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Following up on my post from last week with a few more talking points regarding the amusing article on Montana’s oil production…:

In the US the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania and New York, ‘could easily be the second largest gas field in the world.’ [quoting Michael Economides]

Another one of those annoying little fact-based problems, however.

In January, the Energy Department cut its estimate of the amount of gas available in the Marcellus Shale by nearly 70 percent, and a group affiliated with the Colorado School of  Mines warns that there may be only 23 years’ worth of economically recoverable gas left nationwide. Even worse, new studies suggest that because of fugitive emissions of methane from wellheads and pipelines, natural gas may actually be no better than coal when it comes to global warming. [1]

Federal government analysts on Monday slashed their estimate of the natural gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale formation, and at least one major producer announced plans to cut in half its expenditures on new gas leases in the wake of dropping prices.
The U.S. Department of Energy cut its estimate of the Marcellus reserves from 410 trillion cubic feet of natural gas to 141 trillion cubic feet, citing better production information that emerges as drilling operations in the region mature and the exclusion of data from the pre-shale area. [2]

But don’t let that discourage you! We have more good news from Mr. Economides:

[He] predicted that by 2014 – 15 the price of gasoline will get to $8 and stay there, because of world demand, led by China.…
Indicating that he believes the issue of climate change will eventually go away, coal will be used to a greater extent in the US and it will go ‘head to head’ in competition with natural gas….
He said that ‘peak oil may never happen. Natural gas will contribute a massive share of transportation fuel.’

Please … do not trouble yourselves with any concerns about how “climate change will eventually go away” or how exactly “natural gas will contribute a massive share of transportation fuel.” Facts don’t matter! Click your heels together twice, close your eyes, and all will be well with energy supplies and those pesky realities about climate change and environmental concerns regarding fracking and chemicals and flammable water and earthquakes. Quite the relief, isn’t it?

But if you might still be concerned about Peak Oil, another recent article should help clear things up [* all quotes following are from that article unless noted otherwise]. And just to be super-helpful, I’m going to add some facts to the points raised by Mr. Mills. (My best guess is that the piece was just too long, and there simply wasn’t enough room to supply any in support of his position.) No need to thank me: I’m happy to do so!

First, the good news:

As more and more people within the oil industry have come to realize in recent years, the world has plenty of oil that can be produced at competitive prices for a long, long time to come.

So don’t trouble yourselves with the following facts and statistics—which might be interpreted as contradicting the statement above. Remember, these are just facts:

World oil supply is not growing very much
The fitted line in Figure 1 [chart supplied by the author] suggests a ‘normal’ growth in oil supplies (including substitutes) of 1.6% a year, based on the 1983 to 2005 pattern, or total growth of 10.2% between 2005 and 20011. Instead of 10.2%, actual growth between 2005 and 2010 amounted to only 3.0% including crude oil and substitutes.
The shortfall in oil production relative to what would have been expected based on the 1983-2005 growth pattern amounted to 4.7 million barrels in 2011. This is far more than any country claims as spare capacity….
The shortfall in growth especially occurred in crude oil….
Between 2005 and 2011, crude oil production rose only 0.5%. It was mostly the substitutes that grew.
While substitute liquids are OK, they are not really crude oil. Natural gas liquids are the largest category. In the US, they sell for a little less than half as much as crude oil….On an energy content basis, they provide about 70% as much energy per barrel as crude oil.
‘Other liquids’ has also been growing. It is mostly ethanol, which has about 60% of the energy content of crude oil per barrel. This category also includes biodiesel, liquid fuels made from coal or from natural gas, and even a mixture of water with very heavy oil called ‘Orinoco emulsion.’ [3]

But if those facts nonetheless bother you, then this should cheer you right up!

In November 2011 supply actually reached 90 million bpd for the first time ever. This is on a broad definition – including unconventional oil, natural gas liquids and biofuels – but to the consumer, the source of the fuel that goes into the tank is irrelevant.

If your barbecue grills and cigarette lighters are amply supplied with propane and butane, don’t worry about gasoline prices in your city or town or supply and demand issues! Just crack open a coupla Bic lighters (you can purchase them in bulk online, by the way), or skip grilling those steaks, pop open a canister of propane, and hit the highway!

And if OPEC oil production is a concern, not to worry! “Its reserves-to-production ratio is more than 85 years.” Who cares if that doesn’t mean OPEC will still be able to produce oil at full throttle for 85 years? It will work itself out, so rest easy. Stuff will certainly happen as and when needed. (This approach does save lots of research time!)

Besides,

The key OPEC news since 2008 was Iraq’s award of massive field development contracts to international oil companies, which would bring production capacity to a nominal 13.5 million bpd around 2017. This target will not be reached, for a variety of logistical, economic, political and security-related reasons. But even an increase to 6.5 Mbpd would meet more than half the world’s incremental demand over that period.

Just skip over that “target will not be reached, for a variety of logistical, economic, political and security-related reasons” mumbo-jumbo. It was just included to appease all of you reality-based “worriers.” As I noted above: “It will work itself out, so rest easy. Stuff will certainly happen as and when needed.”

Mr. Mills was also nice enough to let us know that we shouldn’t waste a moment worrying about Saudi Arabia’s oil production, so don’t let any of this information concern you, okay? (And please don’t look at any of the statistical charts and graphs from the referenced post, either. They’re nothing more than evidence in support of the facts….)

Saudi Arabia has not been increasing its production for many years. At the same time, the country’s own oil consumption has been rising rapidly. The combination means that oil exports have already started declining.
Saudi Arabia tells us that its crude oil capacity is 12 million barrels a day. In fact, its crude oil production has not exceeded 10 million barrels a day in recent years, according to EIA data. [4]

Since this is so much fun, I think I’ll continue this in an upcoming post—can’t have anyone OD’ing on good news!

Just so no one thinks I’m being mean, I’ll leave you with this:

After many disappointments in the Arctic waters of Norway’s Barents Sea, two substantial oil finds have come along in the last year….

Norway’s Statoil said Monday it has discovered a large oil reserve in the Barents Sea, its second major oil find in the Arctic region in less than a year.
The state-controlled oil company said a well drilled in the Havis prospect in the Barents Sea proved both oil and gas at an estimated volume of between 200 million and 300 million barrels of recoverable oil equivalents.
Last April, Statoil said it had discovered between 150 million-250 million recoverable barrels of oil equivalents in the nearby Skrugard prospect. [5]

Yup! That’s right, everyone. Punching in a few numbers on my handy-dandy calculator (using the highest totals, just to be super-duper optimistic), I find that Norway’s Statoil has found an “estimated” (which, as everyone knows, is just another word for “guaranteed, no-questions-asked”) 550 million barrels of “oil equivalents!” Wow! That’s like supplying almost a whole, full, entire week’s worth of world oil demand.

I almost cannot stand all this good news. How about you?

Until next time….

Sources:

[1] http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-big-fracking-bubble-the-scam-behind-the-gas-boom-20120301; The Big Fracking Bubble: The Scam Behind the Gas Boom by Jeff Goodell – 03.01.12
[2] http://wvgazette.com/News/201201230214; DOE slashes gas estimate for Marcellus Shale by Ken Ward Jr. – 01.23.12
[3] http://ourfiniteworld.com/2012/04/09/what-the-new-2011-eia-oil-supply-data-shows/; What the New 2011 EIA Oil Supply Data Shows by Gail Tverberg – 04.09.12
[4] http://ourfiniteworld.com/2011/12/05/saudi-arabia-headed-for-a-downfall/; Saudi Arabia – Headed for A Downfall? by Gail Tverberg – 12.05.11
[5] http://news.yahoo.com/statoil-makes-large-oil-discovery-barents-sea-082035797.html; Statoil makes large oil discovery in Barents Sea by the Associated Press – 01.09.12

NOTE: One year ago, I added a Peak Oil Impact post on college graduations—highlighting my daughter’s own from Tulane University.

On the heels of a recent article by Tim Worstall (which I’ll discuss in an upcoming post), expressing his confusion about the absence of any visible and immediate consequences of Peak Oil, and with the graduation season full upon us again, I thought it might be a good idea to provide a “for example” to perhaps enlighten those still befuddled by the concept.

A peak in the rate of convention crude oil production—with insufficient/inferior more-expensive-to-extract substitutes serving as the current Plan B—means that all of us who depend on crude oil in some manner (which would be … ah, just about everyone) are in for some changes. What we do, what we can do, what we can afford, what is available, and what we rely upon in years to come are going to provide clear evidence to even the most confused among us that our unthinking reliance on the primary energy source which enabled growth, progress, and prosperity in the past 150+ years is no longer an automatic option.

So with a few minor editorial changes, I’m re-posting last year’s brief discussion of Peak Oil and just a few related thoughts about its impact on college searches and graduations.

~~~

I am now the very proud father of a college graduate (a wonderful young woman who completed her four-year curriculum in only three years—impressive!—and has now returned to the Boston area). I could not be more delighted or happier for her!

I flew to New Orleans to attend her graduation, and stayed there for five nights (had to help pack the van in which she and her friend were traveling back home). My wife, her son and a friend of his flew down separately, and stayed in New Orleans for three nights.

No great surprise, but my daughter was not the only graduate. While I do not have the exact statistics, I believe the overwhelming majority of the approximately 2300 graduates came from someplace other than the immediate New Orleans area. That’s lot of graduates now driving/flying someplace else, and a lot of family members who attended the graduation after having flown in/driven from some other location. In what may be a stunning revelation, that was not the only year a graduation was held at Tulane University … shocking I know!

Even more shocking, this happened several times not just in New Orleans. Rumors abound that graduations were also held in Boston, New York, and possibly someplace in California, with more expected.

Putting aside the affordability of college for many if our economic path does not change soon, how are families going to deal with the impact of Peak Oil on just the most basic travel options for significant family events such as this?

What kind of choices will families and students be forced to make in the years to come when travel expenses to and from colleges become prohibitively expensive for many if not most of them because the ready, affordable supply of gasoline and/or jet fuel is no longer so ready or affordable? The college visit experience most engage in during senior year of high school has become an industry unto itself, and travel expenses for that aspect of college planning are not insignificant. Our trip to New Orleans was the only college visit we made via airplane, but there was also no small amount of driving involved as my daughter and I checked out a number of colleges here in the New England area.

When gas was $2 and change it was a barely noticeable expense. But at the then-current $4.29 per gallon (which was $3.99 six weeks prior), families are going to start taking note. Restaurants and hotels and assorted other merchants and service providers who derive no small amount of revenue from these travels by countless hundreds of thousands of prospective college students and their families will suffer in the process.

I traveled to New Orleans nearly a dozen times in the three years that my daughter attended Tulane. My wife joined me on three of those trips, and my daughter traveled home on multiple occasions as well.

Each of those trips required some combination of air fare and hotels and rental cars and cab fare and parking fees and gas expenditures and/or use of our own vehicles getting to and from airports….We’re fortunate in that our other daughter attends school in New York City, making Amtrak an enjoyable option, but how many families can or will be able to rely on mass transit for these types of travels? The complete failure of too many of our leaders to recognize the need for more investment in mass transit will prove a damning regret in years to come.

My daughter attended Tulane in part because it was one of the few that offered the major she sought (and a substantial scholarship to boot). What if traveling that far had not been an option? Or if it had been, what kind of dynamics would have been involved if she had moved down there, and we didn’t see each other for nearly 3 years because travel expenses had become prohibitively expensive for us (not that it wasn’t a drain on my finances to begin with)?

What kind of lifestyle changes would this young college student have had to make, knowing that she was essentially on her own for three or four years without the intangibles of family contact? (As it is, a week after she moved to New Orleans for the first time, hurricane warnings forced an evacuation of all area colleges, and she was on a plane back home about 8 days after she and I had said good-bye!) What happens in these or similar conditions when plane fare is out of the question for most? Buying airline tickets last minute is not exactly an inexpensive proposition! And what kind of options have to be put into place when vehicular travel is not feasible, and there is no mass transit available?

“Our friend of past online debates, Randall O’Toole, is a champion of both the auto-based transportation system and mobility in general. His argument is essential that there is a correlation between mobility and prosperity, that the more mobile a society is, the more at liberty people are to follow endeavors that enhance life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Greater mobility increases job opportunities, shopping selection, service competitiveness, school choices and even the gene pool people have a chance to select from when seeking a mate. There is no question that, in a broad sense, he is correct.” [1]

Greater mobility has been a wonderful option for many years for countless millions of us. What happens in the years to come when it’s not?

[NOTE: Just one planned post for next week … on Thursday the 31st. Enjoy the holiday!]

Sources:

[1] http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2011/4/4/mobilitys-diminishing-returns.html; Mobility’s Diminishing Returns by Charles Marohn – April 4, 2011

In his presentation to Montana Energy 2012, Michael Economides told Montanans, ‘You are already a superpower in oil production. You have already defied the trends and once again showed the can-do attitude of this industry, smashing the myth of the ‘peak oil’.
‘You have redefined and defied the trends suggesting strongly the future of energy is oil and gas and not solar and wind.’ [1]

Yeah! We’re Number One!

Kinda gives you the chills, doesn’t it?

In an article noteworthy mostly because of its introduction of the word (?) “bizerk” (sic) and the phrase (?) “cut the mustered” (also sic), this cute tug at red, white, and blue American hearts was otherwise free of factual reasoning for “making the whole myth of peak oil a shambles,” according to Mr. Economides.

Why one might ask? Well, according to this article, “The reason places like Montana and Canada stand at the leading edge of the industry is because of conditions that exist in other countries, which are mostly hostile to the US.” That certainly clears things up! And of course “supplies have always increased and continue to meet a demand that only grows” because finite resources uh … uh … are secretly infinite, I guess.

As if that rationale alone wasn’t enough: “Many of these countries are ‘a shambles,’ ‘corrupt,’ and unstable. ‘It is hard to produce oil when people are shooting at you,’ said Economides.” That settles that! (Although I’ll agree completely that doing most anything is likely harder when one is being shot at it … pretty sure it’s not limited to just oil production.)

Just one tiny little problem to pass along before we order our Montana is a Superpower T-shirts. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration earlier this year:

Montana Crude Oil Production is at a current level of 1.823M, down from 1.963M last month and down from 1.867M one year ago. This is a change of -2.64% from last month and -8.79% from one year ago.

So how does a nearly 9% decline make Montana a “superpower in oil production”? According to this chart, in 2011 Montana was producing about 66,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The United States is using somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 – 19 million barrels of oil per day. So Reality Math tells us that supplying .00356% doesn’t exactly make one a “superpower,” or even a power, or even a pow….Pretty safe bet that whatever unconventionals Montana managed to scrape up didn’t make much of a dent in that percentage contribution. Just more damned facts getting in the way of perfectly good sound bites! (Of course, in Fact-Free Math-Isn’t-Useful World, those numbers tell us instead that Montana supplied exactly 63.826% of our oil needs.)

Raising a point argued by many others disinclined to consider what’s really happening with crude oil production and what’s not happening with unconventional oil production such as shale oil and tar sands, the article adds: “Economides expressed disappointment with the US Geological Survey and the degree to which they fail to take increasing prices into account in making their projections regarding supply. Increased prices increase the amount that producers can afford to invest, which puts into production resources that they previously considered uneconomical to recover.”

I find it a source of never-ending amusement that these “increased prices” are never viewed from the perspective of the end users: you and me. Higher prices allowing for investments in the exploration of previously untapped (and inferior, more expensive, more costly, etc., etc.) unconventional reserves is one end of a stick. Higher prices paid by you and me is the other end, and we don’t actually think that’s such a good thing….Imagine that!

“Economides predicted that $100 a barrel oil is the new norm.” Well isn’t that such good news!

And there’s more!

Economides pointed out that going back decades in the US, oil, gas and coal – the fossil fuels – have consistently contributed 87 percent of the fuel used in the country. He said that the day will come when his great, great grandchild ‘will stand here and tell you that 87 percent of the US fuels come from hydrocarbons,’ said Economides, ‘There are no alternatives to oil and gas.
And, that comes even with the increased demand for fossil fuels. In 1973, ‘the world energy demand was 60 percent of what it is today,’ and in 2030 it will be 50 percent more than what it is today,’ but still 87 percent will come from oil, gas and coal. ‘Production from other energies may grow, but they will not be where the 87 percent is going to come from.’

That is some kind of math … nothing to substantiate it and clearly unlike anything I ever learned, but definitely some kind of math!

So how does that work? We have depleting conventional oil fields; production of unconventional and inferior (and more costly, etc., etc.) substitutes not even matching depletion rates (see this, for example); increasing demand; decades more demand and use, and yet we’re to believe that supply will still magically meet demand for another … hundred and fifty years or so? Seriously?

A few months back, Mason Inman had an interesting observation (duly noted by others, including Robert Hirsch/The Hirsch Report – see Category sidebar) about the same kind of math (apparently from the same Fact-Free Talking Points handbook), with a concluding sentence that puts a nice bow on the discussion:

OPEC members in the Middle East have reserve numbers that are—to put it politely—magical. These countries’ figures for ‘proved reserves’ only go up or stay flat—and never go down. Kuwait’s ‘proved reserves’ stayed at 96.5 billion barrels from 1991 to 2002, and then have crept upward from there. From 1989 to today, Saudi Arabia’s ‘proved reserves’ have barely budged, creeping up slightly from 260.1 to 264.6 billion barrels. Meanwhile, these countries have produced tens of billions of barrels of oil. It’s as if a huge corporation told auditors that their bank account always held exactly $572 million dollars, for decades. It’s not believable [my emphasis]. [2]

But if you still aren’t convinced, we have this: “‘How can you have too much of a good thing?’ he asked, pointing out the importance of Canada, as a friendly country, and a dependable source of oil for the US.” Doesn’t it just warm your heart when the deniers mention Canada the Friendly Country as our primary supplier? It’s exactly how I felt as a child when I heard about Casper the Friendly Ghost … just all warm and fuzzy! Who needs reality and facts when you can just smile about friendly things….

Lest you’re thinking I believe the entire article was pure nonsense, I did agree with this, although with a caveat as to the first point:

Economides questioned every alternative energy option as being an ineffective alternative to fossil fuels.
He called ethanol a scam, because it takes 1.6 gallons of gasoline to produce one gallon of ethanol – not to mention the negative impact on food prices.

Every alternative energy option IS an ineffective alternative, and will continue to be as long as we make certain that we conduct no research and make no investments in discovering what the potential might be (and no guarantees, to be sure). Nope, let’s just make sure the profitable oil companies remain profitable, while we explain no truths about a finite resource, downplaying the fact that if every day you have less of Product X than the day before and more demand every day for the same Product X, the rules of math (and geology) will nonetheless be set aside and all will be well forever.

A fine story indeed, warm-hearted and all good things … except that it’s all bullshit. Other than that, no objections.

So what’s it going to take for more people to “get it” and fewer people to keep passing out nonsense as fossil fuel gospel. A couple of clues to assist: Who benefits? Who loses?

Not that difficult to figure it out … and a damn good reason to start thinking and planning.

More to come….

Sources:

[1] http://www.bigskybusiness.com/index.php/business/economy/2488-making-shambles-of-oil-peak-myth’; Making ‘Shambles’ of ‘Oil Peak Myth’ by Evelyn Pyburn – 04.18.12
[2] http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2011-09-26/%E2%80%9C-quest%E2%80%9D-questioned-series; “The Quest” questioned – the series by Mason Inman – 09.26.11 [Original article: http://failinggracefully.com/?p=2850 ]

[NOTE: This is the sixth and final installment of a subset of my ongoing series entitled Looking Left and Right (which began here; see Category sidebar for all links). This is about Peak Oil, but addresses the considerations and potential solutions from a different perspective than purely fact-based and/or he-said—she-said ones which too often dominate public discourse. With the caveat that I have NO professional expertise/training in psychology or its related fields, I’ll look at emotional and psychological “tricks” and traits we all use—Left, Right, and in-between—to bolster our beliefs and opinions as we do battle with our “opponents” in the increasingly polarized political forums which too-often dominate our culture.

The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion draws all things else to support and agree with it. And though there be a greater number and weight of instances to be found on the other side, yet these it either neglects and despises, or else-by some distinction sets aside and rejects, in order that by this great and pernicious predetermination the authority of its former conclusion may remain inviolate   – Francis Bacon [courtesy of David McRaney]

As I observed in that first post of this Looking Left and Right series:

We all act much the same way, ideologies notwithstanding. Human nature, I suppose. The more important questions: might we benefit from a bit of introspection before doing more of the same?…We obviously wouldn’t be making use of these psychological tricks of the trade if they didn’t provide us with benefits and gratifications. So is that it? Shrug our shoulders, admit that we are all guilty from time to time and then … nothing?
Might we consider the possibility of being ‘better’ than that? If we choose to solve what might appear at first blush to be overwhelming and even insoluble problems, we need more. We need more from our systems, more from our leaders, and more from ourselves.
There is a great deal at stake for all us, and we might all be better served understanding not just what we do in asserting and defending our beliefs, policies, and opinions, but why. Appreciating that might make a world of difference … literally!]

In the first five installments of this mini-series [ links * at the end of this post ], I’ve examined what my semi-snarky, decidedly liberal perspective viewed to be a perfect summation of stereotypical right-wing nonsense regarding fossil fuel production and gas pricing, relying on the concept of cultural cognition as described by Dan M. Kahan, Yale University and Donald Barman – George Washington University [ link to PDF download in Sources [1] below]. I’m doing so in the hope that this might afford Peak Oil proponents—and those who doubt—a window into how the discussion has been approached to date, and more importantly, how to get past the stumbling block of ideology (my own and the “others”). We’ll need all the intelligence, expertise, and assistance we can get to find some practical adaptations and solutions. [Quotes below are from the above-linked article by Jeffrey Folks unless noted otherwise.]

So where are we? I’ve done what we’re inclined to do when people don’t accept a position/viewpoint offered: I’ve supplied lots of reasons why the “other side” is wrong about Peak Oil. As I stated at the conclusion of the last post, this is not a philosophical discussion, as some political issues are more apt to be addressed.

That he has not yet been able to do so must pain the president greatly. He must also be irked that high gas prices — the same high prices he has worked so hard to create over the past three and a half years — now pose an obstacle to his re-election.

What’s the point in saying things like this when we’re trying to deal with real-world problems? How do we get beyond the “you are crazier than I am” model of public discourse if facts cannot be rationally debated in the first instance? (Does this gentleman and his many peers who have suggested much the same seriously think that any President of the United States would deliberately pursue a policy so completely at odds with the interests of practically every citizen in the country so that he or she can … uh … uh … why would someone do this?) How does this help any of us?

Idiotic viewpoints are not the substance of sound decision-making, so what is the point?

Our prescription, counterintuitively, is a more unabashedly cultural style of democratic policymaking. Those interested in helping citizens to converge in support of empirically sound policies—on guns, on the environment, on crime control, on national security—should focus less on facts and more on social meaning. It’s only when they perceive that a policy bears a social meaning congenial to their cultural values that citizens become receptive to sound empirical evidence about what consequences that policy will have. It’s therefore essential to devise policies that can bear acceptable social     meanings to citizens of diverse cultural persuasions simultaneously. Because culture is cognitive prior to facts in the policy disputes, culture must be politically prior to facts too. [1]

But when legitimate problems confront all of us, how do we abide by the decorums suggested if nonsense is the starting point for one side of the debate? I hope there is a limit to the usefulness of this kind of strategy … sure wish we were there already.

What’s the vision and expectation for the future? The effects of Peak Oil (and climate change) don’t lend themselves to being bent into shapes conducive to conservative or liberal ideology. There is no one obvious solution which smacks almost entirely of liberalism (and vice versa) which one “side” can legitimately promote. Too many aspects of our everyday lifestyles—both personal and industrial—will require a broad range of adaptations and transitions well beyond ideological constraints.

There is undoubtedly some comfort in thinking that one’s ideology will ride to the rescue, thus  avoiding all the unpleasant psychological contortions relinquishing such beliefs would necessitate if change is necessary. We get that, too.

I’ll say again: I’m willing to wager that almost all Peak Oil proponents would be delighted to be proven wrong so that we don’t have to endure the inevitable magnitude of changes our beliefs suggest. But what worries us is the fact that the problems will be of such scope and and impact and complexity that we feel strongly that planning must take place now—by all of us, both Left and Right—and we’re not seeing enough honest, intelligent, rational analysis from those whose contributions will be every bit as important and meaningful. The ideology sponsoring practical and effective adaptations and solutions won’t matter to us if they work. We just don’t think it’s all that unreasonable to expect that the contributions are grounded in the realities of what we face.

Whether it is ‘peak oil,’ ‘carbon emissions,’ ‘can’t drill our way out,’ or ‘no quick fix,’ every argument has the same goal: to force Americans off fossil fuels and onto expensive, government-regulated green alternatives.

That certainly sounds ominous, and it coincides nicely with the Right’s “liberal control over our lives” meme, but at what point can we expect a legitimate examination of the facts about what we face and realize that there is no one solution that fits all? Like it or not, green alternatives are going to be necessary. Given how far behind they are to already-established, depleting-by-the-day energy sources, some government involvement and oversight is simply going to be part of the mix. If you truly believe that 300 million-plus people and or tens of millions of business each trying to figure out on their own how to deal with diminished fuel supply is the way to go, then best wishes!

Paranoid nonsense about “government control” and “boots on the neck” and assorted other conspiracy-laden premises simply have no place in the dialogue. Thinking that the absence of government is part of the solution is unrealistic—plain and simple. We appreciate the “values” such perspectives support, but it is way, way past time for us to all move beyond the psychological fixes. Reality beckons, and absent meaningful involvement, planning, and contributions from anyone and everyone with valuable expertise, we’re all going to be neck-deep in avoidable troubles. We’ll have enough that aren’t avoidable as is. Let’s not make things worse.

Wouldn’t all of us prefer having a say ahead of time, comforted by the realization that we all took part in making meaningful contributions?

Who wants to sacrifice anything about current lifestyles as Option Number One? Bad, last-minute, overwhelming surprises are not my preference, and I’m having a difficult time thinking that they are anyone else’s, either. Blind Faith is still a better rock band than strategy, and it’s certainly not the one I want guiding me and my wife and our children and my family and my fiends into a future where the inevitable outcomes of using finite resources finally come to roost. I don’t think I’m at all unusual in stating that I want a good future for myself and family in good communities with happy, successful, and prosperous citizens living freely. That’s not going to happen as long as too many of us prefer occupying their time with fear-induced paranoid concerns that do nothing but promote more of the same by their adherents and more ridicule from those who cannot accept that perspective. It just does not help!

So do we stand our ideological grounds until there’s no question at all what reality has in store, or do we start doing what good businesspeople and well-intentioned families and communities do: plan ahead? We want good solutions and plans for how best to transition away from a fossil fuel-dependent way of life because that is what facts tell us is necessary. Control doesn’t factor in to what we seek, as convenient a fiction as that might be to the Right and as easy as it is to find “facts” to support the fears. “On your own” may appeal to some, but it will prove to be of very limited utility … dump it now.

We all need to be better than that. “Business as usual, every man for himself” have served in many cases great purposes, but changes are looming. The definition and routes available for continued prosperity are going to change. We’re drawing down just about all of the remaining easy-to-get-at stuff which produced such breathtaking successes and advances. Now we’re in a global world of infinitely greater complexity with billions more people wanting what we have, and there just won’t be enough of that remaining easy stuff to go around for everyone to either maintain or attain the standards of the good life we’ve grown accustomed to.

That’s not ideology. It’s math.

When Obama tells us there’s no quick fix, he is not suggesting that we should get started on a fossil fuel fix.  He’s saying that since there is no quick fix with fossil fuels, we’re better off dumping them and moving on to renewables.

That’s actually not what the President is saying at all. Having used finite resources for nearly two centuries in an ever-increasing complex, technologically-sophisticated world, how does one not think about Plan B given the facts about current crude oil supply and production, and the facts about what producing the gazillion barrels of unconventional reserves buried underground or beneath ocean floors entails? No business owner, coach, of leader in any endeavor or profession ignores facts and relies instead on hopes and suppositions. Not the winning formula….

But if the fossil fuel fix is not all that quick, the green energy fix is glacial.  In fact, it is no fix at all, because no matter how many windmills and solar farms we subsidize with taxpayer money, it will not be enough to fuel even one tenth of our energy needs….
When Obama proclaims there is no quick fix, he implies [says you!] that we must give up on increased domestic production of fossil fuels and turn to alternatives.  But those misnamed ‘alternatives’ are not really alternatives at all.  Wind and solar now account for less than 2% of America’s energy needs.

Absolutely true! But using up more of what’s not as available anymore as the sole option will only work for a while longer, and if we have done absolutely nothing to plan an alternate route to get is to the destination all of us hope for, what happens then?

I see that as perhaps the single greatest failing of right-wing philosophy in the face of Peak Oil:  Yes, we’ll need all of the marvels of “human ingenuity” and great technological inventions. But without recognizing and accepting the simple truth that we’re drawing down a finite and depleting resource which necessitates almost unimaginable adaptations and transitions to Plan B, the limits of human ingenuity and technological prowess will inevitably be reached if we keep tweaking the finite resource. Just how does the market on its own develop guidelines about what needs to be done, how, when, in what priority, where, and assorted other considerations?

There is no intellectually honest way to believe that the world can continue its near-total reliance on fossil fuels for much more than another decade — a paltry window of opportunity. We also know that we cannot wait until they go into decline before reaching for renewables and efficiency, simply because the scale of the challenge is so vast, and the alternatives are starting from such a low level that they will need decades of investment before they are ready to assume the load. The data is clear, and the mathematics are really quite straightforward. [2]

So now what?

* links to the prior installments:

http://peakoilmatters.com/2012/04/12/peak-oil-denial-the-liberal%E2%80%99s-dilemma-pt-1/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2012/04/19/peak-oil-denial-the-liberal%E2%80%99s-dilemma-pt-2/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2012/04/26/peak-oil-denial-the-liberal%E2%80%99s-dilemma-pt-3/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2012/05/03/peak-oil-denial-the-liberal%E2%80%99s-dilemma-pt-4/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2012/05/10/peak-oil-denial-the-liberal%E2%80%99s-dilemma-pt-5/

Sources:

[1] http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=746508; [ link to PDF download]. Cultural Cognition and Public Policy by Dan M. Kahan, Yale University – Law School; Harvard Law School and Donald Barman – George Washington University – Law School; Cultural Cognition Project – Yale Law & Policy Review, Vol. 24, pp 147 – 169, Public Law Working Paper No. 87 – 2006 [quote from p. 169]
[2] http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/energy-futurist/our-energy-future-golden-age-or-stone-age/143; Our energy future: Golden Age or Stone Age? by Chris Nelder – 10.26.11

People who like conspiracy theory are well served by the Oil Establishment’s ceaseless quest to present world oil supply as sufficient if not ‘abundant’, denying the evidence of Peak Oil, and accessorily keeping a lid on oil prices. [1]

A Peak Oil Denial Sampler

We who feel an urgent imperative to explain the reality and expected consequences of Peak Oil by doling out facts, evidence, and reality, continue to deal with heaping doses of nonsense volleyed back from the other side of the net. Language from a recent Exhibit A is indicative of the “arguments” from those unwilling to accept the unfortunate facts about oil production (starting with the “good news” first … apparently a new way to measure fossil fuel resources):

We have more than enough of the black stuff to incinerate ourselves several times over….
[S]upply side bounty … offering a second pass at resource riches….
[A] dazzling display of unconventional technologies rapidly increasing kangaroo LNG production.
The North Sea can squeeze out a few more drops; Europe can finally get it’s ‘energy sovereignty’ back….
[T]he Arctic offers Russia untold oil riches….
[T]he new African oil rush….
Higher risk markets … hold undoubted hydrocarbon promise….
Initial trickles of oil will start to flow next year, but the Albert basin has already unearthed a billion barrels of proven reserves, figures that could go significantly higher when surveys are conducted….
Nairobi has struck its own oil. Tullow is plugging away in the Rift Valley; serious offshore plays are being looked at [my emphasis] in the Lamu Basin….
Thirty onshore and offshore areas are already under license, with a further eight
deep-water tracts coming up for auction….while trickier deep-water blocs have been taken….
Like it or not, East Africa has just added another serious swathe of hydrocarbon prospects to the global economy.…an attractive prospect for bullish supply side expectations. [2]

What The Peak Oil Denial Sampler Is Telling Us

Perhaps the author should have his keyboard checked out … other than the Albert Basin’s “billion barrels of proven reserves,” the entire essay was all but devoid of any production numbers amid all of those supposedly-optimistic, pseudo-factual pronouncements. (But we do have eight tracts coming up for auction, and we all know that ‘coming up for auction’ is almost like production by tomorrow … especially when ‘offshore plays are being looked at’ … and not just any offshore plays, mind you, but serious’ ones! Wow! And one can only imagine just how much oil Nairobi has struck! We’re saved!

I think it’s fair to say that it’s entirely possible this information might potentially persuade several key officials that if certain things happen favorably, the oil supply future could very well appear to be bright … perhaps.

I’ll ask the same question I’ve raised before: How does this help us?

Humans don’t want to hear bad news. That’s just the way they’re built, the way they were designed by Nature. That’s the lesson I learned in a nutshell. If they’re not listening, that’s hardly a surprise. Certainly it’s nothing to worry about or get frustrated over. If they’re not listening to the bad news you’re bringing, for God’s sake don’t try harder. They simply don’t care about your carefully crafted, convincing arguments. [3]

It’s hard to dispute Dave Cohen’s perspective, and in fact quite easy to succumb to a healthy dose of despair when nonsense is the standard reply to our efforts to inform. The questionable notion argued by a more than a few deniers—that we derive some perverse pleasure in dispensing gloomy forecasts—seems enough of an excuse to pay no further attention to the information shared. It’s all the more discouraging when prominent media is more inclined to give voice to happy talk about the magic of “human ingenuity” and the Technology Fairy.

Peak Oil Denial Exhibit B

[T]he peak oil model itself shows an inadequate empirical representation of historical patterns. World oil discoveries have peaked at least four times since 1950. Take the United States: here, there has been a major deviation between Hubbert’s projections and real figures of oil production. As economist Daniel Yergin has pointed out, at the end of 2010, US oil production was 3.5 times higher than Hubbert forecast. [4]

Facts Keep Screwing Up Denials

U.S. oil production peaked four decades ago, exactly as Dr. Hubbert predicted! So what’s the point of nitpicking the fact he could not conjure up all of the future technological advances altering the amount of oil produced? The essential issue is that his prediction of the peak was spot-on!

It seems that Hubbert got the timing of the plateau (peak) of oil production almost perfectly, and he was off by a factor of two in the production level. He could not have possibly accounted for the offshore production in the North Sea, Nigeria, Angola, Brazil, deepwater GOM, etc. He had no way of predicting the discoveries and ascent of Cantarell, Tengiz, Majoon, Samotlor, Zakum, Prudhoe Bay, and many other supergiant oilfields….Hubbert’s data said nothing about the impact of 3D seismic, deviated wells, horizontal wells, massively hydrofractured wells, drilling in two kilometers of seawater, etc. Yet, almost 60 years ago, Hubbert was off by a factor of two in the production level and perfect in the timing of the peak. Now think about an economic forecast for the entire world that is this good after mere 10 years….
Hubbert’s prediction is close to a miracle….Hubbert simply did not have enough random variables in his data set, because these variables were still in the future when he plotted his [graphs]. In the intervening six decades, technology created by people like me brought these new random variables (oilfields) to life and doubled the production outcome, but did not change the location of the peak [my emphasis]. [5]

If At First You Don’t Succeed, Just Say Anything!

The same article cited in [4] above goes on to state:

Peak oil theory holds a static view of the world, and its models ignore price effects: lots of oil discoveries and high production mean that prices and profits wane, and incentives for further exploration decline. But ensuing oil shortages then restore these incentives. When incentives exist, the industry will continue to produce and is likely to produce even more…..
Peak oil theorists also neglect the role of technological advances in oil production as a great multiplier. The history of the oil industry reflects an endless struggle between nature and our knowledge. Progress in technology allows both new discoveries and the increase in recovery rate needed to turn non-recoverable or hypothetical resources into recoverable reserves….
Worse yet, peak oil theorists do not take into account the assessment of unconventional oil resources, such as oil shale, oil sands, biomass-based liquids, coal-based liquids and liquids arising from chemical processing of natural gas. These could substitute for conventional oil when new technologies, such as steam injection for oil sands deposits, mature.

Just a few comments on these statements. We can just assume that consumers/we are going to pay the higher prices no matter what? The first option available to most in the face of higher prices is to cut back on usage. So unless the fossil fuel industry has decided that they are going to absorb from profits the higher costs of exploration and production of the inferior substitutes relied upon to debunk Peak Oil, those higher prices get passed on to us, and we’ll react accordingly. Surprise!

When customers aren’t buying, profits decline. When profits decline, business investments aren’t made. Restoring those investments and deciding to resume exploration and production is not an overnight process, so the magic suggested in the first paragraph above isn’t quite as impressive when reality intrudes. And let’s keep in mind that what is being sought and eventually produced is of lesser quality, harder to access (and thus more expensive), and takes much longer to bring to market, among other notable drawbacks. Facts continue to suck!

And the suggestion that we “neglect the role of technological advances in oil production”  and “do not take into account the assessment of unconventional oil resources, such as oil shale, oil sands, biomass-based liquids, coal-based liquids and liquids arising from chemical processing of natural gas” is a flat-out lie! We argue our position on Peak Oil precisely because “technological advances in oil production” and “unconventional oil resources” are woefully inadequate in substituting for the finite conventional fossil fuels we’ve been extracting and using for more than 150 years!

Those conventional oil fields are depleting daily, and these pixie-dust unconventionals are simply not able to keep up with those numbers, let alone meet increasing demand. The truth is that cornucopians just don’t like the production reality facts about these magical substitutes.

Gotta Keep Hammering Away

It’s maddening to deal with so much nonsense helping no one but investors, oil company executives, and corporate bottom lines. Dave Cohen is perfectly justified in throwing up his hands! But throwing in the towel simply cannot be an option for those of concerned about the facts of oil production and what Peak Oil will mean to all of us. If at first (or second, or twenty-third) you don’t succeed, try again. And so I will….

[D]enial which arises out of the innate subconscious urge we all have to adopt views that agree with our tribe, because of the importance of social cohesion, does not seem unethical. That sort of denial is a product of subconscious motivations, to a large measure beyond our free will. But the deniers who are consciously trying to sow doubt, and block action on what could be an existential threat to human life as we know it, not purely as a matter of ideology but to protect their profits and power and personal interests, clearly are behaving unethically, and we should be outraged….
It may take more cognitive effort to think critically and independently rather than just parrot our tribal leaders (like some Limbaugh-ian ‘Ditto Head’) but that simply can not excuse people knowingly and selfishly putting themselves and their self interests above others in their community and as a result putting the rest of us at risk. Whether the community is local or global, and whether the issue is climate change or jeopardizing the economy with ridiculous investments that make you rich, the principle is the same. It is fair to call unethical, and be enraged by, the conscious actions of those who would put the rest of us in serious danger in order to protect their safety and profits and power….[6]

I’ll have some more thoughts on other recent, related “denial” articles in an upcoming post.

Sources:

[1] http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article34137.html; The Magical Decline Of Crude Oil Demand by Andrew McKillop – 04.15.12
[2] http://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewhulbert/2012/04/19/peak-oil-off-great-game-on/; Peak Oil Off: Great Game On by Matthew Hulbert – 04.19.12
[3] http://www.declineoftheempire.com/2012/04/a-peak-oil-update.html; A Peak Oil Update by Dave Cohen – 04.16.12
[4] http://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/4885; Rethinking peak oil by Lin Shi and Yuhan Zhang – 04.23.12
[5] http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2012-04-16/commentary-world-finite-isnt-itCommentary: The world is finite, isn’t it? by Tadeusz Patzek – 04.16.12
[6] http://bigthink.com/ideas/42502; The Heartland Institute and “Climate DenialGate” by David Ropeik – 02.16.12

Individuals can be expected to give dispositive empirical information the weight that it is due in a rational decision-making calculus only if they recognize sound information when they see it.
The phenomenon of cultural cognition suggests they won’t. The same psychological and social processes that induce individuals to form factual beliefs consistent with their cultural orientation will also prevent them from perceiving contrary empirical data to be credible. Cognitive-dissonance avoidance will steel individuals to resist empirical data that either threatens practices they revere or bolsters ones they despise, particularly when accepting such data would force them to disagree with individuals they respect….
This picture is borne out by additional well-established psychological and social mechanisms. One constraint on the disposition of individuals to accept empirical evidence that contradicts their culturally conditioned beliefs is the phenomenon of biased assimilation. [citations] This phenomenon refers to the tendency of individuals to condition their acceptance of new information as reliable based on its conformity to their prior beliefs. This disposition to reject empirical data that contradict one’s prior belief … is likely to be especially pronounced when that belief is strongly connected to an individual’s cultural identity, for then the forces of cognitive dissonance avoidance that explain biased assimilation are likely to be most strongly aroused. [with citations]. [1]

[NOTE: This is the fifth in a subset of my ongoing series entitled Looking Left and Right (which began here; see Category sidebar for all links). This is about Peak Oil, but addresses the considerations and potential solutions from a different perspective than purely fact-based and/or he-said—she-said ones which too often dominate public discourse. With the caveat that I have NO professional expertise/training in psychology or its related fields, I’ll look at emotional and psychological “tricks” and traits we all use—Left, Right, and in-between—to bolster our beliefs and opinions as we do battle with our “opponents” in the increasingly polarized political forums which too-often dominate our culture.

The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion draws all things else to support and agree with it. And though there be a greater number and weight of instances to be found on the other side, yet these it either neglects and despises, or else-by some distinction sets aside and rejects, in order that by this great and pernicious predetermination the authority of its former conclusion may remain inviolate
– Francis Bacon [courtesy of David McRaney]

As I observed in that first post of this Looking Left and Right series:

We all act much the same way, ideologies notwithstanding. Human nature, I suppose. The more important questions: might we benefit from a bit of introspection before doing more of the same?…We obviously wouldn’t be making use of these psychological tricks of the trade if they didn’t provide us with benefits and gratifications. So is that it? Shrug our shoulders, admit that we are all guilty from time to time and then … nothing?
Might we consider the possibility of being ‘better’ than that? If we choose to solve what might appear at first blush to be overwhelming and even insoluble problems, we need more. We need more from our systems, more from our leaders, and more from ourselves.
There is a great deal at stake for all us, and we might all be better served understanding not just what we do in asserting and defending our beliefs, policies, and opinions, but why. Appreciating that might make a world of difference … literally!]

In the first four installments of this mini-series [* links at the end of this post], I’ve examined what my semi-snarky, decidedly liberal perspective viewed to be a perfect summation of stereotypical right-wing nonsense regarding fossil fuel production and gas pricing, relying on the concept of cultural cognition as described by Dan M. Kahan, Yale University and Donald Barman – George Washington University (link to PDF download in Sources [1] below). I’m doing so in the hope that this might afford Peak Oil proponents—and those who doubt—a window into how the discussion has been approached to date, and more importantly, how to get past the stumbling block of ideology (my own and the “others”). We’ll need all the intelligence, expertise, and assistance we can get to find some practical adaptations and solutions.

There’s not much doubt that Barack Obama’s election prompted extreme reactions across the entire spectrum of political beliefs. Many rejoiced, while many others were threatened by his Presidency for a variety of reasons … some much less honorable than others. Some were even worse—he is, if you hadn’t heard, our first black President … and no need to explain how horrible that is … he’s so … so, different—and his name is strange, besides! (21st Century, correct? Just checking….) That the animosity and fear carries over into areas with decidedly oppressive consequences absent rational, fact-based and ideology-free conversations is more than a bit troubling.

Let’s jump right in with more commentary from Mr. Folks: “Peak oil may be 200 years away; carbon emissions have not raised the sea levels by 12m, devastated our croplands, or engendered monster storms.”

Yet. (Just because the full scope of consequences haven’t knocked on everyone’s door by now is far different than acknowledging enough signs are already in place! Denial is a strategy … it just happens to be a particularly ineffective and very bad one!)

If by “200 years away” he means approximately 2005, he’s absolutely correct. I wasn’t aware that climatologists had issued a specific date for sea level rise or cropland “devastation”, and I apparently missed them both … damn! So that’s it? No more worries about climate change because those specific events haven’t materialized all at once by winter’s end, 2012? (Climate scientists actually inform us these conditions will develop over the decades to come—kinda like a leaky roof getting leakier day by day until it stops leaking entirely … because it collapses.)

We had a near-hurricane here in New England last summer (not to mention tornadoes), a god-awful winter in 2010-2011, and here in the Boston area all of about eight inches of snow this entire winter just concluded—on the order of about one-tenth the amount we had the prior, brutal winter. (And did I mention the Halloween weekend snowstorm this past autumn which dumped 32 inches of snow in the Berkshire Mountains community in western Massachusetts where my parents’ own some land?) Seems to me that one or two of those nefarious liberal conspiratorial climate scientists mentioned something about different weather patterns just like those as prime evidence of the gradual changes resulting from our ever-warming planet. Imagine that! But hey, if my leaky roof hasn’t collapsed by now, then I’m good to go! Who cares about the future, Right?

If those who dispute Peak Oil were willing to deal with facts—not the “could possibly might if only” suppositions they routinely engage in [the Peak Oil Denial Category in the Sidebar has a few dozen posts which address this in great detail], or the hosannahs given to the vast, more-than-a-trillion barrels of oil right here in the good ole’ U.S. of A. (while carefully neglecting to mention facts about production which kinda make more than a trillion barrels of oil a lot closer to less than dozen or two billion more likely to be produced … and over the course of a few decades to come)—it would be a lot easier for us to fashion effective solutions, or at least develop reasonable plans for adaptation. This is a different conversation if we Peak Oil proponents are arguing that space aliens are draining Earth’s oil fields in the dark of night. But since we’re instead relying on ideology-free facts, the approach has to be a sensible one.

What’s the purpose in avoiding/denying the facts? It’s the same question I’ve asked before: How does this help?

Keeping peers uninformed—or entirely ignorant of not just the facts but an understanding about consequences—isn’t exactly a noble, integrity-laden pursuit. So why keep doing it? What’s the reason? Who benefits? (Hint: very, very few of us … very few.) If you shade, hide, misrepresent, or flat-out lie about the facts, then any outcome or support is all but useless. So why keep doing it? Does “long-term” mean anything? Planning?

Is this the typical CEO strategy? One may proclaim an interest and commitment in dominating the garden and lawn supply market, but if the location of the “market” is in Antarctica, and you neglect to pass along that location factoid to your investors, well then … the support will wind up ringing a bit hollow, and investment rewards a bit on the slim side….Do you count on your health care provider to completely misrepresent your medical condition, hoping she’ll prescribe just-as-completely irrelevant treatments? How much success would NFL coaches have had in the past decade if they crafted game plans against Tom Brady or Peyton Manning on the premise that “This guy can’t pass and he’s not all that good, so our focus is all about punt coverage.”

So why keep misrepresenting or ignoring the facts and realities about Peak Oil? Just because civilization won’t collapse by Thursday is not a sound reason to avoid considering the implications or facts about declining oil production and supply issues, or to begin planning for the lengthy and inordinately complex, decades-long transition away from fossil fuels. No doubt denial means you don’t have to invest any time, effort, or money on the problem now. So there’s that. And that’s pretty much the entire benefit … today. (How long does one typically ignore a raging toothache, or recurring chest pains, or blinding headaches, before deciding a visit to the dentist/physician might be a good idea? Is saving money, time, or effort for a few more months a good strategy?) We’re not handling Peak Oil much differently than that right now … with consequences a bit more dramatic society-wide.

This is not a philosophical issue! We’re not arguing the “morality” of Peak Oil v. alternative energy. We have fact-based issues at hand which will result in enduring, fact-based problems of unimaginable complexity and scope, and we need fact-based solutions from any and all “experts” in any and all fields of endeavor because fossil fuels touch almost every aspect of our lives. Finite resources are … finite! Are we really better off waiting until we’re scraping the last little pools here and there before realizing we should probably be doing something else?

“The proper course is to withdraw all subsidies and allow market forces to decide where to allocate capital” proclaims Mr. Folks and those adamantly opposed to anything other than “drill, baby, drill”. Who benefits, and at whose expense? There’s no question that free-market principles and its benefits have an important role to play in crafting energy supply strategies in the years to come. But lamenting the relatively ineffective characteristics of fledgling alternatives currently decades behind fossil fuels in testing and implementation is a bit narrow-minded. Are we better off waiting until we truly have no other option? Just how quickly are these free-market proponents anticipating we can develop, test, market, and implement replacement energy sources once finite fossil fuels have done what finite things do: cease to be?

It would be wonderful if magnanimous corporations concerned primarily with mankind’s welfare might collectively decide all on their own that they are going to devote their expertise and resources to a broad-based energy strategy duly recognizing the challenges ahead in light of the facts at hand, and so we could then relax, comforted by their generosity of spirit.

The cynic in me suggests that that might not happen….Blind Faith … a great rock band. A strategy? Not so good.

More likely, scores of the largest corporations are going to do what corporations do: devote their resources and capabilities to what they do best so as to maximize their profits. Millions more smaller businesses will do the same. All fine and well, except that with problems on a scale beyond the capabilities of most to fully appreciate, the fundamental capitalist approach is not the long-term strategy to implement with finite resources so broadly utilized and depended upon … assuming the well-being of everyone beyond next week is a concern. If your interests are a bit more narrowly focused (investment portfolio, bonus potential, profitability), then that path is the one to follow. “You’re on your own” is not just a bad economic policy….

I’ll ask again: Who benefits, and at whose expense?

One more installment coming up.

* links to the prior installments:

http://peakoilmatters.com/2012/04/12/peak-oil-denial-the-liberal%E2%80%99s-dilemma-pt-1/

http://peakoilmatters.com/2012/04/19/peak-oil-denial-the-liberal%E2%80%99s-dilemma-pt-2/

http://peakoilmatters.com/2012/04/26/peak-oil-denial-the-liberal%E2%80%99s-dilemma-pt-3/

http://peakoilmatters.com/2012/05/03/peak-oil-denial-the-liberal%E2%80%99s-dilemma-pt-4/

Sources:

[1] http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=746508; [link to PDF download]. Cultural Cognition and Public Policy by Dan M. Kahan, Yale University – Law School; Harvard Law School and Donald Barman – George Washington University – Law School; Cultural Cognition Project – Yale Law & Policy Review, Vol. 24, pp 147 – 169, Public Law Working Paper No. 87 – 2006 [quote from pp. 163-164]

[Last in a series]
Back in November, Naomi Klein offered a fascinating and thought-provoking essay in Nation magazine entitled “Capitalism vs. the Climate” in which she discussed the transformative changes needed if we are to successfully (not a guarantee) and thoroughly address the challenges of our warming planet. Her insights and observations can easily be adapted to the similar considerations and challenges Peak Oil will extend to us as well. Taken together, the confluence of these looming impositions on our once-cozy ways of life mandate responses far more expansive than a policy here or a tweak there. Ms. Klein offers us all a well-reasoned approach for both how and why.

Every Monday for the past six weeks, I’ve taken advantage of her arguably controversial yet well-reasoned assessments to elaborate and extend the thought process as it applies to Peak Oil. This is the final installment of the discussion inspired by Ms. Klein’s essay [links to installments 1 – 6 are at the end of this post].

[* Any quotes following are taken from Ms. Klein’s essay in Nation unless noted otherwise.]

~~~

If oil production can’t grow, the implication is that the economy can’t grow either….This is such a frightening prospect that many have simply avoided considering it.…
Economists and politicians continually debate policies that will lead to a return to economic growth. But because they have failed to recognize that the high price of energy is a central problem, they haven’t identified the necessary solution: weaning society off fossil fuel [1]

And as the author of this above-cited article notes, “Unfortunately, since most governments are unwilling to admit the prospect of indefinite economic stagnation due to our reliance on fossil fuels, they’ve been unable to generate the political will to even begin these efforts.”

We’re at a crossroads. Up to this point, cheap and abundant energy has fueled consistent economic growth. The only real discussion among the managerial elite was how to grow the economy—whether in planned or unplanned ways, whether with sensitivity to the environment or without.
Now the discussion must center on how to contract. Sadly, that discussion is radioactive—no one wants to touch it. It’s hard to imagine a more suicidal strategy for a politician than to base his or her election campaign on the promise of economic contraction. Instead, discussions in policy circles tend to turn on how to maintain the illusion of growth. Denial runs deep, but sooner or later reality will make itself known.
And sooner or later we must make conservation the centerpiece of economic and energy policy. The term conservation implies ‘efficiency’ in the usual sense—building cars and appliances that use less energy. But it also means cutting out non-essential uses of energy. Rather than continuing to increase economic demand by stimulating human wants, we must begin to think about how to meet basic human needs with minimal consumption of resources, while discouraging extravagance.
This of course amounts to a profound change of course for our economic system, and it will not be undertaken except by necessity. But necessity is inevitably approaching. We will have less energy, like it or not. And with less energy, we will no longer be able to operate a growing consumer society….
The transition would go much better if we were to plan for it, pre-adapting to a low-energy global economic regime. However, little of that planning is likely to occur, simply because nearly everyone—from investors to policy makers to ordinary consumers—wants the fossil fuel-fed fiesta of manic consumption to continue as long as possible. So we are most likely in for a wrenching shift. [2]

We are unwilling to compromise, much less relinquish, the historically unprecedented material living standards associated with our industrialized American way of life, which we consider to be a birthright. Our vested interest in the continued success of our existing lifestyle paradigm is simply too great to permit us even to consider deviating from our current trajectory, despite the fact that our current trajectory leads to collapse. [3]

If large-scale mitigation of peak oil and climate change is not feasible soon, what will happen? Given current investments in the existing pattern of trade and the high costs of reorienting it, change will be resisted, with resulting widespread economic disruption. But change will occur. Clearly, increased fuel costs and higher transport risks will cause supply chains to shorten and long-distance trade to decline…..
It is now critical for economic planners, laypersons, and governments to recognize that long-term energy and climate realities will impose limits on the global movement of goods. …This is not the result of either ideology or policy. Only when we accept these realities can we design and rebuild less vulnerable patterns of production and trade throughout the world. [4]

Common sense about our energy supplies and what needs to be done should not be among the shortages we’re going to contend with. A finite resource–magnificent to be sure—whose substitutes simply do not match the original resource in terms of its efficiency, availability, cost, and other essential criteria, cannot and will not last forever. No matter how optimistic one is about the still-available reserves of conventional crude oil, what’s left is now on borrowed time.

And for all the hoopla about the tar sands and shale oil and North Dakota’s great economic miracle, those resources are not up to the tasks which conventional crude has performed so ably for so many decades. A recent opinion piece by Tom Dennis in North Dakota’s Grand Forks Herald, gushing about the wonders of the state’s increased oil production, is yet another example of the half-truths, context-free assertions which do nothing but provide false assurances to an uninformed citizenry.

The author cites a statement by a University of Michigan economics and finance professor that the state’s production is “currently on track … to exceed 800,000 barrels per day” by the end of 2012. Furthermore, we’re offered this assertion: “‘At that point, North Dakota oil could be [my emphasis] enough to displace either Venezuela’s or Nigeria’s imports.’ Venezuela and Nigeria, of course, are longtime members of OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
‘So, now that North Dakota is poised to pump oil at the rate of an OPEC country, can we at last retire the notion that the world is in the clutches of ‘peak oil’”?

Seriously? The U.S. consumes some 18 million barrels of oil per day. Our total oil production is currently in the neighborhood of 6 million barrels per day, down from a four decades-ago peak of more than 10 million … which we have not come close to since the early 1970’s. And we’re supposed to be doing cartwheels about 800,000 barrels of an inferior quality, harder to extract, more expensive substitute? (Of course, there was no mention in that piece about depletion of existing fields which might counter the wonder of 800,000 barrels, nor are readers given any information whatsoever about the process….)

And displacing “Venezuela’s or Nigeria’s imports” means … what? Did space considerations prevent the author from offering any context? If just mentioning OPEC, coupled with some vague reference to the import totals of two lesser producers serves as one’s argument that our energy worries are over, perhaps some reconsideration is in order. Adding facts and context would be a good place to start.

Recently, beliefs have shifted again, with people worshipping just one part of a god, the invisible hand. Thanks to Adam Smith and those who followed him, especially the current neoclassical economic theologians, we have seen such an increase in the world’s wealth and sheer numbers that it is hard to imagine life before the industrial revolution, with its shift from mostly human and animal muscle power to the energy dense fossil fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas. It is also hard to imagine that humanity could someday slide back into another age of scarcer and more expensive energy, but that is a possibility that cannot be excluded from our thinking.
The Faustian Bargain
What about the Faustian bargain? It remains deeply hidden from view because its exposure by the high priests of modern economics would force us to rethink how we live and why we live this way, as well as what we’re planning to leave for future generations. The Faustian bargain goes something like this: Thanks to the discovery and exploitation of fossil fuels, humans (really just a small minority of them) are able to live richer lives today than even the queens and kings of yore could have dreamed of.
The other side of the bargain, the side hidden from view and never mentioned in economics texts is this: At some undetermined time in the future, one that creeps ever closer, this economic system, fed by energy and other resources at ever increasing rates at one end and spewing out waste products at rates that cannot be absorbed by Earth’s ecosystems at the other, is unsustainable. What that means is simple enough: Industrial society as we know it cannot go on as it has forever—not even close. [5]

… [I]t’s such a huge change, the implications of the end of growth and what that means for our institutions and the way that our society is organized. The politicians now would be thrown out of office because people, the average American, is not educated to understand these things, so it’s a very threatening story. I mean, it’s very difficult to grasp that the biggest threat to the American way of life is the American way of life. And that’s kind of a profound crossroads that we’re at….we are not going to respond to this crisis until the crisis is truly upon us….
… [S]o we have this physical constraint that’s coming because of Peak Oil. There’s nothing we’re going to do about it. We can’t out-clever that. It’s just a constraint, it’s a limitation, there it is. We could manage it well or we can manage it poorly, but it’s there. We have a political system that’s not really geared for the magnitude of the change that we’re seeing, so the most likely outcome is that we’re going to wait, we as a culture are going to wait until we’re forced to deal with this. That’s probably going to come with disruptions….[6]

What to do? It will not be enough for us to hope our leaders start planning at some point. We need to educate ourselves and get involved in the process in our own communities. It’s not pleasant to contemplate no matter what spin you conjure up; but the alternative—to just wait for       life as we’ve known to change because of the drastic changes in our supplies of energy—seems like an utterly foolish relinquishing of opportunity.

At some point, we’re going to have to accept the facts for what they are and begin the long, complex, not-always-satisfactory process of planning for and then implementing change on a grand scale beyond our individual capacity to fully appreciate at this moment. Without the steady supply of high quality, affordable, always-at-the-ready crude oil to provide the energy which makes possible almost every aspect of our personal, economic, and cultural lives, adaptation and transition to something other than the profit-driven capitalism we’ve all reaped countless benefits from will be an inevitability.

And because that process is so all-encompassing, revising if not undoing major elements of a multi-centuries old, entrenched economic system is an undertaking that will be years in the making. How much farther down the short road do we kick this can?

And in the end, although almost none of us will approve, agree, or enjoy this, Naomi Klein’s conclusion about the economic system we’ve built and enjoyed may be our only viable option:

It means that a green-left worldview, which rejects mere reformism and challenges the centrality of profit in our economy, offers humanity’s best hope of overcoming these overlapping crises.
There is simply no way to square a belief system that vilifies collective action and venerates total market freedom with a problem that demands collective action on an unprecedented scale and a dramatic reining in of the market forces that created and are deepening the crisis.

Crisis or opportunity? The choice is ours.

Links to this series:

http://peakoilmatters.com/2012/03/26/peak-oil-capitalism-sustainability-pt-1/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2012/04/02/peak-oil-capitalism-sustainability-pt-2/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2012/04/09/peak-oil-capitalism-sustainability-pt-3/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2012/04/16/peak-oil-capitalism-sustainability-pt-4/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2012/04/23/peak-oil-capitalism-sustainability-pt-5/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2012/04/30/peak-oil-capitalism-sustainability-pt-6/

Sources:

[1] http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2012/01/weve-hit-peak-oil-now-comes-permanent-price-volatility.ars; We’ve hit “peak oil”; now comes permanent price volatility by John Timmer – 01.26.12 [quoting the University of Washington’s James Murray and Oxford University’s David King in a late January article published by Nature magazine]
[2] http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2011-07-25/conservation-there-no-alternative; Conservation: There is no alternative by Richard Heinberg – 07.25.11 [Published by Post Carbon Institute – Original article: http://www.postcarbon.org/article/415728-conservation-there-is-no-alternative]
[3] http://www.energybulletin.net/node/50623; Continuously less and less – the New American Reality [PDF] by Chris Clugston – 11.05.09 at pp 34-35 [from http://www.wakeupamerika.com/ ]
[4] http://www.thesolutionsjournal.com/node/1042; The new geography of trade: Globalization’s decline may stimulate local recovery by Fred Curtis, David   – 01.24.12
[5] http://ourfiniteworld.com/2012/01/09/the-faustian-bargain-that-modern-economists-never-mention/; The Faustian Bargain that Modern Economists Never Mention by Dr. Gary Peters – 01.09.12
[6] http://www.chrismartenson.com/page/transcript-nate-hagens-were-not-facing-shortage-energy-longage-expectations; Transcript for Nate Hagens: We’re Not Facing A Shortage of Energy, But A Longage of Expectations [comments by Chris Martenson and Nate Hagens, respectively] – 08.02.11

We form our beliefs for a variety of subjective, emotional and psychological reasons in the context of environments created by family, friends, colleagues, culture and society at large. After forming our beliefs, we then defend, justify and rationalize them with a host of intellectual reasons, cogent arguments and rational explanations. Beliefs come first; explanations for beliefs follow….I call this process, wherein our perceptions about reality are dependent on the beliefs that we hold about it, belief-dependent realism. Reality exists independent of human minds, but our understanding of it depends on the beliefs we hold at any given time….
Once we form beliefs and make commitments to them, we maintain and reinforce them through a number of powerful cognitive biases that distort our percepts to fit belief concepts. Among them are:
Anchoring Bias. Relying too heavily on one reference anchor or piece of information when making decisions.
Authority Bias. Valuing the opinions of an authority, especially in the evaluation of something we know little about.
Belief Bias. Evaluating the strength of an argument based on the believability of its conclusion.
Confirmation Bias. Seeking and finding confirming evidence in support of already existing beliefs and ignoring or reinterpreting disconfirming evidence. [1]

[NOTE: This is the fourth in a subset of my ongoing series entitled Looking Left and Right (which began here; see Category sidebar for all links). This is about Peak Oil, but addresses the considerations and potential solutions from a different perspective than purely fact-based and/or he-said—she-said ones which too often dominate public discourse. With the caveat that I have NO professional expertise/training in psychology or its related fields, I’ll look at emotional and psychological “tricks” and traits we all use—Left, Right, and in-between—to bolster our beliefs and opinions as we do battle with our “opponents” in the increasingly polarized political forums which too-often dominate our culture.

The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion draws all things else to support and agree with it. And though there be a greater number and weight of instances to be found on the other side, yet these it either neglects and despises, or else-by some distinction sets aside and rejects, in order that by this great and pernicious predetermination the authority of its former conclusion may remain inviolate
– Francis Bacon [courtesy of David McRaney]

As I observed in that first post of this Looking Left and Right series:

We all act much the same way, ideologies notwithstanding. Human nature, I suppose. The more important questions: might we benefit from a bit of introspection before doing more of the same?…We obviously wouldn’t be making use of these psychological tricks of the trade if they didn’t provide us with benefits and gratifications. So is that it? Shrug our shoulders, admit that we are all guilty from time to time and then … nothing?
Might we consider the possibility of being ‘better’ than that? If we choose to solve what might appear at first blush to be overwhelming and even insoluble problems, we need more. We need more from our systems, more from our leaders, and more from ourselves.
There is a great deal at stake for all of us, and we might all be better served understanding not just what we do in asserting and defending our beliefs, policies, and opinions, but why. Appreciating that might make a world of difference … literally!]

In the first three installments of this mini-series (here, here, and here), I began an examination of what my semi-snarky, decidedly liberal perspective viewed to be a perfect summation of stereotypical right-wing nonsense regarding fossil fuel production and gas pricing, relying on the concept of cultural cognition as described by Dan M. Kahan, Yale University and Donald Barman – George Washington University [link to PDF download]. I’m doing so in the hope that this might afford Peak Oil proponents—and those who doubt—a window into how the discussion has been approached to date, and more importantly, how to get past the stumbling block of ideology (my own and the “others”). We’ll need all the intelligence, expertise, and assistance we can get to find some practical adaptations and solutions.

I ended the most recent post of this series with a listing of the points Mr. Folks made in the above-referenced article. I “replied” to one of his many criticisms of President Obama—specifically the failure of his policies and actions to lower gas prices—by providing a lengthy list of recent articles demonstrating rather convincingly (or so I like to think) that no President has the ability or power to lower gas prices (not even a socialist-Marxist-not-born-here-America-hating liberal like Obama … and have you noticed he’s not Caucasian?).

Gas prices are set on the world market for all the reasons explained by those with far more knowledge of such things than me. And since all those reasons have little or nothing to do with adopting a balls-to-the-walls “drill baby, drill” strategy, complaining that Obama’s ineptitude is only raising gas prices is … nonsense! Red meat for some; not much nutritional content.

Why continue to make an arguments which facts quickly debunk? How does this help?

As an aside, a bit more than a year ago I offered this:

During the Bush Administration, the United States’ Energy Information Agency issued a report (updated and confirmed in its 2009 follow-up: ‘Impact of Limitations on Access to Oil and Natural Gas Resources in the Federal Outer Continental Shelf’) in which its analysis of the difference between full offshore drilling (‘Reference Case’) and restricted drilling (‘OCS limited case’) concluded there would be no impact on gasoline prices in 2020, and a whopping ‘three cent’ (that’s not a typo) per gallon decline by 2030.
GOP officials who continue to tout drilling never get around to mentioning that little factoid. Of course, they also never bother to mention any other facts about drilling off-shore or in the Arctic such as the extreme exploration conditions which must be accounted and paid for, the length of time that will pass before full production (such as it may be) will be reached (i.e., several decades), and an assortment of other bothersome little details which would only contradict the ‘benefits’ their sound bites imply. It goes without saying that there is no mention of the current political turmoil in the Middle East and parts of Africa … annoying considerations which most market analyst experts believe to be primarily responsible for recent price spikes. What good are experts if a good political sound bite is available instead?

When “dialogue” about a contentious topic features facts on one side and a genuine desire to find solutions, and fear-based irrelevancies and/or half-truths and/or misrepresentations on the other side, how can anyone expect meaningful exchanges and acceptable solutions? What’s the benefit in not having solutions to urgent challenges because ideologies must be protected first? There’s not all that much of an advantage in postponing shooting oneself in the foot.

Another argument posed by Mr. Folks: “For over 40 years the left has brought out one argument after another against fossil fuels.”

None of us are “against” fossil fuels. What we are concerned with are the facts about declining rates of production in the highest quality conventional crude supplies which have powered our society for decades. We’re simply not finding much of it any more (while what’s left depletes by the day); what we are finding is more costly to extract and refine; takes longer to bring to market; with inferior substitutes in lesser produceable quantities failing to make up for that decline … among other problems.

So what we recognize as likely consequences affecting ALL of us calls for us to find ways to deal with the impact and find ways to adapt before the problems strike full force. So until and unless the Magic Technology Fairy finds an acceptable substitute at acceptable costs, in wildly abundant quantities, easily accessible, while providing the same energy bang for the buck, we’re going to have to rely on developing alternative sources of energy—recognizing that they are indeed no match for what fossil fuels have provided us. And by the way, we also recognize that billions of people around the world and their governments are also planning to use the conventional crude oil supplies still being produced. With their growing populations and increasing domestic demand, oil-producing nations won’t be exporting quite as much in years to come … while the magical shale oil and tar sands continue to fail to meet demand.

Worse than the decline of oil production is the decline of net oil exports. Net oil exporters, awash in the cash from their oil sales, are growing up and industrializing, which causes them to consume more of their own production and cuts into their exports. At the same time, rapidly growing economies like China and India are consuming an ever-larger share of the available net exports. As analysts Jeffrey Brown and Samuel Foucher have shown, available net exports have fallen at an average rate of about 1 mbpd per year from 2005 to 2010, from about 40 mbpd in 2005 to about 35 mbpd in 2010 (BP and EIA data, total petroleum liquids). On current trends, China and India would consume all of the available exports in about 20 years, while the U.S. is slowly squeezed out of the global market. [2]

Basic math; facts; reality—call it what you will—this is what we have to deal with. We are suggesting that what we perceive to be laughably ignorant paranoia-derived fears about socialist takeover from a Muslim-Marxist-alien-President should be left to the Fantasy Cable Network. Keeping the uninformed agitated and fearful is an at best questionable exercise, given the challenges Peak Oil is going to impose on all of us long before we’ve properly prepared.

(Perhaps if we could design energy-based solutions benefitting only liberals and progressives we could stop being concerned….)

“If only he could gain control over oil and gas drilling — regulatory control that still rests mainly with state governments — he would soon have his boot on the neck of America’s energy companies — extorting billions from them to further his political ambitions.” – Jeffrey Folks.

Seriously? Might there instead be some benefit to understanding the reasoning behind the “Liberal” approach to energy “policy” instead of relying on increasingly lame, pointless fears about mind-control and government takeovers and wild-ass conspiracies which at least 99.8% of us wouldn’t know how to contemplate if our lives depended on it?

I’m honestly saddened by that perspective. When reading statements that the President (and all liberals, I assume) are presumably plotting to “gain control” so that we can put a “boot on the neck” to help the President “further his political ambitions”, it is very difficult to look at those pronouncements as anything other than the rantings of a tinfoil-hat-wearing, paranoid loon. I’m betting that’s not especially constructive on my part if I’m trying to engage an author/speaker in mutually beneficial, problem-solving dialogue. I’m equally at a loss to understand how that perspective serves practical long term needs for one who thinks/fears such outlandish motives. At what point does that stop being the best option going forward?

We remain optimistic that upon reflection (ideology-free), of the facts at hand and recognition of at least the possibility Peak Oil advocates may be on to something, conservatives will have something of great value to offer all of us. But if contributions are going to remain at the fear-based level, coupled with an unwillingness to accept facts (and thus fail to offer the expertise and experience we’re counting on from you), what happens to all of us?

Of course it’s threatening to think that our lifestyles, systems of governing, and capitalist processes themselves may all face drastic changes in the not-too-distant future because of the facts and reality of Peak Oil and climate change! As I’ve stated repeatedly, I’m betting that almost every single Peak Oil proponent want nothing more than to be wrong! I’m certainly not the poster-child for Peak Oil advocacy and lifestyles. I have a very nice, capitalist, well-to-do existence: 7 bedroom summer home by the ocean, luxury vehicles for my wife and I, and assorted other technological goodies in quantities too embarrassing to detail. To hell with all of you, I don’t want MY life to change!

I just don’t see much value in ascribing super-secret, nefarious conspiratorial aims to someone ever-so-gently (too cautiously, perhaps?) trying to get Americans to recognize we ought to consider preparing for change before we have no choice … and no plans in place.

Two generations came to think of declining oil prices as normal, which accounts for the current sense of entitlement, the outrage at rising prices, and the search for villains: politicians, oil-producing countries, and oil companies are all targets of scorn in public-opinion surveys.
A substantial failure of education about non-renewable natural resources lies in the background of current public sentiment. And now, having underinvested in energy efficiency and security when the costs of doing so were lower, America is poorly positioned to face the prospect of rising real prices. Energy policy has been ‘pro-cyclical’ – the opposite of saving for a rainy day. Given the upward pressure on prices implied by rising emerging-market demand and the global economy’s rapid increase in size, that day has arrived….
Rather than anticipating and preparing for change, the United States has waited for change to be forced upon it….
Obama is correctly attempting to explain that effective energy policy, by its very nature, requires long-term goals and steady progress toward achieving them.
One frequently hears the assertion that democracies’ electoral cycles are poorly suited to implementing long-term, forward-looking policies. The countervailing force is leadership that explains the benefits and costs of different options, and unites people around common goals and sensible approaches. The Obama administration’s effort to put long-term growth and security above political advantage thus deserves admiration and respect.
Declining dependence on external sources, properly pursued, is an important development. But it is not a substitute for higher energy efficiency, which is essential to making the switch to a new and resilient path for economic growth and employment. A side benefit would be to unlock a huge international agenda for energy, the environment, and sustainability, where American leadership is required.
This effort requires persistence and a long official attention span, which in turn presupposes bipartisan support. Is that possible in America today? [3]

Good question.

More on the way next week.

Sources:

[1] http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-believing-brain; The Believing Brain: Why Science Is the Only Way Out of Belief-Dependent Realism by Michael Sheerer – 07.05.11

[2] http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/energy-futurist/when-should-we-pursue-energy-transition/159; When should we pursue energy transition? by Chris Nelder – 11.02.11

[3] http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/the-energy-deficit; The Energy Deficit by Michael Spence (Nobel laureate in economics) – 03.20.12

I’m passing along some useful/informative Peak Oil-related articles of note which crossed my desk during the prior month … in case you missed them!

Enjoy.

http://www.startribune.com/business/145851905.html

Article by: THE ECONOMIST
04.02.12
Oil: Saudis are burning through it

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http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/energy-futurist/the-last-sip/455

Chris Nelder
04.04.12
The last sip

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http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/commentary/eric-reguly/oil-price-salvation-wont-be-found-in-the-bakken/article2394553/

Eric Regally
04.06.12
Oil price salvation won’t be found in the Bakken

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http://robertreich.org/post/20538393444

Robert Reich
04.05.12
The Fable of the Century

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http://www.alternet.org/visions/154945/heroes_and_villains:_how_to_tell_the_progressive_economic_story?

Richard Kirsch, New Deal 2.0
04.10.12
Heroes and Villains: How To Tell The Progressive Economic Story

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http://www.salon.com/2012/04/15/economy_killers_inequality_and_gop_ignorance/

Paul Krugman and Robin Wells
04.15.12
Economy Killers: Inequality and GOP Ignorance

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http://www.southernlimitsnz.com/2012/04/seven-myths-deniers-use-to-debunk-peak.html

“Southern Limits”
04.22.12
Seven Myths Deniers Use To ‘Debunk’ Peak Oil, Debunked

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http://transitionvoice.com/2012/04/deepwater-what/

Erik Curren
04.20.12
Deepwater what?

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http://www.raisethehammer.org/article/1581/home_run_for_peak_oil

Andrew McKillop
04.23.12
Home Run for Peak Oil

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http://ourfiniteworld.com/2012/04/09/what-the-new-2011-eia-oil-supply-data-shows/http:/

Gail Tverberg
04.09.12
What the New 2011 EIA Oil Supply Data Shows