Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fossil Fuel Production in the Arctic Ocean

Have you ever seen Ice Road Truckers on the History Channel?  Recently I watched season two and just started watching season three when I decided to write this post.  Season two begins in a small town above the Arctic circle named Inuvik.  From Inuvik, the ice road truckers move equipment and provisions to small towns on the Arctic coast (Tuktoyaktuk, for example) as well as natural gas exploration sites at Langley and Mallik.  See the map below courtesy of

If you watch the show, you will notice that both of the natural gas exploration sites at Langley and Mallik sit on the frozen Arctic Ocean.  The sites cannot be set up until the ice freezes over sufficiently, and the sites must be dismantled and moved before the ice supporting the site melts.  Most importantly, any materials, equipment, or provisions must travel over frozen water to get to the people that need them.

Every so often on the show, you will see the current temperature, and normally, this temperature sat around negative 20 Fahrenheit to negative 50 degrees Fahrenheit.  Trucks cannot be shut off when not in use at these temperatures simply because the engine will freeze.  This is energy being invested in hopes of energy being returned in the form of fossil fuels. 

You will also notice on the show that Hugh (one of the ice road truckers) spends quite a bit of the season driving the vacuum truck.  Often times, this vacuum truck contains greywater or blackwater which is essentially human waste.  The greywater and blackwater cannot simply be dumped on the ice to fall into the ocean because this pollutes the environment.  So the waste must be taken out by truck.  This can be considered yet more energy being invested in hopes of energy being returned in the form of fossil fuels.

The narrator of the show keeps talking about the vastness of reserves in the Arctic ocean, but what difference does it make?  We need energy to make the technological advances required to have permanent drilling sites in the Arctic as well as a way to move the energy around the world wherever it may be.  So if you are counting on energy from the Arctic to solve the world's energy woes...keep looking.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Pleasant Side Effect of Peak Oil: No Junk Mail

I like to follow Chris Martenson's website.  Chris believes that the next twenty years will be very different from the previous twenty years, and he incorporates this theme into much of the content on his site.  You have to pay a fee to view some of his content, but I find the free information to be informative and useful.  His Crash Course explains to us the situation we face quite nicely.

In the Daily Digest of May 30th, 2011, I came across a piece about the United States Postal Service (USPS) collapsing written by Jo Borras.  Apparently the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has warned that the USPS needed to be restructured in 2009 and again in 2010.  The first thing the GAO suggests cutting:  benefits and compensation through retirements, early retirements, and lower benefits cost.  The USPS employees may not like this idea.  Also if you consider that the government will hit the debt ceiling this month, one can see how the USPS's days may be numbered.

Borras writes about green technology on his site, and he writes this article from an environmental perspective.  Borras writes about how if the USPS disappears then junk mail will disappear along with it.  Borras writes about the energy and resources we waste on junk mail, and it simply does not make sense. I'm sure we waste quite a bit of energy and resources on things like junk mail; things that exist to help promote consumption or exist for our convenience. 

It's easy to get down when you think about how far civilization can fall and everything we can lose.  However it's important to keep in mind that everything we lose should be considered a loss; I will not miss junk mail!

Thanks for reading

Saturday, May 28, 2011

What happened to the Soviet Union when they hit peak oil?

I am writing this post as a response to an article I found on The Oil Drum.  The Oil Drum is a site I follow, and this site has many good articles regarding Peak Oil and it's effects on industrial society.  Yesterday I came across an article written by Douglas B. Reynolds.  In this article, Reynolds compares the Soviet Union experiencing Peak Oil and why we can expect to see the same results when the world experiences Peak Oil.

Link to article

Near the end of the article, Reynolds writes the following about what we can expect as the world confronts peak oil:

So knowing the world rate of oil production has already peaked, then what can we expect? The Soviet Union’s collapse offers a preview. We can expect a great stagflation, where you simultaneously see a declining economy and hyperinflation. We can expect to see high unemployment and a collapse in the world economy. We can expect to see governments without any money to pay for things like health care, pensions, environmental problems, prisons, education or defense.  We can expect to see infrastructure decay.  We can even expect to see a decline in population.  Finally, similar to the post Soviet Union, we can expect to see protests, political turmoil and revolution.  (Reynolds)

I do not think we have seen stagflation yet because the hyperinflation has not hit.  We already have high unemployment (see here...and it would not surprise me if this figure is generous).  The sentence I highlighted in bold really stood out to me.  Anyone who knows anything about US fiscal policy knows that spending money we do not have is the fiscal policy.  Finally, I do believe protests and revolutions can be found in the world today.  Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Greece, and Madison, any of these ring a bell?  We can even see small glimpses of it in Indiana.

I'll be keeping my eyes peeled.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Mainstream Media

The Columbia disaster occurred during my college years.  That Saturday, I decided to work out at the Co-Rec.  I saw the video on every TV but I did not understand because I did not have headphones.  

While reading some newsgroups I came across this image.  I lost it but I never forgot it.  I want to share it simply because it should tell you everything you need to know about mainstream media. 

The Beginning

Industrial society is slowly but surely coming to the realization that this planet has limits.  Requirements for production are becoming more difficult to obtain.  The lifestyle given to us by the abundance of cheap energy is being taken from us by the increasing lack of that same cheap energy. 

Industrial society has many challenges to overcome in this century if we wish to preserve our lifestyle.  Many changes in society will force us to make choices.  I am simply providing a commentary on the events I observe as confronts the physical limits of this planet.