free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 309. ACCELERATING PROGRESS

Monday, July 17, 2006


Many in the peak oil community feel disheartened with technology and consider progress to be slowing. No doubt there are various reasons for this perception, the most rational of which may be a general loss of confidence with science.

Progress may indeed appear to be slowing when one considers the amount of new innovations and advances made during the first half of the 20th century, only to see the second half of the 20th century 'merely' improving upon earlier advances instead of continuing to come up with all new innovations and breakthroughs. Greenneck summarises this position nicely in recent comments:
I recall when Armstrong and Aldrin set foot on the Moon and back then, the future looked bright indeed.
Well, 35 years later we haven't got back to the Moon.
What went wrong?

This is why some people believe PO will lead to some kind of doom: they have lost confidence that science will solve it.
I suspect that if one were to travel back in time and grab someone from 1900 to take them on a quick trip of the 20th century, they would likely adopt a similar position on civilisation's progress as many of the PO pessimists do. The jump from 1900 to 1950 would be a remarkable leap for them. They might feel amazed at how much we have progressed, seeing inventions that were in their infancy in 1900 become highly advanced and wide spread. They would see the remarkable leaps forward made in almost every aspect of scientific endeavour, and they would see some of the greatest achievements in human history. And while they may at first feel disorientated with the level of progress made, they would soon fit in with society - after all, social structure and culture in 1950 really wasn't that different from 1900.

But then the jump from 1950 to 2000 would be a different story. Our friend from 1900 might think that civilisation had slacked off. The technology, while improved upon, is still basically the same. There have not been the giant leaps forward in theoretical science that the first half of the century enjoyed. A few industries have made impressive advances, most notably electronics and computing, but over all it would appear to our time travelling friend that progress has slowed considerably.

After a while though our friend would begin to perceive the true advances civilisation has made, however he would not easily understand them. Unlike the jump to 1950, the jump to 2000 would see a change in society he would be virtually incapable of comprehending. People of different races working together and treating each others as equals, women in leading roles in large corporations, he would see scantly clad men and women with strange high-tech sports gear zipping through the streets, people communicating with other people on opposite sides of the world using difficult to see technologies. He would see people assimilating astonishing amounts of information quickly and easily, people conducting business from all parts of the globe and at any time of the day or night. He would see communities of like-minded individuals finding each other from remote and widespread locations and clustering into virtual communities. He would see organisations and corporations employing individuals from all corners of the Earth and working together without ever leaving their homes. He would see people playing when he thinks they should be working, and yet they are never truly away from work as they often work when he thinks they should be resting.

The changes to society and culture are long and varied, but in short, our time traveller friend from 1900 would be overwhelmed by the pace and the capabilities of society circa 2000. In the year 2000 he may not perceive the same obvious degree of technological advancement made from 1900 to 1950, but he would be incapable of comprehending the progress made in the way people live their lives from 1950 to 2000. He would fail to understand the considerable advantages of the new globalized and digitised world community, and perhaps would think that the world has gone crazy.

Not unlike our PO doomer who craves the more quiet, simpler times.

The point of this little time travel exercise is to elaborate on human progress. To understand how civilisation is progressing, we must look at all of the aspects of civilisation, not merely a single part of the equation. For example, some people merely look to the continued use of a single resource as proof that civilisation is not progressing, as a doomer recently put it so elegantly in the comments:
If technology is advancing so fast why are the computers you jackasses typing on most likely powered by COAL!
It should be obvious that we can not merely measure the progress civilisation has made in the resources or materials it uses, nor the inventions patented per capita, as some people foolishly do, nor can we even measure progress purely as a technological aspect.

To consider human progress, I could easily point to the plethora of technological advances made recently. I could comment on the fact that civilisation appears to be on the verge of a new technological age based on all new materials - just as iron and bronze revolutionised the world with new unforseen technologies thanks to the widespread adoption of new superior materials (bringing about the iron age and bronze age), so too will our new found capabilities of structuring carbon at the molecular level (commonly known as nano-technology) herald in a new technological age of unforseen advances with the widespread use of superior materials. We may only just be entering what may come to be called 'the carbon age', based on molecularly perfect carbon materials that offer massive increases in strength, reduction in weight, transference of heat and ultimately massive increases in efficiency and reductions in waste, and many other possibilities not yet perceived.

However to elaborate on the considerable progress civilisation has made, we must not solely focus on the technological. Social and cultural advances are also of vital importance, and are intimately bound with our technological advances. And in many ways, the advances that we have made socially and culturally are far more important then the technological advances we make.

Consider Wendell Phillips famous words:
"What gunpowder did for war, the printing press has done for the mind."
It's unquestionable that this simple technological advance, first developed over 500 years ago, had a tremendous impact on society and culture. Now consider the modern evolution of the printing press and what it has done for the mind. The internet is arguably one of the most important social revolutions in history, and is what has allowed such wide-spread awareness of peak oil issues to be assimilated by society in the first place. If it were not for this technological and social advance many people would likely still be unaware of the peak oil issues. It may be powered by an old power source, but it is still a deeply impacting advent radically altering civilisation as we know it.

While technological change over the past 50 years may be difficult for some people to perceive, especially given the considerable about of improvement over innovation, the radical social and cultural change we have experienced should be obvious. Society has radically transformed and continues to do so, and this effect must not be so easily dismissed. Civilisation today is far more adaptable and capable then ever before, and assuming that we are incapable of dealing with complex issues such as peak oil simply because we still use antiquated power sources is imprudent. We may have considerable challenges ahead with transitioning to new ways of life, but transitioning to new ways of life is one thing that we have become ever more skilled at doing.

Don't dismiss our adaptability; it's what allowed a once weak, defenceless and insignificant little species to conquer the world, and we've been accelerating our adaptability capabilities ever since.

Peak oil; we will adapt.
-- by Omnitir


At Monday, July 17, 2006 at 6:43:00 AM PDT, Blogger Chris Sendak said...

Much more of an opinion piece IMHO but still a good read. the best debunk method against this crap is to put a finger on the pulse of sites like jims energy blog and green car congress. progress is all around us unless youre selectively looking in the wrong direction.

lol @ the HA quote btw. he is a poster boy for the haplessness of the doomer cult(ure).

At Monday, July 17, 2006 at 8:54:00 AM PDT, Blogger David Grenier said...

I think the innovation vs. improvement divide is a false one that doesn't really hold up when you start looking at individual cases (sort of like art vs. obscenity or whatever). For example, was TV a new invention or an improvement on radio? Were cars a new invention or an improvement on wagons? Is the Internet a new invention or an improvement on phones? Are CFLs a new invention or just an improvent of incadescents? Are incandescents a new invention or just an improvement of gaslights? Etc.

Also, I think there are tons of new scientific innovations that many of us are not aware of, especially in biotech and health care. We as a culture tend to discount anything that we don't see on the store shelves. So improvements in manufacturing are not seen as improvements, only cool new designs or gadgetier products are seen as improvements/innovations.

At Monday, July 17, 2006 at 8:55:00 AM PDT, Blogger David Grenier said...

BTW - does anyone else wonder what is going on with JD these days? I think he should do some sort of personal blog chronicling his adventures in Osaka.

At Monday, July 17, 2006 at 10:20:00 AM PDT, Blogger thalion said...

"Unlike the jump to 1950, the jump to 2000 would see a change in society he would be virtually incapable of comprehending. People of different races working together and treating each others as equals"

A roman travelling from 100 BC to 100 AD Rome would have witnessed the same sight. Alhtough he would probably pay more attention to the fact that he had left a republic and ended up in a dictatorship. I doubt he would consider it 'progress'. The same way the traveller from 1950 would notice many unpleasant things, such as politics having been reduced to mere reality TV, the rampant destruction of nature, and 'gasp' high gas prices.
You're confusing history repeating itself with progress, don't.

Your excitement with advancement such as nanotechnology just gets a 'yawn' from me, I remember feeling exactly the same way 10 years ago about computer AI. Don't hear much about that today, just as i don't think you'll be hearing much about nanotechnology in 2016.

There is scientific progress that matters, and stuff that simply don't. And the stuff that matters just about now is replacing fossile fuels. A working breeder reactor would be an incredible step forward, we have been working on it for more than 30 years but where is it? Same goes for fusion, to accomplish fusion you not only need to recreate the center of a sun, is that really likely to happen? Probably about the same time as i get a job at Spacely Space Sprockets and go to work in my flying car that fits inside my suitcase.

At Monday, July 17, 2006 at 10:34:00 AM PDT, Blogger HoardingAmmo said...

you fools will someday be gathered around a bicycle powerd computer logged into a greatly cannibalized internet and still stoking your technology is going to save us fantasies

At Monday, July 17, 2006 at 10:43:00 AM PDT, Blogger GreenNeck said...

Good piece Omnitir; and I' glad to see my little blurb did not go unnoticed :-)

Now, I did not say the rate of progress has gone down; there has been indeed great advances in many areas, especially computers and communications. Even everyday appliances like cars, electronics and others are more efficient, durable and cheap.

And no argument also about social progress - it has been tremendous. While there are still a lot of people living in squalor, there has never been so many enjoying a 'middle class' lifestyle now than ever.

My point was more to say that we could have done much more, if we did not spend so many resources and talents on destructive purposes. We spend bazillions every year to find better ways of blowing each other up. Imagine if we'd spend that cash, and put all those skills on space technology, nuclear fusion and medical research. All those sectors have been starved for cash and resources. I'm sure you all know at least one scientist who had to 'branch out' and find some other other work due to lack of funding.

Humans have always fought over resources, be it land, cattle, minerals or as of now, oil. Conflict thwarts progress. This is why I think PO will lead to decline; not because of some pre-ordained 'doom', but because our brains are hard-wired to fight over resources. We will smarten up (adapt) eventually, but not before taking a few hits.

At Monday, July 17, 2006 at 11:57:00 AM PDT, Blogger totallyrandom_not said...

...and for another proof that progress is not dead, check out Mr. Savinar new and improved site: It looks like, after all, peak oil is not going to stop this guy from living the american dream...

At Monday, July 17, 2006 at 11:58:00 AM PDT, Blogger BlackSun said...

Basically, the misunderstandings boil down to these: Ignorance of the law of accelerating returns, paradigm shifts, and asymmetrical development.

Computers will run on coal until we figure out something else to run them on. But that doesn't mean they still don't do great things, and continue to get twice as powerful every year. It's a totally irrelevant objection. That's like saying a fighter jet or missile is ineffective because it runs on jet fuel. But the wise still respect the power of the technology and get out of the way.

It's becoming harder and harder for doomers to keep their blinders on, though.

Like Kurzweil, I see a future where at some point, technologically unenhanced humans will be unable to participate in society on a meaningful level. They won't be able to comprehend what will turn into a hyper-information-based interior culture. It will be a world of minds. Today's doomer mentality is the beginning of the segmentation of society into two groups: the progressives, and what I would call "technological refuseniks."

At Monday, July 17, 2006 at 12:15:00 PM PDT, Blogger Chris Sendak said...

lol. you should just cut and paste that response from now on HA. its the best youre ever going to do.

and TR that savinar link MADE MY AFTERNOON. holy crap. is matt trying to reinvent himself as a green moderate with the realization that theres no more money to be made in mass hysteria?!

nobody knows what the future holds but you can always trust a lawyer to be a lawyer. godspeed little doodle

At Monday, July 17, 2006 at 1:29:00 PM PDT, Blogger HoardingAmmo said...

look you fucktards the world is ending as we type:

I'm off to stock up on supplies and further fortify my residence while you losers sit here and fantasize about captain janeway coming to transport your sorry asses out of this mess.

At Monday, July 17, 2006 at 1:49:00 PM PDT, Blogger totallyrandom_not said...

"theres no more money to be made in mass hysteria?!"

au contraire, my friend. It's business 101: create the problem, then sell the solution.

At Monday, July 17, 2006 at 2:34:00 PM PDT, Blogger jcage said...

If the world's ending while we type, then why the hell are you still typing? Shouldn't you be manning the walls, firing up the turrets and getting ready for the Rooskies?

At Monday, July 17, 2006 at 2:52:00 PM PDT, Blogger Freak said...

"look you fucktards the world is ending as we type"

So, what?
If it's ending what the fuck can I do about it?
If it's too late then why not just kick back with a fine cigar and watch the whole damn thing happen?

HA, do you know what Lithium Carbonate is and how it will save you from peak oil?

At Monday, July 17, 2006 at 5:04:00 PM PDT, Blogger Chris Sendak said...

lmfao. The world is crashing down and HA spends his last few earthly moments on this board insulting people like a nascar discussion forum.

its been three hours since that post and I still dont see any rioting minorities crashing down on my front door. the only logical conclusion?

this is a joke account. it has to be. byofuels acting out another part of his bruised inner child with another posting name. it just cant be real.

At Monday, July 17, 2006 at 6:35:00 PM PDT, Blogger Roland said...

Wow, Hoarding ammo. Iran told Israel not to attack Syria. SO WHAT???? In case you've forgotten, nations have been angry with each other for thousands of years.

At the beginning of the century industrialized cities were shrouded in noxious black clouds of coal smoke and brutally divided along class lines. Just 50 years ago millions of people died in a war encompassing the entire world, in which much of Europe was destroyed. This followed a worldwide depression with unemployment over 25%. After this we endured a 40-year nuclear standoff between two superpowers, during which women couldn't work and black people sat in a different part of the bus, and the world was threatened variously by an "oil crash", a "population bomb", "global cooling" and the ozone hole.

Now here we are in 2007, and some loony Iranian dictator makes a threatening statement. It's the end of the world!! Get real. If you knew any history you wouldn't bother indulging in your Area-51, New-World-Order adolescent control fantasies.

Oil will get more expensive, we'll have a recession, cars will get more efficient, the world go on. North Korea will collapse internally and the country will disarm in exchange for help from the International Community. Iran's belligerent antics will get some attention from the US, which is what it wants. Israel will eventually stop blowing up Lebanon, Osama will become passé and in 30 years your kids will learn about it all in school. Meanwhile you'll sit around in a dirty pub with all your middle-aged friends and get ribbed about how back in '06 you spent your lonely nights fantasizing about rape and pillage on internet message boards. Shit happens but there's no point worrying about it.

Congratulations on the post Omnitir. The world is getting better, whether the immature fuckwits who have infected this blog believe it or not.

Nobody can take PO doom seriously while the fact remains we made it perfectly well through the first two oil crises when we lost 15% of oil production in three years. Or the fact that today's world is a paradise compared even to that of the 1960s.

Freeman Dyson:
The reason I'm optimistic is easy to see; it's because I came through the 1930s. I was a teenager in the 1930s, when things were from every point of view much worse than they are today. We had a terrible economic depression, millions of people out of work, much more than now, we had Hitler to deal with, another World War coming up, which we all expected to die in - I didn't expect to survive World War II. We all expected it to be worse than World War I, and World War I was a terrible tragedy for England.

It was really a time to despair - even little things like pollution, England was filthy then compared to what it is now. I remember in London if you put on a clean shirt in the morning it was black by the evening around the collar and the cuffs. The air was filthy, the water was filthy, the Thames was so polluted that nothing could live in it - well, it's all been improved very greatly. It took just fifty years of careful attention to detail - those pollution problems are curable. The present generation has forgotten all that, they seem to think that just because pollution exists, it's a disaster. I would say the opposite, it's an opportunity for doing better.

... I can't take the present problems so seriously. I think none of the present-day problems are as bad as what we faced then.

At Monday, July 17, 2006 at 10:28:00 PM PDT, Blogger HoardingAmmo said...

can jd come back? at least he has some wit and a certain swarmy intelligence you bunch of jackasses seem to lack

At Monday, July 17, 2006 at 10:29:00 PM PDT, Blogger JGraves said...

"Your excitement with advancement such as nanotechnology just gets a 'yawn' from me, I remember feeling exactly the same way 10 years ago about computer AI. Don't hear much about that today, just as i don't think you'll be hearing much about nanotechnology in 2016."

Artificial intelligence is easily the most underestimated technological hurdle out there. It's one thing to be able to manipulate matter on a smaller scale than previously possible; it's quite another to create something that would successfully fit our ever-changing definition of 'intelligence'.

Ten years ago, a robot that can drive a car a considerable distance on its own would be considered pretty damned intelligent. Now that we have achieved it, it isn't. Give the computer science folks a break :-(

At Monday, July 17, 2006 at 11:36:00 PM PDT, Blogger Roland said...

If all you can do is make weak insults, hoardingammo, then why don't you go away and stop wasting people's time? I thought the hordes were coming to get you.

Grow up.

At Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at 5:34:00 AM PDT, Blogger Omnitir said...

David Grenier, I agree on your comments about the perceived innovation vs. improvement divide. I once discussed it with a doomer who kept asking for examples of technology showing how we are advancing, and yet nothing would satisfy; “no, but that’s just an example of an evolution of technology, it’s a natural progression. Show me something truly innovative. You can’t, hence proving progress is slowing”. Of course the argument is illogical. Technically, every single technology is ‘merely’ a progression on previous developments.

Technically, building the latest and most advanced microprocessor for example is really just an evolution of when humans first used a rock shard as a cutting tool. Improving on what we already know is precisely how we develop new things, and is hardly proof of failing advances.

At Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at 5:39:00 AM PDT, Blogger Omnitir said...

>A roman travelling from 100 BC to 100 AD Rome would have witnessed the same sight.
> The same way the traveller from 1950 would notice many unpleasant things
> You're confusing history repeating itself with progress, don't.

Hardly. Over the past 50 years Western society has enjoyed many social and cultural advances unlike the world has ever known. The traveller from 1950 might notice many unpleasant things; especially if he were a Caucasian male. However if it were say a female of an ethnic minority group, do you think they would still find the year 2000 unpleasant?

History isn’t repeating itself. Today’s unique mix of technological, social, and cultural advances have revolutionised the world in more ways then most people can imagine.

nanotechnology just gets a 'yawn' from me, I remember feeling exactly the same way 10 years ago about computer AI. Don't hear much about that today, just as i don't think you'll be hearing much about nanotechnology in 2016.

Funny, about 10 years ago was the same time that nanotech first began to really make its hype. Sceptics insisted that it was nothing but hype, pointing to the considerable challenges the technology had to overcome, most notably, the ability to manufacture nano-fibres at a notable rate. Scientists told us that this breakthrough was around 20 years away, while the sceptics insisted it would be more like 50 years.

Five years later an incredible breakthrough occurs in nano-tech manufacturing capability allowing mass production for commercialisation of nanotech products. This remarkable breakthrough goes by with little fanfare. A few years later (now), nanotech products begin to infiltrate the market, with more and more companies developing various nanotech projects. The projected effects of these projects are enormous, and have stirred up much hype about nanotech.

And yet people that don’t seem to bother reading about the remarkable progress this technology is making continue to insist that nanotech is merely hype.
Oh, and A.I. continues to rapidly advance.

Doomers think someday we’ll be sitting around campfires in burnt out ex-suburbia talking about how technology will ‘save us’. Well I think someday doomers will be interfacing with their A.I. computers made with hyper efficient nano-technology manufacturing processes, and crapping on about how AI and nanotech are just hype and how ‘it’s official, civilisation will collapse any minute now’…

At Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at 5:42:00 AM PDT, Blogger Omnitir said...

Greenneck, thanks, yeah, I totally agree about wasted efforts. It will always amaze me that American’s basically choose for NASA to slow down mid Apollo so they could focus on pointless wars, McSprawl, and SUV nation. I can’t help but imagine where we would be at now if the level of interest in NASA during the early Apollo era never slowed down. I have no doubts we would have gotten over fossil fuels by now, for one thing.

However, I disagree about resource wars. I think modern civilisation is tougher then people give it credit for.

Roland, thanks mate :)
Nice comments, I especially liked the Dyson quote.
I always enjoy your posts, is there any chance we might get to see you writing something more for JD’s blog one day?

Oh, and HA;
the world is ending as we type
Uh, war in the Middle East. That’s new.

At Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at 5:51:00 AM PDT, Blogger Stephen Gloor said...

I reckon you just need to watch this video and do some simple arithmetic.

One of the most sensible and reasoned vidoes I have watched.

At Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at 10:03:00 AM PDT, Blogger HoardingAmmo said...

what got us through the 1930s? well there was a war that was entirely powered by OIL, OIL OIL!!! that was what got the US and UK out of the 30s you fools

At Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at 1:23:00 PM PDT, Blogger Chris Sendak said...

lmao. so we were at war in the 1930s?

you seem to be getting progressively retarded HA. you used to at least try to make sense, but this stuff is just sad.

hows the barricading coming? did you shoot at the mailman today?

At Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at 2:41:00 PM PDT, Blogger HoardingAmmo said...

WW II, fueled by oil, is what got us out of the depression dumb shit

At Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at 2:52:00 PM PDT, Blogger Chris Sendak said...

if you could actually string together a coherent thought and explain yourself without sinking into idiotic dumbfuckery then MAYBE we could try to decipher what the hell youre talking about.

what does ww2 have to do with ANYTHING? wars use oil? you believe that america was involved in the war in the 30s? we're in a depression? things were simpler before nukes? or just another stupid point that has nothing to do with even the most basic principles of whats being discussed here?

but from a guy who predicted the end of times yesterday and was actually trying to fortify his house because of something he saw on the news this might be waaay to much to ask.

At Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at 3:31:00 PM PDT, Blogger Jev said...

Omnitir, thanks for your piece on technological progress.

However I don't see the relevance of it to the question of whether technology is going to help us replace fossil fuels any time soon. I still think currently available and proven technology will turn out to be the workhorse of transitioning away from FF in the coming decades, which means there will be much demand destruction and chaos on the ground. Technological progress will as such be irrelevant to the question of peak oil. Wind and solar techs of yesteryear will have to suffice.

Although HA does not support his claims about jackasses and fucktards this time round, I have to agree with him to a point. I'm seeing even carefull posters like sendak stumbling into irritating blunders, like this stupid one:

"lmao. so we were at war in the 1930s?"

Obviously, HA was refering to the industrial boom that was fired by the need to go to war in the 40's, which certainly helped the US economy a great deal.

In general the comments up to now fail to excite me. They have been turgid, and complacent. A big 'circle-jerk'.

The great achievement of our civilisation to my mind was simply making available the benefits of near-free energy to the general public, which has certainly been the sole reason we even *have* a middle class! Kinda silly to ignore that little fact in your piece omnitir!

Our current challenge is of an entirely different order: we have to find new forms of near-free energy!

Since we probably won't, anything that is dependant on near-free energy will dissappear, which is unfortunately most of the 'great achievements' noted in omnitir's piece.

Finally: omnitir, you state doomers crave quiet, simple times. Not this doomer! Just so you know ...

At Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at 4:06:00 PM PDT, Blogger Freak said...

Our very formidable enemy and almost victor transitioned to coal from oil, and that alternative fuel almost beat the rest of the world.....
Nuclear fire ended the war in the Pacific, so really...

Hoardingammo, you really need to go fuck off.

At Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at 4:19:00 PM PDT, Blogger Roland said...

Our current challenge is of an entirely different order: we have to find new forms of near-free energy!

Hmm.... Try coal, nuclear and natural gas. Pretty radical new technologies, but apparently they work quite well.

At Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at 4:39:00 PM PDT, Blogger Chris Sendak said...

if you find the state of the comment union to be so turgid, jev, you can go fuck yourself and find somewhere else to spread your nonsense brand of pessimism. youve already proven yourself to be a hypocrite beyond any shadow of a doubt with your stupid braggadacio about spreading your seed and expecting natural disasters to wipe out the "rest" of the population (see: lesser people than you) over a bunch of threads here.

aiming for credibility and trying to support a retarded zealot like HA by default of your supposed similar beliefs is pointless at this juncture. youre done. go back to living your mclife and watching the skies for a sign from god while secretly hoping that none of your phony baloney predictions turn out to be true.

aint no buyers around here for what youre selling.

At Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at 4:51:00 PM PDT, Blogger GreenNeck said...

Lots of talk above on the 1930s. And this is what I believe we're headed for.

The 1930s depression started when a credit bubble burst, and this time it is no different, at least in the USA. Everybody is in the hock to the eyeballs: governments, corporations and individuals. GM - a single corporation - owes more than 300$ billion. If you think that will ever be repaid, I have some good oceanfront property for you in North Dakota. All bubbles burst and it will be no different this time. This is no doom, just history repeating itself.

Peak Oil - or peak energy if you prefer, will just exacerbate this effect, as it is difficult if not impossible to have economic growth without a source of cheap and abundant energy. Growth after all means more people buying more junk. You need energy for that. We may need less energy now than before for each unit of junk, but economic growth + population growth more than negate that. It only can go up until you hit the wall of finite resources.

The reasonable scenario of #282 calls for a "peak liquid" of about 92 MBbl a day. That includes ALL liquids. With 1.5% demand growth a year we'll be there in less than 6 years. The cornucopians talk of 120, 130 or 160 MBbl a day can be dismissed as plain wishful thinking.

Anyone with half a brain can see what's coming, and can take steps to avoid unnecessary hardship. And no, those steps do not include bunkers, canned food and ammo! We did not need that in the 1930s and we won't now.

IMO those steps are:
- Sound finances (no debt and diversified assets)
- Depression-proof line of work
- Low-energy lifestyle
- Some self-sufficiency with food

People who had the above in the 1930s did not suffer too much.

And if I'm wrong and the world is showered in prosperity and cheap energy, the above is still not a bad code to live by. And judging from human history, a wise one.

At Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at 4:59:00 PM PDT, Blogger Mel. Hauser said...

Good points, Green. People seem to constantly forget that as great as the Great Depression was, it didn't lead to widespread genocide and roaming militias of neo-con cocksuckers looking to rape and pillage every acre of viable real estate in their eyeline. All that crap is just the wishful thinking of a society wracked in schadenfreud, and the ironic hopes that the have-nots will become the inheritors of the new world by some kind of doomsday default.

It's going to happen, and only the gutless and irrational will have anything to fear.

And seriously, could we quell the viral effect of the name-calling shit? I'm no saint when it comes to restraint, but HA's inability to convey himself in remotely intelligent terms seems to be bringing everyone down to the noise level of a Manchester United game.

I like this place because it ISN'T PO. It'd be nice if it could maintain that.

At Wednesday, July 19, 2006 at 1:12:00 PM PDT, Blogger bc said...

The important question regarding technology is "can we always advance technology in the direction we want?" The answer to that is "No". Sure, life has changed a lot, but a lot of these things are unexpected or unpredicted benefits. For example, the laser was "supposed" to enable the long dreamt science fiction beam weapon. In fact, such weapons are quite impractical, but who would have guessed that lasers would enable high speed telecoms.

In some cases we have discovered that what we want is impossible. We would like to accurately forecast the weather (and climate), but due its chaotic nature it is not enough to simply have a powerful computer.

There are several areas that have not made the hoped for progress, despite lots of hard work. Eg. weather forecasting, supersonic transport, nuclear fusion, AI, routine space travel. These may come to fruition one day, but we may discover that there are some things that are not possible or not practical.

I suspect nanotechnology is one such area that will fall far short of expectations. Sure we will get some better materials. But placing individual atoms, however clever, will never be a practical application for real world manufacturing.

At Thursday, July 20, 2006 at 9:03:00 AM PDT, Blogger pumpysworld said...

The problem isn't the speed of technological progress but the economic circumstances that are not available to allow for such.

For example, Saab has just come out with a 100% ethanol car. That's wonderful, but where will we get the ethanol to run it? And will we need even more ethanol to get more ethanol, let alone manufacture such cars? The same goes for geothermal energy, solar power, and so on.

Next, is technology and wealth distributed evenly, if not proportionately, worldwide? Will industrialized countries sacrifice to provide much-needed aid to poorer ones to make such technology available? Never mind wondering whether large corporations that eventually patent such technology will offer the same to poor countries at low rates or even free.

There are more problems: lag time for making alternative forms of energy available, the willingness of industrialized countries to cooperate (are they?), economic problems caused by severe adjustments in industries, etc.

This reminds me of the movie 2001. It's now 2006 and we don't seem to have that world. It seems that much of technological progress benefits only a minority, with most barely able to afford such. Consider, for example,

At Thursday, July 20, 2006 at 11:35:00 AM PDT, Blogger DC said...

I think the innovation vs. improvement divide is a false one that doesn't really hold up when you start looking at individual cases (sort of like art vs. obscenity or whatever).

Great point. Any hard and fast definition is subjective...that's one of the problems I have with that paper the doomers love to cite when buttressing their flawed innovation asymptote argument.

In any case, your comments remind me of an article I recently read in the latest issue of Technology Review in which the Internet was best characterized as an analog process in that the current state of the web came about by a series of incremental innovations. IOW, the quintessential "long tail" example of how sometimes a ton of small pieces can add up to something substantial. IMO, the current state of the Net and a number of other technologies are at least moderately correlated with the environment in which they were developed. As a contrast, consider how World War II spawned technologies in discrete fits: microwaves evolved into radar, U238 evolved into nuclear reactors (unfortunately weapons too) and biplanes evolved into jets within a decade (IIRC, these 3 examples were also mentioned in the same issue of Technology Review). Thus, I find it ridiculously simplistic and just plain flawed to posit any particular model of innovation in a vacuum. Just as the advent of a robust system of patent laws or a war spurred momentous innovation in several previous generations, so does prosperity dictate how innovation occurs in other generations.

However, let's get back to specifics: does the pattern of innovation over the past decade or so reflect a lull or decreasing returns? I argue no. As I've previously written on this blog, advances in information technology have been cited by many leading economic scholars as being largely responsible for the economic expansion of the 90's. That was the largest economic expansion to date and is evidence of the transformative power of the innovations that were made. While no single innovation from that era stands out, the sum clearly does.

Finally, if I had to hypothesize a model for innovation, my first cut would probably be a Mean Reverting Jump-Diffusion Process. It's definitely not just a Weiner Process.

At Friday, July 21, 2006 at 2:21:00 AM PDT, Blogger Wildwell said...

Well, well, well - Now oil is at $9 a gallon here, economic growth is actually accerating too...

The UK economy grew at its fastest rate for two years in the second quarter of this year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said.

UK GDP grew by 0.8% between April and June, compared to the previous quarter.

At Friday, July 21, 2006 at 6:12:00 AM PDT, Blogger thalion said...

Groving economy, yeah right.

The USA isn't the only country in the world to publish fake inflation numbers. No easier way to create the illusion of economic growth than to underestimate inflation.

At Friday, July 21, 2006 at 10:26:00 AM PDT, Blogger thalion said...

I found this link this link. Just as I thought the UK is probably in a recession right now. Only the fradulent inflation data has kept this a secret so far.

Let me ask you wildwell. In the sixties a young couple could buy a house, a car and raise a family on a single income.
Today if a young couple in the UK bought a house they would end up in debt up to their eyeballs, both of them would have to have a job, and both car and kids would be out of the question. Are they really better off today than 40 years ago?

The reality is that younger people in Europe and the US are fucked. We are being exploited by the system. The difference between what we pay in taxes and what we get back is so great, the amount of exploitation would make a roman slave ovner green with envy. We have no hope whatsoeer of a better life than our parents. And we have a bigger chance of winning the lottery than ever seeing a pension.

At Friday, July 21, 2006 at 10:56:00 AM PDT, Blogger DC said...

Oh Puhleeeze. Back to the phantom inflation argument again? When you can point me to a demonstrably superior set of metrics than the CPI, PPP, etc. let me know. Until then, I will use those old, tried and true stalwarts to decide whether the inflation monster has come out from under the bed again.

Young people are fucked? Really? I live a healthier, fuller, more comfortable, less stressful and likely longer life than most midieval royalty. How am I fucked?

At Friday, July 21, 2006 at 11:33:00 AM PDT, Blogger thalion said...

" I will use those old, tried and true stalwarts to decide whether the inflation monster has come out from under the bed again."

And what are those? Doesn't it seem the least bit odd that energy isn't and housing isn't included in the inflation numbers. I mean who are these numbers for anyway?

"I live a healthier, fuller, more comfortable, less stressful and likely longer life than most midieval royalty."

Me smells a strawman. I ask to compare prices to 40 years ago, and you compare to 700 years ago.

At Friday, July 21, 2006 at 11:42:00 AM PDT, Blogger Wildwell said...

Thalion: I agree with you about house prices, we can thank the women’s rights movement for that one, talk about an ‘own goal’. I think the working class are exploited and a proportion of the middle class, which others laugh all the way to the bank – that’s gotta be wrong.

However, I don’t think things are all bad, and people do want their cake and eat it.

The point of the post was with oil @ $9 a gallon the economy isn’t tanking yet.

I do find it very strange plane tickets are included in inflation and housing isn’t – Everyone knows a roof over your head is more important than an excursion to Alicante.

At Friday, July 21, 2006 at 2:55:00 PM PDT, Blogger DC said...

No, it isn't odd. If you had the first clue about econ then you would realize that the things for which the prices are hard to control via monetary policy are not measured by inflation. Inflation is a measure of the monetary system. It isnt a measure of the supply/demand of the housing market. Therefore, it would be plain stupid to assess the state of the monetary system on the basis of goods whose prices are influenced at least as much, if not more, by other factors. The price of housing has more to do with the financial ability of many more people to buy a house these days. It has much less to do with the number of dollars in circulation, and thus, what other goods those dollars can purchase. IOW, the historical record of housing prices distorts the real inflation figure.

A similar argument holds for excluding energy in many inflation calculations: the volatility can introduce to much noise in the estimation process.

Strawman? Hardly. You're the one comparing today's presumed exploitation of youth with that from Roman slavery. Pot, meet kettle...

At Saturday, July 22, 2006 at 3:32:00 PM PDT, Blogger Jev said...

Stuff it Sendak. I'm not impressed by omnitir's story and less by the comments I've seen applauding it. You may not like that. Live with it.

I can imagine any number of possible courses the world can take in the coming decades, all with a happy outcome that will please even the most dogmatic cornucopian.

None include more vehicles on the road - hybrid or other.

None include energies sourced from the same place our food comes from.

None include a lifestyle even remotely similar to the one aspired to in western countries.

Seems impossible eh? There's more.
All those promising courses have one thing in common: they demand somewhere along the line that a stronger party (Big Oil, US govt, Rich Westerners) yields to the demands of a weaker party (man-in-the-street, renewables start-ups, developing nations).

As is immediately clear to any student of history and human nature: such rarely happens in the real world, and it *never* happens in the interaction between peoples and nations. To assume it will be different this time round is just nuts. We take what we can, when we can. We prevent others to take what we have, even if it means prolonging the fossil age and running this world into the ground. This is the core debunk of the starry-eyed cornucopian gospel spread around this blog.

You, sendak, are the hypocrite, referring to the 'progress is all around us' that is benefitting only the happy few with technology from 20-50 years ago taken off the dusty shelf and employed to exacerbating a reliance on fossil fuels, waste and a wastefull lifestyle.

Heinberg, on the other hand, is no hypocrite. His message of 'powering down' and assuming a simple (not simplistic) existence is - though naive - at least clear in its problemsolving potential, removing the cause of the problem, which is simply the sick obsession with wastefullness which runs through the blood of every westerner and - to our current horror - now also wannabees India and China!

I see what's going on in the world and I say: if you can't beat them, join them, but in a way that least upsets the stomach.

You wanting to pretend all's well and that you're part of the solution is fine with me, but next time you want to call someone a hypocrite, check your pulse, because the only time when *you* will stop being a hypocrite is likely when you're under the ground mate!

At Saturday, July 22, 2006 at 10:25:00 PM PDT, Blogger Chris Sendak said...

last i checked, i wasn't running around screaming about the end of the world like some pisshead while raising a family and openly going on about populating the doomed planet with more selfish proto-twats. if your parenting skills are anything like your debate abilities or convictions, i suggest a family party with jevon's kool-aid to celebrate the end of the planet might be in order. seeing as thats what you "believe" and all.

i live what i preach, and thats cautious optimism. im not pulling shit out of my hat like this nonsense

You, sendak, are the hypocrite, referring to the 'progress is all around us' that is benefitting only the happy few with technology from 20-50 years ago taken off the dusty shelf and employed to exacerbating a reliance on fossil fuels, waste and a wastefull lifestyle.

sorry, but how is your happy brood of ex wives and children demonstrating a less wasteful lifestyle than someone like myself, who lives in a small home all by my lonesome and bikes everywhere? i appreciate the vote of confidence "mate" but lets not go projecting our own walking contradictions on others because we think we represent some quantum leap of social insight.

I see what's going on in the world and I say: if you can't beat them, join them, but in a way that least upsets the stomach.

yeah right. way to alleviate your conscience in the process. spreading your sorry view of the world onto the next generation and furthering this miserable state of affairs that you seem so enamored with.

the sad part is that there clearly exists some intelligence in your person, jev. youve just let your plastic pessimism consume you to the point where its like a walking joke. smearing on the evils of where technology has been wasted on the whole of the global population while happily sucking the cock of first world progress. you can point the finger at me all you want but in numbers and ideology, i am clearly less of a whiny tosser than you are.

At Sunday, July 23, 2006 at 2:55:00 AM PDT, Blogger thalion said...

Well, well, well. Thus Chris real problem is revealed.

"who lives in a small home all by my lonesome and bikes everywhere?"


"I am a looser, a virgin and i can't afford a car"

And what have we here.

"i live what i preach, and thats cautious optimism. im not pulling shit out of my hat like this nonsense"


"I build an empire in my head where I'm actually worth something. This lie is all I have, so I get real agressive when called on it"

And DC I know enough econ to know that if you got a growing money supply that extra money has to go somewhere. And if the economy isn't growing as fast as the money supply it will show up as inflation. And if the GDP isn't properly corrected for inflation you'll get the illusion of a growing economy even if all you've got is a growth in the M3.

I'm sure there is a good explanation for excluding housing from inflation, just as I'm sure there is an excellent excuse for excluding energy, and food, and just about every number that won't behave like its supposed to.
But all that won't do people any good who are in debt and can't make ends meet and wonder why they get poorer and poorer despite all the socalled "growth".

At Sunday, July 23, 2006 at 1:43:00 PM PDT, Blogger Chris Sendak said...

its "loser". that wouldnt be you under a different account, would it byo? youre the only one who seems unable to properly spell that word every time you use it.

and have a few points for pulling out the tried and tired internet flame approach of throwing out loads of monkey shit in the hopes that it will stick. bla bla you live in your moms basement and have never seen a pair of boobs and my dad can beat up your dad and all that. never gets old.

though i did laugh at the part about building empires in my head or what have you. is that like producing biblical fantasies about burning seas of humanity and the other crap that jev has been farting out on here for weeks? where he and his survive the coming cataclysm because they are the chosen ones and can "see" the coming storm while all the other poor sots just up and croak?

or is this one of those things where generic insults are supposed to only apply to one "side" or the other?

get your fucking face back on the other side of the fence. or try harder next time.

At Sunday, July 23, 2006 at 3:41:00 PM PDT, Blogger Mel. Hauser said...

Groan. Someone get the firehose.

At Sunday, July 23, 2006 at 4:48:00 PM PDT, Blogger HoardingAmmo said...

chris, omnitir,

are you two by any chance autistic? at least a little? you seem to lack any ability to see the big picture. that's a trait found in autism. not saying you're full blown autistic as if you were you wouldn't be able to come on here and post. but I do think you two have at least some of it. you might want to see a therapist while you still can.

At Sunday, July 23, 2006 at 11:05:00 PM PDT, Blogger Jev said...

"and have a few points for pulling out the tried and tired internet flame approach of throwing out loads of monkey shit in the hopes that it will stick."

lol! But Sendak, isn't this all *you* have been doing these past few weeks? What a laugh! You should get your head examined you freak!

At Sunday, July 23, 2006 at 11:44:00 PM PDT, Blogger Omnitir said...

Given some of these comments, I'm starting to wonder if purhaps I'm wrong. Purhaps society hasn't really advanced all that much *rolls eyes*

At Monday, July 24, 2006 at 2:09:00 AM PDT, Blogger Chris Sendak said...

lmfao. ha, the sum of your failed excuse for a life is your inability to see the big picture. its nice that you found a big word like "autism" to throw around but it doesnt change the fact that you are the same sad fucker who was actually BRAGGING about barricading his front door because he saw some scary man on the news just a FEW DAYS AGO. heres another one for you while youre jacking off to the dictionary: schizophrenia. learn it.

and i would beg to differ jev. i have consistently flung the same monkey shit (you are a whiny hypocrite who bitches about society and the sorry state of the world while actively operating as a parasitic breeder stock and indulging every benefit of first world technologies.... got it?) which, by validation of your constant waffling and dodging seems to stick just fine. if it hits too close to home then i can make like byos other name here and just go with "you looser (sic) you ride a bike and therefore must not get any pussy omg lol etc etc".

when you get the fire hose out be sure to douse some of these faggots and get me a drink. my throats a bit dry from doing god's work. ;-)

At Monday, July 24, 2006 at 3:02:00 AM PDT, Blogger Jev said...

Sendak, you're a foulmouth and a liar. I have never dodged anything that was on-topic. I have ignored your foulmouthing and perpetual 'monkeyshit' because I didn't see the point of getting dragged into the curse-fest you have consistently tried to invoke.

You are the one dodging the issues and answering specific challenges with irrelevant streettalk.

I have worked in energy technology research for more than 10 years and I have absolutely no reason to change my position from the previous thread, namely that scientific progress is not yielding the breakthroughs we have come to expect. I base that assessment on talks with numerous researchers within the energy technology field. I have seen no serious reaction to that claim. All you've done is call me a whiner!

You have responded to none of my challenges concerning this issue, choosing to side with omnitir, who in your own words has done nothing but write an opinion piece on a subject I'm pretty sure he does not even have experience with! You have demonstrated a complete lack of respect for basic rules of argumentation, debate and logic, stooping to cursing, name calling and lies.

The sad part is that there clearly exists some intelligence in your person, Sendak, but I wish I knew why you're using it to add fool's colours to otherwise sordid and unworthy behaviour. Clean up your act for crissake.

At Monday, July 24, 2006 at 3:40:00 AM PDT, Blogger Jev said...

here: a simple search for the terms "the end of science" yields

Read this, omnitir, and tell me why I should agree with your opening text?

At Monday, July 24, 2006 at 10:45:00 AM PDT, Blogger Chris Sendak said...

well i stand chagrined for my pottymouth. but does this umbrage at such puerile behavior carry over to the twats who support your points via reacharound or am i just special?

im not sure what technical points of yours i was supposed to be addressing tho. in fact, i agree with you on some fronts. you are apparently confusing me with omnitir or something.

no. the issue here is your base hypocrisy in ideology and the fact that you are coddling this inane "post-doomer-doomer" design. you want to be taken seriously and yet you CONTINUOUSLY go off the deep end with these idiotic and irrational pseudo religious wet dreams about nations burning and 90% of the population dying off. we hear a bunch of preachy emo nonsense about displacement of wealth and how people "like me" are wallowing in avarice..... and you are doing what in comparison?

raising a family, sitting around here pointing fingers and being an irrational first world asshole.

you and i are exactly the same, save for what we say in relation to what we do. i agree with you there. but i cant buy the doomer fantasy mule no matter HOW well you might be selling it in relation to fucking idiots like HA.

At Monday, July 24, 2006 at 8:42:00 PM PDT, Blogger JGraves said...

It would seem that the slowing of progress is a fairly safe position to take. Obviously, going from a rickety plane to putting a man on the moon and going from burning coal to harnessing the power of the atom are easily visualized leaps. Making a nano-scaled car and teleporting photons just doesn't have the same effect on the imagination.

At Tuesday, July 25, 2006 at 2:31:00 PM PDT, Blogger DC said...

All this talk of slowing progress has me wondering when we can expect a new entry on this blog? ;-)

At Tuesday, July 25, 2006 at 9:02:00 PM PDT, Blogger Teresita said...

bc said:

I suspect nanotechnology is one such area that will fall far short of expectations. Sure we will get some better materials. But placing individual atoms, however clever, will never be a practical application for real world manufacturing.

All the pie-in-the-sky dreams about nanotechnology rely on a future breakthrough of getting that gray goo to replicate itself, which is understood in broad principles but there's undoubtedly endless little obstacles on the molecular scale when putting it into practice, little hassles that life has already run into and solved.

So in the end, the nano-engineers are probably going throw their hands up into the air and concede the whole industry to the bio-engineers which uses preexisting "hardware" and just changes the molecular software.

At Thursday, July 27, 2006 at 3:51:00 AM PDT, Blogger Freak said...

"So in the end, the nano-engineers are probably going throw their hands up into the air and concede the whole industry to the bio-engineers which uses preexisting "hardware" and just changes the molecular software."

So, are you a bio, or nano engineer?
In the end I think doomers, and anti-doomers basically boil down to gamblers. It doesn't really matter anyway. I'm not sure how to post a link here but (

Electricity is great because unlike Oil it has a diverse source origins, albeit they are merely conversions, but those conversions are on an order of magnitude better than an Internal Combustion engine achieves in a vehicular application.

Peak-Oil, so what, maybe it all goes to hell, but some of us were boyscouts, and out of the ashes if there are any, someone will innovate us back into a similar model of demented comfort we have today, well maybe not us but someone somewhere.

Nah, I'm kidding, I'm just looking for a fight, I have grown so weary of this subject. I wish Peak whatever would just go ahead and do whatever and then we can either all be fine, or die, but the important thing is moving on, for me at least.
I think learning to play a guitar might be a pretty peak oil proof hobby, and much more worthy of anybody's time than this pedantic dithering.

Translation: If I hear anything more about Peak Oil I'm going to pull all of my hair out and be sitting in the corner of an all night diner at 3am talking to my toenail clippings, which I will also refer to as my entourage, as I cross PEAK SANITY.

I love you guys, I think you are all very bright. I think even doomers are innovators and have valuble contributions to the basket of things that will take us into the future, but I can't hear this anymore. I'm sorry.

I do look foward to future posts, but I will try to refrain from posting comments which contain emotional impediments to critical reasoning in the future.

At Thursday, July 27, 2006 at 12:53:00 PM PDT, Blogger skye said...

We have to distinguish between technology advancements that do not require a tremendous change (and investment) to infrastructure, and those that do. That's why the Hirsch Report said that a smooth transition (such as you imply) would take 20 years of dedicated funding and support. I don't really see that happening in areas that will make a difference. Corn-based ethanol is break even EROEI. Biodiesel is promising, but how much infrastructure change is reasonably envisioned over the next 5-10 years?

Technology has a long cycle to work through from basic research, prototyping, piloting, and finally full scale deployment design. This takes decades for the kinds of breakthroughs you appear to be alluding to.

I've been deep into Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrations as a principal engineer for the last 5 years, and can attest to the low percentage of pie-in-the-sky ideas that actually end up holding water. I've heard from followers of Julian Simon that innovation will always happen when needed, and narely a ripple will be seen on corporate balance sheets when a complete shift takes place to some other technology. Being that I have to live technology advancements day in and day out, and assess risk as each project approaches intermediate milestones, the fallacy of such a statement couldn't be clearer.

What if PO happened 4 years from now? A technology that could be fully fielded 20 (or even 10) years from that point would be worthless, as economic issues would inhibit the shift to a completely new infrastructure. So I would suggest that one doesn't allow the allure of some unfielded technology to blind them to the reality of risk and a massive infrastructure shift.

At Thursday, July 27, 2006 at 12:54:00 PM PDT, Blogger skye said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Thursday, July 27, 2006 at 10:24:00 PM PDT, Blogger Mel. Hauser said...

Let's go on a roadtrip, Freak. I've always wanted to visit Australia.

We can go forth and enjoy the vistas and pretend like the world hasn't gone FUCKING CRAZY, take advantage of the planet in its current state and maybe form a mariachi group.

Translation: I'm sick as a goddamned mutt of all this shit, and am going to return to my meager existence, enjoying every cigarette and sunrise like the apocalypse isn't nigh. Been real!

At Friday, July 28, 2006 at 3:45:00 AM PDT, Blogger Freak said...

Cheers to that Mel.

I would be really suprised if anyone, from the Big Peak oil, sites or the debunked sites will ever be remembered for how effective they were at overcoming the technological hurdles to alternative, nor will anyone here nor there be remembered for how they told us so either. We all know there is a much more demented chess game going on in the world that meets the eye, and it's all about maximizing profit and sustainablility of profit. all of is are pawns and it has very little today with some hump on a line graph in the real world.


At Friday, July 28, 2006 at 3:47:00 AM PDT, Blogger Freak said...

It is impossible to think about Peak Oil while watching Clerks 2.

At Friday, July 28, 2006 at 11:16:00 AM PDT, Blogger Dr. Steel said...

I gotta agree with JD on this one. Progress is slowing? By whose measure? Any of you guys work in molecular biology, molecular genetics, genomics, proteonomics? Anybody keeping up with that?

The *explosion* of knowledge and research that's occured in the fields associated with molecular biology should count a little towards technological innovation, at least in my opinion, but maybe some folks want more nuts and bolts stuff that applies to peak oil. At least, they'd like to before they buy some more ammo in preparation for the "end times".

Well, for a few, how about:

1.) Windpower will add over 3000 megawatts of new capacity to the grid in 2006 alone:

2.) Improved lithium ion battery technoglogy improving, brings all electric vehicles closer to reality:

3.) Nanotechnology may bring about a new generation of super-capacitors:

4.)Solar Concentrator technologies improving:

read the first comment from Jim as well as the above article.

I dunno, maybe none of this counts as progress to some folks, but I don't see why not.

Since this is a "Peak Oil related" blog, I'll point out something I've said before about Peak Oil Doomsday scenarios, long before the end of the world comes, we'll see a significant drop in oil consumption because of painful prices at the gas pump.

1.) Some facts:

a.) The US consumes *about* 25% of the yearly global oil production.
b.) The US transportation sector consumes *about* 60% of the oil consumed by the US.
c.) The average fuel economy of the US automotive fleet is less than 25 mpg.
d.) Trucks like the Ford F-150 and SUV's became very popular until just a couple of years ago and thus many folks commute, *by themselves*, around 10 miles one way, to work each day. This represents at least half the miles that they drive in a year, in many cases. Trucks and SUVs are often doing good to get 18-20 mgp at best.
e.) Oil reached it's lowest adjusted-for-inflation price *in history* just about 5-6 years ago. It's gone up steeply in price starting at the run-up to the Iraqi war and now gas is $3.00 per gallon in many places.

2.) What does all of this have to do with the price of tea in China?
Well, nothing, but what it all does mean is that until recently it was very convenent to drive a huge SUV or a big truck 7,500 miles a year and just carry yourself around. That's changed due to $3 per gallon gas, and it will change a lot more as gas gets even higher. What effect will that have?
a.) Sumyung Bubba will drive his F150 less, because paying for the gas is starting to eat him alive.
b.) When it comes time to get a new vehicle, Sumyung Bubba may rethink the big SUV and consider a car that gets significantly better mpg.
c.) Someone besides Sumyung Bubba who doesn't identify his penis quite so much with the size of his truck might become interested in buying a 2006 Honda Civic hybrid, which gets almost 50 mpg.
d.) Before Western civilization collapses due to Peak Oil (probably before gas is even $4 a gallon at the pump), you'll start seeing more Sumyung Bubba's, Jacks, Joes, and Kevins consider an amazingly high-tech solution to reducing their gas consumption: car-pooling. Sure, car pooling is inconvienent, but then so is $4 per gallon gas. Heck, for me, *current* gas prices are inconvienent already.

e.) When gas gets higher, but well before we should all start hording ammo for the "End Times", you might even see 3 guys named Joe, Jack and Kevin fit their butts into Joe's new Honda Civic hybrid and carpool to work, thus reducing their individual gas consumption from the equivalent of 20 mpg in their SUV's, to the equivalent of 150 mpg (3 guys in a car that gets about 50 mgp).

Bottom line? Long before I expect that Mad Max's cousins will be at my door to steal the gas I've horded out back, I expect to see enough folks carpooling and buying things like the Honda Civic hybrid for their commutes to see a significant drop in US oil consumption. Which given how much oil we use, will actually be a drop in global oil consumption.

Meanwhile, $3+ gas prices will be spurring a *lot* of technological innovation.

At Saturday, July 29, 2006 at 9:39:00 PM PDT, Blogger DrChaos said...

There is a profound difference between the rate of progress in different fields.

The critical reason is the laws of physics.

Even back in 1960 or so, scientists---in particular Richard Feynman---recognized that there were many orders of magnitude available for the exploitation of micro-engineering at the atomic level. See "There's alot of room down there".

This is why microelectronic capability exploded since then: there was so much virgin territory, unobstructed by the laws of physics and only obstructed by human knowledge.

The situation is reversed with Peak Oil, and the problems surrounding it.

Here, we are limited profoundly by fundamental thermodynamic laws and unchangable geophysical reality.

We have discovered no new energy technology since 1939.

We have successfully and radically exceeded all the communication, control, computation technology necessary for space flight.

The reason why we haven't gone back to the moon 35 years later is because there is one more limiting factor: energy. And the energy computations and fuels of 1960 are identical to the ones now. There is no progress, because orders of magnitude progress is incompatible with the laws of physics.

Microelectronics and other nanoscale progress has a bright future until it reaches its own physical limits, i.e. the problems of quantum mechanics.

But Peak Oil, and energy technology in general, has little room left. We have discovered all the elements, and most of the chemical reactions possible relevant to energy use and processing.

If an advanced ET alien came down to Earth armed with only the periodic table and was told to design a maximally useful fuel compatible with practicality and conditions on Earth and human existence he would come up with gasoline. Hydrocarbon bonds, and transportable liquid fuel for an oxygenated atmosphere is as good as it gets. Only nuclear has a higher energy density and that is obviously far too dangerous and impractical for most transportation needs.

This isn't a question of being a psychological optimist or pessimist, and historical analogies are generally ineffective.

At a fundamental things are different this time since we have discovered all elements and all forces of nature relevant to the physical scale of human life. And we have thoroughly explored the planet with modern geophysical instrumentation.

At Saturday, July 29, 2006 at 9:43:00 PM PDT, Blogger DrChaos said...

Bottom line? Long before I expect that Mad Max's cousins will be at my door to steal the gas I've horded out back, I expect to see enough folks carpooling and buying things like the Honda Civic hybrid for their commutes to see a significant drop in US oil consumption. Which given how much oil we use, will actually be a drop in global oil consumption.

I agree, that will happen. And yet, Peak Oil will continue to bite, more and more and more.

Even with conservation, Civics all around, we will still be in for huge hurt, because the global decline is relentness.

If gasoline is $3 or $6 then a Civic and carpooling will work. If it's $60, which will happen, there will be a problem.

What happens when the cost of going to work is literally more expensive than whatever value that worker's labor has to society?

Many people will be useless surplus and they will not be happy, and they will be armed.

At Saturday, July 29, 2006 at 9:57:00 PM PDT, Blogger DrChaos said...

It was really a time to despair - even little things like pollution, Freeman Dyson: England was filthy then compared to what it is now. I remember in London if you put on a clean shirt in the morning it was black by the evening around the collar and the cuffs. The air was filthy, the water was filthy, the Thames was so polluted that nothing could live in it - well, it's all been improved very greatly. It took just fifty years of careful attention to detail - those pollution problems are curable.

The reason England improved so much was a conversion from a dirty coal-based economy (effects vividly remembered by Dyson) to a cleaner oil-based one, and rapid economic progress made possible by ever larger use of cheap petroleum.

Such general economic progress allowed surplus wealth to be devoted to far out long-term things like theoretical physics. (I'm one too).

I'm not a total pessimist, as there is a potential window of hope, still compatible with laws of physics: massive expansion of nuclear power and electrification of transportation.

The downside is that this will happen globally and inevitably this will lead to many more irresponsible nations having nuclear weapons.

At Saturday, July 29, 2006 at 9:59:00 PM PDT, Blogger Freak said...

DrChaos, you show the classical self-reenforcing circular reasoning of most peak oilers.

Don't you think it is presumptuous to call gasoline the perfect fuel?

Do you think some overnight force would push gas from $3 to $60 per gallon overnight? Thats more than a market car bare. anything other than gasoline makes sense at $60 per gallon.

You hold up oil, as if it is some kind of manna. It is filthy, mostly wasted, politically and enviromentally destructive. And absolutely not neccessary.

At Monday, July 31, 2006 at 12:41:00 PM PDT, Blogger DC said...

Dr. Steel, I dig your synopsis. Solid. I would also count advances in Logistics as applying to the Peak Oil "battle." For example, here in Boston (and some other cities in the US) there exists ZipCar, a timeshare of sorts. You log onto your computer (probably your handheld in the near future) book a time slot to use the nearest car and voila: instant transportation. The key concept to take away from their business model is that of the car being a timeshare. Note that people rent timeshares for condos (vacation and work) as well as GA aircraft. Why? In order to get past the financial hurdle of ownership...really, to optimize their return (e.g. utility/cost).

Note the common theme: a fixed stock of resources (domociles, aircraft) that are shared among a pool of users. Why can't this theme be extended into the domain of automobiles? It already is in the ZipCar concept, but you can take it a step further: a fixed pool of vehicles for a given locale that a pool of users can use interchangeably and on a per-usage basis. That's where logistics come into play. What is the necessary/optimal fleet size? What is the optimal geographic distribution of the fleet? How can you make the network robust? The tools to solve these problems have already been developed in the field of air transportation and can be applied to this case.

The biggest obstacle here is a paragigm shift in the car culture away from the identification and expression of self via the auto to a more pragmatic, utilitarian view. I find the likelihood of this shift to be much greater than the Mad Max scenario that the doomers espouse.

At Monday, July 31, 2006 at 2:17:00 PM PDT, Blogger Freak said...

They, don't want solutions.
i found a 900 watt electric scooter at a thrift store for $10 this week. It has a 36v 17AH system, has a 22mph top speed, and a 28 mile range on a four hour charge, after repairing a minor problem it works fine. My intention was to ride it to and from work 7 miles away. So, after several frusterating calls to the DMV, a web search and a conversation with a police officer neighbor, I have discovered there is no legal way I can operate it on a public street and no way to register it as a vehicle. So, go on finding solutions, there are thousands of them, and They know that, We are not allowed to have them. Local ordinances consider solar heating, and gardening an illegal eyesore. emmisions regulations rule out DIY BioFuels. So here you go, $3 per gallon, take it or walk.

At Monday, July 31, 2006 at 2:30:00 PM PDT, Blogger Dr. Steel said...

Freak ---

Local ordinances considering gardening an illegal eyesore? Just where do you live, anyway?

At Monday, July 31, 2006 at 8:32:00 PM PDT, Blogger Freak said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Monday, July 31, 2006 at 8:34:00 PM PDT, Blogger Freak said...

I'd rather not say, but the heat Index was 108 today. I think it was 97 degrees

At Tuesday, August 1, 2006 at 2:18:00 PM PDT, Blogger Dr. Steel said...

Heh, Freak it sounds like you live where I live...except that they have no problems with keeping a garden in the back yard.

As a side note to Dr. Chaos (sounds like a supervillian name :-) ), I agree that Peak Oil will happen at some point. I disagree that it will relentlessly move us towards a place where it's too expensive to get to work. Long before that happens, conservation will kick in and again, the American economy will generate more GDP per barrel of oil than it used to. Before things get to the point that we have angry unemployed workers...who are armed, plug-in electric hybrids will be quite practical. Lithium-ion battery technology is already improving drastically, see this article in Technology Review:

The electricity for this may start coming significantly from Solar:

And these are just 2 companies. There might be freaking solar panels installed on buildings in lots of sunny hot places (like where me and apparently Freak live :-) ). That's not even mentioning Solar Power Tower technology which was successfully proven by Solar Two out in Barstow California and uses a molten nitrate salt to thermally store power (at 99% efficiency) so that it can deliver power to the grid long after the sun has set.

Again, my point is that before we should all move in with hordingammo, conservation will further slow "the slow emergency" and if people with good sense and good ideas get moving, then these problems can be solved.

Of course, it would help if we could vote some folks with good sense into office.

At Wednesday, August 2, 2006 at 7:17:00 AM PDT, Blogger Jev said...

Been away for some time. Thanks, Sendak, for your admission of unworthy behaviour and your apologies.

On to the cheese: If I understand the above posts correctly, then what the non-peakoilers (or cornucopians or whatever you want to call them) are in fact saying is that the current course of world events will somehow morph in a natural, orderly way towards a course where cheap energy in general becomes less and less important to the economy and to humanity.

Furthermore: the assumption is that this will be a 'Good Thing', whereby people will be happy and prosperous. That also means implicitly that the current focus on petroleum will dissappear from the international agenda of major powers and relative peace will subsequently return again to the Middle East compared to the current chaotic condition.

Now I'm sorry but this is just total garbage and I think these cornucopian dreams are utter nonsense. Where do they get this crap from? Sesamestreet? In the real world people are killing each other *already* over diminishing oil supplies and all some people here are doing is yapping foolishly about crap technologies that have nothing to do with cheap energy!

The day I believe that alternative energies and conservation etc. are going to solve the world's deepening energy crisis is the day that the US withdraws it's forces from the Middle East, for starters!

Until that time it's going to be increasingly blood for oil as usual, whether Freak is riding his electric battery trolley or not!

At Wednesday, August 2, 2006 at 12:20:00 PM PDT, Blogger Dr. Steel said...

At Wednesday, August 2, 2006 at 1:28:00 PM PDT, Blogger Dr. Steel said...


The above link I posted in the previous message is just one example of how technology may completely change the Peak Oil Paradigm.

One problem that the above doesn't face is the effect of adding yet more carbon dioxide into the environment.

I'm not sure which "non-Peak-Oilers" you're referring to, I can only speak for myself. I have never stated that cheap energy in general will become less and less important to humanity. Indeed, I gave several links to technologies that may help provide cheap energy in the future. Cheap energy that also comes with lower environmental costs than burning oil and coal does now.

"That also means implicitly that the current focus on petroleum will dissappear from the international agenda of major powers and relative peace will subsequently return again to the Middle East compared to the current chaotic condition."

Peace in the Middle East would be unlikely even if Sumyung Scientist built a "Mr. Fusion Home Reactor" tomorrow. Sunnis vs Shites vs. Khurds, everyone vs. Israel...none of that would have changed. The continuing tide of fundamental Islam that rises in that region will continue.

"In the real world people are killing each other *already* over diminishing oil supplies and all some people here are doing is yapping foolishly about crap technologies that have nothing to do with cheap energy!"

You seem to mistake religious wars for wars over oil. Or wars to settle old scores. Israel and Hezbollah are not fighting it out right now over oil, but their conflict is causing speculators to bid up oil futures. The US is not in Iraq right now in order to grab it's oil reserves, or at least if we are we aren't doing a very good job of it since oil production in Iraq is now below what it was before Saddam was ousted. You can make a better argument that Dubya wanted us in there in order to settle an old score. It *can* be argued that we spend a lot of money to keep military forces in an unstable part of the world because the oil is strategic to our allies, but that's not what Iraq was about. That's what having multiple aircraft carrier task-forces patrolling around and having bases in the region is about.

The Middle East is a mess for historical reasons that go back to the end of the Ottoman Empire and much earlier than that. It's an unstable part of the world, and by continuing to send part of our trade deficit over there to pay for imported oil, we just pump more money into it, making it just that much more unstable. It's in the interest of American National Security to develop every technology that will allow us to stop partially funding Jihadists.

So how do we go about slowing the flow of money from SUV driving Americans to Jihadists? One of the first and easy things we *could* do is to engage in some simple conservation measures. You can get from 10 to 30 % better gas mileage by just not driving like an asshole. I see plenty of idiots on the road who race me to the red light. They used to call it "rabbit starts and stops" and it really does make a difference in how much gas you use a year. Then there's that whole carpooling thing I mentioned and the idea that maybe folks shouldn't use F-150s to drive just themselves 30 miles back and forth to the office each day, with a lot of that spent stopped in a huge line of traffic (not good on the mpg). It's a fact that US oil consumption rose steadily to a peak in 1978 of 18.438 million barrels per day. By 1983 that had dropped to a low of 15.235 and that 1978 peak was not again surpassed until 1997, when 18.621 million bbl/day was reached. Motor fuel consumption in 1978 reached a peak of about 7.3 million bbl/day and by 1980 had dropped to about 6.5 million bbl/day. That's an 11% drop in just 2 years, and it wasn't due to Dr. Science's magic car thingy being attached to all vehicles or sudden turnover in the vehicle fleet, it was due to conservation. That's how big a difference in conservation can make in just a couple of years.

Efficiency improvements can accomplish a lot in short period of time, that's why they're the FIRST thing to focus on, but no they don't solve the problem, they just buy more time. More time for some of the promising new technological solutions out there to address the question of what will be our next sources of cheap energy. If Peak Oil is the "Long Emergency", then anything that slows down that already slow emergency buys us more time to solve the underlying problem.

In 2000, solar photovoltaic installations were at 750 megawatts, total. By 2003 they were at 1,750 Mwatts total and by 2004 they grew to almost 2.6 gigawatts. That rate of expansion is pretty damn fast for an industry that's limited by the high price of silicon and that doesn't count the new players with nano-tech based solutions who will be hitting the market very soon.

As for the things I've posted being crap technology, I guess we'll have to see in a couple of years how Sterling Energy Systems, Altairnano, Nanosolar and a host of other companies carry through on their attempts.

"The day I believe that alternative energies and conservation etc. are going to solve the world's deepening energy crisis is the day that the US withdraws it's forces from the Middle East, for starters!"

Improvments in efficiency (which also tends to conserve energy) have driven economic growth for a long time. That long dip in oil consumption by the US (and the Japanese and the Europeans) led to the price of a barrel of oil reaching historic lows by 1999 or so.

As to the US withdrawing it's forces from the Middle East, that won't happen so long as there's an Israeli-Arab conflict. And THAT may NEVER change.

At Wednesday, August 2, 2006 at 3:12:00 PM PDT, Blogger Chris Sendak said...

steel, jev routinely dips into "sea of fire" whackoff fantasies amidst whatever point hes trying to make. i dont know if the basis is religious fever or just subscription to someone elses megiddo newsletter, but i dont think its worth your while to try and rationalize this crap.

good post for those of us who arent reading the gospel of jack t. chick tho. nice to have another stable mind in this pig pen.

At Thursday, August 3, 2006 at 3:51:00 AM PDT, Blogger thalion said...

I read the Technology Review article, and I'm not impressed.

"To a certain extent, getting more oil out of existing fields is a question of economics. Oil, which resides underground in porous rock, can be forced out by injecting water, steam, or carbon dioxide, but these methods bring added costs that limit their use. If oil prices stay consistently high, these methods will be employed more than they are now,"

The article talks about cost, but makes no mention of EROEI. And why again does he assume that as the prise of oil goes up the cost of the new methods should remain a constant? Maybe he should visit Shell's Athabasca Oil Sands Project where costs have exploded from 7.3 to 11 billion dollars.

The article correctly mentions that currently only about a third of OIP is recoverable*. Then he goes on to say that could be increased to two thirds. Sounds good, but how do we do that.

"Improved imaging can help oil companies find and tap areas in an oil field that have become surrounded by water, and so cut off from oil wells, he says. It can also improve the effectiveness of existing methods such as using water or steam to extract oil."

Sorry to tell you this, but that's excatly what they have been doing in the lover 48 the last 30 years. It hasn't reversed the trend, and I personally doubt there is much room left for improvement.

"While his technology is not yet ready for full-scale deployment, in addition to allowing placement of more sensors, it could potentially allow energy oil companies to drill holes much deeper for economically recovering oil."

Nice, but if oil companies start to drill "much deeper" that they do now, they will get below the oi window. I doubt they will ever want to do that no matter how high the price goes.

"Future innovative technologies could include new methods for breaking the adhesion forces that trap oil inside tiny pores in rock. These include technologies for focusing acoustic and electromechanical energy to disrupt the surface forces between oil and rock; new chemicals and even microbes could also help. The microbes would work in part by digesting the long hydrocarbons of thick oil into shorter, lighter ones that flow more readily."

Sounds to me like he's suggesting setting off nuclear bombs inside the oil fields. As for the bacteria idea, I think if it was possible for bacteria to eat our oil reserves, they would have been devoured millions of years ago.

*This is why doomers laugh at the official OPEC numbers, since everytime they increase their URR they would have had to have discovered three times that amount of new oil, but surprise, surprise they are still pumping from the same wells as they were forty years ago.

At Friday, August 4, 2006 at 9:37:00 AM PDT, Blogger Jev said...

Thanks for the thoughfull post there steel. It beats Sendak's spite any day. I'll do you the same honour.

"One problem that the above doesn't face is the effect of adding yet more carbon dioxide into the environment."

I personally don't have a problem with global warming. Since global warming is a global problem (duh), I don't expect it can be solved or mitigated. It all has to do with enforcement. Since it's impossible to force countries to stop using coal, it will be impossible to prevent global warming, so global warming is a given and will run it's course, nomatter what we rich westerners think about that. If coal is needed to increase the income of 50% of the world population from 1$ to 2$ per day, than coal is what it's going to be! 2,4,10 times what we burn today. Period! For misguided Westerners to make unilateral national policy to seriously mitigate their part in causing global warming is simply committing economic suicide v.s. the rest of the coal burning world. It also does nothing for the the planet. Therefore, we talk about global warming to ease our pitifull consciences, but we will never really do anything about it, obviously.

"Cheap energy that also comes with lower environmental costs than burning oil and coal does now."

I'd love to see that happening, but I don't believe it. I'm involved with two projects currently, one concerning geothermal heat generation and one concerning concentrating solar power. Both these technologies are my personal best bets for successfull alternative energy sources of the future. And both need at least 5 more years before they become truly competitive without subsidy. No, energy will never be as cheap as oil, and certainly not as coal. We have to accept that, so that we will gather the courage to invest the needed trillions of dollars in things like geothermal and CSP! Please don't tell me that your still waiting for something better than oil because you'll be waiting indefinately and dragging the rest of us down with you.

"Peace in the Middle East would be unlikely even if Sumyung Scientist built a "Mr. Fusion Home Reactor" tomorrow. Sunnis vs Shites vs. Khurds, everyone vs. Israel...none of that would have changed. The continuing tide of fundamental Islam that rises in that region will continue.


It's in the interest of American National Security to develop every technology that will allow us to stop partially funding Jihadists."

That's the popular take: blame it on religious fundamentalism or throw your hands into the air and say the region is somehow 'unstable by nature'. I don't buy that. All wars have economic causes, but uniting an army and getting people to sacrifice their life freely requires religion (or nationalism for that matter). That doesn't make it a religious war. I't's still all about economy at the base.

And regions are unstable only because greater powers *cause* them to be unstable. Remember the Iran-contra scandal? We Europeans do. That's because we understand why and how the Middle East is *purposefully kept* unstable by the US, although the US population is made te believe the region is 'unstable by nature' or something likewise absurd. We in Europe learn about the US meddling in the ME in high-school! Read-up on the geopolitical imperatives of the US in the ME after WWII, and you'll find countless documents and transcripts *clearly stating* that it's *necessary* to maintain chaos and a low standard of living in many certain parts of the world (including the ME, but also india, africa, far east etc, Russia) in order to secure prosperity for the US. But some people just don't want to know that, do they? Well, now the threads of these decade-spanning plans are unraveling and the chickens are coming home to roost!

"That's how big a difference in conservation can make in just a couple of years."

I have a different version of that particular reduction in demand. I call it 'demand destruction'. Aparently, 11% of oil use in the US during that period wasn't worth the gas, which is why is was destroyed. Though you are right: there is probably today again a large buffer in the system of oil demand that can be destroyed relatively painlessly.

"Efficiency improvements can accomplish a lot in short period of time, that's why they're the FIRST thing to focus on, but no they don't solve the problem, they just buy more time. More time for some of the promising new technological solutions out there to address the question of what will be our next sources of cheap energy. If Peak Oil is the "Long Emergency", then anything that slows down that already slow emergency buys us more time to solve the underlying problem."

Even though I work full-time in technology I don't agree with you. Technology is *NOT* going to help us solve this! What we need is a culture change. Currently, humans demand anything that is precious and rare, because that is the only was to distinguish one and get the best possible mate. Automatically, this causes humans to always wanting to 'one-up' the consumption rate of his neighbour. "You have 2 cars? Well I have 3!" etc. THAT is the underlying problem. That can only be solved if we embrace spiritual values of yesteryear. But this is unlikely to happen. Instead, we will continue on the path of materialism, which will require more and more energy. There are two forces working here: supply and demand. Since we cannot increase the rate of supply much more, and we also cannot reduce demand without changing our culture, energy prices will skyrocket and it will pay for us to destory each other and the planet. Simple as that. Of course, we will first destroy the have-nots in the underdeveloped countries. That will get us through half this century I should think. Then only after that we will start battling each other, westerners agains westerners, leading to nuclear war at worst.

"In 2000, solar photovoltaic installations were at 750 megawatts, total. By 2003 they were at 1,750 Mwatts total and by 2004 they grew to almost 2.6 gigawatts. That rate of expansion is pretty damn fast for an industry that's limited by the high price of silicon and that doesn't count the new players with nano-tech based solutions who will be hitting the market very soon.

As for the things I've posted being crap technology, I guess we'll have to see in a couple of years how Sterling Energy Systems, Altairnano, Nanosolar and a host of other companies carry through on their attempts."

These are not new technologies. They're decades old. Also, they're not economical for the masses, being heavily subsidised or currently only suited for specific applications such as remote areas. The numbers appear impressive on the face of it, but it's all low hanging fruit that's heavily subsidised. The world is by no means on course to realising a sustainable energy infrastructure any time soon. Trillions are needed, compared to the currently invested billions. Renewable energy will certainly grow tremendously, but not nearly so tremendously as needed. We need to pass peak oil first for that to happen (to gain the public support for the horrendous costs involved), and of course then we will be in poor shape to do it economically, what with the grand depression and all occuring during that time.

"Improvments in efficiency (which also tends to conserve energy) have driven economic growth for a long time. That long dip in oil consumption by the US (and the Japanese and the Europeans) led to the price of a barrel of oil reaching historic lows by 1999 or so."

Now here is another thing I strongly dissagree with. The oil price dip after 1985 was by no means a result of conservation! Absolutely not! It was a Cold-war US-saudi conspiracy to push prices as low as they could go in order to bankrupt the Rooskis. The Saudi's almost doubled their exports causing the oil price to crash, nearly destroying the world oil industry and hastening the financial collapse of the Reds.

"As to the US withdrawing it's forces from the Middle East, that won't happen so long as there's an Israeli-Arab conflict. And THAT may NEVER change."

The US will *see to it* that that will never change! Hell, they're the ones keeping the awfull Saud family in power after all, which is causing probably 90% of all the unrest in the ME right there! Is this so difficult to understand? The ME is a hornets nest *because we need it to be*. Why do we need it to be? Because we would rather it be chaotic rabble killing each other than an organised democracy consuming like hell (like us!) and able to negotiate a better deal for itself! Devide and conquer is the defining principle behind every succesfull geopolitical play in history. That has not changed and it never will. For further understanding, have a close look at the lines drawn in the sand in the ME, the indian peninsula, most of africa and even the far east. Those lines were drawn with the *soul purpose* of *preventing* peace, order and unity from ever materialising in those hellholes.

The eternal imperative of the US and other developed nations is to *prevent* the rest of humanity from achieving the same standard of living we enjoy. Why? That should be obvious, after all: The US consumes 25% of the world's resources and has 5% of the worlds population. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to see why the rest of the world *must* be kept in the dark, now do you?

You can wait for Sendak to crack down on me again pretty soon with his tinybrained comments about being 'stable' and what have you. If being 'stable' means being an intellectual can of dogfood like Sendak then I don't mind being as unstable as I can possibly be!

At Friday, August 4, 2006 at 2:08:00 PM PDT, Blogger Freak said...

I don't think the elements you refer to are unique to the US. Where does most of the Oil from the "ME" go anyway? Europe, right?
You generalize Americans as if they individually all conspire to create this situation. Do you honestly think that these conspiracy you invoke are limited to have-nots outside the US?
The partys resposible for perpetuating
these victimizations are not the entire monolithic US, these activities are accomplished by small ultra-wealthy, ultra-powerful global interests. Americans don't choose ignorance, we are force fed to become so.
Follow the money Jev, of course alternatives are not viable, and of course, culture can't change, and of course supply can't increase, A good crack dealer doesn't care about the welfare of the junkie as long as they keep buying product. Take your head out of your ass, have you never noticed the success of grassroots projects, in comparison to corporate
or government sponsered ones? nobody is lobbying the shade-tree inventor, and he doesn't purchase large sections of an industry because that technology threatens his entrecnched
propreitary product.

At Friday, August 4, 2006 at 4:32:00 PM PDT, Blogger Chris Sendak said...

Good lord what an unprovoked assault. you go to all that trouble to provide a fairly decent and intelligent post and then go off on a tangent utilising the same name calling nonsense that you were trying to chagrin me for just a few posts before.

so much for decorum. stick to ruining your limited credibility with your fuckbrained doomsday scenarios and dieoff rhetoric about 90% of the "dumb population" dying off while you and your brood of effetist scumbags in training toast to the future in your love cave. it makes more sense than asking for clemency and then sucker punching someone.

At Saturday, August 5, 2006 at 4:20:00 AM PDT, Blogger Jev said...

Don't make me laugh Sendak. You must be some kind of nutcase! "dumb population"? "love cave"? What/who the hell are you dribbling on about this time?

I suggest you back off for a while, take a deep breath and spend some time reading and learning. You're in way over your head, contributing nothing but lies, false accusations and infantile argumentation. No use to anyone, least of all your miserable self, I'll wager.

At Saturday, August 5, 2006 at 8:53:00 PM PDT, Blogger Chris Sendak said...

Sheesh. again with the bilious nonsense. if youve run out of pants to sniff and apocalypto theories to prattle on about then bow out gracefully. follow ha's lead and set up your trash pulpit elsewhere. for a guy who purports to take the high road you sure stink like a load of shit at the moment.

your reinvention as a sensible man of science is somewhat dubious following the sheer amount of garbage and doomwhoring youve perpetrated around here. or have we forgotten the "sea of fire" prophecies and "i believe in my right to overpopulate the world" rhetoric already?

forget it. a kinder and gentler approach doesnt deter from you being a hypocritical buttlick. go tend to your children and try to set some kind of example as a man rather than floundering for the last word here. as tough as that may be.

At Saturday, August 5, 2006 at 11:34:00 PM PDT, Blogger Freak said...

nobody cared until gas was $2 per gallon, and at $3 we're all ready to kill each other, talk is cheap, This die-off is a little disappointing.
I was promised $20 per gallon and bread lines, and zombies, and klingons, and seppuku, and nuclear euthenasia.

At Sunday, August 6, 2006 at 6:37:00 AM PDT, Blogger Jev said...

Just wait a few more years. 20$ gas will come soon enough, if only because of US bankrupty, which is pretty much unavoidable at this point.

Come 2010, with hyperinflation eating up everything not tied to real assets you'll agree that it actually DID all crumble rather more quickly than we could have imagined, though doubtlessly there will always be people like Sendak who'll try to convince you he either knew all the time, or that what we're witnessing is not massive demand destruction due to peak oil, but some sort of perfectly normal cyclical correction.

Never mind the millions who'll be starving worldwide during the die-off which is likely to get going after that financial meltdown.

People like Sendak will shrug their shoulders at having been totally wrong about the seriousness of the situation all the time. They'll just say: "well if we had done it *my way* then peak oil would not have been a problem", and shuffle off to their next con.

At Sunday, August 6, 2006 at 7:08:00 PM PDT, Blogger Freak said...

ok, Moses.

At Monday, August 7, 2006 at 2:36:00 AM PDT, Blogger Freak said...

and Jev, millions are starving worldwide now.....and they were at $12/barrel.

SO..... I logically conclude that oil is a complete failure. It was never up to the task which we required of it.

I don't understand the PO-pessimist.
If things are so terrible, if humanity is facing such tribulations; of what conscience are you to sit as if you live somewhere other than Earth in judgement, and destroying any hope? You lack any empathy, compassion, ingenuity, creativity. You will not help if it comes to any of these scenarios? You would kill your neighbors over firewood, or food?

you people throw around die-off so casually like it is normal. Like humans can not adapt or change any better than a chicken, or racoon. and you say it as if it doesn't matter, you make me nauseaus with your borderline psychopathic perspective on humanity. I think your immediate concern should in all sincerity be seeking counseling, because it seems like you are holdin out for lawlessness to justify a murder-suicide, and that is much more near term for you than peak-oil.

At Monday, August 7, 2006 at 10:52:00 AM PDT, Blogger Chris Sendak said...

Now thats more like it. I was wondering when you would get tired of being sensible and revert to your "burning bush" bullshit jev. thank you for coming through.

and im sorry, but "people like me"? would that refer to folks like myself who buy local, use the bus religiously and bike everywhere else and maintain a monthly electric bill of less than twenty dollars? who own two pairs of shoes, no television and who have done time in the peace corps being faced down with the realities of SERIOUS poverty and those who suffer from it? people who are aware of the problems facing humanity and who are actually employing action rather than farting on endlessly about the second coming and how pointless everything is?

project much? or are you and your three kids and two wives or whatever getting about town on a bicycle made for three? noble effort at pigeonholing what your elitist scumbag mentality defines as "them" in relation to your supposedly enlightened self but comes up WAY short.

freak is right. you lack even basic human qualities with your weird robot schizoid wisdoms and it makes me feel very sorry for your children. great example to set for the next generation.

"kids, daddy doesnt want to scare you but.....god is coming to smite the unrighteous tomorrow because prudhoe bay has gone offline. life is worthless and you will never see adulthood in the coming apocalypse. whos up for ice cream?"

so sad.

At Tuesday, August 8, 2006 at 10:58:00 PM PDT, Blogger Freak said...

I was making the observation the all Peak Oil doomsayers project that same antiseptic psychopathic attitude towards oblivion, it is very disconcerting, whether or not their perspective has merit or not, I am disturbed by the bloodlust, and ego-mania. I won't make a meaningless comparison here with Y2K and Coal and so forth, but if we use telephones or computers as an example, we may have or we may be able to project a level or metric for technological progression over a certain period of human progress but we are far from accurate on predicting the application of them. In 1990 would anyone have predicted SUV's in every driveway, or that networked computers would have been utilized in the way we have. We predicted Videophones and we got cell phones with the camera on the wrong side, go figure....
I have a problem with the close-ended unredeemable prophecies, and I have a really big problem trusting the perspective or people who do not emote, empathize while to coldly predict the death of billions.

Hell, I'm doing my part learning to read braille for when the lights go off. :)

At Wednesday, August 9, 2006 at 10:55:00 AM PDT, Blogger Jev said...

If you have no hope then you aren't human, you might say. So just for the record: I do have hope that the outlook for the world will improve, only thing is that I have no clue whatsoever of *how* it might do so. Nothing at all. One thing is certain: huge changes are required and such changes often don't go unnoticed, unfortunately. So even if the long term outcome is positive it won't be a picnic. We can all agree on this I think.

However, I get frustrated and irritated when I read people's stories about hope based on the flimsiest of possibilities, such as nuclear fusion or some other techno-fix that's not currently available. Perhaps it is a form of jealousy, because it must be wonderfull to not be aware of the seriousness of the energy problem.

Sendak, I don't know why you keep coming back to my family of which you know nothing. Perhaps you want a family of your own? If you do, I'd be curious as to how you would explain to them your position concerning peak oil when such is required form you. Imagine you have a son who learns about peak oil and asks you for your opinion about it. Would you be honest and say it's a serious problem and if pressed about it: even a life and death serious problem. Or would you say that he'd best forget about it?

Perhaps you'd try to convince him to adopt a form of 'faith-that-it-will-be-alright' such as most parents will be inclined to try when probed about serious problems for as long as possible? This also seems a very American way to approach the problem: by keeping it all happy and shallow.

You try to convince us that you know everything about human nature and life etc. so maybe you can say something interesting on this subject?

At Wednesday, August 9, 2006 at 6:08:00 PM PDT, Blogger Chris Sendak said...

"very american". which would be wonderful, if i were actually american and this kind of low rent bait and switch actually had a foothold. alas, i am not and have not been for quite some time. a swing and a miss, old paint.

and the problem is that reading a post like this muddles your stance. you actually sound sane in the opening paragraph, like someone who could be trusted for an objective discussion. this trend has been an amusing one on this board. closet fanatics like HA and byofuels offering an olive branch of wisdom before plummeting into ridiculous sky-on-fire fiction.

you have hope, jev? really? where does that factor into your comments in previous threads about "90% of the population dying off" and "my scenarios for the decline of humanity" and (my favorite) your "world will be burning" garbage from a few months back? i guess the question isnt so much if you have hope but why that hope is so horribly inconsistent. you hope for annihilation, you hope for a brighter tomorrow, you hope for a new world order, check back for the special of the day tomorrow.

bollocks. you share another trait with the other psychotic POD clowns who clog up the works around here: your posts often sound as though theyre being written by fifteen different people. just look at all the hats youve worn in this thread alone. doom donkey, mad scientist, conspiracy theorist, flame monkey, rational "man of science", quote-unquote optimism. all of them evaporating for whatever mood strikes you at any given time.

the funny thing about your question is that it answers itself. if i am, as you state "one of those people" who apparently promotes an "American" obliviousness for life in general and blind faith--and lets face it, you are simply indulging the old POD projection tool of making out your critics to be whatever suits your inferiority complex--then shouldnt i be off having a dozen children and telling them to consume, consume, consume and let someone else foot the bill?

and yet im not. i have no faith in the future of mankind and no plans to inflict it on a new generation. i love my plus-one of eight years and our lives together on a daily basis yet consider the longterm to be fucked. in one way or another. so i make a decision based on my convictions and SEE IT THROUGH.

this is the inverse opposite of someone like yourself who preaches as such yet practices nothing in the way of restraint or conviction. oh boohoo we're all doomed in a lake of fire, but while we're here let me keep populating the planet with my legion seed. i know things are "doomed" but just in case let's make sure i have a contingency plan. let life continue as normal while i rail on endlessly about the futility of it.

at least cretins like HA and his ilk see their mania through. they hoarde guns and canned corn and shun the world and its conventions. they are not normal--maybe even deranged--but make no effort to wear the clothes of your version of "them" while beating the drum of social elitism.

you owe it to the next generation to demonstrate dignity and wisdom in the face of trying times and yet.... what do we see here? a bunch of biblical noise and stupid fantasy. as a bedtime story meant to keep kids fearful of the closet and the darkness, your "ideas" have lots of merit. but i fail to see what hope youre supposedly selling to those who need it most.

At Thursday, August 10, 2006 at 2:40:00 PM PDT, Blogger Jev said...

Sendak, I see your point. I guess I've been very much mistaken in dumping my whims and petty frustrations on this board without thinking of the consequences. I've exagerated and confused matters at leisure for fun and laughs. I've been desensitised it seems. I didn't realise that using the internet should be done responsibly. Apologies at this point would be ridiculous. I hope that nothing bad has come of my actions.

Just one more thing: you mention wisdom. I've stopped my search for wisdom a long time ago. Wisdom is the abscence of ignorance and passion and that's impossible to achieve nowadays, unless you choose abject poverty. There is no wisdom except in old books. Now you know why I'm bitter and callous and shouldn't post anything at all, probably. Best to just be silent in the end it seems.

At Thursday, August 10, 2006 at 4:04:00 PM PDT, Blogger Dr. Steel said...

Jev, I'm personally sad that you're so gloomy about the energy future that you don't think that even your own good news will arrive in time:

"I'd love to see that happening, but I don't believe it. I'm involved with two projects currently, one concerning geothermal heat generation and one concerning concentrating solar power. Both these technologies are my personal best bets for successfull alternative energy sources of the future. And both need at least 5 more years before they become truly competitive without subsidy."

If concentrating solar power could become truly competitive *without subsidy* in about 5 years, I think that's very good news. Unlike you and Chris, I live in the U.S. You could take 9% of Arizona and cover it in 1980's tech SEGS style concentrating solar troughs and theoretically produce enough power right there to power the entire US. I've driven through Arizona, trust me 9% less tumbleweeds is no big loss, never mind the fact that it's not really practical.

What *might* be practical for dealing with a liquid fuel crisis, however, is to exchange the 18% "well-to-wheels" efficiency of the internal combustion engine for the much higher efficiency of the all electric vehicle.

This means first off, though, that you need batteries with much higher energy and power densities, as well as batteries that are safer than the "exploding laptop" problem people keep mentioning:

:Toshiba 1-Minute Recharge Lithium Ion Battery
New battery offers unsurpassed recharge performance and high energy density

TOKYO -- Toshiba Corporation today announced a breakthrough in lithium-ion batteries that makes long recharge times a thing of the past. The company's new battery can recharge 80% of a battery's energy capacity in only one minute, approximately 60 times faster than the typical lithium-ion batteries in wide use today, and combines this fast recharge time with performance-boosting improvements in energy density.

The new battery fuses Toshiba's latest advances in nano-material technology for the electric devices sector with cumulative know-how in manufacturing lithium-ion battery cells. A breakthrough technology applied to the negative electrode uses new nano-particles to prevent organic liquid electrolytes from reducing during battery recharging. The nano-particles quickly absorb and store vast amount of lithium ions, without causing any deterioration in the electrode.

A123Systems Li Ion Batteries
A123Systems is developing Lithium-Ion Battery technology that appears to be significantly better than their competitors in the Li-Ion battery market. Black and Decker is using A123 Li-Ion batteries in their latest set of rechargable power tools. Research is ongoing into other uses such as hybrid and electric vehicles.

High Power. A123Systems’ first product packs up to five times the power density (3000W/kg) of current rechargeable, high power batteries. In addition, the battery has the ability to recharge to 90% of its capacity in five minutes.

Intrinsic Safety. Unlike conventional Lithium-ion batteries, A123Systems' batteries employ new thermally stable, non-combustible active materials, enabling a safer cell and allowing cost reductions such as the elimination of unnecessary battery pack components. In addition, A123Systems uses an environmentally friendly chemistry.

Long Life. With up to 10X improvement in life over existing rechargeable batteries, A123Systems’ batteries can deliver thousands of cycles at high rates. Cycles refer to the number of times a battery can be charged and discharged before it no longer has any power remaining.

A123Systems Unveils Lithium-Ion Battery Technology that Delivers Unprecedented Levels of Power, Safety and Life (

That only covers two companies, but it give folks an idea.

Secondly, you need some companies willing to actually build EVs:

Altair Batteries to be used in EV--

Hybrid Technologies To Produce Lithium-Ion Powered Taxis --

Of course, we probably know about Tesla Motors, but it's going to be awhile before they're producing a sedan for those who don't have 100 grand to spend:

But these are little guys, what about bigger auto manufacturers? :

Subaru, utility team up on minicar with lithium batteries---

Well, you also need a way to charge up all these electric cars. There's charging them up overnight during the off-peak hours. But lets get back to one thing you mentioned, concentrating solar power. It would be nice if you could somehow *store* that power during peak solar output so that you can solve the problem "the sun don't always shine, the wind don't always blow":

and then there's the Solar Tres project in Spain: "Although the turbine will be only slightly larger than Solar Two’s, the larger heliostat field and thermal storage system will enable the plant to operate 24 hours a day during the summer and have an annual capacity factor of approximately 65%"

Since I'm back on the subject of concentrating solar power again, Jev, I'm curious as to what kind of concentrating solar power project that you're involved in?

P.S. I understand that many Peak Oil folks think that 5-10 years is too late for anything to stop or help vs. the Long Emergency. But Peak Oil has already had many prediction dates that have had to be pushed back. And as I've already stated, simple steps in conservation could quickly make a significant impact in demand reduction, or destruction, or whatever folks want to call it. Some of the steps can be as simple as going from *this* <2006 Ford F-150 SuperCab 133-in. WB STX Styleside. Gas Mileage: 15 mpg city / 19 mpg highway.> as your commuter vehicle to going to *this* <2006 Toyota Corolla - MPG (city) 32, MPG (highway) 41>. That can be easily followed by having 2 or even 3 guys all commute together to work in one of the best selling (already available) cars in the world.

Of course, that would require that folks do that ---

"GM's light vehicle sales, excluding medium-duty trucks, fell 22 percent to 406,298. Light truck sales declined 31 percent, and passenger car sales dropped 4.2 percent. Sales of the Chevrolet TrailBlazer, GM's best-selling sport-utility vehicle, plunged 52 percent."

"Toyota and Honda have benefited in July from models with better fuel mileage as gasoline remained above $3 a gallon through much of the U.S.

Honda's redesigned Civic posted a 2.1 percent gain in July and its Accord had a 5.3 percent increase. Sales of Toyota's Corolla rose 37 percent, and its Prius gasoline-electric hybrid was up 15 percent.

``The fuel issue is having some larger effect on sales,'' said David Hilton, senior manager in the Americas automotive consulting practice of Capgemini SA"

--- source: Toyota passes Ford in U.S. sales

By Jeff Green and Barbara Powell
Bloomberg News
Published August 1, 2006, 4:59 PM CDT

I'm sorry, but I honestly can't see civilization falling apart and gas getting to $60 a gallon before alternative solutions can be found. Gas is at only $2.82 per gallon where I live, and I'm seeing more hybrids on the road these days. Where do I live? Look at a map of the US. OK, you see the "bible belt"? OK, look at the buckle on that belt. I live pretty close to that. By the way, it's pretty dang hot and sunny right now where I live, so I think my state could do well using concentrating solar combined with some sort of power storage. And if Nanosolar will get those dang thin-film photovoltaics out so that I can have some installed on a house (when I *get* a house, that is), I'm looking forward to seriously cutting this air conditioning bill!

--- Dr. Steel

At Thursday, August 10, 2006 at 9:22:00 PM PDT, Blogger popmonkey said...

i just wanted to say:

1. enough of the flame wars already (although this one looks doused since jev has taken himself out)

2. i find it interesting how now, and in the past, men in or past middle age are the ones predicting doom of some sort. i think a lot of it is a projection of our own incoming oblivion (i've recently reached that delusional half-way point myself, delusional, because i hardly consider it halfway when you think about what life after 65 becomes for most folks)... is it maybe that humanity has reached its own middle age and has only aches and pains to look forward to before an unremarkable death? or just that people just plain tend to get gloomier as they grow older...

3. this is probably the funniest thing i've read all week:

" is worthless and you will never see adulthood in the coming apocalypse. whos up for ice cream?"

thanks sendak ;)

4. dr. doom, a really great post; really, JD should turn it into #310 and leave that up. much better than the current wishy washy progress article.


At Friday, August 11, 2006 at 3:29:00 AM PDT, Blogger Freak said...

Jev, I am not mad just disturbed a lot of time because of the dooming..
I am in my mid 20's, and to be honest, When I learned about peak oil from LATOC, et al. I started to doubt everything in my life, I was convincingly told that within months, I would be burning garbage to stay warm, and that billions would die, and I would never see anyone I cared about ever again, and that my doggy would be emergency rations if I was lucky, and that there would be nukes, and ebola, and
every terror I could comprehend from one source or another, and It all seemed logical, researched and convincing, so I lived out the remainder of '04, and most of '05 as
a borderline suicidal alcoholic. I alienated all my friends, withdrew from family, quit my job, didn't bathe, lost 30 pounds from not eating and had to go to the emergency room with dehydration because I gave up, every week gas got more expensive, it was supporting evidence, the conflict in the middle east and economic tension with china intensified, all supporting the fate which was sealed and I wanted to die, thank you Savinar, thank you Duncan, thank you
Simmons, thank you Deffeyes, thank etc...

I am lucky that I survived, i am very lucky to be alive, maybe I have some problems beyond PO, but It was a pivotal moment learning about it, It gave me utter unredeemable hopelessness and terror in a way I had never experienced before.
I am lucky a friend was able to reach me before it was too late and drag me out to the lake for 2 weeks to get me straighted out, because who knows.........

So, Mr. Savinar who likes to frequent here for laughs, do you think you ever killed anybody?
Do you think that maybe passing yourself as a credentialised expert Mr. Simmons that maybe, just maybe you took a reason to live away from someone? These "scientists" like Mr. Duncan, and Deffeyes, present themselves to the layman in a way that cannot be refuted, and maintain that they can't not be right....
They wield a power of perceived legitimacy as much as a physician, or preacher without any consideration for the outcome.

We may have a choice about what direction we collectively steer the future, but we have no choice in the fact that this is the only literal future we have, meaning the years ahead and how they turn out, but to be told that the only future we have, and everyone we care about is "THE SUFFERING", or a persistent horrifying lifelong misery......It's the only future I have.

Dr. Steel,

Perhaps we are neighbors....

anyway, you mentioned air conditioning your house when you get one, are you familiar with ground, or water sourcing the condenser?

At Friday, August 11, 2006 at 11:09:00 AM PDT, Blogger Chris Sendak said...

anyone who wastes obvious intelligence on something as trite as dooming is just spinning their wheels jev. thats the ultimate point i was trying to make. you have more to live for than idiots like HA who, after a while, strike their true colors and make one go "oh, right. they would be at klan rallies or trying to bomb abortion clinics in the name of their own version of god if they didnt have PO".

you have no such vibe about you which is why i dont think your cause is lost. you say you got over the PO mugwumps once, i think if you give it some time then youll do so again. this issue (like all of life) is not a consistent one and something as simple as a crap week can take the wind out of ones sails on all fronts. that is just an innately human trait and that you still feel something other than violent misery suggests that have a lot more to live for than most of these clowns and their clubhouses made out of hand grenades and soupcans.

and very nice post dr. steel. i agree that JD should consider its inclusion on the main page.

At Saturday, August 12, 2006 at 5:17:00 AM PDT, Blogger Philip J Martin said...

Glad to see somebody lambasting Matt Savinar. This guy pretends to a lot of knowledge which he doesn't have, using slogans like thermo-genetic collision (or some crap like this) and is part of the Hansonite tendency. These ppl have NOTHING to offer and have managed to learn a bit of evolutionary theory and misuse it and continue to misrepresent Richard Dawkins' views (views I don't share it should be said). Their views have become so hardened that you can't discuss anything with them you just get a whole load of weird jargon thrown at you as if that proves them 100% right.
I used to dutifully scroll down the Oil Drum comments but no more. They lie in wait for every story and tend to take over very quickly.
I am pessimistic about keeping our western lifestyle but I could never be part of that doomerism...a very macho doomerism funnily enough. As far as I can see, those shouting loudest have the least credentials and the reason Matt Savinar pops up at TOD and POD so much is because his website has been long overtaken by those who have some insight.

At Monday, August 14, 2006 at 7:12:00 AM PDT, Blogger Omnitir said...

Dr. Steel (Dr. Doom?), that was a great post. You should email it to JD, hopefully he might post it?

Though I'm not sure if he's remotely interested in PO any more.

I agree with popmonkey - my wishy washy post should not remain at the top of this great blog!

At Sunday, August 20, 2006 at 1:23:00 PM PDT, Blogger Jev said...

Freak, I'm glad you survived. You have a good friend. If anything, you've learned not to belly-up next time when faced with certain destruction. And destruction is a certainty after all, one way or another. Life, death, the meaning of life, etc. Importantly, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Quiters never win and winners never quit but he who never wins and never quits is an idiot.

So, how does technology trump peak oil? That is a matter of economics. To understand the economics however, you have to know the technology. An analogy: consider if the world supply of shoes we're dependant on a finite resource like oil. We might worry about Peak Shoes if we live in an environment that requires shoes, forcing us to find alternatives. What if someone presents us with that a particular, innovative robotic construction like this
one to solve the problem?

It's clear that such an approach to solving an impending world shortage of shoes would be impractical, yet we embrace equally impractical approaches to mitigating peak oil without a qualm! Particularely, it is this mainstream ignorance of the scale and urgency that has me seriously doubting the chances of an 'endsieg' in this matter of energy availability. We'll have to agree to disagree on that one.

I spend part of my time with a bunch of parties who want to expand Dutch involvement in international CSP projects and some who want to bring geothermal energy to the Netherlands for commercial and residential heat supply. CSP doesn't make sense in the Netherlands, but geothermal has economic merit if one likes ventures with a long running time and apparently modest returns.

There is nothing to suggest investments of any significant size will be made to implement either technology in the Netherlands any time soon. I guess we still have too much natural gas within our borders.

If you have an interest in CSP and MENA you should check out The swiss have a nice site on geothermal energy

At Monday, August 21, 2006 at 1:00:00 AM PDT, Blogger Freak said...

So, the problem is that there is too much BS, and not enough Oil?

But, then, don't these guys have an entrenched effort in maximizing profit without causing demand destruction, or demand decrease as long as the commodity has a positive growth in value beyond it decline?

I think it is every bit as dangerous to take the dieoff avenue and lay down and die as it is to pin all our hopes on fruitless endeavors. It's hard these days to know what's a pot of gold and what's snake oil. and as long as unsavory folks find a way to make money of the old and new snake oil, and as long as they are allowed to it will be hard to come online with viable long-term alternatives. The problem of peak oil is probably solved by a myriad of different innovations, a less wasteful lifestyle, but it's hard to get any of it to come to the forefront when
petroleum and it's money and it's influence rule the day.

At Monday, August 21, 2006 at 3:51:00 PM PDT, Blogger Jev said...

The scary part is that the oil end game is like a game of musical chairs, but with the players falling to servitude of the others or worse if they are left without a chair every time the music stops. That is going to get nasty one way or another before the end and we all know that don't we.

Concretely, this 'nastiness' hanging clearly visible over the horizon will prevent fragile, large scale alternative energy technologies to be implemented even while fragile international political treaties (such as Kyoto, UN, etc.) become unsustainable.

BTW did you read the Simmons debunk of the CERA study yet?

At Monday, August 21, 2006 at 4:06:00 PM PDT, Blogger Chris Sendak said...

"debunking" the CERA study is akin to beating on a dead buffalo with a 2x4. possibly the stupidest bit of pro-cornucopian nonsense to be farted out of the works in a long time.

the downside is that it makes the usual suspects look like credible soothsayers when they take their knives to it. even lunatics can wear a wise man's clothes when the issue is even crazier than they are.

At Monday, August 21, 2006 at 4:57:00 PM PDT, Blogger Freak said...

"Concretely, this 'nastiness' hanging clearly visible over the horizon will prevent fragile, large scale alternative energy technologies to be implemented even while fragile international political treaties (such as Kyoto, UN, etc.) become unsustainable."

I don't know I mean, I don't see why we couldn't have some "damn the torpedos" implementation of alternative energy by the petroleum dissaffected who actually see the potential, and profittability in it's replacement

At Tuesday, August 29, 2006 at 10:15:00 PM PDT, Blogger Oil Shock said...

peak already happened in December 2005. All you have to do is to look at the production numbers according to EIA.

Oil Shock

At Wednesday, August 30, 2006 at 3:00:00 AM PDT, Blogger Freak said...


At Wednesday, August 30, 2006 at 11:45:00 AM PDT, Blogger Chris Sendak said...

well, that's a relief on my part. when should i start counting up the neighbor's noisy kids as lunchmeat?

At Wednesday, August 30, 2006 at 2:50:00 PM PDT, Blogger DC said...

peak already happened in December 2005. All you have to do is to look at the production numbers according to EIA.

And all you have to do to convince me is to show me the details of your time series analysis. Please include both the error estimate and error variance for the hypothesized inflection point. I would also like to see your process and measurement noise models (i.e. Shaping filter in the parlance of control theory, if that's your background).

I eagerly await your reply.

At Monday, September 4, 2006 at 6:57:00 PM PDT, Blogger Gary said...

Is this blog done? No new posts in awhile.

At Saturday, September 23, 2006 at 3:43:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry JD, you lose. "The End of Suburbia" peak oil thesis is real. My government says so.

The Australian Federal Senate committee into peak oil has confirmed everything peakniks (not Doomers) have been saying all along.

1. The era of cheap oil is over

Oil production is about to 'peak' and then move permanently into decline.
"Australia should be planning for it now" 2:17

2. There is no "silver bullet"

"There is no universal panacea, no one perfect solution". 4:4

3. The effect on the world economy is going to be profound

"The Committee notes that there are credible concerns that markets will not respond in time to provide a smooth transition to a post peak oil world without government action. Given the uncertainty about much of the information on world oil supplies and the geopolitical instability of the oil bearing regions, there may be a risk that markets will underinvest in oil and energy technologies, resulting in economic and social hardship as supply falls below demand. 3:20

4. We need energy efficient cities not energy efficient cars — and this is going to be difficult!

"Increasing walking, cycling and public transport use in cities is a worthwhile goal for a number of reasons, regardless of predictions about the oil future. If there is a long term rise in the price of oil, it will be all the more necessary." 5.21

"However we should not underestimate the difficulties involved. Vast areas of post World War 2 suburbia have been designed on the assumption that most travel would be by car, and with the aim of making this easier. The effect has been to make travel in any other way more difficult, as activity centres disperse to sites distant from the public transport network, and the environment for pedestrians and cyclists is degraded by traffic. In these areas existing public transport routes do not serve many travel needs, and existing services mostly function as welfare for people without cars, with a very low proportion of total trips (less than 5%)." 5.22

At Saturday, September 23, 2006 at 7:51:00 PM PDT, Blogger Joel Rosart said...

"Sorry JD, you lose. "The End of Suburbia" peak oil thesis is real. My government says so."

Dave, are you serious? You lose?!? Because of an Australian Senate committee?

One question Dave: Did they actually bring to the table any new information that JD hasn't already examined in this blog? If the answer is no then essentially they're just hopping on the bandwagon. They won't be the first or the last.

I think everyone on this blog would prefer original thought rather than this tripe. Saying that {insert peak oil individual/organization} believes in peak oil so it must be true is tantamount to saying nothing

At Saturday, September 30, 2006 at 4:30:00 AM PDT, Blogger Freak said...

Mr. Dave,

Did you even bother to read anything here, or just made the assumption that you knew, and started yelling your assertions without reading the posts?

Does this blog say peak oil is not real? No.

Would a mixed bag of regionally and enviromentally appropriate sources of energy not be appropriate to displace the use of oil?
If you ask me, and you haven't the last thing this world needs is another monopolized corrupt "panacea" (ever seen a gasoline propaganda video from the fifties?)

Well, we don't have energy efficient cities everywhere, and saying we don't need better cars is a red herring. it's a matter of adaptability of differant logistics where appropriate to a varied set of
differant interoperating infrastructures, soundd like investment potential to me, and more

I think it is a little ironic to repeat that tired play of the markets may or may not do this or that and we'll suffer as a result.

markets fail to do things for people since there have been markets and humans are good at suffering for whatever don't pump oil, mine coal, or invent anything, you give them so much credit as to the power they wield over our fate but no credit when it comes to being adaptable to changing circumstance...your argument lives by the sword dies by the sword, can't have it both ways.'s a joke even in the era of cheap oil it's an annoying cliche that parodies itself, a temporary fleeting state of pretentiousness that doesn't appeal to the cosmopolitan city dwellers, nor the rural farmers or quiet little town types...It's mindless and tacky and, would I really miss it?

It would be nice if you tried to understand what you indict, before capriciously nozzling the same myopic drivel here just to boost your self confidence.

I am coining a name for people who perform these all too common ambushes of info we have all heard before. Like we would presume to debunk peak-oil without having ever heard of "THE END OF SUBURBIA!!"

How do you think anyone got here, you dolt?

JD just woke up yesterday and picked an issue out of a hat to debunk without ever knowing who Simmons, and all the others are? Somehow encountering peak oil outside the context of the masterful work of the fearorist prophets of doom.

You aren't shocking anybody here or telling them anything they haven't heard 100 times before......

damn Peakinistas!

At Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at 8:26:00 AM PST, Blogger Guy Barry said...

Evn though innovations were less in the 2nd half of last century the breakthroughs were so significant we'll never be thge am again

At Monday, November 13, 2006 at 6:39:00 PM PST, Blogger Iconoclast421 said...

What a great blog. I am always amazed by the incredible work that dumbed down idiots can do. We'll never run out of oil! That's right, we'll just ignore the fact that country after country goes past its peak and enters irreversible decline.

Because some places like Iraq and Saudi Arabia and Venezuela still have plenty of oil, that means we can ignore the fact that the US, virtually all of Europe, and most of the pro west states around the world have already peaked.

I guess there will always be people shoveling their crap onto others, even when oil is $200 a barrel and half the middle class is annihilated. Oh yes, technology and the market will solve all our problems. Such ignorance is worthy of a spot on Fox News. Never mind the fact that technology, and normal progress have been hampered for decades by a corrupt criminal cartel. Just go on believing their lies. Drink the black gold til you're drunk on it. Then when it costs too much to buy, just go kill some towel head and get some more. Kill whoever you have to. Overthrow whatever government you have to. Lie to whoever you have to. Just as long as you never have to think or act responsibly. Delusional, pathetic retards.

At Wednesday, November 22, 2006 at 4:41:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At Sunday, February 11, 2007 at 7:12:00 AM PST, Blogger Eric said...

A few years ago, it was difficult to find synthetic motor oils, and equally difficult to

find someone who admitted to using them. Nowadays, however, you can find synthetic motor

oils on the shelves of Wal-Mart, and other retailers, and the number of people turning to

synthetic motor oils, particularly in light of the recent events affecting fuel prices, has

risen greatly.

So why do people use synthetic motor oils rather than sticking with the old petroleum based

stand-bys which are admittedly cheaper?

1. Let's start with the cost per quart issue. Synthetic motor oils ARE more expensive at

purchase. However, these oils last longer, requiring fewer oil changes. As a synthetic motor

oil outlasts several changes of petroleum based lubricants, the ultimate out-of-pocket cost

of the lubricant is less. This cost savings becomes even greater if you have someone else

change your oil for you rather than doing it yourself!

At Tuesday, April 10, 2007 at 7:22:00 AM PDT, Blogger K Grimsley H said...

Although civilization is more than capable of making changes and adapting to them, the crisis that the peak oil dilemma would create are unprecedented in history. We have always been making technological advances in society and incorporating them into our lives. We are accustomed to this upward-bound movement of technology. What we are NOT accustomed to is a downward movement in technology- a technological regression. It becomes awfully hard for people to give up luxuries when they've been available to them for such a long period of time. In that sense the peak oil crisis would challenge our abilities to adapt. Life may very well become similar to the late 1800s, which is an optimistic hope, for unlike in the 1800s where everyone knows how to grow their own crops and harvest their own livestock, we are lucky to be able to mend a hole in our jeans. Think of all the people that do not have the slightest clue how to live without oil, myself included of course. Indeed, PO sounds like a radical premonition but we need to realize that oil is not always going to be available, and when it's not...then what? Yes, other forms of energy are being explored, but even if these ideas were perfected, none could compare to the versatile energy and power source- oil. Personally, I very much enjoy living with current technological amenities, however, I think it is wise for people to prepare for such a crisis by learning how to do the sort of things that your survival may be dependent on someday. I'm not trying to convince anyone about peak oil, but I think we all need to be a little more open-minded to potential threats as we are merely people and it is when we are in a crisis our impermeability is truly felt.

At Saturday, April 14, 2007 at 11:10:00 PM PDT, Blogger said...

Why so quiet now?

Peak oil is here.

What a loser. Because of losers like you, we all lost precious time & energy that could have been used to deal with the problem.

Because of people like you, we all lose.

At Sunday, June 10, 2007 at 7:54:00 AM PDT, Blogger Felix said...

Whoa! So true, we have made "great" social advances, although about half the population believes we are socially going backwards and they just pretend to be happy with the current hip liberal way of life. But who cares what they think? They are only half the population and have no place in our democratic system were only the good half has a right to express.

Sure my friend, all our new found friendship (i have a bunch of indians, africans and ecuatorians on my room right now, playing a little poker) will power our cars and electric grid because if you have love, the sky is the limit.

High five!!

At Monday, July 16, 2007 at 9:43:00 PM PDT, Blogger Insolent Prick said...

Great site, JD. I came across it after I wrote a piece on Peak Oil here in New Zealand. It would have done wonders for my arguments if I had found it before I posted! ;)

Just a suggestion: have you thought of doing a post with a directory of all the key Peak Oil merchants, and their stunningly inaccurate predictions of doomsday? I've managed to pick them up in individual posts, but a single post with what they all said then, as opposed to what they're saying now, would be useful.


At Tuesday, July 31, 2007 at 5:59:00 PM PDT, Blogger cole said...

I've been perusing the blog here, and I'd like to offer a bit of constructive criticism. JD has said he acknowledges that someday oil production from the ground will decrease, so on that point there's some agreement. JD, what would be great is if you could provide a roadmap of sorts to show to how mankind will get through that inevitable peak. I think you'd do a real service to everyone, on both sides of the Peak Oil debate, by mapping the timeline and accompanying details of how mankind will migrate to non-fossil energy sources. I'd let people poke holes in the roadmap, and refine it, over and over again. My gut tells me we'll be affected by Peak Oil, the only question is whether it's bearable pain, or serious depression. Working out how we can make the transition to the other side of fossil fuels would be enormously helpful to see.

At Friday, August 17, 2007 at 3:29:00 PM PDT, Blogger Marie Dubuque said...

Agree that we will survive peak oil, but there will probably be a very unpleasant wakeup period very soon. Animals have always consumed without concern.

At Thursday, December 20, 2007 at 11:11:00 AM PST, Blogger KiltedGreen said...

There seems to be an assumption on this thread that 'progress' and 'improved technology' are synonymous so of course it's easy to conclude that humanity has 'progressed' if all that you need to do is point to the numbers of computers, cars, TVs, toasters, rice-makers, etc. that people have bought.

However, what if I were to ask; "Has our state of mind progressed? Our creativity? Our art? Our sense of peace? Our feeling of community? Our personal development? Our stress levels? Our well-being? Our family bonds?" and so on. Hmmm. They're not so easy to assess as items pouring off production lines and therefore get left out of the equation ... Surveys frequently show that the "human happiness == material goods possessed" equation doesn't add up, otherwise by now, compared to 200 years ago most people in the West today would be so ecstatic they would probably need tranquillising just to get through the day!

A second point I wanted to make is that James Kunstler (who I don't see eye to eye with all the time for sure) said on his site recently that one thing he finds his audiences, especially younger ones, tend to do is assume is that technology can be substituted for energy; that they are interchangeable. As he points out ... they are certainly not. The implication of what's said by many on this thread seems to be that our energy decline can be addressed by applying more technology. If you stop to think, for just one moment, you'll realise that the reason that we have an imminent energy crisis is BECAUSE of our current technology. That combined with the sheer number of people.


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