Articles tagged with "climate change"
On Wednesday, August 25, I gave a presentation called How limited global oil supply may affect climate change policies at the MIT-NESCAUM Endicott House Symposium on climate change. This is a link to the presentations given there.
The audience included leaders from governmental, industrial, academic, and non-governmental (NGO) sectors. They were very concerned about climate change, but not very aware of, or concerned about, the issue of resource limits.
In my talk, I pointed out where the "standard" view of the economic response to peak oil goes wrong. People expect that if there is an oil shortage, prices will rise and then substitutes, or additional supply, or technological solutions will be found. But what if these solutions take decades or even generations to implement? Oil from new fields is not instantly available; new biofuels do not scale up quickly; and technological innovations take decades to make a meaningful difference in the overall picture.
In the absence of a quick response of substitute supply or technical innovation, it seems to me that other responses come into play--ones that explain the recent financial distress we have been seeing. When oil prices rise but are not met with immediate solutions leading back to lower prices, consumers respond by reducing discretionary spending, or by defaulting on debt. Either of these responses tends to lead to recession, reduced oil demand, and a reduction in oil price. Eventually growth in demand (perhaps from China and India) can be expected to raise prices again, but again, new oil supply /new technology /new substitutes are likely to be delayed, so that higher prices are likely to give rise to reduced discretionary spending and debt defaults, and more recession.
Because of these impacts, the expectation for the future should be for oscillating prices, but not necessarily very oil high prices. Recession can be expected to improve, and then get worse again. If the expectation for the future is this type of economic situation, perhaps views regarding needed climate change policy should be revised to match the new economic reality.
Furthermore, because the world is a closed system, with limits, there is the possibility that world oil supplies will actually decline in not too many years. The likelihood of this decline gives rise to a greater sense of urgency of the need to reduce oil use--one cannot just wait and hope that future technological innovation will fix the situation. It may be that lifestyle changes will also be needed, reflecting a lower standard of living. Climate policies may need to be rethought to match the way a world with limits can really be expected to act.
Posted by Chris Vernon on June 30, 2010 - 10:25am in The Oil Drum: Europe
Tags: chris huhne, climate change, coal, energy decline, gas, oil, speech, united kingdom [list all tags]
- Total energy production in Q1 2010 was 6.5% lower than in the first quarter of 2009.
- Oil production fell by 6% compared to the first quarter of 2009.
- Natural gas production was 9% lower compared with the first quarter of 2009. The UK was a net importer of gas in the first quarter of 2010 by 155 TWh compared with 106 TWh in the first quarter of 2009.
- Coal production was 12.5% lower than a year earlier.
- Nuclear’s supply increased by 1% on the first quarter of 2009.
- Wind, hydro and other renewables supplied 6.5% less electricity than in the same period last year, with hydro down 44% as a result of less rainfall.
- Final energy consumption rose by 4% between the first quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2010, with rises in all sectors except transport which fell mainly due to the adverse weather conditions.
- Gas demand was 13% higher than a year earlier.
- Electricity consumption was 2.5% higher in the first quarter of 2010 compared to the same period last year.
Posted by Robert Rapier on December 26, 2009 - 10:35am
Tags: biodiesel, china, climate change, ethanol, exxonmobil, geothermal, global warming, media coverage, natural gas, oil consumption, oil demand, oil prices, oil refineries, t. boone pickens, valero [list all tags]
1. Volatility in the oil markets
My top choice for this year is the same as my top choice from last year. While not as dramatic as last year's action when oil prices ran from $100 to $147 and then collapsed back to $30, oil prices still more than doubled from where they began 2009. That happened without the benefit of an economic recovery, so I continue to wonder how long it will take to come out of recession when oil prices are at recession-inducing levels. Further, coming out of recession will spur demand, which will keep upward pressure on oil prices. That's why I say we may be in The Long Recession.
I spend a lot of time playing "What if?" It is an important aspect of my line of work, but we all do this to some extent. I do it when I am driving - "What if that car at the next intersection pulls out in front of me?" - when I am working "What if that high pressure line ruptures?" - and at home - "What if I wake up and find the house is on fire?" I also spend a lot of time pondering the question "What if there are energy shortages in the near future?"
When we do this, we are generally trying to understand the potential consequences of various responses to a given situation. This sort of exercise is a form of risk assessment, and it is a very important tool for making decisions about events that could impact the future. Sometimes the consequences are minor. If I choose not to take an umbrella to work and it rains, there is probably a small consequence. If I choose to pass a car on a blind hill, the consequence may be severe, and may extend to other people.
In this essay I will explore the implications of the question: "What if I am wrong on peak oil or global warming?"
On a timescale important to today’s globalised industrial society the Earth system has experienced a significant forcing resulting from the very activities of this society. These forces arise from agriculture, industry, energy, transport and settlement based activities and apply pressures with resulting changes to the Earth system. As nothing can exist in total isolation from the Earth system industrial society must then cope with these changes.
This post considers adaptation with a comparison of a recent publication from the UK’s Institute of Mechanical Engineers and Rob Hopkin's Transition Handbook.
Posted by Chris Vernon on May 10, 2009 - 10:30am in The Oil Drum: Europe
Tags: adaptation, climate change, oil dependence, peak oil, sustainability, transportation, united kingdom [list all tags]
Changes in the oil market and climate change are generally seen as separate phenomena. Although it is common knowledge that fossil fuels are the predominant source of CO2 emissions, the interplay between these emissions and fossil fuel scarcity is a topic that has scarcely been researched.
A new report from ASPO Netherlands provides a focused view of the interplay between these two themes. The report indicates that while the peaking of oil production would by itself have a favorable impact on carbon dioxide emission, this beneficial effect may be mostly offset by increased emissions from unconventional oil production. The report can be downloaded here (PDF, 2.4 MB, 56 pp) and a summary can be found below the fold.
In the tradition of a townhouse meeting, the Swiss public was invited to Lucerne to listen to an impressive number of high-caliber politicians, scientists, and journalists discussing issues of energy security that Switzerland and the world will be facing in the coming years.
The author of this report attended the conference and wishes to report to the readers of The Oil Drum what he heard at the meeting … and also what he didn't hear.
It is certainly a laudable goal to get the public involved in discussions concerning energy security issues as these undoubtedly affect all of us directly. We need to be informed in order to be able to contribute to the solution of the problems facing us and in order to reach the best decisions for ourselves.
Yet this conference once again missed an opportunity to inform in an unbiased way. The discussions were dominated by political interest groups, and the people attending the meeting were sent home with assurances that there is nothing to be worried about. We were told that we still have oil and gas for decades to come.
Posted by Chris Vernon on April 3, 2009 - 10:18am in The Oil Drum: Europe
Tags: climate change, energy, limits to growth, modeling, population, resources [list all tags]
Abstract: An updated systems model of global climate, resources, and energy extending the original World3 (“Limits to Growth”) model by inclusion of climate change and it's interaction with resources and energy. Outcomes are derived for total energy resources, human population, nutrition, consumption, economic activity and other parameters. Long-term outcomes are derived for a 1900 C.E. to 2100 C.E. time sequence, with human population decline.
What makes energy sustainable? I think each of us has our own idea, and the various ideas are not entirely the same.
To be sustainable, clearly the fuel supply must be adequate--not run out shortly. If we are concerned about climate change, a sustainable source of energy production should not add much carbon to the atmosphere, either. We are running short on fresh water, so a sustainable fuel must not put a burden on the water supply. Furthermore, it is becoming more and more clear that the system of international trade that underlies our high-tech system will not hold together indefinitely. Because of this, an energy source that depends heavily on imported raw materials or parts, or is dependent on our whole high-tech way of life, is not likely to continue very long.
Ideally, any energy source we want to emphasize in the future will meet all of these criteria, and additionally, will be inexpensive to produce. The problem is that it is very difficult to find fuels that meet all these criteria.