Filed under: book, Hot Earth Dreams, news, Uncategorized | Tags: Hot Earth Dreams, news, Peak Oil?
Just another quick entry with two bits of news, one about Hot Earth Dreams, one about carbon production peaking (???) in 2015.
Today I had lunch with a fan–not a family member or close friend!–who really loved Hot Earth Dreams, as you can see from the picture below. He loved it so much that he went through and marked all the typos he found, along with some parts that weren’t clear or where the stats didn’t quite make sense. Then he loaned it to me for a month, to help me with the revision!
I’m thrilled to have this on loan, and while it’s going to take some work to go through it, it makes revising the text so much easier. I’ve gotten some great feedback from others, too. While I’m not planning on preparing a revision in the next few months–my job as an environmental activist just got a lot busier, thanks to some developers and city planners–I will get one out this year, and being able to borrow this copy makes it that much easier.
The second bit of news was my spit-take on reports (starting with this graph in the MIT Technology Review) that global CO2 emissions peaked in 2015 (link to Cassandra’s Legacy blog). So far as I can tell, the dip was real. Still, there are multiple interpretations:
The simplest interpretation is that it’s a temporary decrease caused by China struggling economically, and that once the (cough, cough) “inevitable” growth resumes, CO2 emissions will start climbing again. This is what’s happened in the past.
Some in the deindustrialization and peak oil crowd think 2015 might be Hubbert’s Peak, and a sign that we’ve at long last hit Peak Oil. Assuming that the 7th commenter on the Cassandra’s Legacy blog post was right and that oil and coal production actually increased in 2015, I’m not buying that this dip marks Peak Oil. As the commenter and blog author noted, what this means is that there’s a big pool of unburned oil out there, along with a big pile of unburned coal, stuff that’s been extracted but not purchased for use. I’m certainly naive, but I’d assumed that if we were past peak production, there wouldn’t be much in the way of reserves, let alone surpluses, as the global economy would be consuming everything produced and fighting for more.
The optimists’ take is that renewable energy is finally taking off, climate change is getting taken seriously, and the industrialized world is starting to try to shake its addiction to fossil fuels (and it is an addiction, in the sense that if we quit cold turkey we’re in a world of hurt). This is better supported than Hubbert’s peak, because that flood of surplus oil certainly suggests that consumption no longer blindly follows supply.
The pessimist’s take–okay, my take–is that it’s too soon to tell. Even if CO2 emissions start falling, it all depends on how fast they fall. Hot Earth Dreams assumed that fossil fuel consumption trailed out over the next century, as we never quite kick the habit before supplies run out as global civilization collapses. Personally, I hope that we do kick the fossil fuel habit, soon and permanently, but only time will tell if we can get on that wagon and stay on it. Sobriety is a day-at-a-time process, after all.
Still, good news is good news, and even pessimists need to celebrate once in a while.
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