Give credit where credit is due: the right-wing alternate reality machine is remarkably well-disciplined. They have a message to share, and as usually fact-free as it may be, they do stick to the playbook.

Good to know that the Canadian press’ contribution to that world marches in lock-step with those of our own, as evidenced by this piece. Lots of delicious right-wing buzzwords (see this) sure to appease those for whom explanations are unnecessary intrusions.

Scamming in Secret

Apparently, we Peak Oil advocates are “fleecing the inherently gullible.” Who knew? The author didn’t get around to explaining just how we do so, although he did offer a hint that our “headline-grabbing, money-making blockbusters” are the culprits. (What have I been missing? Woulda been nice if Richard Heinberg, Chris Nelder, Sharon Astyk, Kurt Cobb, Chris Martenson, and others clued me in on how they’ve made their millions and millions of dollars fleecing gullibles. I’ll keep checking my email.)

Thankfully, the article didn’t get around to specifying names of the apparent legion of blockbuster-achieving fleecers, or the actual “money-making blockbusters”. Probably word count limitations. (If we must confess, it’s part of our ultra-top secret mission “to politicize any issue for [our] personal ‘higher’ purpose.” Don’t tell anyone, though! We don’t even know what that means!

Then again, it might spoil the whole narrative if the author pointed out that, well, there aren’t any fleecers. But page 3 paragraph C of the standard right-wing playbook states quite clearly that facts should not be considered an obstacle when making arguments. Inventing others more suitable to your purposes seems to be the most frequently-employed directive.

And those who offer half-truths, unsupported statements, buzzword-laden nonsense, or disingenuous arguments helping the few at the expense of the many? They are embarked on what … some noble and equally top-secret “higher purpose” for the benefit of mankind?

No Explanations Needed

Tossing out the impressive totals from unconventional resources, which “could supply” or “may even match” known fields because they have “plenty of energy potential” and that “estimates” “could see” job-creation of a “whopping” 3.6 million new jobs* is great right up until the point where one must start considering those pesky details about how these vast resources below ground finally show up at our friendly neighborhood gas station. That’s when the opinions start to lose their charm … probably a good reason why those facts never seem to find their way into the arguments of writers like this. It’s more of the whole “screwing up the narrative” thing….(Apparently, alternative/renewal energy efforts [the “key ‘frighteners’”] are all voluntary and thus create no jobs at all. Damn shame.)

* Chris Nelder [here] took some time to do that … what-do-you-call-it? Fax … no, no … fact-checking! That’s it! Yeah … fact-checking of reports touting all these new jobs and energy independence. Chris stated that “as far as the data shows, none of these projections have any basis in reality.” If I’m understanding that correctly, he appears to disagree—but I may be misinterpreting Chris’s no “basis in reality” point. [He also cited a terrific piece by Dave Summers which likewise had a very different, fact-based take on one of the reports relied upon in the Canada Free Press article.]

And the author was likewise quite content to rely on Leonardo Maugeri’s recent, headline-grabbing, money-making blockbuster of a report which was intended to put to bed the entire Peak Oil advocacy super-secret nefarious plot. Of course, the fact that a fair number of credible experts (see this or my smart-ass summary) examined those fax … no, facts (gotta remember that word!) and came away with conclusions suggesting Maugeri’s report was less than credible, shall we say, seems to have escaped the writer’s attention. But as I noted in that post, “Facts aren’t facts if they are either inconvenient or fail to support a position insisted upon no matter what reality suggests.”

Perhaps the “plenty of energy potential” might possibly result in impressive gains if certain things would happen at some point due to certain facts that might play a key role in providing us with vast sums of planet-incinerating energy … perhaps.

On a finite planet with finite resources, however, deniers are nonetheless quite happy to rely on the curious wisdom of those for whom the term “finite” is a bit more fluid than defined by those of us here on Planet Earth. Besides, prices will rise! That’s such great news for … uh, who is that great news for?

When making their arguments, it would help if they offered just a ballpark estimate as to how quickly the human ingenuity-derived alternatives would come to market (the whole experimentation-testing-feasibility-marketing-supplying conversation). A brief rundown of corporate/oil industry opposition might not be a bad idea, but … yeah, that won’t happen. Damned word count limitations….

And as for their delight with oil shale/shale oil/tight oil/whatever, perhaps they might toss in a comment or two about the effort and time required for production; maybe some mention of cost; quality … yeah, quality would be a good thing to pass along; offset caused by depletion of existing conventional resources … that would have helped a lot; as would a brief word comparing the production of shale/tight oil versus conventional … but only if factual perspective is important to you.

As for concerns about documented consequences from all that Magic Technology Fairy-fracking going on? Consequences schmonsequences. Who cares? No mention of them in this article! (Some concerns are best left unmentioned—especially the factual kinds which dim the luster of one’s position.) Good to know we can now disregard nice summaries such as this one:

The drilling technique for tar sands and shale oil — ‘fracking’ — uses great amounts of highly pressurized water, sand and toxic chemicals to force oil and gas from the rock formations in which they are embedded. This has resulted in serious air pollution, wastewater problems, and concerns about the safety of water supplies, with growing evidence that toxic fracking water is leaking into underground aquifers. Earthquakes are also occurring in fracking areas where they’ve not happened before.
But the ultimate irony to this so-called ‘end of peak oil’ scenario is the climate card that unavoidably comes into play. For in addition to the expensive wells and environmental damage, there is also the fact that this new technology must burn great amounts of energy — and, hence, release millions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere — in order to extract yet additional fossil fuels to be burned. Unconventional oil and gas — the touted liberators from peak oil — require far more energy than drilling for conventional fuels. [1]

Energy Independence – NOT!

Besides, using the author’s own numbers (good to add one or two into an article, just for appearances), “shale or tight oil has added about 700,000 bpd to US oil production.” So here in the U.S., with our “current levels of US consumption [at] 19.5 million barrels per day”, the double super-duper Bakken formation is now supplying us with almost 52 entire minutes of oil-derived energy each and every day, and all of this after just … how many years? Never mind.

And as for the Green River formation in the western United States? “… the world’s largest shale oil—more properly, tight oil—deposit at the Green River Formation (GRF). The USGS estimates the GRF holds 3 trillion barrels of oil, around half of which is deemed recoverable.” Energy independence, here we come (even if the Green River formation is not shale/tight oil)!

Chris Nelder has previously raised just one or two teeny, tiny problems with the vast deposits in the Green River formation. I’m sure those same word count limitations prevented any discussion of those annoying fact-things Chris fortunately managed to squeeze into his article [my bold/italic]:

There is another unexploited resource in America known as oil shale, not to be confused with shale oil (tight oil). Oil shale is a dense, hard rock impregnated with kerogen, an ‘uncooked’ form of hydrocarbon that nature hasn’t yet converted into actual oil. Oil cheerleaders like to talk about the trillion barrels or so of it that exists in America in places like the Green River Formation of Utah, but as yet no one has figured out how to produce it commercially (at a profit). So we may consider our prospects from oil shale to be a big fat zero.

So we’ve been trying to find a commercially viable approach for oil shale for a hundred years or so! They’ve been “deemed recoverable” after all! It just might could potentially happen some day, maybe. Can’t we just be satisfied with stating the large numbers and leave it at that? Why add explanations and facts if they are just going to screw up the point one is trying to make? Why provide those who don’t have access to information any facts which are going to do nothing more than … well … inform them?

How do these efforts help?

Perhaps the answer suggested is the point; and perhaps more of us might pay attention to the motivations (few) and beneficiaries (fewer) encouraging those efforts.

I’m still holding firm to my longstanding take:

Now there are the expected deniers who issue their platitudes about ingenuity and technology and zillions of barrels of oil here and there which I guess are going to magically appear just in the nick of time, but this cottage industry of obfuscation, misdirection, and disingenuous arguments serve no purpose in the long-range planning we will have to undertake to convert our ways of life away from oil dependency. The seeds of doubt and confusion they sow appear to have no purpose beyond ensuring that monies continue to be spent on business as usual. That’s all fine and well in the short term, and more power to them, but we’re going to pay a price. How steep that price turns out to be will depend on how soon and how effectively all of us start taking steps now to chart a different course by dealing with Peak Oil.

Any chance that out of the goodness of their hearts the deniers might share with us poor, fact-insistent slobs how they plan to escape every single consequence caused by declining fossil fuel production in the years to come? Perhaps in the alternate reality governing much of their ideology, it won’t matter. Must be nice….

* My Photo: Ana Nuevos, CA Sept 2004

NOTE: I’m taking a short break from new posts here until after Labor Day. Instead, I’ll be re-posting one or two prior pieces worth taking a lot at. Enjoy these next couple of weeks.

Sources:

[1] http://www.reformer.com/ci_20930567/is-peak-oil-dead; Is Peak Oil Dead? by Tim Stevenson – 06.25.12