free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 334. WELCOME TO THE DOOMER FEEDLOT

Friday, February 15, 2008

334. WELCOME TO THE DOOMER FEEDLOT

For those of you just coming to peak oil, you're going to want to understand the most basic concept of peak oil: The doomer feedlot. Forget about the Hubbert curve, and oil, and all that complicated math/science bullshit. That's all irrelevant to the actual day-to-day reality of peak oil. Today, I'm going to tell you what you really need to know to survive in the peak oil world.


First you're going to want to go to a doomer feedlot, like peakoil.com or DrumBeat at the Oil Drum, and get a user ID. It's like one of those tags that they crimp onto your ear. All the doomers look the same, and they're all packed nose-to-bunghole into the feedlot, so the feedlot needs a way to tell them apart in case one "goes down" or flips out etc.

Now, I know it's intimidating, but you're going to want to shove your way through all those packed in, fly encrusted doomer asses until you get to the trough. It's a real thrill, waiting for the truck. You got grizzled doomers on the left and right. Their fat guts are thickly marbled from all the scary news articles they've read over the years. They'll body check ya if they sense you're not scared. Just look one in the eye and say: "We are soooo fucked." They'll think you're one of them.

You're going to want to get used to this ritual of bellying up to the trough, cause you're going to be doing it about 10-20 times a day at the doomer feedlot. Ideally you'll want to work your way towards the front of the trough, near the fresh news items, but don't get too eager, some of the grizzled old-timers have staked out the best positions, like that Westexas bovine that just hangs there at the front of the trough, come rain or shine. Animals can be real stubborn like that.

Then the tails start waggin. Hot diggidy dog! Here comes the truck!! It's Leanan, in her overalls. She shovels the doom into the trough every morning, so you get your head in there and start slurping those juicy news items.


Here comes a shovelful: "Babies freeze to death in Kyrgyzstan."

That's got the stink of doom all over it, and the cows' eyes bug out with excitement...

"Babies freeze to death in Kyrgyzstan? Oh mama... Got bunker?"
"We are soooo fucked!"

Leanan really knows how to blend that feed. You see, lesson 1 is that peak oil is not about peak oil. Peak oil is about the inevitable die-off of industrial society and mankind due to hubris and stupidity. Any news item which advances that thesis... goes in the feed.

Remember: This is very much NOT about helping suffering people in other countries. The die-off is inevitable, so help is pointless. It's about the process of deriving nourishment from suffering in the form of news. Plowing through reports and commentary and blogs, day after day, for years on end, for signs of depression and mass death. Using reports of suffering to score debating points.

Pretty soon you'll be chewing through truckloads of material all by yourself. Biofuel report after biofuel report, until your mind is reeling, and your brain is starting to short-circuit from the sheer stress of seeing the word "biofuels" too many times, following footnote links that never end, and other nightmarish scenarios. You click on a link and cause a nuclear explosion etc. etc.

Don't worry these are all perfectly natural, psychological reactions to the stresses of life in the doomer feedlot. Endless biofuel reports and phonebook sized statistical analyses and prep checklists and satellite photos and reams of news items and press releases, you're going to have to read them all, and defend your opinions of them all, down to the fine print, in mortal combat with wave after wave of Zombie doomer chat room trolls. It's like Mad Max, except that was only a movie, and peak oil is even less real than that because the peak oil zombie hordes are just internet nerds with tough-sounding doomer screen names who invade forums and blogs. So, are you ready for peak oil? Do you have all your preps? You will need:
  • A good sturdy chair
  • Eyedrops
  • A thick pillow to keep your ass from getting sore
  • Some pain relief ointment for your mouse clicking finger
  • Headache medications
by JD

150 Comments:

At Friday, February 15, 2008 at 10:48:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention the doomer songs they've come up with and post. They are a really sick group. Think they have mad cow?

A couple of days ago, there was an article posted about a discovery that was potentially as big as Ghawar. Of course, it was dismissed very quickly, claiming that the author of the article "must have misplaced a decimal point". If it doesn't herald the arrival of doom, it must be bad information.

 
At Friday, February 15, 2008 at 12:30:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know man, today's "drum-beat(*)" at the oil drum says:

"Nepalese petrol stations have been hit by severe fuel shortages, largely triggered by protesters blockading key roads in the south of the country."

Doesn't that mean we're all going to die?

* - not sure they get the negative in that name

 
At Friday, February 15, 2008 at 2:11:00 PM PST, Anonymous Al Fin said...

The real world is just too complicated for that bunch. Fantasies of doom keep them warm at night.

Those websites comprise deadly serious cirkle jerks for the below average intellect. They're dreaming of the big dieoff.org, dreaming that they are among the one in a thousand humans who survive the dieoff.org.

 
At Friday, February 15, 2008 at 8:03:00 PM PST, Anonymous Tyler August said...

This isn't in keeping with the optimism you display elsewhere in the blog-- vitriolic ad hominim attacks on the Doomers isn't how we shift civilization into high gear. What you want to be doing it to _convert_. To prove to them that The End is not Nigh through well written, well thought out and well documented gems of optimism, such as you usually provide. Give to them what is their due, as you already have: the simple fact that oil is/has/will reach a peak due to the finite nature of the reserve. Build from that common point.
Yes, they're addicted to self-righteous indignation-- but evidently so are you; doomers get their high ragging on society, whereas yours comes from abusing these poor, frightened souls.
You admit you were one of them, once; don't you retain any compassion for your former fellows?

I apologize for ranting at you, but I just don't see this vitriol as being compatible with the optimism you extrude on the ultimate fate of our civilization.
(unrelated, but have you blogged EEStor for electric cars yet? The doomers hail their breakthrough ultracapacitor as vapourwear, but Lockheed Martin seems to disagree...)

 
At Friday, February 15, 2008 at 10:54:00 PM PST, Blogger green with a gun said...

An amusing, though not accurate depiction of the range of opinions you actually get at those sites :)

I comment all the time, and I'm not a doomer. As a Jew my people have been waiting for the Messiah to save us all for 3,000 years now, he doesn't seem to be in any hurry, so I'm sceptical when I'm told that Science! or The Market! will save us all.

Rather I think that as human beings in a wealthy and technological society, we are confronted with problems which have solutions today. Whether we'll solve our problems or fuck things up even more is an open question. We're quite capable of solving the lot tomorrow even with peak fossil fuels kicking us in the groin tomorrow, and we're quite capable of fucking things up even if the entire interior of the planet is composed of fossil fuels.

It's just a matter of how we apply the solutions we have to the problems we have, whether we get our shit together. And whether that'll happen is an open question.

 
At Saturday, February 16, 2008 at 4:33:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tyler august, I respectfully disagree. The doomers are stuck in a vicious circle and generally reject

See, I was nearly sucked in by the doomer crowd. I recognized peak oil as a real and significant economic fact, and I started reading the LATOC forum every day. The overwhelming negative tone of the boards really struck me, but I was also learning interesting things from time to time about gardening, technology, finance.

The few posts I made suggesting that there could be futures in which we don't all die were struck down as wishful thinking, ignorant, and so on. I came to realize that the doomers' opinions are not rooted in fact, observation, induction or reason...their concerns about peak oil are often an outlet for simply being fed up with society.

I can't blame them. Suburbia is fucked up and gives you no sense of community. But to suggest that it needs to vanish in some mega-catastrophe doesn't help anything. Me, I chose to move to a relatively small city where I walk to most everywhere I need to go. I drive my car once every two weeks or so.

The doomer cattle cannot do that. Instead they focus on the negative, excluding all possibility of taking responsibility for their own lives and acting on their beliefs. JD is spot on in his observations.

 
At Saturday, February 16, 2008 at 5:48:00 AM PST, Blogger bc said...

Heh, funniest thing I've read for a while. JD, you excel yourself. The sad part is it's a pretty accurate picture.

The internet allows a new form of cult: the Correspondence Cult. You don't need to shave your hair and go off to the mountains; you can be in the cult and keep your day job.

 
At Saturday, February 16, 2008 at 6:23:00 AM PST, Blogger odograph said...

I used to read (and post) at TOD, especially when I was in the idle phases of my semi-retirement.

I'll say this - it was useful to me as I worked through the issues of peak oil.

But ultimately any merely moderate person will face burn-out there. "They" don't even need "peak oil" to fuel their doom. If oil doesn't get us it will be decline in innovation, or catabolic collapse, or [insert fear of the day]. The end story is always The End of Civilization.

That said, I'll tell you where some random pessimist at TOD did nail it. A couple years ago some guy laid out the danger Collateralized Debt Obligations, and how increased leverage (debt and credit swaps?) increased risk on Wall Street.

I don't think it will be The End of Civilization, but it will be (is) painful. TOD did warn on that one.

I almost wish I could go back ;-), and filter for the nuggets among the trash, but I can't do it.

I'm so over it, and there are too many doomers stuck in their loops.

 
At Saturday, February 16, 2008 at 7:12:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are some rational posters there. Some of the regulars do challenge the doom and gloom.

 
At Saturday, February 16, 2008 at 8:03:00 AM PST, Blogger odograph said...

There are nuggets, as I said, but you are really asking the reader to wade through the doom without being shaped by it.

That's hard for anyone, even someone as stubborn as I ;-) Humans are social creatures and study upon study have shown that our views tend to normalize toward our social group.

Choose your group carefully.

 
At Saturday, February 16, 2008 at 11:46:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go to peakoil.com, find any article that is linked which has any sort of positive, non-end of world context, and see if it gets anything other than a score of one (out of 5).

The people over there do not generally accept any possible solutions which could lead to a continuation of what they see as the status quo (I argue that their view of the status quo is so warped they really do not know what they are arguing for or against).

I really think they care about one thing and one thing only, population reduction, and peak oil is a convenient way to express their wishes (along with global warming, war, disease, famine, ect.)

It is scary to think how dangerous some of these people could potentially become when human innovation starts showing definite signs of pulling us away from any possible disaster (I argue it is already in progress but not well enough established to make the MSM right now, also it is too boring at the time being and not profitable enough either, not for a few more years at least). I pray they do not take their selfish interests and try to derail these efforts, they have some very valid, pertinent points which I would hope people would take to heart, but I am scared some of them may go extreme to induce disaster.

 
At Saturday, February 16, 2008 at 1:22:00 PM PST, Anonymous Stephen Andrews said...

People get what they want out of TOD; JD finds feed for his ad hominem vitriol machine, odograph finds folks to pity, etc., etc.

It's nothing more than an ongoing cycle of hate over here, that's the only thing that JD has proven himself good at.

TOD does a lot more good work than this site ever will. And that is the truth of it.

 
At Saturday, February 16, 2008 at 6:37:00 PM PST, Blogger WHT said...

Worse than a doomer is the jerk that keeps claiming that he and his blog are going into retirement, and then keeps rising from the dead.

 
At Saturday, February 16, 2008 at 7:07:00 PM PST, Blogger Rob said...

"The liberation of the human mind has never been furthered by such learned dunderheads; it has been furthered by gay fellows who heaved dead cats into sanctuaries and then went roistering down the highways of the world, proving to all men that doubt, after all, was safe — that the god in the sanctuary was finite in his power, and hence a fraud. One horse-laugh is worth ten thousand syllogisms. It is not only more effective; it is also vastly more intelligent."

-- H.L. Mencken

Good to see you back among the living, J.D.

 
At Saturday, February 16, 2008 at 7:38:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm knee deep in psuedo-intellectual/tough guy bullshit as I wade through this webpage. Of course "peak oil" is total BS, but you seem to indicate that the motivation of "peak oilers" is to herald the end of capitalism? You don't need half baked ideas about petroleum to see that American capitalism is imploding under the guidance of some of the most callous and self centered leadership (in both corporate and government sectors) the planet has ever seen.

 
At Saturday, February 16, 2008 at 7:44:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of the lovely postings from TOD today:

"[-] 710 on February 16, 2008 - 3:53pm

It takes an industrial-strength stomach to handle distilled truth. Most people simply can't take it. I have a cast-iron stomach, I expect many people here do.

But the vast majority of people are not like us."

You kinda have to be mentally ill, don't you?


"WNC Observer on February 16, 2008 - 7:50pm

This will just make independent, non-MSM resources like TOD all the more important. We can all count upon motivated individuals to make sure that the information is exposed one way or another, and then distributed around the Internet."

...Only the worst, and none of the good.


"Samsara on February 16, 2008 - 3:32pm

Could we handle the truth?,

From www.dieoff.com

"If a path to the better there be, it begins with a full look at the worst." -- Thomas Hardy"


"SacredCowTipper on February 16, 2008 - 4:57pm

I'm going to crawl under the covers and hide now ..."

Its so exciting to be scared, isn't it?

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 12:09:00 AM PST, Blogger green with a gun said...

Nothing like selective quoting, anonymous. You could be quoting people like me and Big Gav, but you choose to quote the most unhappy ones.

Cherry-picking data to make your case? Oh no, you wouldn't ever do that, only those nasty doomers do that :p

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 4:05:00 AM PST, Blogger bc said...

Its so exciting to be scared, isn't it?

That is a very good point. Fear is exciting, and some people seek excitement, hence the existence of scary movies and fairground rides. Perhaps doomerism is the equivalent for internet thrill seekers? The "realism" makes it all the more exciting.

While TOD regulars like Nate Hagens write half baked psychological treatises on why TODders are the smart chimps because they "get it", and the other chimps who are "in denial" are the dumb chimps, they don't stop to consider whether the doomers are no smarter and may have just got it plain wrong, or that doomers have a particular mindset that has led them down a false path.

One thing I find interesting is that the internet could be a tool for dispassionate pooling of information, but what tends to happen is the chimp-like social patterns transfer effortlessly to a virtual domain. So you get cliques forming, bullying of people who don't fit in, grooming of the alpha-males, and so on. All the prejudices and malbehaviour we see in real life are replicated in social groupings on the internet, and although there is a delusion that something useful is being done, there may no real advance being made.

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 4:24:00 AM PST, Blogger green with a gun said...

And one thing chimps do is go "ook" and pay no attention to a member of a different tribe.

Helllloooooo? Oook?

What a bunch of drongos.

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 5:05:00 AM PST, Anonymous Jerry said...

I would say the doomers have their hands full in Ace's latest essay.

World Oil Forecasts - Could I have been more wrong?

Ace just blows off the fact that he completely missed the mark on Saudi Arabia, and then fellow doomers come to his defense.

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 5:19:00 AM PST, Blogger JD said...

green,
Pardon my rudeness...
Everyone, "green with a gun" is a friend I met (appropriately) at the Oil Drum. We definitely come from different perspectives on peak oil, but I love his blog:

http://greenwithagun.blogspot.com/

green has an upbeat attitude, interesting calculations, and lots of really great practical material on efficiency and conservation. Highly recommended.

Anyway, welcome my friend. :)

That said... one of the monkeys will now probably bite your ear off. ;-)

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 5:39:00 AM PST, Blogger JD said...

although there is a delusion that something useful is being done, there may no real advance being made.

Great stuff, bc. You're probing the nerve I wanted to touch in this post. I think it's a classic Marshall McLuhan situation: we like to think it is the *content* of the news items which is the reality, but, in a way, that's just an excuse, and the real story is the social relations created by a new media (in this case, the internet).

Consider power outages and brownouts, for example. Certainly, there have been chronic failures of power grids for decades, paticularly in the 3rd world. However in the past you couldn't agreggate real-time news of such outages into a feed. But now you can, and you can also aggregate a readership around it. And the feed has a sort of iconic, brute power. Imagine a teletype machine in the back of a room, reeling off power outage news 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It would be even more effective if you had a robot voice read the reports over a loudspeaker. It would be totally unnerving... You would start worrying that the world was ending due to a massive overload of power outages, simply due to the number and flow rate of reports.

In fact, though, you're just reading/listening to noise. It was there all along. You just didn't have a microphone hooked up to it before.

In a way, I think we're all just drunk on the power of the internet. The ability of the media to generate news is now surpassing the ability to digest it, so you need feedlots of media consumers to try to choke it down, like a snake trying to swallow a pig. The ability to gather and analyze statistics has taken leaps and bounds too, resulting in new forms of journalism like Stuart's massive opuses. But we're starting to reach saturation, where the consumers can't choke it down. The supply of peak oil information is grossly exceeding the reading capacity.

The solution to this problem is the Feedlot. Zones of concentrated, intensive media consumption. It's ironic that peak oilers are so strongly against "consumer society", and yet they tend to be absolutely feverish consumers of the classic post-industrial product: Media.

You've got the spellbound people, huddling around the speaker, listening to the never-ending power outage news, and they like to think they are in touch with "reality". But they aren't actually obsessed with reality. They're obsessed with *media*.

I think, if you asked a lot of wives out there, the #1 impact of peak oil on their family is their flabby husband addicted to the computer. *That's* the reality.

Peak oil is something you can cope with quite easily, without following any news at all. So that doesn't explain the phenomenon of the feedlot. It's like you say: there is an illusion that something useful is being done, but in fact, it's more akin to entertainment, like people watching sports.

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 6:50:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Below is a reply I attached to the LATOC thread "Reduce World Population the solution?" It addresses the key problem that JD has pointed out in his excellent, pointed post.
You can find the reply here:
http://www.peakoilstore.com/forum/index.php/topic,6778.60.html

-David in Va
***

An emotionally healthy person would not suggest infecting billions of people with HIV/AIDS.

This thread embodies everything I find wrong with the "doomer" mentality.

The doomer mindset is rooted in its negative view of humanity. Instead of focusing on real world alternatives to and substitutes for oil and its place in the global economic machine, the doomers seize peak oil as an outlet into which they can pour their frustration with their station in life and the problems they see in society. The doomer mindset - and its concomitant dream of a post-apocalyptic future - is self-defeating and unproductive. It lets people wallow in self-pity and feel good about it.

After all, misery loves company.

So to the recent initiates into the knowledge of peak oil, I say this: question everything. Read diverse sources with conflicting opinions on things. If you immerse yourself in any one community for a long enough period, you will adopt its norms. Basic human nature.



I hope this post will generate some discussion and motivate people to question their root assumptions about their outlook on the future. I could be attacked as an outsider or a "noob" to the board, though I have lurked here for a year and a half. I registered in late 2007 and started posting and reading things more in-depth, but i was turned off by the constant negativity and despair.

That said, LATOC's forums have some real gold out there. I've learned interesting things about finance, gardening, community, emergency preparedness and technology that I would have never been exposed to otherwise. That's why I still cruise the boards from time to time.

Peak oil is real, and it will create ...or already is creating... significant and lasting effects on the way we live. So I encourage everyone to ask themselves, what can [i]I[/i] do to mitigate peak oil's effects on me and mine?

Personally, I moved to a small city where I could walk to work. I drive just twice a month and plan to sell my car for good this summer. Positive thinking, positive steps, positive results. Let's all of us give it a try.

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 7:30:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I think, if you asked a lot of wives out there, the #1 impact of peak oil on their family is their flabby husband addicted to the computer. *That's* the reality."

Now that is funny!

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 9:44:00 AM PST, Anonymous Andre Angelantoni said...

I think many commenters here are missing the bigger picture. I don't think they are stupid, or "blind" or anything of the sort. They just are missing a little context.

Let me start by saying where I think things are going. Given that often conversations grow over time (they add membership i.e. people speaking them), peak oil will soon become one of the dominant conversations on our planet.

Climate change was a conversation that had just a few people speaking it in the late 80's. Now there are hundreds of millions of people who are in that conversation.

Many, many people called the initial people in the climate change conversation mad for thinking that humans could possibly alter something as large as the atmosphere. Or they thought they were nutty because everyone knows that carbon dioxide isn't a pollutant -- it's part of the air. Now our top leaders are acknowledging cc, including such wooly thinkers as the former Chief Economist of the World Bank (Nicholas Stern) and so on.

Every day more "respected" people are joining the peak oil conversation. It's following exactly the patten climate change followed.

Senator Feinstein just sent a letter to the DOE asking how they are responding to the GAO report calling for a federal plan to address peak oil (http://www.energybulletin.net/40362.html). I predict that the number of politicians who get involved will increase from just Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) and now Senator Feinstein.

Robert Hirsch, who wrote "PEAKING OF WORLD OIL PRODUCTION: IMPACTS, MITIGATION, & RISK MANAGEMENT" for the DOE (2005) said, "...as peaking is approached, liquid fuel prices and price volatility will increase dramatically, and, without timely mitigation, the economic, social, and political costs will be unprecedented."

What does he mean by unprecedented? As far as I can tell, the impacts JD says are likely to occur aren't "unprecedented" because JD downplays the impacts of peak oil at every turn so that they seem really not much different than what humanity has dealt with before.

After a little looking into it, most people can see that cutting 10% of the West's energy use will not be that difficult. For instance, California cut 11% of its electricity use voluntarily when we were suffering from brownout earlier this decade.

But past 10% saving energy is much, much more work and expense because of the law of diminishing returns. It takes real investment of $'s to save more than 10%.

As E. F. Schumacher wrote:
'There is no substitute for energy. The whole edifice of modern society is built upon it…. It is not “just another commodity” but the precondition of all commodities, a basic factor equal with air, water and earth.'

Once we've lost 20% of oil, then what? Won't our economies be in shambles? Given the each previous shock reduced oil supply by no more than about 10% and produced massive unemployment and economic contraction, isn't it reasonable to see the upcoming impacts as "unprecedented," as Hirsch points out?

In my view, peak oil will match and then surpass climate change as one of the dominant societal conversations. As a global conversation, it is where climate change was perhaps five years ago.

And here is my last prediction: we are, in mathematical fact, facing the end of industrial civilization. Losing as much energy as we are about to lose in the timeframe it is going to occur, in my view, can mean nothing other than that. We simply can't bring alternative energy sources to the masses quickly enough.

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 10:39:00 AM PST, Blogger odograph said...

Andre, peak oil may become dominant without Peak Oilers (and their framing) ever having control of the dialog.

The way it would work is this .. oil starts to peak, society starts to respond, but "peak oilers" have already moved on. They have staked out a new position that is not merely peak oil, but is instead a scenario far beyond that ... for instance:

And here is my last prediction: we are, in mathematical fact, facing the end of industrial civilization. Losing as much energy as we are about to lose in the timeframe it is going to occur, in my view, can mean nothing other than that. We simply can't bring alternative energy sources to the masses quickly enough.

Good luck with that.

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 11:46:00 AM PST, Anonymous Andre Angelantoni said...

Hi, Odograph.

Good luck with that.

You, too.

If you can point to a study that shows that the amount of energy we're about to lose will be "manageable," I'd certainly like to see it.

In the meantime, I'm trying to sort out what "unprecedented" is.

See my thoughts here in which I reference a paper by the Philadelphia Fed on oil shocks:
www.inspiringgreenleadership.com/what-does-unprecedented-mean

Since you are seemingly advocating a different point of view than the one I am, I would appreciate it if you were to find some studies that show that the world can deal with a minimum of a 15 mb/d loss of oil (~17% reduction) in ten years (very conservative, even the EIA says the decline rate will be higher than that) and the economy doesn't go into complete collapse.

I think you'll come to the same conclusion I have: it all depends on how quickly alternatives to oil can penetrate the market. If we can move 800 million vehicles (including busses, bulldozers, long-haul trucks, etc.) off of oil in time, we might have a chance.

Since I don't think we'll be able to do that in time, and since oil shortages will significantly contract the economy, we are about to live through the most significant energy transition we've every dealt with.

And it's the end of industrial civilization.

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 12:38:00 PM PST, Blogger odograph said...

Why did you pick a quantity without a time-frame?

Why did you pick one quantity rather than some of the others?

I'm sure you could pick both a quantity and a year but at that point you'd be working beyond real human knowledge. No one knows the shape of the future production curve.

As soon as you start laying ground rules you are writing a future. You are building a scenario out of, first on assumption, and then another, and then another ... until you have a science fiction novel.

If you are smart you'll sell that novel and move to a nice country house.

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 12:48:00 PM PST, Blogger odograph said...

BTW, did you say EIA? Their May 2007 outlook still shows a lot of growth.

This isn't to say that I buy what they say, lock stock and barrel, any more than I buy the gloomier predictions.

There is a gauzy curtain before us. We can see our immediate future somewhat clearly but the further we look the greater the murk.

I expect higher energy prices in the years ahead, and I expect responses of various sorts. I don't expect to know how it will all play out.

I think that's a rational position to take. We humans are only somewhat good at prediction, and even then only at simple, near-term things.

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 1:45:00 PM PST, Anonymous Andre Angelantoni said...

Hi, Odograph.

I'm sorry, I'm confused.

When you ask why I picked a quantity without a timeframe, you must be referring to something other than this:
"15 mb/d loss of oil (~17% reduction) in ten years."

If you are, please let me know to what you are referring.

If you merely missed my ten years timeframe, that comes from any number of reports and is considered very conservative because the current decline rate is 4.5% (even CERA in its latest report uses that number).

And it's conservative because:
* major oil fields like the North Sea, Cantarell, etc. are declining at over 15%
* it doesn't include the rate at which the oil producing countries are increasing their internal consumption, thus lowering the net world exports (i.e. the quantity available for sale to us on the open market)
* it also doesn't include hoarding, which will start at some point when people realize we are peaking

A more reasonable number is about 4.5% to 8% but I'm demonstrating that even a 2% decline is completely unmanageable in a ten year period. A 2% decline rate is about the lowest one sees in the literature. For reference, see slide 14 of "Long Term Oil Supply" (EIA, 2000). 2% is the lowest decline rate used; the EIA goes out of its way to point out that the production curve will be asymmetric i.e. the decline rate will be much higher than the growth rate. They use an R/P ratio of 10/1 for their decline instead of a constant 2%. That produces production curves that are almost equivalent to falling off a cliff.

By the time we fall off our current plateau, if those rates are what we'll experience, we essentially have no time for adaptation without massive, immediate economic contraction. Hence why Hirsch is using the word "unprecedented."

Again, I request that you show me some scenarios in which we (i.e. humanity) can deal manageably with the decline rates we're about to see. For instance, a rebuttal of the Hirsch report would be good (I haven't seen one, but you might have) or a rebuttal of the Philadelphia Fed's paper on the macroeconomics of oil shocks would make this a meaningful conversation.

P.S. I just saw the comment above. I'm using the EIA decline rates to demonstrate the range of decline rates. The EIA in its oil production predictions is increasingly being isolated because of how off they are. The IEA (the one in Paris) has just repudiated the EIA numbers because they are untrustworthy. For instance, they include 300 billion barrels of oil that are "not delineated, not accessible and not available for production" (Sadad Al-Husseini, former VP Exploration Saudi Aramco, Oil and Money Conference, October 2007). And van der Veer of Shell Oil just said (Jan. 22, 2008) that demand will exceed supply by 2015. There really is no other way to describe the EIA analysis other than "out to lunch" or perhaps, more generously, "prevented by politics from releasing realistic numbers."

Please use current numbers or this conversation is going to be more difficult than it needs to be.

I stand by a minimum average of 2% per year post plateau, giving a loss of:
86 mb/d x 0.02 x 10 = 17.2 mb/d over ten years

Assuming a steady (not even increasing at 2% as it is now) world oil consumption rate of 86 mb/d:

Loss of oil to the world economy:
(17.2 mb/d / 2) x 10 y x 365 d/y = 31 billion barrels

That's 31 billion barrels less work able to be done. If you think during that sort of economic contraction there will be the money to replace equipment with more efficient versions that get us off oil, please produce a paper that demonstrates that.

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 1:56:00 PM PST, Blogger bc said...

Hmm, "the Big Picture". I just discovered the Escalade has a 6 Litre engine and weighs 3000kg, and I'm still trying to get my brain round that. Apparently the name Escalade derives from a siege warfare tactic. It's an assault on sanity, but certainly not on reducing consumption. Is that a car, or is it a small tank? My car has 1.4 litre engine, which is plenty.

The Big Picture has to include the concept that the US consumption of resources is gross, in all senses of the word. End of industrial society? Unlikely. End of wasteful consumption? Let's hope so.

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 2:18:00 PM PST, Blogger odograph said...

Starting when Andre?

Are you asserting that 2008 is the peak, once and for all, and you've signed that is your "final answer?"

Or are you merely asking to accept a hypothetical scenario in which 2008 is the peak?

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 2:32:00 PM PST, Blogger odograph said...

I'll be in and out so it may not that easy to have a "conversation." So let me talk a little about our difference in viewpoints. It is "a very TOD thing" to build a scenario, with declines, starting now or starting in a few years.

I stepped back from that when I recognized the feedbacks between assumptions and predictions. If we choose a number, for peak year, or initial decline, we have already shaped our scenario.

Someone else could (with equal logic and drawing from similar facts) pick some other numbers, and get another initial scenario.

Where do we go from there? We start to layer on our expectations about political developments, economic conditions, even proposed wars ... but here is the key to remember: At each point we make a new assumption and from that decision point branch to a new scenario.

You know, one of the TOD founders said it "was important to refine our scenarios."

Heh, it might be nice, if you could do that with any tool other than assumption.

Assumption after all, does not resolve uncertainty ... no, it gives you a way to skip past it.

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 3:10:00 PM PST, Anonymous Andre Angelantoni said...

Hi, Odograph.

Hmm...we do seem to have very different world views. I was trained as an engineer so much of my thinking works inside of "scenarios" or "models." In various fields those are also called "prototypes," "mockups," "blueprints", "specification documents" or even "pilots" (as in TV shows) and "simulations" (as in disaster preparedness training).

For instance, before most new products are sent into production, a model is made to explore the product so that errors or design deficiencies are caught at the least expensive point. Before we send the space shuttle into space, we create extremely descriptive "models" (mathematically, of course, but sometimes out of physical material, too) in which every variable is tested to see its limits and still produce the desired result.

This system has served humanity very well and it's really no different in its essence than the scientific method. I would say that making models has given us the rich bounty we enjoy now. It's incredibly effective and it's one of the distinguishing skills of our species. I'm not saying that other species don't also make models -- they very well could -- I'm simply saying it's very definitely a feature of ours.

And, yes, assumptions are part of the game. That's the power of a model — to be able to alter assumptions easily and see the result.

So the model I am using is:
* minimum 2% net decline rate, likely more like 4%
* starting anytime between 2010 and 2015, but arguing about when it's going to start at this point is a little like arguing whether the iceberg is going to hit the front of the ship or the side of the ship (i.e. almost a waste of time -> get people ready for the impact)
* the decline rate may jump around a bit as new oil comes online — oil production may even increase from time to time on the downslope — but the overall trend will be inexorably down
* the current economic system we use does poorly during periods of contraction and often collapses (c.f. Russia and Argentina)

I should have checked in at the beginning that you were willing to use the scientific method to work through this. Lesson learned.

If you're not interested in discussing scenarios then I'm afraid I've wasted my time with you. I'll go have conversations with people who are willing to examine the future intelligently and not just write off models and assumptions (you can't have one without the other) hoping for some system that uses "...any tool other than assumption."

Of course saying that you think assumptions make the whole exercise pointless conveniently gets you off the hook of demonstrating the problem with my assertion that the world economy can't tolerate even a sustained 2% oil decline rate without the eventual collapse of industrial civilization.

Very convenient, indeed, don't you think?

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 3:19:00 PM PST, Blogger odograph said...

I am a chemist turned computer programmer. I am very comfortable with measurable, and reproducible results. If I calculate the molecular weight of hydrogen (H2) and then calculate it again tomorrow I expect the same number. I can share my results, and you can confirm (or disprove them).

We can start with that kind of basic measure, for weights, and strengths, and built out to a space shuttle. We can carry, and this is important, numerically determined factors of uncertainty (error bars) from one end of that to the other. We can determine +/-X what the thickness of a strut should be.

Don't tell that you've never stopped to consider the difference between that kind of build-out and peak oil predictions!

What is your numerical error on "2% net decline rate, likely more like 4%"?

Understand, I hope(!) that "more likely" as an underlying mathematics of probability?

Peak oilers though tend to pull those "more likely's" out of ... someplace, and then pretend that they just did engineering, or science.

In fact, what you did was make an assumption. You went with your gut, or someone's heuristic, or some other thing with an uncalibrated measure of error.

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 4:08:00 PM PST, Blogger JD said...

Hi andre, welcome to POD.
Sorry to interrupt your conversation with Odo, but I'm curious about something.

Above, you say: "And here is my last prediction: we are, in mathematical fact, facing the end of industrial civilization."

This seems to be seriously at odds with the PR material for your business/website:

"How is peak oil going to change the future of energy in this country? Is it going to be regulation, like California's Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32), or scarcity that is going to make energy more expensive — or both? With the recent increase in oil price, it's important to know how to prepare your business properly."

I'm wondering: How exactly do businesses prepare themselves for the end of industrial civilization?

When you tell your clients "Thank you for your commitment to our climate and our energy future!", do you also mention that they actually don't have an energy future because the end of industrial civilization is a mathematical fact?

And why did you nonsensically trademark the phrase "sustainable business now"? I know that if I believed the end of industrial society was a mathematical fact, the last thing I would be doing is trademarking a marketing slogan.

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 4:20:00 PM PST, Anonymous Andre Angelantoni said...

Hi, Odograph.

Well, I have nowhere to go with this conversation. I've substantiated all my numbers with published papers, explained why models work and in response you say that because I haven't also produced margins of error, that somehow that negates the whole exercise. Interesting how now you want to bring math into the picture again, isn't it?

Do you have any other irrelevant hoops you'd like me to jump through?

Never mind. I'm happy to accept that you are willing to use math again. That's fine by me.

However, I'm not going to give you margins of error...for our purposes that's completely pedantic and a diversion from the core issue.

Given that, I again request that you produce a paper that demonstrates that industrial civilization can continue with even the minimal oil depletion rate of 2%.

To support the point of view that it can't, I offer:
The Macroeconomics of Oil Shocks by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, which shows the oil shocks always produce economic contraction.

And

PEAKING OF WORLD OIL PRODUCTION: IMPACTS, MITIGATION, & RISK MANAGEMENT by the Department of Energy, which says that we needed at least twenty years prior to the peak to begin mitigation efforts or we face "unprecedented" impacts to society and the economy, even threatening our social cohesion.

Do you intend to produce such a paper or even a series of papers to make your point — or are we done here?

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 4:36:00 PM PST, Anonymous Andre Angelantoni said...

Hi, jd.

Thanks for your welcome.

There are two reasons why you are seeing what you are seeing on my website.

First, I'm not asserting that the all business will cease post-plateau. Economic activity will shift and change but some form of it will continue, I believe. For evidence, I simply point out that even during the depression there was some business being conducted.

Second, I've recently (~ one month) come to see what I'm advocating in my conversation with Odograph. I was one of those people who thought we could get out of this situation with a lot of work, some decent planning and perhaps a deep and global recession to stretch out oil supplies.

Then I started researching the impacts of oil constrictions on the economy and trophic theory by the ecological economists over at www.steadystate.org.

That's when I realized that we weren't going to get out of this one easily at all. Further research showed me that as we decline the energy curve, various societal systems are likely to break down, really just the reverse of how they were built up as more energy became available to us. Which ones are going to break down first, I don't know. Duncan's work is a very good place to start because he's done a lot of the foundation thinking already.

So there you have it. I think you can expect my marketing is going to change soon — as soon as I sort through what the message is and how I can make a difference.

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 4:39:00 PM PST, Anonymous Andre Angelantoni said...

Proper URL is

www.steadystate.org

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 4:45:00 PM PST, Anonymous Andre Angelantoni said...

And a better URL for Duncan's work is here.

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 5:12:00 PM PST, Blogger JD said...

andre,

Richard "Olduvai" Duncan is a ridiculous pseudo-scientific stooge.
He has been totally discredited by the flop of his 2001 prediction:

"A previous study put the 'cliff event' in year 2012 (Duncan, 2001). However, it no appears that 2012 was too optimistic. The following study indicates that the 'cliff event' will occur about 5 years earlier than 2012 due an epidemic of 'rolling blackouts' that have already begun in the US. This 'electrical epidemic' spreads nationwide, then worldwide, and by ca. 2007 most of the blackouts are permanent."Source

Yup, you read that right. Worldwide permanent blackout in 2007 -- Duncan's "math" proved it. LOL.

You might also want to note that Duncan's work is so preposterous and stupid that he can't publish it in mainstream peer-reviewed journals, and instead publishes his work in magazines operated by overt racists.

andre, you're an excited newbie. I've been digging through the bowels of this issue for 3 and a half years. You're not telling us anything we don't already know.

Here's the part of your argument that you really need to work on: "We simply can't bring alternative energy sources to the masses quickly enough."

You haven't offered any detailed, quantitative evidence of that point.

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 5:32:00 PM PST, Blogger odograph said...

Andre, just to give you a little more to think about in the future ... there is a key difference between the harder sciences and economics. In the harder sciences no volition or choice is involved. A hydrogen molecule does not decide its mass. A CO2 molecule does not decide its electromagnetic absorptions. A DNA doesn't decide to be an alpha helix. This freedom from animal choice even works quite a ways up through biology. We can study a mitochondria as a relatively simple system. It is certainly simple compared to a baboon troupe or a human corporation.

Since M. King Hubbert was a geologist we often start with the feeling this his curve must start from more basic sorts of science. Rocks, oils, ...

But what are the inputs to Hubbert's method? Are they not themselves outcomes of group behavior? Are they not economic behaviors?

I actually love Hubbert's method, and his curve, for being right as often as it is. But it isn't always right.

And here's a thought to remember as you go to sleep tonight:

no one knows how often Hubbert's method is right and how often it is wrong

We can use an indicator that is "sometimes right" as a guide ... but we don't really want to invest too much in it.

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 5:40:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing I would like to know, and I would like to have the doomers answer... Is that if we are indeed doomed to the end of industrialized civilization, then what is the benefit of telling and "educating" people? Particularly if you also think that 5-6 billion people are going to die in the process? What exactly do you hope "educating" people on peak oil/dieoff will accomplish, other than frightening people and possibly pushing some less stable people over the edge? I mean, particularly since most of you doomers think that people can't do anything to stop it...

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 6:32:00 PM PST, Anonymous Andre Angelantoni said...

Hi, jd.

As for Duncan, I readily agree that he went out on a limb and made a specific prediction for a specific date — very tricky and it takes a lot of courage to stick out one's head that far.

As for his ability to get published in journals, I have nothing to offer on that. I haven't done the research.

However, I think his basic thinking is sound because it correlates quite well with trophic theory.

And, of course, because he made one prediction that didn't come true by the date he specified doesn't mean that it will never come true. I think it's going to be peak oil that is the trigger event, but there are several others waiting (water depletion, soil depletion, fishery exhaustion, ecosystem collapse, etc.). There are perhaps a dozen major fundamental issues that we have, quite frankly, not even the remotest handle on adequately addressing anytime soon.

Back to oil.

The U.S. uses 25% of the world's daily oil production, or about 22 mb/d.

So let's go through the alternatives:
* tar sands — current production of 1.4 mb/d with production of 3 mb/d by 2017 "a stretch," according to the Canadian government
* oil shale, fusion — not commercial
* wind, solar, tidal, nuclear — they make electricity, not liquid fuel
* hydrogen — it's an energy carrier, not an energy source; you still have to make it from natural gas or water
* ethanol — barely net energy positive so it's much like using oil at its current rate
* cellulosic ethanol — "at least ten years away" from commercial production
* coal-to-liquids — each plant costs $1B and gets you only about 10,000 barrels/day.

I am eager to see your outline for replacing a substantial amount of oil in the timeframe we're facing. Don't forget to include that we won't be able to ramp up your alternatives at anywhere near the same rate post-plateau as we can now with a functioning economy.

Feel free to use the IEA's date of 2012 or Shell's date of 2015 for when demand significantly outstrips supply, causing an "oil crunch" or "the wheels to fall off the world's economy" (the words of Fatih Birol, the Chief Economist of the IEA, not mine).

As I said, I'm very interested in seeing your alternatives to oil. And my assertion that the economy will regress as we follow the depletion curve down still stands.

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 6:40:00 PM PST, Anonymous Andre Angelantoni said...

Hi, Odograph.

I understand everything you said, and although it has some merit, I repeat my request:
please produce a paper with one or more models that show how we can keep industrialized civilization going at anywhere its current rate as we lose between 2 and 4 mb/d of oil per year.

If you can't find one, feel free to make one and we'll discuss the assumptions you used. You can even perform a sensitivity analysis so that you can bracket your confidence intervals, if you so desire, although that would be more for your benefit than mine.

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 8:24:00 PM PST, Blogger JD said...

I am eager to see your outline for replacing a substantial amount of oil in the timeframe we're facing.

For my solution, please see: 329. THE SOLUTION: ELECTRIFICATION + CONSERVATION. When you get done reading that, you can come back here and give us the detailed spreadsheet on why that's not going to work.

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 9:37:00 PM PST, Blogger green with a gun said...

Thanks for the welcome, JD. The monkeys were too busy picking nits off each-other's backsides to bite me.

Anonymous, LATOC consists of the ARSE brigade - assault rifle & spam-eaters. Last time I was there they were discussing their "post peak oil arsenal", and one guy claimed that he needed no less than sixteen different types of firearms (including the crossbow). I asked if he was building a bunker out of his ammo boxes, and did not get a kind response.

Whenever someone tells me that the problem is world population, my response is, "then shoot yourself - it's important to be true to your principles." Of course, what they really mean is that if all those nasty darkies would only stop burning a yak turd every day to heat their dinner, there'd be more burgers to eat while we drive our SUVs, or something - anyway it's all those nasty dark-skinned poor people's fault.

 
At Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 10:18:00 PM PST, Anonymous Andre Angelantoni said...

Hi, jd.

I'm happy to take you up on your offer, but let's see what Odograph comes back with first.

I've made the assertion that a temporary 10% restriction in oil availability in each of the five oil shocks in the previous century produced unemployment and economic contraction. See the page I referred to above to get the report by the Philadelphia Fed.

By correlation, I'm also saying that a permanent constriction of oil at the average yearly decline rate of at least 2 mb/d per year or 20 mb/d in just ten years (way too conservative but let's start with that) will mean the winding down of industrial civilization.

Although I know you want to jump in, that's the topic on the agenda. I'm establishing the vital role oil plays in the economy because the health of the economy largely determines the adoption rate of new technologies. There are people with many grand plans who blithely assume that the economy post plateau will be the same as it is now. The literature doesn't bear that out but they say that anyway.

Also, because earth movers, jackhammers, cranes, etc. depend on liquid fuel, the construction sector will be hit very hard from high fuel prices, spot shortages or both. With the construction sector unable build buildings, roads, tunnels and so on because the costs exploded, the ripple effect on the rest of the economy will be enormous.

So, first things first. Let me finish establishing the link between oil and the economy. Then we'll see if your E+C plan can possibly be executed in the economic environment we'll be in.

Odograph, waiting for you now...

 
At Monday, February 18, 2008 at 4:21:00 AM PST, Anonymous luisdias said...

"By correlation, I'm also saying that a permanent constriction of oil at the average yearly decline rate of at least 2 mb/d per year or 20 mb/d in just ten years (way too conservative but let's start with that) will mean the winding down of industrial civilization."

Funny, but even doomers don't take this view, at least the more respected ones. Campbell, Lauherre and others still see a plateau of 10 years and then a small percentage drop following. What's more amazing is that it seems that 2008 is to become the all time's new "peak oil" date, and there's good prospect that 2009 will produce even more, perhaps up to 88mbd. Just check in wikipedia's megaprojects (made by the TOD people themselves, not CERA!) coming up stream.

So, your assumption is not "way too conservative", that's a fucking lie btw, it is doomerish at every level.

That means we are still not in the peak oil world, and we are already witnessing market signals changing. Given 10 more years of a "bumpy plateau", as they call it, and oil price rocketing, will we not see a market change until 2020, when problems in oil production are expected to begin by the doomlot?

And the doomer feedlot post is very accurate JD. Still I like your repply in the middle of these comments even better, as more crystal-clear (and less ad hominem). A shame that it is hidden in the midst of these comments.

 
At Monday, February 18, 2008 at 5:58:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

andre,

It is NOT the end of industrial civilization if we lose 17 million barrels per day.
It is the end of commuting via one person per car.

Here's a clue:
People will take the BUS to work.

 
At Monday, February 18, 2008 at 7:22:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andre,

Germany cut its oil consumption by nearly 10% in 2007 compared to 2006. In the same time the GDP rose by approx. 2.5 %. Indeed, some special effects promoted this trend (like a very warm winter, oil storage in 2006 because of VAT increase beginning of 2007) but the trend is highly visible. By the way, France followed the same path. So, according to your prediction the German economy must be already down the drain what apparently is not true.

A 10% decline in between 10 year is manageable, the forecast for Germany predict a natural decline in oil consumption by 14 % till 2025 and with some more effort in regard of energy efficiency it think it’s quite conservative.

By the way, I actually miss a discussion about methane hydrate or did I oversee a blog in this regard?

 
At Monday, February 18, 2008 at 8:16:00 AM PST, Blogger odograph said...

Wow, you don't understand me yet ...

... please produce a paper with one or more models that show how we can keep industrialized civilization going at anywhere its current rate as we lose between 2 and 4 mb/d of oil per year.

If you can't find one, feel free to make one and we'll discuss the assumptions you used. You can even perform a sensitivity analysis so that you can bracket your confidence intervals, ..


You want me to accept an assumption, 2 and 4 mb/d? Starting with peak "now," I assume, and with no progress on the solar or battery fronts? Do we get to count plug-in hybrids?

(those where rhetorical questions)

Cast your mind back. If a perfectly reasonable person made that attempt 10 years ago, what expectations would they have? Would they have expected cheap hydrogen cars by now? Would they suspect that we'd have cheap hybrids instead?

To get me you have to understand that I think the recognition of uncertainty takes more wisdom than the sad human need to paper it over with assumption.

... discuss the assumptions you used ... ye gods! what good is a prediction when it must be based on my (or your) assumptions?

 
At Monday, February 18, 2008 at 8:21:00 AM PST, Blogger odograph said...

BTW, there are many good bocks on why humans are drawn to prediction, even though we are very bad at it.

Stumbling on Happiness, by Daniel Gilbert, comes at what might seem an odd angle for a peak oiler, but I heartily recommend it.

I actually think "Fooled by Randomness" is a better book than "The Black Swan" (both by Nassim Taleb), though with the first you have to do more of the work yourself, thinking of where non-market predictions fall for the random.

There are a great body of other works on how bad humans are at economic prediction. And they have merit, especially if we remember that oil production is an economic statistic.

 
At Monday, February 18, 2008 at 9:25:00 AM PST, Anonymous Andre Angelantoni said...

luisdias and both anonymous's: I'm not saying that civilization will wind down in ten years, although I can see how my wording could be read that way. My goal was to point out that the rate is the equivalent of a 20 mb/d loss in ten years not that civilization would end in ten years. My apologies: I see that I should have put in the word "eventual" in front of "winding down" to make that more clear. The actual winding down will take a few more decades.

odograph: As I pointed out to jd, I'm establishing the link between our economy and oil first then moving to the alternatives. This link is discussed in the literature by economists abundantly and models are used often. You are correct: I do not see any value in your reasoning that we should abandon models despite their drawbacks and I'm really not interested in exploring that with you.

However since you're not interested in discussing models and assumptions, I think you and I can go no further in our conversation. So thanks for the conversation and I'm going to continue with jd now if he's still interested.

jd? Shall we continue?

 
At Monday, February 18, 2008 at 9:30:00 AM PST, Blogger FR said...

Hi Andre.

The evidence that the economy can grow in the face of shrinking oil supplies is right in our face. Another poster mentioned that Germany's oil consumption decreased 10% and its economy still grew by 2.5%. I'm saying it again because you did not respond directly to it.

And here is another thing no alarmist has been able to explain to me. We are basically in the midst of peak oil, yet China and India are growing at double figures every year. How is that possible?

I know you'll say that "we're not at the peak yet." But that irrelevant, because demand is already outstripping supply. That's the important part; the exact date of the "peak" is really irrelevant.

 
At Monday, February 18, 2008 at 9:33:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If JD says that our civilization will last forever, I think it safe to conclude that our civilization will last forever.

How soon are we going to have a colony on Mars, JD?

Or is your optimism limited to the Earth?

The United States of America will prosper forever. We've trampled on the people of Iraq, of course, but that's not a relevant subject to JD. Optimism is a form of patriotism, isn't it?

 
At Monday, February 18, 2008 at 9:43:00 AM PST, Blogger odograph said...

Oh!

I remembered another book. Given your posts I think it should be right up your alley Andre:

Worst-Case Scenarios by Cass R. Sunstein

Prof. Sunstein is a serious thinker (and worker) on risk. I mean really read the guy's bio.

When his book was on it's way out I wrote him. I asked "did 'peak oil' make the cut as a 'worst-case scenario' and did you consider it?"

He gave me an even quicker answer: "no and no."

When the serious risk guys do not have peak oil on their radar, even after congressional hearings and the Hirsch report, what does that say?

Do you need the self-sealer that it is all "denial?"

 
At Monday, February 18, 2008 at 9:43:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

andre,

Back youself up.
You say "Civilization will wind down after a ten year decline of 20 mbp/d".
You made the postulate now you back yourself up.
I say this: Taking the bus ALONE will save 20 million barrels per day.

Now I want to hear you tell us why industrial civilization will collapse rather than people taking the bus.

 
At Monday, February 18, 2008 at 10:16:00 AM PST, Blogger odograph said...

Poor Andre. Stephen Andrews was right when he used the word "pity" up above,

Andre stares a fact in its face, that models no not predict the economic future, but he cannot give them up.

(Expert Political Judgment by Philip Tetlock)

I don't know how many times I've been on this same brink with doomers. They cannot point to any past prophet (or model) that was accurate. But they will still believe their new one.

But really this is what makes a peak oiler (and a doomer). Even when they disagree on outcomes they have to agree that they can "scenarioize" the future, and refine it ...

(Sometimes JD answers them with scenarios ... maybe he is an athiest where I am an agnostic?)

 
At Monday, February 18, 2008 at 11:07:00 AM PST, Blogger Fernando said...

Odograph,

Then climate models are also wrong/futile?

 
At Monday, February 18, 2008 at 11:26:00 AM PST, Blogger odograph said...

That was something I considered carefully Fernando.

I think the key difference with climate models is that they do start from fundamentals, physics and chemistry, rather than human actors (economies) with volition.

They are most trustworthy when you name a co2 concentration and then (with error bars and numeric valuations of error) build out to a climate change.

That said, I understand that they too, when building out to '"hat ifs" bring in economics. If you want to say not just what will 450 ppm CO2 do, but what year will it occur, you start to make predictions about the growth rate of the Chinese economy and etc.

So I think I find a nuance. I think the methodology is pretty good (basic science) to take a CO2 ppm and go to a climate, but I'm less ready to accept projections about societal and economic response.

 
At Monday, February 18, 2008 at 5:01:00 PM PST, Anonymous fugeguy said...

A question-

Can one believe in peak oil and that it is soon and might be a problem and not be a doomer?

 
At Monday, February 18, 2008 at 7:06:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Can one believe in peak oil and that it is soon and might be a problem and not be a doomer?"

Good question. You will have to ask JD since he has become the Professor of Doom and Scholar of Gloom.

According to JD ... and I think he is right ... our civilization is going to last forever. Things can only get better.

Peak Oil? No problem!
Global Warming? No problem!
9 billion humans? No problem!
Skyrocketing commodity prices? No problem!
Perpetual War for Resources (against terrorism ...) : No problem!
Children dying in impoverished country: Who cares?
South Africa running out of electricity: No problem!
100,000 dead Iraqis: Who cares?

The future is bright! The future is wonderful! We'll all drive SUVs in 2050!

Wal-Mart is going to stay in business forever and ever. Eventually there will be a Wal-Mart on the moon and Mars!

The stock market is going to keep going up forever and ever! Dow 36,000 is really going to happen. Don't worry, little children, everything is going to be ok!

I think that JD is right about a great many things. Our civilization is going to last forever and ever. Unlike all of the other civilizations, our civilization will never die.

Thank you, JD, for your optimism! I almost opened my eyes ...

 
At Monday, February 18, 2008 at 7:25:00 PM PST, Blogger odograph said...

Can one believe in peak oil and that it is soon and might be a problem and not be a doomer?

I think it might be soon, and might be a big problem ... but that the "mights" keep me from being a doomer.

After all, it might not.

 
At Monday, February 18, 2008 at 7:35:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Odograph,

After all, it might not.

This is about the most astonishingly comforting message I could ever hope to hear.

Like saying ...

You have terminal cancer but you might not die!

What we know ... what JD especially knows ... is that our civilization will never die. The world that exist right now is the world which will always exist.

The US of A is going to pretty much last forever. A thousand years from now, presidential elections are still going to occur. Obese Americans will still drive their SUVs to Wal-Mart.

Life is going to remain pretty much the same until the sun burns out. Even then there's no doom because those humans will just load up on starships and travel to the next star to establish our civilization all over again, with Wal-Marts and SUVs and obese Americans living in suburbs.

I had doubts about the future until JD resolved them all!

 
At Monday, February 18, 2008 at 7:57:00 PM PST, Blogger odograph said...

Life is going to remain pretty much the same until the sun burns out.

Life changes constantly, Anonymous. This future is better (and worse) than the ones predicted 10, 20, 30 years ago. It is also different that the ones predicted.

It's not like there are two choices, doom or "pretty much the same until the sun burns out."

There is constant change, roll with it.

 
At Monday, February 18, 2008 at 8:15:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Odograph,

It is also different that the ones predicted.

Indeed it is! We agree on this much (and so much more)!

We know ... absolutely, unequivocally ... that our civilization is going to last forever. It may change but it won't collapse. It will last forever although it won't ever look the same.

Our civilization is eternal. The Earth can easily sustain 9 billion humans, too, without any problems whatsoever!

Those children freezing to death in some impoverished Asian country are just irrelevant ... who cares about anything so trivial as a child dying either from exposure or from pollution or from deprivation or from warfare?

We know ... absolutely ... that our civilization is going to last forever. The children are dying and they can keep on dying because our civilization is worth more than them ... no matter how many millions of them have to die horrendously!

Everything is ok on the Earth. JD -- widely regarded as an authority on such matters -- says that everything is ok on the Earth.

I believe him! I would never argue with such a man.

Things can only get better! Don't you agree?

 
At Monday, February 18, 2008 at 9:17:00 PM PST, Blogger JD said...

Things can only get better! Don't you agree?

anon,
You're boring me. If you want to continue in that vein, you're going to have to make it quite a bit funnier, or I'm going to ax you.

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 4:04:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello jd,

You're boring me.

A person as optimistic as yourself should never become bored, JD.

I'm just trying to fix some parameters on your optimism. Is it true that children freezing to death don't trouble you at all ... since Wal-Mart is still making money?

What does it say about our world when the optimists are casual about children dying in Asia?

If the optimisists are ok with children dying, it is easy to understand why the pessimists worry about the end of civilization and the extinction of humankind.

Don't you agree?

And what is your opinion regarding the country of Iraq, JD? Are you optimistic about Iraq?

And what of Mexico? Cantarell seems to be collapsing and that would seem to have dreadful implications for the future of that poor country. Are you optimistic about the future of Mexico, JD?

And what of the US of A? In the future, America will:

a.) Suffer a recession
b.) Suffer a depression
c.) Collapse like the Soviet Union
d.) None of the above, we're going to prosper forever!

What is the extent of your optimism regarding America's future.

Finally, JD, is it true that you really don't care about children freezing to death in Asia?

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 4:43:00 AM PST, Blogger FR said...

Anonymous (the very sarcastic one)

No one is saying everything will be wonderful. Certainly no one is saying that we will all be driving SUV's in 2050, not that such a scenerio would be desirable anyway. Who are you making fun of? If you want to make fun of JD, do it for something he actually said, or for his savage attacks on people who disagree with him.

I don't think things even 20 years from now will be anything like they are now. And thank God, Allah, Buddha, Krishna, Yahweh, Flying Spaghetti Monster, or whomever. We waste a lot of fucking oil for no good reason, and if we get rid of that waste, we can do fine.

As far as children starving or dying form warfare, that has been happening from the beginning of human history. How is peak oil making it any different? And since China has been growing at 10%a year (right smack in the middle of peak oil), I would say that this growth will help them feed all their people, which is a lot better than their mass starvations 40 years ago. Don't you think?

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 5:09:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello fr,

As far as children starving or dying form warfare, that has been happening from the beginning of human history. How is peak oil making it any different?

Children have been dying, like, forever ... so why should we care if little babies are freezing to death in some Asian country?

I am concerned about JD's casual disregard for the suffering of others. From what I have read it appears very much like JD's optimism is limited to only America and Western countries.

Doesn't JD notice that he is living on a planet which happens to be inhabited by 6.6 billion people and that a significant number of these (that is, billions) are suffering?

Wal-Mart is making billions of dollars while billions are people are impoverished, deprived, oppressed, exploited, and suffering from warfare.

JD doesn't seem to care about those people. Maybe they are just too poor or they live in countries with unpronounceable names.

As long as things are good in the US of A, everything's fine!

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 5:44:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

JD does believe in extinction:


The dinosaurs tried that sustainable living trip, and they're ALL DEAD.


Needless to say, the dinosaurs lived millions of years longer than the Homo sapiens.

So if the dinosaurs could go extinct it appears extremely likely that Homo sapiens can also go extinct.

Does JD disagree? Are Homo sapiens an immortal species with an eternal civilization?

If JD says that humankind is immortal and civilization is eternal, I will believe him. I am not the sort of person who would ever disagree with any of JD's conclusions.

So, JD, isn't it true that humankind is immortal and civilization is eternal?

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 8:31:00 AM PST, Anonymous luisdias said...

What the fuck is wrong with these morons?

The only thing certain about life is DEATH! Get OVER IT! You're too obsessed with death! If civilization isn't an eternal thing, then there's the more reason to make the most of it now, not numbering down for millions of years giving birth and playing cards.

The only step mankind can ever make is FORWARD, never backward. So chill out and go back to your doom porn site and go play with yourself. I couldn't care less.

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 8:41:00 AM PST, Anonymous Andre Angelantoni said...

JD, did you want to continue?

I'm still not finished establishing the connection between oil and the economy.

So far I've gotten to a 10% increase in oil price or a 10% decrease in oil availability produces a decrease of 1.4 % in the GDP (Sill, 2007). This is in line with other papers that reach similar numbers (The Effects of Oil Shocks on the Economy: A Review of the Empirical Evidence, Labonte, Congressional Research Service (Library of Congress), 2004).

Notice that Sill distinguishes between an oil price increase and an oil constriction and handles the regressions independently. We are about to face an oil constriction, which will naturally increase the price, but it's important to note at this point that loss of oil to an economy is as damaging as an increase in price even when as much oil as is wanted is available.

In the cases examined by all these papers, the asymmetry of the oil/economy link is discussed at length. In other words, a rise in price of 10% has a much greater impact than a decline in price of 10%. In a nutshell, it likely has to do with the economy shedding workers quickly with a price increase and the amount of time it takes for them to be reemployed by the economy. That rate is slower than the economy picks up workers when the price decreases. See the papers for a more extensive discussion on this.

Another interesting effect is that the impact on unemployment is significantly greater proportionally than the impact on the GDP. (I'm only raising statistically significant issues; there are many small impacts that appear not to rise above the noise in the data.) In other words, the economy sheds more than 1% of its workforce given a 1% reduction in its GDP.

Also, the studies above all use a pulse function for their oil constriction or oil price increase because so far our oil shocks have been shorted lived. I haven't yet found a paper that examines the impact of a sustained constriction of oil over time, but I haven't really gone looking seriously yet.

I'm not sure I need to, though. The CEO of Hess Oil at the CERA conference last week seemed to sum it up succinctly when he said that a sustained loss of oil would be a "calamity."

So I further assert that as the oil constricts, the economy will shed workers and worldwide unemployment will skyrocket, meeting then exceeding the unemployment rate of the last great depression. Except this time the economy, which has always recovered and continued its growth within years of the onset of the economic event (oil shock/recession/depression) will not pick up those workers in anything like their previous roles. These people will largely be on their own.

As the oil constriction deepens, these workers, who are mostly in debt, will default on their mortgages, credit cards and other debt instruments, which will create a downward economic spiral.

If you have no trouble accepting that we will enter a global depression with widespread unemployment soon after the oil starts constricting, I'm willing to move to looking at the viability of your plan.

If you are unwilling to accept that, please indicate why you believe we can avoid a global depression as we follow the depletion curve down and cite your sources.

-Andre'

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 10:41:00 AM PST, Blogger bc said...

Yeah, if you don't believe in Peak Oil, you must be a Nazi!

Although it seems if you do believe in PO, you are probably a moron.

Hmm, tricky choice, moron or Nazi.

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 10:58:00 AM PST, Blogger odograph said...

Andre', when someone says "I can predict the future," why isn't "no one can predict the future" sufficient answer?

I guess I see, really.

If your head is so aligned with prediction, then only another (with different variables and different assumptions) can satisfy you.

BTW, I could expound on this more fully, but maybe some will follow a quick sketch. Scientific prediction made its name, early on, with the motion of the planets. The system was simple, the main drivers few ... but science could predict mars' position years in advance.

Ever since then man has been struggling to see how far he can push scientific prediction.

It advances, but we know that we have trouble with merely complex physical systems. When you add animal behavior and volition, prediction is right out.

But that doesn't stop us from wanting a prediction.

Some of us want them so bad we'll accept them even when we shouldn't.

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 11:09:00 AM PST, Blogger odograph said...

BTW Andre', let me make sure I am not assuming too much ... when you make your scenarios are you making lots of them? In this one things are pretty good, in this one things are worse ...

or are you dedicating yourself to a single scenario? IMO the peak oil thing (but especially the doomer thing) is about dedicating yourself to a narrow range of futures.

On the other hand, I think serious planners ("insurance salesmen") have a broader view of possible futures, each with a fuzzy risk.

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 11:09:00 AM PST, Blogger FR said...

Anonymous,

You said, "Children have been dying, like, forever ... so why should we care if little babies are freezing to death in some Asian country?"

That's not what I said. You're changing the subject, and you haven't answered my questions yet. You're blaming starving children on peak oil, but that has always been the case; how is peak oil making it worse? China is doing better than it has ever done, right in the middle of peak oil. No one is the "dieoff" community has ever given me an answer to that.

I don't need to be told that I "don't care about babies dying." You have no idea how I live my life, so enough self-righteous indignation.

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 1:50:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello luis,

The only step mankind can ever make is FORWARD, never backward.

Is that so, Luis?

If so, then we will march forward into our extinction!

I hope that makes you feel a little better!

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 1:55:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello fr,

You're blaming starving children on peak oil, but that has always been the case; how is peak oil making it worse? China is doing better than it has ever done, right in the middle of peak oil.

God, it seems like I am in elementary school!

Look, fr, those in the peak oil community do not blame every tragedy in the Universe upon Peak Oil.

But we must ask the optimists how they can justify their optimism on a planet which has more than a billion impoverished, deprived humans including a significant number who die every year because of their horrendous conditions and a lack of the most basic necessities.

How is it that in the 21st century children are still freezing to death at night?

As to the allegedly great condition of China, I think you should spend a little more time investigating China's condition before proclaiming it a success story.

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 2:09:00 PM PST, Anonymous Andre Angelantoni said...

Hi, Odograph. I don't want to be rude to you, but I'm not responding to your questions because I'm just not interested in where you want to bring the conversation. Your points are valid and at one time I might have engaged you on them.

However, right now the only thing I'm interested in is sorting through the most likely scenario for the world's economy as we ride the depletion curve down. I understand that you think that this is a futile exercise and I don't, so let's just agree to disagree on that point.

Right now, hopefully, jd is trying to find someone anywhere in the world who can demonstrate that a decline in oil availability won't have a catastrophic effect on the global economy. I don't think he'll find that person, but I haven't read everything that's out there.

This is important to establish because the economic environment as we go down the curve won't be anything like the environment Germany was in when it decreased its oil use while increasing the size of its economy. The context is likely to be nothing like anything yet experienced by the modern world unless one has lived through a collapse like Russia or Argentina experienced. In their case, however, there was the oil at a "reasonable" price to help rebuild their economy.

In the world's case, the price of oil will probably continue to rise until something breaks. The something is the world's economy. It will shed workers, contract and then oil will come down in price. But the damage will have been done.

The question then becomes: after the economy "breaks," (i.e. enters a depression) will there be sufficient extra cash to replace oil-using equipment with alternatives? Will there be sufficient production capacity left to supply the demand?

These are, to me, the more interesting questions, but first I think it's important for anyone examining this to see that it's overwhelmingly likely that any adaptation plan will be conducted inside of depression conditions.

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 2:40:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does JD have any opinion regarding oil closing above $100 a barrel today?

Seems like pretty big news from his perspective. Does he have an optimistic interpretation?

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 3:06:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you pessimists have to gain if you're right? And why do you want so strongly to be right? If you "know" we're doomed, then why do you spend your time putting together statistics and models? If anyone should be saying that it doesn't matter I would expect it would be you guys! What does it bring to your lives? And why tear down optimism, blind or not? And why do so many pessimists/doomers feel the need to rub it in other people's faces? It all seems pretty sick to me...

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 4:06:00 PM PST, Blogger odograph said...

"Right now, hopefully, jd is trying to find someone anywhere in the world who can demonstrate that a decline in oil availability won't have a catastrophic effect on the global economy. I don't think he'll find that person, but I haven't read everything that's out there.

Thank you for your gracious reply, Andre'

But I'm afraid I can tie this paragraph to my argument from uncertainty, to whit:

In what year will the US mandate fuel rationing?

(no one knows the answer to this, and no one can answer your question without it.)

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 4:33:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

JD -you should stick to satire - you are good at it.

Nate Hagens at TOD actually wrote about the 'doom porn' phenomenon you are describing of as being explained partly by seeking relative fitness and part novelty seeking.

"Some who are very vocal about the urgency of Peak Oil will take a 'perceived fitness hit' if information comes to light that delays or moderates the impact of a peak and decline in world oil supply. Similarly, those who think we have plenty of oil production and flow capacity for the next 20-30 years will look foolish (e.g damage their reputation leading to a 'perceived' drop in fitness status), if it turns out we never see 90 million bpd and have 5% annual depletion rates beginning in a few years. In truth, for many the facts are mostly irrelevant - their belief systems are relatively immutable and new facts coming to light that support their convictions are viewed as 'victories' even if they add pain to the world as a whole. Similarly, new facts contrary to their beliefs are perceived as 'failures' and are responded to defensively.

...

Those oildrum.com readers who've participated in these forums for some time now are especially aware that certain people seem to be 'rooting' for peak oil and an end to the current capitalist consumptive system. I believe at least part of this is even though post peak oil they will have less 'absolute fitness', their 'relative fitness', compared to Joe-Mortgage-Trader-Millionaire-Next-Door, will increase. In the end, we are wired to respond to relative fitness."

http://www.theoildrum.com/node/3178

and
"Today there is news of undersea internet cables being cut, or damaged near Iran, who as of noon central, has no internet access. The horror... Of course, news events like this seem more 'novel' to us if they are flavor enhanced with a rationale. "US is preparing to invade Iran so cut its undersea cables" is a good deal more 'stimulating' to our brains than 'undersea cable grinds on some rocks'. The internet is almost a perfect vehicle to hijack our reward systems.)"

http://www.theoildrum.com/node/3386

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 4:59:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Anonymous,

What do you pessimists have to gain if you're right?

Good question.

How many years did scientists and others warn New Orleans about what a hurricane would do the city before Hurricane Katrina proved them right?

What did those people gain from warning the city of New Orleans, rather than smile and tell everyone that everything's going to be ok?

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 5:04:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Odograph,

In what year will the US mandate fuel rationing?

That's another good question. You do agree that fuel rationing is in our future ... maybe not immediately, but eventually?

Should that day ever come it is difficult to imagine how our oil-and-car addicted culture would avoid collapse. Do you agree?

There are also some doubts about social cohesion under such extreme stress. If a percentage of the public perceived (for whatever reason) that their world was coming to an end, these people may decide to say "to hell with everything" and destroy things.

Collapse scenarios of this sort are not so difficult to imagine because they have occurred before. History is littered with the remains of civilizations which dominated and then disappeared.

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 5:06:00 PM PST, Blogger FR said...

Hi anonymous,

I think I understand your point better. It's not that I disagree, but that's not what I'm talking about.

I'm talk specifically about peak oil, and your comments reflect an opinion of the the state of humanity in general. On peak oil, while I think it will cause economic problems, I do not believe it will be a catastrophic end to industrial civilization and cause that major die-off. On the state of humanity in general, I agree, it looks pretty shitty. However, I don't know what else to compare it to. This is the only human civilization I know, and the only civilization of any intelligent species I know. So, it's hard to know what relatively "good" or relatively "bad" is without relating it to something.

Perhaps intelligent species billions of light years away do things better; perhaps they don't.

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 5:07:00 PM PST, Blogger JD said...

andre,
You aren't really demonstrating your point, i.e. that "we are, in mathematical fact, facing the end of industrial civilization."

You've quoted a paper by the FED regarding the past effects of oil shocks, but I didn't see any math in that paper demonstrating the end of industrial civilization. In fact, I think you'll find that the FED and other mainstream economists believe that higher oil prices will lead to a transition away from oil, by reducing demand for oil, and increasing demand for alternatives.

You also quote the Hirsch report to establish your point, but the Hirsch report says nothing about the end of industrial civilization, and Hirsch himself is on the record dismissing the doom scenario.

I can only conclude that your claim that "we are, in mathematical fact, facing the end of industrial civilization," is not a mathematical fact, and is not actually supported by the evidence you cite. It's simply your opinion.

You mention the CEO of Hess stating that a sustained loss of oil would be a "calamity", but I doubt that he intends for "calamity" to be understood as "the end of industrial civilization". Personally, I would expect him to say something like that because a sustained loss of oil will be a calamity for his industry, because consumers will shift away from oil, permanently.

With regard to the economics of peak oil, an interesting point is that oil prices have risen about 900% since the late 90s, and crude oil peaked almost 3 years ago, in May 2005. Yet UN stats(pdf) show that the world economy has been growing briskly:

2002: +1.9%
2003: +2.7%
2004: +4.1%
2005: +3.4%
2006: +4.0%
2007: +3.4%

Most of that growth isn't occurring in the developed countries. Their growth (post peak) was 2.5-3% for 2005-2007. Growth in subsaharan Africa was in the 6-7% range post peak. Latin America was around 5%. Least developed countries were 6-8%.

If oil is so critical to economic growth, as you claim, you'll have to explain where that growth is coming from.

My perspective is that high oil prices, per se, don't curb growth. In fact, I think you could make a strong case that the current high prices are an effect caused by rapid growth.

Of course, oil *shocks* can have devastating economic effects, but it's not clear that peak oil will ever constitute a classic oil shock. Long plateaus, or undulations, or gentle declines may have completely different effects than abrupt shocks.

And even oil shocks themselves have economic effects which are unpleasant, but far from catastrophic like you are predicting. For example, from 1979-1983, world oil production dropped by 14%. There was a recession, but not a depression. I was a young man at that time, and ordinary life was not much different than it is now. In fact, life was so normal that, at the time, I was not even aware that there was any sort of crisis occurring.

It's also not clear that the economy's response in the 1970s and 80s can be carried over to predict the economy's response in the 00s and 10s. It's a different economy now, and we have mitigating technologies like telecommuting and EVs which were not available in the 70s.

You might also consider one more point: By making the claim that we are horribly dependent on oil, and that our civilization will collapse without it, you are playing right into the hands of the fossil fuel industry. If we are dead without oil, then it's "drill or die", and they will use your talking points to justify gutting every environmental regulation on the books.

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 5:14:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone should keep in mind when reading the Nate Hagens' psychobabble crap above that Nate Hagens is speaking outside of his expertise and therefore can be forgiven for saying stupid things.

Nate Hagens at TOD actually wrote about the 'doom porn' phenomenon you are describing of as being explained partly by seeking relative fitness and part novelty seeking.

While this may be true in some cases I doubt that it is true in many cases.

People naturally worry about the future. Don't people worry all of the time?

The so-called Doomer viewpoint is merely an expression of worry from a global standpoint. As everyone should remember, several decades ago the world was poised to end because of a nuclear holocaust of Mutually Assurred Destruction.

Did that worry have anything at all to do with relative fitness and/or novelty seeking?

Then 1989 came along and everyone witnessed the sudden and complete collapse of the Soviet Union. Those in the West celebrated the event as a victory but I am certain that subconsciously the event also served as a warning: It can happen to us!

Finally, anyone who spends a little time investigating what is happening on the Earth cannot help but conclude that something terribly wrong is occurring. Not only is there massive, unrelenting suffering occurring throughout the world, the environment is suffering horrendously from pollution, and Americans are so obviously stressed beyond the breaking point that it is astonishing that the country has held itself together for this long.

Under such circumstances, it is easy to understand why people have concluded that something terrible this way comes.

The collapse of civilizations is well supported by history. The immortality of civilizations is not so well supported by the evidence.

Maybe our civilization is different but I suspect ... it is not.

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 5:15:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello JD,

If oil is so critical to economic growth, as you claim, you'll have to explain where that growth is coming from.

Are you of the opinion that growth will continue forever, JD?

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 5:18:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello fr,

However, I don't know what else to compare it to.

I compare Homo sapiens to the billions of other extinct animals that previously inhabited this planet, including our closest evolutionary ancestors.

While all those other species met their fate naturally it is quite obvious that humankind will go extinct in a decidedly unnatural manner.

Such is the fate of humankind. Too bad for us!

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 5:18:00 PM PST, Blogger odograph said...

"That's another good question. You do agree that fuel rationing is in our future ... maybe not immediately, but eventually?"

I think it is possible. It happened before.

It's also possible that it won't happen.

So what are you going to do, pick one and build your future based on that assumption?

Or do you have odds, with error bars, making your prediction scientific?

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 5:22:00 PM PST, Blogger odograph said...

"Collapse scenarios of this sort are not so difficult to imagine because they have occurred before. History is littered with the remains of civilizations which dominated and then disappeared."

Sure collapse is also possible, of course some civilizations lasted thousands of years before that happened.

You have to be very special to get your timing right in that case ;-), guys with "the end is near" sandwich boards can walk around each and every of 999 years before one guy gets lucky (not smart)

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 5:38:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Odograph,

Sure collapse is also possible, of course some civilizations lasted thousands of years before that happened.

Come on, Odograph, we're living in a different world than those previous civilizations that lasted thousands of years.

All of those previous civilizations still had an entire world of resources left to exploit.

Our world happens to be inhabited by 6.6 billion people, soon to become 9,000,000,000.

So the prospects of our civilization surviving for thousands of years are nil. It is extremely unlikely that our civilization will survive for another century.

Should some unfortunate event happen tomorrow, our civilization may not survive for another day.

We really are living on the edge of disaster. But the optimists would have us continue along with business-as-usual with the promise that nothing bad can happen so we might as well consume more, faster forever.

I would much rather warn the public rather than feed the entitlement mentality of the West. Should the public lose their entitlement unexpectedly (without warning) the potential for a social catastrophe is truly immense.

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 6:20:00 PM PST, Blogger odograph said...

That all really comes down to naked assertion.

In so many words you say you can predict the future.

But then, that is the central enabling axiom that peak oilers (and doomers) cannot give up.

I say it may, or may not, because there is no path to reliable prediction. I'll note that this is not a case for inaction.

There are all kinds of situations in life where we are not sure, but we try to cover the eventualities. We are not sure our house will catch fire, but we take out insurance.

There ARE prudent things to do in the face of energy uncertainty, but it's hard for rational people to hear them when the case is mud huts, lifeboat communities, and doom, doom, doom.

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 6:31:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Odograph,

In so many words you say you can predict the future.

Well, let's see, how shall I illustrate this ...

Since neither you nor I have died yet it is impossible to know with certainty that we will ever die.

However, since every human who has ever existed has died (except for those alive now) I think it safe me to predict that we will both die.

Given that every civilization which has ever existed has collapsed (except for our civilization) I think it safe to predict that our civilization will also collapse.

The argument for immortality is remarkably weak.

The argument for utopia is also extremely weak.

So upon what basis do you build your hope for the future, Odograph?

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 6:53:00 PM PST, Blogger JD said...

Are you of the opinion that growth will continue forever, JD?

Yep. That's the goal. Grow out into the solar system.

In the near term, we've got plenty of room to grow with remaining fossil fuels, solar, wind and nuclear. And when we run out of terrestrial sources of energy growth, we can drill up for the non-terrestrial sources like space mirrors and lunar solar power.

The whole "finite earth" thing is basically a cult of "flat earthers" with no imagination. Like the superstitious cowards and fools in Columbus' day who thought the world had an edge.

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 7:04:00 PM PST, Blogger odograph said...

While I think neither of you can predict the future, ;-), I think JD's got a much more workable plan.

Really Anonymous, you've forgotten the cardinal rule: No one knows the future, especially the far future.

We can and should do sensible things today, like lower our energy and carbon footprints, and invest in solar or wind power, get plenty of sleep and exercise.

But we don't know where that will lead. We do the best in our lifetimes, and then let the next generation do the best in theirs.

(Remarkable how easy it is for doomers to fall back into believing that they can, in fact predict the future, even the far future.)

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 7:06:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello JD,

Grow out into the solar system.

Okay, JD. As you know, I am the sort of person who cannot help but believe everything that you say.

Is there any sort of time frame you have in mind for the human expansion across the solar system?

In other words: How soon can we expect SUVs, Wal-Marts and children freezing to death at night on Mars?

The whole "finite earth" thing is basically a cult of "flat earthers" with no imagination.

Come on, JD, you are contradicting yourself. The need to expand out into the Solar Ssystem is compelled by the finiteness of the Earth.

So it seems that your optimistic dreams of the future are built upon a self-contradictory premise: The Earth infinite finiteness!

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 7:09:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Odograph,

Really Anonymous, you've forgotten the cardinal rule: No one knows the future, especially the far future.

Isn't it ironic, then, that you are JD are make such predictions about the future?

JD's going to be building parking lots and Wal-Marts on Mars. I wonder if Mars is going to become the 51st state?

Humankind is going to conquer the Solar System while babies are freezing to death in Asia!

God, I'm optimistic about the future! Thank you, JD!

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 7:13:00 PM PST, Blogger odograph said...

I have made no predictions here, Anonymous. I have talked about things that might, or might not, happen.

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 7:32:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Odograph,

I have made no predictions here, Anonymous.

You've not made any predictions but JD has.

JD has humans colonizing the moon, Mars and so forth. JD's optimism seems to demand such a future for humankind.

Do you think that humans will colonize Mars, Odograph?

Perhaps your ideas about the future aren't so similar to JD's after all. Please do tell your own opinions regarding humankind's future ...

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 7:58:00 PM PST, Blogger odograph said...

The easy answer to that is maybe, maybe not ;-).

Frankly I don't know why everyone is so hot for mars. It is way far away and hideously expensive. It is way premature to say that we could do anything useful with it. Better to leave it for a century and let those folks decide.

(I'd be happy if we built more bike trails instead.)

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 8:15:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Odograph,

Better to leave it for a century and let those folks decide.


Great. The Solar System Conquest Plan seems to have met a premature end.

Now, Odograph, can you imagine any scenarios in which our civilization could collapse (essentially to nonexistence) within a century?

Please do keep in mind that I am not asking for a prediction. I just want to know: is it possible for our civilization to end?

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 8:21:00 PM PST, Blogger odograph said...

"Now, Odograph, can you imagine any scenarios in which our civilization could collapse (essentially to nonexistence) within a century?"

All it takes is for the Yellowstone super-volcano to fire off, right? Or a good pandemic ...

Discovery Channel has some crazy series on Sunday afternoon with no end of possible scenarios. They even did "peak oil" once.

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 8:39:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Odograph,

All it takes is for the Yellowstone super-volcano to fire off, right?

A Yellowstone eruption sure would get the job done, but can you think of anything else ... anything less dramatic?

Is there any potential whatsoever for economic collapse?

Please do keep in mind that several really terrible things happened in the 20th century, so we cannot dismiss out of hand terrible things happening in the 21st century.

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 9:57:00 PM PST, Blogger bob said...

From Thomas Carlyle, to Ned Ludd, to Tom Malthus,...horror stories sell heaps.

And get you nowhere.

 
At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 10:38:00 PM PST, Anonymous Andre Angelantoni said...

Hi, JD.

Hmmm...because you raised some valid points, I was going to continue walking through my proof...until you posted:

In the near term, we've got plenty of room to grow with remaining fossil fuels, solar, wind and nuclear. And when we run out of terrestrial sources of energy growth, we can drill up for the non-terrestrial sources like space mirrors and lunar solar power.

and

The whole "finite earth" thing is basically a cult of "flat earthers" with no imagination.

I didn't realize you held those beliefs or I wouldn't have started down this path with you. In conversations I've had with people who think like you, there is little to no appreciation of physical bounds. And when in the conversation, after much work, it's clear that there is some very significant limitation, their response is always the same: "I don't care about that. People thought that we couldn't fly. Now look, we've been to the moon."

Having conversations about physical limits with people who think the way you do is just more work than I'm willing to undertake, and it always ends the same way. You're missing a fundamental feel for the underlying engineering principles that are operating. You think that because you can find a piece of evidence somewhere on the Net that seemingly supports your point of view that that is the same as transforming the entire energy basis of our society.

For instance, from the comment above, it appears that you have little appreciation that we're facing a liquid fuels shortage for which solar, wind and nuclear do nothing to alleviate. That's because we don't have the equipment in the field that can use electricity. Of course you would say that we'll just put it in the field. But anyone with a feel for this stuff would see rather quickly the size of the vehicle fleet (200 million cars, trucks, busses and aircraft in the United States alone), and would "intuitively" see that there is no hope that we'll transition even a minor portion of those vehicles to electricity before the economy tanks. The Hirsch report discusses liquid fuel alternatives almost exclusively as a mitigation strategy for this very reason. Not only that, because you don't think that the economy will necessarily contract, you're likely willing to accept as a working assumption that the equipment transition will continue at the pre-peak rate until all the equipment is replaced.

I also looked briefly at your "solution" regarding electrification and conservation. It's of course not a solution at all. We might call it "some musings" or perhaps, rather generously, "the preamble to a plan."

Although you attempt to address transportation somewhat (with a conspicuous absence of calculations of any sort), you don't address any of the other major sectors of the economy at all, like:
* construction
* resource extraction (fishing, forestry, mining and quarrying)
* manufacturing
* agriculture
* services

Frankly, your "solution" is so woefully incomplete that were I you I'd be embarrassed to put "The Solution" in its title. But you clearly aren't embarrassed at all, which further indicates how little a feel of the problem you truly have.

Also, because you don't take into account the condition of the economy in your "solution," you seem to assume that anyone who wants one of the pieces of equipment you listed will have the cash to buy one. Presumably you assume credit availability will remain at current levels, as well. And my guess is that you would have little appreciation of the high amounts of energy it now takes to mine resources that are of lower concentration than they have ever been.

You remind me of the people Kunstler met at Google when he discussed the coming energy decline. Their response was: "Dude, we have technology!" In their world, technology has performed miracles inside an energy-abundant context so they think that when dealing with our energy predicament it will naturally do the same thing. They had no appreciation for what's actually involved in the physical world.

Just like Odograph who says that models are pointless (but then keeps mentioning error bars, at which I had to chuckle to myself), you're missing too many basics in what I might call "engineering thinking" to have a rigorous conversation about this.

Naturally, everything I just said will bounce right off you and you'll label me as just another person with no imagination.

Good luck with your space mirrors.

-Andre'

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 12:07:00 AM PST, Blogger JD said...

Having conversations about physical limits with people who think the way you do is just more work than I'm willing to undertake...

Right on, Andre. Thanks for dropping by. Maybe we'll meet up sometime after the collapse, shopping for loincloths or something.

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 2:06:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andre,

Nice knowing you.

I Noticed you didn't deign to counter my argument that taking the bus ALONE will save 20 million barrels per day.

You're so hung up on your doomer shit that you should do us all a favor and put a bullet between your eyes.

After all if the problem we have is (according to the doomers) too many people and you care so much, why don't you sacrifice yourself?
After all you're going to die horribly anyway. Get it over with lemming.

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 2:07:00 AM PST, Blogger green with a gun said...

JD wrote, "The whole "finite earth" thing is basically a cult of "flat earthers" with no imagination. Like the superstitious cowards and fools in Columbus' day who thought the world had an edge."

Actually, in his day everyone knew the world was round, the only question was how big it was. It was commonly thought to be about 25,000 miles around, and that if you sailed west there'd be no land until Asia - so you'd never be able to carry enough food and anyway the ocean weather would probably wreck your ship.

Columbus concocted a bullshit estimate of the Earth's circumfrence of about 16,000 miles, making arriving in Asia safely by sailing west more plausible. So he got his mission.

This is why those islands are called the "West Indies" and why natives of the Americas are called "Indians." Columbus thought he was in India.

You see, he never expected to discover new lands, just new routes to old lands.

He was also told by the monarchs not to take any slaves, but he did anyway because he wanted the cash.

So the real lesson of the Columbus story is not of an educated and well-informed man who stood against the ignorant masses and taught them they were wrong, but is rather a story of a self-deluded scammer who wanted fame and glory and riches, and who accidentally discovered something new, but thought he'd discovered something else.

What the Columbus story thus tells us about JD and the people who doubt him I'll leave to JD, since it's his story.

When you have a clear understanding of the past, it helps you understand the present. If all you've got is made-up cliches from crap movies then you'll get all sorts of confusion - even worse than that anonymous cocksmock who was having a go at JD before.

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 2:31:00 AM PST, Blogger JD said...

Columbus concocted a bullshit estimate of the Earth's circumfrence of about 16,000 miles,

Columbus... truly a man after my own heart. Making giant leaps for mankind on the power of pure bullshit!

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 4:07:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello anonymous,

After all if the problem we have is (according to the doomers) too many people and you care so much, why don't you sacrifice yourself?

Why is it that so-called optimists always encourage their critics to commit suicide, a decidedly non-optimistic act?

I know what you people are thinking: If all of our opponents commit suicide no one will ever tell us that we're wrong as we progress to Utopia and build Wal-Marts for the morbidly obese SUV-driving American inhabitants of Mars!

I don't believe that you optimists are nearly as optimistic as you claim. Your optimism is little more than a shallow self-delusion and you know it, too!

That's why you are so very bitter and want your critics to die. You really do want to believe in Heaven but you are going to Hell.

What sort of utopia is in your future? Have you considered the possibility that your future is decidedly un-utopian?

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 4:11:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello bob,

From Thomas Carlyle, to Ned Ludd, to Tom Malthus,...horror stories sell heaps.

And get you nowhere.


You forget that during the time period in question we did get somewhere:

1,000,000,000 became
6,600,000,000 on the way to
9,000,000,000 !

Yeah ... Malthus was wrong! I'm going to guess that all nine billion of us will become millionaires and drive Hummers to the mall.

I wonder what the human population of Mars will be in 2100? Perhaps JD can provide a guess!

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 5:06:00 AM PST, Blogger FR said...

All you doomers who keep telling me that we're not going to have SUV's and Walmarts and fast food in the future are really breaking my heart. There goes my totally awesome lifestyle. My favorite thing to do is to get in my 4 mpg hummer and drive 142 miles a day to every Walmart in my county, where I buy a whole bunch of useless plastic shit, which I don't even use; I just throw it directly in the forests and the oceans. (By the way, my hummer used to get 7 mpg, but I added pointless weight to it just to make it heavier because the heavier my vehicle is the bigger my cock is). Along the way to all the Walmarts, I like to stop at all the McDonalds I can find and eat 7 Big Macs. I like to remain at least 536 pounds of pure fat at all times. Sometimes I bring my wife, but I don't let her ride with me. She takes our other SUV and follows me everywhere. This is totally such an awesome lifestyle.

You mean to tell me that we can't have all these things in the future. Oh no! I'm going to cry now! Waahhhhhhhhhh!

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 5:13:00 AM PST, Blogger FR said...

Oh, just to add...

Civilization MUST be ending, because, after all, if we can't have hummers, Walmarts and McDonalds, then *obviously* civilization is completely over. That conclusion follows directly from the premises.

I should change the blog I have. In it, I criticize the Bush administration. But upon further review, I should actually thank them for trying to conquer the places with the best remaining oil reserves, so I can sqeeze in a few more days (up to 11 or 12) of my lifestyle.

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 5:24:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

""What do you pessimists have to gain if you're right?"

Good question.

How many years did scientists and others warn New Orleans about what a hurricane would do the city before Hurricane Katrina proved them right?

What did those people gain from warning the city of New Orleans, rather than smile and tell everyone that everything's going to be ok?"

I don't think it would take a genius to realize what would happen to New Orleans. It seems like common sense after all. A couple weeks before Katrina hit I was sitting watching a special on Discovery HD on New Orleans, and at the end they mentioned that it was below sea level and required a system of levees and pumps to keep it dry. I said to myself, "They're in serious trouble if a hurricane comes near there". Within a month, Katrina happened.

So, these people that predicted trouble for New Orleans were right. And they get to smugly say that they were right. Is getting to be smug the only thing they got to gain from that? A whole lot of good that did humanity.

The peak oil issue is very different, because pessimists/doomers are saying that there is not a damn thing you can do to stop it. So my point is, if its something you can't stop, then why bother messing with people's minds by telling them about it, if they're doomed anyway? Because, according to you guys, there's nothing that can be done. This is all very unproductive mental wankery. If you guys really have scientific backgrounds, then why don't you direct your energies to mitigation efforts instead of creating doomer porn statistics and scenarios.

I don't think we're going to be doomed but I do think that we need to look at mitigation. I'm not a scientist, I'm a businessman, and I see that there will need to be massive mitigation efforts to deal with this, and there is some opportunity for employment within the mitigation efforts so that in itself will create economic activity.

I'm not just talking the talk. I've discussed PO and mitigation efforts with several high level people in my industry, from boardmembers, to corporate controllers, to vice presidents. None of them want to roll over and give up, and that exactly what the doomers sound like they want to do.

- Drew

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 5:26:00 AM PST, Anonymous Andre Angelantoni said...

Right on, Andre. Thanks for dropping by. Maybe we'll meet up sometime after the collapse, shopping for loincloths or something.

No way, as soon as I can I'm putting in an order for one of your space mirrors to point to my backyard so I can cook without electricity. I figure if I wear a fire protection suit I just have to stand there with the hot dogs in my hands. If I tell my neighbor to keep his dog inside everything will work out fine. ;-)

P.S. Have you noticed that you attract some nasty people to your blog? That "bullet between your eyes" person who is too cowardly to use his real name is particularly repulsive. By the way, why don't you use your real name? Or did I just miss it somewhere on your site? In science, scientists put their name on their papers, thus putting their credibility on the line. And every post I make I use my real name. You don't appear to be confident enough in your writing to do that.

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 5:27:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"That's why you are so very bitter and want your critics to die. You really do want to believe in Heaven but you are going to Hell."

That's hilarious.
In fact I'm turning the doomer logic on it's head.
IF we are all going to die due to overpopulation then ipso facto reducing the population means we DON'T all have to die.

I'm not volunteering because I don't believe I HAVE TO die at any date other than at the end of my natural born life. I am not inconsistent.
The doomers however, are selfish and bitter because by their own definition they could sacrifice themselves to save everybody else but instead they choose to live and continue to consume resources which could be used to save the rest, thus dooming everyone.
The only other alternative is that they plan to kill millions of others so that they may live instead.

So puh-leese. Either way it is the doomers who are the evil twisted bitter scumbags who want to see everybody else die because they don't have the balls to follow their own convictions.

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 5:48:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello anonymous,

The doomers however, are selfish and bitter because by their own definition they could sacrifice themselves to save everybody else but instead they choose to live and continue to consume resources which could be used to save the rest, thus dooming everyone.

I must be in elementary school.

Either you are not listening to the doomers or you are not comprehending what they are saying.

The doomers are not suggesting that the world's problems are solved by the death. The doomers are warning that it is your own behavior which is going to kill billions of impoverished people throughout the world.

In other words, the doomers are seeking to prevent you from maintaining your lifestyle at the expense of everyone else.

Not that the optimists care about everyone else. Children freezing to death in Asia don't concern JD at all. Bombs falling on Iraqi homes doesn't seem to trouble him either.

Enough people have died already for the American Way of Life. How many more?

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 5:55:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The doomers are not suggesting that the world's problems are solved by the death. The doomers are warning that it is your own behavior which is going to kill billions of impoverished people throughout the world. "

Uh, no they're NOT.
Check out all the threads over on the oildrum about "carrying capacity" for your doomer fix.
The doomers are saying the problem is one of overpopulation in a finite world, PERIOD.

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 6:02:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello anonymous, from another anonymous, NICE to see you get to decide what other say on TOD, with out actually showing what they really said. PERIOD

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 6:11:00 AM PST, Anonymous The_Setite said...

Andre, Limits are always broken because they are simply impositions of the mind.
"You could starve to death in the middle of a supermarket if your brain did not recognise that the products were edible".
You sound like a sensible guy and im sure you can extrappelate the meaning in a broader context from the above quote.
For a man worth listening to #(who is also an expert in energy and engineering) go here...
http://community.comcast.net/comcastportal/board/message?board.id=Environment&thread.id=2018
People who say "never" and "It cant" are always wrong. Always.
And the argument for the "collapse" of any civilisation I have always found spurious. Collapse all depoends on perspective. Collapse to one man is welcome change to another.

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 6:12:00 AM PST, Anonymous The_Setite said...

http://community.comcast.net/comcastportal/board/message?board.id=Environment&thread.id=2018

Andre you really should check this man out. He is an expert in the fields of energy and engineering.

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 6:14:00 AM PST, Blogger clif said...

People who say "never" and "It cant" are always wrong.

Einstein was wrong when he said we can't exceed the speed of light?

I guess I'm wrong when I say we can't live forever?


I bet you never thought of that did you?

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 6:17:00 AM PST, Anonymous Andre Angelantoni said...

Hi, Drew. That's great that you're talking to business. I'm doing a lot of that here in the Bay Area and now am giving talks regularly to businesses. Last month was Sun and eBay and I'm lining up some more.

There are definitely some "doomers" who think it's all pointless but the mistake often made here is lumping all people who don't think we can get out of this predicament into one group. That's like saying all Democrats or all Republicans think the same way. They don't and neither do so-called doomers.

I'm actually rather optimistic but my optimism is in a different place than most people's. I can see what is going to happen, face it head on, and then bring optimism. As a businessman, you're very familiar with the need to bring reality to all your day-to-day operations. And when people don't bring reality, you're probably right there to insist that they do. That's the most powerful way to operate in business.

Well, in my view, the reality is that the machinery is in motion to produce an economic collapse. It's not like we weren't warned of this decades ago, because we were.

However, most of the world is locked into a "growth is always good" worldview. Growth on a finite planet is unsustainable. If one questions that, try the reverse: try to keep the economy the same size then keep shrinking the planet. It's mathematically just as impossible as an infinite growth economy.

The people I'm working with here in the Bay Area recognize that we're heading inevitably for collapse and peak oil seems to be the trigger that is going to start the cascade of collapses. We're collectively at the precipice for a whole host of collapses that I mentioned upthread (food production, water depletion, fishery depletion, etc.).

So, yes, I do think that humanity is in what ecologists call a population bloom. This occurred because of the amount of food we could grow which in turn is largely a function of the fossil energy we've had available to us. What follows population blooms is die-off. You may have noticed the recent peer-reviewed papers in the past year on how ethanol is pushing up global food prices and threatening hundreds of millions of people with starvation, if not billions. We're unwittingly setting up the prefect situation for the die-off.

Some people are uncomfortable with the concept of collapse. That will change as more people hear about it and talk about it.

So, I say first things first: assess the situation with clear eyes using the latest, most accurate data available. Then bring optimism. If we bring what most people call "optimism" into the picture too soon, we won't get an accurate assessment of reality. If we have a poor assessment of reality, we'll make bad choices and make the problem worse, not better.

Once the picture is accurate, then I ask people to bring optimism and courage. If you are interested in seeing how I approach the situation, see the video of a speech I gave to Sun here.

Unfortunately, I haven't even seen it because my computer is having technical difficulties with the video, but yours may be able to play it fine.

-Andre'

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 6:31:00 AM PST, Anonymous Andre Angelantoni said...

Hi, the_setite.

Thanks for the link. I'm very familiar with Amory's work. It's generally very good, but it suffers from what most grand plans suffer from: they assume business as usual for the economy so that their transition can occur.

Lester Brown does the same thing in Plan B 3.0. He has a plan for reducing the carbon emissions of the planet by 80% by 2020. That's basically the same thing as shutting down the world economy. It's really sad to me to see him pushing that plan because he's such a good and honorable man.

The Scientific American article with its Solar Grand Plan did the same thing, too. They don't handle the economy tanking due to peak oil and assume the transition will occur apace. The IPCC makes that mistake, too: 13 of the 40 IPCC scenarios don't even predict a peak in oil before 2100.

The world is operating on fundamentally flawed assessments of oil availability, both in ultimate recoverable reserves and in production flows. Consequently, the plans these people are turning out cannot possibly come to pass, Amory's included.

As for your argument that people who say "never" and "always" are always wrong, well, that's certainly an interesting opinion that you hold and you are of course completely entitled to it.

See my point about the economy and a shrinking planet and you'll see that growth can't continue on our planet. As for JD's assertion that we'll move to space, well, that's another very interesting opinion, too.

-Andre'

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 6:38:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Hello anonymous, from another anonymous, NICE to see you get to decide what other say on TOD, with out actually showing what they really said. PERIOD"

Fool.
Here's direct from the horses mouth.

http://canada.theoildrum.com/node/2516

"At the root of all the converging crises of the World Problematique is the issue of human overpopulation. Each of the global problems we face today is the result of too many people using too much of our planet's finite, non-renewable resources and filling its waste repositories of land, water and air to overflowing."

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 7:09:00 AM PST, Blogger JD said...

As for JD's assertion that we'll move to space

I never asserted that we'll move to space. I said we will, eventually, tap into energy from space. Feel free to gripe about my position, but don't make up lies about it.

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 7:13:00 AM PST, Blogger odograph said...

"And every post I make I use my real name. You don't appear to be confident enough in your writing to do that."

We have a great history of anonymous and pseudonymous writing in this country.

If Ben Franklin thought it was fun, that's good enough for me.

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 7:15:00 AM PST, Anonymous Andre Angelantoni said...

...don't make up lies about it.

My apologies: you didn't say we'd move to space. My mistake.

What do you think of the possibility of being generous when you respond to people?

-Andre'

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 7:17:00 AM PST, Blogger odograph said...

I'm just skimming this morning, but it looks like the_setite and Andre' fall into the classic problem with competing predictions ...

lol, neither of you can know and so it is pointless to argue which outcome.

If I may, what you should be arguing, rationally, is what plans make sense in today's world, and with today's hard evidence.

Carbon tax anyone?

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 7:19:00 AM PST, Blogger odograph said...

Ye Gods!

The Scientific American article with its Solar Grand Plan did the same thing, too. They don't handle the economy tanking due to peak oil and assume the transition will occur apace. The IPCC makes that mistake, too: 13 of the 40 IPCC scenarios don't even predict a peak in oil before 2100.

In other words, your prediction of the future trumps their plan before it leaves the starting gate?

Get yourself some humility, man.

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 12:02:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello jd,

I never asserted that we'll move to space. I said we will, eventually, tap into energy from space. Feel free to gripe about my position, but don't make up lies about it.

We're not going to conquer space, JD?

You must be some sort of pessimist!

Oil closed above $100 two days in a row. I saw $3.59 diesel and $3.19 gasoline on the beach this afternoon.

Would you kindly provide an optimistic interpretation of the above and make some projections about where oil, diesel and gasoline prices are headed?

Should I buy some Wal-Mart stock? Wal-Mart's business plan is so good that Wal-Mart is going to stay in business forever. But there won't be any Wal-Marts on Mars!

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 1:30:00 PM PST, Blogger odograph said...

I saw a Smart Car on the way home yesterday. Sort of goes hand in hand with $100 oil.

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 1:51:00 PM PST, Blogger FR said...

Hi anonymous,

you said: "Should I buy some Wal-Mart stock? Wal-Mart's business plan is so good that Wal-Mart is going to stay in business forever."

Hey, I sense some sarcasm!! Are you telling me that Walmart is not going to be in business forever?? That makes me cry! What will I do without all the useless plastic shit? What do I get to throw in the oceans?

Walmart is clearly the measure of our civilization! When they go, that means American civilization is dead!

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 3:25:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Odograph,

I saw a Smart Car on the way home yesterday. Sort of goes hand in hand with $100 oil.


You know what I saw today which also goes hand-in-hand with $100 oil?

1. A black F-650 Pickup.
2. A dozen Yukon XLs and Cadillac Escalades.
3. Hummer H2s, Hummer H3s
4. Plenty of obese Americans who all look like passive, overfed cattle

These are the sort of things which makes one wish for $200 oil.

FR says:

Are you telling me that Walmart is not going to be in business forever??

JD says that Wal-Mart is going to be in business forever, mainly because of the extreme stupidity of #4 above. I say that Wal-Mart's going to run out of gas (literally and figuratively) somewhat quicker than the sun will run out of hydrogen.

I must admit, though, that JD's optimism is extremely intoxicating and therefore convincing. There may never be a Wal-Mart on Mars, but it is still very possible for Wal-Mart to build a supercenter on the moon!

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 3:42:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^^^^^^^^^^

Thanks so much for your contribution to this thread 'anonymous'. Seeing the self-righteous egotist Dave Mathews reduced to posting without his moniker has me weeping tears of mirth.

Why not just politely ask Robert Rapier if he'll give you your balls back?

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 3:50:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There may never be a Wal-Mart on Mars, but it is still very possible for Wal-Mart to build a supercenter on the moon!

Right after the Wal-mart buy out of NASA when the US government of Bush has to pay the bills the government has run up since 1981 when some genius decided NOT paying the bills as you go along was a good idea, and started the country along the path where we face a 9,000,000,000,000 dollar debt.

That is NOT some prediction of what we might owe in the future, that is what we currently owe for the borrow and spend policies of people running the government since 1981.

I wonder where the government is gonna find any money to use for the challenges we are soon to face with the demand out stretching supplies of energy resources. Or maybe they just think we need to out source our standard of living and become more like rural China (you know the part where all our factories haven't moved to.)

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 3:59:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Anonymous,

Thanks so much for your contribution to this thread 'anonymous'. Seeing the self-righteous egotist Dave Mathews reduced to posting without his moniker has me weeping tears of mirth.

Why not just politely ask Robert Rapier if he'll give you your balls back?


Now you are being silly ...

I wasn't intimidated by Robert Rapier, why would I be intimidated by JD?

No, I posted anonymously here for a different reason altogether. Don't you know that my firsts posts on Robert Rapier's blog were also anonymous?

Such is the manner in which I discover if people are listening. You have demonstrated that you are listening.

That's very good.

Has Robert Rapier left the oil industry yet?

David Mathews
David Mathews' Home Page

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 4:19:00 PM PST, Blogger odograph said...

What happened to the H1s Anonymous?

They used to be pretty common around here, with cheaper oil.

People are funny critters, and I've got to admit that it is kind of sill that the H1 could be cool in ... say 2000, and then the Smart Car takes over in 2008.

It seems a little too much like fashion ... but I'll take it. A social response is going to look like fashion, certainly.

 
At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 4:27:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Odograph,

What happened to the H1s Anonymous?

I've seen plenty of H1s over the last several years, including recently.

I'm seeing F650 pickups everywhere, including two over the last two days. These people don't seem to feel any sorrow over $3.59 a gallon diesel.

I wonder if they will stop driving their F650s when disel is $7 a gallon?

David Mathews
David Mathews' Home Page

 
At Sunday, February 24, 2008 at 2:21:00 AM PST, Blogger bc said...

Ah! So Dave Matthews is the same moron that Robert Rapier had to ban. Dave seems to be on a campaign to trash any half decent blog.

 
At Sunday, February 24, 2008 at 2:45:00 AM PST, Blogger bc said...

I admit I am somewhat skeptical of the exploitation of space for getting energy or materials. Don't get me wrong, I've been a big fan of space ever since I was a kid. I have no objection in principle.

The problem is getting the numbers to work. Doing anything in space is vastly expensive. Ok, all products are expensive when they first start out. One way to reduce cost is start simple, and build a market. The first micro-computers were primitive, and evolved into modern PCs. With space there is no part measures, you have to get into at least LEO in one shot. This places a very high minimum barrier to entry.

The other main way to reduce cost is mass production. Space vehicles don't lend themselves to mass production. Each are highly complex hand crafted machines. Instead of half a dozen, you need to churn out hundreds or thousands of vehicles.

The ISS is kept going by a lot of astronaut spacewalks, for deep space (GEO) where the solar satellites would be, you really need robot operation. We still don't have robots anywhere near capable of assembling the ISS, and that is pretty much a lego kit as it is.

We can expect advances in technology, but these don't directly address the limits described above, they are limits set by physics, rather than lack of technology. I can't see space exploitation being a realistic proposition for the foreseeable future.

 
At Monday, February 25, 2008 at 12:44:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing I would like to know, and I would like to have the doomers answer... Is that if we are indeed doomed to the end of industrialized civilization, then what is the benefit of telling and "educating" people? Particularly if you also think that 5-6 billion people are going to die in the process? What exactly do you hope "educating" people on peak oil/dieoff will accomplish, other than frightening people and possibly pushing some less stable people over the edge? I mean, particularly since most of you doomers think that people can't do anything to stop it...

Very simple:

Don't tell anybody. You are 100% correct. Education is pointless. About 99% of the people you talk to either don't care or don't want to hear about it. Anything that potentially shakes their structured reality produces the "talk to the hand" reply.

It's very simple. Take a tape measure. Measure a 6 foot radius around your body. Make a circle. All the people that can fit inside the circle from the most important to the least important, you "educate" however you think is best. (wife, kids, parents, whatever) The rest, forget it. Co-workers, friends, church community, the PTA, bla bla bla, don't even bother. When you have less people to worry about, the better. As a society we are incapable of mobilizing "everyone" to make a difference together. Every individual has an agenda. It's simply not in our DNA.

Am I a doomer? No. Am I an optimist? No, I am a realist. It is what it is and that's the way it is.

 
At Tuesday, March 11, 2008 at 5:39:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Bob Wallace said...

Please, please, please!

Require people to post under a unique identity.

It's impossible to follow conversations with multiple individuals posting under the same name (anonymous).

 
At Sunday, March 23, 2008 at 8:26:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I not a doomer but believe in peak oil. Put that in the feed.

Anyways, forget the doom, just step back and connect the dots.

Oil demand is increasing,

Oil is getting harder to find expensive to produce. There is no inexpensive substitue.

Oil is cheap. I love my car and love driving to cabin in Montana 3 hrs away every weekend. A tank of gas is cheaper than a hotel room.

Oil is going to get more expensive as sure as climate change. Bet the farm on energy companies and live well.

 
At Sunday, June 1, 2008 at 8:39:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Shiner said...

Andre kicked all your asses.

 
At Monday, June 23, 2008 at 4:40:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Jake l. said...

"You think that because you can find a piece of evidence somewhere on the Net that seemingly supports your point of view that that is the same as transforming the entire energy basis of our society."

Andre tell me what is wrong with this statement here?

What did you do the whole time you were making posts on here? Well you're useing evidnece that you found of the net. And you think that because you have done so that it supports the collapse.
A bit of a contradiction I would say.

Shiner. Andre didn't kick shit.
But due to your small one sentence response tho this enitre thread shows your lack of kicking ass ability as well.

Good day now.

 

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