free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 311. PEAK OIL DEBUNKED IN FOUR EASY WORDS

Friday, November 09, 2007

311. PEAK OIL DEBUNKED IN FOUR EASY WORDS

Wow! Busy week for peak oil. Lots of scary developments... and the peak oilers smell blood! $100 oil! The IEA goes doomer!! The subprime crisis! Dollar in free-fall! The titanic is going down!! Get out of that friggin deck chair, you moron!!

Yah, okay... Before we get completely covered by the foam issuing from the mouths of these fanatics, let's take stock:

Crude production hasn't risen since May 2005, and liquids haven't risen since July 2006. Were already at peak oil!
Sorry, the peak hasn't been confirmed yet. We'll see.

It doesn't matter! We're going to peak soon anyway!
Yah, okay. Let's grant that. In fact, let's grant that oil and liquids have both already peaked. Why not? I agree with the doomers that oil/liquids will peak. I just don't think it will be that big of a deal.

What are you talking about? Oil is at $100!
Oil is an addictive drug. It causes global warming and pollutes the air. We all agree that we need to stop using it. In fact, it's a matter of national security. The important thing is to adjust to the rising oil price with a smile.


What?
You may find this confusing at first, but I will now give you the ultimate peak oil debunk in four easy words. You may experience a flash of discomfort, or a stunned sensation. But hang in there, and read it over at least five or ten times. Let it sink in:

YOU DON'T NEED OIL.


Have you grasped it? Resistance to this idea is ingrained, and you may involuntarily mumble in disagreement, but try to fight through that. That's the addiction talking. Trust me: the idea that "we need oil" has been inculcated into the deepest fibers of your brain by decades upon decades of relentless GM and Exxon advertising.
True, we do need liquid fuels for certain mission-critical applications, but that is a small portion of total usage, and can be substituted with alternatives such as electricity (electric scooters/cars/rail), nuclear power and biofuels. The vast majority of liquid fuel is being used in optional lifestyle bullshit, like suburban living and massive traffic jams. See Alan Drake's detailed plans for a non-oil transportation system in the U.S. here and here. That will help you visualize the world without oil.

But oil's at $100, what should we do?
Wise up, and stop using. Oil prices are like a big truck coming down the street. Get out of the way. There's a whole range of solutions. Carpool. Ride the bus. Move closer to your job. Buy a scooter. Buy an electric bicycle. Telecommute. Walk. Ride your bike. Get a space heater. Buy a faggy-assed little electric car, like the Takeoka Milieu.

But, but, but...
Yah, I know. This is where all the excuses start, and folks resort to feeble stuff like: "Car pooling won't work in America" or "There aren't enough scooters" or "Fat people can't ride bikes" or "People would laugh at me if I did that" or "I can't walk because there's no sidewalk" etc. etc. It's quite sad, really, how the doomer position collapses into this kind of piffle at its foundations.

--by JD

48 Comments:

At Saturday, November 10, 2007 at 3:35:00 AM PST, Blogger Paul said...

Great Post!!!

 
At Saturday, November 10, 2007 at 7:22:00 AM PST, Blogger bc said...

It is ironic, isn't it? On one hand doomers are quick to decry announcements from oil companies as pure propaganda, but on the other hand completely buy into the hype about oil.

e.g. "without artificial fertilizer we starve" they say. By all reports, organic farming is as productive as conventional farming. Using great quantities of artificial fertilizers is not necessary - but it is necessary for the profits of petrochemical companies.

Since I first looked at PO 3 years, it became increasingly clear that PO is an eminently solvable problem.

"We don't need oil".

Quote of the millennium!

 
At Saturday, November 10, 2007 at 8:24:00 AM PST, Blogger IBMer said...

Brazilian offshore oil discovery refutes peak oil theory.

Brazil made one of the world's biggest oil discoveries of recent years yesterday, a huge deposit off the coastline of Rio de Janeiro, which officials claim will take it into the major league of the world's biggest energy powers.

The experience of Brazil's offshore drilling is proving that giant new oil fields are out there,
waiting to be discovered, just off shore along the continental shelf.

source:
http://freemanstrikes.blogspot.com/2007/11/brazilian-offshore-oil-discovery.html

 
At Saturday, November 10, 2007 at 11:44:00 AM PST, Blogger Gareth Doutch said...

Tupi is not so much of a giant

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601086&sid=arYFojM6udEI&refer=news


Tupi may have enough oil to supply all U.S. needs for more than 14 months.

 
At Saturday, November 10, 2007 at 11:55:00 AM PST, Blogger blogger said...

We don't need oil if you don't mind living like the average pauper in Calcutta.

 
At Saturday, November 10, 2007 at 1:21:00 PM PST, Blogger al fin said...

Peak oil reminds me of peak whale oil. Sure, peak whale oil happened. It happened because another energy source took over for it. The same with peak petro-oil.

JD's right that we can do without oil, and nobody has to starve. Humans need to think these things through better. But the problem is the average IQ of the earth's human population is 90, and will drop to 84 by mid-century (using the UK as a referent (mean 100, SD 15). Imagine homo habilis having to think his way out of a crisis of this magnitude.

Lucky we are to have the "smart fraction."

 
At Sunday, November 11, 2007 at 3:24:00 AM PST, Blogger jevandorp said...

You're right JD, we don't need oil. Just like we don't need coffee, television, or even clothing. All we need is air and water, and we can survive on grubs, berries and roots, like our ancestors before us.

So you're right, JD: we don't need oil!

... but it's mighty nice to have, isn't it?

 
At Sunday, November 11, 2007 at 6:03:00 AM PST, Blogger JD said...

You're right JD, we don't need oil. Just like we don't need coffee, television, or even clothing.

Actually, we do need coffee, television, clothing etc. It's just the oil we don't need.

So you're right, JD: we don't need oil! ... but it's mighty nice to have, isn't it?

Not really. I prefer life without a car. In fact, I think the quality of life is far superior to life with a car. I would love to live in a city where cars were outlawed.

 
At Monday, November 12, 2007 at 6:26:00 AM PST, Blogger KiltedGreen said...

Hmmm.

What will your carpool cars use for fuel? And the buses? The scooter? What are all the ingredients of the tyres for these things? What are the car and bus interiors made from? What is used to make the roads that they run on? What powers the vehicles that maintain the roads?

On your organic farm, what are the tractors, combine harvesters and so on powered by? How is the food taken from the farm to the processors? From the processors to the supermarkets? From the supermarkets to the shops? How do the customers get to all these out of town supermarkets (you know, those ones that have put so many local, close by food stores out of business)?

JD, it seems your thinking is a little less than joined up. So it seems that your loudly shouted "Four Easy Words" are actually 10 easy words - "We don't need as much oil as we use now." Not quite the same thing at all.

So how much less oil can people get away with? How much less will they have to get used to? How much can they afford? That is a large part of what PO is all about.

 
At Tuesday, November 13, 2007 at 8:33:00 AM PST, Blogger LooseCannon said...

jd wrote: The vast majority of liquid fuel is being used in optional lifestyle bullshit, like suburban living and massive traffic jams.

Quit playing around jd, you are scaring the crap out of me now. Get rid of our cars? Abandon suburbia? You sound like one of those raving doomers at "life after the oil crash". You are aware that much of the US economy revolves around cars and suburban sprawl and the financing of these activities, right?

Where have all the cornucopians gone? I need a fix, dammit.

 
At Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 1:05:00 AM PST, Blogger dc said...

$100 oil? Meh, I'm of the same mind as the folks over at Econbrowser: http://www.econbrowser.com/archives/2007/11/well_then_would.html

IOW, give me a $120+ barrel of oil. Yes, the global economies can withstand it. Heck, remember when everyone was fretting over a $60-$70 barrel of oil? In hindsight the $20-$90 price rise was absorbed with little-to-no disruption. Go figure: oil is still cheap even at these supposedly grotesque price levels.

 
At Friday, November 16, 2007 at 7:09:00 AM PST, Blogger jevandorp said...

Actually, we do need coffee, television, clothing etc. It's just the oil we don't need.

So you say. I hope you're right. We'll have to wait and see, won't we?

I prefer life without a car. In fact, I think the quality of life is far superior to life with a car. I would love to live in a city where cars were outlawed.

I live in such a city - or at least the no-car zone part of one - in Holland. You're right, it is mighty nice. But to get to work quickly pretty much requires a car. Public transport is just as expensive as driving my 65 mpg car and would cost me at least an hour more travel time each day. Only if the gas price quadruples would it make sense for me to do that.

However, it's nice for me that I even have that option, thanks to relatively good urban planning here in holland. I feel sorry for the suburbdwellers though, especially the ones without public transport. Still, a suitable bus service is something that can be rolled out pretty quickly anywhere, should push come to shove, even in the 'burbs, contrary to what many pessimists seem to think.

 
At Sunday, November 18, 2007 at 9:04:00 PM PST, Blogger Dan said...

We don't need oil?

HAHAHAHAHA!

 
At Tuesday, November 20, 2007 at 3:55:00 PM PST, Blogger Ricky said...

It's nice to see you've admitted that we're at or very near peak oil. You have just proven wrong your whole blog - Peak Oil Debunked.

First, about if oil has peaked already, you say "We'll see." Very comforting. Then, you say that if it has peaked, it won't be a big deal. Well, that's a personal opinion, but it seems like you've already admitted the peak if you have to go that far.

Then, you say that we have to adjust to rising prices with a smile. So you're saying that the prices won't go down to $20/barrel?...or even $50/barrel? Doesn't that mean Peak Oil?

And then I learn that I don't need oil. That's great! So I assume I can count on you to buy me that $50,000 fully electric car when it comes out. And can I also ask you to help me out with buying a house located next to a bus or train station, when it would take 2 hours that way instead of 30 minutes by car to get to work?

So you're not admitting peak oil, but you're asking all of us to completely change our lifestyles. Let's forget if I have a wife and two kids and a house I've lived in for 15 years - we'll pick up and move to a walkable city, and I'll buy an electric scooter.

I'm sorry, buddy. When you tell people these things, that means you have already realized that peak oil is here.

 
At Tuesday, November 20, 2007 at 5:01:00 PM PST, Blogger JD said...

So you're not admitting peak oil, but you're asking all of us to completely change our lifestyles.

Yes, peak oil is primarily a lifestyle problem. That's why it won't be that big of a deal.

Let's forget if I have a wife and two kids and a house I've lived in for 15 years - we'll pick up and move to a walkable city, and I'll buy an electric scooter.

Good idea. You might want to ditch the sarcasm and get busy on that plan so you can beat the rush. And don't forget to keep smiling!!

 
At Wednesday, November 28, 2007 at 6:48:00 PM PST, Blogger Darren said...

"JD, it seems your thinking is a little less than joined up. So it seems that your loudly shouted "Four Easy Words" are actually 10 easy words - "We don't need as much oil as we use now." Not quite the same thing at all."

This is a much more intelligent comment than the juvenile, uninformative drivel that passes for content on this blog deserves.

 
At Sunday, December 2, 2007 at 8:40:00 PM PST, Blogger Dave Lankshear said...

JD, for a while the tone of your blog seemed to be about disproving that the peak could arrive early. I'm glad to see that you've accepted that it's pretty much here, more or less.

I'm also glad that you've accepted that peak oil probably means the end of the suburban way of life! Welcome to "The End of Suburbia". Welcome to a Great Depression!

Can I just remind you that "Suburbia" is not just a "lifestyle option" as you put it, but trillions of dollars of wasted city infrastructure. If you really believe suburbia is not viable without oil, then you are what most citizens of America would call a "Doomer" even though we would probably call you a peaknik. So why on earth do you call this blog "Peak Oil Debunked"? Why not rename it to "Dieoff Debunked"? I'd probably agree with that assessment... but calling it peak oil debunked when:-
1. You admit we are at peak oil!!!
2. You admit we NEED oil for suburbia to be viable... seems like a very strange semantic word play, and not very helpful at all. You've basically defined peak oil for me buddy, and I call myself a peaknik.

 
At Sunday, December 2, 2007 at 9:30:00 PM PST, Blogger JD said...

I'm glad to see that you've accepted that it's pretty much here, more or less.
I don't accept that it's here. I was pointing out that it's no big whoop even if it is.

but calling it peak oil debunked when:-
1. You admit we are at peak oil!!!

I don't admit that we are at peak oil, you lying sack of shit. Read it again. I said: "Maybe we are, maybe we aren't. We'll see." Turns out that liquids production is still growing, and marked a new all-time high in October 2007.

You admit we NEED oil for suburbia to be viable
As much as I personally dislike suburbia, I made no such admission. Suburbia will do just fine with EVs, car pooling, electric scooters, telecommuting etc. There will be no Great Depression, or End of Suburbia.

 
At Sunday, December 2, 2007 at 9:58:00 PM PST, Blogger Dave Lankshear said...

OK, calm down, my apologies if I misread your statements to confirm that we are at peak oil... I don't like it when people misrepresent me. I didn't do it intentionally... something in the way it was worded sounded like it.

But this bit...
The vast majority of liquid fuel is being used in optional lifestyle bullshit, like suburban living and massive traffic jams.

Just saying "Suburban living" and equating it with "optional lifestyle" doesn't really do justice to the very real problems America may be facing soon. I'm fortunate in that my area of Sydney (Australia) has some rail, but this would be swamped if just a fraction of today's drivers all tried to use it. It's a mathematical fact.

Then there's the vast areas of western Sydney don't have rail yet, and it would take considerable time and money to build it... even light rail.

Now I'm ALL FOR that ASPO-USA transport study you quoted, I really am. Electric trams and trains seems to be the way to go. But here's the thing... if petrol rationing starts, surely there's going to be a fairly heavy economic hit because those trams and trains don't even EXIST yet?

And that's just western Sydney Australia... you guys in the States have vast areas we call Exurbia. It's just not economically feasible to bring trams or trains to every area that needs them. "If you build it, they will come", building trams and trains then encourages medium density living and New Urbanism to spring up around the stations. But my point is all of this takes immense amounts of time, government planning, and community willpower and information. When is society going to have the conversation we need to have to get through this without too much economic pain?

Oh, that's right, JD keeps telling everyone that it's not even a problem so they can go back to reading online comics and just forget about it. Wouldn't it be ironic if you convinced all the peakniks that there was nothing to worry about and so we delayed taking action until it was too late and an enormous recession / Great Depression started because of it.

 
At Monday, December 3, 2007 at 3:22:00 AM PST, Blogger JD said...

Just saying "Suburban living" and equating it with "optional lifestyle" doesn't really do justice to the very real problems America may be facing soon.

I really disagree here. There are about a million solutions to those "real problems", and most them are no brainers. Here's one: sleep at work on weekdays. Buy groceries once a month. That'll slash your petrol bill. If that's too stiff of a regime, get a bike. If that doesn't work, get an electric bike. If that doesn't work get a moped, or a scooter. If that doesn't work, take the bus. Or carpool. Or buy an electric car, or retrofit one. Do it on a loan if necessary. Telecommute. It's just a question of mindset, of getting over the mental block, and adapting.
Those are the stopgap methods for dealing with a rough spot of extreme high prices, but on the whole, the transition will proceed at a slow pace. In the end, suburban people will still be living in the suburbs, except they'll be telecommuting... or driving smaller/lighter EVs which look more like 4-wheeled bicycles than cars.

 
At Monday, December 3, 2007 at 3:29:00 AM PST, Blogger Dave Lankshear said...

Sleep at work on weekdays?

Yeah, you've got little kids haven't you? ;-)

That's just GREAT for family life JD, I'm glad you've got marriages and family life all planned out for us...

NO! NO peak oil crisis hear! No problem at all! EASY PEASY says JD, you've just got to SLEEP AT WORK FOR A WEEK!

Ummm JD, that's war-time mentality. That's EMERGENCY stuff. That's "not nice"... IS peak oil a problem or not?

99 out of 100 people — except some poor lonely loser with no family or friends or LIFE who doesn't MIND sleeping at work for the week — I think MOST PEOPLE WOULD DEFINE THAT AS A ***BIG*** PROBLEM!

I think you need to really evaluate your message. "Peak oil debunked... except people are going to have to sleep at work on weekdays... you know, stay at work all week..."

Hmmmm

 
At Monday, December 3, 2007 at 3:54:00 AM PST, Blogger KiltedGreen said...

JD,

Really, please read what you are saying and think!

"There are about a million solutions to those "real problems", and most them are no brainers. Here's one: sleep at work on weekdays."

This is a realistic solution to Peak Oil? It involves no hardship or lifestyle change? I have no children though I have had a partner or two (ahem...) but 5 nights away from my partner? How do you think that would go down with your partner, if you have one? And the number of children that see little of their parents now is high enough already without saying "bye bye Mum & Dad, see you at the weekend". It beggars belief.

Buy groceries once a month? What sized car/truck do you have? I could do it (well, maybe not as I don't own a car) but for a family of four? Really?

Everyone buys an electric car? From where? I haven't noticed a huge amount of EV showrooms in the city in which I live. On a loan? You mean the kind of loans that are drying up faster than a duck pond in August?

It's disingenuous of you to say that the challenges presented by the peaking of global oil production can be meaningfully addressed by such impractical and frankly desperate schemes and then turn round and say that "Those are the stopgap methods for dealing with a rough spot of extreme high prices" as though that makes them reasonable. It would be hard enough for everyone to just go and buy their EV, but to do it just to cover a "rough spot of extreme high prices" would make it look even more foolish!

You really do want to have the "Yes, it's coming" and the "No it won't matter or change our lives" approach all at once. George Orwell, in his novel 1984, had a word for this; 'DoubleThink'. George Bush and our own Gordon Brown exhibit this too - here's a quote from George just this month (from the BBC web site) in relation to another pesky problem that will require more than us buying an EV or two to sort it out:

Mr [George] Bush used the reduction as an endorsement of his climate policy, saying: "Our guiding principle is clear: we must lead the world to produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

"We must do it in a way that does not undermine economic growth or prevent nations from delivering greater prosperity for their people." - Dec 2007

It seems that both you and George Bush may have things in common that you hadn't perhaps imagined.

P.S. I'd just like to add that Gordon Brown (our Prime Minister) has said that the UK is going to lead the world in tackling CO2 so it seems there could be a bit of a struggle for the title going on in the times ahead :)

 
At Monday, December 3, 2007 at 4:32:00 AM PST, Blogger JD said...

Guys, guys... LOL
You guys are so spoiled. Here in Japan, middle-class fathers leave home for months at a time to work -- they call it tanshinfunin. It's no big deal. Nobody is bawling about it. Sailors go to sea. People go on temporary overseas/out-of-town assignments. Migrant laborers all over the world do it all the time. What's the big deal? It's not going to kill you. Maybe you can rent a share of a FEMA trailer near work. LOL. You ever sleapt in a capsule hotel? It's pretty fun. :-)

 
At Monday, December 3, 2007 at 5:11:00 AM PST, Blogger JD said...

Everyone buys an electric car? From where? I haven't noticed a huge amount of EV showrooms in the city in which I live.

Eight years ago, oil was at $10 a barrel. There was no need for EVs. So it's no big surprise that there isn't a dealership on every corner yet. The market works miracles, but it doesn't do it instantly.

And I never said it had to be a car. There's an EV for every price range. If you can't afford a car, get an electric scooter or a motorcycle. If you can't afford that, get an electric bicycle. Geez, do I have to walk you through this process like you're mentally retarded? Order off the internet:
One EV dealer out of hundreds you'll find if you Google.

 
At Monday, December 3, 2007 at 8:30:00 AM PST, Blogger KiltedGreen said...

JD: Here in Japan, middle-class fathers leave home for months at a time to work -- they call it tanshinfunin. It's no big deal.

Well, maybe JD. But not everything is so rosy for everyone over there - from 2003:

Dr. Nishijima feels that though cases of exhaustion depression and promotion triggered depression due to a huge dependence on the company have been decreasing, frequent absence from work syndrome, aversion depression, avoidant personality disorder and maladjustment stemming from mental disorders have increased. This is why suicide numbers have not decreased.

Faster action needed
His remedy is quite simple: awareness and recognition. If more companies are aware of the situation, the faster both the companies and the federal Japanese government can act to prevent problems, and reduce stress levels for all employees with programs that allow for channelling stress release in healthier ways.

"Though the Japanese federal government allocated 450 million yen to research on suicide prevention countermeasures as part of the 2001 Japan regeneration plan, critics and police agencies alike are still predicting another horrific year for the Aokigahara woods in 2003, among other suicide hot spots.

Due to the rising suicide rate, Japan has become known as a society of stress, and the cause is depression.

and from 2004:

"Increasing numbers of young people in Japan are feeling alienated by modern life. Several thousand are termed "hikikomori" - recluses who never leave their room, finding entertainment only on the internet."

If you think couples are 'spoiled' because they actually live together then you may perhaps find yourself a little out of step with most of us who regard being away from our friends and loved ones somewhat missing on of the main points of life - unless money and the things it buys are the most important things in your life. That may well be the case because if you think that spending much time in a "capsule hotel" is 'pretty fun' then it's clear that my idea of fun and yours are very far apart indeed.

There's lots of things that won't kill you, like having to walk instead of taking the car, not flying anymore, not having a job, not being able to drive more than 100 miles a month because you can't afford the fuel and no McDonalds. Such changes do imply a drastic change in the way we live though, which I thought was the whole point of what we're saying PO will cause.

 
At Monday, December 3, 2007 at 9:43:00 AM PST, Blogger KiltedGreen said...

JD: "Eight years ago, oil was at $10 a barrel. There was no need for EVs. So it's no big surprise that there isn't a dealership on every corner yet. The market works miracles, but it doesn't do it instantly."

OK. But I'm talking about now and oil at $99/barrel hasn't brought a dealership to every corner either, or even one corner here. And if it doesn't do it 'instantly' when do you expect it to happen? Eight years and a quadrupling of crude prices should surely have brought those EV dealerships out like a rash? Or at least reduced their prices, but from the link you sent so that I can order mine over the internet:

Electric car conversion $25,000
Porche 959 conversion $65,000
(I reckon we'll skip the $110,000 Rolls-Royce!)

So can you afford that as well as your current car? Or would you need one of those (increasingly hard to get) loans?

It looks like those suburban commuters will have to go for the electric bicycle as you suggest, but they do around 20mph, so they may have to leave for work a little earlier if you're the average American currently doing a 100 minute round-trip commute in your car. Considering that a survey of Americans in 2005 found that "Three-quarters of Americans say driving often gives them a sense of independence, and nearly half say it's often relaxing. Four in 10 love their cars -- not just like them, but love them." there may be a bit of a problem getting them riding around on electric bicycles! Again, a huge change for the car culture that is America which but you "just don't think it will be that big of a deal." when PO results in these kinds of life changes.

Maybe, as you suggest, everyone can just move closer to their job. Does that mean that more houses will be needed (seems to be a problem there at the moment!) closer to those jobs or that all the people who are currently 'closer to their job" will have to move out to the homes vacated by all these commuters now moving in? Sounds a bit like a loop to me. As I said in my first response to this article "it seems your thinking is a little less than joined up". But then you're in company with the majority of people it seems, as being unable to connect actions to consequences is one of the main reasons we are sliding deeper into a global financial and environmental mess every day. They are connected.

Finally, why do so many bloggers resort to insults at the drop of a hat? You imply that I may be mentally retarded (you're using it here as an insult I assume) and you call Dave Lankshear a "lying sack of shit". Are your powers of expression so limited that you have to resort to cheap shots like this or do you have a very low tolerance level? Is this how you talk to any of your friends who disagree with you? It just makes you look ignorant and boorish, which I'm sure you're not.

 
At Tuesday, December 4, 2007 at 2:36:00 AM PST, Blogger JD said...

the average American currently doing a 100 minute round-trip commute in your car

kg, you're mixing up the figures. The article says the average one-way commute time is 26 minutes, over a distance of 16 miles. Which translates to about 37mph. Not that much different from a moped (top speed roughly 30mph). The average fuel economy in the U.S. is roughly 24.7mpg, and fuel economy of a moped ranges from 100-120mpg. So traveling by moped you're going to save a lot of money. If you sell your car, and get rid of all those associated costs, you'll really be flush with cash. Net result: You're richer, and suburbia is still intact and functioning. I'm not sure why this is so hard to understand. High gas prices won't "kill" suburbia because there are a million ways to weasel out of it, like the one I've sketched out above. Sure, the days of motoring around alone in tanks will be over, but that won't destroy suburbia. People will just switch to simpler, smaller vehicles.

Four in 10 love their cars -- not just like them, but love them.

I've been arguing with peak oilers going on four years now, and that's what it always comes down to in the end, isn't it? That's sort of like the "axiom" of peak oil geometry. I've heard it a hundred times, and it's still a joke. What are you trying to say? That people *won't* be forced to part with their beloved gas guzzlers by peak oil? It's 100% clear they're going to have to switch. Why not do it with a smile, and point out the advantages, instead of bitching and moaning?

Again, a huge change for the car culture that is America which but you "just don't think it will be that big of a deal." when PO results in these kinds of life changes.

It isn't a big deal. It's exactly akin to a person trying to quit smoking. The fear and emotional turmoil before they do it is unbelievable. After they quit, they realize it was nothing, and they were making a mountain out of a molehill.

It boggles my mind that I'm even having this conversation with a person who is concerned about climate change. There are real people suffering in the world today, and you're trying to show me why Americans can't endure the "trauma" of having to drive a smaller vehicle.
????

 
At Tuesday, December 4, 2007 at 7:36:00 AM PST, Blogger KiltedGreen said...

JD: "It boggles my mind that I'm even having this conversation with a person who is concerned about climate change. There are real people suffering in the world today, and you're trying to show me why Americans can't endure the "trauma" of having to drive a smaller vehicle.
????"

I'm not saying that American's can't endure having to drive a smaller vehicle. They will have to. Perhaps even, shock, the trauma of 'not driving'. The horror. The horror.

PO essentially says that after the global oil peak we will have less oil. It's common sense that we will have to make do with less of everything that depends on oil. Oil will become more expensive, a lot more. So people will have to rethink what they use, what they can afford, how they get food, how they travel, the continuation of oil-based consumer goods. What we are saying is that our way of life will have to change radically to accommodate all this.

Now the Hirsch report ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hirsch_report ) as you can see proposed three scenarios:

Three scenarios
▪ Waiting until world oil production peaks before taking crash program action leaves the world with a significant liquid fuel deficit for more than two decades.
▪ Initiating a mitigation crash program 10 years before world oil peaking helps considerably but still leaves a liquid fuels shortfall roughly a decade after the time that oil would have peaked.
▪ Initiating a mitigation crash program 20 years before peaking appears to offer the possibility of avoiding a world liquid fuels shortfall for the forecast period.

So those of us in the 'PO Camp' are saying - hey, let's get on with this now. We need to change our behaviour. We need to use less of just about everything. But ... and this is the big one ... governments (as I quoted yesterday from George Bush in relation to CC) and the people generally don't want less of anything, except taxes. Don't you notice in the papers that every time there's a hint that economic growth in the UK / US / Canada / Country X appears to be slowing there are 'jitters', 'shocks', 'concerns', 'worries' and so on. And a huge sigh of relief when the 'keep buying and growing' GDP juggernaut lurches back into the continued expansion mode. Read the 'Have Your Say' pages on the BBC web site - every time someone mentions the UK government trying to encourage switches from car to public transport or increasing car fuel duty to curtail consumption or taxing kerosene to help begin tackling CO2 emissions people start writing in accusing the government of 'interference', being 'kill joys', introducing 'green stealth taxes', denying them 'their rights'. Really, it's quite amazing.

So what are you saying JD? You modestly claim "I am JD -- one of the Internet's premier peak oil denialists" and say that "I have consistently maintained that peak oil is no big deal". Yet your site says "This site officially accepts that oil is finite, and will peak someday". It seems that that the main difference (the only difference?) between you and PO people is that you think that the point of PO is so far ahead that we've all got decades for the market to smoothly transition to the post-peak world, whereas I am concerned that PO will be here with 5 years and 10 at the absolute outside, if we're not balancing on the top of it right now, and we are making next to no preparations at all and that means that we are seriously unprepared. Obviously most people agree with you that "it's no big deal" if they've even thought about it. Presumably because thay imagine it's not going to happen at all, or it will be 50 or 500 years away, or "they will figure something out(tm)" so we can carry on as we are but with some electric bikes and planes.

I'm amazed that you think quitting smoking is no big deal. I've never smoked but many find it incredibly hard to give up. My previous flatmate tried about 6 times and still smokes as do many of my other friends. It costs a fortune to smoke. It's very likely to give you serious lung disease and/or kill you. It makes you and your clothes stink. We now have a smoking ban in public places in the UK and wouldn't you think that if quitting was "no big deal" that they would not be standing outside pubs at night on windy, rain-soaked pavements in short-sleeved shirts getting their nicotine fix? Why don't they just say "Stuff this. I'm quitting so I can get back inside that snug warm pub with my mates. In fact I'll stop right this minute." It's because they are addicted to the drug. Most people in the West, and the US especially, are addicted to their energy use and all that it brings and they'll will not find it easy to give that up either I'll warrant. You seem to think that people can give up their cheap holidays, year round strawberries, cheap clothes, driving to the newsagents, buying ever more gadgets and so on with little "trauma", whereas I think most people will fight tooth and nail to keep hold of all of it. Our government is a fine example - it acknowledges the seriousness of CC and aims to "lead the world" in reducing our CO2 output yet at the same time it's planning to widen many of our motorways and build terminal 3 at Heathrow as well as being fully behind the new A380 Airbus! Why?

 
At Tuesday, December 4, 2007 at 2:49:00 PM PST, Blogger Dave Lankshear said...

Hi JD,

I reckon we've got it easier than your friends in the States, because electric bikes are more feasible downunder in our winters because (most of the time) we don't freeze to death.

Have you considered peak lithium in your optimistic outlook? Also try "The Star".

I agree that peak oil is not the end of the world or even civilization, but why maintain such a resource intensive, energy intensive city plan? You seem to be able to make the leap from driving Hummers everywhere to driving little electric bikes (let's see that in a blizzard), but don't seem to be able to think in larger narratives.

Instead of focussing on energy efficient vehicles to maintain an energy inefficient city plan, why not focus on the city plan? We have a choice.

Either:- Do everything we can to maintain the most energy guzzling and resource intensive city plan ever devised, suburbia, or simply REZONE and let New Urbanism legislation drive the layout from our cities from now on.

New Urbanism and eco-cities involve far less embedded energy to run. They maximise human interaction and community and satisfaction, while minimizing excessive waste through hundreds of thousands of miles of extra pipes, electrical transmission, cable TV transmission and internet... etc. New Urbanism can keep the best of modern life while chucking the garbage like Hummers. And it's doable... simply rezoning will replace 16% of suburbia with New Urbanism each decade. That's 16% of suburban transport gone each decade. When a house reaches the end of it's viable lifespan, the family sells it to the new local farming co-ops or industry, and moves into a New Urbanist home built right near economically viable tram lines.

JD, it seems strange that you'd prefer to see people interrupting family life to sleep at work rather than admit we may have made a mistake in the suburban design. You'd rather see us ignore one of the most important aspects of being human — familial relationships — in the quest to prove yourself right, that "peak oil is no biggie".

Sorry mate, peak oil is a biggie, especially when it's followed by peak gas, peak coal (2025?), peak biodiversity, peak soil, peak wood, peak water, peak climate, and running out of the following metals based on 2% growth per annum (Lester Brown)... Lead 18 years, Tin 20 years, Coper 25 years, iron ore 64 years, Bauxite 69 years (makes aluminium).

Don't you think it's time we rezoned our cities to require far less of these materials, so that we can keep the BEST things about modern life like computers and modern medicine and entertainment, and chuck the Hummers? All we have to do is rezone, and natural attrition of our old homes will gradually transform suburbia back into townships surrounded by local agriculture. And it'll be a more humane way to live. And unless it's a normal part of their profession like being an on-call doctor or fireman, no-one will have to sleep at work. :-)

 
At Tuesday, December 4, 2007 at 7:14:00 PM PST, Anonymous uf mcguf said...

"Have you considered peak lithium in your optimistic outlook? Also try "The Star"."

I don't know a whole lot about lithium availability but one of the commenters, seemingly knowledgable, in your Auto Blog Green link makes the argument that lithium is recyclable.

 
At Wednesday, December 5, 2007 at 2:21:00 AM PST, Blogger JD said...

Dave:
You're preaching to the choir about the suburbs. I dislike them too. I love the urban lifestyle and I live in Osaka, one of the densest cities in the world. I live by walking, bicycling and riding the train. Haven't bought so much as a drop of gasoline or diesel in the last 6 years.
However, I don't think suburbia will roll over and die. A lot of people like it. Anyway, peak oil won't force it to die. You can still live in suburbia, you just have to drive a smaller vehicle.

About peak everything: I don't buy it. It's just the standard doomer tactic. Throw everything in the room at you, and hope something sticks.

 
At Wednesday, December 5, 2007 at 3:08:00 AM PST, Blogger JD said...

It seems that that the main difference (the only difference?) between you and PO people is that you think that the point of PO is so far ahead that we've all got decades for the market to smoothly transition to the post-peak world, whereas I am concerned that PO will be here with 5 years and 10 at the absolute outside, if we're not balancing on the top of it right now, and we are making next to no preparations at all and that means that we are seriously unprepared.

kg: According to the current stats, peak *oil* happened almost 3 years ago, and it hasn't even caused a recession. So oil isn't the be-all-end-all that the POers claim. We're handling peak oil fine with no government intervention, and that will continue to be true.

Whenever liquids peak (soon or decades away), the math shows that the overall decline rate will be quite slow -- less than 2% for the first 20 years.
Hubbert Theory says Peak is Slow Squeeze
Read that carefully. It's one of the most important things ever written on peak oil.

It won't be so hard to adapt to that decline rate, especially since non-liquids (coal + nuclear + gas + renewables) will still be growing. Meanwhile, the "transition" is happening at a rapid pace. The Energy Blog will give you a play-by-play if you're interested.

I disagree with peak oilers about a lot of things:
1) I am strongly pro-growth. At this point, humans simply have to stabilize our growth temporarily. We will then continue to industrialize with coal, nuclear power and renewables. This will allow more nations (like China and India) to develop, at which point we can start "drilling upward" -- i.e. tapping orbital space energy and space minerals/resources so humans can get richer and continue to grow beyond the earth.
2) I don't believe any governmental "preparation" or "mitigation" is necessary. If we go down that road, it's just going to turn into a pork fest -- like synfuels and ethanol. Or worse, some kind of Bolshevik powerdown like Heinberg's.
3) I don't think peak oil is going to be negative. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if peak oil causes a massive economic boom.

About smoking: I'm just speaking from my own personal experience as a long time smoker who quit. I dreaded and feared it, like you can't believe, but looking back now, it was nothing. It was all in my head. BTW kg, you would make a really shitty counselor at a quit-smoking clinic. ;-)

 
At Friday, December 7, 2007 at 2:41:00 AM PST, Blogger KiltedGreen said...

Thanks for the Oil Drum article link JD - it's very interesting as are pretty much all of their articles. Why you think that "It's one of the most important things ever written on Peak Oil" I'm not so sure. Stuart made some very interesting points, but then so did many others not in agreement with him in the following 109 comments. I don't have the expertise to know whether Stuart is right or those who disagreed. Wait and see I suppose.

As for your final comment: "you would make a really shitty counselor at a quit-smoking clinic. ;-)" that really made me laugh. Is it because I have the opinion that you don't just click your fingers and stop smoking? Some people (my parents) did, but my flatmate still hasn't managed it after many, many attempts over two years. As you believe that giving it up is "no big deal" you'd presumably close all the "quit-smoking clinics" as unnecessary. Strangely if you did work in one, I imagine you'd say to the attendees, "Come on, put that out now. There, you've quit. Next please." Why is there the fear and emotional turmoil beforehand as you say? Do we have quit-orange juice or quit-yeast extract clinics? There may be an answer - Nicotine addiction. Now some people can give that up quite easily, but mostly it's not easy. I've got rid of my TV, video recorder, freezer and car and for me it was no problem at all. Some people have said to me that they couldn't get rid of their TV. I've never had a mobile phone either. But we're all different and the majority of people, judging by consumer spending patterns and debt levels, are not going to loosen their grip on all those "pro-growth" consumer items without a fight. You might like to have a look here for what drives some people: http://business.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=679&id=166432005

 
At Friday, December 7, 2007 at 4:01:00 PM PST, Blogger whaleass151 said...

Good luck in the depression, dude. We are already in a police state, so look into "professional interrogator" or "private security thug" as growth industries for your poorly thought-out, jack-ass, jamm-side-upper futereworld of carefreee scooter driving and jolly carpooling.

Of COURSE we don't need as much oil. Just like a heroin addict doesn't need all that junk.

We absolutely will and should convert to revewables, but we needed to start 20 years ago to avoid a major depression.

Peak oil and energy are the only issues yet we have zero presidential candidates talking about it. (with global warming at its heels)

This upcoming market tumble is going to make the '39 crash seem like a trip to legoland, we start going short 3 million barrels a day, its going to be a mean sucker-punch, will it be better in the long run? Maybe.

You are conscious people, remember you are in the VAST minority, this shit is going to hit the earth like a comet to the masses. And guess what? You are tied to them economically in every way, even on yer little bio-diesel beet farm. Cuz someone who DIDN'T plan is going to come looking for those who did.

 
At Friday, December 7, 2007 at 7:02:00 PM PST, Blogger Dave Lankshear said...

I'm with Whaleass,
JD, when are you going to get that just because you can visualize a post-oil world does not mean that getting there is going to be easy. "Sleep at work? Shop once a month?" Yeah, that's just so normal. You don't have kids yet do you? Do you know how much milk a family can go through?

Peak oil is not the end of the world, the end of humanity, or even the end of civilization or technology — but it is a major kick in the pants. If we are just a few years of seeing production actually start to decline, then the effect on the world economy is going to be profound. Peak oil is the "Greatest Story NEVER told" — the most appalling lack of government planning ever.

As I wrote on my campaign site (back when it was at eclipsenow.org),

I want the world to know that the most colossal failure in public policy ever was to construct our entire civilization on the foundations of a vanishing resource.


David Lankshear
August 2004


I still stand by that statement. I actually support many of the solutions you write about JD, but think your mission statement and blog name should be "dieoff debunked" because nothing here has debunked a massive economic crisis lasting decades.

 
At Thursday, December 13, 2007 at 10:33:00 PM PST, Anonymous The Dude said...

You denigrate Staniford in one post and use his data to back up your theories in this one? Sweet!

 
At Thursday, December 13, 2007 at 11:17:00 PM PST, Anonymous Billy Barou said...

I've been reading this site for a couple of years but just started posting. There's a definite change of atmosphere happening. More and more people are becoming aware that the changes that are coming are dramatic.

The author mentions peak liquids have a "slow squeeze" (decline) of 2% but what isn't mentioned is a stable economy is one that grows. If there is no growth, markets collapse. Capitalism 101.

How do we change our entire economic structure over 10-20, even 30 years?! And what do we change to?

I completely agree peak oil is a lifestyle problem. But when I change my lifestyle by not buying things I don't need businesses go out of business. When that happens I lose my job. Rinse and repeat.

 
At Monday, December 24, 2007 at 2:57:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are one of those paid misinformants to keep the status quo, aren't you?
Go on, admit it.
Ya, I thought so.


Everyone needs oil I have to go to work tomorrow and it is 400 miles away.

 
At Monday, December 24, 2007 at 6:05:00 PM PST, Anonymous cowscomehometoroost said...

Um, your proposition is for everyone in merca to leave there family for months at a time (tanshinfunin) buy 200 million electric vehicles, and charge them how? we would need 3000 nuc reactors to provide the power and ten grids just like the one we have.

Your problem is your mind cannot see scale. The economy will crash long before mercans go tanshinfunin and buing cars, in fact, its going to crash within a few months!

Oh, wow. better have those 3000 new reasctors on line.

You are not a planner, JD. You live in an imaginary world and you can see things like hydrogen reactors just appear out of thin air. It doesnt work that way. but you will find out soon enough, just a few months when the big crash comes.

 
At Wednesday, December 26, 2007 at 6:50:00 PM PST, Blogger mark said...

Electric Bicycles and Electric Scooters

Elmo The Electric Bike and Electric Scooter Guy

This is an excellent blog for electric bicycles. There are not too many around like this. Thanks for making this such an interesting subject. Oh, by the way, Wired Magazine has a great article on hybrid cars this month. (Jan 2008 issue).

God Bless,
Elmo

 
At Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at 9:03:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, there may be solutions for peak oil, but can we find and implement them in time? How are we doing so far?

 
At Saturday, February 9, 2008 at 8:21:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about eating food? Should we all start farming? Does everyone have a few dozen acres that they can farm and raise chickens, or cattle on? The answer is no. How does our food get on the table? where does it come from? How does it get there. OIL. Give me a break with "you don't need oil" -- if you shop at the supermarket as your primary food source, YOU NEED OIL.

 
At Sunday, February 10, 2008 at 12:45:00 PM PST, Anonymous soylent said...

"How does our food get on the table? where does it come from? How does it get there[?] OIL."

N-fertilizer: Natural gas or coal and steam is used for it's hydrogen and energy content. Solid-state production of ammonia from electricity is comming on line(intended for clipping the peaks off of intermittent energy sources like wind and solar so that you get a little more stable output as well as producing valuable ammonia.). This corresponds to a very big chunk of the input to agriculture. No oil here.

K-fertilizer: Conventional mining and solution mining. Takes electricity, diesel and NG as inputs. Potassium salt deposits are mined in conventional fashion or disolved and pumped into ponds to crystalize. Haven't examined the specific details.

P-fertilizer: Typically a large dragline excavator(commonly grid powered. Rarely diesel) hoists phosphate rock, clay and sand onto trucks(Diesel, but with close proximity make-shift light electric rail might make sense.). The trucks dump it in a pit onsite where high pressure water(electricity) creates a slurry which is pumped to a nearby benefication plant(electricity). The benefication plant separates sand and clay from phosphate using wire-mesh, crushing and grinding ,hydrocyclones and floatation, techniques(electricity). Uranium almost always accompanies phosphate rock; this industry went to sleep during a period of low uranium prices but is starting to re-awaken. Generates net energy if you make use of the uranium.

Prepared phosphate rock is shipped to a processing plant where it is treated with sulfuric acid(produced as a by-product of refining sour natural gas, sour crude, tar sands, base metal smelter gases and coal power). Takes very little extra energy to produce, because environmental regulations force you to deal with the sulphur whether you use it or not.

Pesticides: Oil product. Negligible energy input; even syngas from biomass or coal would be a practical substitute.

Farm equipment: Diesel. Negligible energy input. Can easily afford diesel at thousands of dollars per barrel. Due to the scale of the problem easily ammenable to custom solutions that may not be enough to save the american car culture at large; electric/CNG/Biogas(anaerobic digestion of farm waste/urban organic waste; landfill gas.)/biodiesel/CTL/cellulosic ethanol/wood gas(pyrolysis and filtering from almost any dried organic waste) etc. Pick your poison; lots of options that work well enough.

Transportation by truck: Diesel. One of the more problematic energy inputs. Can be replaced by rail to a large extent but the last handful of miles will still need trucks.

Transportation by rail: Electricity/diesel.

Transporation by boat:
Diesel. Very efficient. Small, modular pebble bed reactors(fission) could substitute for diesel in the larger cargo ships. Worst case we can use coal or biomass but it is less than optimal.

Baking, mixing, milling, roasting and other food processing.(Electricity, natural gas).

The hard problem is replacing trucks for the last few miles where rail is impractical. The scale is much larger than the use of farming equipment and it will take longer to substitute. SUVs and cars with a poor fuel economy in general will be outpriced of the market long before shipping starts to seriously suffer. Fuel economy can be doubled quite easily with longer more aerodynamic trucks. Eating a lot less meat would both be healthy and reduce the amount of grains, corn and soy that needs to be grown and shipped.

Packaging: Cardboard, plastic, steel, coarse cloth and glass. A lot of plastic packaging can be directly substituted with cardboard, cardboard with a thin layer of plastic or wax to keep the contents fresh or sacks. Fibers can be produced cheaply from hemp, flax etc. There is tremendous waste here in the form of oversized colourful packaging with relatively little content. Bulk packaging almost always improves efficiency of packaging.

Glass, most unsoftened plastics and aluminium are eminently reusable. Where we cannot substitute for them we can make standardized containers with a deposit. Biodegradable plastics and adhesives from 'energy crops' and farm waste are currently a hot research topic.

All in all I would say that food production is barely dependent on oil currently. Food distribution and packaging is much hairier but it seems doable to get off of oil.

 
At Thursday, March 6, 2008 at 12:45:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

People focus on oil priced in dollars far too much and it distorts everything.

Oil priced in Euros has not risen anywhere near as much as it has in dollars and in terms of Gold, it has risen 2.5 fold in Gold terms but that is nowhere near as drastic as the 10.5 fold increase we have seen in US Dollars. If you look at the price of any commodity today in US Dollars, prices have gone to Pluto. But if you price in more stable currencies that haven't been debased by its government, the prices look a lot less alarming.

We are certainly in a commodities bull market - but the extent of the bull run is being distorted by the plummeting US Dollar. So, before we let alarmists scare the life out of people, US monetary policy needs to be seen as part of the context.

 
At Sunday, May 11, 2008 at 7:15:00 PM PDT, Blogger Holly said...

Don't need oil?

No, we don't in the sense that human beings lived before oil.
All oil got us was an incredibly cushy lifestyle and lots of food off very little land.

1]Don't worry,2]it hasn't been proven and 3] losing it isn't a big deal are hardly debunking.

People lived before oil but do you have any idea of how they lived? Maybe you're expecting nuclear fusion and a replacement for plastics to show up in the nick of time?

 
At Sunday, December 7, 2008 at 3:32:00 PM PST, Blogger ljosserand said...

Before the Age of Oil the world population was about 1.5 billion. It's now zoomed up to 6.5 billion in less than 150 years. And, much of the support for this growth was provided by the millions of years of "stored solar energy" captured by trillions of tons of algae and other life forms, and saved by an oxygenless cooking process under such pressure and heat that only planet-scale geothermal forces can produce (and only rarely at that).
Each barrel of oil contains over 12 man-years of energy! Sure an individual can sit at home and use little oil. But just try to go thru one day without using any plastic (you probably can't). Or try to eat only food that was not grown, fertilized, harvested or transported using oil? None of this is absolutely impossible for an individual. But, the only world that can function without oil or without much oil, is a world with a huge energy deficit, and therefore greatly lowered wealth and living standards, and a far lower world population (half?) achieved over a very short time (with all the horrors that very grim phrase implies). Peak oil only seems like no big deal, until you think it over in detail.

 
At Friday, December 12, 2008 at 4:45:00 AM PST, Blogger James said...

Uhm this blog has totally lost all credibility - you don't need oil????????? yes we all know some people can survive without oil - it has been done for at least a couple of millenia - but consider these and tell me if you need oil:

- you get cancer and need treatment. oil is heavily used in pharmaceuticals but its ok you don't need oil
- you want to run an inaccurate blog on peak oil debunking, guess what all those components and wires and systems and energy are run on - its ok you dont need oil
- you want 6,000,000,000 (and counting) people to still live peacefully given the collapse of practically *every* single system they depend on?

 
At Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 2:49:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Eldon said...

I think the doomer Americans have it right though - your average American simply won't stand up to being told he can't drive his car. Looking at the riots in Greece right now (and, to a lesser extent, Ireland), it seems pretty clear that suddenly having austerity imposed doesn't go down so well. I wonder how long the rioting will last.

Having said that, I hope people will adapt if they really don't have a choice. They did during the World Wars!

 

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