An observation worth noting … and pondering, from David Ropeik. [Written in regards to climate change and the vile Heartland Institute, its sentiments have just as much applicability to peak oil….]
[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….
We are all responsible to some degree for our choices and behavior, responsible not only to ourselves, but to each other. That’s the very idea of ethics, isn’t it? It may take more cognitive effort to think critically and independently rather than just parrot our tribal leaders … 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.
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….
Last month, Forbes published an article which offered pretty much the same loosely fact-based arguments contained in another piece by that same author in December of 2011.
The writer is certainly no dummy. The author’s bio attached to the Forbes piece is quite impressive. Among the highlights: CEO, author, research fellow, MA in economics, PhD in political economics … not exactly a flimsy CV.
Given his credentials and presumed expertise in at least the basics of energy supply and production, I was astounded by the stream of nonsense this gentleman once again shared with readers about our nation’s presumed energy “resources.”
The comments following this most recent article—including smackdowns by Robert Rapier and Jeffrey Brown—are more than sufficient on their own to rebut the stated claims. I won’t repeat or expand on them here. [See this post of mine for a discussion of that 2011 article. I could have cut most of the commentary from that one and pasted it here.]
The question I’m more curious about is: Why?
The Forbes contributor is certainly far from the only well-credentialed professional disseminating much the same context-free, borderline factual observations about supply and production. Surely he must know that the “astounding 1.4 trillion barrels of recoverable oil, the … oil shale in the Rocky Mountain West” is astounding mostly because many decades of effort and expense have yet to realize even remotely reasonable commercial production status, with absolutely no indications we’ll see any change for decades more.
Surely he must know that the resource is not actually oil at all, as was thoroughly explained in the Comments. Tellingly, he apparently considers the oil shale to be “reserves.” A resource is not a reserve. There’s a big difference. Very big, actually. [See this.]
Reserves and resources are two fundamental terms in the energy field easily explained by anyone with even passing knowledge. Anyone with his expertise and experience should know the distinction as readily as your family doctor knows the difference between a sprained ankle and a head cold.
It’s almost comical how similar the arguments have become, as I noted several months ago:
So by repeatedly raising Peak Oil advocates’ alleged doom and gloom position that we’re running out of oil, the deniers instantly create fear among those who rely on their ‘leadership.’ Shameless, but give ‘em credit: it works—if misleading or lying is one’s preferred strategy. To what end is a different story, but deniers don’t seem terribly concerned with consequences so long as their interests are being protected today. Ugly, but that seems to be the primary rule.
With fear aroused, the smooth transition to the deniers’ preferred argument: ‘but we have several bazillion barrels of reserves that will last us for at least a kajillion years,’ wipes away the concerns of the uninformed. Life goes on. One of two scenarios are likely: (1) They really don’t know what they are talking about, or (2) They do and realize that telling the truth and sharing all the facts is not in their best interests. Which is worse?
Of course, it is by now standard fare for the deniers to omit any discussion or explanation of factual consequences or even some basic facts about ‘reserves.’ That would surely screw up everything for them, and we cannot have that! Nope. Just tell ‘em we’ve got vast quantities, and end the discussion there.
So I’ll ask again: Why?
The pattern is easily recognized by now, and this questionable behavior is by no means restricted to the energy arena (hello, Republican leadership!). In a consequence-free world, these shameful displays would be annoyances and nothing more. Not all of us have the luxury—as apparently they do—of living in that world.
That’s a problem….
* My Photo: Good Harbor Beach, MA – 08.21.09