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Kam

Life....after Peak Oil

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After seeing Dr Bubbs threads on Life.... and the Dreaming Of Armageddon

I thought maybe we should have an article on this

Life... into and After Peak Oil

I'm not the expert in this area but I'm sure someone will be able to write this up

Points I think we should raise:

  1. Population and dispersion

    1. Rural areas - Internet &communication may allow people work from home as commuting will be expensive. So will house prices fall in remote areas?
    2. Suburbs - commuting may still be hard, public transport more viable
    3. Town and City Centres - Jobs and traveling focused here, Higher house price?
    4. Population size - Already set to fall (birth rate is at 1.7). Also, UK farming dependant on energy and most food imported. Will our reliance on these factors lead to food shortages and starvation.
    5. Immigration & Emmigration - Travel more expenisve and slower, declining numbers entering and leaving (for short term reasons)
    6. Ageing population - with pensions crisis, less immigration, smaller working population and food shortages/high cost, how will they cope. More reliance on Family?

[*]Transportation

  1. Cars - end of two car families, rise in public transport
  2. Haulage - HGV's no long viable. Trains network and return to Canal system. It's built and ready to use, links all major Towns and cities
  3. Planes - Short (2week) overseas holidays could be expensive,
  4. Ships - return of Ships and Tall ships for global travel - We are an island that had excellent seafarring and Maritime skills and ship building. We are surround by water and could become a trading seaport centre again. Overseas hoidays would take longer.

[*]Work life

  1. Internet / tele working, less people actually going to an office, more people at home.
  2. Sectors -High energy cost would not favour heavy industry, service/finance sector rises
  3. Globalisation - ?????, with high travel cost the internet will be the only way to conduct business but imports/exports could be expensive or slow

[*]Home Life

  1. Closer community, with more people unable to commute and staying at home, will family and community life become a bigger focus, more reliant on family friends and neighbours.
  2. Shopping - will large out of town supermarkets/shopping centres disappear because of distance and people would not be able to carry as much (no car!), return to local grown (seasonal) food, small local stores (grocer, butcher, baker, general stores)
  3. Holidays - Will UK tourism thrive with overseas travel slow or expensive, more money staying in UK economy, tourist hotspots flouish again?
  4. Education - more distance learning, small classes in rural areas,
  5. Health - more people walking / cycling, local GP's, less pollution, less traffic related injurys.
  6. Family - with parents working at home will children get more attention, better social skills, family having to look after grandparents also due to pension crisis. Grandparents caring for Children while Parents work (even if only in next room). larger houses required or ??????

Future Visions and solution?

  • BioFuels - community oil processing for essential travel
  • Fusion - more effort put in once peak oil really kicks in
  • Hydrogen Economy - with Middle east depending on foriegn money and their sunny location will they start investing in solar farms to make hydrogen via sea water electrolysis. Gas pipeline via spain?

Space exploration? if fusion works and arrives soon will we start offworld mining and populating other planets,

With Fusion and offworld travel could the graph below see an even larger rise in population. Could we reach 100 billion spread over the solar system and further....

dieoff2.gif

in several centuries could the human race reach the exploration and technological advances we see in Star trek, Star Wars, Stargate,

Remember even tho it looks grim it could be the biggest event to happen to Humanity EVER!!!

We are locked in an easy energy lifestyle with very little to drive us forward,

as a species we have always made huge jumps in times of trouble

I think Peak Oil could be the best thing to happen to us, if we focus our efforts and try,

post-1403-1124742311_thumb.jpg

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Kam

Interesting post. For the ill informed (such as me) could you explain what 'fusion' is?

To be honest, before I visited this site I knew little about peak oil and still find it surprising that it's not more widely discussed in the media. As far as cars and transport are concerned, are there not other forms of energy, which could come to replace oil?

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Kam

Interesting post.  For the ill informed (such as me) could you explain what 'fusion' is?

Fusion is a Nuclear power, current Nuclear power stations use Fission.

Fission takes lage unstable atoms and smashes a particle into them spliting it in two, releasing energy. downside is radioactive waste

Fusion - takes small lighter atoms and heats them up (hotter than sun) and forces them together, releasing energy, downside none, apart from its very hard to do!

there are plans to build test reactors soon 10-20 years but still a few hurdles to over come

check out this

ITER

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Guest growl

Good post. Especially the parts about people working from home, teleworking and less people commuting.

I think it is already getting like that in some areas of the country, and I believe it is the rural areas where this is beginning.

I only say this because I live in a rural area. So I can't speak for townies. But where I live more and more people are choosing to work from home or run their business's on the Internet.

MSN messaging and other forms of communication are being taken up. In fact I hardly use the phone now. Most of my communication is via email or on MSN, or Yahoo messenger.

But I don't think its just the price of petrol.

Much of it is stress. More and more people want quality time with their families. When I think how stressed out I used to be commuting every day for a couple of hours and dealing with the general public, in a public sector job drowning in red tape.

And I used to be in the Library service :blink: Relaxing quiet job running a town library...forget it.

Where I live there is also more of a community. Now that might be just village life. But there are other villages I know where most of the people are commuters. They shop on the way to and from work, so the vllage shop has gone and these places are like ghost villages. They have no life. No community and the neighbours don't know each other. Also they are very expensive places to live.

Our area is expensive where property is concerned. But nowhere near like some of these ghost villages, and its because nobody is at home. :unsure:

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Guest absolutezero

I doubt peak oil will be the big thing people are making out.

The powers that be would brick themselves at the thought of a collapse in any social infrastructure (eg delivery and travel).

The one thing they fear is a loss of control and that therefore will not be allowed to happen. Look at the fuel protests a few years ago. The military were ready to drive the tankers themselves to deliver the fuel.

We will simply use a combination of the alternatives (or something else they are ready to wheel out when the time is right).

As long as we can produce electricity we are fine. You can even get solar cells on your roof that make 60% more electricity than a typical house uses and they only need daylight to work.

The Arabs will simply be told to go and copulate with themselves once the oil price gets too high.

EDIT: Spelling.

Edited by absolutezero

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Generally i agree with you FaTB! BUT I work for an airline. Should i be looking to change industries?? hmm

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Anyone who thinks that there will be a smooth transition to some kind of solar-panel utopia must be out of their minds.

Most people will 'solve the problem' of peak oil and gas by making fundamental changes.

The main change they will make is turning from being alive into being dead.

Food production is dependant on oil and gas for fuel, fertiliser and pesticides.

Less oil and gas = less food.

Less food = less people.

Without food imports or fossil-fuel based farming, the land mass of Britain can only support about 10 million people. Assuming a best-case scenario with no nuclear war or mass epidemics, this means 5 out of every 6 people in the UK will die as a result of resource depletion.

Without cheap energy the systems that sustain our current massive population will slowly break down or become available only to elites. I'm talking here about things like a clean water supply, sewage services, waste disposal, electricity, food supplies, jobs, medicine and law and order.

The Roman empire was unable to maintain control over its provinces as resources became scarce and it became too costly to provide any benefits for its subjects.

in our time we will also see central governments, particularly of very large countries, lose control.

Edited by Withnail

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Guest absolutezero
Anyone who thinks that there will be a smooth transition to some kind of solar-panel utopia must be out of their minds.

Most people will 'solve the problem' of peak oil and gas by making fundamental changes.

The main change they will make is turning from being alive into being dead.

Food production is dependant on oil and gas for fuel, fertiliser and pesticides.

Less oil and gas = less food.

Less food  = less people.

Without food imports or fossil-fuel based farming, the land mass of Britain can only support about 10 million people. Assuming a best-case scenario with no nuclear war or mass epidemics, this means 5 out of every 6 people in the UK will die.

Without cheap energy the systems that sustain our current massive population will slowly break down or become available only to elites. I'm talking here about things like a clean water supply, sewage services,  waste disposal, electricity, food supplies, jobs and law and order.

The Roman empire was unable to maintain control over its provinces as resources became scarce and it became too costly to provide any benefits for its subjects.

in our time we will also see central governments, particularly of very large countries,  lose control.

Oh good! I did wonder when you would re-surface again. I liked the discussion about cold fusion.

The large governments will not lose control. That is the one thing I would be willing to bet anything on. They fear this more than anything. It will not be allowed to happen. Yes, they are that powerful. The infrastructure is here to keep us in our place. The shackles will not be released during our lifetimes. People would have to wake up before that happens.

I didn't say any transition would be smooth but you can bet when the time comes there will be something to take the place of oil and gas. What that something will be I do not know but I'd be willing to put money on research being started 10, maybe 15 or more years ago.

I am well aware of the limits of each one of the alternatives but a combination of them will work.

As I said, electricity is the main thing. We can run cars and homes on electricity. Provided we can make it in sufficient amounts we will be fine. Failing that we're back to horse and cart but I doubt it.

Solar energy, fusion, hydrogen, running water, wind. They will all have a part to play.

Why is Blair closing down our nuclear industry? Is it because he knows it will be redundant and something else will take its place?

Out of interest, where did your figure of the UK only being able to support 10 million come from? Considering there is a hell of a lot of land (farming perhaps?) on these islands I would be very interested to know your sources.

The Roman Empire fell mainly because of mass migration and poor leadership, not scarce resources as you say.

Edited by absolutezero

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Out of interest, where did your figure of the UK only being able to support 10 million come from?  Considering there is a hell of a lot of land (farming perhaps?) on these islands I would be very interested to know your sources.

10 million is a favourable estimate. During the Middle Ages, for example, the population maxed out at around 3 million. (However they didn't know about crop rotation and they didn't have highly productive crops like potatoes or maize).

Without fossil fuel inputs, agricultural productivity per acre is about one seventh of what it is today. You also have to take one third of all productive land out of human food production to feed working animals like carthorses and oxen, unless you fancy pulling the plough yourself. Don't even think about running a tractor on either solar panels or batteries. Don't think about running mechanized agriculture on biodiesel. Too much land would be required just to provide vegetable oil to power the machinery, not to mention the industrial infrastructure, parts and maintenance required to sustain modern agribusiness.

I would argue that the government is already losing control of this country. Every week i read about some innocent person being beaten to death in the street by some random group of thugs. Imagine what it will be like when the thugs are also starving.

i don't wish to discuss Rome with you since you only seem to have a schoolboy understanding of the subject.

Your assertion that the Roman empire 'fell' betrays that.

Edited by Withnail

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I didn't say any transition would be smooth but you can bet when the time comes there will be something to take the place of oil and gas.  What that something will be I do not know but I'd be willing to put money on research being started 10, maybe 15 or more years ago.
Have you any idea of the magnitude of the problem? Do you know how much energy 2-6% per year oil extraction decline represents? Just wanting a solution or showing the absence of a solution to be catastrophic does not in itself provide a solution. Anyone who suggests we can continue anything resembling business as usual for another 50 years hasn't done their homework.

Do you think we could keep 9bn people alive with half the oil we have now? That's what the challenge looks like being by 2050. Remember that food grown per person has been falling since 1980, absolute food grown topped out in 2000 and has fallen since, area of arable land area globally is falling, productivity of land is falling, water tables are falling and agriculture above all relies on oil. 20% of the UK's total fossil fuel use is in primary agriculture. Given the above how can we feed 50% more people within 50 years?

Edited by clv101

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I doubt peak oil will be the big thing people are making out.

The powers that be would brick themselves at the thought of a collapse in any social infrastructure (eg delivery and travel).

The one thing they fear is a loss of control and that therefore will not be allowed to happen.  Look at the fuel protests a few years ago.  The military were ready to drive the tankers themselves to deliver the fuel.

We will simply use a combination of the alternatives (or something else they are ready to wheel out when the time is right).

As long as we can produce electricity we are fine.  You can even get solar cells on your roof that make 60% more electricity than a typical house uses and they only need daylight to work.

The Arabs will simply be told to go and copulate with themselves once the oil price gets too high.

I tend to agree, absolutezero, although I won't go into detail why because I have already covered it in other threads.

But I do believe peak oil will represent a bit of a hurdle to be crossed, perhaps in the form of a 70s-style oil crisis, before the governments make the transition to other forms of energy.

My own viewpoint is quite closely aligned with Philip Stott, Professor Emeritus of biogeography at the University of London, who has written an excellent essay on the topic of the future of UK energy production here.

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Anyone who thinks that there will be a smooth transition to some kind of solar-panel utopia must be out of their minds.

Most people will 'solve the problem' of peak oil and gas by making fundamental changes.

The main change they will make is turning from being alive into being dead.

Food production is dependant on oil and gas for fuel, fertiliser and pesticides.

Less oil and gas = less food.

Less food  = less people.

Without food imports or fossil-fuel based farming, the land mass of Britain can only support about 10 million people. Assuming a best-case scenario with no nuclear war or mass epidemics, this means 5 out of every 6 people in the UK will die as a result of resource depletion.

Without cheap energy the systems that sustain our current massive population will slowly break down or become available only to elites. I'm talking here about things like a clean water supply, sewage services,  waste disposal, electricity, food supplies, jobs, medicine and law and order.

The Roman empire was unable to maintain control over its provinces as resources became scarce and it became too costly to provide any benefits for its subjects.

in our time we will also see central governments, particularly of very large countries,  lose control.

You're certainly right about one thing: we will all be making the fundamental change between life and death although not I suspect as a result of Peak Oil.

Even the gloomiest most doom-laden scenarios see a peak in consumption over the next decade or so followed by a slow but sure decline over many decades. There is no cliff-edge scenario. This will be time enough to adapt. The timing is fortuitous, we need to stop using oil anyway for a variety of reasons. But the sooner we start the better and a good route is ever-increasing oil prices via taxation.

Densely packed countries like the UK with mixed economies will find the transition easier: sprawl cities like in the US and Australia are far more energy-intensive per head and it is not economic to serve them with railway lines which require high population densities. There is some sort of justice here, I suppose - these are typically the countries most resistant to addressing global warming.

The UK could of course support many more people than 10m even if was isolated from the rest of the world. Ireland had a population of 8m before the potato famine in the 1840s. But the changes will in fact increase global trading not decrease it, in my view. For example it would only require slightly more organisation (and less developed world agricultural subsidies) and Africa could easily grow enough food to support the entire world (can't quote a reference on this, but it makes sense).

I don't think the Roman empire analogy is close - it was decadence and corruption, and overstretch, not lack of resources which ended that. In any case here we are not talking about defending an empire but instead adapting to global change - not something that is historically unusual.

There will be unpleasant transitional effects, for example the mullahs will be able to call the shots for a time even more than at present.

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Guest absolutezero

i don't wish to discuss Rome with you since you only seem to have a schoolboy understanding of the subject.

You see? This is why I like having discussions with you. You insult me and then refuse to discuss the matter any further after declaring spurious "facts" without backing them up.

Without fossil fuel inputs, agricultural productivity per acre is about one seventh of what it is today. You also have to take one third of all productive land out of human food production to feed working animals like carthorses and oxen, unless you fancy pulling the plough yourself. Don't even think about running a tractor on either solar panels or batteries. Don't think about running mechanized agriculture on biodiesel. Too much land would be required just to provide vegetable oil to power the machinery, not to mention the industrial infrastructure, parts and maintenance required to sustain modern agribusiness.

Have you seen the electric vehicles that are about to hit the market? Some of them have a high horsepower. Your arguments just don't stand up!

I would argue that the government is already losing control of this country. Every week i read about some innocent person being beaten to death in the street by some random group of thugs. Imagine what it will be like when the thugs are also starving.

Has it never crossed your mind that the best way of controling a population is to make them scared? Governments always need an enemy to frighten people with. In the 60s it was the Russians, 80s was the IRA, now it is Al Qaeda.

The thugs you describe are actually quite rare. I believe alcohol plays a major part in this violence rather than a loss of control.

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Guest absolutezero
Have you any idea of the magnitude of the problem?  Do you know how much energy 2-6% per year oil extraction decline represents?  Just wanting a solution or showing the absence of a solution to be catastrophic does not in itself provide a solution.  Anyone who suggests we can continue anything resembling business as usual for another 50 years hasn't done their homework.

Do you think we could keep 9bn people alive with half the oil we have now? That's what the challenge looks like being by 2050. Remember that food grown per person has been falling since 1980, absolute food grown topped out in 2000 and has fallen since, area of arable land area globally is falling, productivity of land is falling, water tables are falling and agriculture above all relies on oil. 20% of the UK's total fossil fuel use is in primary agriculture. Given the above how can we feed 50% more people within 50 years?

Of course I am aware of the magntude of the problem as are the powers that be. That's why they will have been working on it for a long time.

And yes, I am more than aware of how much energy is in 1 barrel of oil.

Of course we can keep 9 billion people+ alive on less oil. It will be done.

One thing humans are good at is adapting and adapt we will (under guidance from above of course).

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Without fossil fuel inputs, agricultural productivity per acre is about one seventh of what it is today.

You really are a master of the sweeping statement. In terms of the number of people that can be supported per acre the biggest factor is what is grown, not whether or not there are fossil fuel inputs - for example passing crops through animals is multiple times less efficient than consuming it directly.

This is a shame because some of your points are valid.

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Have you seen the electric vehicles that are about to hit the market? Some of them have a high horsepower. Your arguments just don't stand up!

Does the range extend to HGV, tractors and plant?

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Guest absolutezero
Does the range extend to HGV, tractors and plant?

They're about to release a large van.

It will only be a matter of time before these other vehicles come about.

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You see?  This is why I like having discussions with you.  You insult me and then refuse to discuss the matter any further after declaring spurious "facts" without backing them up.
Without fossil fuel inputs, agricultural productivity per acre is about one seventh of what it is today. You also have to take one third of all productive land out of human food production to feed working animals like carthorses and oxen, unless you fancy pulling the plough yourself. Don't even think about running a tractor on either solar panels or batteries. Don't think about running mechanized agriculture on biodiesel. Too much land would be required just to provide vegetable oil to power the machinery, not to mention the industrial infrastructure, parts and maintenance required to sustain modern agribusiness.
Have you seen the electric vehicles that are about to hit the market? Some of them have a high horsepower. Your arguments just don't stand up!

There are and will be no electric tractors or combine harvesters. Even if they did exist, you'd still need to somehow produce a colossal amount of electricity to power them. Solar panels and windmills just don't cut it.

Fertilisers and pesticides essential for high productivity are made from fossil fuels.

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Horesepower of electric cars or anything else is TOTALLY IRRELEVANT to the question at hand which relates to energy sources / storage systems.

Electric mobile machinery powered by batteries simply does not have sufficient energy storage capability as limited by the batteries to be used as a power source for high energy activities beyond simply moving the vehicle itself. Horsepower has nothing to do with it. In any event, increasing horespower is dead simple. It's NOT the problem and hasn't been for many decades.

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If somebody came up with engines that ran on water, alternative plastics etc etc, does anyone really think the oil companies would allow it to happen and ruin their business?? We are talking about billions of dollars per year, add to that the geo-political leverage to the country that controls the flow of the resource (ie America, once they have made their moves against Iran). Why would any of them give that up? I wouldn't be surprised that once the money goes out of oil, there will be some miraculous "new" discoveries.

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Guest Guy_Montag

I think it's important to remember that while peak oil is an event, it is also part of a process & is just a point on the road between apparently unlimited oil & no oil. In fact I doubt we will know we've passed peak oil until we can look back from ahead of it.

The process will start with oil prices rising, and while there will always be fluctuations, the trend will be a steady increase. As this happens oil reserves which were deemed uneconomic will become economic - it is worth remembering that typically a reservoir will only have 50% of it oil removed, with 20% taken not being unusual.

As technology improves the amount of oil we can remove from traditional reserves will get better. As well as that we will also start taking oil from other sources, such as oil shales & using crops to produce oil for fuel.

Right on to alternate sources: Again, as oil increases in value alternatives will become more attractive, as they become more attractive more money will be poured into research improving their reliability and efficiency.

None of this is to say that there will not be problems & changes to our lives, but it will not be an armageddon event. I doubt there will be starvation in northern europe, unless something else comes into play - such as global climate change & with that anything could happen.

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Guest absolutezero
Horesepower of electric cars or anything else is TOTALLY IRRELEVANT to the question at hand which relates to energy sources / storage systems.

Electric mobile machinery powered by batteries simply does not have sufficient energy storage capability as limited by the batteries to be used as a power source for high energy activities beyond simply moving the vehicle itself. Horsepower has nothing to do with it. In any event, increasing horespower is dead simple. It's NOT the problem and hasn't been for many decades.

Batteries do not have sufficient storage?

True but that is at the moment. Things change. Technology (tends to) get better (not always, I know). We refine what we have got.

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Horesepower of electric cars or anything else is TOTALLY IRRELEVANT to the question at hand which relates to energy sources / storage systems.

Electric mobile machinery powered by batteries simply does not have sufficient energy storage capability as limited by the batteries to be used as a power source for high energy activities beyond simply moving the vehicle itself. Horsepower has nothing to do with it. In any event, increasing horespower is dead simple. It's NOT the problem and hasn't been for many decades.

Because of the availablity of cheap fossil fuels over the last century there has really been no market need for mobile machinery powered by other means but I don't think there are insuperable problems if there were a market demand and also freely available electricity.

In rail we make extenisve use of battery locomotives for tunnels etc although admittedly these are extremely heavy. Other solutions such as flywheels and compressed air have also worked and with development and a market could provide non fossil-fueled tractors. If you have electricity you can create hydrogen and this is a likely solution.

Then there's always horses.

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Guest magnoliawalls
You really are a master of the sweeping statement. In terms of the number of people that can be supported per acre the biggest factor is what is grown, not whether or not there are fossil fuel inputs - for example passing crops through animals is multiple times less efficient than consuming it directly.

This is a shame because some of your points are valid.

Yes and no.

A lot of land in the UK is just not good enough to support crops. Agricultural productivity depends on inputs of manufactured inorganic nitrogen fertiliser. Yes, organic food is grown without this but yield is around 40% lower and the manure that is used as fertiliser on organic farms comes from conventional farms.

Nitrogen fertiliser is extremely energy intensive to produce - its main feedstock is natural gas. When oil price peaks this will increase the cost of transporting fertiliser and also push up the price of the closest substitute, natural gas. In the absense of cost effective Nitrogen fertiliser, manure from livestock will be needed as a partial substitute.

Does anyone know how energy intensive Quorn production is? There have also been breakthoughs in biotechnology allowing processed meat to be grown in vats - it would be interesting to know how that compares with conventional agriculture in terms of energy consumption.

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  • 301 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
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      • up 5%



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