Addiction: an irrational desire to continually undertake an action that is harmful. One can be addicted to drugs, to gambling, to stunts. At a personal level it will sooner or later lead to a significant lowering in one’s lifestyle; possibly to one’s death.

Often the expression “addicted to oil” is used. Usually on a societal level. Saudi Arabia has held this moniker. And with a burgeoning state debt it may be realizing the consequences. While its per capita oil consumption is somewhat high, it likely has enough reserves to satisfy its citizen’s needs for quite a while. Yet its exports rely upon its oil reservoirs; over 75% worth. In the short term Saudi Arabia can keep playing the debt game whereby they spend more than they produce; addicted to a lifestyle as it were.

What will happen on a global scale as people get addicted to lifestyles that aren’t sustainable? Has a dependence upon readily accessible energy made us complacent; even lazy? Will there be a time when human lifestyles can’t be supported; whether depletion of readily accessible oil reserves or consumption of other critical resources? And if so then what sort of lifestyle awaits and how will we get there?


With controlled release of energy you can send people into space. Stand back and watch the uncontrolled release of energy and you appreciate your insignificance. Hurricane Harvey showed us both sides of this story.

Hurricane Harvey recently swept into Texas. It was huge. Assume it covered the state of Texas. That’s almost 700,000km2. The hurricane dropped about 40 inches of water across its area. This amounts to about 7e11 m3 of water. All this water came from the evaporation of surface water. The energy to evaporate all this is around 1.6e21 Joules. That’s more energy than people utilize each year.

As part of controlled release the people in Texas withdraw oil from under the ground, distill it then distribute it to market. Hurricane Harvey has interrupted this flow. While Texas isn’t the only source of oil some places on the same continent as Texas have experienced a 30% increase in the cost of fuel because of Hurricane Harvey. This demonstrates the expense of acquiring and distributing energy in a controlled form. And the fragility of people’s control of energy.

Electric Cars

We’re growing up watching new technologies aid and abet our way in the world. With them those in first world countries wouldn’t break a sweat doing an honest day’s work. And littered by the wayside are countless of technologies that grew, were favoured and then tossed. Such is the Darwinist view of our aids.

One technology nearing the chopping block is the internal combustion engine. Think vehicles. These devices allow people to travel vast distances with almost no effort. This convenience has often been credited with making the greatest advance in our standard of living. Affordable mobility for goods, services and people. But at a very observable and measurable cost to the environment. So great a cost that most European countries and India are banning their sales starting as early as the next decade. With vehicles consuming over 19 million barrels of oil per day (4.2e19J/a) the loss of the engines would drastically change energy consumption.

But will people simply walk away from this convenient technology? Not likely. The infrastructure investment and the convenience are too great for most. So bring on the electric vehicle. On the same road network. Using the same tires. And powered by electricity generated from burning fossil fuels in industrial plants. And the number of cars is expected to double from the current 1billion. It does lend credence to the question as to whether our technologies aid us or enslave us.


The markets probably teach all of us some lessons every day. Take the lesson of supply and demand. If demand drops then supply increases. With this, costs come down thus increasing demand. And so on. As teachings describe it to us.

Let’s look at oil. Since 2008 the price of oil has dropped then stagnated. Contrarily to this the supply continues to increase. Are people getting smarter and switching to renewable energy? Well no. Demand for oil continues to climb at 0.7% each year. Simply put the oil producers want their profits now. That is, they keep increasing supply with the expectation that demand will follow their lead. This doesn’t really follow the teachings.

With oil (and coal and natural gas) being non-renewable energy sources then eventually producers will have no more supplies to sell. This also challenges the teachings. That is, even if demand increases or remains the same. Even if prices go astronomical. There will be no supply to balance it. At whatever cost. What do the markets teach us about this?
Pioneering Spirit


The Earth’s heat balance has contributions from two significant sources of input; radiation from the Sun and heat radiating out of the Earth itself. Putting one’s hand on the ground will not detect the heat from the Earth; about 100 milliwatts per square metre. But stand near an active volcano and you will quickly detect the vast amounts of energy at play. All that ready energy could be accessible if we can figure out how.

Thor in Iceland may be showing the way. This experimental deep drilling project has pierced the Earth’s crust down 4659 metres. That’s down to where the Atlantic Ocean’s mid-ocean ridge is apparent. At that depth and location there’s a very high pressure and a very high heat. Plans are to draw 20 megawatts of energy from the well to provide for much of the requirements of the local population. Of course Iceland has a very unique geology and a very small population so Thor is a practical solution. If it all works out.

Energy from the Earth is already a specialty of Iceland. All of its electrical power comes from either dams or geothermal vents. No non-renewable fossil fuels for their power production. Similarly photovoltaic farms grace amenable deserts in other countries. Still, worldwide, 86% of primary energy comes from fossil fuels. Humans have to be a lot more inventive if we want to keep civilization at its current high level and possibly grow it.
HS Orka