Friday, May 13, 2005

End of the Age of Oil, part 1

I appears that I can't really impose a blanket ban on writing for myself. While taking a break from deriving equations of motion, I started writing something and the exercise blew up. So here is part 1. Subsequent parts will come as and when i take these extended breaks.

End of the Age of Oil

Chapter 1:
The Decadence of the Average 20th Century Dweller of the Developed States

By 2050, almost all of the world’s petroleum reserves have been pumped dry. Energy reserves, accumulated over the preceding 400 million years, had been squandered in a short 200 years.

As early as the 20th century, a small proportion of the population was already aware of the adverse effects of pollution on the planet, and
was doing what little they could to help. Some citizens of the planet participated in recycling programmes in hopes of reducing waste generation and resource consumption. A few corporate citizens did their part by making products from recycled materials, and making their products easily recycled. Environmentally friendly products were developed, but were used by few.

These good citizens were the minority rather than majority. Much of the developed world was in a state of high due capitalism and consumption, and was indulging in a lifestyle of plenty and wastefulness. Industrial firms would not have installed costly filtration devices in their smokestacks were it not for government regulations. Individuals were in a state of bliss, driving alone in their luxury cars, getting stuck in traffic snarls, leaving the air-conditioner on while no one was home, throwing out a perfectly working ordinateur every two or three years, cooking enough food for 3 meals and then throwing away the leftovers.

In hindsight, it should not come as any surprise when the big petrol tank in the ground started showing a big ominous ‘E’. However, the ordinary 20th century dweller of the developed states was too absorbed in his quest for more material luxuries such as a bigger television, that he did not notice that the natural resources around him was finite in nature. The life of an average 20th century dweller was far too hectic to consider trivial limitations such as the environment and natural resources. On weekdays, he would be working in an office complex that had its air-conditioning turned too cold. On weekends, he would be preoccupied with enjoying life, after having the spent a good part of the waking week toiling for some promised material benefit that was to come at the end of the month.

Not realising that there was some ticking clock counting to zero, the average 20th century dweller of the developed states continued his decadent consumption. He went on driving alone in a big car, left the lights on upon leaving the room, watered his garden plants in the afternoon heat, and threw away his television for a splendid new plasma TV.

ordinateur - computer (French)


Blogger shifty said...

the worst thing is, the renewable sources of energy have such expensive technologies that even they themselves would rather exploit oil-rich states than invest into researching for cheaper resources or means of acquiring energy. if they can do the former, they don't bother with the latter. check out the green theory of IR. idealistic but not something impossible.

speak soon! me off for holiday!

4:58 pm, May 14, 2005  
Blogger Lao Chen said...

Thanks! That would give me something substantial to chew on.

5:37 pm, May 14, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've read somewhere that for the last 20 odd years, alternatives to petrol were already developed. But the next stage of development, making it cheaper for mass use was mostly never carried out. This, the source said was due to the major petroleum companies' themselves unwilling to invest in new technologies and even to the extent of discouraging parties from working on an alternative. For that will mean the end for the whole lucrative petroleum industry. Forgot the source liaw, but if someone care to research a lil on it from the net?


8:48 am, May 15, 2005  
Blogger Lao Chen said...


That is quite plausible. Unlike nation states, petrochemical firms do not need to worry about long term stability of their business. afterall, the decision makers and employees aren't going to last long enough to really suffer the consequences of oil depletion. So who cares, suck the oil out as fast as we can sell them, and subsidise to the board of directors a motor yatch each!

If it was a state running the oil business, then things might be different. It could meter out its oil sales to make it last into the future.

5:15 pm, May 18, 2005  

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