Feeling the Heat

August 28, 2006 at 3:39 pm
Contributed by: Chris

Here’s another rare, good piece of journalism about peak oil, global warming, and redesigning communities. This is an excellent primer for those who are still getting up to speed on those topics. Highly recommended.

Feeling the heat

By Mark Derewicz

Published on Wednesday, May 24, 2006 by Endeavors (U. of North Carolina,
Chapel Hill)

Floods obliterate Wilmington, Norfolk, even New York. Millions of people
relocate inland. America’s bread-basket — the world’s main producer of grain —
returns to its Dust Bowl days. Hurricanes as wicked as Katrina regularly ravish
the Southeast. East Coast weather imitates Ontario. Southern Europe swelters and
then the North plunges into a deep freeze. Our global economy is shattered in
one day. Sounds like the movie The Day After Tomorrow, which left
scientists scoffing. Weather changes on a dime. Climate doesn’t. But it can
change quicker than you might think.

“It won’t happen on Tuesday at 2:52
p.m.,” says Doug Crawford-Brown, director of the Carolina Environmental Program.
But, he says, the time frame “is stunningly short.” By 2100 the Earth will be a
very different place, he says. Here’s why. In the mid-1990s, ice core samples
from Greenland revealed that climate has severely changed throughout Earth’s
history due to increased amounts of atmospheric greenhouse gasses. But some of
these changes happened over a span of only fifty to one hundred years.

oil platforms

(Photo: Dale Taylor)

“This really scared people because climatologists thought climate changed
subtly over centuries,” Crawford-Brown says. Now climatologists fear the worst
could unfold within decades, drastically altering global civilization.

If we do nothing to curb carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles,
homes, and industry, Crawford-Brown and many other scientists predict, global
mean temperature will increase four to seven degrees Fahrenheit by 2060. If this
happens, look out. Icecaps, which are already melting, will thaw even quicker.
Ocean levels will rise. Already, rising waters have swallowed up small islands
located halfway between Hawaii and Australia. Satellite images show that
Switzerland has lost 20 percent of its glaciers over the past fifteen years. The
signs aren’t good.

Under the worst-case predictions, Crawford-Brown
says, the resulting floods “will be enough to inundate North Carolina’s coast
thirty or forty miles inland and displace half the East Coast by 2100.” Other
calamities include the outbreak of infectious and malarial diseases that could
creep north from the tropics, and more days of deadly heat and cold. That’s not
the worst of it. Siberian and northern Alaskan permafrost is thawing, releasing
methane — another greenhouse gas. This could accelerate global warming and cause
ocean temperatures to rise, which would create a breeding ground for intense
hurricanes, Crawford-Brown says. High water temperatures are already killing
coral that are vital to Caribbean and Southeast Asian fish nurseries. Melting
icecaps will also decrease ocean salinity. In 2005 scientists discovered that
ocean temperatures were rising, which their computer models had predicted.
Scientists fear that desalination and increasing ocean temperatures will
eventually shut down the global oceanic conveyor belt. If that happens, northern
Europe freezes and the United States gets much drier and cooler — in a hurry —
imperiling mass agriculture that feeds much of the world’s 6.5 billion people.

douglas crawford-brown
Jason Smith.)

Douglas Crawford-Brown:

“If we continue to settle the way
we do — with people in suburbs working thirty miles away and shopping twenty
miles away — forget it. We’re doomed to high levels of energy use.”

Tom Meyer, professor of chemistry at Carolina, says
that this sci-fi climate change seems a little extreme, but, “this has happened
historically. Geological records are clear.”

Meyer says that atmospheric
CO2 levels are now at 380 parts per million. “Most of the models say that when
we reach four hundred fifty to seven hundred, the heat will build up quite
dramatically.” And, he adds, we might not have until 2060. Meyer says
that three factors are pushing us over the edge: industrial nations pumping out
CO2, other nations imitating our industrial revolution, and global population
reaching ten billion (ETA: 2100). More humans plus more energy use equals
increased global warming.

Both Crawford-Brown and Meyer say that global
climate change is the most urgent and complex issue of our time because it’s
interwoven with energy consumption and fossil fuels. The big three: coal,
natural gas, and oil. Global warming isn’t in doubt. But the severity and
timeline of drastic climate change are.

“These are our best
predictions,” Crawford-Brown says of the 2060 CO2 projections. “But there’s a
lot that’s left out of the models.”

Such as the end of cheap oil and
natural gas. Wouldn’t limited supplies of those fuels affect the models?

tom meyer

(Photo: Jason Smith)

Tom Meyer:

Three factors are pushing us over the edge:
industrial nations pumping out C02, other nations imitating our industrial
revolution, and global population reaching ten billion.

Peak Oil

Astrophysicist Gerald Cecil, the former project scientist of Carolina’s
SOAR telescope in Chile, was reviewing global warming models for an
undergraduate class in 2001 when a big red flag went up. Economists had advised
the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that more than
twice the world’s current energy consumption would come from oil in 2030, but
Cecil was skeptical. “I recalled 1980 concerns that we were running out of oil,”
Cecil says. “They talked about a thirty-year time frame.”

He searched
for information on the longevity of oil supplies, and stumbled onto the concept
of peak oil — the moment when oil can be extracted from the ground no
faster. Once that happens, less and less oil will be available on the market.
Prices shoot way up — not only gas prices, but prices for food, clothes,
shelter, plastics, and just about everything else — because oil is integral to
their production and distribution.

“As I got deeper into it, I started
to switch fields,” Cecil says. “I could not in good conscience expend my efforts
solely on astrophysics when I saw this massive problem that few people
recognized.” As first steps, he has developed two undergraduate energy courses
and is finishing a book, Out of the Oil Trap, in an attempt to quantify
an understudied subject.

He wants to make something clear: there is no
big pool of oil in the ground. “It’s distributed throughout pores in only a
restricted range of rock types,” Cecil says. Oil depletion, then, is not like
pouring gasoline from a can. Instead, he says, think of a straw sucking on a
milk shake.

“If you pull too hard, the milk slurps as it mixes with
air,” Cecil says. “There’s a disconnection, and you actually end up drawing less
fluid. You have to pull it with a slow, steady tug so that it connects by
pressure and pulls itself out.” Similarly, oil is stranded if pumped too fast.
This is why the flow rate of an oil reservoir is key, he says, not how
much crude oil it holds. He says that a large volume of oil remains underground,
but after peak oil, it will take longer and longer to get it out.

example, American oil discoveries continued to increase until they
topped out in the 1930s. After that geologists discovered smaller and smaller
oil fields in the lower forty-eight states each year. Thirty years later
American oil production peaked at nearly ten million barrels daily. But
since 1970 the extraction rate has decreased steadily. Today, Texas oil wells
produce just a few barrels a day — a mere trickle — but the fields still contain
about 10 percent of the original recoverable oil. Global oil discoveries crested
in 1964, when easily accessible oil gushed from gigantic pressurized fields
around the Persian Gulf, Cecil says. Later discoveries throughout the world
paled in comparison, forcing non-OPEC nations to develop expensive and
sophisticated ways to drill horizontally, under water, and under ice floes. “All
of this effort affects the flow rate from discovery to delivery to the
consumer,” Cecil says. The other problem, he says, is that there are many kinds
of oil. The light, “sweet” stuff was easier to find and produce. Right now
companies are recovering heavier oil, which is tougher to refine, and this also
affects prices.

Cecil points to the work of industry experts such as
geologist Colin Campbell and energy investment banker Matt Simmons. They
underscore that at least thirty-three of the forty-eight major oil-producing
nations outside the Persian Gulf, including OPEC members such as Indonesia, have
declining flows. Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil producer, is now
injecting massive volumes of expensive desalinated water into three huge but
aging fields. Water repressurizes the fields’ fluids to maintain high flow
rates, Cecil says. The Saudis have been using it for years to stabilize the
world oil market when production elsewhere goes awry.

Saudi Arabia,
which is notoriously secretive about the decline rates of its fields, says it
can increase the overall flow of oil to meet increased demand. The Saudis,
though, haven’t released field-by-field justification of this statement for
decades and, in fact, they are mostly just reworking old oil fields to squeeze
out more oil, not bringing large new fields on line. This, Cecil says, will
bring on peak oil faster, and the decline rates will likely be even steeper than
projected, which are typically between 4 and 7 percent annually. Cecil says that
if there’s a 7 percent decline rate, which was typical in North Sea oil fields
that used water injection, then within 15 years, oil will be flowing from
today’s fields at half its present rate. “This,” Cecil says, “is a very big

gerald cecil

(Photo: Jason Smith)

Gerald Cecil:

“I think the big picture is absolutely
overwhelming. But this is something that could energize every department on

will oil peak? Cecil says it’s a tough call, but thinks we could decline
permanently from present near-peak rates within five years. Because of this,
Cecil says, global warming trends should be lower than expected — “unless we go
absolutely nuts with coal, or have somehow missed a major feedback in the
regulation of atmospheric CO2.”

Crawford-Brown isn’t so sure. He says,
“I’m always a little bit skeptical of arguments about us running out of stuff
because, to our detriment, we seem to be very clever at coming up with new

Oil companies, for instance, say that they have new recovery
technologies ready to leave the lab and enter the field. But the faster we pump
out the oil, Cecil says, the harder we’ll fall after peaking. They also say that
massive tar-sand deposits in Canada and Venezuela, and later, shale from the
United States, will delay any peak beyond 2030. Tar sands are a mixture of clay,
sand, water, and bitumen — a hydrocarbon. But you can’t stick a pipe in the
ground to hit a bitumen gusher, Cecil says. It has to be strip-mined in large
amounts to produce a relatively small volume of crude oil. It’s an expensive and
intensive process. Cecil’s research shows that projections from Canadian
tar-sand developers won’t come close to replacing the declining flow of
conventional crude oil. Neither will oil from the Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge in Alaska, should drilling there proceed. Cecil says that oil prices
likely will spike sharply instead of climbing gradually.

Coming up short

In his book, Cecil shows what sort of energy upgrade we will soon need
from alternatives. For this, he developed a web tool, the U.S. Energy Simulator,
which can plot exponential increases in alternative forms of energy, not to
mention fossil fuel growth, decline, or stability. For instance, the United
States currently gets about 20 percent of its electricity from nuclear reactors,
according to the Department of Energy. The simulator can plot that, and increase
it year by year until 2040. The tool then breaks down the information into
useful units, such as how many nuclear plants we will have to build. Cecil’s
program makes it clear that replacing fossil fuels will be extremely difficult,
if not impossible, without changing the way American society functions — people
consuming much less stuff, especially gasoline. He says that as oil supplies
begin to decrease per capita, we will become much less mobile, eventually
relying on slower, less convenient, and more expensive electric cars. And, he
says, this electricity will increasingly come from solar, wind, and most of all
nuclear energy.

For smaller communities, such as those in North
Carolina, another alternative is biomass — generating energy from landfills, hog
waste, wood chips, and other renewable sources. Such projects are under way
across the nation, but the short-term problem remains the same — we need liquid

Cecil’s research shows that other fuel alternatives, such as
hybrid technology, ethanol, and biodiesel, are not long-term solutions if
society remains structured as it is today. He researched the topic and
co-authored a paper in which he calculates that America’s entire corn crop could
produce enough ethanol to fuel just 7 percent of this nation’s automobiles. And
ethanol’s energy ratio — how much energy is put into its creation compared to
how much energy it will produce — is so bad that production depends on three
billion dollars in state and federal subsidies. Cecil adds that massive ethanol
production — which uses coal, largely imported oil, and natural gas — would
degrade the environment, including global warming. Using more land for mass
agriculture is also problematic because tilling soil is a major CO2 contributor.
On the other hand, ethanol and methanol can be made from other biomass, such as
wood chips and sugar cane, so they could provide a slice of the energy pie,
especially for smaller communities. As for biodiesel — fuel made essentially
from new or used vegetable oil — Americans used about sixty-five million gallons
in 2005. But that’s a mere drop in the tank: it only takes about a dozen typical
gas stations to sell that much gasoline in a year. The jump in alternative
production would have to be enormous, so biofuels barely register on Cecil’s
energy simulator.

Cecil’s energy outlook doesn’t include hydrogen, which
many people assume has the most potential. Hydrogen, though, has to be
chemically extracted from substances, such as water or coal. Extraction consumes
significantly more energy than is released when hydrogen powers a fuel cell.
Meyer, who has followed hydrogen’s journey for years, says that fuel cells are
still very expensive, and a hydrogen-based economy will take years of research
and development, not to mention tons of money.

Coal and natural gas can
be liquefied to make car fuel, although such liquefaction facilities pollute
worse than typical coal plants. Another problem is that domestic supplies of
natural gas peaked in 1973, and the infrastructure to distribute them between
continents is almost nonexistent, Cecil says. “The constricted flow of natural
gas is also not reflected in most global warming models,” he adds. If global
production of natural gas peaks, could our cumbersome coal infrastructure be
ramped up to quench our energy thirst? Although it’s abundant, coal is like oil
— there are different grades. We’re just about out of the best stuff, and we’re
mining lower quality brown coal instead. Brown coal yields less energy, which
means we need more of it. And it’s dirtier than the pure black kind, Cecil says.

It’s easy to see how we got into the twin troubles of peak oil and
global warming. It’s not so easy to see the way out because, as Cecil points
out, we chose to move from wood to coal and then to oil. Each transition was to
cheaper and more convenient fuel. This time we have to move away from fossil
fuels out of necessity, and it won’t be cheap or easy.

Coal has been
with us since Englishman Abraham Darby decarbonized it to make coke in 1712. Oil
entered the mainstream around the same time that German Karl Benz invented
gas-powered automobiles in 1886. And thanks to the free market and a bit of
ingenuity, American industry rose swiftly in the nineteenth and twentieth
centuries. Vast factory lands consumed urban centers. Henry Ford installed the
first moving assembly line in 1913 and began churning out cars. Machine labor
replaced manual labor. After World War II, dirty cities, a swelling population,
and cheap oil helped create suburbia and superhighways. Driving became our way
of life.

Today, China — with its 1.3 billion people — is on the same
path. Picture Shanghai’s many bicycles filling the streets. No more. China
banned bikes on Shanghai’s main roads to make room for millions of cars. China
also wants to build more than five hundred coal-fired plants. India wants more
than two hundred, and the United States has plans for seventy-two more.


Global warming models factor in CO2 increases from coal, but the models
vary quite a bit because of unknowns, such as the rate of thawing permafrost,
possible cloud cover, and atmospheric water vapor. These and other factors could
speed up or slow down global warming. And, as Cecil admits, the peak oil
situation is a physical scientist’s nightmare, due to scattered data that
researchers such as Campbell and Simmons are only now piecing together. In light
of the unknowns, researchers focus on what they do know. Ninety-eight percent of
the world’s mountain glaciers are melting. Even if we cease all CO2 emissions
right now, the Earth’s mean temperature will still rise another degree,
according to scientist Bob Corell’s Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. He says
that would cause the entire Arctic ice mass to melt. Adding a few more degrees
could do even further damage. And scientists say to avoid that, we have to limit
CO2 emissions.

Scientists are researching and developing clean-coal,
zero-emissions technology, but so far the newest coal-fired plants still produce
CO2. Back home, Chapel Hill’s biggest single CO2 emitter is the university’s
cogeneration plant, which produces one-fourth of UNC’s energy. In most energy
plants, heat is an unused by-product. But Carolina’s award-winning plant
captures heat to create steam for electricity and chilled water for air
conditioning. The facility, built in 1992, gets more than twice the energy from
a pound of coal than standard plants do. It also has the best pollution controls

Meyer, former associate director of research at Los Alamos
National Laboratories, believes that American and European researchers are close
to finding affordable ways to intercept CO2 before it enters the atmosphere.
Once captured, the CO2 must be stored. The United States and Europe are testing
underground aquifers for that.

In the short term, Meyer points to
high-temperature superconducting technology, which is already making
high-powered transmission lines two hundred times more efficient. Right now the
United States loses 10 percent of its electricity — three hundred million
kilowatt hours each year — due to resistance problems of copper and aluminum

At Carolina, Meyer has delved into renewable energy research in
green chemistry. The goal is to shine sunlight on water to make oxygen and
hydrogen. “If you do that, you can run them through a fuel cell to make
electricity,” he says. The problem is that a glass of water doesn’t absorb
visible light. Meyer is trying to create an energy interface that can rip apart
the water molecule to produce energy. “This has a long-term future,” he says,
“and will probably have a slice of the action.” But, he notes, a slice won’t cut

Nuclear power can be a more substantial piece. Although few people
like it, many scientists, including those contacted for this story, believe that
nuclear is back on the table because it’s the cleanest, most cost-effective
alternative to fossil fuel. A chunk of uranium the size of a golf ball stores as
much energy as 2.3 million pounds of coal, and it releases no CO2. The United
States shied away from nuclear power after the Three Mile Island accident in
1979, when the fear of catastrophic meltdowns was rampant. Other countries,
though, embraced nuclear, including France, which gets 80 percent of its
electricity from nuclear reactors. Although nuclear reactors create miniscule
amounts of waste, disposing of leftover uranium and plutonium has always been
problematic. But spent fuel rods can now be recycled so that almost no waste is
left. Nuclear weapons, though, can still be made from the waste. “We would need
a new nuclear order that would have designated nations as manufacturers of
nuclear fuels and the same countries would take back the spent fuel rods,” Meyer
says. “And this makes things even harder.” But, he adds, the Department of
Energy has announced plans for a new Global Nuclear Energy Initiative for such

If we want to limit nuclear energy, or abandon it altogether,
can the world conserve enough?

Your carbon footprint

Crawford-Brown leads the United States chapter of the Carbon Reduction
Program (C-Red), which calls for a 60 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by
2025. It’s an ambitious project based on a 2003 British government goal of the
same reduction by 2050. Scientists at Britain’s East Anglia University say that
the reduction would keep CO2 levels from doubling the pre-Industrial Revolution
levels. This, Crawford-Brown says, could hold off or lessen the worst
climate-change scenarios while alternative energy sources and sustainability
practices take hold.

As part of C-Red, Crawford-Brown and Carolina
students assessed plans for Cambridge University’s new off-campus research
center and proposed energy-efficient changes, such as parking space reductions,
alternative transportation, free buses, energy-efficient buildings, water
recycling, and energy-efficient boilers and other equipment. The students also
worked out financing plans to show how green initiatives save money in the long

Chapel Hill and UNC were the first in this country to sign on to
the C-Red program, and Carolina students are now evaluating emissions here. They
say that 27 percent of town emissions come from transportation, 33 percent from
commercial development, and 40 percent from residential areas. Crawford-Brown
says that the heating and cooling of homes account for 80 to 90 percent of
residential energy use. So the first step, he says, is to separate legitimate
need from obsession. “UNC Hospitals must run kidney dialysis machines,” he says.
“But there are illegitimate needs, like my son wanting to keep the upstairs
eighty degrees in the winter so he can wear beach clothing.”

the winter thermostat to 65 degrees and upping the summer AC closer to 80 can
make big differences, Crawford-Brown says. It helps to turn off appliances and
lights and to use high-efficiency light bulbs — but not nearly as much as
monitoring HVAC units and filters. Insulation, double-glazed windows,
energy-efficient appliances, solar water heaters, and even photovoltaics are all
initial steps. The next one is getting people out of their single-occupancy

Politicians are considering a carbon tax, but that always
raises the question of oil subsidies. U.S. oil companies reported billions of
dollars in record earnings in 2005, but the government still subsidizes oil
exploration and production. The government also gives incentives to small
businesses that buy sport-utility vehicles, but not high-efficiency cars. In
essence, the government subsidizes people to use more fuel. Why? “It’s
political,” says Mort Webster, a public policy professor who specializes in
climate change policy. “Oil and auto industries have access, money, and

Plus, cheap gas and driving are rooted in the American
conscience as inalienable rights. Stripping oil subsidies — raising gas prices
in the process — is political suicide, Webster says. His research shows that
more policymakers are talking about tradable carbon permits. Here’s the idea: a
country sets a goal to reduce emissions, and it sets a limit to the amount of
CO2 each company can emit. If a company prefers to reduce emissions even
further, it can choose to emit CO2 amounts that fall below the mandate and sell
a permit to another company, which is then allowed to emit more CO2. Together
the two companies meet the reduction goal. Such CO2 cuts would likely not come
close to 60 percent, Webster says, but it’s important to steer policy in the
right direction. Policymakers move slowly because they typically look ten or
twenty years into the future, he says. That’s problematic because coal-fired
plants have a fifty-year life span and, as for global warming and climate
change, we’re talking about a century of constant policy assessment.

Also, the government relies on companies to invest in technologies
purely on their own. “We ask them to be nice guys, and do this,” Webster says.
This is fundamentally flawed, he believes. Companies need incentives. But,
Webster says, the government should not subsidize one thing — such as ethanol —
and not others. “History shows that whenever governments try to pick winners,
they always get it wrong,” he says.

The government currently subsidizes
some alternatives, Meyer says, such as wind power. And government subsidies are
critical to the push by utility companies to consider constructing more nuclear
plants, he adds.

mort webster

Photo: Jason Smith.

Mort Webster:

“History shows that whenever governments
try to pick winners, they always get it wrong.”

Big houses, long commutes

Carolina researchers agree that the federal government should lead the
way on global warming and peak oil, but they also agree that these issues have
deep roots that all of us should understand. Our sustainability nightmare began
with the American dream — suburbia. At the turn of the twentieth century, cities
were crowded and polluted, which caused public health problems. The government
subsidized cars, oil, and highway construction. Banks gave better mortgage deals
for suburban development. “We subsidized our way into sprawl,” says Philip
Berke, professor of city and regional planning and chair of environmental
studies. From an economic standpoint, it made sense. Environmentally, the
problems keep popping up.

“If we continue to settle the way we do — with
people in suburbs working thirty miles away and shopping twenty miles away —
forget it,” Crawford-Brown says. “We’re doomed to high levels of energy use.
Redesigning our communities is the ultimate answer.” (see Endeavors, Winter
2004, “Made for

Berke believes that we should concentrate commercial and
residential areas together and then provide mass transit if none exists.
“There’s a notion that transit is expensive,” he says. “Well, so are highways.”
Transit-oriented developments would justify alternative forms of transportation,
he says.

There are favorable trends. Since 1990, city centers of
Charlotte, Raleigh, and Durham have gained popularity. Some towns are building
up instead of out. And, according to Berke, more than one million Americans have
moved into planned new urban communities, such as Southern Village and
Meadowmont in Chapel Hill. Cecil says that a local agriculture component would
help sustain new and old communities.

philip berke

(Photo: Jason Smith)

Philip Berke:

“There’s a notion that transit is
expensive. Well, so are highways. … We subsidized our way into sprawl.”

Also, Berke says, education is essential, starting
with elementary school-age kids. As for the rest of us, we’ll likely have to
adjust our lifestyles. For example, when it comes to peak oil, Cecil says, “the
easiest way to adapt in the short-term will be to carpool.”

our entire transportation system will have to be reconfigured, he says. The
final part of his book addresses such massive changes. “We need much more
efficient ways to move goods — by barge or train,” he says. Not by truck. “We’ll
have to transport people by trains, bikes, and much better cars than even
hybrids.” We’ll have to develop better housing and working patterns to lessen
transport time and energy. Air travel, Cecil thinks, will once again be only for
the rich.

“I think the big picture is absolutely overwhelming,” Cecil
says. “But this is something that could energize every department on campus in a
common-sense way. As in, ‘here’s a really tough problem to tackle. What do we
do? Let’s have a significant impact on the community.’”

Cecil adds that
the best way to pitch all of this might be to ask ourselves what sort of world
we want to leave for our children and grandchildren. “It’s not a world that’s
going to get easier; it’s going to get harder. We must be vigilant
about our energy use for decades to come.”

Mark Derewicz is a writer
at the award-winning
Endeavors magazine, published three times
a year by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic
Development at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Original article :


  1. ok, putting on my tin-foil hat for a minute here.

    At what world population level would a sort of equalibrium exist between sustainable extractable oil (knowing that oil extraction is never totally sustainable – by definition its being depleted), global warming, and our north american way of life?

    I’m guessing that peak oil comes much quicker if the world is at 10 billion people, of which 60% is industralized, and comes much slower with 2 billion people, of which 80% is industralized.

    As grusome as this is, isn’t the ‘quickest’ means of solving the immediate energy crisis simply a matter of reducing the total number of energy consumers? I find this thinking repugnant, but can we say honestly that no one in the halls of power haven’t thought of just this ‘solution’ to buy time to the current situation?

    are we on the brink of the next world war?

    [/removes tin foil hat]



    Comment by Anonymous — August 29, 2006 @ 9:33 am

  2. J..,

    Amongst the peak oil aware, I think there is total agreement that population is the heart of the problem. It’s a classic case of overshooting the system’s ability to support our numbers. Few seem to have the stomach to talk about it, but yes, if we were a world of 2 billion and not 6.5 on our way to 9, we wouldn’t have an energy problem.

    As to what plans there may be to control or reduce our population, I have no idea, but I think it’s safe to say that the idea is being considered, no tinfoil hat needed.


    Comment by Anonymous — August 29, 2006 @ 1:03 pm

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