Monday, December 15, 2008

It's now too late to stop global warming.

Now it's just a question of where to try to hold the line. (In the middle of all kinds of unknown unknown feedback loops.)

Meanwhile even the IEA admit peak oil is coming within 15 years. (Watch the video)


Oli said...

Great links, and it's very interesting to see Monbiot talking about the very scary prospects of peak oil.

What I don't see (yet) is enough people putting (what I see as) two and two together and realising that the energy crisis of peak oil is going to hit us in a big way long before the AGW crisis does.

That's why I think the west should first focus on energy independence to try to avoid the likely economic perils from peak oil and then worry about emmissions reductions.

Sure it would be great to do both at the same time, but believing we have access to limitless resources was the error that got us into this mess in the first place!

We should use the economic benefits from the remaining 10 years or so of relatively cheap energy to move our transportation away from oil to electricity and then worry about reducing the emmissions from the electricity production.

Sure, there are likely to be many win/win situations (such as investing as fast as possible in renewable sources of electricity) but my understanding is that the UK has already got a shortfall in projected electricity production in the next 10 years or so that could never be fully replaced by renewables.

That electricity shortfall is before including a major plan to transform our cars, buses and trucks to all be powered by electricity in the next 10 - 20 years. So, if we're going to move away from oil we need a massive building plan of new power stations including coal power stations and nuclear.

Unfortunately the relentless focus on emmissions reductions is currently preventing such a building plan and therefore will prevent us from preparing for peak oil.

Once peak oil kicks in the immense political pressure to keep the economy functioning now will continually trump the potential risks from AGW projected to maybe happen in 50 to 100 years.

There will be huge pressure to use coal and tar sands to replace increasingly expensive oil that we will still be dependent on. And we will continue to use oil and gas until every last (economic) drop has been squeezed out of the ground.

If our economies are still dependent on oil then targets for global emmissions reductions are clearly a joke.

I also can't help thinking that 'defect/adapt/survive' will be the best strategy for many countries, including China.

For all these reasons I think we should first address the risks from peak oil and then address the risks of AGW.

Unfortunately our politician's current 'plan' appears to worry about AGW before peak oil and thereby solve neither!

John Powers said...

Oli makes the great point: "Unfortunately our politician's current 'plan' appears to worry about AGW before peak oil and thereby solve neither!"

That reminded me of a transition of Monbiot's attention that was reported at Transition Culture beginning in October of 2007. Alas there seems to be a problem with the database at that site now and I couldn't bring up the posts.

The general outlines were that Monbiot came to speak at one of their functions. He downplayed peak oil in favor of climate change and got push back. It seems the push back resulted in his looking more at the issue of peak oil and concluding it was more dire an issue than he had thought.

One of the observers energy and politics who impresses me is Stirling Newberry. Newberry writes at The Agonist and sometimes at The Daily Kos and other sites. It's a bit hard to track his pieces, although a search at The Agonist is a good place to start. His piece The Progressive Century has enough to get the broad outlines of his point of view.

It's interesting that John Robb points to Rob Hopkins at Transition Culture as an example of how Robb's resilient community model might play out. The Transition folks make no pretense that what they're trying to do will work out. But they proceed from the belief that humanity can't wait for government to act.

I think they're right about that latter bit.