Richard Heinberg Review of Peak Fossil Fuel Factors

Interesting blog post by Heinberg, responding to a resurgence of peak oil denial in the wake of Daniel Yergin‘s recent publications touting the economic growth-saving powers of new extraction technologies for low-grade/hard-to-reach fossil fuels (such as gas fracking, shale oil recovery, etc.):

“…Industrial civilization is a system. As such, it has certain non-negotiable requirements (see Liebig’s Law). One of these requirements is for abundant, cheap, high-EROEI fuels. In a pinch, the system can use abundant, cheap, high-EROEI fuels to subsidize the production of low-EROEI fuels (shale gas, tar sands, shale oil) as substitutes. But as the high-EROEI fuels (conventional oil and gas) deplete, this becomes more problematic, because those high-grade fuels are still needed elsewhere in the system to directly maintain transport and agriculture, and to indirectly maintain finance, education, and all the rest. Further subsidizing of low-grade fuels would require starving the rest of the system….

There may be years of adaptive capacity left in the system. However, I do think it’s safe to conclude that efforts to build a massive, expensive technological infrastructure to extract and process low-grade fuels for decades to come will founder—sooner rather than later—for lack of systemic support…”

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