Loft072415H

 

 

I’ve mentioned in the prior posts of this series that there were two articles posted online a number of weeks ago *  which caught my attention for reasons which at first puzzled me. No disrespect intended either author, but the contents of each were fairly routine offerings by those who clearly have not accepted the rationale of Peak Oil [and/or climate change] and have a decidedly anti-liberal/progressive perspective about … probably everything. Not exactly unusual these days, is it?

But as I suggested in the second post of this series, what struck me about the combination of the pieces [and the commentary from quite rabid believers in all things Right] was not the messages conveyed. They were what is by now standard fare from the Right. Perhaps it was nothing more than I had finally maxed out on the same vague, boilerplate, stay-with-the-message contributions to public discourse on matters of more than passing significance.

They each and both highlighted just about everything that’s not only “wrong” [disheartening and pointless, more accurately] about public policy and social issues discussions, but they also managed to encapsulate how each side in our ongoing Left-Right war talks past the “opposition.” They have no use for what we on the Left are trying to convey. From our perspective, the light-on-facts-if-they-even-bother approach seems more ludicrous by the day.

Given that our understanding of facts suggests we have some serious challenges ahead, the completely dismissive attitude of our perspective has flown past “just annoying” and landed on the “what the f*ck are they thinking?” square. Ignoring every bit of evidence offered in order to remain true to their foxhole partners carries the potential for significant consequences that will land on all of us. That makes us a bit edgy.

So what to do?

In its annual outlook for energy report, ExxonMobil presents data that contradicts Obama’s green energy utopianism. Who has the better track record of predicting the global energy future: Obama or a private company that actually produces the stuff? [1]

At first glance, not an entirely unfair question. But then there’s the follow-up from our side: Who is more likely to offer a self-serving, glowing ode to the public so as to ensure a bigger bottom line for itself: a company that knows full well the real-world factors adversely impacting oil production now and in the future, or an elected official putting forward an additional proposal to assist the public long, long after his days in office have passed?

Consistent with what is fairly well-established research conclusions about the conservative personality, the quick turn to conclusions based on minimal evidence with no appetite for considering more than a nominal amount of relevant factors is on full display in that American Thinker piece. Why not pause to consider what the President might be offering instead of concluding that this is an all-or-nothing proposal [which it clearly is not]? Why the consistently-juvenile snark from presumably rational and intelligent adults? “Green Energy Utopianism?”

How about examining details first rather than labeling the entire approach as a utopian boondoggle? It’s a timesaver, to be sure, and it certainly is in keeping with the Playbook, but to what end?

What if there were not only actual merit to what the President [or anyone not marching lockstep with GOP orthodoxy] offered, but sound reasons for doing so? What if those on the Left were not actually part of a vast, double-top-super-duper-secret conspiracy designed so that each and every single policy proposal, excerpt, reason, rationale, consideration, section, objective was for the sole purpose of destroying mankind? What if they had valid points and sound evidence to support what they proposed? What if those implemented policies actually benefited conservatives?

I read the very same ExxonMobil “The Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040report. It was just what you would expect from an outlook spanning more than two decades into the future: an outlook. Assessment. Best-case scenario. Prediction. And also to be expected, just as we would from a report issuing from the White House, chock full of optimism, more than a bit of bias, and a healthy dose of certainty about what the authors have decided will come to pass.

What it is not, unfortunately for its boosters, is an ironclad guarantee. That’s all the more evident when one parses the assurances offered by ExxonMobil without a single piece of fact-based reality which would serve to point out that there are a few problems with its rosy outlook. Hell, even we liberals would welcome a rosy, every-day-is-Christmas future! If only…. Certainly the author of the Thinker piece wasn’t about to question the gospel.

The choice of energy sources will be driven by a combination of cost and government policy….Reliance on oil and natural gas … will continue to expand, as will nuclear energy and alternatives….
[T]he ‘carbon intensity’ of the world’s economy will drop by half. More efficient use of fossil fuels means a savings of close to 40%, thus reducing cost and lowering carbon emissions by an equal percentage…. Greater efficiency means lower costs, resulting in higher living standards.

Sounds wonderful! But for facts, it makes for the greatest of great stories.

As for the supporting evidence? Well, it’s not what one would consider evidence in the fact-based sense. Instead, we get bold statements which sound great. Unfortunately, the sounding great part is tempered by the fact that the statements—while most likely true—are the problems, not the solutions.

[I]n 2040, oil will still be the world’s leading energy source, followed by natural gas. Together with coal, these sources will provide for 80% of the world’s energy needs….
Fortunately, there are ample supplies of oil and gas to power the world economy well beyond 2040.  The International Energy Agency estimates that recoverable oil and condensate resources now stand at 4.5 trillion barrels, replacing earlier ‘peak oil’ estimates of one trillion barrels.

Great! So now I’ll ask the same set of questions posed in last week’s post: What are the details about how? When? How much? How expensive? How soon? How easy? Etc. Etc. Etc. If only statements were the solutions….Facts suck! [As for explaining the significance of the term “resources”, a not insignificant factor in oil production? Fuggedaboudit!]

By 2040, it is likely that recoverable oil will have risen again, perhaps by a factor of five and certainly enough to power the global energy through the end of the century.

Likely”? “Perhaps”? Why only a “factor of five”? Based on what evidence? Cavalier disregard of facts, strategies, options, considerations about what if those guesses are wrong … any thought about those “likely’s”? Is this how we raise our children, or conduct our businesses, or invest? Kids will probably turn out okay. Company is likely to succeed. We’ll certainly have enough money to last us all of our lives. Facts? Hah! Plans? We don’t need no stinkin’ plans!

Timesavers, all, but … given that oil is still a finite resource [which ExxonMobil’s report did not refute], and their assessments are suggesting a lot more growth and lot more demand for a lot more products and services to meet a lot more needs by a lot more people, how does “finite” factor into that discussion?

More to come….

* The first of those two articles is cited in this post; comments on the second are shared in upcoming posts

NOTE: This series will run on Fridays through June 17

 

~ My Photo: storm clouds at Long Beach, MA – 07.24.15

 

Sources:

[1] http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2016/02/americas_energy_outlook_is_bright_and_obama_hates_it.html; America’s Energy Outlook Is Bright – and Obama Hates It, by Jeffrey Folks – 02.12.16

 

We face a choice going forward. There’s a kind of false dichotomy, a false choice that we’re being presented between policies on the left or policies on the right. It’s not left or right, it’s forward or backward. It’s a choice between investing in the future, leaving a better future for the next generation just like parents and grandparents did for us, or ignoring these hard choices and sentencing the next generation to a lower standard of living, to fewer opportunities, and a future that we could do better by. Michael Brownlee

Looking Left and Right:
Inspiring Different Ideas,
Envisioning Better Tomorrows

 

Peak Oil Matters offers observations and insights about the realities of declining fossil fuel production, and its impact on our future well-being

 

I invite you to enjoy my two books [here and here], and to view my other writings at richardturcotte.com