Wednesday, April 02, 2008


After peak oil...

Things predicted after peak oil:
1. The death of long-haul trucking. Note that this is not to be confused with the death of the trucking industry in general. It's just that long haul trucking is ineffecient, with only the few exceptions of remote locations that are only accessible by roads.
2. The rise of rail. This is the corallary to the death of long haul trucking. For freight, rail makes much more sense. Short haul trucking will still exist to distribute from rail depot locations.
3. Electric cars. Yeah they'll come. But they'll still be too expensive for the average person when starting out. But that was true for combustion powered cars when they just started out. But they will diversify eventually.
4. Hybrid rail. This means diesel-electric locomotives will be modified to run in an electric-only capability and utilize a third rail or overhead line where it is available. Something they could do now, just with some minor modification.
5. Automill agriculture production. What's an automill? Wind turbine + circular track irrigation + automated harvester + collection silo. Basically its a modern wind turbine with agricultural capability built around it. This will be a step up from electric wind turbines being highly compatable with agriculture lands. This will be a wind turbine that is essentially symbiotic to agricultrual production. Crops will be planted in circular fields around wind turbine towers. A guide rail structure will be built as a ring around the wind turbine. Affixed to the ring structure will be a scaffold rail. Think of it as a beefed up circular irrigator truss. But now instead of only irrigation - the truss also is the base platform for planting, treating, and growing crops. And it's mostly automated, thus the name "automill". And of course surplus power not used for crop production goes to the grid. Win-win for farmers.
6. Bicycles will be taken seriously again. Not just as a kids plaything, not just as a sport or hobby. But will be considered once again as a legitimate conveyance. Expect to see enclosed bikes, and bikes with lockable trunks as a feature. Enclosed trikes and quad bikes will show up in places where the weather can be less friendly at times.
7. Shipping will become expensive. The cheap goods from China will not be so cheap anymore when transportation costs are factored in. This means that even without terrifs or other economic barriers, it will once again be more economically sensible to have localized production. There will probably be some hard times before common sense bears this out though.
8. Shipping will use sails once again. Or at least some other forms of wind power. Although in rare cases, I wouldn't completely rule out nuclear powered shipping. (Provided there's some level of oversight.)
9. Telecommuting will even be more popular. The daily rat race commute wastes too much energy. If you can't get an adequate electric or can only afford a bicycle, you'll quickly realize just how stupid the long commute is. Thus the obvious solution.
10. Public transportation will be improved. This will be absolutely necessary for any metropolitan area to stay economically viable. Those that fail to address it will be much like Detroit is now.
11. Military projection and involvement in foreign affairs will be much less. It's not exactly smart to waste the fuel and resources to project military power. Instead reserves will be held for self-defense purposes.
12. People will need to be more self sufficient, and some aspects of the economy will localize. Like the long haul commute, long haul trips for purchases will become cost or energy prohibitive. Learning to do it on your own or find somebody local to provide the service will be a good idea.

There's probably more where I could go on about adapting to the situation, but that's what's on the top of my mind now.

Also note that there may be some other solutions, but I'm not sure how effective they'll be. Somebody could figure out how to make the Fischer-Troph process more efficient. A similar process has also proven to work with biomass waste (mostly effluent & sewage) instead of coal, but I'm not sure as to what the cost effectiveness is.

Oil may also replenish. Afterall, it was created by a geologic process in the first place. Heat + pressure + biomass + various minerals. More or less it's nature doing the Fischer-Troph itself. Only problem is we don't know just how long it takes for the geologic processes to produce useful hydrocarbon reserves. (It's of limited use if it takes 100 to 1000 years to refill what can be tapped out in 10.)

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