Human rewards of Energy Regime Change

I would like to point you to the following data on global land usage for specific numbers as to global forestland and grassland/woodlands.

Forests report at 39,886,000 square kms and woodlands report at 34,421,000 square kms. As a comparable, total farmland comes in at 15,335,000. Rather clearly, on a global scale, there are five acres of woodland to every acre of cropland. That suggests that every farmer should be responsible for the management of five acres of forest for every acre that he crops. Of course, it is never so conveniently set up for this, but we now have at least a rule of thumb for any planning efforts.

The other aspect of forest management that we need to recognize is that the inputs need not be overwhelming, although when ones confronts a wild forest, it is totally overwhelming. In practice, a forest will produce a ton of waste while growing a ton of new wood on an annual basis. The forest management trick is to get that ton of waste removed every year. That is also the sole input required for good forest management.

It sounds like a lot, but it is readily handled with modern equipment like chippers, chainsaws and perhaps a hydraulic grabber for larger chunks on a small cart. In fact there is a real price per ton for this type of effort that is readily quantifiable. It is also quickly none by semi skilled workers.

We have 7.5 billion hectares or about 15 billion acres of forest and trees able to produce on average around one ton of wood waste globally. In other words, through the simple expedient of better forest management, we can produce around 15 billion tons of wood chips that would otherwise be released back into the environment mostly as CO2 for those who think this all ends up as soil.

If a ton of wood chips could produce one barrel of oil only, we end up with a oil supply of 40,000,000 barrels per day. I think it will be possible to do twice this, but you can all see where this takes us. Good forest management practices combined with efficient conversion to hydrocarbons could by itself replace geological oil.

No one has taken a sharp pencil to the economics yet, but $90.00 oil very likely is good enough to cover the cost of actually doing this, even perhaps in the developed world and certainly elsewhere with low cost labor.

It would also be wonderful to put every idle body of earth to work harvesting and manufacturing oil in this way. Obviously, no one would lack a base job and this would be a social revolution never needing giveaways.

I also cannot promise that other methods of producing biological fuels will be any easier or ultimately much cheaper, so this can become a permanent component of the global economy.

The ultimate cost of our energy subsidized western lifestyle will be the necessity of extending this lifestyle to everyone on earth. We cannot go backwards.

The signal that this transition has begun will be the establishment of the price of oil at around $200 per barrel. That will be sufficient to support this type of projected infrastructure.

It will also trigger and encourage an unrelenting investment in alternative energy protocols and its swift expansion.

This plus the establishment of terra preta will be the greatest single economic shift in human history with two outcomes. We will have completely sustainable energy and completely sustainable agriculture powerful enough to permit a huge increase in global population.

We have 6 billion people now. The population densities of India and China is very sustainable throughout the tropics and sub tropics once the water problem is properly managed and augmented by atmospheric water. On the other hand our primary constraint of population growth will be this continuous struggle to produce sustainable energy.

As I have shown, it is completely believable that we can harness the biosphere to produce transportation oil for the current population. It is not so believable if the population jumps to much more than twice the current levels. It is also a certainty that the convenience of high energy density fuels like biological oil will make them our first and actually our best choice for portable energy.

The alternatives are possibles but certainly not nearly as convenient. After all no one is afraid of cold cooking oil. Most everything else that you may wish to use, including gasoline will quite happily flatten the neighborhood in an accident.

So yes, there is a lot of fairly simple technology to perfect, but all the ingredients are there.

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