[extropy-chat] Peak Oil - the new Y2K?

The Avantguardian avantguardian2020 at yahoo.com
Wed Apr 20 01:47:26 UTC 2005

--- Hal Finney <hal at finney.org> wrote:
> Will Peak Oil go the same way?  On the one hand, it
> seems inevitable that
> we will run out of oil within a few decades at
> least, forcing a costly
> transition in our transportation and energy
> infrastructure. 

      I do not see this as that big of a catastrophe
but I didn't take Y2K seriously either. Yes its
inevitable that the world will deplete it's oil
reserves shortly. But we already have the technology
to deal with this, without having to drastically
change our infrastructure. With tech like
thermodepolymerization that can make good light crude
oil out of sewage or other forms of organic waste and
soy-deisel (a process wherby soybean extract is turned
into deisel), already proven in principle and
patented, I don't see too much cause for alarm. Most
especially since Brazil already runs most of its cars
on ethanol that it distills from fermented sugar cane.
Alchohol burns far cleaner than gasoline, although if
I remember correctly, Brazil is required by some
treaty or another to spike their alcohol with a small
amount of actual gasoline. 
     Especially telling is that the oil companies
themselves are not sweating it, most probably because
they own the patents on these methods of synthesizing
petroleum. Of course they are supressing these
technologies until peak-oil does hit because they can
already taste the profits they will make when oil hits
$100 a barrel.
     But when they see demand for oil dropping, they
will drag these technologies out of the mothballs to
increase supply in order to save "the world" which to
them means their choke-hold on consumers. Since both
of these methods can be used to directly synthesize
actual petroleum products, they will not require any
retooling of consumer-level machinery. Instead, it
will just mean that oil-wells will cease to exist once
the existing ones dry out and refineries will have to
construct thermodepolymerizers to stay in business.
     Not that I like the concept of creating oil just
to burn it as it doesn't really solve any of the
problems associated with the oil-economy in the first
place: i.e. pollution, global warming, and all that
other stuff that we paranoid, delusional, ulteriorly
motivated scientists that DON'T get kick-backs from
the oil companies seem to constantly yap about.
     That being said, civilization (even mighty
empires) existed long before there was an "oil
economy" or anyone had heard of internal combustion
engines. So at worst you may have to pedal a bike to
work, plant a vegetable garden, and maybe light a few
candles around the house. That hardly constitutes the
end of the world, it does not even constitute
barbarism unless you consider a very large portion of
the world as it is now to be barbaric. 
      Note that I would be willing to recant anything
I just said for a sufficiently large bribe from the
oil companies . . . any takers? ;)

The Avantguardian 
Stuart LaForge
alt email: stuart"AT"ucla.edu

"The surest sign of intelligent life in the universe is that they haven't attempted to contact us." 
-Bill Watterson

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