Confronting Collapse – Book Review

Posted on November 29, 2011

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Great book written in an alarmist, passionate and personal style appropriate for the fact that Free Energy we get from crude oil is unprecedented, irreplaceable – and nearly all gone. I have collected some of the points and quotes from this hard hitting book that struck me as I read it…


After the politicians have dealt with the offshore oil drilling and oil speculators which are gopher mounds, we will still have to deal with the Everest of Peak Oil

It was and is of little benefit to keep refining Industrial Age government and philosophy in the new Human paradigm [of no more Free Energy]

For the United States is will be, and is a crises as great as any we have faced as a nation [Peak Oil]

The human race has failed to plan and prepare for this crisis [Peak Oil] in time to make a stable transition to some other regime

Once cannot put technology into a car’s gas tank or into the tanks of an airliner or a ship. One must put petroleum into these tanks. Technology comes from energy not the other way around

There is currently one barrel of oil discovered (or non conventional oil) for every four or five barrels used and that gap is widening rapidly

The rest of the planet will not sit idly by and watch the United States consume what is left

We need to find three new Saudi Arabia’s just to offset decline – they are not there to find

Do you know the difference between estimated reserves, probable reserves, proven reserves and ultimately recoverable reserves? They are accounting creations cooked up to value share prices and borrow money or attract investors…. the truth about reserves numbers is that they are ledger entries more than honest scientific analysis

There is no universal standard for reserve reporting or verification and this has allowed both nations and corporations to play with the numbers to suit their own ends

The Saudis are claiming they have almost the same amount of oil as when they started

There are not going to be any more dramatic new discoveries, and the discovery trends have made this abundantly clear. We are now in a box we should never have gotten into

Agricultural energy consumption is broken down as follows:
31% for the manufacture of inorganic fertiliser (from natural gas)
19% for the operation of machinery
16% for transportation (to retail)
13% for irrigation
8% for raising livestock (not including livestock feeds)
6% for pesticide production
8% miscellaneous

The current US daily diet would require nearly three weeks of muscle power per capita to produce

Our prosperity is built on the principal of exhausting the worlds resources as quickly as possible without any though to our neighbours all the other life on this planet, or our children

Currently there are 1.8acres of farmland available to grow food for each US citizen. By 2050, this will decrease to 0.6acers per person

The four conditions for a sustainable food system:
1 – Environmentally sound agricultural technologies must be implemented
2 – Renewable energy technologies must be put in place
3 – Major increase in energy efficiency must reduce [non-muscle] energy consumption per capita
4 – Population size and consumption must be compatible with maintaining the stability of environmental processes (for the USA, this population size is estimated to be 200Million)

The markets have failed miserably to prepare us, they have no long or medium term vision and their only priority is to benefit shareholders

The three laws of thermodynamics (rewritten) that will not yield to political energy policy making:
You cannot win (that is, you can not get something for nothing, because matter and energy are conserved)
You cannot break even (you can not return to the same energy state, because there is always a increase in disorder – entropy)
You can not get out of the game (because absolute zero is unobtainable)

The bottom line is that if supply can’t be increased then demand will have to decrease and the only way to decrease demand is through the curtailment of economic activity

Clean coal is one of the biggest lies in human history

The end of the age of Oil will also be the end of Globalisation

Somehow American must start producing food where it is eaten, like it did in the 19th century

Inaugurate a “food not lawns” program

“Relocalization” is the most effective way to deal with Energy limitations

Success is not having what you always wanted, but wanting what you have – until you change the way money works, you change nothing

The sooner the big banks fail, the sooner people can get to devising local currencies which is what they will need to survive anyway

On its present course, the United States and the world are heading for increasingly dangerous military confrontations

These are not short eras but changes in human history equivalent to what the Industrial Revolution did to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance – in reverse

Impose an immediate moratorium on all highway and airport expansion

Railroads are three or more times more efficient than trucks

If Americans are addicted to speed, then they can have it back when they find a way to go fast without oil

Did you know that a US Navy destroyer uses the same amount of Oil in a week that a city of 200,000 does in a year?

There were only about 2billon of us here before oil

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