From EnergyResources mailing list:
I’ve just spent an evening talking with an economist whose work is on devising economic incentives to do something about greenhouse.
He’s been wondering if he shouldn’t branch out into the oil rollover issue. He accepts Campbell’s point that the official figures for oil reserves are bodgy.
Having spent a week checking the data he told me that, as a professional researcher, he was struck by several anomalies:
1. The entrenched positions of Campbell and Laherrère, and of their adversaries like Adelman.
2. The remarkable number of scholarly citations of Campbell and Laherrère’s most conspicuous article in a reputable journal (in Scientific American in 1998). Scanning for citations across a vast database of scholarly publications in most disciplines(and mostly referee’d), he came up with the miserable number of just 3 citations in 5 years.
Possible explanations: that no one feels competent to comment; that no one disagrees, that no one agrees, that no one wants to think about the idea, that no one in the field takes the authors seriously; that no one else who is interested in scholarly publication has access to the necessary proprietary information about oil resources.
3. The extraordinary plurality, by contrast, of (non-referee’d) internet sites and non-scholarly publications discussing these issues.
4. The extreme difficulty of getting back to the primary sources about oil resources–i.e. prior to the data’s being simplified into impressive graphs and nice round global or regional totals. Though he dislikes Adelman’s ideology, he agrees with Adelman’s point, in a recent comment on an article by Bentley, that Campbell and Laherrère can’t simply claim these figures are derived from confidential research that they have done as consultants. The detailed figures have to be made available to others to see if they might be interpreted differently, or might fit quite different predictions.
5. The “extraordinary narrow research base” on which all this semi-activist activity is based. Numerous scientific authorities (e.g. Bentley and CSIRO’s Robinson) that Jack thought had done independent research proved to be merely re-designing the graphs based on the same original data –data that in most cases goes back to the same two energetic individuals: Campbell and Laherrère. He pointed to several articles with up to ten citations of these two names in their reference list. He also noted that these two seemed to have set up organisations and (he suspected) friendly specialist magazines. He pointed to polemic or tendentious phrases in their articles that he did not think a genuinely independent scientific magazine would have allowed. Though they speak of an intense debate among their peers and of the need for better data, it is hard to find out what their peers actually say. Jack also noted that he believes while Huppert may have predicted the US’s oil peak, he may have got others badly wrong.
Jack said he could imagine circumstances under which a genuinely rapid “rollover” of oil prices might occur. Most likely, he thought, if one of the major middle-eastern nations abruptly failed to fill its annual designated oil quota–either because the oil was not physically there, or because they had become convinced oil prices were now about to rise so rapidly that it made no sense to sell it off till later. That news might trigger price rises, that would cause other nations to also hold back their oil, that in turn would trigger price rises, that…