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View Diary: Peak oil and peak silliness (111 comments)

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  •  The "truth" is out there..... (1+ / 0-)
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    The problem is, there are so many moving parts, it's just the luck of the draw when anyone predicts anything this complicated. A few facts anyone should know:

    1. Dr. Hubbert, who is revered as some sort of oil prediction god by the PO crowd, began to equivocate very strongly on his predictions a couple of years before his death.

    2. "Engineers" have been predicting peak oil since about 1890, look it up.

    3. It's a good thing prices of oil are staying up, it encourages conservation and alternative development.

    I could go on ad nauseum, but why bother. The simple "truth" is people suck at predicting very complicated things, and for a good reason. PO may happen next year, or thirty years from now, and nobody really knows if it will matter by the time it does.  

    •  There is Truth (2+ / 0-)
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      mike101, bigjacbigjacbigjac what you say, that predictions are of necessity vague.  This is due in large part to the unreliability of production and reserves information from OPEC nations, and other major producers like Russia.  They have powerful political incentives to over- or understate their production (depending on circumstances), and it's quite difficult, given the extreme complexity of the global oil market, to verify them.  There are agencies devoted to tracking tanker movements and using that to estimate oil production.  That's one clue to the opacity of the market.  

      But there are occasional glimpses at reality, such as when a very highly placed Saudi (I don't remember his name, and don't have a link, but it's frequently referenced in The Oil Drum) who admitted last year that the KSA is now producing flat-out.  Quotas in OPEC no longer matter because all member nations are running at full capacity.  When Saudi Aramco now talks about spare capacity, they're talking about drilling more and adding more production infrastructure, not opening taps.  All their taps are wide open, now.

      It's not accurate, at all, to say that "peak oil" has been predicted since 1890.  People have been predicting since the 1800's that we would deplete our oil resources, and be left with only coal and wood again.  All of these predictions were laughable by modern standards because they didn't have a very good understanding of geological processes.  The theory of the movement of continents wasn't invented until the early 1900's and this wasn't incorporated into an overall theory of plate tectonics until the late 1960's.  Oil wasn't recognized as a biogenic product until decades after it was first drilled and produced.  By this point we've learned our ABC's on the matter.  Only in the latter part of the 20th century did rate of production, regardless of remaining oil in place, become the prime concern.

      •  There is a fallacy...... (1+ / 0-)
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        In always believing that "current science" has the answers. Current Science tends to become outdated "what we thought we knew then" with great regularity.

        It's no doubt true that PO will occur someday, and probably within a few years or a few decades, but no one really knows what the outcome of that will be, other that "we will see rising prices" and "energy alternatives will begin to garner greater interest".

        There could be years of economic stagnation....or it could wind up being about as big a hype as "Y2K". Get over the idea that we know what is going to happen next. The entire history of humanity and "science" proves otherwise.  

        •  I'm a Scientist, Bub. (0+ / 0-)

          I'm quite well aware that we don't have answers to most questions.  Re-evaluating the answers we already have, and improving the questions, is much of our effort.

          Peak oil and economic stagnation are quite related concepts. There really seem to be, as the last few years have demonstrated, real limits to what the global economy can afford to pay for something as fundamental as energy. When prices reach $120-$130 a barrel, recessions have ensued.  Alternatives to oil are already coming to the forefront in many markets, but if peak oil is upon us now--notice that I wrote "if", because we can't be sure, given how uncertain much of our data is--if peak oil is upon us now, alternative energy sources are nowhere near well developed enough to save us from economic calamity.  I certainly hope not, but a long-term severe recession is a real possibility.

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