Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Article Review: Peak Oil and Population

Paul Chefurka wrote an excellent analysis of his vision of a very rocky future. My only critique of his work is the possibility that advanced batteries could store nuclear-generated electricity for the purposes of farming and distributing food. The use of nuclear-powered batteries would require a relatively high degree of human intelligence, which is not what our world is currently producing.

Our society celebrates people like Bono; who feed dependent populations without insisting on population controls. Bono’s work makes him feel good about himself. In the end though, people like Bono will likely be seen as committing crimes against humanity on a scale that dwarfs Hitler. Hitler only ended up killing 10 million per year.


Paul Chefurka said...

Thanks for the review, Bill. I have a couple of comments.

The first is that I ignored a lot of not-ready-for-prime-time technologies in that article. I didn't mention thorium or fast breeder reactors, I didn't go into tidal power, I ignored electric cars etc. The underlying assumption was that things would start to come apart before any of those hopeful technologies reached fruition.

I still think that's going to happen. I estimate that we have maybe 5-10 years before the converging crisis that's nibbling away the marginal regions of the world right now expands to affect the entire globe in one way or another.

My second comment is that one of the major failings I see now in that article was my over-aggregation of the effects. The end result was an apocalyptic vision of a uniform, amorphous, global collapse, that is probably not representative of the way things will ultimately unfold. There will be much more regional variation, with different influences being the primary drivers in each region.

I have tried to rectify that in the later series of articles you can find in the "Really Depressing" section of my web site. The news isn't any better, but it's somewhat more realistic.

Bill said...

Thanks for the comment Paul; I’m honored that you read my thoughts. It makes sense that self-sufficient regions of the world would unite to defend their resources when things go south. I know it’s a stretch, but before the rise of nation-states, people used to organize around wealthy families.