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Akio Toyoda, president and CEO of Toyota Motor Corporation, introduces the Lexus LC 500 coupe at the North American International Auto Show on January 11, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. Indeed, Ghosn sees widespread adoption of emissions-free electric motoring as dependent on governmental regulations, severe arm-twisting needed if we are to have a true electric car revolution. The problem is that, while there is widespread support from the general populace in Europe — European automakers, with product more than 50 per cent diesel-powered, are the ones dragging their feet — Bubba from Lubbock loves his F-150 almost as much as his AR-15. Meanwhile, the emptiest booth in Detroit’s Cobo Hall was Alfa Romeo, the assembled press and industry insiders ignoring the company’s new Giulia like it was, well, a Buick. Meanwhile, in other news in futility, the steel industry had a huge display at the auto show, detailing how building cars from high-strength steel actually reduces greenhouse gas emissions compared with aluminum construction — because it takes less effort to produce and recycle. We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles using Facebook commenting Visit our FAQ page for more information. The tie between energy supply, population, and the economy goes back to the hunter-gatherer period. The agricultural revolution starting about 7,000 or 8,000 BCE was the next big change, multiplying population more than 50-fold. When we look at the situation on a year-by-year basis (Table 1), we see that on a yearly average basis, growth has been by far the greatest since 1820, which is the time since the widespread use of fossil fuels. The rise in population growth and GDP growth is significantly higher in the period since World War II than it was in the period prior to that time. When a person looks back over history, the impression one gets is that the economy is a system that transforms resources, especially energy, into food and other goods that people need. Economists seem to be of the view that GDP growth gives rise to growth in energy products, and not the other way around.
Humans, (or more accurately, predecessor species to humans), first arose in central Africa, a place where energy from the sun is greatest, water is abundant, and biological diversity is among the greatest.
The earliest breakthrough seems to be the development of man’s ability to control fire, at least 1 million years ago (Berna).
As man began to have additional time available that was not devoted to gathering food and eating, he could put more of his own energy into other projects, such as hunting animals for food, making more advanced tools, and creating clothing. The use of dogs for hunting in Europe at least 32,000 years ago was another way early humans were able to extend their range (Shipman). With the expanded territory, the number of humans increased to 4 million (McEvedy) by the beginning of agriculture (about 7,000 or 8,000 BCE).
Relative to the slow growth in the hunter-gatherer period, populations grew much more quickly (0.06% per year according to Table 1) during the Beginning of Agriculture. One key problem that was solved with the beginning of the agricultural was, How can you store food until you need it?
The ability to grow animals and crops of one’s own choosing permitted a vast increase the amount of food (and thus energy for people) that would grow on a given plot of land. Thus, a shift to agriculture would seem to allow a something like a 50-fold increase in population, and would pretty much explain the 56-fold increase that took place between from 4 million in 7,000 BCE, to 226 million at 1 CE. Other energy advances during this period included the use of irrigation, wind-powered ships, metal coins, and the early use of iron of tools (Diamond) (Ponting).
Even after 1000 CE, growth was limited, due to continued influence of the above types of factors. There were exceptions, however, and these were where growth of population and GDP was greatest.
Maddison shows population and GDP statistics for the United Kingdom (not England by itself). A heat-producing fuel, so that there would not be such a problem with deforestation, if people wanted to keep warm, create metal products, and make other products that required heat, such as glass. As a transportation fuel, so that walking, using horses, and boats would not be the major choices. When coal arrived, it was rapidly accepted, because it helped greatly with the first of these–the need for a heat-producing fuel. Between 1820 and 1920, which is the period when coal came into widespread use, the world’s use of energy approximately tripled (Figure 3).
With the invention of first commercially successful steam engine in 1712 (Wikipedia), coal could also be used for processes that required mechanical energy, such as milling grain, running a cotton gin, or weaving cloth.
One invention that was made possible by the availability of coal was the widespread use of electricity.
Between 1850 and 1930, the percentage of workers in agriculture in the US dropped from about 65% of the workforce to about 22%.
If we look at the coal data included in Figure 3 by itself, we see that the use of coal use has never stopped growing. The big reason for the growth is coal consumption is that it is cheap, especially compared to oil and in most countries, natural gas. A look at detail underlying China’s coal consumption makes it look as though the recent big increase in coal consumption began immediately after China was admitted to the World Trade Organization, in December 2001. It (and the natural gas often associated with it) provided chemical fertilizer which could be used to cover up the huge soil deficiencies that had developed over the years.
Oil is very easy to transport in a can or truck, so it works well with devices like portable electric generators and irrigation pumps. With the huge change in transport enabled by oil, much greater international trade became possible.
Hydrocarbons could be made into medicines, enabling defeat of many of the germs that had in the past caused epidemics. Hydrocarbons could be used to make plastics and fabrics, so that wood and crops grown to make fabrics (such as cotton and flax) would not be in such huge demand, allowing land to be used for other purposes.
Hydrocarbons could provide asphalt for roads, lubrication for machines, and many other hard-to-replace specialty products. The labor-saving nature of machines powered by oil freed up time for workers to work elsewhere (or viewed less positively, sometimes left them unemployed). The fact that tractors and other farm equipment took over the role of horses and mules after 1920 meant that more land was available for human food, since feed no longer needed to be grown for horses.
If we look at oil by itself (Figure 5, below), we see much more of a curved figure than for coal (Figure 4, above).
Figure 6 indicates that there was a real increase in total per capita energy consumption after World War II, about the time that oil consumption was being added in significant quantity. If we look at world population growth for the same time period, we see a very distinct bend in the line immediately after World War II, as population rose as the same time as oil consumption. There are other fuels as well, including nuclear, wind energy, solar PV, solar thermal, biofuels, and natural gas. All of these other fuels tend have their own niches; it is hard for them to fill the big coal-oil niche on the current landscape. One of the issues related to finding a replacement for oil and coal is that we already have a great deal of equipment (cars, trains, airplanes, farm equipment, construction equipment) that use oil, and we have many chemical processes that use oil or coal as an input. Over the long haul, energy sources have played a very large and varied role in the economy. Not according to any levelised costs I have seen which are not from avowedly anti-nuclear organisations. It should be borne in mind that these organisations are significantly more optimistic than most here on TOD would be regarding medium-term prices for gas, which many of us feel are at present significantly below production costs, and hence nuclear costs are likely to be even more competitive going forward if we are correct about this. Costs in the nuclear industry also do not fully reflect those over the lifetime of the plant, as what financiers are interested in is the first two or three decades over which capital is amortised.
There would not seem to me to be any numerical basis for the notion that electricity will cost significantly more due to technological as opposed to political reasons. It's one thing to 'hear' a data point 'elsewhere', and another thing to support it with a substantive cite. Mindstalk, I see you've been a TOD member for a little over a day now, and are fitting in like an old hand. Also "he who does not do arithmetic is doomed to talk nonsense" and that there's nothing virtuous about being part of a doomy doom circlejerk, feeling good about how one shares the true knowledge of inevitable Doom unlike the unwashed masses. Trying to estimate the levelized cost of energy based on fuel costs might get one in the ballpark with a low capital cost generation facility, but with nuclear, the NRE and capital costs are the main drivers. I note even on levelized cost, the EIA nuclear numbers are competitive with coal, especially with CCS coal. Perhaps nuclear energy produced in ways far different from the US approach might qualify as cheap. Do not extrapolate from this that I am in favor of removing all the regulations, because I am not.
I would argue that we currently do not have a model that allows us to compare the utility of fuels. If increasing energy use drove population, then one would expect that population would be increasing fastest in countries with high energy use per capita. The bulk of energy that is used for travel, transportation, lighting, heat, and even tillage has little to do with population growth.
What matters is the energy that is used for production of medicines, vaccines, clean water, sanitation, herbicides, insecticides, fertilizer, etc., all of which suppress mortality rates.
There has been a cascade of food resources besides the grains domesticated in the Middle East. So the increased population is due as much to the doctors of medicine, the metallurgists and chemists, and the plant and animal scientists as to the geologists and the mining and petroleum engineers.
Trying to find some figures to support this, I believe energy use per capita is increasing faster in countries with incresaing populations.
The decline in energy per capita is pretty much across the board in the industrial (OECD) countries.
I agree with BadgerB--it is growth in energy supplies that correlates positively with population growth not absolute external energy use. I think a big part of the issue is that the impact of solar energy is fairly different in different parts of the world. In the early days, the northern countries were the first ones to cut down their trees, and became desperate for an alternative to using trees as fuel.
The Emperor Caraccala was proud of his huge bathing complex in Rome, but his greatest pride was in the arrangements taken to feed the furnaces used to heat the water.
The pressure was relieved somewhat by the fall in population towards the end of the empire, caused by many factors, including chronic plague, and after about AD400 most new building tended anyway to reuse brick from abandoned buildings.
The Anglo saxons appear to have been larger and healthier than later medieval populations in Britain, and this decrease in stature and health (measured from burials) is attributed to, amongst other factors, the increasing population in the early medieval warm period putting pressure on the crop growing capacity of the land. In Bangladesh and large parts of Asia and Africa deforestation to produce fuel for cooking carries on apace, and there is no cheaper fuel to substitute, or serious industry to provide income. It's never THAT simple of course, but lucky coincidence, proximity of the right raw materials and populations, with those having already achieved the appropriate educational, legal and social structures, have enabled the world population to reach seven billion.
I've not seen any similar info on potential arctic region coal resources in Russia or Canada so I don't know whether Alaska's coal deposits north of the Brooks Range are typical of the rest of the lands above the arctic circle or not.
Specifically, the report highlights the benefits that would be achieved under the scenario of doubling the global share of renewable energy by 2030 from 2010 levels. Japan would see the largest positive GDP impact (2.3 per cent) but Australia, Brazil, Germany, Mexico, South Africa and South Korea would also see growth of more than 1 per cent each. A 36 per cent share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030 would increase global gross domestic product by nearly  $1.3 trillion, generating millions of jobs and helping countries like India dependent on importing oil and gas, a new study says. Beyond finding that global GDP in 2030 would increase by up to  $1.3 trillion  more than the combined economies of Chile, South Africa and Switzerland as of today the report also analyses country-specific impact. According to the report, improvements in human welfare would go well beyond gains in GDP thanks to a range of social and environmental benefits.
The impact of renewable energy deployment on welfare is estimated to be three to four times larger than its impact on GDP, with global welfare increasing as much as 3.7 per cent. A transition towards greater shares of renewables in the global energy mix would also cause a shift in trade patterns, as it would more than halve global imports of coal and reduce oil and gas imports, benefiting large importers like Japan, India, Korea and the European Union. The report builds on previous IRENA analysis on the socio-economic benefits of renewable energy and on REmap 2030, a renewable energy roadmap to doubling the global share of renewable energy by 2030. In our latest installment of the Collapse Update Report, Steve and me cover Energy Industry Bankruptcies, Mass Shootings & Suicides and trying to resolve monetary and fiscal problems utilizing Gold as Money. By December 2015, growth over the prior year finally turned slightly negative, with production for the month down 0.2% relative to one year prior.
The data in Figure 4 indicates that with all categories included, 2015 liquids exceeded the 1970 peak by 16%.
Here again, US crude oil production in 2015 appears to amount to 98% of the 1970 crude oil peak. In order for oil product demand to keep rising, the buying power of consumers needs to keep rising.
We know that in many countries, wages for lower-level workers have stagnated for a number of reasons, including competition with wages in lower-wage countries, computerization, and the use of automation (Figure 6).
One reason for the fall in world debt, measured in US dollars, is the fact that the US dollar started rising relative to other currencies about this time.
As long as the US dollar is high relative to other currencies, oil products remain less affordable, and demand tends to stay low. Another issue that struck me in looking at world debt data is the way the growth in debt is distributed (Figure 9). Today, there is a great deal of faith that oil prices will rise, if someone, somewhere, will reduce oil production. These problems are likely to be difficult to fix, so we should expect low oil prices, more or less indefinitely. Wage inequality is really a sign of a deeper problem; basically it reflects an economic system that is not growing rapidly enough to satisfy everyone. With these changes, the economic system that previously provided many jobs for those with limited training (often providing on-the-job training, if necessary) gradually became a system that provides a relatively small number of high-paying jobs, together with many low-paying jobs.
If an economy is growing rapidly enough, it is easy for everyone to get close to an adequate amount. The poor 2015 performance in Figure 2 reflects a combination of falling inflation rates, as a result of falling commodity prices, and a rising relativity of the US dollar to other currencies. We are experiencing a world economy that seems to be reaching limits, but the symptoms are not what peak oil groups warned about. The system acts as if whenever one pump dispenses the energy products we want, another pump disperses other products we don’t want. We have been living in a world of rapid globalization, but this is not a condition that we can expect to continue indefinitely.
Each time imported goods and services start to surge as a percentage of GDP, these imports seem to be cut back, generally in a recession. The primary issue at hand is that, as a dissipative system, every economy has its own energy needs, just as every forest has its own energy needs (in terms of sunlight) and every plant and animal has its own energy needs, in one form or another. There is a fairly narrow range of acceptable energy levels–an animal without enough food weakens and is more likely to be eaten by a predator or to succumb to a disease.
In fact, the effects of not having enough energy flows may spread more widely than the individual plant or animal that weakens and dies. There is a standard wrong belief about the physics of energy and the economy; it is the belief we can somehow train the economy to get along without much energy. Independent oil companies in non-OPEC countries also have costs other than technical extraction costs, including taxes and dividends to stockholders.
The aim of this article is to show that the shale industry, whether extracting oil or gas, has never been financially sustainable. The situation in Argentina highlights the underlying problem for the economics of shale oil and shale gas.
In the UK and Ireland too fracking is still stuck at the pre-exploratory stage, largely because of the rapid and powerful development of a movement of opposition. During the crash of 2007-2008 global oil prices crashed from a high peak but then recovered again. On the demand side the Chinese economy stalled while on the supply side production increased.
In regard to gas the issues are somewhat different from oil because the market for natural gas is less globally networked. At a risk of simplifying a varied picture natural gas prices in various areas have been stable at a low level or drifting downwards over the last two years and insufficient for profitability in a gas fracking sector. In Europe production decline because of depleting conventional gas fields has not prevented a fall in the gas price because demand has been falling too and this is likely to remain the case. At current gas prices all the exploration and production companies active in the UK and Ireland would struggle to make a profit. It is important to grasp the idea that a rising prices scenario is only credible in conditions where a proportion of the industry has been driven out of the business – which is the hope of the Saudi oil industry. An alternative view is more sceptical about the revival of the global economy and of demand because of the high level of debt.
In the pessimistic scenario if the economy does not revive then there can be some scepticism that energy prices will revive too.
There could be a vicious circle here – without demand arising in a sustained growth process pushing up energy prices the profitability of the unconventional sector will never be sufficient to make future investment in that sector pay.
Before the current difficulties Wall Street made a fortune in fees arranging debt finance for the US shale sector.
For several years prior to the crash of 2007-2008 the finance sector in the USA were knowingly giving loans to people with no income, no jobs and no assets. For several years after 2007-2008 shale was the next big money spinner – and the next ethical catastrophe for Wall Street.
Nor were investors looking closely enough at where they were going or at what they were funding.
The foreword is by Joseph Tainter, author of the book The Collapse of Complex Societies, which is somewhat famous in doomer circles. My hypothesis is that increasing energy use lowers the marginal value of children as labour. One significant value of children is as workers, especially as field hands and manual labourers in less developed countries.

A child would lose that labour value as the society became richer and used more machinery to replace human labour. As children lost their economic value there would be less incentive for parents to have them, even though their cost would decline as the society got richer. The per capita consumption of energy is a useful proxy for the level of a country's mechanization. Therefore, if the hypothesis is correct, a country that used more energy per capita (lowering the need for human labour) should exhibit a lower fertility rate as the marginal value of children as labour declined. In Wikipedia I found two lists of countries organized by Total Fertility Rate and per capita energy consumption.
What this finding might mean for an energy-constrained future needs more reflection, but if the hypothesis holds up there could be significant upward pressure on birth rates in such a world.
Oh, Los Angeles is more glamorous, Frankfurt’s motor show is bigger and the Geneva exhibition has more supercars per square foot than the Beverly Hills Hilton on Oscar night. But, despite various toes in the water — such as General Motors investing US$500-million in the Lyft ride-sharing platform — no major automaker had really bought into the concept that the future of how we own cars is dramatically changing. Ford’s “Pass” app includes a pilot program that lets friends and family members share ownership of one car. Oh, sure, cheap gas (and the low interest rates that are part and parcel of our economic stagnation) has propped up car sales in North America (record numbers were recorded both in Canada and the United States in 2015). Citing a number of cities in Europe and the Far East that have begun banning cars — especially diesels — from their core, he more than implied that EV sales may require draconian regulations to become viable alternatives to internal combustion.
In 2002, Chrysler introduced a Pacifica crossover utility vehicle, which, it said, was going to revolutionize — even take over — the minivan market. Unfortunately for #steelmatters, that ship has appeared to have sailed, with Ford and Jaguar leading the charge in weight reduction.
Hunter-gatherers managed to multiply their population at least 4-fold, and perhaps by as much as 25-fold, by using energy techniques which allowed them to expand their territory from central Africa to virtually the whole world, including the Americas and Australia.
The big breakthrough here was the domestication of grains, which allowed food to be stored for winter, and transported more easily.
Even before this, there were major energy advances, particularly using peat in Netherlands and early use of coal in England.
We also see that economic growth seems to proceed only slightly faster than population growth up until 1820. This is the period during which growth in which oil consumption had a significant impact on the economy.
This is a rather strange view, in light of the long tie between energy and the economy, and in light of the apparent causal relationship. This setting allowed predecessor species a wide range of food supplies, easy access to water, and little worry about being cold. In order to expand man’s range, it was necessary to find ways to obtain adequate food supply in less hospitable environments.
The ability to cook food came a very long time ago as well, although the exact date remains uncertain. The wood or leaves with which early man made fire could be considered man’s first external source of energy.
We talk about objects such as tools and clothing that are created using energy (any type of energy, from humans or from fuel), as having embedded energy in them, since the energy used to make them has long-term benefit. Neanderthal populations, living in the same area in close to the same time-period did not use dogs, and died out. If population reached 4 million, this would represent roughly a 25-fold increase, assuming a base population of 150,000. With the storage issue solved, it was possible to live in settled communities, rather than needing to keep moving to locations where food happened to be available, season by season. With these advances, trade was possible, and this trade enabled the creation of goods that could not be made without trade. Hunter-gatherers were already running into limits because they had killed off some of the game species (McGlone) (Diamond). Chew lists 40 areas around the world showing deforestation before the year 1, many as early as 4000 BCE.
During this period, and as well as in the early agricultural period (between 7,000 BCE and 1 CE), there was a tendency of civilizations that had been expanding to collapse, holding the world’s overall population growth level down. In most countries, the vast majority of the population continued to live on the edge of starvation up until the last two centuries (Ponting). Kris De Decker writes about the growing use of peat for energy in Netherlands starting in the 1100s and continuing until 1700. It produced primarily a different kind of energy than peat; it produced kinetic (or mechanical) energy.
Annual energy consumption per head (megajoules) in England and Wales 1561-70 to 1850-9 and in Italy 1861-70. Again, we see a pattern similar to Netherlands, with UK population and GDP growth surpassing world population and GDP growth, since it was a world leader in adopting coal technology. More wood would be needed for fuel, leaving less for other purposes, such as making metals.
People were willing to put up with the fact that it was polluting, especially in the highly populated parts of the world where wood shortages were a problem. The large increases in other fuels later dwarf this increase, but the use of coal was very significant for the economy.
It also helped as a transportation fuel, in that it could power a railroad train or steam boat. Without coal (or oil), it would never have been possible to make all of the transmission lines. According to a document of the US Department of Census, changes were made which allowed more work to be done by horses instead of humans. With such a large drop in agricultural workers, rising employment in other parts of the economy became possible, assuming there were enough jobs available. China and other developing countries have been using coal for electricity production, to smelt iron, and to make fertilizer and other chemicals. With more trade with the rest of the world, China had more need for coal to manufacture goods for export, and to build up its own internal infrastructure.
The amount added gradually increased though the years, with the really big increases coming after World War II. It can be used where other fuels are hard to transport, such as small islands, with minimal equipment to make it usable. It became possible to regularly make complex goods, such as computers, with imports from many nations. Per capita world energy consumption, calculated by dividing world energy consumption (based on Vaclav Smil estimates from Energy Transitions: History, Requirements and Prospects together with BP Statistical Data for 1965 and subsequent) by population estimates, based on Angus Maddison data. What happened was that coal consumption did not decrease (except to some extent on a per capita basis); oil was added on top of it.
Unfortunately, the chemical fix for our long-standing soil problems is not a permanent ones. The production of all of these are enabled by the production of oil and coal, because of the large amount of metals involved in their production, and because of the need transport the new devices to a final location. In general, increases in the energy supply seem to correspond to increases in GDP and population.
When you say "for much of their lifetime", do you mean after design and construction, such as after stranded costs are shunted over to ratepayers? The reactors would need much different designs (fewer safety features) and people working for Chinese wages.
They do have a significant cost, and where the cost-benefit ratio should be cut off is very negotiable. Also, the use of charcoal and then coke for smelting iron ore is key in supplying the relatively simple tools needed for bringing more land into cultivation and cultivating that more intensely.
But you have to take into account the baselines, as an extreme exmple think of a country A whose population uses (these are wild exaggerations of course) 100,000 btu per person per year in another country B they use 1000 btu per person per year. The increase you see above world wide is coming from the developing world, most of it from China. In this analysis, I look at oil production of the United States broadly (including crude oil, natural gas plant liquids, and biofuels), because this is the way oil consumption is defined. If we look at changes relative to the same month, one-year prior, we see that as of December 2014, growth was very high, increasing by 18.0% relative to the prior year.
US Liquids Growth Over 12 Months Prior based on EIA’s March 2016 Monthly Energy Review. US total liquids production since January 2013, based on EIA’s March 2016 Monthly Energy Review. The production of natural gas liquids and biofuels has tended to continue to rise, partially offsetting the fall in crude oil production. US Liquid Fuel Production since 1949, based on EIA’s March 2016 Monthly Energy Review.
Oil crude oil production separated into tight oil (from shale), oil from Alaska, and all other, based on EIA oil production data by state.
In other words, some combination of consumer wages and debt levels of consumers needs to keep rising. Chart comparing US income gains by the top 10% to income gains by the bottom 90% by economist Emmanuel Saez.
Total non-financial world debt based on Bank for International Settlements data and average Brent oil price for the quarter, based on EIA data.
Oil is priced in dollars; if the US dollar rises relative to other currencies, it makes oil less affordable to those whose currencies have lower values. World Oil Supply (production including biofuels, natural gas liquids) and Brent monthly average spot prices, based on EIA data. World non-financial debt divided among debt of households, businesses, and governments, based on Bank for International Settlements data.
If their wages are not rising rapidly, and if their buying power (considering both debt and wages) is not rising by very much, they are not going to be buying very many new houses and cars–the big products that require oil consumption. In fact, in order to bring oil demand back up to a level that commands a price over $100 per barrel, we need consumers who can afford to buy a growing quantity of goods made with oil products.
Lack of oil supply may bring a temporary spike in oil prices, but it cannot fix a permanent problem with consumer spending around the world. It is still possible to grow enough food, but it takes large farms, with expensive equipment (but very few actual workers) to produce that food. Chart comparing income gains by the top 10% to those of the bottom 90%, by economist Emmanuel Saez.
Instead, whether we intend to or not, we get a lot of other things as well: rising debt, rising pollution, and a more complex economy. Part of this reflects the impact of surging US oil production, and because of this, a declining need for oil imports.
Total US Imports of Goods and Services, and this total excluding crude oil imports, both as a ratio to GDP. If the reason a plant dies is because the plant is part of a forest that over time has grown so dense that the plants in the understory cannot get enough light, then there may be a bigger problem.
The pattern of energy dissipated over the life cycle of a dissipative system will vary, depending on the particular system. Oil producers really need prices that are higher than the technical extraction costs shown in Figure 1, making the situation even worse.
Also, if companies are to avoid borrowing a huge amount of money, they need to have higher prices than simply the technical extraction costs.
Without profits, the estimated $20 billion a year needed to develop the play won’t come. To be long term viable the fracking sector requires three things: favourable geology, high oil and gas prices and easy and cheap credit. Here the issues are a little different for oil compared to natural gas on the one hand and for the situation in the USA as compared to other producing zones in the world on the other. Between November 2010 and September 2014 there were 47 months in which oil prices were over $90 a barrel. OPEC as a whole was not the main source of that increasing production, and nor was Russia – the main source of increasing oil production was the boom in US shale oil. Natural gas markets are based on global regions and different gas prices in different parts of the world. Thus a recent report published by the Natural Gas Programme of the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, concludes that European gas demand will not recover its 2010 level until about 2025.
There are 4 studies of extraction costs of natural gas by fracking in the UK – by Ernst and Young, Bloomberg, Oxford Institute of Energy Studies and Centrica. What the Saudis would like to see is not only the US fracking companies driven to bankruptcy but the banks that fund them with badly burned fingers and unwilling to finance the industry any more. There is a view then that the current low prices will eventually lead, not only to falling production in the future but to bankruptcies and capital expenditure cut backs both in the conventional and unconventional sectors. If growth resumes the demand for energy will revive in order to feed it – making more material production and consumption possible. In an economy where indebtness is low, falling energy prices probably would act as a stimulus for energy consumers. The people who organised this were doing so because they were earning fees on each loan arranged. Just as it was blindingly obvious for years that sub prime would crash, but it was a nice money spinner at the time, so Wall Street has made a lot of money pumping up the shale bubble. Even before the current price crash, many US fracking companies, just like those in Argentina and Poland, were struggling to make real profits yet vast quantities of money were channelled to them. In the foreword he discusses some areas where we see Jevons's theory at work in our everyday lives, including an interesting look at the increase in police weapons use due to the lower personal cost to the officer of using a Taser versus a handgun. If the value the consumer places on a good drops, even lowering the price will not tempt more consumption.
Countries with high levels of energy use tend to exhibit low fertility rates, and vice versa.
Like the fractional ownership programs that allow cost-effective “ownership” of high-priced personal jets, Ford is beta testing — “We’re going to disrupt ourselves,” said CEO Mark Fields — a pilot project at three Austin, Texas, dealerships that will allow up to six people to co-lease their Fords and manage their “drive time” via an app.
The Town & Country and Dodge’s ever-popular Caravan would go the way of the dodo bird, said the company’s marketing mavens. After all, the automakers are not on the hook to reduce their overall CO2 emissions footprint, but to improve the fuel efficiency of their cars. These advances allowed the world’s population to grow more than four-fold between the year 1 CE and 1820 CE. The more energy is consumed, the more the economy grows, and the faster world population grows. With a sufficiently narrow, short-term view, perhaps the view of economists can be supported, but over the longer run it is hard to see how this view can be maintained.
Originally, predecessor species most likely had fur, lived in trees, and ate a primarily vegetarian diet, like most primates today. These same techniques would also be helpful in countering changing climate and in mitigating deficiencies of man’s evolution, such as lack of hair to keep warm, limited transportation possibilities, and poor ability to attack large predators.
One surprising early use of embedded energy appears to have been making seaworthy boats that allowed humans to populate Australia over 40,000 years ago (Diamond).
If food were limited to green produce, like cabbage and spinach, it would not keep well, and a huge volume would be required if it were to be transported. The domestication of animals had other benefits, including being able to use animals to transport goods, and being able to use them to plow fields.
For example, copper and tin are not generally mined in the same location, but with the use of trade, they could be combined to form bronze.
While agriculture allowed a larger population, the health of individual members was much worse. Montgomery notes that when the Israelites reached the promised land, the better cropland in the valleys was already occupied. There were several reasons for collapses of well-established societies, including (1) soil erosion and other loss of soil fertility, as people cut down trees for agriculture and for use in metal-making, tilled soil, and used irrigation (Montgomery) (Chew), (2) increasingly complex societies needed increasing energy to support themselves, but such energy tended not to be available (Tainter), (3) contagious diseases, often caught from farm animals, passed from person to person because to population density (Diamond), and (4) there were repeated instances of climate change and natural disturbances, such as volcanoes (Chew).
This energy was used for a variety of processes, including polishing glass, sawing wood, and paper production (De Decker). This period matches up with some views of when the Little Ice Age (a period with colder weather) had the greatest impact. Countries might even been more vulnerable to outside invaders, if they were poorer and could not properly pay and feed a large army. With the availability of coal, it became possible to greatly increase the amount of metal produced, making possible the production of consumer goods of many kinds. Table 1 at the top of this post shows a fairly consistent rise in GDP growth as coal was added to the energy mix in the 1820 to 1920 period. Hydroelectric power of the type we use today was also made possible by the availability of coal, since it was possible to create and transport the metal parts needed. New devices such as steel plows and reapers and hay rakes were manufactured, which could be pulled by horses. Coal is very polluting, both from a carbon dioxide perspective, and from the point of view of pollutants mixed with the coal. The ultimate consumers, in the US and Europe, didn’t realize that it was their demand for cheap products from abroad that was fueling the rise in world coal consumption. It enabled door-to-door transportation, with automobiles, trucks, tractors for the farm, aircraft, and much construction equipment. It also became possible to import necessities, rather than using trade primarily for a few high-value goods.
Oil has been rising in price in recent years, and the higher prices mean that consumers cut back on their purchases, to keep their budgets close to balanced.
Soils need to be viewed as part of an ecological system, with biological organisms aiding in fertility.

But it is hard to see how adequate metals production would continue with these fuels alone.
Natural gas is the only one of the other energy sources that is close to cheap, at least in the United States. It's the support functions that add up fast, and those are directly proportional to the regulatory load. A good example of the importance of crop varieties is the growth of Asian population after the introduction of rice that yielded two crops per year. In such areas, people hardly need to wear clothes, buildings can be built in a flimsy manner, bicycles can be used for transportation almost year around, and wages can be low. Because they were the first to ramp up the use of coal, they were able to use it to industrialize as well, which is why industry started there, and not in warmer countries. I often think that Northern Europe used coal first because they had the greatest need for a substitute for wood. Fossil energy replaced human and draft animal energy enabling an explosion in food production. Using this approach, ethanol and natural gas liquids get less credit than they would using a barrels-per-day approach. Production amounts for recent months include estimates, and actual amounts may differ from these estimates. The big rise in the level of the dollar came when the US discontinued quantitative easing in 2014.
In contrast, non-financial debt of both businesses and governments has risen since March 31, 2008. Businesses may think that they can continue to grow without taking the consumer along, but very soon this growth proves to be a myth. In the early days, there are enough resources, such as land, fresh water, and metals, for each person to get a reasonable-sized amount.
It is possible to produce enough water, but it takes high-tech equipment and a handful of workers who know how to use the high-tech equipment. The ordinary worker (non-supervisory worker, without advanced degrees) tends to get left out. There are not many people who understand dissipative systems, and very few who understand how an economy operates. In the examples I gave, the pattern seems to somewhat follow what Ugo Bardi calls a Seneca Cliff. Even though it has produced considerable quantities of oil and gas, and enough to influence oil and gas prices, the industry has mostly been unprofitable and has only been able to continue by running up more and more debt. It is a country where there has been local opposition while central government pushed the industry in alliance with multinational companies and its own company YPC. And without this investment in drilling tens of thousands of wells, the economies of scale won’t be reached on the fields to cut costs. All three have proven elusive, making for disappointing results in all of the locations around the world where it has been tried. In 2011 the international oil and gas industry and the Polish government thought Poland was going to be a major source of shale gas. Yet even if the public and political opposition was not there, there would be reasons to doubt that fracking is viable in the UK. That said, what all exploration and production companies are facing, whether in oil or gas production or whether in the USA or elsewhere, is that prices that are too low. This period of high oil prices can be described as being broadly reflective of supply and demand.
For reasons to be explored, production from the USA continued to soar even though prices fell and after a price rally early in 2015 prices continued to fall into 2016.
Thus there is a north american gas market, a european gas market and a market in the far east. In the USA this has been because of overproduction of gas, conventional and unconventional, with conventional production declining and being replaced and overtaken by unconventional production – as of late in 2015 however shale gas production too began to fall. The decline in demand has been due to warmer winters but also due to low demand because of the low growth in manufacturing which has shifted to Asia, because of low population growth and because of energy saving measures too. Or again heightened conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia might escalate with massive consequences, and not just for the oil and gas price. It would speed the decline of oil fields like those in the North Sea where investment is now being slashed. Some economists argue that one factor encouraging a revival in demand ought to be the low energy prices themselves.
On this view the global economy is entering a long period of stagnation, decline and chaos.
Production will fall in the USA, especially as more of the identified sweet spots in the best plays are exhausted. All the evidence about health and environment costs have been ignored and the information about them suppressed. Honest and astute observers who could see that the shale boom was a Wall Street induced bubble were ignored. One of the things he mentions in passing is the cost of raising children, with the comment that Jevons might predict that as the cost of raising kids went down we might have more of them. Perhaps the value societies place on children is changing, and that change is causing some of the drop in birth rates we're now seeing. What this seems to imply is that increasing energy use is one of the most significant mechanisms driving Stage 3 of the Demographic Transition (possibly up to half the total influence).
Indeed, I had a semi-heated argument with Driving’s online editor, Nick Tragianis, about which — Lexus’s futuristic LC 500 or Buick’s Maserati-cum-Bentley Avista — was the star of the show.
Plagued by lack of focus and significantly-higher-than-Caravan pricing, the Pacifica was extremely unpopular and died an ignominious death in 2008. After wowing the public and press alike as far back as 2002 with its stunning Continental concepts, the production version looks like a Chrysler 300 redesigned by Liberace.
An indirect result was more world trade, which enabled production of goods needing inputs around the world, such as computers. When little energy is added, economic growth proceeds slowly, and population growth is low.
The total population varied, but with the limited area in which pre-humans lived, probably did not exceed 1,000,000, and may have been as little as 70,000 (McEvedy). The way man seems to have tackled all of these other issues is by figuring out ways to harness outside energy for his own use.
This growth likely took place over more than 500,000 years, so was less than 0.01% per year. In Joshua 17:14-18, Joshua instructs descendants of Joseph to clear as much of the forested land in the hill country as they wish, so they will have a place for their families to live. It can be mined and burned for processes that require heat energy, such as making glass or ceramics and for baking bread. The actual physical energy use increae is the same, however Country B doubled thier per capita use while country A only uses 1% more. These are the countries that are "eating our lunch" today, when it comes to industrial production, now that many fuel costs are high. Once they had figured it out for home heating, it wasn't difficult to use for other things.
Governments cannot grow without rising wages either, because the majority of their tax revenue comes from individuals, rather than corporations. Metals suddenly need to be lighter and stronger and have other characteristics for the high tech industry, thus requiring more advanced products. Figure 2 is my representation of the problem, if the current pattern continues into the future. I am using gross imports, because US exports tend to be of a different nature than US imports. The combination leads to an awfully lot of false beliefs about the energy needs of an economy.
Including these costs has historically brought total costs for many OPEC countries to over $100 per barrel.
It is proving difficult or impossible for most producers to make a profit given the costs of extracting and distribution. On the demand side the global economy recovered, to a large degree stimulated by a massive credit-fuelled residential and infrastructure boom in China. There are multiple long distance gas pipelines that are important economically and geopolitically.
At the time of writing it is being suggested that the competitive threat from the development of an LNG infrastructure will encourage Gazprom to change its pricing strategy to try to fight off future competition from sea transported supplies. Current gas prices per therm are less than the minimum extraction cost in the lowest study. In these and other conceivable situations, the more chaos the less companies will want to invest anyway. Their current aggressive foreign policy has to be funded from somewhere and it is conceivable that they could lose the capacity to push the anti-shale agenda through to the bitter end. With declining supply, inventories will be sold off, the market will move back into balance…. In an indebted economy windfall gains from reduced energy prices are likely to be partly used to pay off debts rather than being spent. In textbook supply and demand theory falling supply should eventually lead, ceteris paribus, to a rise in prices that justifies more investment and therefore more production.
One example was a report written by Deborah Rogers in early 2013 in which she drew attention to the difference between the reality and the message put out by the PR machine. This relegates all the other factors such as contraception, urbanization, education, female literacy, etc. Decisions are made, CEOs pontificate and, perhaps most importantly, trends that were previously merely nascent come out in their full glory. While still believing that EVs like his Leaf are “the only way to meet future carbon emissions limits that will help prevent global warming,” even Carlos Ghosn, Nissan’s CEO, admits EVs are not catching on with the average motorist. Never mind which 2+2 sportster was sexier, when was the last time a 23-year-old car buff defended the stylistic musings of Buick?
Fast-forward a decade and Chrysler — now Fiat Chrysler — is trumpeting pretty much the same message, namely that crossover styling will trump minivan practicality, rendering the Town & Country and Caravan obsolete.
The first meaningful amounts of hydroelectric power appeared between 1870 and 1880, according to the data used in Figure 3. Oil is still the largest source of energy in the world, but coal is working on surpassing it. There are natural things that can be done to maintain soil fertility (add manure, terrace land, use perennial crops rather than annual crops, don’t till the land). Perhaps if the pricing issues can be worked out, US natural gas production can increase somewhat, but it is not likely to be the cheapest fuel.
Domesticated fruits undoubtedly played a large role in the growth of population in subtropical climates.
International trade becomes more important to be able to get the correct mix of materials for the advanced products needed to operate the high-tech economy. Thus, the indirect result may be to put to an end a portion of the forest ecosystem itself. To have any hope of profitability shale development has to be done at scale to rapidly bring down costs enough to make a profit. And in the USA, where it started, although it managed to get the credit to pay for the capital expenditure there are now grave doubts that a mountain of credit will ever be paid pack. The amount of gas recovered was one tenth to one third of what was needed for the wells to be commercially viable. While the British Geological Survey has produced maps of shale layers, and while it has been suggested that the carbon content might be there, the data is lacking for other key parameters, for example for rock porosity.
Wars and rivalries are fought over pipeline routes – this is a component in the Syrian conflict. In summary, it is highly likely that the gas price in Europe will remain low for a long time.
So for the industry to continue at all it has to assume that gas prices will rise in the future.
Whether prices are high, or low, if there is too much turmoil conditions will not favour new investment. A further issue is what will happen because of the way in which the finance sector has made itself vulnerable? The fate of the Japanese economy from the early 1990s onwards gives grounds for comparison and concern. The banks had packaged the loans up into mortgage backed securities and sold them on so that someone else other than the originating bank carried the risk. As societies get richer, which lowers the cost of everything including children, their fertility rates drop! Bentley joked about suing Ford, claiming Lincoln’s 2015 concept copied its Flying Spur — “Do you want us to send the product tooling?” quipped Bentley design chief, Luc Donckerwolke — just a little too assiduously.
Unfortunately, using big machines dependent on oil, plus lots of chemical sprays, tends to operate in the opposite direction of building up the natural soil systems. That requires a lot of capital and companies will not make this capital available without being sure that they are going to make a lot of money – but they cannot be sure until they have done tests for up to two years.
It needs more activity underground to fracture the rock and it needs more activity on the surface to facilitate that.
Besides retreating from Poland, the industry has pulled out of nascent shale drilling efforts in Romania, Lithuania and Denmark, usually citing disappointing yields.
On the supply side production from Libya and Iran was kept out of the world market because of the turmoil in Libya and sanctions against Iran. However natural gas could not be transported so easily between continents – until recently, because now there is an infrastructure for sea transported liquified natural gas under development (LNG). If so, this completely undermines any remaining case for fracking for natural gas in europe, and particularly Britain. Higher prices, possibly spiking, will encourage new investment and the fracking companies will surge back at the other side of the crisis.
In a recent speech the chair of the US Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, said that falling energy prices had, on average put an extra $1,000 in the pockets of each US citizen.
It has channelled substantial credit to the energy sector – to exploration and development companies that now have difficulties paying this credit off?
A declining economy is not one where private economic actors invest money in the hope of a future return because the necessary confidence and conviction about the future is not there.
They had their snouts in the money trough and in many cases abandoned their ethics and their critical faculties while they were feeding. The primary factor in reducing population growth rates is shown to be rising energy use that displaces the value of human beings as labour. The availability of peat for fuel was important, however, because there was a serious shortage of wood at that time, because of deforestation due to the pressures of agriculture and the making of metals. Domestication of the sheep, goat, pig, cow, horse, buffalo and other animals also played large part in expanding the food supply and extending it through the winter through fresh meat and through dairying, as well as providing energy for wagons and plows.
It is part of a bubble economy inflated by monetary policy that has kept down interest rates. That is why it is more dangerous to the environment and public health – and also why it is more financially expensive. This might to lead to more earthquakes which would damage the wells – plus leading to a potential failure to achieve the pressure needed for fracturing if fracking fluid leaks into small faults when pushed underground. Thus, while there was some production increase from Saudi Arabia and, eventually, even more from Iraq, these increases were largely cancelled by Iran and Libya.
Sea transported LNG begins to change things because it makes the market for natural gas more globally competitive.
If oil and gas prices rise will this be sufficiently and for long enough for unconventional gas to be developed sustainably in the narrow financial or business sense? It certainly will not help in finding investment money to get fracking off the ground in the UK and elsewhere if it all ends in tears in the USA. Because the global economy is highly indebted central banks have driven down interest rates to zero and now even below that. Purchasing power is hoarded, purchases are deferred where possible, debts are paid off where possible. Meanwhile derivates contracts against defaults on these rotten securities were also sold even though it was not possible to pay up when the defaults happened – without being bailed out by the monetary authorities, as happened with AIG. The more recent rise in population is also coincident with the introduction of many new agricultural species from the Americas, with the spread of agricultural plants such as bananas between subtropical regions, and the introduction of better varieties of plants such as cabbages and beets within Central and Eastern Europe. Coal, and then oil, helped save the timber, and imported cheap food from the fresh lands of the new world and Australia allowed the population to grow. Demand exceeded supply and prices remained high but the situation began to change in the autumn of 2014.
This has led to a bubble in asset markets but it has done little to spur generalised economic growth.
Given what has already been said the long run ability of the sector to repay its debt seems highly questionable. These investors believed that they had found a paying investment in shale companies – but they were really proving that they were susceptible to wishful thinking, vulnerable to hype and highly unethical practices that enabled Wall Street and other bankers to do very nicely. If this is what happens, and it seems likely, it will make the problems of the shale gas sector even worse.

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