250 years ago, energy wasn't very cheap, unless you had many slaves working for you. Even though one slave could only do so much with his time and you had to clothe and feed him to keep him running. But the moment we invented the steam engine, we could use coal to power it and the machine could to a lot more work with one man feeding the engine with coal. We could say that the energy density of coal is much higher than the food that a human requires to do physical work. This energy density is very important and the primary reason for why coal, oil and gas is used so much. You could argue that nuclear power from uranium even has a higher energy density, but unfortunately it also requires a very costly investment to set up compared to pumping oil out of the ground. The fact that after 100 years of motoring we still use petrol to drive our cars is simply because there is nothing that can compare to the simplicity of a liquid fuel like petrol. Replacing such a system with something else would be a massive challenge for the future, a problem I will come back to in a later post.
ERoEI is seriously biting now, and we should all think about how to conserve energy in any way we can. From simply driving less to planning ahead what energy you need for certain tasks. It is clear that eventually we will have to move away from fossil fuels unless they are the super concentrated ones used for nuclear power generation - although we are far from having enough of this to support the immense transport requirements we have gotten used to. We used to say the planet has become smaller - well, the future like it looks now - will make it big again. Chances are that the future will not have commercial air flight, except for a very small elite, as we still haven't invented electrically driven planes. The more you explore the world of energy, the more you will see that oil has been the most fantastic substance we have found on our planet - but will only benefited a very small selection of human generations over a timespan of 300 years as the finite resource dwindles. It will take millions of years for the planet to produce another batch.
According to Hubberts peak oil statistic, we have by now used half of the planets oil reserves. The remaining part is the hard and costly part to find and extract. Lets at least use that share to transition into a more sustainable future with regards to energy conservation. So instead of driving to the gym to work out an hour, perhaps you should just go outside and run around a couple of blocks? We all need to start thinking about this now, or at least start to prepare our lives for less but more expensive energy. As you become less dependent e.g. driving your own car, you might realize also that you will live a simpler and more peaceful life as well. Buying less stuff will also reduce the stress on energy use, but naturally also affect the economy - perhaps in a way that makes us care less for "stuff" and more about sustainability? Buying local products is also a good way to conserve energy as food and things don't have to be transported halfway across the globe first. The limits are showing now already, but are you ready to embrace them, or do you choose to fight them? Or do you expect some technological breakthrough any day now? Like, Chris Martenson say, remember that technology isn't an energy source - its an energy sink. We have only used some technologies in order to locate energy, and then used a million other technologies to consume that energy.