Hope for Peak Oil. Soon.

Things are getting out of hand, when Peak Oil – the end of cheap petroleum – is the only way I can see out of this mess. It would help reduce carbon emissions, and it would help reduce our environmental exposure to plastics and plastic byproducts like Bisphenol-A.

My friend Niran gave a rundown of how pervasive environmental plastics are, and the dangerous side effects of our constant exposure to them. Grey Goo, but as a result of Better Living Through Chemistry™

Very scary stuff. Between the upcoming drop in global carrying capacity, impending spike in fuel prices, and environmental contamination through petroleum products and byproducts, we’re in for an interesting ride over the next 50 years…

I recently got rid of an old plastic table that was sloughing a white powder. I had no idea that was a product of photodegredation of the polymers, and that the white dust wasn’t just annoying but potentially toxic (if not to me, then to the critters that form the base of the planet’s food chain/web). Of course, by “got rid of”, I mean “carted to the landfill, where it continues to photodegrade, but I don’t have to look at it.”

My house is full of (and made of) plastics. My fridge is stocked with it. My water is stored in it. My vitamins encased. There is no part of my home, work, or neighbourhood that is free of plastics (and by extension, petroleum). Very scary to imagine the changes that will be necessary to reduce that, or to adjust to a new way of doing things without the long polymers so cheaply available…

4 thoughts on “Hope for Peak Oil. Soon.”

  1. We need more time! I wonder if you are leaving out “Global Dimming”. Check this out: The basic idea is this: particulate pollution and jet aircraft contrails have combined to reduce the effect of global warming. This suggests that the models used to understand global warming need to be revised. There are several lines of evidence that indicate this is true. The implications are bad. There is reason to believe that it has already led to the deaths of millions of people.

    I need not belabor the point: the emotional message is carried in the video, and the technical details are covered well in the Wikipedia entry on global dimming.

    50 minute Nova video: The Corpus Callosum – http://scienceblogs.com/corpuscallosum/

  2. D’Arcy I am definitely with you. I do agree that it’s a major problem, but I personally feel that its only a matter of time and its not really preventable. In the long run it’s an eventuality that we’ll have to deal with… Economic growth essentially means pollution and plastics are a cheap source of generating revenue (thinking of China). By the time we fully understand the relevance of what we’re doing to the planet, it’s likely to be too little, too late — if it isn’t currently. Hopefully we’ll figure out how to colonize space, which in itself seems somewhat of a pipe dream considering the amount of complexity involved — not to mention the current scientific impossibility.

  3. And it’s not like the news headline about the toxic properties of degrading plastic (assuming there was one) would say, “Plastic producers worldwide shut down in favor of a home (Planet Earth)”…it would be more like, “Scientists believe there may be a connection between the degradation of plastics and the population decline of (insert obscure, never-heard-of species here).” …but maybe that’s just me being cynical…

    Thanks for the post, Aaron

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