Thursday, February 5, 2009

Fluidity: Part one: the basics

Fluidity is a fairly simple concept, and not a new idea, at least to anyone who would take the time to think about how reality unfolds it's not a new idea.

The way many people view the world can be described as segmented, divided into neat sections. Countries, states, counties, provinces, cities, towns, minutes, hours, seasons, months, gender, race, ethnicity, to name only few. Every idea I've listed here is part of the human thinking process that involves separating and dividing the world into manageable pieces, it's a very clever system that we build our lives around, and is a very efficient and wonderful system.

Except for one thing, and that's globalization. Humanity has reached the point were the vastness and availability of information far outstrips our ability to process it, and our geographical separation means we have difficulty understanding the plight of others. For instance, if you live in Bangkok India as a small businessmen perhaps, can you understand how a stock broker in New York felt in September 2008? The most likely answer is no.

This may seem to be a small concern, until you consider the other implications this separation has. If you combine this emotional inability with the highly complex and varied landscape of the world, the human mind just cannot cope. It removes any extraneous information and focuses on just a few portions of information that are relevant to that person or person's. That's why president Obama's search for a whitehouse puppy is given more attention then fighting in Sri Lanka.

This means when a person looks at events occurring at any given time, they will filter and select only a few that directly pertain to or concern them. Such a limited viewpoint reinforces the concept of rigid structure, and deceives the average individual into perceiving a simple world, ignoring the much more complex and fluid nature of it.

This can give rise to ideas of conspiracy, like the idea of the existence of a hidden world government or a so called secret society that pulls the strings behind the scenes. If you perceive the world as simple, then such an idea has merit. I will explore the idea of conspiracy in the next post.

Monday, February 2, 2009


Again, I haven't updated the blog in a while, but with the time demands of school, work and a modest personal life, I haven't had much time. But have no fear the one or two people who have read this blog before, I will have a new article out on what I will be calling "social non-fluidity", not sure if anyone's coined the term yet.

The topic of Social non-fluidity is an examination of how we view the world in tiers and separation, and how this image we have of the world is inherently flawed, and results in conspiracy theories and mental separation from government.

The article should be up by Friday, barring unforeseen circumstance, like another physics test.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Not-So-Peak Oil

There is an interesting theory floating around proposed a while back by a guy named King Hubbert. It's called Hubbert peak oil, or as we like to call it now in short, peak oil.

Peak oil is a scientific method for predicting the point of maximum oil production of a given area. The idea is relatively stable - oil production in a given area will continue to rise with increased drilling activity over a given time period until it hits a certain limit. At the point where this limit is reached the production of oil from a given area will then continue to decline even with an increase in oil drilling activity. There is historical president proving this theory as well - Hubbert was able to predict the production peak of the United States between 1965 and 1970.

History has shown his theory to be true so it was only natural that many smart people began to set out on a bit of a quest to figure out just when the Earth would reach peak oil.

There was one small hitch though - Hubbert created the first peak oil models in the 1950's. Oil production has come a long way in the 50+ years since. We can extract oil effectively from tar sands for instance now, and off shore oil drilling as really caught on with huge finds happening off the coast of Newfoundland and many other places in recent history. (The oil finds in Newfoundland are so huge that Newfoundland is now giving money to the other provinces in Canada as opposed to taking cash. It's what we call a "have" Provence.)

So these new finds have thrown the whole peak oil thing a bit of a curve ball, but nonetheless the smart people pressed on and before long, they had some predictions. It was looking for a while like the pessimistic ones would be true. In early 2008, we had triple digit prices for oil however current oil prices are much, much lower(at the time of this post, they are under $40/barrel)

So what happened? As it turns out it wasn't peak oil, rather it was good old fashion supply and demand. The global economy was growing at a pace that greatly exceeded the price of oil production. Sure there were other factors along the way that contributed to the rise - 6 pipelines being attacked in Mexico, OPEC at one point having lower than expected output ect. But overall, the main factor that ultimately drove the price of the oil through the roof was a global boom that sent speculators crazy, thus giving oil it's incredibly high price.

So this is the part where I admit that for now at least, I was wrong. I predicted that the price of oil would continue to rise, and that we would see the introduction of better alternate fuel sources as a result. We're still seeing those alternate fuel sources come into play, but without the economic motivator of high fuel prices, sales of alternate energy sources will likely stay flat.

The economy is great at adapting to market unfriendly conditions. If we see 300 or 400 dollar per barrel oil, many new technologies will become vary attractive. When they reach sufficient market penetration they will become much cheaper, effectively limiting our need for oil, thus dropping the price of oil.

I think peak oil is real - we will eventually see a point where global the growth of the economy outstrips the demand and does so in a more long term fashion. When that happens, more ways of powering transportation will emerge, effectively dropping the price of oil thus keeping it at a realistic level. There are a lot of doom-and-gloom predictions about how our reliance on oil will end (often ending in the fall of the western world), but I think all of these underestimate the resilience of humanity, and it's ability to adapt to rapidly changing conditions.