Notes on the June 2011 All Party Policy Group on Peak Oil (APPGOPO) meeting at the House of Commons.
25 people present. Introduced by Paul Mobbs, Energy Beyond Oil
Dr Graham Turner, Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), said:
Business as usual will lead to economic collapse from 2020. Technology and marginal change are likely to make things worse.
Attempts to discredit the Limits to Growth report on the basis of a claim that resources will run out – but this claim was never made.
5 main growth areas identified are population, resources, food, pollution and economy but this includes all other exponential growth curves e.g. land exploitation, industrial output, maintenance, living standards, transport, greenhouse gas emissions.
Collapse will occur through resource depletion and environmental pollution.
Does more and better technology help? An increase in hi-tech activity will produce even more growth and will result in an even bigger collapse. Adaptive technology also leads to collapse. Relying on technology makes things worse due to the indirect rebound effect. For example, computers have not led to paperless offices but the opposite. Efficiency > saving money > more consumption > more growth.
In general attempting to solve one challenge makes others worse, like pressing on a balloon. Early action is better than later action. Sustainability = less population, less consumption. We will see a return to 1950s levels of consumption.
CSIRO’s Australian study shows that for a sustainable economy in Australia the population must stabilise at 20 million, consumption must be reduced by 50%, efficiency must be doubled by 2040, electricity consumption must be mostly from renewables and the working week must be reduced to 3 days. Overall wealth can be maintained in an alternative economy without going back to caves. How likely is this scenaro to happen? Very unlikely!
Bruce Gaston, Skybridge Finance, Limits to Growth specialist, said:
The Arab Spring was caused not primarily by Facebook, but by reductions in food subsidies and a food export ban from Russia which was experiencing food shortages.
Peak phosphorus (fertliiser) means that food production cannot support the global population. Peak lithium means that there will be no batteries for electric cars. Various other peaks support the Limits to Growth graph.
A recent German military intelligence report predicts security collapse in 2025/2030 and a return to command economies. It also predicts resource wars.
Greenspan’s bubbles: the US Federal Reserve in collaboration with Goldman Sachs and the US financial sector reduces the effect of one bubble by encouraging another.
Average incomes have not increased pro rata since 1975. The main reason for the per capita drop in food production globally is global warming. Arable land has shrunk by half since 1960. Prices will increase after quantitative easing. Subsidies are going into conventional energy exploration and production, and retarding the development of renewables. The world will see a shortage of capital in 5 or 10 years.