Archive for the month “March, 2014”

News update

Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for irreversible collapse?
A new study sponsored by Nasas Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution. Noting that warnings of collapse are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history. Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to precipitous collapse often lasting centuries have been quite common.

Download a copy (pdf file) of the study: A Minimal Model for Human and Nature Interaction, authored by Safa Motesharrei, Jorge Rivas and Eugenia Kalnay.
From The Guardian

 Global riot epidemic due to demise of cheap fossil fuels
If anyone had hoped that the Arab Spring and Occupy protests a few years back were one-off episodes that would soon give way to more stability, they have another thing coming. The hope was that ongoing economic recovery would return to pre-crash levels of growth, alleviating the grievances fueling the fires of civil unrest, stoked by years of recession. But this hasnt happened. And it wont. Instead the post-2008 crash era, including 2013 and early 2014, has seen a persistence and proliferation of civil unrest on a scale that has never been seen before in human history.
From The Guardian

Scientists Sound Alarm on Climate
The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society, has released a stark report on global warming. The report warns that the effects of human emissions of heat-trapping gases are already being felt, that the ultimate consequences could be dire, and that the window to do something about it is closing.
From the New York Times

Warm, too warm, and warmer still: The climate movement must face up to its colossal failure
There is no disputing the climate movement’s breadth, depth, diligence, passion or commitment. Crucially, it’s also right, fighting for nothing less than the future of our civilisation. But playing out in slow motion in front of our eyes, we are witnessing its complete collapse. Sustainability conferences hijacked by oil officials and sponsored by Big Oil are but symptoms of a deeper malaise.
From www.eco-business.com

Where Does the Flatness of Oil Production Come From?
For CONVENTIONAL oil, the peak annual global production was about 30 billion barrels (in 2010), but it is now down by about 10%. The TOTAL of global oil production, however, has been more or less flat since about 2002. The discrepancy is due to the fact that the grand total includes UNCONVENTIONAL oil (shale oil, tar-sands oil, natural-gas-liquids, etc.). Mysteriously, the decrease in conventional oil and the increase in unconventional oil balance each other out almost perfectly. But this doesnt make sense. How is it possible that the rise in unconventional oil and the decline in conventional oil and almost exactly cancel each other out, keeping the grand total of annual oil production continuing flat year after year?
By Peter Goodchild

The Crocodiles of Reality
Ive suggested in several previous posts that the peak oil debate may be approaching a turning point—one of those shifts in the collective conversation in which topics that have been shut out for years or decades finally succeed in crashing the party, and other topics that have gotten more than their quota of attention during that time get put out to pasture or sent to the glue factory. I’d like to talk for a moment about some of the reasons I think that’s about to happen, and in the process, give a name to one of the common but generally unmentionable features of contemporary economic life.
By John Michael Greer

Video: Agriculture in a Changing World
Agriculture is the oldest environmental problem, the Land Institutes Wes Jackson tells us early in this 27-minute video. Through interviews with 11 scientists, researchers and environmental experts, this short documentary considers that fate of agriculture and the environment in the age of agri-business and climate change. Noam Chomsky, Bill McKibben, Tad Patzek , Wendell Berry, Mark Shepard and the rest of the cast explain that big agricultures insatiable need for revenue not only afflicts the environment with toxic fertilizers, pesticides and carbon emissions, it degrades the state of agriculture itself by destroying the soil and subverting the natural evolution of animals, plants and insects. It is as unsustainable as it is unstoppable.
From www.postcarbon.org

Peak Oil Review Mar 17
by Tom Whipple, originally published by ASPO-USA
From www.resilience.org

 

 

Talk: Civilizational Collapses Causes Consequences

Cerana Foundation recently hosted “Civilizational Collapses Causes & Consequences”, a talk by Vidyadhar Gadgil on Saturday, 15 March, 2014. This is part of a dialogue they have been having on questions related to Peak Oil, (un)sustainable development and the future of human society. Gadgil is a graduate of TISS, Mumbai, and has worked as a journalist and university teacher.

Synopsis: We are in the era of Peak oil.  Reduction of global energy could well cause a financial meltdown leading to a civilizational collapse.  Such collapses have happened in the past but were confined to one civilization. In the globalized world that we are today, an energy shrink could well result in the collapse of entire human society as we know it today.  The consequences of such a collapse may lead to a mass hunger and disease, a drastic reduction in human population, lawlessness, etc.  What can we learn from civilizational collapses that have occurred in the past that can help us avert the most serious consequences of such a collapse if one were to occur now.

Download a PowerPoint slideshow covering important points of the talk.

Talk: Civilizational Collapses Causes & Consequences

Cerana Foundation recently hosted “Civilizational Collapses Causes & Consequences”, a talk by Vidyadhar Gadgil on Saturday, 15 March, 2014. This is part of a dialogue they have been having on questions related to Peak Oil, (un)sustainable development and the future of human society. Gadgil is a graduate of TISS, Mumbai, and has worked as a journalist and university teacher.

Synopsis: We are in the era of Peak oil.  Reduction of global energy could well cause a financial meltdown leading to a civilizational collapse.  Such collapses have happened in the past but were confined to one civilization. In the globalized world that we are today, an energy shrink could well result in the collapse of entire human society as we know it today.  The consequences of such a collapse may lead to a mass hunger and disease, a drastic reduction in human population, lawlessness, etc.  What can we learn from civilizational collapses that have occurred in the past that can help us avert the most serious consequences of such a collapse if one were to occur now.

Download a PowerPoint slideshow covering important points of the talk.

News update: View from India

Peak Oil and Implications for India
While it is dicey to predict oil reserves and production rates, one can accurately compute and collate past figures. Experts have been predicting peaking since 1995 but because of energy-efficient machines, substitution and use of natural gas and electricity for heating and so on, the dates have been shifting. This underscores the fact that the only reliable way to predict the timing of peak oil will be by examining past statistics. The most telling evidence of peaking is the near plateauing and negative rise in production for the seven years ending 2011. An article by Maj. Gen. (Retd) S.C.N. Jatar. (Editors Note: Requires subscription to access article)
From IDSA.in

Is the world about to run out of oil? 
Peaking of oil supplies presents an unprecedented risk-management problem. Viable mitigation options could cost trillions of dollars and require more than a decade of intense effort. An article by Maj. Gen. (Retd) S.C.N. Jatar.
From the Business Standard

Peak Oil and India: An Analysis
Are we scraping the bottom of the barrel? Despite the Big Oil bravado, energy gurus actually believe the world might be nearing Peak Oil The End of Cheap Gasoline. An analysis by Akhilesh Singh.
From Akshilesh.in

India Spends $2.2 Billion to Triple Oil Reserve
India, Asia’s second-largest energy user, will spend $2.2 billion to more than triple its proposed emergency crude oil reserves as it seeks to protect the economy against supply disruptions. Four caverns with a combined capacity of 12.5 million metric tons will be built at a cost of 133 billion rupees ($2.2 billion) and add to three with 5.03 million tons of capacity under construction, Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Rajan K. Pillai said. The government may turn to its biggest refiners Indian Oil Corp. (IOCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp. (HPCL) to help fill the reservoirs, he said.
From Bloomberg News

The Demise of the Car
Global production of oil started to flatten more than seven years ago, in 2005. And the developing world, which garners headlines for its increased demand for oil, is running mainly on coal-fired electrical power. There is no question that the non-OECD countries are leading the way as liquid-based transport – automobiles and airlines – have entered longterm decline. Why, therefore, do policy makers in both the developing and developed world continue to invest in automobile infrastructure? [Also read: Peak oil? The trend to watch is peak car. A blog post by Nick Butler of the Financial Times]
From Peakprosperity.com

Ready for peak oil?
As cities expand and markets keep fuel prices high, Indians are demanding better public transport. The States must deliver, but they are only inching ahead. (Editors Note: The article deals with issues plaguing public transport in India, and has very little to do with Peak Oil itself.)
From The Hindu

Talk: Amartya Sen and Ecological Economics

Cerana Foundation, Hyderabad recently hosted a talk on the topic Amartya Sen and Ecological Economics, delivered by Mark Lindley, academic and author. To view a video recording of the talk, click below.

Synopsis: Distinctive features of main three phases of 20th-century economic theory were: (1) positing two basic factors of production (labour, capital), (2) positing an additional, culture-dependent factor leveraging the productivity of labour (Robert Solow’s work and Amartya’s pertain to this phase), and (3) taking account also of environmental factors. From an examination of statements made by Amartya (in 1962, 1984, 1994 (where a strong influence from Solow is apparent), 2006, 2009 and 2013, I find a combination of reasons why he slighted ecological economics: he wanted to take for granted that, as Keynes had put it in 1929, the future would offer “far more wealth and possibilities of personal life than the past has ever offered”, and was unwilling to risk unpopularity by proposing that the affluent moderate their rates of per-capita consumption; because of his concern about relieving current poverty, he was afraid that to dwell upon concerns in behalf of the unborn would aggravate the exclusive concern of the affluent for their own progeny; he wanted to avoid dealing in detail with uncertainties; and so he hoped that macro-ecological problems wouldn’t be as bad as predicted.”

About Mark Lindley: Was born and raised in Washington DC and has taught at universities in the US (including Columbia U. in New York), Western Europe (including Oxford, the U. of London and the U. of Regensburg), India (U. of Kerala), China (the Chinese U. of Hong Kong) and Turkey. His publications include J.C. Kumarappa: Mahatma Gandhi’s Economist (Popular Prakashan, 2007), “The Strange Case of Dr. Hayek and Mr. Hayek” (Journal of Social and Political Studies, U. of Allahabad, 2012), “Modern Economics as a Would-Be Science” (Artha Vijnana, the journal of the Gokhale Institute, 2013), and “Ecologically Dangerous Patriotism” (forthcoming). He has been invited to occupy, this year, a University Chair at the U. of Hyderabad.

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