Wednesday, January 2, 2013

We have ignored the laws of physics and are in free-fall - Mandy Meikle

The economics of oil dependence: a glass ceiling to recovery | the new economics foundation:
comment by Mandy Meikle
The best analogy I've heard for our current reality is that of Wile E. Coyote flapping his arms, hoping for flight, long after having run off the edge of the cliff. His look of bemusement at being unable to break the laws of physics is a key part of the analogy for me.

Fossil fuels are a vast, one-off bank of energy which we have drained in the pursuit of industrial capitalism. In just 15 decades, we've gone from an abundance of cheap and easy shallow onshore reserves of good quality oil to kidding ourselves that tar sand oil and shale gas are just the same as conventional oil & gas. Flap! The energy bank is now struggling to pay out what we require to keep growth economics growing. Flap, flap! We refuse to reduce energy demand (for that's what's needed, not just reducing carbon emissions) and we carry on hoping for some technological breakthrough. But technology uses energy, it doesn't create it. Uh-oh! All renewable devices have a fossil fuel input and it doesn't take a mathematical genius to know that biofuels grown today can never release an amount of energy comparable to that contained within fossil fuels, which took millions of years to form. At this point, Coyote waves solemnly and plummets.

So I think we are in freefall, just beginning to wonder if the environmentalists might be onto something. Unlike Coyote, we can make the landing softer - IF we accept the laws of physics and work to change how we live. A shock can sometimes bring us to our senses but I fear we may hit the ground first.

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