free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 148. MORE DEBUNKERS EMERGE

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

148. MORE DEBUNKERS EMERGE

Great article by Aaron Naparstek:
These and about 400 others were in attendance for the first-ever Petrocollapse Conference, a day-long event organized to allow "tremendous authorities offering a wide range of expertise" to educate the public on Peak Oil, according to Jan Lundberg, a conference organizer and the morning's first speaker.

[...]

Having written and worked quite a bit on New York City transportation issues the last few years, I was slated to do a ten minute talk as a part of the "Local Solutions" panel at the end of the day. I had put together a presentation called "Urban Transportation in the Age of Expensive Oil" showing five transportation and urban design ideas for weaning New York City away from costly automobile dependence.

[...]

Yet, as one "tremendous authority" after another got up to warn us of the impending, sudden demise of Western industrial civilization due to Peak Oil, I began to get the sneaking suspicion that this crowd, or at least these conference organizers, weren't interested in bus rapid transit, bike lanes or policy proposals of any kind. The Petrocollapse Conference had been convened to warn New Yorkers that End Times were upon us.

If Peak Oil theory is now mainstream, splashed across the front page of USA Today and the theme of Chevron and BP ad campaigns, then Petrocollapse is a secular, left-wing, non-fiction version of Tim LaHaye's Christian Apocalyptic "Left Behind" series. The gospel according to Petrocollapse is that Peak Oil is coming, and it's coming soon. The transition to the post-carbon world will not be gradual, it will be sudden and massive. And when it comes, the sinners--those profligate American consumers and the corporate whores who oversee them--will all be swept away in violent social turmoil, starvation and environmental disaster. But there's good news too. After the tumultuous mass die-off, a new society will arise from the burned out SUV hulks and melted plastic detritus. In this post-carbon world, humans will have no choice but to live sustainably, in cooperation with each other and in harmony with nature. Those who get religion and accept Peak Oil into their hearts soon enough--they may be among the lucky survivors whose children grow to live in this new and better world.

In other words, "grounded" and "pragmatic" weren't high on the Petrocollapse Conference agenda. This was made immediately clear in Lundberg's introduction as he listed his Peak Oil bonafides and criticized other "prestigious insiders of the Peak Oil 'movement'" for advocating political solutions and policy reforms. Source


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A nice piece by Grant Causwell, skewering Ruppert, Jan Lundberg and the other peak oil hysterics:
The peak oil movement is, right now, no matter how many write-ups it receives in the New York Times Magazine, a movement of people who have already lost, just as all survivalists' movements are. (I suspect Jan Lundberg would have done well for himself giving speeches about the need for fallout shelters 50 years ago.) Those who have the least worry most about losing it. In this case, it's those least tethered to the hectic crash and race of motorized life, those who not only despise it, but tremble with anticipation of the glorious day when the ones tethered to it and secure in their place are similarly lost, who drive the movement. They're the ones who buy books like "When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance & Planetary Survival" or "Strategic Relocation: North American Guide to Safe Places" (hint: you want "a climate which can sustain life in an energy crisis but won't attract marauders"), and pay Michael Ruppert $50 a year to read his lurid fantasies about crack-dealing spooks and economic collapses that are always, from what I can tell, just a few weeks off.Source

5 Comments:

At Wednesday, November 2, 2005 at 4:08:00 AM PST, Anonymous Wildwell said...

There's no question that *some* Peak Oil bigwigs are in it for political motives and even to seize power themselves. Some have admitted as much!

Rather than work within the framework of the existing system, say by promoting green alternatives, or careful public education they are 'waiting for peak oil'. It's just a shame some of them are woefully uneducated about History, Economics and transportation and a lot of their prediction won’t come to pass. Nevertheless it is an important debate and it’s good to see others are thinking.

 
At Wednesday, November 2, 2005 at 10:21:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having written and worked quite a bit on New York City transportation issues the last few years, I was slated to do a ten minute talk as a part of the "Local Solutions" panel at the end of the day. I had put together a presentation called "Urban Transportation in the Age of Expensive Oil" showing five transportation and urban design ideas for weaning New York City away from costly automobile dependence.

Cool. If the plans are something that can be implemented, even as a doomer, I think it should be done.

Yet, as one "tremendous authority" after another got up to warn us of the impending, sudden demise of Western industrial civilization due to Peak Oil, I began to get the sneaking suspicion that this crowd, or at least these conference organizers, weren't interested in bus rapid transit, bike lanes or policy proposals of any kind. The Petrocollapse Conference had been convened to warn New Yorkers that End Times were upon us.

As they may well be. The available data is looking worse and worse by the day. Given this, it's disingenuous at best, an malicious at worst, to be talking about bike lanes.

If Peak Oil theory is now mainstream, splashed across the front page of USA Today and the theme of Chevron and BP ad campaigns, then Petrocollapse is a secular, left-wing, non-fiction version of Tim LaHaye's Christian Apocalyptic "Left Behind" series.

The difference being that Tim LaHaye is understood to be writing fiction, because there's no real reason to believe that he's writing anything else. There are reasons to believe that Peak Oil is imminent, and there are reasons to believe that it could be very, very bad when it happens. Of course, maybe it won't be, but the point is that there's an in-principle debatable topic. This author, by comparing Peak Oil to Left Behind, is choosing to not engage in that debate, and rather disgracefully at that.

The gospel according to Petrocollapse is that Peak Oil is coming, and it's coming soon. The transition to the post-carbon world will not be gradual, it will be sudden and massive. And when it comes, the sinners--those profligate American consumers and the corporate whores who oversee them--will all be swept away in violent social turmoil, starvation and environmental disaster. But there's good news too. After the tumultuous mass die-off, a new society will arise from the burned out SUV hulks and melted plastic detritus. In this post-carbon world, humans will have no choice but to live sustainably, in cooperation with each other and in harmony with nature. Those who get religion and accept Peak Oil into their hearts soon enough--they may be among the lucky survivors whose children grow to live in this new and better world.

Religion, in the sense this author uses the term, is promulgated through irrational statements for which there is no backup presented. As such, religion cannot be debated. The backup for a hard-landing scenario is available and can be debated. If this author had an actual case, one would assume he might actually try to do so.

In other words, "grounded" and "pragmatic" weren't high on the Petrocollapse Conference agenda.

Is there any reason that it must have been?

The peak oil movement is, right now, no matter how many write-ups it receives in the New York Times Magazine, a movement of people who have already lost, just as all survivalists' movements are. (I suspect Jan Lundberg would have done well for himself giving speeches about the need for fallout shelters 50 years ago.)

This is nuts. Fallout shelters very nearly came in quite handy, and still may yet. Is it paranoia to reason that it's better to have and not need, than need and not have?

Anyway, who the heck says that peak oilers have "lost?" Seems more than a little early for any kind of QED here. Most Peak Oilers don't predict things will get bad for a few more years. Moreover, there's not any evidence that they're wrong.

Those who have the least worry most about losing it. In this case, it's those least tethered to the hectic crash and race of motorized life, those who not only despise it, but tremble with anticipation of the glorious day when the ones tethered to it and secure in their place are similarly lost, who drive the movement.

What's with all this hate-mongering and mud-slinging? Why is it that when someone like Ruppert tries to warn of impending danger, he's suddenly seen as someone who invites it, who wants the doom to happen, who wants to see people suffer and die? I don't think he's ever said that, and in fact has written articles exhorting people to be nice to each other, or decrying instances where they weren't.

They're the ones who buy books like "When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance & Planetary Survival" or "Strategic Relocation: North American Guide to Safe Places" (hint: you want "a climate which can sustain life in an energy crisis but won't attract marauders"), and pay Michael Ruppert $50 a year to read his lurid fantasies about crack-dealing spooks and economic collapses that are always, from what I can tell, just a few weeks off.

So if someone finds the hard landing arguments compelling and buys some books to become educated and plan for the future, suddenly they're anxious to see everyone else perish?

Also, Ruppert has issued very few economic bulletins or warnings, and he appears mostly to have been correct when he did. I grant he doesn't always take into account mitigating factors. But his factual reporting is usually correct.

 
At Wednesday, November 2, 2005 at 11:46:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem with being either a doomer or a super-optimist is that it means that you get to keep chugging along without any changes.

On one hand if doomers are right, we are all going to die (probably at the hands of nukes as the world bands together to destroy the USA as it tries to steal their oil or something), so if they are right, why bother changing?

On the other hand, what if "moderates" are right? What if the people who walking into the issue have no political or environmental agenda are right (that it will be tough but we'll muddle through)? If you believe them you'll get out of debt, buy a space heater and figure out how to live with a very small amount of NG use, and adjust your lifestyle to not need a car.

Personally, even if the most optimistic of the optomists turn out to be right, I think the latter option is still worth exploring. You will save yourself alot of money, probably get in better shape, and who wants debt anyway?

 
At Thursday, November 3, 2005 at 8:58:00 PM PST, Blogger Roland said...

"What if the people who walking into the issue have no political or environmental agenda are right (that it will be tough but we'll muddle through)? ... I think the latter option is still worth exploring. You will save yourself alot of money, probably get in better shape, and who wants debt anyway?"

I think they are right. Let's all stop arguing about what time of day the peak will occur and whether Colin Campbell eats babies, and just get on with fixing it.

 
At Friday, November 4, 2005 at 5:15:00 PM PST, Blogger Big Gav said...

Well said Roland. A lot of these arguments seem completely pointless to me.

As for anonymous earlier on, who said:
Also, Ruppert has issued very few economic bulletins or warnings, and he appears mostly to have been correct when he did. I grant he doesn't always take into account mitigating factors. But his factual reporting is usually correct.

While Mike is something of a sacred cow because he has been quite effective at raising the profile of peak oil, the claim that he hasn't issued specific forecasts of imminent economic doom before doesn't seem to be true.

Please go and read "The Fire It Has Begun" on FTW (back around March) and his recent speech at Petrocollapse, which predited the demise of america would occur a few weeks ago (I haven't seen anything on the news down here to make me think he was correct).

This sort of stuff makes anyone who is concerned about dealing with pak oil seem like a nut by association.

 

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