Skip to content

Peak Oil Matters

A fresh perspective on the concept of peak oil and the challenges we face


Tag: buzzwords








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. [1]

continue reading…









Good to know the use of the official far-Right playbook of cherry-picking, key word usage, misdirection, and core ideological utterances are still the primary go-to tactics for denying the inevitability of facts and reality! That little of it is helpful for any issue whose shelf-life continue reading…

090110 104_Watermarked








Apparently, the possibility that some innovations might be introduced, if they aren’t already in an undefined but probably—or at least likely—manner in certain instances where there could be some potentially good news provided that certain other events fall into place exactly as some are hoping for at some point, but in a good way (just not consistent with facts or reality, but why quibble), then by golly we might possibly see oil prices drop, which, coupled with the distinct possibility that certain savings could be achieved immediately after magic happens, could result in something good—perhaps. (Of course, lower oil prices would lead to lower profits and lower investment funds available and thus end a lot of exploration and production, but hey! Prices will be lower.) We won’t have anything to buy, but it will be cheaper….

That’s the essential point offered in a recent addition to the endless parade of hide-most-of-the-facts nonsense from oil industry cheerleaders, this one courtesy of an article* by Gene Epstein, entitled “Here Comes $75 Oil” in Barron’s. This one was a gold mine of right-wing Happy Talk and tactics more routine than not: light on facts; big on hype; no context, while avoiding discussions of any consequences—potential or certain.

As is usually the case with such efforts, it’s all designed to help … well, not us. What’s the point? [Quotes to follow are from that above-referenced article.]

For the first time in its 150-year history, the internal combustion engine can be run efficiently on alternative fuels from a number of sources, including natural gas. As these alternatives are increasingly introduced, global consumption of oil will slow its growth and flatten out.

The first line does have some truth to it; no dispute there. Nice set-up, but then … the fine art of cherry-picking and dancing around reality begins in earnest.

What are the “number of sources”? How efficient are they? Give the Republican Party’s general aversion to investing in research to learn more about … you know, reality, how might that all play out? How extensive has the testing been? Is the infrastructure all set? What should we do with our gas-powered vehicles? When can I turn mine in?

And about that “increasingly introduced.” When? How about a “for example”? How widespread is the introduction? How soon before a full transition takes place? What happens in the interim? Costs? Considerations? Any details left to be worked out? What if it might possibly not achieve the potential a study suggests could happen under certain circumstances?

As for the slowdown of global consumption: When? How? Where? How do we share the potential with several billion others?

Perhaps we should introduce some of these Happy Talkers to the reality of high prices. There’s a long line of other not-quite-so-Happy experts who prefer the factual side of the discussion. Look up almost anything written by Steve Andrews; Chris Nelder; Steve Kopits; Ron Patterson; Gail Tverberg; Chris Martenson; Kurt Cobb; Tom Whipple; Jeffrey Brown; Richard Heinberg, among many others (apologies for not running the long list) who point out that high prices are enabling the oil industry to produce the inferior, more costly, harder-to-extract, environmentally-questionable (I’m being kind) tar sands and tight oil now being relied upon. They also point out that even at current high prices, profit margins aren’t  justifying further expenditures. Uh-oh!

Bean-counters for the fossil fuel industry love high prices! We lowly consumers, not so much. So when real economics come into play and we peons stop coughing up as much money, prices will certainly drop. So won’t production totals. See how that math works? Facts suck!

Did I mention that the conventional supply of crude oil we’ve relied upon for more than a century continues its relentless depletion? Mr. Epstein didn’t! (Seems a few other items fell off the page, also.) Oh, and what happened to the information about the much more rapid decline rates of wells drilled in the shale formations, or the vast trillions of barrels of shale oil whose production has not yet been found commercially feasible? (Of course, to be fair, the industry has only been attempting that for about a century—the fact-based one which has one hundred years in it. But the potential is there!) So what if the environment-savaging tar sands production hasn’t yet met its own lofty potential? Best not to discuss that, actually. My bad.

But there is the natural gas side to turn to. As Mr. Epstein noted:

[S]omething resembling a global market in liquefied natural gas will likely develop.

Can’t get more specific and certain than that! (Well, you can, but that would require the introduction of facts, reality, consequences, and context. Who has time for that?)

As for helping the public to understand the realities and challenges of future energy supply so that they and their communities might actually plan for adaptation to a different reality, information (loosely-defined) such as the Barron’s article provides aren’t exactly intended to help at all.

The challenge of adaptation is all the greater—if that’s possible—because from our perspective too many people without the means/opportunities to understand what’s at stake are being fed a steady diet of half-truths, misrepresentations, irrelevancies, nonsense, and in some cases outright lies. If you come to the table without understanding or even knowing the facts, it’s a wee bit more difficult to contribute and then leave with meaningful solutions in hand. Not exactly a major revelation….

There was enough meaty nonsense in the Barron’s piece that it merits a second entry all its own. That’s the subject matter of my next post.

* If the link is unavailable, you can read it here

~ My Photo: Good Harbor Beach, MA – 09.01.10


* I invite you to enjoy my two new books [here and here], and to view my other work at :

       * Looking Left and Right

A blog examining the liberal vs. conservative conflicts in our society


       * Life Will Answer

Thought-provoking inquiries & observations about how (and why) Life does … and does not, work for everyone. [Inspired by my book of the same name]


       * The Middle Age Follies

A column offering a slightly skewed look at life for those of us on the north side of 50.


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

Peak Oil Matters is dedicated to informing others about the significance and impact of Peak Oil—while adding observations about politics, ideology, transportation, and smart growth.











At the risk of starting a cat fight where truth may too quickly become a casualty, why don’t we more forcefully challenge those who deny peak oil (and global warming) and who do so for reasons that generally ignore reality in favor of narrowly-defined interests? Those motivations will ultimately do nothing but promote more eventual harm by denying the truths to those who clearly need them the most….
Of course, we run the risk of getting bogged down in he said/she-said arguments that quickly devolve into the lowest forms of ‘debate’, but why let those types of offerings go unchallenged? They feed on themselves, and it is tiresome and time-consuming to have to rebut all the nonsense. But if we don’t, uninformed readers and listeners have no reason to at least consider the possibility that there may indeed be other facts out there that should at least be examined in order to make informed assessments, rather than accepting the words of the few. More information is rarely a bad thing, and giving everyone the opportunity to examine the facts and engage in rational discourse as a means of seeking common ground makes for a healthier and more productive society.

That’s from a post I wrote three years ago, and my attitude hasn’t wavered. The constant flow of articles and opinions give me yet more opportunities to bat down the nonsense passing as advice and learned observations about the world of energy supply.




The most significant characteristic of modern civilization is the sacrifice of the future for the present, and all the power of science has been prostituted to this purpose. [1]

There’s a fairly consistent pattern of denial which serves as the common thread running through  almost every written or spoken piece denouncing those of us who are urging greater awareness of our future oil supply challenges. The “myth/theory” of peak oil is consistently targeted by an assortment of disingenuous, pseudo-factual might-possibly-could perhaps arguments, as I’ll continue to point out—here and in future posts.

Just wondering: if it was indeed anywhere near as much of a nutty concept as the body of fact-free, Happy Talk cheerleaders insist, why do they keep at it? That they are unable to do so without some impressive contortions of facts and geological realities seems to be delivering a not-to-subtle message they probably do not intend.

Below is a sampling of the typical straight-from-the-buzzword-playbook typically found in the bag of Happy Talk team members. The next few posts in this series will take a closer look (including facts as a bonus contribution) at some of these sorry displays of pseudo-certainty, and why pointing out the nonsense is so important.




Oil production in Canada as well as the U.S. – long written off as a virtual resource wasteland – began to creep up, then roar. [2]

The fact is, governments have almost always thought their countries were about to run out of oil….[3]

The implications [of future production possibilities] are vast. [4]

In hindsight, you drive oil to $147 barrel and lo and behold, five years hence the world is swimming in oil. It really is that simple. [5]

But it’s now clear that a revolution has occurred: U.S. crude oil production is up 50 percent since 2008. [6]

North Dakota, the center of the now-famous Bakken Formation shale, has overtaken Alaska and California to become the second-largest oil-producing state in the country, outpaced only by Texas. (links in original) [7]

Christoph Frei, Secretary General of the WEC said that the chances of the world running out of oil were slim, citing the fact that global reserves of the engineering resource were 25 percent higher than in 1993 while production has increased by 20 percent. [8]

[T]here is little reason to fear that the oil will run out before an alternative can be found. [9]

‘[T]he unconventional oil and gas revolution has already had major impact in multiple dimensions. Its significance will continue to grow as it continues to unfold.’ [10]

Not only are oil companies looking for more places to drill, but they are trying to maximize the amount of recoverable oil per well [11]

The Arctic’s potential for oil and gas production is huge, massive, colossal even….The U.S. has six of the 18 major Arctic fields (not including Russia), which means it will be able to cash in on the huge potential….
Imagine the potential: If just one play could yield that much oil and gas, then more is sure to come in other areas….
The Arctic is just one of many plays America has the potential to see continued production from — the Gulf also has some promise. [12]

There are 89 billion barrels of oil still trapped inside America’s oil wells. That’s because the average oil well in America only gives up 30% of its black gold. This is oil that’s vital to fueling our economy and it’s just sitting down there.
To put this into perspective, if the U.S. could recover all its oil, our nation would rival Iraq and Iran as a top five holder of oil reserves in the world. [13]

One of the keys to unlocking all of the oil still trapped is to find the right technique to unlock it. [14]

A lasting lesson of the crisis years is the power of markets and their ability to adjust to disruptions, if government allows them to. The iconic images of the 1970s—gas lines and angry motorists—are trotted out whenever some new disruption happens. Yet those gas lines weren’t the result of markets. They were the largely self-inflicted result of government interference in markets with price controls and supply allocation. [15]

Keep in mind that this was just a sampler, but a good one. There’s lot more … unfortunately, as future posts in this series will discuss. But first, I’ll pick apart the comments above to shed a bit more light on the “geological gibberish” of peak oil. (Facts—the other side of the peak oil story—still suck….)

~ My Photo: an approaching storm in Gloucester, MA – early July, 2008


– I invite you to read my other blogs at

New features will debut soon at that website:


This new column begins on February 3, 2014. It’s a slightly skewed look at life for those of us on the north side of 50.

            * THE TRETIAK AGENDA

A political thriller filled with unexpected plot twists and drawn from real world historical events, this eBook is scheduled for Publication tomorrow: January 28, 2014.

TretiakAgendaEbookCoverFinal copy










            * LIFE WILL ANSWER

(The inspiration for the second blog at that website). This eBook is scheduled for Publication on February 12, 2014

Excerpts are being posted as of January 15th

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

Peak Oil Matters is dedicated to informing others about the significance and impact of Peak Oil—while adding observations about politics, ideology, transportation, and smart growth.


[1]; As Things Fell Apart, Nobody Paid Much Attention by Jim Quinn – 11.19.10 [quoting William James]
[2]; The Welcome Death of Peak Oil by George Koch – 10.04.13
[3] & [4] Ibid
[5]; Recollecting the false messiah of peak oil by Izabella Kaminsky – 11.13.13
[6] & [7]; Congratulations, America. You’re (Almost) Energy Independent. Now what? by Daniel Yergin – November 2013
[8]; Global Energy Report Dismisses Fears Of Peak Oil (unattributed) – 10.23.13
[9]; EDITORIAL: No need to panic about ‘peak oil’ – 10.21.13
[10]; Awash in Misinformation: America’s Domestic Tight Oil ‘Bump’ by Daniel Davis (quoting Daniel Yergin) – 03.22.13
[11]; The U.S. Oil Boom Is far From Over: Part 1 by Callum Turcan, The Motley Fool – 10.23.13
[12]; The U.S. Oil Boom Is far From Over: Part 2 by Callum Turcan, The Motley Fool – 10.26.13
[13] & [14]; Peak Oil Is Dead Wrong by Matthew DiLallo – 10.12.13
[15]; Peak Oil Redux: World oil production is 50% higher today than in 1973 by Daniel Yergin – 10.14.13