I’m lifting these comments by Doug Marker on my last entry to a seperate post since I think they are very well worth reading. Thank you Doug!!
The only thought I’d like to add is about the world war 3 hypothesis, at least involving the US (without them I wouldn’t call it WWIII). With energy assets loosing value, there is actually less to make physical war about; less gain = less war.
Here are som relevant NASA slides from 2001. From this, my conclusion unfortunately is that WWIII is already happening, and it’s as much a question about governments fighting their own people/individuals/cityzens (maybe more) than fighting other governments. Examples:
— start of Doug Marker quote —- Updates at the bottom —
This is an essay that considers the possibility and likely consequences of a disruptive new energy technology emerging very quickly.
In looking at the Rossi eCat ‘ERV’ report claims as published by Andrea Rossi, few people that I know of, expected the claimed results to include a COP of 50. I think most if not all, who expected any results at all, imagined it might average out at at
least 3 but optimistically up to 6. The announcement that it reached 50 for such a long period of the test was stunning to say the least. A COP of 50 is not a simple advance, it would be spectacular and if accepted today, an energy game-changer and a perfect example of a ‘disruptive’ technology. One that has the potential in a very short period to shift the way energy is created and used. Changes that would alter the fate of many countries, especially those who have built their economies on selling oil that is on average dearer that cheap Arab oil but still profitable for them. Some countries (esp in Sth America & Africa & some parts of the Middle East, plus those European countries who rely on their more expensive off-shore oil. Some could face political collapse if their oil loses its strategic role and value. Oil is an intrinsic part of most nations foreign policies. Saudi Arabia is a special case and is of concern for a number of special reasons. It is a fragile country in this regard. Fragile in the sense that a shift away from oil as a primary could see the Saud family dynasty overthrown and Sunni Wahhabi extremists take over. This is what they are already attempting to do in Syria and Iraq. It is interesting that just in this past month the US Govt has directly intervened in the affairs of Saudi Arabia who have now committed to: one, divesting themselves of 100% control of their nation’s oil reserves (still the largest in the world); and two, to open the country up. The current closed to outsiders approach has to end. Dropping their isolation is the best way to undermine the Wahhabi extremists who are taking full advantage of the closed nature of Saudi Arabia society because of the isolation enforced in the past by the Saud family. Any deeper turmoil in the Middle East could be a harbinger of world war 3. The tensions are ripe. One fuse could well be a disruptive technology emerging that kicks the feet from under oil as a primary strategic commodity ruled *and managed* by nations’ and intrinsic in their foreign policies. Anyone in any doubt only needs to read Daniel Yergin’s Pulitzer prize winning book “The Prize”. The story is an amazing one.
If, as I personally suspect, the attacks on LENR and even Rossi, are all about delay, the need being to get the world in order first. If this were to be the case, then the current contradictions, the claims and counter-claims, seem to fall into place.
The bigger picture has national interests and conflict avoidance at heart. The small picture is to get LENR on the table as a working ‘new energy’ we can all make use of. Climate issues are a seperate matter also needing consideration.
I expect the current debate to continue at a shrill level. What I watch out for are the people who have a clear history of whipping up anti LENR and anti Rossi hysteria. That choice of word is IMHO a perfect fit for much of what is being said about Andrea Rossi. The way he is spoken about by supposedly well educated intelligent people is simply irrational unless the nature of the personal attacks is to serve a purpose or is part of a hidden agenda. The evidence seems to be to delay LENR emergence at all costs and Rossi the man is one cost. Also, consider how many of the better known anti-Rossi attackers, are so certain they know 100% what they claim is true, that this somehow allows them to be so virulent in their claims, when, none of them thus far have been directly involved.
Does anyone remember the hysteria that occurred in the USA in web forums over the US decision to invade Iraq. I remember it only too well and how nasty and shrill the pro-invasion ‘voices’ got. Those of us outside the US had a very different view of if Saddam Hussien had the weapons of mass destruction that the administration claimed and used as the justification for the invasion. Then years later we learned (via leaked documents) that some US Govt agencies and military interests set up teams to go into forums and chat sites to force their views anywhere that serious questions were being raised against the invasion. I had not experienced anything that nasty before until now, but acknowledge the ‘Pons & Flichman episode also got very nasty. So today the virulence is about anti LENR remarks and in particular some rather vicious personal attacks on Rossi and now even other open minded blog journalits like Peter Gluck, Jed Rothwell and Matts Lewan. These are people who seek to keep an open debate and avoid extreme positions that are showin g up in the anti side of the debate.
No one should argue that nations are not aware of the limited life span remaining for oil as a primary source of energy. Governments worldwide have met and chosen to work together to devise alternative non-polluting sources for a replacement primary energy. The belief is the world has 30-40 years of known oil reserves and new ones are still being located.
The Tokamak as our saviour. Tokamaks (from Wikipedia) “is a device that uses a powerful magnetic field to confine plasma in the shape of a torus. Achieving a stable plasma equilibrium requires magnetic field lines that move around the torus in a helical shape.”There are several Tokamak projects underway in several countries. Notably ‘ITER’ in France a combined effort between China, Europe, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the USA. Then there is an even longer term follow-on ‘DEMO’, plus China also has its seperate ‘CFETR’ project. But the Tokamaks seem to be still decades away even *if* they can be made both effective *and* efficient. The point that needs to be made here is that Tokamaks are massively expensive and massively complex and as of today massively under-performing. The goal is for 500MW out for about 50MW needed to drive one. A rough COP of 10. Perhaps in 20 years if we are lucky.
Wind power is a help but is not a large scale solution, it is expensive to set up, expensive to run and maintain and requires constant subsidization. Denmark is a world leader in manufacturing windmills and as well as exporting them uses them to supply a significat percentage of their national needs. But, they are highly subsidised. Denmark also has a particularly large area of shallow ocean surronding its landmass and a good average of wind to run the windmills. Solar panels are also not yet a satisfactory solution and have similar cost to manufacture, logistics and maintenance problems as wind power devices.
LENR as a solution is in a class of its own once it is finally accepted, the devices refined and the biased bickering about the lack of a theory is put into perspective.
If however Rossi has his ‘miracle’ eCat, or there is perhaps some other known LENR such as Brillouin’s boiler, or even some under the radar LENR project, that have working potentially disruptive new energy technology. Then there are the other claims such as that of Randall Mills and his brilliant light technology, then disruption may well be nigh.
A ‘potential disruption’ line of logic can not be easily dismissed or sneezed at. The energy claims *are* out there, the consequences of any of these claims being real and perhaps ready to be developed are monumental. Those who choose to rail against LENR based on their conviction that the science hasn’t come up with the theory, need to read about the history of science and the blatant opposition to new theories that has dogged science since it began. So many discredited ‘theories’ later allowed science to leap ahead in the way it has. LENR *has* already been proven to be real. The propagandists refuse to admit it. So, those who argue otherwise have a problem or an agenda. The LENR issue is “is it ready for prime time”.
Back to the Middle East, we have seen the consequences of national aspirations of Middle East people rising to the surface. The map of the Middle East is crumbling and the artificial boundaries set as a consequence of the WW1 and WW2 western carve ups (read Daniel Yergin’s book about this) are no longer useful nor defensible. The same might be said of African nations too. Many of these were western political carve ups that cut across traditional tribal boundaries and loyalties.
One recent regional upheaval has been the Iranian revolution. The Shites of Iran saw a potential to create a grand Shite Caliphate encompassing Iran (dominantly Shite), Iraq (dominantly Shite), Syria (where Shites are a minority but rule the country as the Alahwite sect of Shia, Lebanon (where Shite Hizbollah militias have effective control) and Gaza another Hizbollah stronghold. Had Iran obtained a nuclear weapon capability, that along with Irainian expansion (as was happening post the Iran-Iraq war) then the potential for a Middle East conflagration was well brewed.
However, the western powers have managed to contain Iran, and despite the misgivings of some western allies (read Israel) the US has recently pushed to end Iran’s isolation and has promoted the acceptance of its status as a potential regional superpower. A reality that horrifies the Sunnis led by the Saudi Arabia.
In retaliation for Iran’s ambitions, groups of Iraqi Sunnis combined with Syrians, began fighting for their own Sunni Caliphate. It would take part of Iraq, part of Syria, all Jordan and if they could, all Saudi Arabia. ISIS/ISIL are the core of that movement. It is a continuation of the dreams promoted by the Saudi Osama Bin Laden and an extension of the Wahhabi movement that is so strong in religiously controlled Saudi Arabia. These Sunni extremists have shown they are a force to be reckoned with. IN Syria and Iraq, they are using captured oil to fund much of their revolution.
The fear from the anti-Iranian powers is that with the US-Iran peace, based on a commitment of Iran not to develop a bomb, now signed, that the Iranians are free to expand trade and export oil without constraint which could allow them to become so wealthy that no one could stop them doing whatever they want including secret work to proceed on their nuclear weapons program. The balance between moderates and hard liners in Iran is on a knife’s edge.
So a what-if scenario is that ‘what-if’ the western powers (America in particular) know that there is a replacement for oil, ready and capable. Then establishing peace with Iran means that Iran will have very limited time to take advantage of its oil. The prices could (and would) drop to a small profit more in norm with any other useful (but not political) commodity. Iran’s ambitions would and could be held in check, i.e. Iran could not use its oil muscle to threaten neighbors or anyone else. It seems to me this is a valid scenario that has been stitched up and being enacted now.
Getting Saudi Arabia under control seems to be the current item on the agenda and the goal seems to be to starve the Wahhabi extremists of an opportunity to overthrow the Saudi government and then have in their hands the power that oil would give them. The Saud family are on thin ice. They are an anachronism in this modern age. They have been getting away with it because they controll the world’s greatest oil reserves and also one of the cheapest in cost per barrel to lift.
I don’t know what today’s real cost per barrel to lift are (it is all online though) but there is a big difference. The cheapest was always the Iraq oil, Saudi oil came close, but then the cost starts to rise markedly. Off-shore oil is much dearer per barrel to lift, Alaskan oil even more so. Many of the smaller oil nations such as Venezuela and Nigeria have of late only kept their production costs around sale price. Any significant drop in price would hit them hard.
So again, the case exists that a sudden introduction of a disruptive new cheap energy could topple many producing nations. The political instability would affect us all. At worst trigger a new world war.
So, if LENR has been proven, then the governments of the world have some very serious challenges they must deal with before any shift in the balance of energy power shakes up the world.
What is the use of owning a cheap eCat if we are all off fighting world war 3.
— Update #1 —
Here too are some opinions claiming the imminent collapse (I hope that has been staved off) – but, such opinions raise the specter of a cash rich country collapsing.
ANALYSIS: The House Of Saud: Is It About To Burn Or Just Collapse?
Another view “The fall of the house of Saud”
Middle East Time Bomb: The Real Aim of ISIS Is to Replace the Saud Family as the New Emirs of Arabia
Saudi royal calls for regime change in Riyadh
There are many more such frightening scenarios
— Update #2 —
An interesting commentary of the re-emergence of Iran.
The Iranian dream of a reborn Persian Empire
In particular see the map in the above link …
Resurgent Iran is the last great emerging market
Here is a very important link to cost of oil production versus current price.
Look at the chart titled “Breakeven oil price by country”.
Look at the chart titled “Breakeven oil price by country”.
It is clearly a problem for most oil producers and getting worse if the price of oil keeps dropping – currently listed at that site as $37 a barrel.
Again, if someone has a disruptive energy technology close to being usable (even if still a few years away) then the picture gets very bleak for some of those nations.