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Good morning, ladies and gentlemen! I hope everybody is awake, even those who sit in the back, in the darkness. My speech has a provocative title, Wake up, half is gone! What is that of which half is already gone? It is not so simple to answer, as we will see. Still, I want to provoke you: half of something is gone, and we should somehow substitute for it, using solutions that aren't ordinary and require joint effort. This is the summary of this presentation. Let us see the first statement - the subject is clear now: half of the oil is gone, but the other bad news is: Other stuff is also running out. This other stuff means fossil fuel as well: coal and gas as well as uranium ore. What does it mean, half is gone? You can see a cup here: you will remember that the optimist will see it half full while the pessimist will say it is half empty. I am neither: I want to be a realist today. By the time I finish talking you will also choose one. I do not think we should talk about water now. Others have. At this place I would like to express my appreciation to speakers before me, but oil will be our subject today. First of all, let me tell a story by Marion King Hubbert, who was the geologist of Shell in the 1950s. In 1956, he said that the oil production of the US will stop growing. This was the era of the American Wonder. Nobody believed him. Every colleague of his said he was wrong. Still, he was vindicated: exactly when he foretold, in 1971, oil production of the US started to decline even though new fields were discovered in Alaska and the Mexican Bay. From that year on, the US had to rely on imported oil and has had to play delicate political games ever since. This figure has another lesson for us: in case of related oil fields, exploitation follows a hump. What follows from this? A lot. In fact, the reserves have not run out yet. There are still huge reserves untapped in the rocks, but the question is: how can we tap them? It is the easily available, land accessible oil reserves that have been halved. This triangle shows how much of the reserves are left; the easily extractable reserves are the tip of the triangle. However, the size of reserves is only half of the story. Further down on the figure the conditions of extraction become worse and worse. Let me explain this through an example. Imagine you have a deposit in a bank, 500 million dollars. Fine, but the bank restricts use of funds to $5000 a day in the first year, then $1000 a day, then only $500 a day etc. Quite tough, isn't it? In case of the oil, it is not the size of the reserves that matters but how big is the tap. As we go down, the taps become tighter. Also, extraction is getting more and more expensive. It is not only a question of cost. Extraction makes sense only as long as the energy in the oil is more than the energy used in extraction. At the beginning of the 1900s 1 unit worth of energy yielded 100 units' worth of oil. Today it is 1 to 10. At the bottom, 1 unit of oil energy needs 1 unit invested. These shales will be left unexploited. The world of course, needs per capita energy to increase. This, however, increases CO2 emission. We picked three countries: China, India and the US. In this 'race', China has taken over the US by now. The striking news is that the greatest emitter of CO2 is not a Western country but China. Everyone wants to live like you or me. What does this mean? This is too much for planet Earth. We would need 6 Earths for our ecological footprint and lots of oil, which is not available. How much oil would we need? Exponential growth shown by the figure calls for the same growth in extraction of oil. Up to 1916 so much oil had been extracted. Since then, the quantity of oil extracted doubled in every 23 years. By 1939, the same quantity was extracted. Between 1939 and 1962 twice as much or as much as ever before From 1962 to 1985 the same is true and the most striking data: from 1985 and 2008, as much oil was extracted as ever before. What does this mean? Exponential growth means that extraction keeps doubling and in the last step more is extracted than ever before. This is unlike eternity. Do you know what Woody Allen says about eternity? He says it is very long, especially toward the end. However, exponential gets very fast toward the end. Now we have all information to look at global oil extraction. At first I show the curve only up to the present day. So far there has been a monotonous growth. Well, for the future three scenarios are possible. The first: it will grow up to the point where it is no more economical; this will add a triangle to the curve. Others say: we know how much is left; suppose production will continue at today's level for another 42 years. OK, but remember Hubbert and his chart: We saw a hump. We will likely have a hump, too. The remainder of the oil will come at a decreasing rate. Neither further growth, nor constant extraction take place, we will see a decreasing extraction. Please let me tell a joke about this. Two wrens are sitting on a branch. A fox comes by. They ask the fox: Do you want to be easygoing? Of course, yes. Then come, sit on this branch. The branch cracks under the weight of the fox. The birds get on wings and ask the fox: "Hey, fox, can you fly?" "No, I can't." "Easygoing…" Can we get our society off oil within 3-4 years? Probably not. Easygoing, eh? We need to find substitutes. Natural gas, coal, uranium are poor candidates as they will run out as well. Also, the technology is not up to replacing the huge amount of oil - we use about 80 million barrels a day. Most people think about renewables, but the available amount is less than needed. Let us see the consumption of an average Hungarian. Red means what we consume in one day per person. Green means what is available from renewable sources. We cannot tell yet if consumption is more or the potentially available energy resources. No simple question. Words as huge, or adequate, are not helpful. We need numbers. One Hungarian consumes 87 kWh worth of energy a day. Of this, presently only 5 kWh is from renewable sources. This mainly represents firewood. Energy saving can reduce the need to 70 kWh per day, and the potential for renewable energy is 39 kWh per day. Let us see the composition. We have energy from the sun. One square metre gets 160 W. This is average; at night, nil, when the sky is overcast, radiation is reduced. If everyone has 10sq metres of solar energy collection equipment on top of the house - impossible in Budapest, but let us suppose - then 4.4% of total energy needs are covered If we covered the sunniest 1% of the territory of the country with concentrated solar energy collectors, we would cover 30% of the energy needs. This would mean 930 square kilometres. Mind you, the total solar energy collection capacity installed in the world is much less than that. We, small Hungarians may build it, but allow me some scepticism. What is next? Wind energy. We know that this country is not particularly well endowed with wind energy. If we take again 1% of the territory of the country used for wind energy, we get about 2.3% of what we need. This is not much, as the country is not windy enough. Besides sunlight, the greatest potency is in biomass. Use of arable land, forestry, can add a few percentages. Wood can be chopped to the extent forests grow, otherwise after some time, no forests will be left. The situation with arable land is similar: we want to grow food on it, not energy plants. We can use the secondary produce for energy. These two add 7-8 per cent. The third possibility is forests in the flood-basin. Presently, there are none. The Great Plain has almost been made into desert by the regulation of the rivers. Flood prevention drives the water off the Great Plain. If 500,000 hectares of cultivated land on which growers lose money now was returned to the rivers, a new form of cultivation could be established. Besides cattle rasing and fruit growing, the flood-bank forests could be used for energy production. Contribution to energy could be up to 9.2% We should also mention geothermic energy. Hungary has significant reserves of it. Still, according to calculations by the Academy of Sciences, with intensive investment for 20 years, maximum contribution can attain 5.6% only. Well, let us add them up. Oil, gas, coal, nuclear… Sun, wind, biomass, geothermal energy… We can see this is less than half of what we need, so this is not an adequate solution. What is the solution then? You cannot leave here in a state of mind you came with. You cannot say someone will find a solution. The guy on the stage will solve the problem. The politicians will solve the problem… No. We have to solve the problem together. The problem is too big. Don't say we are all different. We are different in that someone is blind, the other is deaf, and yet others do not speak about it. Is it familiar? I was a little like that. We cannot go on like that. We are all responsible. Another problem that, when we do not shun the problem, we revert to partial solutions. Such partial solutions usually make the situation worse. A typical example is the fight against the ragweed. Ragweed appears on ploughland that is stopped being cultivated. Ragweed is invasive, it starts to conquer the field. We, in turn, send people to the field with a mower to cut it down. What is the result? Ragweed gets new scope for growing. If we did not mow it down, in a few years an ecosystem would develop that would control ragweed. We are helping the spread of ragweed by mowing it year in, year out. It is just one of bad solutions. It is like crust on a wound. We keep scratching it, therefore the wound will take longer to heal, if ever. Let me tell you an example of a globally bad partial solution. This figure was printed in a serious periodical, I think Nature. This chart shows in what fields has the Earth transgressed the green circle which shows the limit within which the problem is still manageable. One of them is the climate change. Next is the nitrogen cycle (fertiliser use), meaning more nitrogen enters the environment than it can cope with; The most striking is the loss of biodiversity, i.e. species die out. Let me pick the nitrogen cycle. We know that global population will continue to increase in future. Therefore we will need more ploughland (although hardly available), and obviously we will use more fertilizers. We feed people - partial solution - but the nitrogen situation will get worse. We don't know how long the environment can cope with the nitrogen, maybe not for long. So, we apply partial solutions when we really should apply marginal ones. Solutions that are at the margins of the present system. What you see here is a view of Almeria, Spain. When you go to a supermarket and buy tomatoes or green peppers, they were made here. Europe's vegetables are produced here in winter time. Produced not grown. This is industry, y'know, fertiliser under, plastic over. The original photo of the plastic greenhouses did not fit the screen. It had to be trimmed. Well, what happens if there is not enough energy available? Say because we were so easygoing that we forgot about oil? This system will halt. The tomato will not grow legs to come to the supermarket We need a different solution, something that is on the edge of our system and is connected to it and when the system braks down, can take over the function. Something like this. Of course, we will not have tomatoes in winter, but we will have onions, cabbages etc. There is a model. In 1940, the United Kingdom was blockaded by the Germans. Great Britain is not a place where all necessary food can be produced. It is too northerly, and there is not enough arable land. They had to rely in imports. Everyone knew this, and marines died on the ships that were sunk by German submarines. The British felt it obligatory to change this situation. What could be done? They created the "Victory gardens". Whoever wanted, got 250sq meters' land in a London park to grow vegetables. Farming by Londoners saved lives. Indirectly, our situation is similar or at least approaching. So, we used to have a plan 'A' before coming to this hall. The plan was that we would live better, use more technology, we'll have more of this and that. We'll DEVELOP. Well, development is important, but it seems that we have to give up Plan 'A'. For want of Plan 'A', we need Plan 'B'. Parts of Plan 'B' are renewable resources, using them is essential. This lightbulb which is OFF symbolises thrift. The Victory garden and all like it is related to locality. The bicycle symbolises the same. These three may, just, help. The idea has worked in history before. The Roman Empire had reached its maximum expansion by the time of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. In the north, they confronted the bellicose Germans who had nothing. In the East, they were stopped by the Parthans. The Empire stopped growing, no new gold, raw materials or slaves were coming in. They could no longer increase the army nor the workers. Because of the continual attacks, the Empire had to defend its borders. Growth used to keep the Empire going, but it stopped, leading to the collapse in 150 - 200 years' time. Had they dismantled the 'limes' and defended only the cities - defended infrastructure and the wealth and knowledge of the citizens by creating small fiefdoms - the result would have been the same but with less sacrifices. So we can do one of two things: either we force Plan 'A', growth in the old way for which have to be very easygoing as there will be no more oil to keep it up, or we adopt Plan 'B'. It does matter whether Nature will force us or we do the first step. I would like to wish you good succes and thank you for your attention. (APPLAUSE)
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