A moderately interesting article from George Monbiot arguing that "The problem we face is not that we have too little fossil fuel, but too much. As oil declines, economies will switch to tar sands, shale gas and coal...."
This is daft, on several levels. Monbiot ignores:
- the problem of EROEI, meaning that substituting in tar sands and shale gas etc delivers less net energy than light, sweet oil;
- the problem of infrastructure - all the existing petrol stations, internal combustion engines and (to a lesser extent) highways that are geared around the easy availability of light, sweet oil, which can't be rapidly altered;
- the financial meltdown, making long-term finance much more problematic;
- the export-land problem, meaning that exports of oil will decline much more rapidly than production;
- he assumes that the further alternatives he mentions are technologically, politically and financially feasible within a fairly short time-frame;
- he ignores the political melt-down and wars that will be sparked by the inequitable division of resources;
and so on.
I agree that poor people will chop down trees if they have nothing else to go on. Sadly, we're all going to end up with 'nothing else to go on' - in a sense, the future of the environment depends upon how quickly men kill other men as compared to how quickly men kill the trees and the fish.
It's a very weird feeling to have given lectures describing all these consequences several years ago (insights not original to me, for the most part), and to watch things now taking place in the way expected, and to still have people denying the situation. This is why our civilisation is breaking down - it's still too insulated from reality.