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  #1  
Old 11-28-2012, 10:13 AM
chargerrich chargerrich is offline
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No Fossil Fuels - What would happen? End of OR Better Earth?

So what would happen to our planet in the long term if the World's fossil fuels supply completely and 100% dried up tomorrow?

No I do not think this will happen, I do not believe in the peak oil theory.

I realize that in the short term this would be an unmitigated and unprecedented disaster to the world economy and make life VERY hard on most people even causing massive loss of life.

Most cars off the road
No air travel
No shipping
No commercial trade
Massive Food shortages
Limited or no crop harvesting

I believe the impacts are enormous and the ensuing disaster would be on a scale 1000 times the magnitude of anything ever seen on Earth. In fact, it is quite possibly this would be the worst case disaster scenario this side of a zombie apocalypse.

But is there any chance that the World/Planet/Humankind could be better for it in the long term? Can you imagine a better world for our children if this happened?

Forgetting the obvious positive environmental impact. What about the advancement of technology forced upon us by this disaster. Solar, Wind, Nuclear? Maybe new discoveries never even dreamed of. Humans are awfully resourceful but am I naive to think we would recover just fine 25 or 50 years from now?

Would we survive as a civilization long enough to even get to this point?
Would be REALLY be thrown back and regress to the stone age?

What do you think the world would look like in 10, 50 and 100 years if Fossil Fuel supplies dried up tomorrow?
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  #2  
Old 11-28-2012, 10:29 AM
XT XT is offline
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No Fossil Fuels - What would happen? End of OR Better Earth?
The Earth? Hard to say, but I think there would be biological ramifications to no fossil fuels anywhere on earth though...and then, you have what humanity would do in the last throes of panic when armed with nuclear weapons and stark terror. Wouldn't be good. However, for humanity? I doubt we'd survive, certainly not very many of us would.

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So what would happen to our planet in the long term if the World's fossil fuels supply completely and 100% dried up tomorrow?
Massive, perhaps extinction level death for humanity. Oh, maybe some folks who are still hunters and gatherers would survive in but bush, but just about everyone else would die horribly.

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No I do not think this will happen, I do not believe in the peak oil theory.
It would take magic on par with Dies the Fire for it to happen.

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But is there any chance that the World/Planet/Humankind could be better for it in the long term? Can you imagine a better world for our children if this happened?
Assuming any humans survived it would be back to the joys of hunting and gathering...and that would be in a world wracked by whatever death throes humanity would go through before the final plunge into darkness. I think that nuclear holocaust isn't beyond the realm of possibility.

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Forgetting the obvious positive environmental impact. What about the advancement of technology forced upon us by this disaster. Solar, Wind, Nuclear? Maybe new discoveries never even dreamed of. Humans are awfully resourceful but am I naive to think we would recover just fine 25 or 50 years from now?
Not a chance in hell could any of those be ramped up to work for us if you took away ALL of the worlds fossil fuels tomorrow. You need fossil fuels to build any of those things and to keep them running. No coal, no natural gas, no oil, etc etc? We'd all be dead once the food ran out. It would be Dies the Fire, except our nukes would still work and panic crazed people would certainly resort to that.

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Would we survive as a civilization long enough to even get to this point?
Zero percent chance of that. I think that it's not all that likely that ANY humans would survive what would happen in such a sudden collapse.

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Would be REALLY be thrown back and regress to the stone age?
If we were lucky and enough of us survived.

Last edited by XT; 11-28-2012 at 10:31 AM..
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  #3  
Old 11-28-2012, 10:30 AM
Buck Godot Buck Godot is offline
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I guess it depends on better for whom. Humanity would be up shit creek, collapse of civilizations, and a population die off that makes the black death seem like a summer cold. Many fewer humans wiith much lower industrialization might be better overall for the planet, however, pre-coal the best source of energy was wood, so there may be deforestation on an even wider scale than today.
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  #4  
Old 11-28-2012, 10:32 AM
septimus septimus is offline
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Not on-topic perhaps, but petroleum has far more uses, e.g. as raw material for plastics, than just burning for energy. This is one of the reasons I get annoyed at right-wing Denialists (Hi, Sam!) who argue "It's all going to get burned eventually anyway, so let's burn it all ASAP."
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Old 11-28-2012, 10:34 AM
XT XT is offline
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Originally Posted by septimus View Post
Not on-topic perhaps, but petroleum has far more uses, e.g. as raw material for plastics, than just burning for energy. This is one of the reasons I get annoyed at right-wing Denialists (Hi, Sam!) who argue "It's all going to get burned eventually anyway, so let's burn it all ASAP."
You have a cite for Sam Stone EVER saying anything remotely like that?

As to what I assume your point is, we don't need petroleum to make things like plastics...it's just easier and cheaper to use it as feed stock. However, if ALL of the fossil fuels suddenly disappeared it would be moot.
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  #6  
Old 11-28-2012, 10:35 AM
TimeWinder TimeWinder is offline
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We'd shift to nuclear, and electric powered vehicles. Other than huge expense and some downtime while the plants were built and brought online and charging infrastructure was created, the developed countries would have little issue with transportation. Breeder reactors would be back on the table to reduce fuel exploration costs, and folks *might* be willing to consider nuclear powered vehicles for some applications where electrical doesn't cut it.

A bigger, long-term problem if there were ZERO fossile fuels left might be plastics -- they also require petroleum (in small amounts) to make, as do a number of phameceuticals and other products. But those needs could be met with a fraction of what we use for transport.

I don't understand "I don't believe in peak oil," though. You believe our oil reserves are literally unlimited?
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Old 11-28-2012, 10:38 AM
James52637 James52637 is offline
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I don't think it's anything anyone can answer even with an educated guess. There's too many factors to consider.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_theory
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  #8  
Old 11-28-2012, 10:38 AM
XT XT is offline
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Originally Posted by TimeWinder
We'd shift to nuclear, and electric powered vehicles. Other than huge expense and some downtime while the plants were built and brought online and charging infrastructure was created, the developed countries would have little issue with transportation. Breeder reactors would be back on the table to reduce fuel exploration costs, and folks *might* be willing to consider nuclear powered vehicles for some applications where electrical doesn't cut it.
How would we shift? How would you build new power plants? How would you build the factories to build the electrically powered vehicles to replace the dead ones strewn all over the country? How would you get the raw materials (from places like China) TOO build those vehicles? How would you feed people until you could magically do any of this stuff?

Answer...you couldn't. No chance at all.

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A bigger, long-term problem if there were ZERO fossile fuels left might be plastics -- they also require petroleum (in small amounts) to make, as do a number of phameceuticals and other products. But those needs could be met with a fraction of what we use for transport.
Plastics would be the least of our worries.

Last edited by XT; 11-28-2012 at 10:39 AM..
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  #9  
Old 11-28-2012, 10:38 AM
TriPolar TriPolar is online now
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Without fossil fuels we'll use wind, water, solar, bio-fuels, and nuclear energy. Everything will be more expensive, we'll revert to a more agrarian culture if nuclear energy isn't a resounding success. We'd be better off just using up the oil and leaving the gas and coal to ease the transition.
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  #10  
Old 11-28-2012, 10:40 AM
chargerrich chargerrich is offline
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Originally Posted by TimeWinder View Post
I don't understand "I don't believe in peak oil," though. You believe our oil reserves are literally unlimited?
No I believe it is manufactured by oil fairies and is endless... ENDLESS I TELL YOU!

Seriously though, peak oil does not mean unlimited. Peak oil theory states that we have passed the point where production and availability is in terminal decline.

Cite
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  #11  
Old 11-28-2012, 10:43 AM
chargerrich chargerrich is offline
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Given that green and nuclear sources are already developed, present and operational coupled with an assumption that we would lose X percentage of the population I would posit that we would have enough energy sources left and people to man them.

Perhaps we lose 3 billion people in the coming years, but I just do not think it would take longer than 25-50 years to rebuild a new civilization that could not only survive but thrive without fossil fuels.

Perhaps a world with 2-3 billion people would be a better world?
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  #12  
Old 11-28-2012, 10:47 AM
Buck Godot Buck Godot is offline
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Originally Posted by TimeWinder View Post
We'd shift to nuclear, and electric powered vehicles. Other than huge expense and some downtime while the plants were built and brought online and charging infrastructure was created, the developed countries would have little issue with transportation. Breeder reactors would be back on the table to reduce fuel exploration costs, and folks *might* be willing to consider nuclear powered vehicles for some applications where electrical doesn't cut it.

A bigger, long-term problem if there were ZERO fossile fuels left might be plastics -- they also require petroleum (in small amounts) to make, as do a number of phameceuticals and other products. But those needs could be met with a fraction of what we use for transport.

I don't understand "I don't believe in peak oil," though. You believe our oil reserves are literally unlimited?
There is a big difference between we will run out of fossil fuels in the next 50 years vs running out in the next week. In the first case we have time to prepare and a scenario like you describe is possible. In the scenario proposed we don't have the resources we need to make the infrastructure you propose or even prevent the collapse of civilization.

I actually don't think that there will be major wars, as waging war costs resources we don't have and defeating another country doesn't make much sense if you can't afford to make the trip over there to plunder their resources. I could only see a nuclear war if it was just a last act of suicidal frustration, but I don't think anyone who actually had launch codes would behave that way. I expect mankind to survive (we are nothing if not adapable) but at a much reduced population, a early industrial tech level, and a local warlord level of government.
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  #13  
Old 11-28-2012, 10:54 AM
XT XT is offline
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Originally Posted by chargerrich
Given that green and nuclear sources are already developed, present and operational coupled with an assumption that we would lose X percentage of the population I would posit that we would have enough energy sources left and people to man them.
How would you feed them? How would they get to work to man the nuclear, wind, solar and geothermal plants? How would you logistically support them? How would you shift the grid to contract it to be only around them? How would you defend them and maintain them?

Again, this is totally unrealistic. If you got rid of all fossil fuels tomorrow...every scrap in the world...our entire infrastructure would collapse. No food. No ability to transport supplies and resources. Much of the power grid down, so much of our high tech communications would be down. No planes, trains or automobiles. No large ships to carry our stuff from nation to nation. Millions starving and panic stricken.

Even assuming that there is some nuclear power plant or solar or wind farm out there that just happens to be at at a large agricultural farm, that just happens to be converted to use electricity for all their machines, and just happens to be right next to a vast parts replacement center and manufacture center that is also converted to run completely on electricity, and just happens to have a national guard armory with dedicated soldiers ready to do whatever it takes to preserve this unlikely bastion of our old technology for the future, you'd have millions of panicked people streaming to the area in search of shelter and food...you going to kill them all?

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Perhaps a world with 2-3 billion people would be a better world?
You are wildly overestimating the numbers of survivors. I'm thinking that maybe a few 10's of thousands scattered throughout the world within a 100 years...at best. At worst, zero.
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  #14  
Old 11-28-2012, 11:11 AM
chargerrich chargerrich is offline
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Originally Posted by XT View Post
You are wildly overestimating the numbers of survivors. I'm thinking that maybe a few 10's of thousands scattered throughout the world within a 100 years...at best. At worst, zero.
While I disagree with you, I am fascinated by this statement. How many humans would be left on the planet in say the first 5 years? To me that is the critical time when things could be done to stem the tide so to speak.
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Old 11-28-2012, 11:16 AM
mlees mlees is offline
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Originally Posted by XT View Post
You are wildly overestimating the numbers of survivors. I'm thinking that maybe a few 10's of thousands scattered throughout the world within a 100 years...at best. At worst, zero.


Humanity had populations in the millions during the Bronze and Iron ages.

(Rome/Roman Empire, Inca Empire)

They burned wood type products for fire, had olive oil/whale oil lamps. They weren't critically dependant on coal or anything as far as I know.

Water power and wind power would still be available for mills.

Animal and muscle power for farms.
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  #16  
Old 11-28-2012, 11:20 AM
septimus septimus is offline
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Originally Posted by XT View Post
You have a cite for Sam Stone EVER saying anything remotely like that?
Yes; I could find, were it worth my while, a cite that Sam said something remotely like that! I can also find a cite where Sam advocated exaggeration to make posts "more colorful."
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  #17  
Old 11-28-2012, 11:24 AM
solosam solosam is offline
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I agree that in the short-term there would be an unspeakable level of death and destruction, mostly caused by famine, the loss of advanced medical care, and social conflict. People in cities and those who are too elderly or infirm to be self-sufficient would suffer the most. The population might dip well below one billion people.

I am confused as to why people (above) say there would be "no food." Humanity was able to feed hundreds of millions without the use of industrialized agriculture. There would certainly be less food. More importantly, our ability to move food to where it is needed would be catastrophically hampered.

However, after the initial social conflict subsided and humanity returned to an agricultural lifestyle, the population would stabilize between 1 and 2 billion. Humans were able to sustain a population of 1 billion before the industrial revolution (approx 1800 AD). There is no reason to believe it could not return to or exceed this level again.

http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/gl...human_pop.html

Last edited by solosam; 11-28-2012 at 11:25 AM..
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  #18  
Old 11-28-2012, 11:25 AM
XT XT is offline
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Originally Posted by chargerrich View Post
While I disagree with you, I am fascinated by this statement. How many humans would be left on the planet in say the first 5 years? To me that is the critical time when things could be done to stem the tide so to speak.
Which parts do you disagree with...and can you give a reason why you disagree and answer some of the questions I've asked?

As for how many humans, my WAG is maybe a couple million left by 5 years. You'd get a huge initial die off as logistics collapsed in every industrialized nation on earth. During that collapse, you'd probably get some lashing out from the military, but it would be limited....no gas for the tanks or planes after all. But things like nuclear subs would still work, and ICBMs as well.

But some folks would survive...there would be some people able to find a place that has food, shelter and power for a time. The thing is, you'd have a huge contraction there as well, because you wouldn't be able to farm the same way they do now...it would be back to almost a manual process, or maybe someone could cobble together some sort of electrical motors and retool some farm equipment. But then you'd have problems with seed and fertilizers, and regardless you wouldn't have the logistics to do more than feed your little community.

However, there are all those guns out there...hundreds of millions of them. And starving and desperate people. Plus all sorts of other toys the military has that could be used and don't require fossil fuels to use. Then you'd have the next contraction...those bastions of civilization would either fall to violence, or they would start to run out of parts and have things break down. Maybe they could loot what they need from the surrounding areas for a while, but for how long? And even that's a maybe, as, again, there are all those guns out there. Then, there is disease (sanitation systems gone, ability to manufacture or distribute vaccines or medication gone, health care system completely broken down and scattered, etc etc).

In any case, by a hundred years I'd guess most if not all of those hold out bastions would be gone, and whatever survivors there would be would have to have re-adapted to some sort of highly sheltered (from outside contact) and manual agriculture, or hunting and gathering. How many people do YOU think COULD do that today, even in the 3rd world? My guess is...not very many, even given ideal circumstances. Certainly you aren't going to see our civilization muddle through such an event.
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Old 11-28-2012, 11:27 AM
TriPolar TriPolar is online now
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It's going to be a hard time if all the fossil fuels go at once. We still have water transportation, and bicycles, but it will take several generations to restock the number of draft animals needed for transportation and plowing fields. So half the earth's population goes pretty quickly from lack of food and medicine. After that it's just a matter of how cooperative we can be.
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Old 11-28-2012, 11:31 AM
XT XT is offline
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Originally Posted by solosam
I am confused as to why people (above) say there would be "no food." Humanity was able to feed hundreds of millions without the use of industrialized agriculture. There would certainly be less food. More importantly, our ability to move food to where it is needed would be catastrophically hampered.
Our modern agriculture relies completely on mechanization and technology. Completely. So, how do you harvest the food that's already planted? How do you get new seed and fertilizer next year to plant a new crop? How do you PLANT a new crop? By hand? Same with harvesting it? Processing it? Sure, our ancestors did that...at population levels far lower than today.

Ok, some folks could and would plant their own gardens. And then what? There would be literally millions (billions) of starving humans looking for food after the first couple of weeks...think you'll be able to grow that garden in peace?

There would be a huge contraction. It would be so sudden that no one could plan for something on this scale. THere would be no ability to logistically shift even things like troops from the military bases to some site that the government decided to try and protect and rebuild from. The government itself couldn't reconstitute because they would be trapped in the cities (no Air Force One, since no gas for the plane...or the helicopter for Marine One...or the cars) because all the cars on the road would be stuck there in a huge snarl of vehicles, few of which are all electric.
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Old 11-28-2012, 11:43 AM
wevets wevets is offline
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Originally Posted by XT View Post
You are wildly overestimating the numbers of survivors. I'm thinking that maybe a few 10's of thousands scattered throughout the world within a 100 years...at best. At worst, zero.

Estimates of Native American populations in the 1400s CE average about 1-2 million people (cite). That's population not only without fossil fuels, but also without domesticated horses (cite.) Undoubtedly billions of people would die in the transition period (making it The Very Bad ThingTM,) but a century or eight afterwards you are vastly underestimating the number of people who can be supported without fossil fuels.


The transition period would be genocide on a massive scale, but I see no support for your claim this would be an extinction event for the human species or a Toba-level genetic bottleneck (if that even occurred according to the worst hypotheses.)

Last edited by wevets; 11-28-2012 at 11:43 AM..
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Old 11-28-2012, 12:39 PM
Learjeff Learjeff is offline
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Originally Posted by chargerrich View Post
Seriously though, peak oil does not mean unlimited. Peak oil theory states that we have passed the point where production and availability is in terminal decline.

Cite
No, Peak Oil theory is that there is SOME DATE where we will no longer produce more. We've already hit it, in terms of what we used to call oil. We haven't hit it, in terms of fossil fuels (mostly thanks to fracking). But unless someone believes that fossil fuels can be created faster than we're using them, or some other disaster intercedes, then there will definitely come a day when production heads into a permanent decline.

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Originally Posted by chargerich
Perhaps a world with 2-3 billion people would be a better world?
Better for whom? Probably not for the 2-3B dead people.

I agree with XT, not specifically his numbers, but his point that a mass extinction is very likely. The world now is very little like the world that sustained 1B people in 1800 AD. People today don't know how to live and produce like people did then. 1800 is a bad example of pre-industrial world, too, since it was largely dependent on infrastructure, everywhere but in the most primitive places.

My guess is that hundreds of millions might survive the first geneeration; the highest numbers probably in India, since I bet a lot of people living subsistence lifestyles there would be less affected. I'd be surprised if much more than 1% survived in the continental US, though. And as XT says, starvation isn't the only culprit. Our fellow humans might be just as bad or worse.

Last edited by Learjeff; 11-28-2012 at 12:40 PM..
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  #23  
Old 11-28-2012, 01:27 PM
XT XT is offline
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Originally Posted by wevets
Estimates of Native American populations in the 1400s CE average about 1-2 million people (cite). That's population not only without fossil fuels, but also without domesticated horses (cite.) Undoubtedly billions of people would die in the transition period (making it The Very Bad ThingTM,) but a century or eight afterwards you are vastly underestimating the number of people who can be supported without fossil fuels.
Two things about that. First off, their agricultural infrastructure was already set up to their level of technology and and methods of production. Ours isn't. Secondly, when they DID have a major resource issue (such as, oh, say a large scale water shortage due to chronic drought) most of their civilizations ended up collapsing.

I think you are vastly underestimating the scale of the disaster if all fossil fuels disappeared tomorrow, and vastly overestimating anyone's ability to shift to new technologies or even survive in such an event.

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The transition period would be genocide on a massive scale, but I see no support for your claim this would be an extinction event for the human species or a Toba-level genetic bottleneck (if that even occurred according to the worst hypotheses.)
My support for my claim, such as it is, would be pointing to every example of complete systemic civilization collapse due to a critical resource shortage that we have in history...except that this time you don't have isolated civilizations collapsing alone and having only a peripheral, if any, effect on more remote civilizations. Instead, today, our civilization is world wide and completely interconnected...and relies on a distributed and constant logistics system to keep it supplied and working. Our agricultural system is equally dependent on technology, especially fossil fuels...and so is much of the third worlds agricultural system. And this doesn't even factor in disease and modern weapons and how easy it would be for the largest, most advanced nations to panic and lash out.

Ok, that's my support. What would yours be? I can see why you might think that extinction is unlikely (I conceded that it was only a possibility myself, and one I find improbable), but I could see a Tobo bottleneck like event, where only a few tens of thousands or maybe hundreds of thousands of folks survive in highly isolated areas (I realize that Tobo was just a few thousands, but there are billions of humans today, so I think it's comparable). Why wouldn't that be a likely outcome, in your mind? What would prevent it? Certainly not your comment that American Indians could support populations of millions before fossil fuels in the past??
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Old 11-28-2012, 02:18 PM
RickJay RickJay is offline
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If the world's fossil fuels vanished tomorrow of course there would be a total collapse of most of civilization. War and chaos would ensue. There's just no way around it. I cannot understand how anyone would reasonable argue otherwise.

As for it being an extinction event, no, probably not. For one thing, there are isolated groups of people in the world NOW who wouldn't be much affected; the people of North Sentinel Island aren't going to give a hoot. People in the Amazon and central New Guinea will get by, even if most of us will be facing a Mad Max scenario. Not everyone is interconnected.

And the thing is, even in Mad Max, a few people survived. It's very unlikely that out of seven billion people, nobody will be able to scrape by. Once the initial fighting's over, people will dust themselves off; it doesn't take a real genius to figure out how to plant some seeds, raise a few chickens, and run patrols to keep the bandits out. Someone will do those things, and civilization will eventually rise again.
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Old 11-28-2012, 02:38 PM
XT XT is offline
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Originally Posted by RickJay
As for it being an extinction event, no, probably not. For one thing, there are isolated groups of people in the world NOW who wouldn't be much affected; the people of North Sentinel Island aren't going to give a hoot. People in the Amazon and central New Guinea will get by, even if most of us will be facing a Mad Max scenario. Not everyone is interconnected.
Depends on how it all comes apart. North Sentinel Island is in the South Pacific somewhere, so assuming they have zero trade or contact with the outside world, and are 100% self sufficient, then the only thing they would need to worry about is the possibility of a thermonuclear war in India/Pakistan, or in Southeast Asia...they probably wouldn't need to be worried about refugees or anything like that though. The Amazon might face more challenges, since there is the possibility of refugees or connected disease or other impacts (probably won't need to worry about nukes there though), and the remote regions of central New Guinea would probably be ok.

And, as you say, there will most likely be some survivors somewhere, even in Europe or America/Canada (probably more in Canada than the US, as there are more isolated communities there)...but thinking that our civilization would survive, or that we are talking about billions of folks being left after is pure fantasy.

Quote:
And the thing is, even in Mad Max, a few people survived. It's very unlikely that out of seven billion people, nobody will be able to scrape by. Once the initial fighting's over, people will dust themselves off; it doesn't take a real genius to figure out how to plant some seeds, raise a few chickens, and run patrols to keep the bandits out. Someone will do those things, and civilization will eventually rise again.
I suppose it depends on the circumstances...and what sort of civilization might arise again and how long it would take. And who all survived and how.
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Old 11-28-2012, 02:40 PM
emoticorpse emoticorpse is offline
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yeah we'd just have to rewind to the days columbus was around where they used ships powered by wind and stuff like that but not necessarily caveman days and I think a major factor is whether or not communications systems would still be around and whether we could utilize them. Communication is just as important as mobilization.
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Old 11-28-2012, 02:48 PM
solosam solosam is offline
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Originally Posted by XT View Post
Sure, our ancestors did that...at population levels far lower than today.

Ok, some folks could and would plant their own gardens. And then what? There would be literally millions (billions) of starving humans looking for food after the first couple of weeks...think you'll be able to grow that garden in peace?
I am confused. It sounds like you are criticizing my post, but you are repeating my points back to me. I get the feeling that you did not read my entire post.

I pointed out that billions of people would die of famine and war in the short term. But, (eventually) people would return to non-industrial agriculture and (eventually) population would rebound to exceed one billion.

Not sure why you are being critical when it sounds like we are agreed.
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Old 11-28-2012, 03:07 PM
XT XT is offline
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Originally Posted by solosam View Post
I am confused. It sounds like you are criticizing my post, but you are repeating my points back to me. I get the feeling that you did not read my entire post.

I pointed out that billions of people would die of famine and war in the short term. But, (eventually) people would return to non-industrial agriculture and (eventually) population would rebound to exceed one billion.

Not sure why you are being critical when it sounds like we are agreed.
I think we are in agreement on some points, but you asked why some people (presumably me since I've been the main person arguing for a total systemic collapse) were saying 'no food'. Humanity and early agriculture were certainly able to sustain hundreds of millions of people in the past, but we'd have to rediscover a lot of the techniques to do that sort of thing now, and not simply the planting and reaping aspects, but the logistics of doing it AND transporting the food outside of a small local region. We'd also need to rediscover how to do it without modern fertilizers, without modern gene technology for seeds, without modern pesticides, modern pumps and water infrastructure, animal husbandry, etc etc etc.

I wasn't so much being critical of your post as simply giving my thoughts on it. I often come off as hostile when I don't mean to be...I'm just sort of an asshole, plus when I post from an iPad things often come out a bit stilted and weird. My apologies for coming off in attack mode...wasn't my intention.

Last edited by XT; 11-28-2012 at 03:08 PM..
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  #29  
Old 11-28-2012, 04:03 PM
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As for it being an extinction event, no, probably not. For one thing, there are isolated groups of people in the world NOW who wouldn't be much affected; the people of North Sentinel Island aren't going to give a hoot. People in the Amazon and central New Guinea will get by, even if most of us will be facing a Mad Max scenario. Not everyone is interconnected.
I don't think it would be an extinction-level event, but I don't think that those disconnected groups would remain disconnected, either. How many sailboats are there that could reach those islands? Certainly plenty enough that they could completely overwhelm the inhabitants. How far will the millions in Rio be able to make it along the Amazon river? The reason that those places are currently undisturbed is that we have international agreements against pillaging the remaining enclaves of humanity, not that they're so removed that we can't get there.

When infrastructure collapses in cities, people are going to get the hell out of Dodge as fast as they can by any means possible. A sailboat is probably about the best place to be during the industrial apocalypse. You can be far away from the most dangerous thing (other people), you can fish for food and fashion a solar still to make drinking water. Anyone capable of rigging a sail who's in sprinting distance of the harbor when we collectively realize exactly how fucked we are is going to be heading for the most remote life-sustaining islands they can find on a map. Probably with a few automatic weapons in the hold.
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Old 11-28-2012, 04:21 PM
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I'm with walrus...if something like this happens I'm heading to the docks for the nicest sailboat I can handle. I'm bringing a gun and fishing poles. Hopefully everything else I need is on the boat.
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  #31  
Old 11-28-2012, 06:31 PM
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How far will the millions in Rio be able to make it along the Amazon river?
And, I just looked at a map, and Rio is nowhere near the Amazon river. But, still, there are lots of Brazilians around who will be heading away from the cities and towards the jungle.
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  #32  
Old 11-28-2012, 07:04 PM
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John Varley just wrote a great book on this very subject, called "Slow Apocalypse". All the world's supply of unrefined fossil fuel is eaten by a bacteria in a short period of time and civilization proceeds to collapse.

TLDR version: anarchy followed by mass migrations (Los Angeles' water supply gets cut off and the city is destroyed by earthquakes and fires). What government there is by the end is a mix of libertarian and communist values.

The novel is worth reading if for no other reason than to realize how fragile a footing our modern lifestyle rests on. Humans are resilient and we will survive... but it will be the shits for a long time.

Last edited by DWMarch; 11-28-2012 at 07:04 PM.. Reason: TLDR without the silly face
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  #33  
Old 11-28-2012, 07:06 PM
XT XT is offline
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John Varley just wrote a great book on this very subject, called "Slow Apocalypse". All the world's supply of unrefined fossil fuel is eaten by a bacteria in a short period of time and civilization proceeds to collapse.

TLDR version: anarchy followed by mass migrations (Los Angeles' water supply gets cut off and the city is destroyed by earthquakes and fires). What government there is by the end is a mix of libertarian and communist values.

The novel is worth reading if for no other reason than to realize how fragile a footing our modern lifestyle rests on. Humans are resilient and we will survive... but it will be the shits for a long time.
And that is just oil. This OP is talking about ALL fossil fuels...everything, all gone at once and suddenly, not over years or even months or days.
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Old 11-28-2012, 07:33 PM
Xema Xema is online now
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... we'd have to rediscover a lot of the techniques to do that sort of thing
Or we could talk to the people doing just this today - one example of which would be the Amish (US population around 270,000).


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... AND transporting the food outside of a small local region.
Possibly by means of trains?


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We'd also need to rediscover how to do it without modern fertilizers, without modern gene technology for seeds, without modern pesticides, modern pumps and water infrastructure, animal husbandry, etc etc etc.
We'd first need to discover why things like gene technology and pumps (not to mention the others) couldn't get by on electrical power.
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Old 11-28-2012, 07:40 PM
XT XT is offline
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Or we could talk to the people doing just this today - one example of which would be the Amish (US population around 270,000).
How would you ask them? Take a car or plane over to have a visit? And how would they be able to show you during the apocalypse? You'd need to relearn the techniques and build the tools and knowledge to do it.

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Possibly by means of trains?
Powered how? By what? Trains are run on diesel mainly. You could build older steam trains I suppose...but how? Using what machines and tools? Built how? Using what materials? How do you clear the dead trains from the tracks?

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We'd first need to discover why things like gene technology and pumps (not to mention the others) couldn't get by on electrical power.
They could...but how do you convert them over? How do you get the materials to do so, and manufacture the things required to do so? How do you get the electrical power, and distribute it? There will be some nuclear power plants, and solar and wind and geothermal and hydroelectrical...how do you maintain and support them so that they continue to operate? Where do you get the spare parts from? How do you feed and otherwise support the workers?

We can do all of these things, of course...given time. But there won't be any time. Our entire system is geared towards fossil fuels. Everything we do is geared towards that. Shifting would take resources. Where do they come from, how do you get them and how do you support them while this stuff is all happening?

Answer...you can't. No one can. Your Amish are all dead, because they have been over run by starving people in the big cities fleeing and desperate for food. Your trains are scattered around, and the tracks are all jammed up with dead trains that are impossible to move without fossil fuel using machines to do it.
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Old 11-28-2012, 08:55 PM
Xema Xema is online now
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How would you ask them?
Walk up to them and talk to them. Or read what they have written.


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Powered how?
By electricity.


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How do you get the materials to do so, and manufacture the things required to do so?
Electrically powered machinery.


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How do you get the electrical power, and distribute it?
As is done today. You yourself mention the current methods: hyrdo, nuclear, solar, wind.


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how do you maintain and support them so that they continue to operate?
As is done today.


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How do you feed and otherwise support the workers?
Easy when the value of the electrical power they produce has increased substantially.


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Your Amish are all dead, because they have been over run by starving people in the big cities fleeing and desperate for food.
No one would be interested in preserving the Amish because of their knowledge and the food they produce? No one would be willing to defend them in exchange for some of that food?


No one is arguing that the transition would be smooth - clearly the population that could be supported would be well below current levels. But the idea that a world that once supported hundreds of millions without fossil fuels or any sources of electricity could not, armed will all sorts of technological advantages, do as well today seems quite silly.
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Old 11-28-2012, 09:19 PM
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No one is arguing that the transition would be smooth - clearly the population that could be supported would be well below current levels. But the idea that a world that once supported hundreds of millions without fossil fuels or any sources of electricity could not, armed will all sorts of technological advantages, do as well today seems quite silly
Not trying to be harsh here, but it only seems silly to you because you just don't get it, or understand or realize how dependent every single thing in your life is on fossil fuel....or how dependent you and everyone else reading this thread is on a constant and continuous flow of logistics that keeps your local supermarket in beer and pretzels, or what would happen if suddenly that was all cut off.

Your replies to me were flip, and I figure you were thinking you were scoring points, but I'm not lashing back...it's really obvious that you don't understand. So, let me try to explain by addressing another point you made here.

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No one would be interested in preserving the Amish because of their knowledge and the food they produce? No one would be willing to defend them in exchange for some of that food?
Let's say this happened tomorrow...that's the premise of the thread after all. What would happen next? The government would try and assert control of course....but how would they? Almost instantly, power would go down. Even in places where there are nuclear or solar/wind/hydroelectric plants, the grid system we have would shut down because suddenly there would be too much demand and not enough supply. Food and supplies would instantly shut down as well...whatever you have in your area is what you'd have. If you live in Iowa, it wouldn't be so bad...but in New York or, say, Philadelphia it would be VERY bad very quickly. And there would be no way the government could do anything about it. They couldn't send in troops. They couldn't send in relief. There simply would be no way they could do so, because all of our military and relief lifting capabilities rely completely on fossil fuels. Air planes wouldn't work, trucks wouldn't run. Maybe the Navy could use some of their nuclear powered ships for a time, and the government at least has backups for their communications, so it wouldn't all fall apart instantly...but, realistically, there isn't much they COULD do. Even bringing in nuclear powered ships that are close enough to use, you'd need to get the supplies to the docks somehow (need trucks for that...or trains that work), get it on board, and then at the other end the same thing. Roads would be clogged with dead vehicles. Even if you HAD an all electric vehicle and could use it while the charge lasted, where would you take it? How would you drive when all the roads are clogged with dead cars?

Anyway, back to the Amish. So, there they are...they are doing ok. They have food, and they don't rely on electricity. But...they are pretty close to some pretty big cities. No large natural barriers. For a couple of days, maybe a week or two, that is...until you have folks (with guns) who start to get hungry and who are panicked and desperate...and looking for food. What do you do when 50, or 100...or 10,000...people show up on your door step? Do you just give them your food? Damn right you do...or you die right then. And after that? You starve, just like they do, because your low tech farm simply can't supply large numbers of people.

No one at that point is going to be nicely asking you to demonstrate your farming techniques and for advice on building old style plows and harvesters, or how to care for horses to run them...they are going to be EATING your horses and everything else you have that they can get at. Long before you can plant a new crop you are going to be dead...and so are most or all of the folks who just ate your food.

The thing is, it's the speed of this happening that's the killer. If it happens over the next 100 years, we'd have time to adapt. Lots of people would still die world wide, and even in the advanced countries, but not this sort of mass death. But in the scenario in the OP? We'd be fucked. We COULD go back to old style farming, but it would take too long to build what would need to be built and re-adapt...and we wouldn't have the access we do now to get the materials and manufacturing to do it rapidly enough to stave off disaster. The thing is, folks in this thread concede (well, not you but others) that we are talking about billions dying, but they seem to think that's going to be an orderly process, with the folks who are going to die just calmly shuffling off somewhere to get on with it, and leaving the rest to rebuild. It won't be like that at all...people will be panicking, rioting, and trying to make sure they and their families survive, while not giving a damn about strangers. That very panic is going to be the death blow for our civilization, as people fight for whatever they can get in any way they can get it.

Anyway, no point in addressing the rest, as the answer boils down to 'sorry, that's fantasy'. There is zero chance that any of what you wrote there would happen. Again, I'm not trying to be a dick here, you just don't get it. Hell, I have been involved in emergency planning for years as part of my job as an engineer, and I've gamed out worst case scenarios, and I don't think that even I grasp the full magnitude of what the disaster would be. Oh, intellectually I do, but it would mean my death and the death of everyone I know. I'd be one of those desperately trying to maintain order, since that's part of my job, but there is just no way it would happen. Maybe if I lived in Iowa or one of the large plain states that produces such an abundance of food there would be a chance. They have pretty low population density, and that's where all the food is grown, so they would have TIME to try and do something. But here, in New Mexico? We'd all be fucked here. As would every person on the east and west coasts and in every large city.
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Old 11-28-2012, 10:58 PM
Xema Xema is online now
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Your replies to me were flip
No, they were factual.

Your theory - which I find tenable, but not compelling - says that the breakdown in civilization would overwhelm everything. So even those able to produce an excess of food would be killed for the food they have on hand, after which everyone starves to death.

I see some of this happening, but hardly to the point where no one is left. The Amish may not be a good example, because they deprecate violence. But I live in an area with lots of farmers (some of them Amish), almost all of which have guns and know how to use them. If those starving city-dwellers (who are most unlikely to be well organized) show up for a battle with distinctly well-armed and tolerably well-fed farmers, the outcome isn't guaranteed to be death to all.
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Old 11-28-2012, 11:04 PM
RickJay RickJay is offline
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I don't think it would be an extinction-level event, but I don't think that those disconnected groups would remain disconnected, either. How many sailboats are there that could reach those islands?
Nobody has any particular reason to go to North Sentinel Island, which would in fact be hard to find. It's small and there's not much there for you, and the residents kill all outsiders on sight. But even if the North Sentinelese were not psychotically xenophobic, which they are, why would anyone go to North Sentinel? It's just one of a zillion islands, covered in trees. It is noteworthy solely for the isolation and hostility of its inhabitants. You won't be any better off sailing there.

Much the same is true of the upper Amazon. There remain parts of the Amazon, as well as parts of Africa and other places, that remain occupied by neolithic tribes because nobody else wants to live there. If all hell breaks loose tomorrow, why would someone go to a place that is insanely hard to get to and where they have no means or understanding of how to survive?

And if everyone leaves the city, well, I'm staying. I can get by with just be and my family if everyone else fucks off. There's a lot of room. Most people will die, but some won't. And some's enough to restart it all.
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Old 11-28-2012, 11:23 PM
XT XT is offline
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Originally Posted by Xema
Your theory - which I find tenable, but not compelling - says that the breakdown in civilization would overwhelm everything. So even those able to produce an excess of food would be killed for the food they have on hand, after which everyone starves to death.
Not exactly. As I said, in some places of low population density coupled with high food availability, I would expect people to survive...as long as we didn't also have something like a nuclear war in the final throes of the civilization dying, which is a possibility. THAT was what I was saying wrt an extinction event.

Assuming that doesn't happen, then I'd expect some folks to survive even in high population countries like the US. The very fact that you wouldn't have any ability to move freely, especially initially, would save many people.

However, in the Amish example, or in even high productivity agricultural areas in high population density areas, I'd say it's pretty obvious that just about everyone would starve. Why? Because the ability to produce the food couldn't possibly keep up with the large numbers of people desperate to eat it without the modern mechanized and fossil fuel dependent machines to do so. Oh, I suppose if someone wanted and could take really draconian measures they might be able to do it....after all, machine guns and such will still work...but I doubt many would have the chance to get that organized, or have the wills to machine gun starving civilians the way they would have to. I certainly couldn't.

Quote:
I see some of this happening, but hardly to the point where no one is left. The Amish may not be a good example, because they deprecate violence. But I live in an area with lots of farmers (some of them Amish), almost all of which have guns and know how to use them. If those starving city-dwellers (who are most unlikely to be well organized) show up for a battle with distinctly well-armed and tolerably well-fed farmers, the outcome isn't guaranteed to be death to all.
No, I don't expect the city dwellers to be organized...but neither will the farmers be. Also, the farmers would have to farm...and that's going to be back to a totally manual process. In addition, you are talking about thousands or even millions of people on the move...even if your theoretical farmers were willing to machine gun down starving women and children, there just aren't enough bullets in any given area. Remember, no logistics, no ability to shift troops or concentrate in areas...no ability to build defenses, outside of what could be built by hand. And everyone is going to be in shock, everything falling apart, and everyone panicking.

In pretty much every place that you could reasonably walk to from any of the largely populated cities (with some exceptions, such as in places that are bread basket areas, since there is going to be huge quantities of stored food, or food in the midst of being transported when everything dies), you are going to have pretty much most people dying. If the farms you are talking about are within a few days walking distance to a major city or large population center, then there is no way they would survive what would be happening. It might take months, or even a few years, but they wouldn't make it. Simply too many mouths to feed, and not enough ability to feed them without the equipment to do so.

Anyway, you are obviously not buying any of this, and I don't know any other way to say what I've already said, so I'll leave it at that. My gut feeling is that, even assuming the best case (i.e. no nuclear war), we are talking about a huge percentage of the population dying in something like this...maybe 90+% in the long run, before things stabilize and start to rebuild on a lower tech base. Certainly our civilization would be done at anything like those levels of death, and I doubt much of our technology would survive the disaster, though a lot of our machines would still be in use and useful to the survivors. We wouldn't go back to the stone age, but it would be pretty grim.
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Old 11-28-2012, 11:31 PM
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No, Peak Oil theory is that there is SOME DATE where we will no longer produce more.
Close, but not quite right. The oil peak represents the point where production is no longer able to keep up with demand. Except, it is not "some date", it is an extended period of market volatility. When demand cannot be met, prices go up, throttling demand (as the product becomes less affordable); meanwhile, efforts are made to increase production, so a market trough is reached due to nominal oversupply; demand rises because the product is more in reach, until the inflexion point is reached where increasing prices drive demand lower and the market tops out again. This see-saw will continue almost indefinitely as demand follows a declining trend (finding lower and lower cyclic troughs) until the overall market becomes unsustainable and the last gas station closes.

We will never actually extract the last drop of oil from the ground, the market will fail long before the last wells are dried up. The more pressing issue is that there are too many people who want to believe it will not be a problem, or at least not any time soon. Governments are more likely to address the economic effects of the peak/post-peak era than the actual cause itself. Politicians, businessmen and the general public are notoriously short-sighted, right now is far more important than the next decade (after all, I could be dead by then). Thus, speculating on what if it all dried up tomorrow is really not beyond the pale: the situation could well become critical at a time when we are not prepared for it, take us by surprise, because not preparing for things is what we do.
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Old 11-28-2012, 11:34 PM
levdrakon levdrakon is online now
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The government and military immediately seize all the most valuable assets and defend them with lots of bullets. Outside those areas would basically be the zombie apocalypse with massive die offs. The surviving pockets of civilization should be able to rebuild pretty quickly equipped with modern renewable energy technology, etc.
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Old 11-29-2012, 06:45 AM
MrDibble MrDibble is offline
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You are wildly overestimating the numbers of survivors. I'm thinking that maybe a few 10's of thousands scattered throughout the world within a 100 years...at best. At worst, zero.
Naah - there are already millions of people who aren't dependent on fossil fuels for their current daily lives - people who use wood or dung for fuel, don't have vehicles or electricity or running water, make a living scrabbling at the earth and herding their stock. Sure, it'll bite for them when it's time to replace their foundry-made iron hoe or Chinese-made shoes, but they likely still have the skills in the community to do local smithing over charcoal fires and cobbling of leather. Or, you know, pick over the rusting remnants of the Western world for useful stuff. And like I said, there are millions of people who live like that today.
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Old 11-29-2012, 06:58 AM
MrDibble MrDibble is offline
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In any case, by a hundred years I'd guess most if not all of those hold out bastions would be gone, and whatever survivors there would be would have to have re-adapted to some sort of highly sheltered (from outside contact) and manual agriculture, or hunting and gathering. How many people do YOU think COULD do that today, even in the 3rd world? My guess is...not very many, even given ideal circumstances.
Millions are doing just that today, in the Global South. No, make that hundreds of millions. At least 200 million people worldwide are subsistence swidden agriculturalists, for instance, and another 30-40 million are nomadic pastoralists. That leaves out other subsistence farmers, subsistence fishermen and the few HGs remaining.
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Old 11-29-2012, 07:12 AM
MrDibble MrDibble is offline
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OK, millions was an understatement - according to WHO,
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Around 3 billion people still cook and heat their homes using solid fuels in open fires and leaky stoves. About 2.7 billion burn biomass (wood, animal dung, crop waste) and a further 0.4 billion use coal.

Also
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Around 1.1 billion people globally do not have access to improved water supply sources whereas 2.4 billion people do not have access to any type of improved sanitation facility.

Sure, I can be convinced that even without power, water, sanitation or vehicles, these 1-billion-plus people (and you have to agree the overlap between no water + no power must be dominant) are somehow intensely dependent on fossil fuels - food aid, for instance, and health care. And a healthy majority of them are doubtless urban poor, not subsistence farmers. But even so, you're going to get much more than a piddly "10's of thousands", globally.
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Old 11-29-2012, 09:11 AM
XT XT is offline
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Millions are doing just that today, in the Global South. No, make that hundreds of millions. At least 200 million people worldwide are subsistence swidden agriculturalists, for instance, and another 30-40 million are nomadic pastoralists. That leaves out other subsistence farmers, subsistence fishermen and the few HGs remaining.
And all (or even most) of those people live in highly remote areas, well away from any large population centers, having zero dependence on any sort of outside aid, and without any large bands of thugs heavily armed with guns anywhere near them? Well, in that case, I suppose there will be a lot more people scratching out a living than I think there will be. Or, you are not factoring in such things, and thinking that during the collapse of our current global civilization that everyone is just going to leave your subsistence farmers, using zero fossil fuels for anything alone and in peace to continue their happy existence.

Quote:
Sure, I can be convinced that even without power, water, sanitation or vehicles, these 1-billion-plus people (and you have to agree the overlap between no water + no power must be dominant) are somehow intensely dependent on fossil fuels - food aid, for instance, and health care. And a healthy majority of them are doubtless urban poor, not subsistence farmers. But even so, you're going to get much more than a piddly "10's of thousands", globally.
Doubtless a lot of them are in places like India and China...and they aren't going to be able to avoid the disaster in either of those places. I don't expect that a lot of Africa will be able to skate by and continue on either. I don't have to tell you this, but there are large cities in Africa...cities full of folks who are going to be headed towards the country side looking for food. And in some parts of Africa there are plenty of folks with guns who would take the food at gun point...hell, even if they weren't desperate. Also, many of these places receive western aid in the form of food or other resources from not only their own countries but from places like Europe or the US....or other countries in their region. All of which would cease immediately. It might not directly affect your subsistence farmers, especially in Africa, since I suspect that much of the food never gets to them...but it will be a cascade effect, with the folks who depend on it now becoming desperate and going after those who more or less are self sufficient at a low level of technology and agriculture.

I think you are underestimating the impact if you think that it will just mean no new hoes or shoes from China. I have no doubts that, short of the world going completely crazy when this happens and everyone launching nuclear weapons, that some folks will survive. For sure, some of the people in the more inaccessible places in Africa and Asia, as well as on some of the Pacific islands...heck, even in Canada, the US and Europe...are going to have the right combination of resources and time to survive. But it's not going to be billions or, IMHO, even millions...it will be thousands, maybe 10's or 100's of thousands, at least at the low point, before it starts to rebuild. JMHO, so MMV...obviously it does.
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Old 11-29-2012, 10:03 AM
MrDibble MrDibble is offline
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And all (or even most) of those people live in highly remote areas, well away from any large population centers, having zero dependence on any sort of outside aid, and without any large bands of thugs heavily armed with guns anywhere near them?
On the contrary - sometimes it's nomadic pastoralists who are the thugs with guns.

And how, exactly, are these armed gangs from the city going to get out into the country to do their menacing? Bicycles?
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Well, in that case, I suppose there will be a lot more people scratching out a living than I think there will be. Or, you are not factoring in such things, and thinking that during the collapse of our current global civilization that everyone is just going to leave your subsistence farmers, using zero fossil fuels for anything alone and in peace to continue their happy existence.
They don't have a happy existence now, and are often subject to the whims of other people with guns. So what changes for them?
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Doubtless a lot of them are in places like India and China...and they aren't going to be able to avoid the disaster in either of those places. I don't expect that a lot of Africa will be able to skate by and continue on either.
Like I, myself, already said.
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I don't have to tell you this, but there are large cities in Africa...cities full of folks who are going to be headed towards the country side looking for food.
And I say again - how far into the country do you think they're going to get without fossil fuels?
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Also, many of these places receive western aid in the form of food or other resources from not only their own countries but from places like Europe or the US....or other countries in their region. All of which would cease immediately.
Again, I already mentioned this.
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It might not directly affect your subsistence farmers, especially in Africa, since I suspect that much of the food never gets to them...but it will be a cascade effect, with the folks who depend on it now becoming desperate and going after those who more or less are self sufficient at a low level of technology and agriculture.
And exactly how far are these starving masses going to get? I don't think you grok how much distance we're talking about, or just how hard travel would be out from cities without any fossil fuels.
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I think you are underestimating the impact if you think that it will just mean no new hoes or shoes from China.
I'm basing it on the fact that that's often all these people have that is beholden to fossil fuels. Sometimes not even that.
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I have no doubts that, short of the world going completely crazy when this happens and everyone launching nuclear weapons, that some folks will survive.
Well, obviously if the nukes fly, all guesses are moot.
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For sure, some of the people in the more inaccessible places in Africa and Asia, as well as on some of the Pacific islands...heck, even in Canada, the US and Europe...are going to have the right combination of resources and time to survive. But it's not going to be billions or, IMHO, even millions...it will be thousands, maybe 10's or 100's of thousands, at least at the low point, before it starts to rebuild. JMHO, so MMV...obviously it does.
I don't think you understand just how many people are in those inaccessible places - Africa is mostly one big inaccessible place, really. 60% of Africans are rural. 620 million people. Ditto large parts of Asia (c'mon, are the hordes of Beijing going to make it to eat the Yak herds of Tibet like locusts ) and South America. And of that, you think only 1000s will survive? You think that passes the arithmetic test? You're talking effective species near-extinction for mankind there. Numbers we haven't seen since the Toba bottleneck. And that's frankly, just preposterous.

Last edited by MrDibble; 11-29-2012 at 10:07 AM..
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Old 11-29-2012, 02:40 PM
Learjeff Learjeff is offline
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Originally Posted by emoticorpse View Post
yeah we'd just have to rewind to the days columbus was around where they used ships powered by wind and stuff like that but not necessarily caveman days and I think a major factor is whether or not communications systems would still be around and whether we could utilize them. Communication is just as important as mobilization.
The problem is, rewinding is *hard*. It takes a modern "expert" to do things the way "everyone" did them in centuries past. I've had a lot of fun reading about attempts of modern archeologists trying to figure out how stone age tools were made and used. They're generally not very successful at it! Of course, with millions of people trying, many will succeeed, but in new hybrid ways using available scrap materials mixed with iron-age techniques.

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[you may not] understand or realize how dependent every single thing in your life is on fossil fuel....or how dependent you and everyone else reading this thread is on a constant and continuous flow of logistics that keeps your local supermarket in beer and pretzels, or what would happen if suddenly that was all cut off.

... we are talking about billions dying, but they seem to think that's going to be an orderly process, with the folks who are going to die just calmly shuffling off somewhere to get on with it, and leaving the rest to rebuild. It won't be like that at all...people will be panicking, rioting, and trying to make sure they and their families survive, while not giving a damn about strangers. That very panic is going to be the death blow for our civilization, as people fight for whatever they can get in any way they can get it.
I think Mad Max is a pretty realistic scenario, as most people won't be able to reinvent themselves and will scrabble to try to live with the technology we had before the fall, and at the expense of the lives of others (which will seem very cheap, since everyone's dying of hunger anyway).

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Your theory - which I find tenable, but not compelling - says that the breakdown in civilization would overwhelm everything. So even those able to produce an excess of food would be killed for the food they have on hand, after which everyone starves to death.

I see some of this happening, but hardly to the point where no one is left. The Amish may not be a good example, because they deprecate violence. But I live in an area with lots of farmers (some of them Amish), almost all of which have guns and know how to use them. If those starving city-dwellers (who are most unlikely to be well organized) show up for a battle with distinctly well-armed and tolerably well-fed farmers, the outcome isn't guaranteed to be death to all.
It depends on the numbers: there really aren't enough bullets, anywhere near civilization. Truly remote areas will fare the best. However, guns don't make themselves, ammunition doesn't last forever, and even remote areas are hugely dependent on imports for their current means of operation.

IMHO the highest survival rate will be in areas that are already overpopulated and barely feeding themselves with minimal technology, such as areas of India and Bangladesh, and likely certain areas of Africa. The stone-age tribes of Irian Jaya will do just fine and won't notice we're gone. They had the sense to leave the beach before the tsunami in 2006 or whenever. But they won't be exporting their technology, such as it is. They tend to kill anyone they don't recognize.

Last edited by Learjeff; 11-29-2012 at 02:42 PM..
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Old 11-29-2012, 02:46 PM
Learjeff Learjeff is offline
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Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
I don't think you understand just how many people are in those inaccessible places - Africa is mostly one big inaccessible place, really. 60% of Africans are rural. 620 million people. Ditto large parts of Asia (c'mon, are the hordes of Beijing going to make it to eat the Yak herds of Tibet like locusts ) and South America. And of that, you think only 1000s will survive? You think that passes the arithmetic test? You're talking effective species near-extinction for mankind there. Numbers we haven't seen since the Toba bottleneck. And that's frankly, just preposterous.
I agree. I believe that tens of millions, and maybe even hundreds of millions might survive. Anything over 1% would surprise me greatly. But then, I wouldn't be around to be surprised, because I'd be in the 99%.
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Old 11-29-2012, 06:43 PM
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Currently, the earth has a little over one acre of arable land for every living human. I believe the "experts" claim it takes about 0.9 acres to feed one person (not sure at what level of nourishment). So basically all the arable land in the world must be fully productive to feed the world (no droughts, flooding, swarms, fallows, etc.), so it would appear that we are already effectively over capacity. Without fossil fuel support, I would expect the number would have to at least triple, meaning the best the world could possibly handle would be on the order of 2 billion. In ideal circumstances. Of course, if we were to just feed our dead to pigs and eat the pigs, maybe the decline would be a little slower. Except in Islamic areas.
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