Peak Oil, Resource Depletion, deminishing EROEI and the long term implications for the continued development of China...


gelgoog

Captain
Registered Member
@quantumlight Do not worry too much about the energy problem. There are at least hundreds of years left of coal yet, if not more, thousands of years left of uranium and plutonium with breeder reactors. There is also lots of natural gas. Just the amount of it that is currently being flared is incredible. Oil, or similar products will be increasingly expensive, and it is likely we will switch to electric cars and we already use electric trains and mass transport to a large degree. In the long term, perhaps near the end of the century, it is likely that hydrocarbons will be saved for production of higher value products like nylon and air transportation.

Just think about it. Until like four decades ago China did not have all that many cars per capita and it had no high speed rail or subways worth mentioning. So if anything, even if there was an oil shortage, things would be much simpler to solve today. Most cities in China use electric buses as well.

The point about fertilizer needing oil is kind of overblown. Currently the cheapest way to produce fertilizer uses natural gas or oil. But we are talking about the production of ammonia (NH4) for nitrate fertilizer here. Right now the cheapest way to get hydrogen is to crack hydrocarbons. But it is not the only way to get hydrogen. Theoretically a high temperature (800C) nuclear reactor can produce cheap hydrogen with high temperature electrolysis. You could even use solar thermal energy to produce hydrogen with the hybrid sulfur cycle. As for the nitrogen in the fertilizer, it is easily condensed from air. The largest fraction of gases in air is nitrogen.

Here are some resources from some late (and great) people:

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(written by John McCarthy, pioneer in AI, deceased in 2011)

(talk by Richard Smalley, pioneer in carbon nanotubes, deceased in 2005)
 
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quantumlight

Junior Member
Registered Member
My prediction is as high EROEI energy falls off the cliff, America will once again return to its roots....

US has highest total prison population in the world, and the 13th amendment of the US Constitution allows the nation to force slavery at 40 cents per hour.

When the aforementioned "energy slaves" decline steeply enough America may just resort to real slaves again, at least thats what the Honorable Mr Cotton has in mind

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solarz

Brigadier
Why are you worried about energy depletion when nuclear energy solves pretty much every problem, from lack of fossil fuel to greenhouse gas emissions?

China is making electric vehicles mainstream. This means transportation will be weaned off fossil fuel.

People have been crying about Malthusian Doomsday scenarios since, well, Malthus (and probably before that). Each time technology has resolved the issue. I don't see how it's different this time, especially since we are already seeing the relevant technologies mature.
 

quantumlight

Junior Member
Registered Member
Why are you worried about energy depletion when nuclear energy solves pretty much every problem, from lack of fossil fuel to greenhouse gas emissions?

China is making electric vehicles mainstream. This means transportation will be weaned off fossil fuel.

People have been crying about Malthusian Doomsday scenarios since, well, Malthus (and probably before that). Each time technology has resolved the issue. I don't see how it's different this time, especially since we are already seeing the relevant technologies mature.
Once self driving car AI tech gets to the point of being "good enough" this will be gamechanger... At least for the US, our average car is just sitting there cold/idle most of the time be it parked in your car garage, at the shopping center parking lot, or while you are at work.

Once the AI is good enough there will be fleets of autonomous cars everywhere especially in dense urban areas where its just like Lyft/Uber except you don't need to pay a human driver... once government force this mass adoption to this new form of transportation it will bring down the cost of most people's transportation to where it no longer makes sense to have private car ownership... this frees up a lot of land, not only are malls dying in America but all the retail space parking lots will be freed up... homes in suburbia and elsewhere no longer have to be built with a garage in mind, and there will be dramatic reduction in wasted parking space as well as it lowers the total oil that US will have to consume or import since the cars are all controlled by a fusion of local onboard AI with centralized swarm AI layered on top of it meaning its takes the best of both worlds sweet spot of convenience of individual transport (solving the "last mile" problem of public transportation be it buses, trains, etc) whilst loading up two or three other strangers that coincide on a same "line" (which AI can play the matchmaker) so that its dynamic car pooling (vs most of the time when you drive your own car you are just driving yourself with no other passengers) which further increases efficiency and decreases the cost of each fare/ride per customer... this will be far cheaper in terms of TCO compare to today's arrangement of car ownership that forces one to buy insurance, maintain a car, this that and the other... With autonomous self driving cars as a pool and controlled by AI swarm intelligence it can even clear up traffic congestion (cars can do "traffic shaping") and cars can get behind one another to ride the wave of the car in front to save even more on fuel efficiency etc etc....

China has the highways, infrastructure, 5G etc to make something like this possible.... and I think it easier for Chinese to see past the 'car culture' of individual ownership of car which never made much sense anyway... just like most people today don't buy timeshare of an airplane just to travel overseas couple times a year, in the future with a postCOVID postPeakOil world of remote everything, work from home, etc the need for physical transportation of people and labor will dramatically reduce and this sort of automated transportation system to replace individual car ownership will make a lot of sense.
 

HybridHypothesis

Junior Member
Registered Member
Once self driving car AI tech gets to the point of being "good enough" this will be gamechanger... At least for the US, our average car is just sitting there cold/idle most of the time be it parked in your car garage, at the shopping center parking lot, or while you are at work.

Once the AI is good enough there will be fleets of autonomous cars everywhere especially in dense urban areas where its just like Lyft/Uber except you don't need to pay a human driver... once government force this mass adoption to this new form of transportation it will bring down the cost of most people's transportation to where it no longer makes sense to have private car ownership... this frees up a lot of land, not only are malls dying in America but all the retail space parking lots will be freed up... homes in suburbia and elsewhere no longer have to be built with a garage in mind, and there will be dramatic reduction in wasted parking space as well as it lowers the total oil that US will have to consume or import since the cars are all controlled by a fusion of local onboard AI with centralized swarm AI layered on top of it meaning its takes the best of both worlds sweet spot of convenience of individual transport (solving the "last mile" problem of public transportation be it buses, trains, etc) whilst loading up two or three other strangers that coincide on a same "line" (which AI can play the matchmaker) so that its dynamic car pooling (vs most of the time when you drive your own car you are just driving yourself with no other passengers) which further increases efficiency and decreases the cost of each fare/ride per customer... this will be far cheaper in terms of TCO compare to today's arrangement of car ownership that forces one to buy insurance, maintain a car, this that and the other... With autonomous self driving cars as a pool and controlled by AI swarm intelligence it can even clear up traffic congestion (cars can do "traffic shaping") and cars can get behind one another to ride the wave of the car in front to save even more on fuel efficiency etc etc....

China has the highways, infrastructure, 5G etc to make something like this possible.... and I think it easier for Chinese to see past the 'car culture' of individual ownership of car which never made much sense anyway... just like most people today don't buy timeshare of an airplane just to travel overseas couple times a year, in the future with a postCOVID postPeakOil world of remote everything, work from home, etc the need for physical transportation of people and labor will dramatically reduce and this sort of automated transportation system to replace individual car ownership will make a lot of sense.
This autonomous car stuff sounds very fragile.

Individual car ownership by contrast is anti-fragile. I bet that there are going to continue to be hosts of problems associated with self driving cars in the future, even if the basic problems are solved. Infrastructure costs, sabotage, and a thousand other things that the tech nerds won't foresee.

A lot of "innovations" in the internet economy seem to be mostly useless anyway. They provide convenience but nothing else, and in the energy starved world you imagine, it is these luxury technologies that will be the first to go.
 
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ougoah

Major
Registered Member
Honestly, I think every problem in the world can be solved by energy. Water shortage can be solved by desalination, climate change can be solved by carbon capture, food shortage can be solved by high tech farming All you need is the energy to power all of them

IF we manage to invent fusion reactors, all our problems will go away

Solving the energy problem does solve things like water which is by the way, a new front of "commodity war" even Kamala Harris openly mentioned. Fresh water is a scarce a natural resource as anything deemed valuable and rare. Except fresh water is utterly necessary for base survival. It's kept out of ready access because of natural forces and processes i.e. we need to put in a lot of energy to just make conversion let along everything else that's required for that water to pass through first world digestive systems without killing half the population and making the other half miserably sick for ages with one big part of the cure being ... fresh drinking water.

Geophysics is a too often neglected and poorly developed field (compared to simpler things e.g. understanding the mechanics of a hot air balloon). Too much is unknown for us to wield the levers of every known variable and play mother nature. Well that's still better than farting our way into extinction without any real means to control any lever outside of human contributed carbon emissions. Even these things don't begin to account for waste.

Seven billion souls and quickly on the way to 8 and continued near exponential rise until the developing world reaches the set of social circumstances that seem to cap breeding patterns.

The problem with humanity is that we're too disorganised. When we are organised, we're too tribal, too stupid, too ignorant, and too desperate to put blame on others/things which are not entirely, or even partially at fault.

Face it, humanity is doomed unless many divine and/or technological miracles are granted and figured out. Rather than respecting major problems, global elites are more inclined to playing lizard brain level hording rituals. They're still fighting over controlling of heartland (even China is forced to begin play lest they be totally surrounded and cut off).
 

hashtagpls

Junior Member
Registered Member
Ask any average anglo male off the street and invariably their answer to malthusian dilemmas is: Nuke China/India/Africa etc.
I'm not even kidding, go and have a listen to a bunch of white people talking when they don't think coloured peoples are around.
Strangely, they never volunteer themselves to do the dying to alleviate this malthusian crisis.
 

ougoah

Major
Registered Member
This autonomous car stuff sounds very fragile.

Individual car ownership by contrast is anti-fragile. I bet that there are going to continue to be hosts of problems associated with self driving cars in the future, even if the basic problems are solved. Infrastructure costs, sabotage, and a thousand other things that the tech nerds won't foresee.

A lot of "innovations" in the internet economy seem to be mostly useless anyway. They provide convenience but nothing else, and in the energy starved world you imagine, it is these luxury technologies that will be the first to go.

Not if your cities are designed correctly and most of them already are.

The exceptions could be utility based and a farmer at the edge of a forest may need a certain type of vehicle etc but these things would be appreciated and administered for in such a system.

Singapore already is well ahead of the curve here but with access to only today's technology constraints - they can't make full use of the concept. Private car ownership is prohibitively expensive and it is that way because it is utterly senseless for a city like Singapore, and if we're honest, for most urban citizens. China is at the forefront of both integrated EV networks, internet of things, comms technology, energy storage tech, and even pretty much leading EV design and manufacturing for the most part. No one has autonomous driving totally figured out if such a state is even realistic now or in short future. Tesla is closest. Integrate all that with the comms and internet of things hardware ecosystem and the last problem here wrt taking your private transportation off hydrocarbons is the AI part and making sure the energy comes from nuclear power.

Commercially viable fusion doesn't even need to come this century. There's very nifty fission power station technologies around already and many are for sale even if a country can't do it themselves. Well maybe countries with handsome deposits of uranium are going to hold a lot of leverage like the Arabs currently do when it comes to energy. It's a double edged sword but the Anglo Americans have total control of Australia so there's no need to divide, conquer, and tie down in perpetual conflict like they have with the middle east.
 

Abominable

New Member
Registered Member
The earth's natural carrying capacity is roughly 500 million humans... it cannot sustain 8 billion mouths without relying on the high EROEI of oil.... most of the food on this planet today is grown using oil, -- for one calorie of food we consume, 9 additional calories of oil went into making that one calorie of food!-- and as all the fertilizers and pesticides and the planting, harvesting, transportion of food and all the support supply chain infrastructures are run on oil... we are basically converting oil to fertilizers to force food to grow and then using this oil subsidized food source to feed the unsustainable population of 8 billion... once oil is gone so are the vast majority of the 8 billion...



In the entire history of the USA, nearly 20% of all dollars were printed in the last year.... this is crazy... insane...

You don't have to be a rocket scientists to figure out where this is headed... it would be a mistake for those on this forum to believe that China is somehow immune and will be left unscathed by the reality of diminishing EROEI... (and the absolute dreadful implications it has for the continued existence of civilization, any human civilization be it Chinese or otherwise)
How do you define earth's "natural" carrying capacity? Is that as hunter gatherers as humans were for tens of thousands of years? Or when we switched to agriculture? Or when we invented tractors, GM agriculture etc.

People have been complaining about overpopulation since the dawn of civilisation. In the modern day it's European racism and population control.

Maltheus believed the limit was 1 billion - we're nearly at 8 now and still going strong.
 

ougoah

Major
Registered Member
How do you define earth's "natural" carrying capacity? Is that as hunter gatherers as humans were for tens of thousands of years? Or when we switched to agriculture? Or when we invented tractors, GM agriculture etc.

People have been complaining about overpopulation since the dawn of civilisation. In the modern day it's European racism and population control.

Maltheus believed the limit was 1 billion - we're nearly at 8 now and still going strong.

Not going so strong considering the pending disasters relating to water, energy, material, food, pollution, waste, and the politics + warfare that are a consequence of these things.

Also not so strong considering the enormous and accelerating gap in access to those resources. In the modern day, this isn't entirely dominated by racism. That only distracts from the real issue. While europeans understandably want to keep the lever balanced in their favour and raise the issue of overpopulation more than any other group because of this reason, there is actually a point here.

The limit is hard to determine and obviously a function of consumption and waste rather than nominal population. There is also the delayed consequence effect. It may not become immediately apparent but that's what science is for right. It's almost undeniable that 8 billion cannot consume and pollute at the average Australian/American (highest per capita) rate. Even continuing like we are now, it's jogging towards doom and extinction whether natural or through warfare. But how can anyone deny another's right to pursue a similarly wealthy existence? That part would be racism or whatever discrimination fits. Simply said there is not enough resources and not enough ability to cope with the level of pollution and waste created by a similar approach to development and life for the developing world UNTIL technology evolves to a stage where it is possible to engineer away those problems.
 

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