Cassandra has moved. Ugo Bardi publishes now on a new site called "The Seneca Effect."

Friday, December 29, 2017

An Open letter to the School of Public Health, UQ, re: the looming net energy cliff

Geoffrey Chia publishes here the letter that he sent to his colleagues a few months ago. As you may have expected, he received no answer. But we know it is how it goes. So, here it is, for the record. Geoffrey Chia has also been the author of a previous post on "Cassandra's Legacy" (UB)

Open Letter To: Staff of the School of Public Health,
University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, August 2017

From: Dr Geoffrey Chia, MBBS, MRCP, FRACP

Re: The looming Net Energy Cliff, Global Economic/Industrial collapse and Human Die-off

"infinite consumption from a finite resource base is impossible"
Dear Colleagues,

I am a Cardiologist who convened the group "doctors and scientists for sustainability and social justice" in Brisbane from 2006 to 2013 I am writing to your department in the virtually forlorn hope that a tiny handful of you may open your eyes to the most urgent public health issue we face, which will horrifically accelerate human suffering and die-off within a decade1. The effects are already being felt in many parts of the world, masquerading as global economic recession2 or the collapse of certain Middle Eastern societies. This issue has been ignored, denied and dismissed for years by "endless growth" economists and other flat earthers, but denial does not make a problem go away. I refer to the looming catastrophic curtailment of liquid hydrocarbon fuels, the "net energy cliff" that we face in the near future, which will trigger ever more wars (perhaps even nuclear war), cause global economic and industrial collapse, and cause the die-off of billions of people worldwide.

The countries most addicted to petroleum will be hardest hit and Australia will be no exception.
Climate catastrophe is undoubtedly the greatest existential threat to humanity. Despite a huge campaign of deceit and denial perpetrated by the commercial media bankrolled by fossil fuel interests, it can no longer be ignored, now that we see ferocious firestorms burning communities to the ground or torrential floods sweeping through countries or unprecedented droughts, heat waves and storms year upon year. The horrific humanitarian consequences of sea level rise alone boggle the mind, let alone the devastation of our food bowls and other impacts3. However blinkered focus on climate disaster alone, without examining all aspects of the limits to growth, will result in everyone being blindsided by this more urgent public health issue. Especially because mitigation against climate disasters (fueling the fire fighting vehicles and aircraft, relocating and rehousing communities etc) will depend on energy we will not have. The looming collapse of industrial civilisation due to the net energy cliff will curtail fossil fuel emissions far more precipitously and effectively than any greenie campaigning or the Paris Accords can ever achieve.

Why should you listen to anything I say? Because I cite robust information and analyses from honest independent researchers (not corrupted by business interests), views based on hard mathematics and the laws of Physics, every bit as indisputable as the law of Gravity4,5,6. I have repeatedly invited scientists and engineers to try to falsify these arguments, which they have been unable to do. "Sustainability" activists frequently state that "infinite growth on a finite planet is impossible" which is absolutely true. Equally true is the fact that "infinite consumption from a finite resource base is impossible". Our supply of "easy" oil is finite, is depleting in a non-linear fashion (net energy availability declines slowly at first, then abruptly falls off a cliff) and we cannot run industrial civilisation without it. It is a fact that we have overshot the carrying capacity of this planet and there will be hell to pay when the "easy" oil suddenly dries up and we face cold turkey withdrawal.

Contrary to the technofantasists, we have no upscalable alternatives6. Unconventional oil is a scam and those who promote it are liars or fools7,8 Current low oil prices have emboldened the peak oil deniers and led to widespread complacency. However low prices are largely due to demand destruction, not oil overproduction. Low prices do not change the reality of ongoing, relentless, terminal depletion of conventional oil.

Prior to the global financial crisis of 2008, a tiny handful of individuals who looked at the hard data predicted that a looming sudden financial crash was inevitable. The only uncertainty was the exact timing. Meanwhile the majority herd of sheeple continued to place blind faith in a fraudulent system without looking at any data. The same situation exists today with crooked financial shenanigans based on bogus claims about unconventional oils made by deceitful commercial interests8.
I expect most of you will ignore this message and bury your head in the sand.

You will only have yourself to blame when food vanishes from the supermarket shelves, mountains of garbage pile up in your neighbourhood and centrally controlled services grind to a halt with dry taps at home, unflushable toilets and failure of the electric grid6. If the impending population cull results in the die-off of stupid people, biologists will simply attribute that to natural selection at work. If you open your eyes however, you will discover how feasible it is to protect yourself and your family from the worst effects of collapse, provided you plan in advance9. But time is short. The tiny handful of you who are sapient enough to apprehend this vital reality must spread this message to other potentially sapient people and you must incorporate Peak Oil studies where they firmly belong: as an integral and essential part of the Public Health education and research curriculum. I can only speculate why so-called "centres of learning" like UQ have essentially ignored this massive elephant in the room10.

What about the risk of spooking the herd and causing a mass stampede by sending out this message? I have been a voice in the wilderness for more than a decade regarding this matter and despite meeting with and writing to politicians, doctors, scientists and engineers, have achieved no traction11. I know of only a few sapients who are truly aware of this issue, who can be counted on the fingers of an amputated hand. Richard Heinberg reckons that less than a million people worldwide actually understand how dire the near future is going to be.

It is irrelevant if the vast majority of sheeple believe that the Earth is flat. If the data and evidence show that the Earth is round, then it is round and the majority sheeple are clueless and deluded. Truth is not determined by democratic vote nor majority opinion of the masses, it is determined by objective scientific scrutiny. The herd mindset has been completely captured by trivial drivel and monumental deceit perpetrated by the establishment media (who propagated the criminal "WMDs in Iraq" lies). Those corporate lackeys dismiss realists such as myself as "alarmists", to which I respond: if a house is on fire, those who raise the alarm are acting to save lives, but those who deny it are murderers.

Listen or don't listen, live well or die miserably when the crunch comes, it is up to you.

G. Chia Aug 2017

  1. essential interview with energy expert Alice Friedemann:
  2. Former Queensland State Minister for Sustainability Andrew McNamara said to me years ago at a private meeting that he had no hope whatsoever that the political process will be able to address this issue. He should know, having tried his best during his time as Minister (he previously wrote a White Paper on Peak Oil vulnerability in Queensland with former Transport Minister Rachel Nolan, which was ignored). I was naively optimistic many years ago when Andrew and Rachel held office, that it may be possible for the majority of Australians to eventually transition to fossil fuel free sustainable lifestyles, guided by wise leadership and scientific recommendations. There is zero hope of that now and it is inevitable that the vast majority will die in chaos, perplexed and resentful that the promise of a flying car in every garage touted by the hubristic media was never delivered.


Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome, faculty member of the University of Florence, and the author of "Extracted" (Chelsea Green 2014), "The Seneca Effect" (Springer 2017), and Before the Collapse (Springer 2019)