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The paradigm, the mind-set and reality

2009-05-26

As the global energy- and oil-consumption is going down, it is interesting to see that different parties deal very differently with this current and future actuality.

Several of the western Energy-Institutes and forecasting think-tanks are struggling with the reality that the world is responding in a more structural way on the financial and economic crisis by using less energy, and need to adapt their forecast downward almost monthly, as every time the most recent data point to lower demand.
At the same time one of the words still very prominent in many of these forecasts is the word “growth”, albeit sometimes “negative growth” (whatever this actually may mean).

All projections on the medium and longer term are still centred around the “growth-scenario”s” and the assumption that the world-economy, and also the Western economies, will see growth again, quite soon. This has repercussions for projected future demand, and therefore on projected supply-need, and therefore on investments needed to be able to cater for these assumed needs or demands.

However, year after year it turns out that the medium-term projections, projected demand in 2020 or 2030 are way too high and often completely unrealistic in the face of worldly developments.

Medium-term global oil demand-projections coming from the Middle East and OPEC are much tougher, and substantially lower, and whilst much attention is given to keep the long-term supply picture healthy by investing in exploration and development, actual supply-infrastructure at the moment is well over need and investments there-in are being reduced. The concern for the medium and long term here is more based around the depletion-factor that will catch up with new production in the near to medium term and to being prepared for a stable supply in the future.

What is the truth in here and what is real?

Whilst most economies in the world currently are shrinking, and quite a few are more or less close to collapse, projections and (Western) media-coverage are still talking about growth (even negative growth is growth) as this has been the paradigm of the economies we have built our wealth on. Without growth our economic system, rules, calculations get into trouble, become obsolete and non-functional. Without the projections of “it will get better soon” or “soon we will have more again” our system is shaken in its core fundamentals, because what do we do when actually tomorrow will not be “more” than yesterday, and when the day after tomorrow we recognise that the times of eternal growth are over?

The reality is that the times of eternal growth are over, as this eternal growth was based upon cheap labour (slaves), ripping and robbing in the early days and on cheap energy, ripping, robbing and reduction of humans to economic production-units some time later.
These times are ever more over: The energy becomes expensive and is not in free or abundant supply anymore; the seas are mostly empty, the forests cleared and the easy minerals all mined; the countries do not allow themselves so easily to be robbed anymore and people become more expensive and discover that life is more than just work, sleep and paying off debts.
And apart from that, we actually cannot afford more energy-usage, as the emissions are already too close to dangerous levels and all the talks on emissions-reduction of the last years has produced more hot air and CO2 and other emissions than it has been able to reduce them.

In the near to medium term climate-change will become a more serious issue than physical shortage in energy.

It will be mostly the Western economies that will need to look at the reality of the situation and re-consider the paradigms and mind-sets that are at the core of our projections and (economic) considerations, as the energy-usage per person per year is, in a way, still immorally high when looking at the global picture and future demand of people that have still very very little and are just starting their way into a slightly more comfortable life.

As we have been very good at taking care of ourselves in the time of “the great build-up”, so we should also be thinking of ourselves in the times of “the great reduction”, but this time we should think of our responsibilities and moral obligations (and not point fingers to others). The Western world is using per person 10 to 50 times more energy as the people in the emerging economies and with only a relative fraction of the world population we use up the vast majority of its energy and minerals.

It is now time to re-think our ways of thinking and our ways of life, for as an oil executives says in one of the articles in this update: “We need to save, save, save.”

The moment we start to change our paradigm from “greed” to “need”, the world may have a chance.

Stay aware, and look around you where energy could be saved without it fundamentally impacting upon your well-being: you will be amazed how much is possible!

Alexander

Alexander's Commentary

Change of face - change of phase

In the period of July 20 till August 3, 2015, Alexander will be out of the office and the site will not or only irreg

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