Peak Coal


via Peak Oil News:

In 1865, Englishman William Stanley Jevons, one of the greatest social scientists of his day, wrote an exhaustive study titled "The Coal Question: An Inquiry Concerning the Progress of the Nation, and the Probable Exhaustion of our Coal Mines." Jevons' argument was that England was about to exhaust all available coal resources, which inevitably would mean the collapse of the industrial enterprise upon which Great Britain's mighty empire depended. He wrote:

It will appear that there is no reasonable prospect of any relief from a future want of the main agent of industry (namely, coal).

And:
We cannot long continue our present rate of progress. The first check for our growing prosperity, however, must render our population excessive.

So, we've been through "peaks" in critical resources before, only to be saved by the magical discovery of a new, "inexhaustable, for real this time, no - seriously!" resource. In the case of Peak Coal, it was oil that rescued civilization from having to deal with sustainability. Perhaps it's nuclear (or, for Shrub: nuke-u-lar) or some other yet-unknown magical resource.

Well, actually, the article goes on to say that in response to threatening shortages of coal, enterprising companies figured out better ways of extracting what was left, and the supplies lasted much longer than expected. This is extrapolated to oil, which, in theory, could last for quite some time if we just try harder to suck every last drop out of the planet.

We could just burn off the oil in our gas tanks, party like it's 1999, and cross whatever is crossable in hopes that The One True Energy Resource is discovered in time. It's happened before...


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Last updated: March 01, 2024