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Old 03-04-2014, 01:19 PM   #48
Hobbitling
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Join Date: May 2006
Location: Rochester area
Posts: 2,239
Our reduction in CO2 emissions in the past 5 years is almost entirely economic. It wasn't because of any environmenal policy, or any intentional change in behavior by the American people. People burn less fuel during a recession. Unemployed and poor people drive less and they buy less stuff, so companies require less energy to make and ship it. You can't burn fuel if you can't afford it. If the economy were to recover, fuel consumption and fuel prices would rise again. That would harm the economy, which would reduce fuel consumption, which would lower prices, until the cycle repeats again. And each time the cycle repeats, the price ratchets up a little bit.

That pattern marks the beginning of the end of the oil age. We won't burn it all, and it won't run out, but oil will get more and more expensive as we deplete the easy/cheap oil and move to the difficult/expensive oil. The last of the oil will be so expensive to extract we'll never be able to afford it. At that point we'll have no choice but to wean ourselves off, if we can still afford to develop alternatives. The sooner we start the better, because if we wait until it's too late, we won't have the energy or capital to make the transition.

If you have half an hour, watch this rather grim little animated documentary.
http://youtu.be/VOMWzjrRiBg
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