existing products.
    Granted, Tesla is more Yahoo than pets.com (there are worse examples, just can’t remember the names now) it is also worth a god-damn 770 billion while operating in a market where there is just not an obvious natural monopoly the way there is in the internet sector in the first place. Even if it emerges, it is far from obvious Tesla will be the winner.

    Maybe there will be a quasi monopoly on self-driving technology, but it could be a monopoly by Alphabet, or Intel, or VW., or Apple….. , maybe even on batteries (feels even less likely) but again, it could be CATL, or Panasonic, or LG, even Toyota. Just does not add up.

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