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Peak Oil Matters

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


Tag: government




Shaping our identity in large part by the groups we align ourselves with for emotional, psychological, cultural, and political reasons are powerful anchors—individually and collectively. All of us are much more inclined to seek out information and assurances which bolster who we believe ourselves to be rather than contemplate facts or assessments casting doubt about our choices and conclusions.

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In last week’s post, I asked what seems to be a reasonable, fair, and obvious observation and inquiry in light of assertions offered by the author of the second article serving as the focal point of this series:

Imagine if we actually engaged in meaningful conversations with ‘the opposition’ which involved honorable considerations and discussions of both the merits and the disadvantages of policy proposals and the many factors in play before solutions were proposed! Who might benefit? Who might not?

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There are—almost always—at least two sides to any story of significance and potential impact upon others. The greater the impact and potential for a range of outcomes, the more certain one can be that there are more than a handful of factors, considerations, and perspectives to be accounted for if the issue at hand is to be both understood and resolved effectively.

Ignoring the “other side” of the issue may be effective if one prefers their narrative to remain unchallenged and to provide reassurance to fellow believers, but beyond that, it’s hard to understand what the benefit might be to those seeking information if what’s shared is inaccurate or purposely incomplete.

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It’s been quite a while—several years, actually, since my last post on transportation issues. But it’s still as important as ever; more so, if that’s possible. More than 90% of all transportation systems depend on fossil fuels—oil and gasoline, specifically. continue reading…









In order to break the addiction to oil, economies dependent on oil will need to invest huge amounts of money and energy in building new social and economic infrastructures that are not so heavily dependent on oil (e.g. efficient public transport systems to continue reading…










Expenditures for finding and developing oil fields have tripled in the last decade and the return from these expenditures has not been enough to justify the costs. Nearly all of the major oil companies have announced major reductions in their exploration and continue reading…










An observation worth noting … and pondering, from Dr. Nafeez Ahmed (quoting Lieutenant Colonel Daniel L. Davis): continue reading…









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


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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

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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






An observation worth noting … and pondering, from Kurt Cobb.

[H]ere is where we get to the motivations behind the sunny optimism of the oil industry. If the public understood that oil supplies might be nearing an irreversible decline, it would demand the deployment of alternative fuels and efficiency measures to soften the blow in order to give us time for a transition to a society based on something other than oil. That would ultimately reduce demand for oil products and eventually end our dependence on oil. Oil companies might get stuck with significant inventories in the ground that they cannot sell, at least not at the prices or in the quantities they would like.
The more immediate problem for oil company executives is that their companies may soon find it impossible to replace all their oil reserves

Still trying to figure out the benefits of withholding facts….Haven’t come up with anything solid as yet.

There’s little doubt that the public is going to suffer needlessly in the years to come if the oil industry, our political leaders, and the media don’t declare a moratorium on fact-free Happy Talk about our vast, massive resources. It’s long past the time when we need to respect the citizens of this country and start sharing facts—all of them, not just the specially-selected ones which keeps the oil industry afloat, business media at bay, and politicians safe for one more term.

Yes, we have abundant resources underground. That’s not the end of the story and it’s barely the beginning. It’s hard to imagine that oil industry officials are not painfully aware of the fossil fuel supply challenges looming. It’s just as difficult to imagine they’re not making a contingency plan or two for themselves (whatever the hell that might be).

Waiting until their problems are nearly insurmountable before they begin a massive overhaul of what they do seems fairly idiotic—my limited oil industry experience notwithstanding. The benefit to the public in not laying out all the facts while failing to enlist commercial and political assistance across the board to start planning for a different energy future … this strategy will make things better … how?

~ My Photo: el Conquistador, San Juan, PR – 02.24.06

 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.
            – Look for my new website going live next week









The Senate’s top Republican on energy issues, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, has crafted a blueprint for U.S. energy policy that calls for increased drilling while opposing laws to cap greenhouse gases that are blamed for global warming….
Murkowski, the top ranking Republican on the Senate energy committee, argues energy is too often seen as a necessary evil rather than embraced for what it brings.
‘We like to be comfortable in our temperatures. We like to be able to move around. This is the mark of a successful and an economically healthy world. Where you have energy these are the prosperous areas,’ she said in an interview.
Her proposal opposes ‘any policy that would increase the price of energy or limit consumer choice.’ [1]

As a fellow consumer, I appreciate the sentiment. [I’ve written about the Senator previously.] But as long as our fearless leaders continue to suck-up to their wealthy benefactors while spouting empty but hot-button platitudes in the general vicinity of their constituents, the primary strategy of drill at all costs so costs stay low is not just a losing strategy, it’s one sure to cause far more harm in the years to come.

That sentiment was nicely expressed here:

The common element between the Keystone Pipeline and Arctic drilling is a willingness to jettison our children’s future in return for keeping our oil addiction slightly cheaper for slightly longer. In the American psyche, the right to cheap gas is as much a psychological phenomenon as an economic one. [2]

We elect leaders to lead, to use their presumed expertise and judgment to present policies addressing challenges and concerns that just might last beyond the next election. Go figure! Imagine if Congress actually decided to try that theory out….

The questioning of assumptions is a critical part of the creative process. Faced with a problem, most of us are so eager to find a solution, and thus end the uncertainty and frustration of not knowing what to do, we tend to rush into the first solution that comes to mind. Only later, often when we are in trying to put our solution into practice, do we realize that we had not fully thought through our solution, and probably had made some invalid assumptions….
Most people find the process of challenging their assumptions very difficult. It is not just that the assumptions are hard to see; we usually do not want to see them. We become emotionally attached to our beliefs, and to question them can feel very threatening. Nevertheless, uncomfortable as the process may be, it nearly always pays dividends. It usually leads to a deeper understanding of the nature of the problem, and often to better solutions….
What has emerged from our questioning is a critical psychological aspect. One major impediment to sustainability is not ‘out there’ in the complex global system we are trying to manage; it is inside ourselves. It is our greed, our love of power, our love of money, our attachment to our comforts, our unwillingness to inconvenience ourselves. In one way or another human self-interest is either creating the problem or preventing us from solving it. [3]

While we should not only expect more from our leaders, so too will critical problems affecting us all demand more courageous and informed actions from each of us as well. Fossil fuels are finite resources; industry is no longer extracting the easy stuff because that ship has sailed. They’re not drilling miles below the ocean’s surface or spending millions per shale wells just to keep themselves entertained.

So while one “solution” is to just keep doing more of what they’ve always done, the end results won’t be pretty. Whether the efforts become either unprofitable in the extreme or simply too technologically challenging given the demands of the time, devoting more time, effort, and money to a game certain to end—to the exclusion of efforts to transition away from fossil fuel dependency—simply makes no sense.

Better solutions will come from asking better questions. More knowledge, greater acceptance of facts and reality—harsh though they may be—and the honesty and integrity to think, understand, and focus on the future and not what is good today … those are the ingredients needed to provide our future generations with the best opportunities they’ll need for successful living. Short-term thinking, planning, and acting produces short term solutions.

‘There’s a reality out there people don’t want to recognize,” concludes Kaufmann. [Robert Kaufmann, director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Studies at Boston University]. ‘Clearly technology has improved. Oil prices are higher. We deregulated the industry. We’ve done almost everything. There are a few areas offshore that are closed off. It’s not going to make a difference. The sooner people realize that and stop dreaming about energy independence or one huge undiscovered field that’s going to solve all our problems, the better off we’ll be.’ [4]

A five-year old quote with all its wisdom intact, and still a worthy pursuit.

* My Photo: Good Harbor Beach, MA – 09.05.05


[1]; Republican energy plan calls for more drilling, nothing to rein in greenhouse gases by Sean Cockerham – 03.03.13
[2]; The Real Bridge to Nowhere: Oil Drilling in the Arctic by Ethan Goffman – 03.20.13
[3]; Who’s Kidding Whom? Is Sustainable Development Compatible with Western Civilization? by Peter Russell – November 2010
[4]; Did You Hear That Alaska Has More Oil Than The Middle East?: Busting the myths about cheap and unlimited oil being broadcast by Rush Limbaugh, Jerome Corsi and other ignoramuses by Peter Dizikes – 08.18.08