Skip to main content

Ever the contrarian, I have been quite skeptical of the many breathless claims being made by wide swaths of the media about how a new energy bonanza is going to overtake the U.S. and eventually the world. The subject, of course, is the new shale plays in both natural gas and oil.
While these plays are in special cases quite extraordinary, and the technology is just brilliant, many of the more exuberant claims made in the past about the potential contributions of these plays are now being dialed back.
The reason? Just like any other resource, the shale plays were ‘high graded,’ meaning the best ones were drilled first. (As they say in Texas: We drill the best spots first.)
The reason I say ... that shale oil proves that Peak Oil is upon us is that we would not be drilling them if there were anything better left to drill. The simple yet profound reason that we're going after this more difficult and expensive oil is—drum roll, please—the easy and cheap stuff is all gone.
[Chris Martenson]

There’s little to disagree with the proposition and strategy of touting good news versus bad. With plates full to overflow as it is for just about all of us, piling on discouraging or distressing news about even more challenges is not anyone’s first choice. It’s not in anyone’s Top 100.

This is all the more understandable when the facts relate to overarching problems which each of us can do little or nothing about on our own. Climate change is like that. So is peak oil.

Successful overcoming the countless challenges each of those topics will require from each and all of us is daunting on their best days. Recognizing that the collective efforts of countless industries, officials, organizations, and individuals—acting in concert no less—is a feat few of us have the time or inclination to consider. It’s simply overwhelming, and best left to another day….

A choice, of course, but one that will require a reckoning at some point. The good news loudly and frequently shared with us is that our energy/fossil fuel production has been on the increase in recent years, and that reserves exist in sufficient quantities to power all of our needs for decades to come. If it weren’t for the facts, it would be the best possible news we could hope for.

Touting the recent production increases without putting it in context in terms of historical trends offers a nice window to a much bigger scene. Overlooking the costs, quality issues, rapid depletion rates of what’s now being relied upon, and the many related factors (not the least among them the environmental and water usage concerns required to sustain the recent production increases) offers storytellers a nice montage of other and more pleasing aspects to share.

But those montages tell only a small part of the story, and have limited shelf lives.

If not today, then soon enough, the realities about declining conventional crude oil supplies and all the issues surrounding what’s required and what results from the efforts underway to find substitute sources will call for consideration and adaptation. Not the more pleasant side of the story, to be sure.

But the technological marvels and prowess we’ve demonstrated throughout our history need not and should not be limited to the hydraulic fracturing and deep-sea production innovations mow being relied upon. Those impressive enhancements are still being applied to finite, costlier resources. Finite….

Every day we spend relying on those magnificent improvements to provide us with another day of fossil fuel supplies is more day we lose to the necessary work of beginning to transition away from our all-encompassing dependency on those same finite, costlier resources. Better we try to get ahead of that challenge than be steamrolled by it.

Top Comments Submission Made Easy

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site