Friday, January 06, 2006

in the moment of now

Sorry for the radio silence!

The peak oil space, and especially the "peak oil blog" space, has changed pretty dramatically in the last year.

In large part, this reflects events on the ground. ("earth")

Energy supplies have plateaued for the near term. Drilling in the arctic, as savvy observers realize, is not going to change that.

I am trying to come up with a blogging approach which will make the best use of my time and achieve the maximum results. I think there is a glut of information related to energy depletion right now; I am going to attempt to formulate an editorial position which assimilates energy issues with the converging resource wars, global environmental devastation, and economic implications therein.

All that -- and free tacos for all.


At 8:49 PM, January 08, 2006, Blogger Bill said...

Hi Jon
I ran across the excellent "dark dream" post on the KOS site last week. Was that yours or did you collaborate? Are you planning to extend your reach along with this new approach? I, for one, am glad to see you open your scope up a little bit. Like you I am looking for someone to provide a little more integrated analysis of all that is going on.

At 11:58 PM, January 09, 2006, Blogger monkeygrinder said...

Thanks Bill,

DarkSyde reposted that. He was the author, but was inspired by some things I wrote.

I definately want an integrated approach. I am just trying to figure out the shape.

At 7:41 PM, January 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I noticed this reposted at EnergyBulletin. What I've found about environmental as well as energy information is that so much of it is perfectly simple and out there for the common person. At the very least there is an understanding that something isn't right. To simply bombard people, as the media seems to be starting to do now--unwittingly no doubt--leads to apathy, cynicsm and general psychic numbing. What is really helpful on the other hand is the synthesis. Having access to a constantly rolling newswire of peak oil stuff is helpful--as long as the people running it don't burn out. What is really valuable though is the picking out of the important parts, the trends and the general movement on all fronts, especially those we don't think of usually. Whether on the EnergyBulletin or on a Blog it is the commentary that takes us beyond the everyday, everyman observation that is truly valuable. We all know what the news is going to look like anyway.

At 6:20 AM, January 13, 2006, Anonymous Chris Vernon said...

What I've found about environmental as well as energy information is that so much of it is perfectly simple and out there for the common person.

This is what I found and what got me writing about peak oil on my blog. The fact the solid information for the oil and gas situation (5/6 years past peak) is available and non-contested plus the wider implications of nuclear decommission make for a compelling case that the UK has a problem.

I don't value opinion pieces very much, I along with everyone else is able to form an opinion which is why I focus on presenting facts as they are and how they illustrate that the status quo can't continue.

At 9:13 AM, January 13, 2006, Anonymous Eugene Duran said...

Good question. Requires some thought. Perhaps and ability to integrate economic/political/Peak Oil/ in a way that shows this concept is taken seiously by powers that be? People have generally heard about peal oil but the real info is in the details. The more people understand about this concept, the more troubling it becomes. Would this only serve to cause them to turn away? Are people too needing of play-station type information to explore long articles on energy? Are solutions too difficult to make addressing them impossible?

At 9:34 PM, January 14, 2006, Blogger monkeygrinder said...

We have a cultural problem, not one of technology, in overcoming peak energy.

The prisoners dilemna is one way to look at it.

The only philosopher to seriously look at human response to meta-constraints is Jay Hanson. His results are not pretty.

He ignores the spiritual, though.

Thanks, everyone, for your comments.

At 2:54 PM, January 15, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Found this post via Energy Bulletin. I'm no expert on the subject, but I too have been fascinated by the explosion of recent interest in peak oil and climate change and the questions you've raised are ones I've given some thought to.

To my mind it's a question of context. How can you put this flood of info on our looming dilemmas into a context, or big picture, that gives it relevance. For example, the problem of peak oil is at it's heart a problem of resource depletion, which in turn is a problem of overpopulation and unsustainable consumption. The same can be said for climate change, ecosystem collapse, etc.

There are two or three books that do an excellent job of articulating this 'big picture' context, one being 'the collapse of complex societies' by Joseph Tainter and the other being 'overshoot: the ecological basis for revolutionary change' by William Catton. Many of today's events can be clearly understood in the context of overshoot and collapse, in Tainters case the diminishing returns of increased complexity and in Cattons case the unsustainable drawdown of 'phantom' carrying capacity.

But how to fit specific current events into the context of overshoot and collapse? And in a simple and understandable way? I think the answer lies in the approach taken by a third book the much maligned 'the limits to growth' by Meadows, et al. In this book several scenarios are explored through the use of a computer simulation of the system dynamics of population, energy, food, etc. The authors take great pains to explain that these are not predictions of specific events, but only possible scenarios of how a few key variables can be affected over time by different actions our society may take to mitigate overshoot and collapse. Variables that can nonetheless be quantified and compared to real world events, such as population growth, food production, resource depletion, industrial output, etc.

This, then, gives us a succinct way to analyze the flood of information, isolate the truly relevant parts, and put them into an ongoing context:

First, is the info an actual data point, such as an oil production number, population growth figure, hurricane strength trend, carbon dioxide measurement, etc.; or is it merely someone reporting on the idea of peak oil, or climate change? Anyone familiar with these concepts doesn't need to read yet another report on why peak oil, climate change, etc may, or may not be for real. Applying this simple test at the start would eliminate a great deal of the current 'noise' on the subjects.

Second, once the relevant reporting on the actual data points has been isolated then it is a simple matter of putting that data into the context of one or more of the scenarios as described in the limits to growth. Is population growing, or declining due to higher death rates? Are resources depleting at the rates in the worst case scenario? or are we finding sustainable alternatives? Is food production growing, or declining? Is industrial output growing or declining? All of these variables can be plotted on a simple graph, or timeline perhaps, and any new report or information that emerges can be evaluated in terms of how it adds or modifies a data point.

The scenarios in 'The Limits to Growth' were plotted out to 2100, as we progress through the 21st century it would be enlightening to see how actual events compare to those scenarios, which in turn would give a much needed context to the flood of information on resource depletion, climate change, ecosystem collapse, etc.

At 7:10 AM, January 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also think that Limits to growth sums it up well - read it and you know what you need to know about the principle of sources and sinks, overshoot and collaps. Then it gets interesting to see how far we are today. Have you also read Limits to growth - the 30 years update? It states where we are in terms of ecological footprint - well over 100 % of the sustainable limit.


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