[ExI] Wash post comment

BillK pharos at gmail.com
Sat May 19 12:52:36 UTC 2012

On Fri, May 18, 2012 at 10:28 PM, Jeff Davis wrote:
> But is it objectively real, or is it just a global emotional "bad hair
> decade"?  Because from where I stand -- if I don't let the "doomers"
> infect me -- life is abundantly fine.  Life is filled with all manner
> of dynamically optimistic enterprises as well as more low hanging
> fruit of possibilities than there are entrepreneurs to exploit them.
> Problems?  Sure there are problems.  When have there ever not been
> problems?  Only the dead have no problems.
> I'm so tired of the dance of doom.  I prefer enhancement, starships,
> and a sunny singularity.  I choose joy.

That sounds rather like praying that things will get better (or at
least continue as good as they are now).
We might indeed be lucky and a new source of cheap energy will turn
up. But hoping may not be the most sensible course of action at

Most of us on this list are in a very privileged position. Bright,
well-educated, no money worries....
If you were one of the 46 million subsisting on food stamps or one of
the many others barely getting by on low wage or part-time jobs, then
you might have a different outlook.

> Regarding the fact-based rejection of energy-shortage gloom, check this out:
> http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/05/zero-hedge-clueless-about-planetary.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2Fadvancednano+%28nextbigfuture%29
> And on my own, I find this EROEI business a bit suspicious. I wonder
> if it's just an artfully authoritative-sounding but irrelevant
> "metric".  "Wow!, the guy's wearing a nicely-starched white lab coat.
> He MUST know what he's talking about."  If tar sands are economically
> feasible at oil prices above $20/barrel -- and as you no doubt know,
> we're currently hovering around $95 per, with a $20 "all war all the
> time" speculation surcharge -- how is EROEI relevant?  (Though I grant
> you the carbon emissions issue.)

You have to be careful with EROEI. It is easy to get confused, (or
deliberately misuse it) as a search for internet articles will quickly
demonstrate. One example is that many people think of it as Energy
Returned on Dollars Invested, which is a completely different concept.
For example, the US military ends up paying hundreds of dollars per
gallon for fuel in the Afghan war zone because they have to keep their
vehicles running no matter what it costs them.
That's why Al Qaeda is waiting for the military to bankrupt the US.


The fall of the Roman Empire was in large part due to falling EROEI on
food production due to ecological damage (deforestation, soil
fertility loss, drought, etc.). i.e. Investing more money didn't help
as the resources just weren't there to exploit. This probably applies
the Mayan civilization as well (and others).

Another way of looking at it is to look at EROEI measured over time,
rather than try and do an on-the-spot calculation with possibly some
skewed numbers. That's how we see the trend in oil production EROEI
falling from about 100:1 to about 5:1 for the latest deep wells. The
trend speaks loudly even though day-to-day life still carries on
fairly normally.

The point is that our civilization needs to switch to different energy
resources. And this is happening already. But a bit quicker would be
nice.  :)


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