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Climate Change, Carbon Credits & Peak Oil


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#1 Steve Netwriter

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Posted 26 August 2008 - 06:01 AM

I want to examine two subjects:

1. Climate Change, and in particular, carbon credits
and
2. Peak Oil

Climate Change

There is still much debate over this. The unknowns are:

1. Is the climate warming ?
2. If there has been warming, by how much ?
3. Is it continuing to rise, or have we been experiencing the rising part of a cycle, and has the peak been reached, or even passed ?
4. If there is warming, has it been caused by, or has there been a major contribution from, Man's emissions of CO2 ?

Then there is the point often raised: "Isn't it better to do something, just in case, than do nothing ?".

My answer to that is: "Not if we end up doing the wrong thing, something that does not reverse an undesirable change, or worse means we do not do something that we should be doing".

Let me emphasis this point.
If Man's emissions of CO2 is creating an undesirable and significant temperature rise, then it is probably sensible to:
a. Try and reduce those emissions
or
b. Take actions that counteract those emissions ie CO2 absorption

However, if CO2 is not responsible for an undesirable temperature increase, then both methods above will fail to have any effect.


Peak Oil
The concept of peak oil is a simple one. The idea is that there is a finite amount of oil in the Earth, and that the extraction of that limited resource will rise to a peak, and then fall until eventually there is no more oil left.
Combined with the extraction time-line, is the idea that demand for oil is constantly increasing (ignoring short-term fluctuations).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_oil

Thus at some time, the increasing demand catches up with the extraction rate. Before that time extraction is ahead of demand, and oil is cheap. After that time, demand outstrips supply, and the price rises.


Carbon Credits
Where does this discussion leave carbon credits ?
As I understand it, the idea of carbon credits is that they encourage the absorption of CO2 created, thus reducing the net amount of CO2 created by Man.
http://en.wikipedia....i/Carbon_credit

If peak oil is a valid idea, and if we are near to the peak, then the only solution is to reduce oil consumption.
Whether there is climate change caused by CO2 emissions or not, any action re climate change, should be an action that is sensible re peak oil.

Carbon Credits don't look like the right solution.

The right solution is reducing the use of oil.

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#2 ConvertedGoldBug

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Posted 26 August 2008 - 08:17 AM

QUOTE (Steve Netwriter @ Aug 26 2008, 07:01 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The right solution is reducing the use of oil.

Another solution is reducing the planet's population! blink.gif

I wholly recommend the book "Eating Fossil Fuels: Oil, Food and the Coming Crisis in Agriculture"

Without wanting to divert away from Steve's original points, it provides strong evidence that we won't be able to sustain the amount of people on the planet at the rate we are dependent on oil and gas for food production and transportation. This links in with other themes about the end of the suburban lifestyle, and for communities to become more localised, and less dependent on imports and transportation of food half-way around the world before it gets onto your plate.

North Korea is given an entire chapter as an example of what could happen. Having isolated themselves from aid and assistance from other countries, they don't have enough resources to sustain their lives. For example:

-- Hospitals are cold in the winter due to lack of energy for heating.

-- There's not enough oil to power the machinery required for their agricultural sector, meaning more labour-intensive work having to be done by hand, which in turn requires more calories of food to sustain the energy levels of the workers.

Basically, since the 90's, several million people have died there due to malnutrition and starvation as a result of insufficient resources, which is pretty much down to there being a lack of oil and gas in the country.

How long before this becomes more widespread, unless we reduce the amount of oil used? But we can't very easily go back to using natural resources (i.e. solar) to grow our food, since using oil has allowed us to produce much more food over the years thereby allowing for the world's population explosion. If we went backwards and used more traditional means to grow food, we'd need to see a reduction in population from 6 billion to around 2 billion that could be sustained by the amount of food produced by more traditional, and less fuel intensive, methods.
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#3 Steve Netwriter

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Posted 26 August 2008 - 09:53 AM

QUOTE
Without wanting to divert away from Steve's original points


No, your point is an excellent one.
If you accept my original argument, then options for reducing oil use are what we need. And yes, population reduction is an obvious option.
I think it's what Prof Albert Bartlett was suggesting.

Of course that doesn't fit in with the need for continual growth. Which maybe leads onto another conclusion. We must go to a non-growth system.



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#4 Rosco

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Posted 26 August 2008 - 10:26 AM

I agree that "if CO2 is not responsible for an undesirable temperature increase, then both methods above will fail to have any effect".

ie if the plant warming is not man made then humans just have to manage the evolution as best they can.

If C02 is contributing then its a matter of creating a market for the right to pollute. In the same way the world will eventually pay for the right to drinking water or waste disposal there needs to be a pricing mechanism in place that charges people / institutions / governments for their wish to pollute.

Carbon credits are one way of determining a 'fair' price to pollute, whether that is C02 , NOx or any other GHG.
The alternative is a carbon tax, which has some merit, but essentially is trying to get to the same end.

The intention is not demand destruction necessariiy but rather to develop a market driven process that facilitates the long term transformation away from uncleaned fossil-fuel and toward more efficient and sustainable technologies.






QUOTE (Steve Netwriter @ Aug 26 2008, 07:01 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I want to examine two subjects:

1. Climate Change, and in particular, carbon credits
and
2. Peak Oil

Climate Change

There is still much debate over this. The unknowns are:

1. Is the climate warming ?
2. If there has been warming, by how much ?
3. Is it continuing to rise, or have we been experiencing the rising part of a cycle, and has the peak been reached, or even passed ?
4. If there is warming, has it been caused by, or has there been a major contribution from, Man's emissions of CO2 ?

Then there is the point often raised: "Isn't it better to do something, just in case, than do nothing ?".

My answer to that is: "Not if we end up doing the wrong thing, something that does not reverse an undesirable change, or worse means we do not do something that we should be doing".

Let me emphasis this point.
If Man's emissions of CO2 is creating an undesirable and significant temperature rise, then it is probably sensible to:
a. Try and reduce those emissions
or
b. Take actions that counteract those emissions ie CO2 absorption

However, if CO2 is not responsible for an undesirable temperature increase, then both methods above will fail to have any effect.


Peak Oil
The concept of peak oil is a simple one. The idea is that there is a finite amount of oil in the Earth, and that the extraction of that limited resource will rise to a peak, and then fall until eventually there is no more oil left.
Combined with the extraction time-line, is the idea that demand for oil is constantly increasing (ignoring short-term fluctuations).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_oil

Thus at some time, the increasing demand catches up with the extraction rate. Before that time extraction is ahead of demand, and oil is cheap. After that time, demand outstrips supply, and the price rises.


Carbon Credits
Where does this discussion leave carbon credits ?
As I understand it, the idea of carbon credits is that they encourage the absorption of CO2 created, thus reducing the net amount of CO2 created by Man.
http://en.wikipedia....i/Carbon_credit

If peak oil is a valid idea, and if we are near to the peak, then the only solution is to reduce oil consumption.
Whether there is climate change caused by CO2 emissions or not, any action re climate change, should be an action that is sensible re peak oil.

Carbon Credits don't look like the right solution.

The right solution is reducing the use of oil.



#5 Steve Netwriter

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Posted 27 August 2008 - 12:08 AM

QUOTE (Rosco @ Aug 26 2008, 10:26 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
If C02 is contributing then its a matter of creating a market for the right to pollute. In the same way the world will eventually pay for the right to drinking water or waste disposal there needs to be a pricing mechanism in place that charges people / institutions / governments for their wish to pollute.

Carbon credits are one way of determining a 'fair' price to pollute, whether that is C02 , NOx or any other GHG.
The alternative is a carbon tax, which has some merit, but essentially is trying to get to the same end.

The intention is not demand destruction necessariiy but rather to develop a market driven process that facilitates the long term transformation away from uncleaned fossil-fuel and toward more efficient and sustainable technologies.


OK, I think this is where I have a problem.

If we are going to suffer from peak oil, then is a charging mechanism going to create any sort of solution to the problem ?
It's not the "pollution" I'm worried about. It's the supply of oil.

What worries me is that people will go out and plant trees in order to then be able to sell carbon credits.
That's fine as a way to mitigate CO2 emissions - if they are a problem.
But how does planting trees, and not then burning them, help reduce oil use ?

I do agree we need to change the price of oil so that there is a growth in alternatives. But maybe the only real alternative is reducing the population.
Can anyone offer real practical solutions as an alternative to using oil ?

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#6 Rosco

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Posted 27 August 2008 - 09:12 AM

QUOTE (Steve Netwriter @ Aug 27 2008, 01:08 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
OK, I think this is where I have a problem.

If we are going to suffer from peak oil, then is a charging mechanism going to create any sort of solution to the problem ?
It's not the "pollution" I'm worried about. It's the supply of oil.

What worries me is that people will go out and plant trees in order to then be able to sell carbon credits.
That's fine as a way to mitigate CO2 emissions - if they are a problem.
But how does planting trees, and not then burning them, help reduce oil use ?

I do agree we need to change the price of oil so that there is a growth in alternatives. But maybe the only real alternative is reducing the population.
Can anyone offer real practical solutions as an alternative to using oil ?


As you rightly said at the beginning of this thread there are two strands here , Carbon credits and peak oil.

Carbon credits are trying to limit CO2 intensive activity, that in the majority of cases does not include oil.

The regulated emission trading systems are primarily focusing on electricity production at this stage, indeed under EUETS there are no mandatory reductions in place specifically for transportation.

Transportation issues are with us regardless and solutions will have to be found primarily due to oil supply constraints and secondly the environment.

#7 Steve Netwriter

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Posted 27 August 2008 - 10:26 AM

OK, that's a good point, what creates CO2 ?

Can I ask you to look at this:

17. Peak Oil
http://www.chrismartenson.com/peak_oil

The graph showing the main uses of oil.

Now I need to find chart showing the main sources of man-made CO2.

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#8 Steve Netwriter

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Posted 27 August 2008 - 11:25 PM

A related subject.

Population growth.

QUOTE
Exponential Growth

As long ago as 1789, Thomas Malthus studied the nature of population growth in Europe. He claimed that population was increasing faster than food production, and he feared eventual global starvation. Of course he could not foresee how modern technology would expand food production, but his observations about how populations increase were important. Population grows geometrically (1, 2, 4, 8 …), rather than arithmetically (1, 2, 3, 4 …), which is why the numbers can increase so quickly.



http://www.prb.org/E...tionGrowth.aspx


http://www.unfpa.org...llion/facts.htm


I think we need to combine population growth with the need for modern food production techniques, and where the energy comes from for that.

From Chris's Peak Oil video:






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#9 Layman

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Posted 28 August 2008 - 10:28 PM

QUOTE (Steve Netwriter @ Aug 26 2008, 07:01 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The right solution is reducing the use of oil.


And the best way to influence that is through price. Plain and simple.

I heard a radio news item this morning on this very subject. A study has shown that (apparently) due to the recent increase in fuel prices:
1) There's been a 25% reduction in sales of cars in the UK.
2) There's been a significant increase in rail use.
3) Average speeds on motorways and dual-carriageways is down.

It always struck me as completely insane that activists and the government have all been banging on about green taxes for years; Then when oil (and thus diesel and petrol) prices shot through the roof suddenly Brown felt he had to "do something to bring the cost down"(!) He also whacked up the annual tax on cars (road fund license) which is payable no matter how many miles are travelled or gallons consumed. Pure madness!

We have proof that demand for fuel has a good degree of price elasticity. Price does affect demand. The best thing that could happen for all of us is that even if we're NOT at peak oil yet, we experience high prices to drive us to invest in alternate technologies.

Plainly obvious to most of us on GEI, I know. And maybe it'll sink into the public pyche soon..?


#10 Steve Netwriter

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 05:43 AM

Sorry Bobsta, I lost your reply in all the other posts I've read sad.gif

I agree that price will work, but I'm not sure that waiting for the free market to make the required price adjustment is a very good solution.
I have a suspicion (nothing more) that it may be too late by then.
I suspect the price would need to be artificially raised ahead of time.
Raising taxes on oil use and directing that revenue at solutions would be better I think.

The solutions ?
1. Reducing population ?
2. Finding replacement energy sources ?
3. Reducing the use of energy ? Like using trains more than cars.

-------------------

A post I made elsewhere I want to keep:

I think there is a shallow answer to that. Namely, we have the same problem as the US. We import and don’t manufacture so much. As we get poorer and places like China get richer, no doubt we will swap roles. They will become rich and lazy, and we will become cheaper and start exporting to them.

The more in depth answer is a lot more complicated. As a globe we’ve been growing due to a cheap energy source. Oil. Without oil we’d still be in the coal age.
Now if you agree that oil is a limited resource, then we face the prospect of growing demand meeting a limit on oil discoveries. Peak oil.

If that is the case, the usual solution of “growing ourselves out of it” may not work any more.
Oil is likely to get more expensive, and so are all resources.
We either find realistic replacements for oil, or we reduce our demand for it and try to make it last much longer.

I think we face a paradigm change, and we should factor that into our long-term goals.

See:
Exponential Money in a Finite World
http://chrismartenso...ey-finite-world
September 5, 2008

and if you agree with it, please pass it on.

Steve

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#11 Panas

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 07:12 PM

QUOTE (Steve Netwriter @ Sep 8 2008, 06:43 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
See:
Exponential Money in a Finite World
http://chrismartenso...ey-finite-world
September 5, 2008

and if you agree with it, please pass it on.

Steve
Thank you for posting that link. I have just started the 'Crash Course' and just reached part 3. The hockey stick graphs have really left a big impression on me. blink.gif I am going to have to listen to all of them.

#12 Steve Netwriter

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 08:34 PM

QUOTE (Panas @ Sep 9 2008, 07:12 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Thank you for posting that link. I have just started the 'Crash Course' and just reached part 3. The hockey stick graphs have really left a big impression on me. blink.gif I am going to have to listen to all of them.


If you haven't already, you may find this thread useful for keeping track of the main points:

CHRIS MARTENSON Videos with screenshots - Peak Oil A,B,C & Latest News
This set of vids is getting wider worldwide attention
http://www.greenener...?showtopic=4005


As you can see I'm putting in quite a lot of effort to promote those vids, as I think they are so important.

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