The Daily Green wants to know whether WEO worries you? Does the International Energy Agency’s 2010 World Energy Outlook give you cause for alarm?
While it doesn’t “hit you over the head with the melodramatic language and exclamation points often found in climate change action alerts,” the Daily Green team thinks that IEA’s outlook should worry us because it speaks to “humanity’s growing pressure on natural life support systems.”
“Anyone who has a passing grasp of energy issues” should wonder if this is the “Crack of Doom” for human civilization!
O.K. That does it! You force me to use a graph.
According to the 2010 World Energy Outlook, production of conventional crude oil “probably topped out for good in 2006, at about 70 million barrels per day. Production from currently producing oil fields will drop sharply in coming decades.”
With the double jeopardy of climate change and peak oil, the challenge is to find cleaner sources of energy, and to have them in place and proved, thus foreshortening greater degradation of air, land and water from a drowning man’s thrashing for unconventional fossil fuels. Despite declining production, the IEA anticipates that demand will continue to increase*, and in the 2010 Outlook ominously concludes that “meeting additional demand will fall entirely on unconventional oil sources like Canada’s tar sands.”
Editor’s note: The following explanation is for those who like numbers…
World production increased from 373 quadrillion Btu in 1996 to 469 quadrillion Btu in 2006.
In 2006, petroleum (crude oil and natural gas plant liquids) continued to be the world’s most important primary energy source, accounting for 35.9 percent, or 169 quadrillion Btu, of world primary energy production (Table 2.9). Between 1996 and 2006, petroleum production increased by 11.7 million barrels per day, or 16.9 percent, rising from 69.5 to 81.3 million barrels per day (Tables 2.2 and 2.3).
Coal ranked second as a primary energy source in 2006, accounting for 27.4 percent of world primary energy production (Table 2.9). World coal production totaled 6.8 billion short tons, or 128 quadrillion Btu, in 2006, and it increased by 32.7 percent from the 1996 level of 5.1 billion short tons (Tables 2.1 and 2.9).
So what is the solution? Well, isn’t it obvious? Deny that human-caused global warming has, is and will happen. As observers of our economic conundrum note, we don’t deal with it until it becomes a big crisis, and we’re not very good at solving big crises.
Meanwhile, this blog kvetched to another blog (John Cook — Skeptical Science) that the latter’s recent focus on solutions to global heating “jumps ahead without consideration of a critical parameter: when? If the cavalry arrives after the massacre, all they can do is bury the bodies.” In other words, the article relays solutions, yet omits when such intervention should take place, nor indicates how long each has to happen to have an impact.
Not being able to resist a bit of snarkiness, there was a further observation: “Quite a coincidence that the time frame chosen by PS04* approximately equals how long U.S. policy makers have delayed since nations convened and acknowledged the problem.”
“Wait-and-see policies erroneously presume climate change can be reversed quickly should harm become evident, underestimating substantial delays in the climate’s response to anthropogenic forcing.” John Sterman
The bigger question is: When does it no longer matter? Secretary Chu dodged the question, and when I asked a friend, he provided a similar response, i.e., it is difficult to figure because such determination involves various processes.
Well, I know that, and I’m not smart enough to do such calculations. I even scrambled for the right way to phrase my request. Since we know that statistics are the second to last bastion of scoundrels, in this post I settle for maximum likelihood. I want a LOTPAWKI MLE, i.e. an estimate of the maximum likelihood of the end of life on the Planet as we know it and I want it now.
I’d ask Professor Joe, but I already know the response that I would get.