Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

Expanding on marginal yields, I want to put it in a visual context for everyone:

Notable things about this graph are that as time progresses, the distance between gross energy (blue) and net energy (green) increases and the ratio of gross energy (capital expense) to net energy (the marginal yield) increases. The result is not only less total energy available due to the finite nature of conventional energy sources (causing the peak shape), but also a decreasing surplus yield from those sources, making them less worthwhile to exploit. Another point worth mentioning is that peak net energy precedes peak gross energy. If gross global energy supplies are peaking, then that just puts us that much further behind the 8 ball.

Here's another one (it's a bit more colorful):

And again:

So, given that society needs energy, how is society even going to be able to maintain its energy supplies when the benefits society confers demands an increasing share itself? Society will not be able to do both. Increasing societal benefits means increasing the energy strain, so any new benefits (e.g. raising global standards of living) are largely going to consume whatever new energy is brought online.

Anyways... have a nice read.

-Iron Helix

Views: 104

Comment by Patricio Buenrostro-Gilhuys on April 24, 2010 at 12:30am
Very interesting as always Iron. . . . In the first image- is there historical data of points where civilizations reached all the curves at the same time?

In the second one- In Net Hubbert´s curve that for me is an urgent call to invest the little oil left in the oil that renewable green technologies need. Not to be wasted as we do now. On the other hand I think peak oil is a combination of 3 things: Real scarcity, artificial scarcity created by private oil companies (those guys will do anything for extra profits) and scarcity created by national oil companies that are preparing for the scarcity created by the past too. It´s like a self fulfilling prophecy.

The third image- Many systems work this way, yet no energetic system is isolated, there is always other energy systems. Problem is and this is what you may be thinking is that ALL the Earth Energetic system looks like this. You could be right, or wrong . . . honestly I don´t have the answer.
Comment by Iron Helix on April 24, 2010 at 5:11am
The first graph is an extrapolation of Energy Return on Energy Invested. The causal factor is the increased energy cost as time progresses. This is due to the natural inclination to exploit the easiest and cheapest resources first. If you want real world examples of this as applied to specific resources, I can refer you to individual oil fields, coal mines, ore mines... Microcosms are of course available, and they can be observed both historically and currently, on a natural level and a societal one. Applied globally however, this situation is largely unprecedented.
Comment by Gabriel Martin on April 24, 2010 at 5:55am
If the LDR is the problem, and assuming you applything to all energy units (as it sounds like you do) then the Law of conservation of energy would be a resolution. Am I correct then in saying then, oh sooth of Evoke, Because energy is never destroyed, a new method of refining energy can always be created, as the equivilant amount of energy is still present on our planet(save for space bound radiowaves and materials) correct?
Comment by Gabriel Martin on April 24, 2010 at 5:56am
ack! text copying.. *and assuming you apply this
Comment by Julio Cesar Corona Ortega on April 24, 2010 at 6:11am
Instead of knowledge share, I am giving you +1 sustainability. I think this is the type of concepts and pitfalls that need to be thoroughly analyzed if anybody truly wants to create any form of sustainable living. Without this kind of information, "sustainability" merely becomes a balloon waiting to pop.
Comment by Iron Helix on April 24, 2010 at 6:19am
You can hope for the techno fix, sure. What's at issue is not background energy, but the energy used to sustain society. If society used background microwave energy (I'm reminded of Sim City here lol), then these graphs are largely inapplicable, because they pertain to finite resources (although I guess at some distant point even microwave energy could be considered finite...). The area under the curves of these graphs represent a limited resource. If you want to apply it to every energy system on the planet, then that area under the curve only gets larger. However, I'm not arguing thermodynamics. What I'm arguing is supply and cost production. This is the paradigm society has built itself on, and it is what is required for its continuation. If new energy, in whatever form it may be, is not cost effective (particularly denominated in energy cost), then you won't be seeing it anytime soon.
Comment by Ken Eklund on April 24, 2010 at 6:21am
The problem, Gabriel, is that energy is not fungible: there's always infrastructure in place that depends upon energy in a particular form. A bale of hay is energy, but it could no longer be used for transportation once you sold your horse and bought a car. Sometimes the infrastructure can be transferred or adapted, as whale oil lamps did to kerosene or coal furnaces to oil. But we have tremendous infrastructure based upon cheap oil and nothing but oil, really, will do. Humans now burn a cubic mile of oil every year; that's a lot.
Comment by Gabriel Martin on April 24, 2010 at 5:38pm
Could you both be underestimating the materials industry? Roll to roll photovoltaics are a reality, and nanoscale lithography (in its many forms) and engineering are coming into their own, perhaps your expertise is limited to a world with a 2D periodic table, while the future contains a 3D version, already demonstrated with colloidal gold as a dye and in many other novel material applications. Obviously I dont question and wouldnt even attempt to refute either of your points, as they are both solid, but limiting our concepts of energy seems... like saying that there isnt life on other planets.
(btw, Sim earth was my favorite, played it with floppy disks lol)
Comment by Jeremy Laird Hogg on April 26, 2010 at 7:46pm
An energetic way of saying we can't have everything that we want.


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