Egypt’s Problems – Robert Knight interviews Gail Tverberg

A few days, ago, Robert Knight of  WBIA public radio in New York City interviewed me about the problems in Egypt. The interview touched a little on Libya’s problems as well. I am not certain of when the interview actually aired. He asked me about a number of issues, including peak oil.

I thought a few readers might be interested. This is a link to the MP3 recording. It is about a half-hour in length.
Tverberg Oil Interview – 22 Feb 2011

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.
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17 Responses to Egypt’s Problems – Robert Knight interviews Gail Tverberg

  1. robert wilson says:

    Is it time to bring back the 55 mph speed limit?

    • marty schoffstall says:

      Interestingly the Spanish are doing that on an emergency basis right now. I assume that southern Europe is in trouble with the shutdown in Libya of petroleum exports, that’s going to have impact on diesel fuel availability.

      With the continued unrest in Tunisia, cross your fingers, I doubt whether southern Europe can lose too much more NG exports without electrical generation issues this Summer.

    • I understand Spain has already lowered its speed limit. I expect it will take a while to get anything similar passed in the United States, though.

      • Bicycle Dave says:

        As I recall, Spain tried this before and had a huge backlash from motorists. Maybe this time it will stick.

        Getting 55 mph here is a long way off. I remember the “be nifty, drive 50” in the 70s – any motorist who adhered to this soon found discovered the definition of Road Rage.

        I think 55 mph is a futile gesture. If we had a nation wide max of 35 mph then I think we could actually buy some time to deal with a PO transition. At 35 mph we could dispense with most crash protection considerations (of course two 35 mph head on is a catastrophic 70 mph crash) and start using Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (glorified golf carts) combined with mass transit (ie Plan C). Many could be recharged with a home PV system. Bicycles and velomobiles might actually be tolerated on the common roadways.

        But, I’m dreaming again – most unlikely it is going to happen until collapse is around the corner.

        • DownToTheLastCookie says:

          Hi Dave,

          I think you have the right Idea, but I think the speed is going to end up being in the 45 to 50 mph range and not 35. Second, there is 4 times more energy in a 70 mph vehicle than a 35 mph vehicle. (E= MC2). Which should mean 2 vehicles going 35 mph head on would only have 1/2 energy in an accident than a single vehicle going into a stationary block wall at 70 mph.

        • Mean Mr Mustard says:

          Meanwhile, over in Blighty …

          “Motorway speed limits could be raised to 80mph and those on city and town roads be reduced, with the decision on restrictions being made as much on cost as on safety. The Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, said yesterday that decisive factors could include the economic benefits of faster travel as well as environmental concerns”.

        • Ikonoclast says:

          This is a reply to Down to the last Cookie.

          I believe you are wrong about the energy ratios in the crashes you give as examples. The energy released in each crash is the same. It is ironic that you used the equation from relativistic mechanics when the classical mechanics equation would have sufficed (at such low speeds relative to the speed of light) and yet you forgot to consider relativism in your calculations.

          The key point is that the kinetic energy of any entity depends on the reference frame in which it is measured. In each case the closing speed is 70 mph. In the case of the car v car collision we can regard one car as the sationary reference point and the other car as closing at 70 mph. The kinetic energy calculation is thus the same as for a 70 mph car hitting a stationary block.

          Your implicit assumption of the earth as an absolute reference frame in the case was fallacious. It is the relative collision speed of the objects in question which generates the conversion of (relative) kinetic energy into the heat, sound, and deformation of material in the collision. I’m sure a physics graduate would back me on up on this whilst explaining it in rather clearer terms.

  2. Arthur Robey says:

    Good to hear your voice at last Gail, and the fact that you are getting traction.
    Some people learn through their eyes, and some through their ears, but most of us absorb information best with a combination.
    There is nothing I would like to issue with.
    The part where you explained that there was a co-relation between the price of oil and debt defaults could have been clarified for the sceptics, although it was crystal clear to me.
    If you want to understand the real world, talk to an actuary. Their careers depend on weighing the risks accurately.
    From an actuarial point of view, how much have the payouts for climate related catastrophes changed over the last 10 years?

    • I haven’t been involved with climate change enough to know exactly how this has worked out. The 2005 and 2008 hurricanes were quite bad, and I think the climate change committees are trying to figure out how to build the risk of more hurricanes into the rates going forward. State regulators often have to approve the rates. Unless there is a very good case, a state like Florida does not like to raise rates, and drive potential home buyers and businesses away.

      One of the issues with hurricane payouts is simply that people have been building more properties, and more expensive properties, right along the coastlines. So part of the reason that claims have increased is simply because there are so many more buildings, right in the path of storms.

      I was also on This Week in Energy this week (Episode 64), talking about Libya. That is a one hour video.

      • Arthur Robey says:

        “18 hours * 16 kWh = 288 kWh = 1,037 MJ. That is the amount of energy in 26 kg of gasoline (7.9 gallons). Given the size and weight of the device, this rules out a chemical source of energy.” (I make it 27.77kg of petrol.)
        Nothing subtle about that.

        From here.

        I don’t know how familiar you are about the Coulomb barrier and Quantum tunnelling, or the role of the weak force that can change the flavour of the the bottom quark, thereby changing a proton to a neutron which of course would make it invisible to Coulomb barrier.

        There are at least 6 contenders for an explination, ony one of which will bring a Nobel Prize.

        I see that the Swedish academia is not dismissive. Perhaps they are humbled by their ignorance. (Prof Sven Kollander.)

        Question. Did the Romans understand the chemical explanation for cement? Did they allow their ignorance of all the facts prevent them from investigating the potential of the phenomena?
        Then why do we insist on a theory to support the evidence of our eyes?
        Why do we spend huge sums on ITER and dismiss out of hand
        the many thousands of papers on Low Energy Nuclear
        Are all these researchers deluded?
        This is pathological skepticism.
        We will pay dearly for it.

        • One of our big issues today is the fact that even if we discover a new source of energy, the scale up from laboratory experiment to full scale production takes a very long time and quite a bit of investment (including energy investment). It would be at least a twenty year exercise in the best of times–more like 50 years, if we look at past energy transitions. One problem is that we don’t have time. Another is that we are reaching limits in many ways simultaneously (fresh water, pollution, minerals extracted, etc.) and fixing one problem doesn’t really fix the other problems (although adding energy to the mix does help more than most, especially if it is cheap, abundant energy).

  3. RobM says:

    Good interview. Nice to associate a voice with a pen.

  4. Bicycle Dave says:

    Hi Gail,

    I am not certain of when the interview actually aired.

    Do you know if they did air the interview? If so, I wonder what kind of reaction they got – the usual (expected) way to end an interview like this is to suggest a shinning path if we simply chose to follow the advice. The “advice” (for this topic) usually has something to do with electric cars and light bulbs.

    Good job – I enjoyed listening!

  5. Jb says:

    I’ll echo similar sentiments: it was great to hear your voice! Thanks for doing the interview and for posting a link. I hope you get more opportunities.

  6. Owen says:

    Let me offer up a military perspective.

    Egypt’s ties to the US from the billion or so in aid they get each year, military aid, has ramifications that left wing sorts don’t understand.

    They send their young officers to the US to train. US logistics bases from Ohio to California to Utah to Georgia have buildings staffed by middle to senior Egyptian officers who coordinate tech orders (maintenance manuals and how to procedures) for all the equipment they are buying.

    In other words, it’s not at all uncommon to have Egyptian personnel living in the US for months at a time, going out at night with Americans to parties and getting thoroughly exposed to all sorts of Americana. They form professional and personal friendships and take all that back home.

    Let’s keep in mind that this was not a bloodless, peaceful (what was the final body count?) revolution. This was a military coup. Not ANYONE marching in the streets is in control of Egypt today. The military is. Mubarak, if he’s not already dead, is probably in a coma. His pancreatic cancer was reported on last July. The military didn’t like his succession plan so they did their own thing.

    Folks might like to think rainbows and walking in a street did something, but while you think that note who is in control.

    You better hope it stays that way. In a world where American dominance depends on continuing to burn a disproportionate (to population) amount of disappearing oil, a military government largely friendly to America is far more desirable than a democratic government that acts to undercut American interests.

    In the 5 billion human die-off coming, the goal of American leaders must be total disproportion. If only 1.8B are to survive, and there are 320 million Americans alive now, we have no choice but to use military force to obtain everything necessary to limit American death counts to 10 or 15 million. There aren’t going to be any volunteers to be among the 5B. They’ll have to be forced.

    No choice, people, and every one of you knows it.

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