A primer on our current energy predicament

Wind turbines in a sunny fieldYears ago I was often reading The Oil Drum, a great website dedicated to oil and other energy issues. Years later, the website still provides great content and I am glad to have read one of their latest posts : Our Energy Predicament in Charts.

This post is an excellent introduction to energy issues for people who are not familiar with them and don’t grasp their importance in our lives. Cheap energy from coal and oil have enabled our civilization to become what it is nowadays.

As cheap oil reserves dwindle and as coal is just way too polluting to be used indefinitely. Low carbon, non polluting and cheap alternatives are being sought.

The situation at hand is nothing short of explosive and the worst is that our current elected representatives in their huge majority don’t understand this. Consider the issues we are facing :

  • species loss
  • water shortage
  • air pollution
  • soil issues
  • entropy
  • population
  • oil supply
  • CO2 level
  • food prices
  • oil prices

This list comes from the Oil Drum article and does remind me of the one published by Jared Diamond in Collapse. Each of  these have been extensively tackled here. To which the author adds three other huge problems : financial issues, political issues and disease susceptibility.

If the two first are quite self-explanatory, the last does need an explanation. To the author : it is ” inadequate food, medicine, and sanitation due to inadequate wages and government cutbacks “. This refer to the sequester situation in the United States and similar situations around the world.

If the post gives quite a pessimistic outlook, solutions do exist and are being applied as I write. They might lack for the time being scale and scope but they are gaining speed globally.

Yes, renewable energy sources are the solution. But to be able to save us from our predicament in time, they’ll have to be reinforced by an equally large push for energy efficiency. And this latter point quite fails to be addressed.

Will it be in time and in scale ?

Image credits : flickr.

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