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Peak oil - May 20

Click on the headline (link) for the full text.

Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


PO makes it into the LA Times (Kunstler interview)
Original: "End Times"

Dan Neil, LA Times
If Al Gore's documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" has a single message, it's that global warming is bad-very, very bad. Floods, droughts, famine, disease .. . . a miasma of End Times calamity caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

Even at that, Gore is-at the risk of paraphrasing-a candy-assed optimist, according to James Howard Kunstler, author of "The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century."

Whereas Gore and other prophets of climate change believe we still have the time and means to avert the worst consequences of anthropogenic global warming-hybrid cars, solar panels!-Kunstler argues with hellish persuasion that we are basically toast. Why? The entire edifice of American civilization-from our mega-scale methods of food production to our great repositories of national wealth, that is, the equity invested in our sprawling suburbs-is propped up, trembling as if balanced on matchsticks, on cheap oil. And there is no substitute for cheap oil.

But wait, I say, when I get him on the phone at his house in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. What about plug-in electric vehicles and pure electric vehicles, not a few of which are, here in California, being charged by DIYers' solar panels? What about wind power, biomass or wave power? Kunstler emits a well-practiced harrumph.

"When confronted with these ideas, people generally go through . . .. what was her name? . . . Kubler-Ross' stages of grief," Kunstler tells me. "You're still in the bargaining phase."
(21 May 2006)
Author Dan Neil is automobile columnist for the LA Times.


New Blog at From The Wilderness

Mike Ruppert, From the Wilderness (FTW)
Welcome to FTW’s new blog. Things are happening fast, almost too fast. But for those who have been FTW subscribers for even just a few months, it is difficult not to have the feeling that we have a major head start on events.

This blog is intended to serve as an information-sharing resource as we enter some very tough times. I strongly recommend that those who participate have at least some familiarity with the following: Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil; Denial Stops Here, The Truth and Lies of 9/11, and Wall Street’s War for Drug Money.

There are also many back stories from our archives that will make your participation in this important message board more rewarding. Three of the many I would recommend are Eating Fossil Fuels, Post-Soviet Lessons for a Post-American Century and Globalcorp.

The world situation is deteriorating rapidly—we all can see that. What is important is that we accelerate and empower our collective work in the recognition that answers and solutions are not going to be coming from the government, and the only thing we can expect from big business is more of the same inertia that is leading the human race towards the collapse of civilization and the precipice of extinction.

But the better-than-expected good news is that individuals and communities all over the world, especially inside America, are not only waking up but taking action. However, many of these developments, and the knowledge that is emerging as many communities strive to relocalize with a renewed sense of urgency, are well below our radar screens.
(17 May 2006)


Global oil production: Has it peaked?

Lance Gay, Scripps Howard News Service
Since Henry Ford rolled out the first Model T almost a century ago, the world has been riding a hydrocarbon bubble that transformed America's landscapes and lifestyles.

But some oil experts and economists warn global oil production is peaking. Oil production isn't going to drop off a cliff, they say, but the future is one in which annual supplies will for the first time begin gradually diminishing, precipitating even higher prices and perhaps shortages...

"The days of inexpensive, convenient, abundant energy sources are quickly drawing to a close," warns a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study, which projects there's only 41 years left before the world uses up the proven reserves of oil. "World oil production is at or near its peak and current world demand exceeds the supply."

There's actually considerable variance of opinion among experts as to when the peak will arrive - or even if it will arrive.

... Optimists say predictions of peaking oil production aren't new and blame the recent hikes in gasoline prices on the unexpectedly swift increase in demand for oil from China and India, whose economies are expanding at almost double-digit rates each year.

Myron Ebell, director of energy policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is funded in part by ExxonMobil and other energy companies, said there have been past estimates of oil drying up, including one by the Interior Department in the 1930s saying oil would be depleted in the United States by 1940.
(18 May 2006)
In quoting the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) as the Peak Oil skeptics, is Scripps reporter Lance Gay perhaps indulging in satire? What credibility can CEI possibly have, with their current CO2-is-good-for-you TV ads? Spin & disinformation, thy name is CEI, in peak oil as it is in climate change. -BA


What You Need to Know about Peak Oil

Robert Rapier, Omninerd
Examines the Peak Oil debate from both sides and attempts to provide the information you need to better understand this complex, but very important issue.

...Preparing for Peak Oil

Given that cheap alternative energy sources do not appear to be able to replace declining petroleum supplies, the effects of Peak Oil will be far-reaching. Gas prices that have escalated since Hurricane Katrina have helped emphasize just how dependent we are on fossil fuels. Prices in the range of $7/gallon for gasoline, already a reality in many European countries, would have a significant impact on the American lifestyle. Studies have shown that an oil price increase of 10% can increase overall inflation by up to 0.8%,77 reducing the consumer's purchasing power. Anticipating the potential effects of Peak Oil can offer some guidelines for avoiding or reducing the possible impacts.

Perhaps the best way to prepare for Peak Oil is to consider it in the context of preparing for a natural disaster. For example, if one lives on the Gulf Coast, they need to be prepared for an eventual hurricane. The consequences of failure to prepare played out on television following the devastating hurricanes of 2005. Failure to prepare took place on both individual and governmental levels. In the case of Peak Oil, there are actions that individuals can take to reduce their dependence on petroleum. Purchasing vehicles with higher fuel efficiency, ride-sharing, biking, and utilizing public transportation are just a few of the ways that individuals can reduce their petroleum usage. Governments can encourage conservation by individuals, and they can also adopt policies to reduce petroleum consumption nationwide (e.g. encouraging a move toward higher efficiency diesel engines).

Summary

The exact timing of Peak Oil is debatable, as is the extent of the consequences. Many countries around the world, including the United States, have already documented a peak in oil production and a worldwide peak is likely to happen in the not too distant future, affecting the lives of most people living today. Cost-competitive alternatives to petroleum can not be counted on to meet the projected demand shortfall, but alternatives do have the potential for meeting a portion of our fuel demands. Given the inevitability of a peak in oil production, the current climate of escalating oil and gasoline prices, and the warnings of the Hirsch report, a move by individuals to reduce personal dependence on fossil fuels should help prepare them for potential petroleum shortages. Governments can take actions to prepare society as a whole for the transition to a "post-petroleum" world. Those who fail to prepare will be hit the hardest from the onset of Peak Oil, as they are now being hit hard by escalating gasoline prices.
(17 May 2006)
A knowledgeable and fair summary of peak oil - might be a good one to suggest to PO newbies. Why aren't the big guns of the media printing articles as researched and thought out as this one?

From the author's website: R-Squared:

Robert Rapier, Montana
I am a chemical engineer in the energy business. I am concerned about the effects of peak oil, and passionate about alternative energy. I think grain-based ethanol is a waste of money, and have testified against it at the state legislature. I have research experience with cellulosic ethanol, as well as gas-to-liquids (GTL). I am also actively involved in advocating better science education.

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