Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The End Of The World As We Know It, Part 1

Our current industrial civilization is built on the foundation of cheap fossil fuels, not just oil this started with coal in the mid 18th century. Those early steam engines where powered by coal it was only later that oil became the prime mover of the Industrial Revolution. Now the era of cheap fossil fuels is ending. We are near or have already hit peak oil production and while we are supposed to have a century or more of coal that is a estimate based on a false one to one energy equivalent. While coal can be made into synthetic oil it takes a lot of energy and water, fresh water being another thing we are getting short on. Besides the direct costs of coal there are huge indirect costs in drastically increased pollution and extraction costs.

No, no matter how you cut it the age of cheap fossil fuels is over. The resource wars have already begun for that is what the ‘War On Terror’ really is. Energy, transportation, materials and agriculture are all dependent on fossil fuels and as their costs raise so will the cost of everything else. The mini food crises touched off by the Ethanol craze is just one example of the dislocations to come.

While this does mean the end of our current pattern of civilization it does not have to mean the end of all civilization. New patterns of civilization will arise out of the old it just won’t be easy.

No comments: