The Petroleum Plateau  

Posted by Big Gav

Adjusting Hubbert's Peak to match reality.

This article suggests we have two options - War or Powerdown. Powerdown means planning a transition to a lower energy usage future (and supports the "globalisation is dead" theory).

As usual, the greatest obstacle to the Powerdown plan is the US.

So: how can the US be brought on board Plan Powerdown?

The simplest solution would be for a change of policy to come from within America itself. However, the neoconservatives in the current administration have taken charge of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. They are also rebuilding the military and intelligence bureaucracies to suit their own ideology (though not without some little-publicized resistance to their efforts). Moreover, there is evidence to suggest that the 2004 national elections will be illegally manipulated via unsupervised computer voting machines. While it is true that there is a division among ruling elites between the neocons on one hand and the internationalist wing of the business community on the other (the latter was much happier with Clinton), the neocons - for all their delusionality about diplomacy and geopolitics - are masters at gaining and maintaining power. Even the internationalist money masters may have difficulty ousting them. Thus there is currently no power base in American society that appears capable of successfully challenging the Plan-War neocons.


The article also discusses "thermal depolymerization" (recently discussed in a Discover article). While this is a good thing, it just helps manage decline rather than being the solution to the problem.

Whatever comes out of the process will inevitably carry less useful energy than what went into the process (this is necessitated by the laws of thermodynamics). True, what goes in is likely to be stuff that, for the most part, would otherwise just end up in a landfill, so there is an overall gain in energy efficiency for the society. However, most of that "waste" input (including plastics, tires, and turkey guts) is stuff produced using high-grade energy from fossil fuels (e.g., tractors burning diesel fuel, plastics made and transported using oil). Thus as there is less "virgin" petroleum available to do work in society, there will be less "waste" available to be transformed into depolymerized oil. The latter will help slow the depletion process (again, there will greater energy efficiency for the society), but over the long haul it cannot overcome the downward momentum of overall net energy availability.

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