Here is an article which reproduces the graph of declining EROEI for oil and gas.
There is a link to the Hirsch Report in this article:
You scoff at energy profits being low. Let me ask you if you think the profit on a barrel of oil extracted by fracking is higher or lower than a barrel of oil extracted from a conventional well drilled to the same depth. If conventional oil is harder and harder to find, and oil companies turn to fracking (which require near $100/barrel to be profitable), do you think there is as much profit for the company. And if the price of oil must be higher to justify drilling these more difficult wells, what do you think that higher oil price does to the economy. What happens is that higher prices tell people they as a society can't afford oil without giving up something else, which is the way lack of energy to fuel economic activity forces economic contraction, i.e., via price.
What being heavily dependent on energy for production simply means that if the amount of energy that can be extracted in a given time frame, after deducting energy expended to acquire that energy, declines, then production declines, and since production is life sustaining, serious problems arise. Since the amount of energy expended to acquire energy is increasing at a compound rate, and since reserves are finite and production increases cannot possibly outrun the declining EROEI, the logical conclusion is that the system is terminal. That is what being heavily dependent on energy for production means to human beings.
As far as your praise of electricity, I point out that it is not a source of energy. It is a carrier of energy. A primary source of energy is needed to produce electricity; coal and natural gas are the primary sources today. Both coal and natural gas are finite resources, and subject to the same low hanging fruit problem. They both require more energy be expended to acquire them as time passes, eventually reaching the point where the energy profit is insufficient (the difference between the energy in what is extracted is hardly more than the energy expended to acquire them). As far as using electricity for vehicular travel, have you considered the gargantuan amount of resources that must be expended to develop the infrastructure. And there are serious questions as to the efficiency of electric cars vs gas cars. I have seen one analysis that accounts for all the energy that must go into a small electric vehicle compared to a Hummer, and the Hummer over its life actually takes less energy to manufacture, maintain, and fuel than the small electric vehicle. It is not just about the fuel cost.
As far as increases in refining efficiency, these have been relatively insignificant over time, and are limited by the energy in the barrels of oil fed into the refinery and the cost of these changes themselves. Most of the refining capacity in the US is near the engineered life, and there are few plans to expand that capacity, simply because oil executives know that the future of oil is not positive, both because discoveries for the last 25 years have been bleak, and because the cost to acquire oil has been rising. I wouldn't hang my hat on increased refining efficiency as an argument that the energy future is bright.
I am not moved by any of your arguments. These issues have been hashed and rehashed for years on various web sites visited by people interested in the energy future, and it is clear to me that we are approaching a cliff event. Out of desperation oil production has been accelerated from the future to the present by techniques like nitrogen and salt water injection, thus distorting the normal production curves. Energy expended to acquire energy keeps increasing. We increasingly have turned to desperate, marginally profitable (both in energy and dollar terms) efforts in order to keep the energy flowing. All these efforts to postpone the inevitable simply turn what would be a more orderly decline into a dangerous falling off a cliff when the measures finally are exhausted.
I point out that technology is knowledge applied to resources. Both are necessary, and if resources decline, so does technology because there is nothing to use the knowledge on to manipulate. How much can human labor produce without machines, and how can we operate or build machines without energy or the primary resources that make up the machines? Complexity breeds collapse.
"Bend over and grab your ankles" should be etched in stone at the entrance to every government building and every government office.
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