Monday, June 20, 2011

Economy of Scale

When I really sit down and ponder the way that the world will be heading, the musing usually ends up in either one of two camps.
  1. The Savior 
  2. The Fall
Needless to say, I would much prefer the first.  I still have flares of hope when I see headlines about cold fusion and I still browse through physics articles hoping that someone has found a way to spoof that pesky second law of thermodynamics.

But it seems to me that this is not really the best use of my time.  Oh, don't get me wrong, hope is good thing, but this one rates up there with the "big" hopes like your family finally getting a clue and your job becoming fulfilling.  But I recognize that it probably won't happen, I had better get used to being disappointed, and keep right on hoping anyway.

There is going to oil for a long time yet, and it will probably power the world for another generation or two.  Here in the States, we are going to be buying a lot less of it.  The folks in China and India will be buying more of it.  But no one will be able to get the nearly unlimited stupid amounts of oil at a cheap price that we have somehow come to see as our due.

Now this is where the second set of folks come in, the ones that see this constraint as harbinger of the fall.  This is where I think that they are just being silly.  In a way, it is kind of insulting to the folks here in the USA.  I agree with folks that we are a spoiled, lazy bunch, but when the chips are down, we will sullenly and unwillingly grow up and begin doing the right thing to deal with the problems.

Oh, don't get me wrong, we will thrash around and throw a couple of tantrums (read here; wars) and some of the brats will try to take all the toys for themselves (Read here: Banksters and Wall Street), so the process will not be all that pretty, but we will eventually will be living a considerably lower impact lifestyle and we will be getting along just fine.

It just won't have a three car garage.

1 comment:

russell1200 said...

I am going backwards through your posts.

You bring up two interesting points to my mind. One is the extent to which we were willing to sacrifice our future, to bail out a banking system of marginal importance. Mind you I am not saying that banking systems cannot be important, just that ours has very little to do with directing capital toward useful endeavors: sort of the point of capitalism.

The second point is, if it is amazing what we did to bailout the bankers, it pales before what we have done, and wil do to keep the oil flowing. We are sitting all through the middle east with military basis, and have already conquered one country with the idea that we would make it our :democratic Allie" and pay for the war with its oil: sounds a little like the British after the Seven Years War (what we call the French and Indian War)- that didn't work out so well for them -and it is not working out so well for us either.

But much of those intrusions gave lip service to strategic concerns, but was really about cronyism and looting as the Saudis have spread there money all over the place.

When we really feel threatened it is going to be ugly. We'll destroy the entire ground water table in Pennsylvania if that is what we need to Frack the gas out, and a lot of oil owning countries should probably consider getting their hands on some nukes. Look how much it helped Qaddafi to give up his program.

I would not go so far as to call it silly, but in net, I somewhat agree with you that peak oil by itself, is a little thin of a scenario to bank all your gloom and doom on. Not saying that it won't make us feel a lot poorer, but big systems usually don't collapse from singular causes.