Saturday, May 18, 2013

Post Peak Oil Economic and Population Scenarios: Part 8 the total sharing scenario

Now that I have finished exploring the various export mitigation scenarios, I had planned to compare the predicted population changes associated with these strategies to each other and to original PIE analysis and to the US census bureau’s population predictions.
But first, I want to explore just one more scenario.  Really... this is it. 
Just one more scenario, please
This scenario actually harks back to my original 7-region analysis from almost two years ago (see Part 10, fig. 25), which explore the assumption of full fungible global petroleum sharing.
Here, I will call this my “total sharing scenario.”
Total sharing scenario assumptions
The assumptions are quite simple, but, rather unrealistic. 
As we start down the side of global peak oil, I will assume that all regions share their remaining oil resources with perfect equality.  That is, each person receives an equal share of the remaining petroleum on a yearly basis such that the per capita consumption rate is normalized globally.  Global petroleum consumption rate is assumed to follow the sum of trends predicted from my 9-region PIE analysis, which of course, is simply equal to the sum of the production rate trends for these regions (i.e., no extra-terrestrial imports or exports). 
The global population is assumed to follow the sum of the trends for the 9-regions as predicted by the US census bureau, with my interpolated from 2050 to 2065.  That is, until the global per capita consumption rate drops to my hypothesized critical level of 1 barrel per person per year (b/py) need to sustain the petroleum driven food production system.  At this point, the global population is assumed to decline at rate necessary to keep the per capita consumption rate ay 1 b/py. 
Moreover, I assume that each region suffers a same proportional decline in population.   For instance, if the population has to decline 3 percent per year to keep per capita consumption at 1 b/py, then the populations of all regions are assumed to decline by 3 percent.
Alright, let see what this looks like.
Total sharing scenario analysis
First, let’s assemble the data we need for this scenario.
Figure 54 presents world population based on the US census bureau’s data from 1965 to 2011, their projection to 2050, and, my extrapolation to 2065. 

It is noteworthy that from present levels of about 7 billion the US census bureau extrapolation reaches almost 9.7 billion by 2065.  As you can see the populations of NA, ME and SA are increasing and the populations of EU, JP and CH are decreasing such that the total population for these six regions peaks around 2043 and slowly declines thereafter.  However, the populations of rAP and AF are on a continuing upswing.  Consequently, the bulk of that additional 2.7 billion people from present to 2065 comes from the still expanding populations from rAP and AF.
As an example, from 2012 to 2065, the sum of the populations of NA, ME, SA, EU, JP and CH are predicted to change from 3.52 billion to 3.68 billion, an increase of 160 million.  In contrast, from 2012 to 2065, the sum of the populations of rAP and AF change from 3.46 billion to 5.99 billion, an increase of 2.53 billion.
Figure 55 presents world petroleum consumption.  This is based on data presented in the BP statistical review for 2012 (open red circles), and, my predicted global consumption trend from 2000 to 2065, based on the sum of the 9-regions considered in my PIE analysis, from Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of this series (solid blood-red line). Of course, global consumption has to equal global production, which this curve does do. (Although as I pointed out in my earlier 7-region study (Part 5) there appear to be systematic discrepancies between production and consumption rates in the BP data base itself.)

The peak in the solid curve occurs in 2008 at 31.3 bby.  This puts the half-way point down the curve at about 15.6 bby, which is predicted to be reached by 2035, or, about 22 years from now. 
As an aside, I note that the last two years of reported data from the BP statistical review are greater than the peak of the curve, and no doubt there are some who will look at those two points as proof of a “new paradigm” of ever-increasing oil production.  Keep in mind that the solid curve is the sum of 9 other trend-line curves from the individual analysis done on each of the 9 regions, from Parts 1-3.  This recent up-tick, mostly from two regions, NA and ME, doesn’t have much impact on the curve fits to those regions and even less impact when added to the all of the other regions.  If the trend continues for longer periods, however, then the curve fit would reflect this.  We will see.

Figure 56 puts the results of Figures 54 and 55 together to present a “reported” per capita consumption to 2011 and the predicted per capita consumption for 2000 to 2065.
Once again, we see a peak in the solid curve occurring, but this time a little bit early, in 2005-2006, at 4.74 b/py.  The half way point down, 2.37 b/py, is passed in 2028, or, 15 years from now.  Of course, the declining per capita trend is accelerated as compared to the declining petroleum consumption trend, due to the continuing population increase. 
More importantly for the total-sharing scenario, global per capita consumption reaches 1 b/py in 2056.  At this point, according to the assumptions of this scenario, the world population would start to decline, proportionally in all regions. 
Figure 57 shows what this looks like:

The global population peaks out 9.4 billion in 2056 and the population in all of the regions start to decline thereafter.
As you will see, Figure 57 represents the strategy, under the assumptions of this series, that would keep as many people alive for as long as possible before the global population decline starts in 2056 on tmy assumption that is no longer enough petroleum (i.e., less than 1 b/py) to keep the present petroleum-driven food production system working. 
You can decide on your own if you think that this "total sharing" scenario is the “best” strategy, or not, as compared to the other scenarios I will present next time in Part 9.  That probably depends on where you live.
In my opinion, however, this does seem like a very improbable scenario to occur. 
For regions like NA, ME, JP, and EU, there would have to be a huge immediate decline in per capita consumption compared to present rates, and, this would no doubt cause economic disasters of varying degrees in these regions. 
For instance, the 2011 per capita consumption rates for NA, ME, JP, and EU were 18.3, 13.9, 12.8, and 9.0 b/py, respectively.  The per capita consumption of all of these regions would have to immediately drop down to the present global average of about 4.6 b/py under this scenario. 
I just do not see such a dramatic decline being voluntarily accepted.
Other regions like FS (5.3 b/py) and SA (4.7 b/py) would be relatively unaffected, but, CH (2.7 b/py), rAP (2.2 b/py) and AF (1.2 b/py) would see a huge relative increase in their wealth and standard on living. 
I know that there are some who would argue that this increase in standard of living would cause the population growth rate in these regions to decline.  In my opinion, however, I doubt that this "wealth-effect" would manifest fast enough to mitigate the predicted population trends.  That is, the already-born generations would continue to reproduce at the predicted rate of the cultures that they were born into.
Rather, I think, regions like NA, ME, JP and EU would see this as a huge transfer of wealth from them to rAP and AF. 


  1. Hi Crash:

    I enjoy your work. Have you read Paul Chefurka's latest posts (May 16 & 17)? I would be interested in you contrasting views on population projections. Paul takes into account the effects of climate change that I don't think you have mentioned.

  2. Hi St. Roy, thanks for stopping by.

    I looked at Paul Chefurka's May 16 2013 post (

    Here are a few thoughts.

    First, I don’t actually see Chefurka's population views as being in much contrast to my own. My impression was that his May 16 article was intended to illustrate how different individuals come up different projections or assessments of a “sustainable” human population (not sure what that menas, other than a really long time) based on their different assumptions of what the important determinants might be, e.g., Rees’s ecological footprint, Chefurka's own assumption of a fall back to a year 1800 population based on this being the start of significant fossil fuel use, a population density assumption, or other ecological assessments.

    Perhaps the take home message on this point for me is this: don’t get too hung up about what magnitude the population might fall to, or, about what some “final” “sustainable” population value might be hundreds of years from now. I suspect that there won’t be any census takers around to make an estimate anyways.

    Second, I actually didn’t find an accounting of the effects of climate change on population in this article. Moreover, my hunch is that this would be a highly speculative exercise, since climate change would have a myriad of effects on food production that could interact in quite complex ways.

    Third, the focus of my present series was to compare the different economic and population vulnerabilities of the 9-different regions, based on their predicted future petroleum consumption (not the same thing as fossil fuel consumption) trends over the next 50 years or so. I assumed the year 1900 population as a fall-back base, since this is about the time when petroleum use became significant. I don’t necessarily think that this is a sustainable population, whatever that means.

    As I have remarked a few time in this series, if the reader wants to assume a different base (1800, 1950 etc...) then go ahead; it doesn’t really change the points where population decline are projected to occur for the 9 regions being considered here.

    Fourth, Chefurka's seems like a thoughtful fellow and I am sure that I would have an interesting conversation with him over a cup of tea.

  3. Anonymous 3 writes:

    The countries with no or little energy resources will decline sooner and faster. The costly transport will prevent them from importing energy resources. These areas will be hit first in the mentioned 9 regions. What looks like the future for the given regions can already be the truth for the specific areas (countries) within those regions. There will be no reason to support the countries with no or low food exporting capacity in the world with scarce oil. No one will give them oil for nothing. The empires are going down. The deteriorating infrastructure will isolate the areas one from another before the critical level of 1 b/py will be reached. Then the last 1 b/py will be in the form of something else than fuel for the machines. Will it be still economical to transport it to the distant areas with the destroyed infrastructure?


Your comments, questions and suggestions are welcome! However, comments with cursing or ad hominem attacks will be removed.