Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Chris Harries

The bottom line is …

It’s not hard to get a strong debate going about energy choices. Most Tasmanian citizens have a personal preference for various choices such as wind, wave, geothermal, nuclear etc, and most people have a position on the ones they don’t particularly like. Then there are keen enthusiasts out there who believe they have the ultimate solution to our energy future, and these people often disagree bitterly with each other.

So, who are we to believe? How do we make rational choices?

In this article I am going to try to do the impossible, introduce some rationality to our energy choices. At the end of the day, alternatives have to be realistic, not based on romantic whims or wishful thinking. The sums have to stack up.

So here is a short guide to what matters most – real energy. That is: what is the net energy return you will get from any energy resource? And how do energy choices compare? And is it actually possible to replace oil?

Read the rest, inc extensive graphs, on the PeakOil website, HERE

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. peter mackenzie

    August 17, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    As I have said to Chris directly, excellent article, and I have already forwarded it on to a number of other interested people in Tassie and mainland.

    Re VFT (Very Fast Train) #9 and Chris’ reply #11.

    I am part way through an update on the parlous state of Australia’s transport system which will comment on VFT and the Tasmanian situation. I am a slow writer, but will try to get that to Lindsay for publication soon.

    I like the idea of interactive articles for the peak oil website. Excellent.

    cheers to TT readers and Linz for making it happen.

    Peter Mackenzie

  2. Doug Nichols

    August 17, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Chris, #11, I’ve read quite a few of the articles on the site. It’s all good stuff. I suggested in #4 that some discussion of what life might be like post-oil would be a worthwhile addition. I still think that. I would like to read something about what daily life might be like; what travel and holidays might be like; what modern medical care such as dentistry might be like; what might happen to modern communications technologies. The list is a very long one.

    Presumably there will be great changes ahead (though perhaps slow and not necessarily entirely within our lifetimes). Presumably also, life will not (necessarily) be as it was before oil, because a great deal of technological development has occurred since then. But what will it be like? Prediction is usually fraught with uncertainty, but it would be interesting to read some intelligent speculation.

    I am also very interested in how the outcome might differ according to our degree of up-front preparation, as I mentioned in #4. Reading some informed opinion of how the future might unfold with or without our current denial might help to shake some of our politicians out of their dreamworld of endless growth.

  3. Chris Harries

    August 16, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    Hi Doug (#5) and Helen (# 9),

    The peak oil website is soon to have a set of three articles: What people can do, What communities can do and What the Tasmanian government should be doing.

    These articles will be interactive, enabling people to add to the suggestion / policy list and thus make up a community-based list of ideas.

    Helen, regarding the Very Fast Train proposal for mainland, that’s about the same distance covered as the Madrid to Barcelona VFT and that has eliminated most air traffic between those two cities. So in that respect it works very well.

    There are some who argue that a VFT on balance uses up nearly as many resources as do air flights, particularly since a long new rail corridor would have to be established fro Melbourne to Sydney. I am not an expert on that sorry. I imagine the payback would happen but only after quite a while.

    We need to be prepared to travel more slowly. VFT is an antidote to planes but not an antidote to speed, speed, speed.

    Tasmania’s population density and its terrain would not allow for high capital costs of building a VFT service between our cities. Having said that, it seems there is no end of money to sink into highways.

  4. Trevor K

    August 16, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    Did you listen to Nobel prize winning economist Prof Spence on National Press Club today? When you see the mind of a great economist at work you see how divorced they are from reality. These people are the gods and our politicians their brethren.

    So why bother? We’re all stuffed. Let’s just party to the end. Pity about all the young people though I suppose.

    PS Steve Biddulph – keep on worrying a lot.

  5. helen

    August 16, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Really interesting article Chris. It is a real challenge to Australians to create an alternative future which is not designed around the continued use of oil, given the distances between states, cities and even towns. What are your thoughts on other forms of transport such as VFT?

  6. Russell

    August 16, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    One thing becomes clear from visiting the Sustainable Living Tasmania website is how stupid our Governments have been to withdraw all the incentives to enable individuals and families to actually make a difference themselves and help the country as a whole by making their homes energy efficient.

    In the midday ABC news today a large chink of an Australian solar panel manufacturing company has announced it is heading offshore because sales are drying up as a result of these withdrawals.

  7. Mike Adams

    August 16, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Interesting. Puts in place the roof insulation programme as a Labor GFC solution: more thoughtful than many gave it credit for.

    And another thought to bear in mind when looking at solar domestic: the price of mainline electricity is not going to go down and the twenty-year ‘repayment’ time could be considerably shorter.

  8. lmxly

    August 16, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    This has sorted out a lot of confusion around energy efficiency of alternative energy and provided some really useful references – many thanks Chris!

  9. Doug Nichols

    August 16, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Perhaps I need to study the peakoiltas.org website a bit more closely. It looks like the discussion of futures I was asking for in my previous comment is to be found there.

  10. Doug Nichols

    August 16, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    A very clearly written article. Will there ever be a day when we hear the major-party politicians in this country, or world leaders in general, talking this sort of talk instead of pretending that business-as-usual is both desirable and possible? One day maybe, but it hasn’t happened yet.

    Given the clarity and rationality of the article, it would be good to see the need for “deep cultural changes” taken a bit further to explore what life might be like post-oil. The outcome will be somewhere between two extremes: one if real changes start to be planned and implemented now, and the other if we carry on denying there is a problem until it bites.

  11. Jeff Briscoe

    August 16, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    I agree a very interesting read.

  12. Russell

    August 16, 2011 at 11:27 am

    A very interesting read. Thank you, Chris.

  13. max atkinson

    August 16, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Brilliant; succeeds in doing what so many writers, and far too many politicians, find impossible. Thanks Chris for a thoughtful and well-researched contribution.

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