Archive for the ‘Peak Oil’ Category


May 17, 2019

Reblogged from Damn the Matrix.

A Surfeit of Tims

April 8, 2019

There are three bloggers called ‘Tim’ writing on the energy scene whose blogs I read regularly (and often get confused) —Tim Watkins, Tim Morgan and Tim Garrett.

Tim Watkins is a UK blogger and writes The Consciousness of Sheep. A huge variety of posts come under the headings, Economy, Energy, Environment and Society. He also has a book with the same title as the blog, which condenses writings on all the concepts into one place. The blog actually started as an offshoot from the book. Read his ‘about’ page for a bio. He says his aim is to provide…….”a running commentary on the slow motion train wreck that is Western civilisation in general and its British variant in particular.” If you want to understand Brexit or the ins and outs of fracking, he’s the one. I know I’ll be in for an interesting and informative read when I see his name in my blog feed reader.


Tim Morgan, also from the UK, writes Surplus Energy Economics with the by-line, How the economy REALLY works. He says: “Although this blog will cover a wide range of topics, my main interest is in a radically new way of thinking about economics. This is explained in my 2013 book Life After Growth.”  I’m currently reading it (for the second time).

The ‘radically new way’ of thinking about economics is to see the economy as basically an energy system and not a monetary one. Everything we do, use, consume and buy is provided by energy, mostly fossil fuel energy (about 80% of the total energy mix). Tim says: “Money is the language used in the discussion of economics, but the real economy is not a monetary system at all. The economy is a function of energy, a term which needs to be defined to include human labour and nutrition as well as external inputs such as oil, natural gas and coal. The sophisticated societies of today are a function of enormous inputs of energy.”

The most important thing to understand is that, “whenever energy is accessed, some energy is consumed in the extraction process and it is surplus energy—that is, the difference between these amounts—that determines economic output.” Hence the blog’s name—surplus energy economics. Anyone familiar with the concept of EROEI—energy returned on energy invested—will see where this is going.

There’s plenty of information on how the financial system works—something that’s always been a mystery to me.


Tim Garrett is physicist studying atmospheric science. His blog is called Nephologue—Exploring the interplay of thermodynamics, economics, and climate. He also has a home page with links to his papers here. I found lots of interesting information in the links. Tim has discovered a theory that explains and quantifies the relationship between wealth and energy consumption. The Wikipedia page explaining that is here.  I must admit that I’ve ignored the maths (not my thing) and just focused on the descriptions, such as: “Civilization is an open thermodynamic system. It uses external sources of primary energy and raw materials and dissipates waste heat and materials.” There are thus implications for sustainability and climate change. The Wikipedia page is a bit on the technical side for me, so I prefer his writings in the blog and home page.


March 10, 2017

Interesting post from Ugo Bardi at Cassandra’s Legacy blog. I had no idea how jet engines work, so learned a few things from the video about fuel consumption and the relative costs of flying.

The bottom line is that oil running out will be the end of powered flight. No oil, no fly. Ah, well….it was always for the birds anyway.


“Peak Speed” for the World’s Airlines

So, it is true: planes fly slower nowadays! The video, above, shows that plane trips are today more than 10% longer than they were in the 1960s and 1970s for the same distance. Airlines, it seems, attained their “peak speed” during those decades.

Clearly, today airlines have optimized the performance of their planes to minimize costs. But they were surely optimizing their business practices also before the peak and, at that time, the results they obtained must have been different. The change took place when they started using the current oil prices for their models and they found that they had to slow down. You see in the chart below what happened to the oil market after 1970. (Brent oil prices, corrected for inflation, source)

It is remarkable how things change. Do you remember the hype of the 1950s and 1960s? The people who opposed the building of supersonic passenger planes were considered to be against humankind’s manifest destiny. Speed had to increase because it had always been doing so and technology would have provided us with the means to continue moving faster.

 Rising oil prices dealt a death blow to that attitude. The supersonic Concorde was a flying mistake that was built nevertheless (a manifestation of French Grandeur). Fortunately, other weird ideas didn’t make it, such as the sub-orbital plane that should have shot passengers from Paris to New York in less than one hour.

If this story tells us something is that, in the fight between technological progress and oil depletion, oil depletion normally wins. Airlines are especially fuel-hungry and they have no alternatives to liquid fuels. So, despite all the best technologies, the only way for them to cope with higher oil prices was to slow down planes, it was as simple as that.

Even slower planes, though, still need liquid fuels that are manufactured from oil. We may go back to propeller planes for even better efficiency, but the problem remains: no oil, no planes, at least not the kind of planes that allow normal people to fly, something that, nowadays, looks like an obvious feature of our life. But, as I said before, things change!

The implications of collapsing ERoEI

January 26, 2017

Judging by the relatively low level of interest the past few articles published here regarding the collapse of fossil fuel ERoEI (along with PV’s) have attracted, I can only conclude that mos…

Source: The implications of collapsing ERoEI

Reblogged from Damn the Matrix

Forget 1984…. 2020 is the apocalypse year

January 26, 2017

The crescendo of news pointing to 2020 as the date to watch is growing apace…. it won’t be the year collapse happens, because collapse is a process, not an event; but it will definitely…

Source: Forget 1984…. 2020 is the apocalypse year

Reblogged from Damn the Matrix


Oh, to be a fly on the wall as it unfolds…

The Great Contraction

December 19, 2016

Some time ago I found a new blog about energy and the economy and related issues. It’s written by a Canadian and it’s very good. He explains concepts in a way that makes understanding easy. He’s about to launch a new series of posts on ‘political realities’—the problems of running a country in an age of scarcity. But before he starts that, he’s posted a set of links to a similar series he wrote previously, in 2014. I’ve put the list of links below. For anyone who doesn’t understand how energy and the economy are connected these make an excellent starting point :

Three short videos

November 30, 2016

I’m sure you all know this stuff by now, but if not, here’s three short animated videos from the Post Carbon Institute and Richard Heinberg :




Not going to be a happy country as oil runs out

February 18, 2016

And neither are we.

Young Saudis See Cushy Jobs Vanish Along With Nation’s Oil Wealth

Australian petroleum inventories

January 17, 2016

This is a pretty important post from Matt Mushalik at Crude Oil Peak

No glut in Australian petroleum inventories

If you haven’t been keeping up with oil production and decline scenarios, please read it and understand that we would be in real trouble in this country if there was another oil shock. With the problems in the Middle East, that could easily happen virtually overnight.

What would you do if there was an extended break in our oil supply? If there was no fuel at the pump? If supermarkets closed within a week or so because they couldn’t get deliveries? If this went on for months? Have you ever considered the possibility?

Our government is not preparing for such an eventuality. Even the American government, dumb as they are, keeps to the 90-day supply-in-reserve recommendation of the International Energy Agency. We’re a member nation and we refuse to do it.

His conclusion worries me :

The continuing talk of a global oil glut lulls Australian motorists to believe that everything is fine while actually this country’s petroleum stock holdings are minimal. When things go wrong in the Middle East no one will help Australia as IEA obligations have been wilfully ignored by both ALP and Coalition governments.

More links :

Australia nearly completely dependent on imported fuel

Fuel security crisis: Australia’s perilous dependence on imported fuel

Oil is the life blood of our current way of life. Yes, we could scale down to a less energy consuming existence (after all, we lived without oil for thousands of years prior to its discovery), but it can’t be done overnight. We will have to one day, when the world runs out of oil. Do some research. Don’t be like the idiot hairdresser who used to cut my hair and told me (without any supporting facts) that he wasn’t worried because oil will last another 400 years!

How prepared are you? Your family & friends? Your neighbours? Sadly, there’s no-one of my immediate acquaintance who thinks this is serious and worthy of some sort of preparation.


Australian oil reserves substandard

April 8, 2015

So somebody’s woken up at last.

The report prompted former Air Vice Marshall John Blackburn to warn of catastrophic consequences of an interrupted oil supply.

“You’d start to see society collapse,” he told the ABC in November.

You know, a collapse is just what we need to wake people up. No fuel at the pump, no food in the shops; that’d do it.

I’ve been trying to tell people about energy issues for the last 10 years, in particular, the peaking of global oil production. I’ve been largely ignored, with the exception of a stupid clod of a neighbour who wrote me a nasty vicious email on the subject. If you don’t like the message, shoot the messenger. Is it any wonder I get angry and actually hope for a collapse?

Whether it happens overnight, as a result of a terrorist attack, or whether it happens slowly as a result of the natural decline in oil supplies, is immaterial. This way of life will come to an end and those who haven’t prepared for it will be up the proverbial creek.

Oh, but I’ve been told so many times, “they will think of something”.

Yeah, right. Don’t hold your breath. Get to and start building resilience and self-sufficiency into your lives.