The Great Simplification
For the last several weeks, I’ve been in an Internet “rabbit hole” listening many who believe the world is changing, that humans need to move towards more independent thinking, our society needs to move away from mainstream news and, as individuals, we are moving towards forgiveness, tolerance of others and community.
My journey started with a comment here, on Medium, where a reader referenced to Nate Hagens’ thoughts on trees and home heating.
I had been thinking about Ukrainian individuals living through winter without natural gas from Russia. Hagens is an economist, focused on ecological systems and the interrelationships between energy, economy, biology, physics and human society. He publishes here, has a podcast and You-Tube channel.
Hagens, looking at the BTU value of coal, crude oil, heating oil, natural gas and wood used for burning, calculated that if the US couldn’t heat homes with natural gas, heating oil or electricity, and only used wood, most states would be completely denuded of forests in less than a year. On the same basis, the world has less than 5 years worth of trees.
Obviously, I don’t think this is going to happen, but it is an interesting thought experiment and it grabbed my imagination.
I have been so focused on the importance of trees for cooling cities and water management (for 60% of rain and 2/3 of urban water), that I literally forgot about trees for heating. If you have 15 minutes, I encourage you to watch this video.
For awhile, I thought Hagens’ Great Simplification was the same as The Great Reset, which has many on-line talking heads in a tizzy.
Hagens’ Great Simplification has 4 themes, but rather than encourage you to fall into a rabbit hole, start with this 10 minute video where he talks about our Energy Blindness, which he alluded to in the video above. I promise you, it will be time well spent.
Back in the 1990’s I was an integrated oil equity analyst. I concurred then (and now) with Hagens ideas. Through this entire video. I was thinking about the Hubbard Curve.
M. King Hubbert was influential petroleum geologist and geophysicist working for Shell in the 50’s and 60’s. He is best remembered for his controversial, at the time, prediction that crude oil would peak. Hubbert’s area of specialty was estimating oil and gas reserves, and the limits these impose on rates of oil and gas production. His 1956 paper put US oil production reaching a peak between 1965 and 1970. Hubbert became famous when U.S. oil production peaked and began to decline, in 1970, as he had predicted.
No major oil discoveries have been made in the world — yes, the entire world — since the discovery of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska in the 1960’s. As an oil equity analyst, in the 1990’s I wrote several times about semiconductors, their impact on the 3-D modeling that improved drilling success and that controlled the drill bits, allowing horizontal drilling that improved production.
My thesis — This doubling of success in drilling, and doubling of the amount of oil from each well was preventing consumers from seeing the lack of new oil discoveries. It kept gasoline and plastic prices low and discouraged efficiencies. In 1994/1995, I could not convince the growth managers I was working with that oil producers would EVER be investment worthy. (One apologized in ‘95 or ‘96 when several of the best performing industries were oil related, but I don’t think his funds ever carried more than a minimum weighting. The stock performance in that year was proof that the story was over.)
As a reader interested in climate change, recognizing energy blindness and the approaching change in our use of oil shifts the story slightly. We are still going to see rising global temperatures for a prolonged period. The oceans have absorbed carbon dioxide which will continue to reenter the atmosphere for decades. (An estimated 2/3 of all new CO2 is absorbed by the oceans and will be reenter the atmosphere 30+ years later.)
But a shift to renewables, and away from hydrocarbons, is coming and the transition will be forced on the mainstream of society more rapidly than is comfortable.
My readers know I am more focused on planting trees to cool cities and community gardens to encourage community and local food security than on policy changes. I feel that mass protests are a waste, with the energy better spent on local community tree planting programs.
Why does SymSoil care? We focus on solutions to environmental issues, with a focus on soil biology. Trees and plants feed, and are fed by, the soil microbiome. Healthy soil influences water, carbon sequestration and human health.
SymSoil holds a patent on the first scalable approach to manufacturing Soil Food Web products as an alternative to agrochemicals. SymSoil is a supporter of 100KTrees4Humanity, an urban tree planting project focused on action that moves us towards solutions to climate change with equity and inclusion.