By Frosty Wooldridge
Part 5: Quotes that make impact on America, running out of energy, oil, coal
“The cheap oil age created an artificial bubble of plentitude for a period not much longer than a human lifetime….so I hazard to assert that as oil ceases to be cheap and the world reserves move toward depletion, we will be left with an enormous population…that the ecology of the earth will not support. The journey back toward non-oil population homeostasis will not be pretty. We will discover the hard way that population hyper-growth was simply a side-effect of the oil age. It was a condition, not a problem with a solution. That is what happened and we are stuck with it.” James Howard Kunstler, The Long Emergency www.kunstler.com
Top experts around the world understand that the energy slave called “oil” faces exhaustion within the next 40 years, if not sooner. Along the way, drilling for oil will prove more difficult, harder to extract and more costly.
Fact: everything in America and most Western civilizations runs on oil. Oil allows billions of people to eat via tractors and harvesters of massive croplands. Without oil, 315 million Americans could not feed themselves and 7.1 billion humans around the planet would face enormous die-off. We humans cannot possibly plant and harvest enough food by hand to survive at 7.1 billion of us. We couldn’t pump the aquifers to irrigate crops. We couldn’t transport food fast enough by boat, donkey or oxen.
That’s the problem. Oil will run out sooner or later. Nothing on the technological horizon can replace it. In order to drive cars, boats, planes and fuel industry, Americans use 20 million barrels of oil daily while the rest of the world burns 62 million barrels. That equals 82 million barrels of oil every 24 hours. When you multiply 365 days by 82,000,000 barrels of oil burned daily, it equals a whopping 29.9 billion barrels of oil annually.
(Processing crude oil creates unrelenting air pollution, carbon particulate and acid rain. Imagine millions of smokestacks pouring black soot into the air 24/7 and you breathe it. As China races toward 1.5 billion people all driving cars, you can imagine the environmental devastation of the natural world.) Photography by www.DreamsTime.com
In his book, The Long Emergency, Kunstler discovered that China, at its current growth rate and placing 27,000 new cars on its highways every week, will burn 98 million barrels of oil per day by 2030. That’s more than the world burns daily in 2013. That means a whole lot of human beings will be screwed when oil supplies dry up.
Along this fossil fuel burning path, we create enormous carbon footprint overload in our biosphere. We also acidify our oceans making life deadly for all marine creatures. Acid rain destroys soil-nitrogen balance. In other words, it’s going to get ugly worldwide on multiple fronts.
(Pumping and processing crude oil wreaks havoc on the natural world. Oil pumping destroys the land for centuries with oil-soaked soil. Sickening isn’t it? ) Photography by Ed Burtynsky
If you remember your science, it took two billion years to produce all the oil on this planet. In other words, when oil reserves decline, we exhaust the single major energy source that drives our civilization and most other societies on this planet.
Alternative energy won’t save humanity
To show how much energy oil provides the U.S. annually, Michael Brownlee of www.transitionbouldercounty.org provided an astounding graph of one cubic mile of oil. That’s how much oil humans burn around the planet each year! That equals to the same amount of energy provided by 52 nuclear power plants built every year for 50 years or 104 operating coal-fired electrical plants built every year for 50 years or 32,000 wind turbines built every year for 50 years—and in continuous operation—or 91,250,000 solar panels built every year for 50 years.
In other words, oil produces dramatically incredible amounts of energy that we cannot and will not be able to duplicate in the coming years.
Dr. John Tanton, publisher of The Social Contract at (www.thesocialcontract.com), authored, “How Many is Twenty Million?”
“In this age of millions, billions and trillions, it’s hard to understand such numbers,” Dr. Tanton said. “Twenty million is the number of barrels of oil we burn in the United States each day.”
That’s 42 gallons to each barrel (drum) at 30 inches tall and 20 inches in diameter, or 840,000,000 gallons burned per day. It calculates, according to Dr. Tanton’s figures, to three gallons of oil per day per person in the USA. (Source: The Social Contract, winter 2004-05, page 151)
He said, “Suppose we took 20 million barrels and stood them side-by-side. How long a line of barrels would that make? Let’s do the math: 20 inches/barrel multiplied by 20 million barrels equals 400,000,000 inches. Divide that by 12 inches/foot, and you get 33,333,333 feet. Divide that by 5,280 feet per mile, and that comes out to 6,313 miles.”
Dr. Tanton computed a string of barrels, “…reaching from Seattle to Los Angeles (1,157 miles), from Los Angeles to Chicago (2,134 miles), from Chicago to Miami (1,377 miles), from Miami to New York City (1,281 miles), and from New York City to Cleveland (486 miles). Total mileage, 6,435!”
“That’s how much oil we burn in the USA each day,” Tanton said. “The total global consumption daily rate of 82 million would be four times this amount, or 25,000 miles—the circumference of the globe at the equator!”
Dr. Tanton asks a sobering question, “How much longer can this go on?” The simple, unadulterated answer is: not much longer! You may want to read, Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil by David Goodstein, physics professor at California Institute of Technology.
(Imagine millions upon endless millions of miles of highways loaded with cars all burning gasoline and diesel 24/7. Imagine you breathe all that polluted air. Imagine what it will be like when American adds another 100, 200 and 300 million more people and cars. Imagine how the planet will react to another three billion more people burning fossil fuels by 2050. Sick yet?)
Another scientist, Dr. Richard C. Duncan, introduced the Olduvai Theory: The Peak of World Oil Production and the Road to the Olduvai Gorge.
The decline of the industrial civilization is broken into three sections:
- The Olduvai slope (1979–1999)—Energy per capita declined at 0.33 percent per year.
- The Olduvai slide (2000–2011)—Begins in 2000 with the escalating warfare in the Middle East… marks the all-time peak of world oil production.
- The Olduvai cliff (2012–2030)—Begins in 2012 when an epidemic of permanent blackouts spreads worldwide, i.e. first there are waves of brownouts and temporary blackouts, and then finally the electric power networks themselves expire.
(Americans wear out nearly 300 million tires annually. We throw them into huge dumps or burn them into the atmosphere. Imagine another 100, 200 and 300 million added Americans burning all that oil and burning up all those tires. Ever wonder what Mother Nature plans for us with all this abuse?) Photography by Ed Burtynsky
“We will discover the hard way that population hyper-growth was simply a side-effect of the oil age,” said Kunstler.
Instead learning a very harsh lesson bearing down on our society like a brakeless freight train, what can you do? As you become more educated and sobered to America’s population predicament, the logical question jumps up in front of your face: what can I do to help change course?
We must stop endless population growth. We must work toward stabilizing America’s growth to live within the carrying capacity of North America. We cannot keep importing 7 out of 10 barrels of oil daily and think we will survive. We cannot keep importing millions upon millions of immigrants. Ultimately, we face collapse and a whole bunch of ugly scenarios.