Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Stephen Hawking Committee- Frightening Numbers!

A Possible Numerical Outlook

Doomsday: 1936

Gathering Storm: Events or Process? 

Recently, I was asked by a close colleague, if I was now much more concerned because Stephen Hawking and others have formed a group that would look into building plans for possible end of world events? "Wot me worry?" as I smirkingly replied  with my Alfred E. Neuman grin. Of course, my outlook is grave; but my deep concern was  the actual mandate and agenda that the Committee had undertaken. Quite simply, their focus is on the events that may cause civilization's collapse, or even extinction.rather than the multitude of human and related environment processes that are slowly leading us to Doomsday's stormy gates.

So, in the next few weeks I will be writing to Professor Hawking's at Cambridge, setting forth my serious concerns for tabling with the committee..As a part of my writing, I will include the following illustrative example relating to the "process" of physical management, consumption and exhaustion of world oil reserves. Spelling out the possible frightening outlooks that could result from this process.Outlooks, affecting not only the expected longevity of human civilization's form, but also its very existence. 

For indeed, there is a gathering storm - and it may be closer than we think?    

Dr Peter G Kinesa
October 1, 2013      

Frightening! – A Possible Numerical Outlook

Wot me worry? Here some are some quick hold-in-your-head, back-of- the-envelope numbers. And 750 million at risk - that's a little on the light side.

Assume all other threats are put on the back burner and we only have the two issues of oil (energy) and population (energy addicts) to deal with, and no other "black swans". 

The stakes are actually billions of lost lives by the end of the century (85+ years from now) when the "best" estimates have annual oil extraction running near 5 billion barrels annually (some estimates are as low as 1 billion annually) . That's 15% of today’s volumes which is enough to support about 1 billion folks at today's consumption standards.

Worse case is that the 1.2 trillion barrels in reserves today is set to run out in about 40 years, which "at best," results in the collapse of our current form of oil-dependent civilization. There are no known alternatives that are sufficient in energy supply to replace the cheap and convenient energy abundance provided by oil. 

Even if we stopped giving birth to any more children, at this very moment , lasting for the next forty years, then under this assumptive case we could only extend the life of the oil supplies by about 10 years. They still would be exhausted in 50 years. So the form of civilization we know would still come to an abrupt halt only ten years later. Oil exhaustion is certainly analogous to running the human body without blood. Ain't going to happen.   

Add to this, that the 330 million Americans on this planet who consume about 32 barrels per capita, while China and India's 3 billion people consume, at best, 2 barrels per capita. They have  3 billion combined people moving towards Western standards of oil consumption. So instead of the reported 32 billion we now consume globally, in 15 to 20 years the number could double to 64 billion. Oil exhaustion could, thus occur in just 25 to 30 years. Again, bringing the civilization form that we have grown accustomed to an end. Meaning to avoid a collapse before 2100 - a drastic reduction in oil (energy use) or consumption (population) is required in the next few years. Those numbers for both oil and population look to run somewhere in the order of billions because you cannot wait until a few years before the very end to change the key variables. 

Now if we put those back-burner threats and/or a few black swan events back into the mix, it is a virtual certainty that the current civilization form will not last past fifty years. And whatever civilization form does survive - the numbers are highly likely to be billions lower than today's population figures- making the possibility of complete extinction by 2100; a 50/50 bet in some minds. Moreover some form of de facto extinction could also occur much sooner, if in the worst case, oil exhaustion and its implications take effect in 25 years or less.

So wot me worry? Sure do ...  but these figures could also be overly optimistic for a number of reasons. (#1: OPEC overstates reserves?) And so what is about to unfold is the most horrific series of global events and circumstances ever experienced during our short planetary visit. The stakes are in the billions. Knowing this shoulders a responsibility, but it is one that we can do very little to change it seems, as the global inertia mentioned is too great.

For instance, what right would we have to tell China and India, or even Russia, to stop growing so that we can continue on our merry addictive energy consuming ways? What are the chances they'd agree? None and none. So when push comes to shove, major global conflicts are in the cards and remember they will not be using sticks and stones. Einstein said that would not be not the weapon of choice until the Fourth World War - ah, what does he know anyway?

If anyone thinks that oil exhaustion does not bring on major conflicts, note that both Syria and Egypt had just recently passed peak oil production, and also had rapidly growing populations too. They used their oil export revenues to pay for imported food stocks. The rest is headlines - hungry people get mad, and topple governments

Worries? Try this little "understatement' that was used once by a cherubic cigar-smoking character   - "There is a Gathering Storm.'  Things may be closer than we think! 

Of Kind Regards

Dr Peter G Kinesa
October 1, 2013  

Supporting Charts:  Peak Oil Syria and Egypt 



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