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Thread: Peak Oil and Alternative Energy - Summary of Jay Hanson's View

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    Oct 2008
    Undisclosed Island (not Iceland)

    Default Peak Oil and Alternative Energy - Summary of Jay Hanson's View

    Hanson expects that the coming decades will see an up to 90% reduction in the number of humans on the planet due to declining world energy production and the war(s) that may be triggered by energy/resource scarcity.

    He believes that the only way to avoid massive catastrophe would be large-scale investment in alternative (to hydrocarbon) sources of energy begun at least a decade or two before the peak. The build-out of such alternatives would consume a moderately significant percentage of world hydrocarbon production (used in mining, transporting, and processing the materials needed to build solar energy facilities, wind turbines, nuclear power plants, necessary infrastructure, etc.), and there would be a tough period during the transition.

    However, he believes we are already at or very near the peak (at least in net energy terms *) of world hydrocarbon production, and in order to rapidly build out alternatives now that we have waited for the market to signal the problem via high hydrocarbon prices (instead of investing to solve the problem well ahead of time), up to 70% of the (soon to be rapidly declining) world hydrocarbon production will need to be spent in order to successfully implement the alternatives on a large enough scale. This would not leave much energy for the production of food, consumer goods, or personal transportation during the transition period:

    He thinks the conflict over the remaining sources of hydrocarbons (vital to making this transition away from hydrocarbons) is likely to trigger a global nuclear war within around 10-15 years. He hopes he is wrong, but is afraid he is not. After all, we are animals, and might end up acting less in the spirit of co-operation, and more based on fear, aggression, and a desire to secure resources for ourselves rather than agreeing to mutually sacrifice for the benefit of the future of mankind.

    One might see Hanson as a bit of a pessimist. It would certainly not be too pleasant if it turned out that he was a realist.

    *Energy available for other work after subtracting the rapidly rising percentage of energy produced (well, mainly extracted) that is used (reinvested) in the energy production process itself. The rate of return on each unit of energy reinvested in future hydrocarbon production keeps declining as many small and hard to access deposits (which are often also of lower grade oil or coal) are needed to compensate for each large deposit that is depleted.
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