A crash course in changing the world.
As I have shared in a previous blog, I came into Mission 3 with little information on the global energy crisis. I have spent the past couple of days bringing myself up to speed and what I have read so far has totally scared me. Energy resources are depleting at a rate much faster than the mother Earth can replace. So, if 2005 was the year of global Peak Oil, worldwide oil production in the year 2030 will be the same as it was in 1980. However, the world’s population in 2030 will be both much approximately twice that in 1980 and much more industrialized (read oil-dependent) than it was in 1980.
Consequently, worldwide demand for oil will outpace worldwide production of oil by a significant margin. As a result, the price will skyrocket, oil. Big deal I hear many people say – if fuel prices get high I will just drive less or better yet, drive a hybrid car.
But, if you are focusing solely on the price at the pump, buying a hybrid car, or getting some of those energy efficient light bulbs, you are not seeing the bigger picture. In addition to transportation, water, modern medicine, plastics, computers and all high-tech devices, mass quantities of oil are required for food production. Here are some interesting facts:
• Cultivating one hectare of maize in the United States requires 40 litres of petrol and 75 litres of diesel.
• Pesticides and agro-chemicals are made from oil
• Commercial fertilizers are made from ammonia, which is made from natural gas, which is also peaking in the near future.
• Most farming implements such as tractors and trailers are constructed and powered using oil-derived fuels.
• Food storage systems such as refrigerators are manufactured in oil-powered plants, distributed using oil-powered transportation networks and usually run on electricity, which most often comes from natural gas or coal. Like oil and natural gas, coal too is peaking in the near future.
• In the US, the average piece of food is transported almost 1,500 miles before it gets to your plate.
• In Canada, the average piece of food is transported 5,000 miles from where it is produced to where it is consumed.
But what about alternative energy systems like solar panels hydrogen fuel cells, biodiesel production facilities, nuclear power plants, wind turbines etc I hear you ask. Well these are manufactured using petroleum and petroleum derived resources. Most of the feedstock (soybeans, corn) for biofuels such as biodiesel and ethanol are grown using the high-tech, oil-powered industrial methods of agriculture. In short, the so called "alternatives" to oil are actually "derivatives" of oil.
Much of the research I have read suggests that issue is not so much “fuel running out” as much as it is “not having enough” to keep our economies running. It seems that without Civilization as we know is coming to an end soon.
All this sounds like a doomsday cult prediction to me so my question to you all is – IS THIS FACT OR FICTION?