Monday, February 24, 2014


"It's hard to make predictions, especially about the future."

Peak Oil
  • What oil price can the global economy support without going into a recession?
  • Have we passed peak $50/bbl oil?
  • Have we passed peak $100/bbl oil?
  • With oil companies cutting back on capital spending, how will global oil production rates continue to increase?
  • Has global conventional oil production peaked?
  • Will increases in unconventional oil production be able to offset declines in conventional oil production?
  • What percentage of oil and gas well casings fail over a 1000 year time span?
  • How many earthquakes are the direct result of hydraulic fracturing and the resulting underground waste water disposal?
  • Do we have enough water to continue increasing the rate of shale oil and gas extraction?
  • Will we see peak oil because of peak demand or peak supply?
  • Once we pass peak oil, will we have a smooth transition to sustainable energy sources or will we have a collapse?
Climate Change
  • Once you account for the methane that leaks into the atmoaphere along the life cycle, is fracking for gas better or worse than coal for climate change?
  • What is a "safe" amount of global warming?
  • After all of the positive and negative feedback loops are accounted for, what is the real warming potential of a ton of greenhouse gas?
  • Given that warming potential, how many tons of greenhouse gas can we safely emit into the atmosphere?
  • How much economically-extractable hydrocarbon energy is left in the ground?
  • Is the amount of economically-extractable hydrocarbons in the ground higher or lower than the amount we can safely emit?
  • Is it possible with current technology to hold global warming to a safe level without harming our economy?
  • When will we see a global carbon tax?
  • Will China unilaterally tax carbon?
  • Will politicians fail to act on climate change until we see catastrophic climate disruptions (thermohaline shutdown, megastorms, megadraughts, greenland ice sheet collapse)?
  • If politicians wait until a crisis to act, will it be too late to halt climate change?
  • If we fail to act, is it possible to reverse climate change through geoengineering?
Economic Sustainability
  • Is it possible in this century to provide 10 billion people a developed-world standard of living without destroying the environment?
  • Throughout history, when governments have rapidly debased their currencies through money printing, it has always led to high inflation. This time though, all of the government are doing it at the same time and we haven't seen much inflation yet - is this time different?
  • How long can real interest rates remain negative?
  • What ever happened to breaking up banks that were too big to fail?
  • Why did the Federal Reserve Bank of New York say it would take 7 years to repatriate 674 tons of gold to Germany when they claim to have 6,700 tons of gold in their New York vault?
  • Can income inequality continue to get more severe every year without a triggering some kind of backlash?

"Plan for the future because that's where you are going to spend the rest of your life." -Mark Twain