The latest entry straight from the playbook on peak oil denial—that seemingly never-ending attempt to ignore facts, mis-/under-inform readers, or create ever-rising levels of non-credible optimism—is a nearly 6800 word ode to the technology wizards and ingenuity gods of our fossil fuel industry, courtesy of the Manhattan Institute. (I’ve commented on that organization’s efforts before: here and here.)

Good to be consistent. Disingenuous at best; wrong in other matters, but consistent.

The deniers’ script is a simple one, and almost always featuring these same talking points [discussed at greater length in a prior series; links below *]. This latest effort does not disappoint:

1. Be certain to mention—falsely, not that it matters—that we proponents of peak oil, who are concerned about the challenges we’ll all confront as a result, continue to insist that we’re “running out of oil.”

2. When discussing production or “possible/potential, etc.” current and future supplies, be sure to indicate that production increases have been “dramatic/staggering, etc.,etc.” and that the supply is “vast/massive/will last for centuries, etc., etc.”

3. Related to “strategy # 2”: freely interchange the terms “reserves” and “resources,” but with an important caveat to both # 2 and # 3: never explain the critical distinctions and do not supply context. Facts screw with the ideology and the Happy Talk, and we can’t have that, Right?

“Our side” then replies with slight variations of the following rebuttals—which I’ll elaborate upon in this new series:

1. Just about every writer/analyst relying on fossil fuel production facts in support of our position never make that “running out of oil” claim. We thus repeatedly point out the lie, and duly note that the straw man argument is the product of the deniers’ vivid imaginations and questionable motivations.

We then move on in faint hopes that some honest discussions might take place soon. But that might benefit the public, and we can’t have that, Right?

2. While acknowledging that the U.S. has indeed and in fact witnessed a remarkable surge in production (due in no small part to hydraulic fracturing, a/k/a “fracking”—a remarkable technological innovation), we then add more facts and context.

A novel concept, but we like it. The story becomes a different one, to be sure, but reality will do that to the best of ‘em.

3. We then provide the not-even-a-little-bit-complicated explanation about the difference between “reserves” and “resources.” (I’ll get back to these points, of course.)

The difference between the two terms is fundamental to any discussion about fossil fuel production and supply. It’s almost inconceivable that those ardent deniers don’t understand that basic distinction and how important it is to any honest, meaningful discussion about our energy future. Hurling big numbers at readers without a glimmer of context or clarification is … well, draw your own conclusions. At the very least, it’s certainly a curious tactic.

Part of that very simple offering to make the distinction clear for readers is a related question addressed to but as-yet unanswered by the deniers: Why do they do and say these things?

I’ll get into more of this in my next post.

~ My Photo: storm damage from Nemo, Good Harbor Beach, MA – 03.10.13

* referenced links to the Peak Oil Denier Test Criteria series: