free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 138. WHY CALL IT "PEAK OIL DEBUNKED"?

Friday, October 21, 2005

138. WHY CALL IT "PEAK OIL DEBUNKED"?

QUESTION: "If you believe in peak oil, why do you call your blog 'Peak Oil Debunked'?"

I have discussed this issue before, but here I will tackle a lingering question/criticism from the comments:

Big Gav says: "Maybe you should call it "dieoff debunked" or "collapse of industrial civilisation debunked" - then the rest of us might not consider you a pariah."

This is a good ploy. "Oh yeah, those wacky Mad Max, run for the hills, industrial collapse, dieoff doomers. We don't have anything to do with those goofballs."

Actually, you do have something to do with them. Buzz over to The Oil Drum, the peak oil voice of reason, and the links are there for everyone to see: Savinar, From the Wilderness, dieoff.org, Richard "Olduvai" Duncan. Why do you link to them if you guys are the moderates? Why are you all buddy-buddy with them?

In fact, I'll take it a step further. I think there's scads of you 'moderates' who think just like Heinberg. You actually do believe in the die off, you just think it's going to take a little longer. The decline curves in Limits to Growth are burned indelibly into your mind. You respect the ideas of Catton, and Paul Ehrlich. Industrialization and population are the problem, and we have to limit ourselves and powerdown, or we are screwed.

That's why I don't want the peace pipe from you Gav. I'd rather stay a pariah. If I changed my blog name and started shrieking out warnings, people might get the impression that I'm on your team. But if you are anti-industry, anti-technology, anti-science, anti-progress and anti-growth, I'm not on your team, and "Peak Oil Debunked" is just the right name. It draws a clean line between me and the sites that link to dieoff.org as a valuable learning resource.

I'll tell you what Gav: When the "moderates" stop linking to dieoff.org, I'll change the name of my site.

Now, it may be that a newbie pops in here, reads the first post and blows peak oil off. That's a risk I am prepared to take. If they blow it off, at least they won't get indoctrinated by the short-term die-off people or the long-term die-off people like Heinberg. They'll just go on believing that technology can solve the problem. That's okay, because that's pretty much what I think too. We're going to go through some gut wrenching social/infrastructure changes, but technology, industry and the human mind will solve the problem. There will be a techno-fix.

The term "Peak Oil" itself is misleading. It makes you think that "oil" is the problem, but it isn't. The problem is cars and sprawl and waste in the first world, and that's what we should be talking about, not the minutiae of Saudi Arabian geology. It's like junkies trying to solve their problem by analyzing maps of the poppy fields in Afghanistan. So I think "Peak Oil Debunked" is a good name. -- by JD

54 Comments:

At Friday, October 21, 2005 at 4:33:00 AM PDT, Anonymous WW said...

Peak oil is a human problem not a geological one. I can hear the howls of protest now! What do I mean? Well oil was in the ground for millions of years because anything useful could not be done with it – obvious really. So, it’s not oil itself, it’s the man-made system designed to use the resource. So, in theory if we got into it, we should be able to get out of it.

But what about die-off? Well so the theory goes that all the oil needed is there to support human life – but careful thought tells us otherwise. Sure, oil is needed to drive agricultural machinery, run police cars and some trucks that deliver food. The percentage of that use is small, which means it can be substituted. We’re never going to run out if energy, what with the winds, sun, rivers and oceans, the worst case scenario is we will have to use less of it.

But remember most oil use is going towards a living arrangement flawed by it’s necessity for unrestricted high mobility and consumer waste – they don’t for example in most of the world of reams of well designed, high volume and cost packaging on products – the fantasy world of western culture promotes smoke, mirrors and gloss and luxury and lack of effeciency. The majority world does not use cars for mobility. One thing they didn’t have in 1750 was modern communications and high speed computers, which don’t use that much energy, so it’s obvious ICT, as well as urban planning, substitution, hub and spoke transport, automation, robotics and new ways of doing business have a part to play. This does not mean the transition is easy, far from it, but saying that war and starvation will break out is plucking scenarios out of the air much the same as saying these things won’t happen. Keep an open mind.

 
At Friday, October 21, 2005 at 5:26:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about the people who see your title and your first post and blow off the "debunked" idea because, well, that's one of your more flat-earth sounding posts? I get that all the time when I recommend your site to doomers.

 
At Friday, October 21, 2005 at 5:35:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I coulddn't agree with you more JD. All the sites you mention are not only inaccurate, they are actually dangerous. Many people (myself included) have been taken in by the 'scientific' language used and wasted enormous amounts of time and energy on worrying and preparing for the 'hard landing' scenario they assure us is inevitable. Because these sites all link to each other it can take a long time before you realise that nobody else thinks like they do. I got caught up in the downward spiral of checking peakoil.com, energybulletin, bloomberg's oil page and several egroups (runningonempty2 & 3, alasbabylon etc.) on a daily basis - this leads to a self-reinforcing belief that the doomsters are right. This leads to a mindset that thinks things like: 'What is the point in trying to better yourself as it's all going to end soon anyway?'
I think it is essential that the whole 'peak oil' bandwagon is exposed as a gigantic fraud (we all agree that 'someday' oil will become too expensive to produce economically but I am convinced that alternatives will be, and are being, found to more than offset any conceivable drop in oil supplies. See this week's edition of New Scientist for a great article on using metal nano-particles to power internal combustion engines - very inspiring.
Fergie

 
At Friday, October 21, 2005 at 6:08:00 AM PDT, Blogger Big Gav said...

Well - that was quite a rant JD - but I was offering neither a peace pipe nor making a particular "ploy" of any sort.

I really just wanted to know what you think you are "debunking" here.

You may not believe in dieoff (and I don't believe that collapse, dieoff or war will occur if things are handled correctly), but that isn't peak oil, even if it is one school of thought.

I don't think of myself as a moderate or a doomer - I'm just trying to consider all the viewpoints and work out what will happen and how to adjust to it (or to adjust it, which is why I try and put the Viridian case fairly frequently).

Anyway - if you don't want a civilised discussion I'll leave you to it (and I apologise if the "pariah" word was annoying - in retrospect I shouldn't have used it - not that I'm offering a peace pipe of course :-)...

 
At Friday, October 21, 2005 at 8:53:00 AM PDT, Blogger dub_scratch said...

JD, I think the real problem that you have with this "Peak Oil Debunked" title choice is that is shows how you too fall into the common trap of attaching Baggage to PO. Many people mistake the simple idea that oil production will peak & decline with some kind of doom & gloom scenario. A real moderate should try harder to make a distinction between these two types of events. When anyone comes off saying that PO is a myth or that they don't believe in "Peak Oil Theory" it makes them sound like a stone-cold denialist who believes in some wacky theory of endless oil from the center of the Earth.

Why can't we just say that PO is real and we can do X, Y and Z that will make the collapse of civilization scenario some doomer fantasy? Well you do do that in your blog, but not with the title of it. Accepting PO as real, up front, does much more to increase anyones credibility as a moderate. This way the case of technological solutions does not have to sink with the infinite oil argument implied by the PO Debunked title.

Right now, the debate seems extremely polarized between those who predict that we will be idiotically driving our cars on endless energy vs those who predict that we will be starving in the streets. I don't see why either scenario is necessarily in our future. We likely aren't going to be reliving the 20th century of mindless consumerism but we aren't reindeer on an island either. This is why I like this blog. But, I've had to get beyond its title which is flawed and does not help the moderate position.

I agree with Gav that Dieoff Debunked would be better.

 
At Friday, October 21, 2005 at 10:22:00 AM PDT, Blogger James said...

Suggested new title that doesn't stray far from the original: Peak Oil Doom Debunked.

 
At Friday, October 21, 2005 at 11:53:00 AM PDT, Blogger John Markos O'Neill said...

I don't think it's quite fair to tar Limits to Growth with the same brush as Catton and Duncan. I found LTG+30, the version I'm familiar with, far from dogmatic. Their scenarios allow for a wide range of possible URRs for various non-renewables and for technology to alleviate resource constraints.

Also, their models don't go past 2100 -- they make no attempt to speculate on what we might be able to do more than a hundred years from now.

If you do have criticisms specific to the LTG folks, I'd like to hear them. For example, I think their models might be biased towards low URRs (for nonrenewables) and towards low yields (for renewables). Also, technology may progress faster than they think it can. Finally, the "capital constraints" limit seemed sort of bogus to me (but I might not have understood it -- finance is a bit hazy to me).

 
At Friday, October 21, 2005 at 12:17:00 PM PDT, Anonymous popmonkey said...

I have to say, first off, that I'm like anonymous #2 said. I discovered the concept of PO through one of the scariest doorways possible: LATOC. and let me tell you, to this day i am really grateful to Matt Savinar for the wake up call. While I think LATOC is way too sensationalistic, it does present a good case (and Savinar himself introduces himself as a lawyer and that he will be presenting the facts as if he was presenting a case). the problem with LATOC's approach is that in a real courtroom, lawyers present only those facts that support their case and work very very hard to hide or discredit any facts that go against their case. that is the very nature of trial.

therefore LATOC isn't a place where facts come together to form a theory but the other way around. a theory is created and then facts are presented as proof in support of the theory. well, this is only how things work in the courtroom.

so i'm grateful to LATOC for the PO introduction, however, LATOC almost cost me my job and my family. i was almost literally paralyzed (certainly mentally) for months. like anon #2 i visited dieoff, read the olduvai crap, spent a lot of time on runningonempty. my wife started to find me intolerable, i was unable to get work done at my job, i was neglecting my kid... basically i was of the opinion that we are already totally fucked and there's nothing to do but wait for the carnage to begin.

it took me a long time to get out of the funk, and i'm now significantly more optimistic. deep down inside the fear remains, but i realized that it's not game over yet.

i think this is a bad thing that happened to me. i could easily see people like myself putting a gun in their mouth or committing non-physical suicide such as losing their jobs, health, etc.

i don't want to sound like a JD worshipper, but this blog was a primary reason for me getting out of my funk. i started seeing the other side of the story and learned how to be more skeptical and detail oriented when it comes to energy issues.

i disagree with JD on a lot of poins, and don't share his optimism for space power or his disdain for the american people but i do agree with this blog's name more and more.

this is more to the point of chris l's post: PO baggage already exists. the "other side", the doomers have already tainted the word "Peak Oil" to be synonymous with catastrophic collapse of civilization. if you do a google search for peak oil you will not get result for the simple explanation that PO is the point where supply of oil falls below the demand. maybe the wikipedia entry. the rest will all be links to articles by the usual suspects, the PO doomers.

it's important that as PO gains mainstream acceptance that moderates introduce the concept to people.

finally, i'd like to throw up a radical idea: there are two definitions of PO that i've seen:

1. Peak Oil is the point where half of fossil fuel reserves are exhausted

2. Peak Oil is the point at which demand exceeds supply

well #1 is fairly obvious and hard to argue with.

however, #2 is not so clear cut. if demand drops because of efficiency improvements and alternative energy then #2 might never really happen.

and in that sence Peak Oil Debunked actually could make sense...

 
At Friday, October 21, 2005 at 2:28:00 PM PDT, Blogger dub_scratch said...

popmonkey said: "this is more to the point of chris l's post: PO baggage already exists. the "other side", the doomers have already tainted the word "Peak Oil" to be synonymous with catastrophic collapse of civilization. if you do a google search for peak oil you will not get result for the simple explanation that PO is the point where supply of oil falls below the demand."

That should give moderates more reason to stop saying PO is a myth or that they are debunking PO. Peak oil is going to happen some time, perhaps as soon as the next decade. It's silly for people to deny that the event will happen. Some will argue that peak oil won't happen because nuclear power will be developed, for example. That's a mistake. IMO. They should instead present their case as a PO mitigation strategy and not deny PO outright. If we were to develop nuke power to replace oil on our terms, then oil will still peak, right? Others will argue that PO won't happen because reserves will be increased. They too should instead state that PO will be later. Either way the PO denial language is nonsense and does not belong in the debate-- unless you are an abiotic oil crackpot.

 
At Friday, October 21, 2005 at 3:33:00 PM PDT, Anonymous popmonkey said...

chris l. said: "If we were to develop nuke power to replace oil on our terms, then oil will still peak, right?"

well that's the thing. will it? it depends on your definition of peak. if we mitigate PO before it happens is it possible that it will [virtually] never happen? i.e. if if the demand for oil were to decrease at a rate higher than depletion then you would never arrive at PO.

this is just semantics tho, so i don't want to steer away from the original point which i agree with completely: PO will happen. because i don't think we can prevent it quickly enough. mitigation will be needed because we have been, especially recently, a reactive, not proactive society.

 
At Friday, October 21, 2005 at 4:09:00 PM PDT, Blogger dub_scratch said...

popmonkey said: "well that's the thing. will it? it depends on your definition of peak. if we mitigate PO before it happens is it possible that it will [virtually] never happen? i.e. if if the demand for oil were to decrease at a rate higher than depletion then you would never arrive at PO."

I think your definition for Peak Oil is not very clear. PO is simply the maximum of the daily production of hydrocarbon liquid fuels (conventional, non-conventional & natural gas liquids). One could broaden the definition to include biofuel substitutes as well. Either way, if we were to drop demand of these fuels that would be Peak Oil. Likewise if we were to substitute oil with nuke energy then that would be Peak Oil.

Moderates should drop the PO denial and do more to seperate the meaning of the event from the doom/dieoff/olduvi theories.

 
At Friday, October 21, 2005 at 5:12:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the problem is that the site exists in spite. the content is great, so it should stand up on it's own.

 
At Friday, October 21, 2005 at 8:13:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

What about the people who see your title and your first post and blow off the "debunked" idea because, well, that's one of your more flat-earth sounding posts?

That's a tough one, anon. There's lots of doomers (like Savinar) who have read this blog in detail, and they still don't budge. I'm trying as hard as I can to make these issues easier, but peak oil is a complex, highly nuanced subject. The myths are simple and easy to understand, and the refutations are often complicated and involve stats and numbers. I don't think changing my title will convince the committed doomer of anything considering that even the whole blog doesn't do that.
Also I think "peak oil debunked" is a good name because it helps layman who are googling to find the site. It's what they type into the search engine. "Peak oil debunked" or "peak oil myths" etc. Bing... They get directed right here.

 
At Friday, October 21, 2005 at 8:23:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

Many people (myself included) have been taken in by the 'scientific' language used and wasted enormous amounts of time and energy on worrying and preparing for the 'hard landing' scenario they assure us is inevitable.

This is a very important point, anon. Thanks for bringing it up. Many peak oilers (even the moderates) think scaring the shit out of people is good for "peak oil awareness". I couldn't disagree more. It pains me to see people getting taken in by ill-founded doomer soundbites, restructuring their entire lives, getting into bitter fights with their loved ones etc. It's one of the main reasons I started this blog.

It's one thing to *persuade* people to move out to the country because it's cool. I personally like the country, and lived there growing large gardens and raising rabbits before I came to Japan. It's another thing to *scare* people into moving to the country with fearmongering rhetoric. That's a recipe for domestic discord.

 
At Friday, October 21, 2005 at 8:36:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

I agree with Gav that Dieoff Debunked would be better.

Right, but then the title wouldn't refer to peak oil, even though the blog is about peak oil. The blog debunks many peak oil myths, for example, that oil is cheap energy, or that oil cannot be produced with negative EROEI, or that the methods of Colin Campbell have led to a long run of incorrect predictions. It's not just about die-off. It's about peak oil myths in general.

Pursuing your line of thought: Isn't the phrase "peak oil myth" itself an oxymoron? I.e.: peak oil is a fact, therefore there can't be such a thing as a peak oil myth. Obviously that is wrong, because there are peak oil myths galore. And guess what: people call them peak oil myths. Should people call them "peak oil related myths" or some other awkward expression, which nobody is going to use?

 
At Friday, October 21, 2005 at 8:45:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

I don't think it's quite fair to tar Limits to Growth with the same brush as Catton and Duncan. I found LTG+30, the version I'm familiar with, far from dogmatic.

I have that book too, and you're right: they are less dogmatic. They have a range of scenarios, some of which are quite optimistic.

Nevertheless, the book assumes that humans are confined to earth, and that's my disagreement. They have no scenario for off-earth energy/resource input or space colonization. They are more moderate, but they are "petri-dishers" are the same. Essentially, they are modern flat earthers who can't get their mind around the idea that there is another continent out there (i.e. space).

 
At Friday, October 21, 2005 at 8:56:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

Chris I:
It's silly for people to deny that the event will happen.

Nobody claims that the supply of natural oil is infinite and will grow forever. You're talking about people who don't exist. In fact, I would challenge you to produce even one person who seriously claims that oil will never peak. It's silly to talk about people who "deny that the event will happen" when there are no such people.

 
At Friday, October 21, 2005 at 9:07:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

The IEA, the USGS, the Saudis, Lynch, Yergin, Odell, ... Even the hardest of the hard core optimists out there are on record stating that oil will peak.

I'm really curious who these people are who think oil will never peak.

 
At Friday, October 21, 2005 at 10:43:00 PM PDT, Anonymous popmonkey said...

i think chris was responding to my comment(s), but he fails to note that in an earlier comment i state exactly that, the definition of peak is in itself tricky.

 
At Saturday, October 22, 2005 at 5:31:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like your site but I think you are in danger of making yourself look a bit stupid...it seems you are still thinking of screwing this planet and then somehow space will come to our rescue...there is no point to this and I don't see why you discuss it...absolutely no-one is going to go down this route.

 
At Saturday, October 22, 2005 at 2:25:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

JD wrote:

"We're going to go through some gut wrenching social/infrastructure changes, but technology, industry and the human mind will solve the problem. There will be a techno-fix."

Yeah, it's called a "bioweapon" that will be released by the elite to kill the rest of us off except for their soliders and slaves.

 
At Saturday, October 22, 2005 at 2:30:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WW wrote:

"This does not mean the transition is easy, far from it, but saying that war and starvation will break out is plucking scenarios out of the air"

Ever hear of the "war in Iraq"?

 
At Saturday, October 22, 2005 at 2:32:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"it's important that as PO gains mainstream acceptance that moderates introduce the concept to people"

yet you learned from the doomers? If the moderates did not succeed with you, why will they with other people? Surely, you had heard warnings about running out before? Why did you have to encounter the "doomers" before you listened?

 
At Saturday, October 22, 2005 at 4:04:00 PM PDT, Blogger dub_scratch said...

JD Wrote: "They (Limits to Growth Authors) have no scenario for off-earth energy/resource input or space colonization."

Now common JD! Space colonization? I think that usually you seam have your head screwed on, but your implied expectation for future space colonization is not one of these times.

Outer space is a hopeless, inhospitable place for human existence. Have you ever seen pictures of the Mars landscape? I'd rather take my chances in the Sahara desert, with only the shirt on my back, before trying to make something out of that. Its funny how people talk about carrying capacity of Earth, where there should be a big debate. With Mars, or any other extraorbit location, there should be no debate. Space offers Zero carrying capacity for humans.

With that said I'd like to add that Humans have absolutely no business putting themselves into space other than to prove that it is-- and will never be-- a place to colonize.

LTG left out a space colonization scenario for good reason.

 
At Saturday, October 22, 2005 at 4:06:00 PM PDT, Anonymous WW said...

Yeah I’ve heard of ‘The war in Iraq’. Saying that’s an oil war is a matter of conjecture practiced by conspiracy theories. If it really is an oil war then it doesn’t seem very successful, both in cost and strategy.

 
At Saturday, October 22, 2005 at 4:41:00 PM PDT, Blogger dub_scratch said...

JD Wrote: "The IEA, the USGS, the Saudis, Lynch, Yergin, Odell, ... Even the hardest of the hard core optimists out there are on record stating that oil will peak.

I'm really curious who these people are who think oil will never peak."

Of course they reluctantly admit to the fact that there will be an oil peak someday. But those people never frame their position as the Peak Later Scenario. Why not? Why not dispute the estimates by ASPO by first stating that you think it will be later-- on someone else’s watch? Why do they often attack the forecast as if they where attack the concept of PO itself?

I think many of these Believers like to obliquely imply that PO is a theory to be disputed and the oil Skeptics have yet to prove that it will happen. After all, why does Lynch attack Campbell for estimating a peak oil date and decline while offering no alternative? PO is going to happen and ASPO are kind enough to give us an estimation that has some reasonable, if not low, chance at being correct. Why can't Lynch offer an alternative so we can compare? Why does the USGS do statistical tricks in order to ignore the possibility that PO could happen sooner than many would like to see?

They also never admit to the fact that their scenarios are based on extremely generous assumptions of increased URR through technology and new discovery.

Yep, oil will peak later. And Lynch, Yergin, USGS and the Saudis have their assumptions to prove it.

 
At Saturday, October 22, 2005 at 4:55:00 PM PDT, Blogger dub_scratch said...

WW wrote: "Yeah I’ve heard of ‘The war in Iraq’. Saying that’s an oil war is a matter of conjecture practiced by conspiracy theories. If it really is an oil war then it doesn’t seem very successful, both in cost and strategy."

You mean conjecture like the one where Saddam has stockpiles of WMDs? Or conspiracy theories such as the one where Iraq was going to give those WMDs to Osama so he can kill us all?

Somehow, a conspiracy theory that a lying government has a hidden oil agenda behind a military action seems more plausible then the conspiracy theories offered by that government.

 
At Saturday, October 22, 2005 at 6:06:00 PM PDT, Anonymous nickptar said...

Re bioweapons: WTF? Do you have any evidence for that? Or are you too good for evidence?

Re Iraq: Sure, it's oil-related, but look how unpopular it is now! Nobody is going to get support for future oil wars.

Re space colonization: One, JD doesn't count on that (at least in the short-ish run) just on inputs of energy from space, esp. lunar solar power. That doesn't require colonization. Two, your post is just a bunch of saying "it's impossible!" with no justification other than that it looks so hard. Sure, it's hard, but most experts in the field believe it's possible.

 
At Saturday, October 22, 2005 at 6:31:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Two, your post is just a bunch of saying "it's impossible!" with no justification other than that it looks so hard. Sure, it's hard, but most experts in the field believe it's possible."

With genetic engineering, growing a second dick is possible. Doesn't mean it's going to be a viable thing for a few billion men though.

 
At Saturday, October 22, 2005 at 6:43:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is no need for a bioweapon. Markets will be the weapon. As energy prices rise, the poor will find themselves in worse and worse straits. Governments dealing with exploding deficits will cut entitlements, exacerbating the problem. Those that are economically viable will live, those that aren't will die. It is Social Darwinism on a global scale. This scenario is far more likely than expensive wars between powerful states, because any powerful nation can destroy any other powerful nation's energy infrastructure with relative ease. War between global powers is not ecnomically viable. The elites of the world will join forces to preserve their markets and prosperity by jettisoning their poor.

The United States is already doing this. Huge tax cuts for the richest Americans drive job creation and markets that benefit those with marketable skills. Rising deficits are now prompting US lawmakers to slash entitlement programs which have already been cut nearly to the bone. The lack of economic opportunity among the poor causes many of them to choose illigitimate means to make ends meet, like stealing and dealing drugs. When these people are caught, they are given very long prison terms, and in most states they lose their right to vote for life. This lessens resistence to this political strategy. It's going to be survival of the fittest, plain and simple.

I know that sounds terrible, but because the US is much more meritocratic than European nations, there is a high correlation in the states between being a stupid, lazy, shiftless person and being impoverished. Maybe this is the best and most painless solution to the PO problem. Sink or swim on your merits.

On a global scale, there will be mass starvation in Africa, and the Chinese, who already deal with substantial political unrest, will have to use their military to keep the huddled and dying masses from disrupting the economy.

It's going to be survival of the fittest, and for the fit, PO will not be that much of a hardship. However, anyone that is a drag on the economy, or anyone that gets more from the government than they give, is toast.

 
At Saturday, October 22, 2005 at 10:15:00 PM PDT, Blogger Big Gav said...

Yikes ! Is Jay posting as "anonymous" ?

 
At Saturday, October 22, 2005 at 10:18:00 PM PDT, Blogger Big Gav said...

Actually that can't be it - Jay was the first to come up with the bioweapon idea...

Anyway - I'll just note that coming up with these sorts of theories might be entertaining but its a bit misanthropic and it is better to be thinking "what changes need to be made" (to the economy, to the political system) that would enable a smooth transition to a future that includes declining oil production.

Preferably one that doesn't involve pumping more and more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere...

 
At Sunday, October 23, 2005 at 2:00:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What if the answer to the question "What changes need to be made?" is: There needs to be fewer humans on planet earth.

 
At Sunday, October 23, 2005 at 6:39:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, but there are more pleasant ways to do that than Darwinian mass death. A one-child policy, say. It would take longer, but if there actually are techno-fixes it wouldn't have to be extremel fast.

 
At Monday, October 24, 2005 at 4:14:00 AM PDT, Blogger Big Gav said...

I'm not sure if there needs to be fewer humans - we need to consume fewer resources would seem to be the unarguable statement.

As for "extremely fast" techno fixes, I think you are making assumptions about both the post peak depletion rate and peak date which are hard to be sure are correct. Even if Colin Campbell is right production will probably bump along a plateau for quite a few years yet (once the coal to liquids global warming disaster gets going).

Widespread understanding of peak oil and global warming could eventually provide sufficient incentive to initiate a big transformation of how we generate and use energy, assuming the fossil fuel industry gets out of the way enough to stop slowing the process down.

Neither the doomers nor the optimists are necessarily right - the future isn't preordained (although we do seem to be in for some nasty climate change if you ask me).

 
At Monday, October 24, 2005 at 6:17:00 AM PDT, Blogger EnergySpin said...

To second anonymous who wrote:
"All the sites you mention are not only inaccurate, they are actually dangerous. Many people (myself included) have been taken in by the 'scientific' language used and wasted enormous amounts of time and energy on worrying and preparing for the 'hard landing' scenario they assure us is inevitable. Because these sites all link to each other it can take a long time before you realise that nobody else thinks like they do. I got caught up in the downward spiral of checking ...."

I couldn't find a more accurate description of what my everyday life looked like a few months ago. Couple that with all the inaccurate statements about EROEI of various alternative technologies (renewable+nuclear) and one can seriously get mind-f..d
It took me a while to actually go an d read the sources of these statements, get a crash course in lifecycle analysis to spot the errors in those analysis. And behold the truth was pretty clear: a combo of "petri-dishers", right-winged survivalist nuts, luddites all coming with their own luggage (message) to PO.
As it stands ... Global warming is a much more serious (read lethal) threat to civilization. Getting off the carbon crack used to power cars and generate electricity is the only way to moderate climate change and make PO (nearly) irrelevant

I think that "peak oil doom" would have been a more accurate title if this blog had gone online 1 year ago.
But nowadays, the term "peak oil" is synonymous to dieoff and collapse so .... the title makes sense for people who know a litl bit about the geopolitical phenonomenon analyzed here

 
At Thursday, October 27, 2005 at 5:44:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Popmonkey. Like him, I came to the notion of Peak Oil via LATOC.

Also like him, I was emotionally paralyzed with fear. He talks about metaphorically putting a gun in his mouth. I very nearly did so literally, and only responsibility to my wife and two young children saved me from that.

You see, I'm one of those who is truly screwed if Savinar is right. Getting a mountain bike isn't likely to save me if technology fails, since I'm dependant on medication which will not exist. The best I can do in that case is watch out for my dependants as long as I can.

Fortunately, I started reading some other stuff...notably some of the experts quoted on LATOC, (Goodstein, Deffeyes, etc) and found that none of them were telling the world to learn what which plants are edible and which are not. (...not that I'm against knowing that sort of thing...plain old hiking mishaps can make that important...)

While the doomer sites do get your attention, I fear that they are dangerous. As I said, if it weren't for my kids, LATOC would be responsible for at least one death by now. They also discredit PO in the minds of many, and that is a disservice.

Certainly if you read enough of them you can start to see reasons to not take them at face value (for instance, if stone-age life is imminent, what's the point of reducing your credit card debt...and why would you want to reproduce (Matt S.'s one book review points out how a particular book will help get you laid post peak...) but you don't read that deeply when you're in your initial shock.

Now, having said all that, I also feel you'd do more service to at least subtitle your page with something like "Why Peak Oil doesn't mean a return to the Stone Age." There is no question for me that peak is inevitable. On the other hand, I now hold out hope that we can and will be able to sustain worthwhile life on Earth without massive die-offs and collapse of civilization. Sure, I agree the future won't look like today. On the other hand, today doesn't look like the 1960s, or the 1860s, or the 1160s, etc. and that isn't a bad thing.

 
At Monday, October 31, 2005 at 3:31:00 PM PST, Blogger Roland said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At Tuesday, November 1, 2005 at 2:21:00 AM PST, Anonymous p said...

Many peak oilers (even the moderates) think scaring the shit out of people is good for "peak oil awareness".

No they don't. The one thing you need to understand is that there is no such thing as a peak oiler. There is no movement. There is a loose hetreogenerous group of people with very different opinions and believes trying to discuss possible implications of peak oil. That is your huge mistake, JD, to think there actually is such a thing as a "peak oiler".

 
At Tuesday, November 1, 2005 at 3:05:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"i was almost literally paralyzed (certainly mentally) for months."

and

"I remember when I first came across Peak Oil through the doomer websites, it was like the entire universe had come crashing down. It was the worst feeling I have ever experienced."

For Christs sake.. Do you people lack an independant mind or something? The presentations of possible doomscenario's shouldn't paralize you, it should merely make you think. If you were realy that striken by this you should long look at yourself..

 
At Monday, November 7, 2005 at 12:06:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to converse with some of you guys.

See, I've been in the PO Doom for about a month now and I had it early in the year as well. (Not sure how I purged it from my mind over the late spring and all of summer tho...maybe from reading Lynch?) I have been caught in the Doomer Site Spiral you guys describe and it's funny someone talked about offing themself, because I've come close several times now. I would adore the opportunity to interact with you guys who managed to shake your doom-erosity because (and it's been said before) these stories mirror mine; depression, loss of productivity at work, overall sitting in a corner rocking back and forth and bemoaning the near future. Anyone willing to correspond a little bit? Maybe help out a recovering Doomer?

For my own sanity, I've been putting the most faith in the work of Koppealar and the "No peak before 2010 Date". Thanks for reading.

 
At Monday, November 7, 2005 at 3:30:00 AM PST, Blogger JD said...

I'd like to converse with some of you guys.

Hi Anon, everybody hangs out in the Google Group:
http://groups.google.com/group/Peak-Oil-Debunked

 
At Wednesday, November 9, 2005 at 3:22:00 AM PST, Blogger Roland said...

The presentations of possible doomscenario's shouldn't paralize you, it should merely make you think.

The problem is that the hysterical collapse websites present themselves as the unalterable gospel truth. If you are uninformed about the issue then you just take them at face value and end up becoming very scared,

Luckily I responded by doing in depth research on it myself. So did some of the others who have commented. Many people, though, would be paralyzed by fear and possibly end up ignoring the problem.

 
At Wednesday, November 9, 2005 at 5:10:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Anon,

I'm the other Anon who had mentioned that I'd considered suicide at one point. Yes, I'd be happy to discuss what turned me around. I haven't (yet) joined the Google group, but probably will soon.

In the meanwhile, I recommend looking at what the Peak Oil "experts" themselves are recommending. I mean Colin Campbell, Matt Simmons, David Goodstein, and their ilk, not the doomers who quote them.

For instance, I wrote to Dr. Goodstein, asking what a person should do. He didn't recommend I work on my flint-knapping skills, but rather that I try to inform people and write my congressmen.

I read somewhere recently (perhaps here) that someone who was at a PO conference asked Campbell, Simmons, and the Sweedish bloke whose name I can never spell at APSO, what they thought of folks like Heinberg. They did not agree with Heinberg or any sort of return to the stone-age.

They're talking about problems, yes, but not total Malthusian collapse, or a return to living in caves. My grandfather made it through WWI and the great depression, my uncle fought in WWII, my Dad was on the hotseat in the military during the Cuban Missile Crisis. These were all difficult times, and we may well have our own difficult time. I'm glad none of them offed themselves, and I hope my (real) kids and (eventual) grandkids will be glad I didn't also.

Then, remember Campbell, Simmons, and Co. are the pessimists out there. Once you've done that, investigate the other positions. Check out the IEA, the DOE, Amory Lovins, Yeargin, &c. Realize there are multiple sides to the debate. See that the world is starting to take notice, even if GW Bush isn't. There is hope.

I still don't know who's right and who's not, whether the world peaked last year or won't until 2037, but none of the experts are calling for the end of the world. Our parents and grandparents made it through hard times for us, and we will make it through hard times for our posterity.

There are other things I'd recommend, but those two should get you started.

Oh, also check out these two sites:

http://www.oilscenarios.info/index.htm

(The least biased examination I've seen of all takes on the issue)

and

http://www.trendlines.ca/economic.htm

which shows a lot of data of different folks' take on the notion of PO.

 
At Wednesday, November 9, 2005 at 6:09:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks. (I'm the one you're talking to. I"ll have an actual identity shortly)

I've been to trendlines plenty of times. My only problems are the sporadic nature of the updates and the question of why is Hutter in such a minority?

I really appreciate your response time and I'd be more than happy to converse with you in particular. I'm also looking forward to Lynch's return to the PO Message Board in about a week (according to him). He's easily the most vocal and to the point critic and has been the one vindicated many times over. I'll try the other URL you sent me.

Also, you mention quotes from Campbell and the like that are a little more based in reality and which seperate them from Rupper and Savinar (lords of the end of the world). Do you know where I can find those quotes? I'd like to hear it from the horse's mouth.

Thanks a bunch. Hope to talk soon.

 
At Wednesday, November 9, 2005 at 6:29:00 PM PST, Blogger JD said...

I think these are the quotes you're wondering about:
Link

 
At Wednesday, November 9, 2005 at 8:04:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks JD, I appreciate it. Keep up the blog. If for no other reason, it seems to give Savinar something to do.

 
At Thursday, November 10, 2005 at 5:48:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, JD, that's what I meant, although I don't know whether I read about it here or elsewhere.

The bit from Dr. Goodstein was from personal email correspondance between us. His email address is readily available, and I will be happy to email it to you if you like. I don't want to just post it though. He replied fairly promptly and was extremely helpful.

Also, the Department of Energy will talk with you either via phone or email. You don't need to be any sort of expert or bigwig...heaven knows I'm not.

I haven't tried writing Matt Simmons, Colin Campbell,or the rest yet, but I highly recommend trying. The worst that could happen is that they don't respond. Just be sure to ask for specifics of what a post peak world is like. When one man says "very bad" that may be entirely different from another man's "very bad." The 1987 stock problem was "very bad" to some folks.

Another recommendation I have is to seek help from a doctor or therapist. I did both. Some of us, particularly those of us who are very good at concentrating, can get in a biochemical "rut." It has to do with the way our basal ganglia behave and has nothing to do with any character flaw. While this makes us great at concentration, it can be a liability also. I found myself unable to think about anything but Peak Oil for a while, and even unable to get my head out of LATOC in particular. Waking or dreaming, that's all I could think about. If that's you also, I strongly encourage you to talk to a doctor about getting on a selective serotonin uptake inhibitor. You cannot make good decisions or even "deal with reality before realitiy deals with you" (if that's what you eventually decide makes sense) if you can't think outside of the box a little. Trust me on this.

Getting out of that rut made it so I could plan and analyze again...put me back on familiar ground cognatively. It has cleared my thinking, not doped me up.

I suppose we should have names to call each other, and I don't feel comfortable using my real name in this venue, so when you see me logging on, I will be "AlbertusMagnus" ... unless that's been already taken.

--A.

 
At Saturday, November 12, 2005 at 7:13:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What the hell? I'm trying to get in touch with Roland and EnergySpin but their email addresses are not accessible through profile views here. So I'm gonna go out on a limb here and just put mine up and hope some "recovered doomers" email me. I'm trying to shake the doom these days and am looking for some support.

so here goes...

hughmarc@isu.edu

Please don't abuse it.

 
At Wednesday, November 16, 2005 at 2:46:00 AM PST, Anonymous p said...

@Roland

I have the idea that at several discussion sites people tend to remember the we-are-all going-to-die-postings, whether they are a minority or not, and forget the many word of reason that are published on the same discussionboards. And in that case it is more the receptive audience than the website that is to blame for fear of doom and gloom. Check out what someone said here in this thread earlier:

"I'm the other Anon who had mentioned that I'd considered suicide at one point."

 
At Sunday, November 20, 2005 at 9:18:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about Peak Oil Pessimism Debunked? Hell, it even has a cool acronym, POP'D.

Imagine the guy who's been told that there's this thing called peak oil, and the first site he runs across is yours? Immediately, the title gives him comfort that life as usual will keep going on and cognitive dissonance will immediately take effect, with this guy ignoring pessimistic, but factual data, just because it doesn't agree with him.

At the very least, put a short explanation at the top of your blog indicating what peak oil is, and that it is a serious issue, but the suggestions in your blog will help mitigating the worst from happening or such.

 
At Friday, December 23, 2005 at 8:41:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's the fascist underbelly of PO? Are most PO really socialists?

 
At Tuesday, January 8, 2008 at 2:46:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another anti-doomer medication is simply EPA fish oil tablets.
Helped me get out of the peak-oil-sh!t-we're-all-gonna-die-funk.

Won't help that everyone of my family thinks I'm a fruit-loop tho.

But at least I sleep better and can actually do my work now.

 
At Friday, May 30, 2008 at 1:05:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Lev B. said...

Oh right, of course, peak oil is a myth. Everyone knows that oil is a renewable resource and the faster we use it the faster the little gnomes in the ground cook it up for us. Right? It's not going anywhere. The gnomes have been just as active in the U.S. since 1970 haven't they? Oh you mean U.S. oil production peaked in 1970 then declined, had a second smaller peak in 1989 before the Prudhoe Bay field went into terminal decline, and is now steadily slipping with domestic production now amounting to only one-third of the crude the U.S. uses each year? Nah, it's a myth right? There's enough oil to last for a million bajillion years. Bwaahahahahahahaha.


You people are mad as a hatter. It will all run out eventually and by the looks of things we've already hit the peak of oil production if you'll notice that demand has been steadily outstripping supply lo these last few years. Especially with China and India using increasing amounts of it demand has grown significantly in recent years WITHOUT a comparable increase in production to meet it. Hence the skyrocketing crude prices.


Considering the world's big mature "classic" oil fields like Gwadar in Saudi Arabia are all in decline, some faster than others like Cantarell off the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, and new discoveries getting smaller, less-frequent and in increasingly less accessable areas, meaning it will cost way more to extract it than in say shallow-water fields or on land, we are looking at oil (and gasoline, diesel, kerosene, jet fuel, home heating oil) prices all going one way for the forseeable future. We will never again see $1-something a gallon gas. As expensive as it is now it will look cheap in a few years. The future fuel to replace gasoline appears to be ethanol but made from inedible starchy plant material instead of something like corn which drives the price of corn way up and makes eating it cost prohibitive for many. To replace diesel I think the best bet will be something like a vegetable oil. The "hydrogen fuel cell" idea is a turd and seems primarily to be focused on making sure the production of the next auto fuel is so needlessly complex and expensive in startup costs as to be beyond the means of petit-bourgeois entrepreneurs who would wish to get started in a less-expensive, less-complicated fuel production operation for example ethanol distilling which is no more complex than building a "still" that makes moonshine, just on a larger scale to make much larger amounts of it. The wealth is much more spread out that way and not as concentrated in a few hands like you see now with oil drilling and refining and (Big Oil hopes) in the future with "hyrogen fuel" or some other gilded nonsense.

 

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