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Venturing forth ignorantly into the wilds of peak oil…

J. R. Nyquist, Financial Sense Online
Last week, having ventured forth ignorantly into the wilds of peak oil, I was flooded with emails containing facts and figures on the undeniable decline of the world’s largest oil fields. I am forced to admit that the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel is quite clearly the headlamp of an oncoming train. And this train has many boxcars (as well as a little red caboose)
(19 May 2006)
The rest of Nyquist’s column is devoted to the book “Menace in Europe: Why the Continent’s Crisis is America’s, too” by Claire Berlinski The original column that roused the emails was Debunking Peak Oil, about the late Thomas Gold’s abiotic theory of oil.

Farewell Jay

Big Gav, Peak Energy
I haven’t been keeping much of an eye on the hard core doomer and doombat hangouts in recent months, so I’m somewhat late in reporting the final exit of the high priest of peak oil doomerism, Jay Hanson, from the online world.

Jay appears to have finally been overcome by his own vision of industrial collapse and human dieoff – which I can’t say surprises me – 10 years of constantly pondering such a gloomy prospect would be enough to do anyone’s head in.

Subject: the_dieoff_QA Reconsidered
> These lists have become toxic to me. I can’t sleep. I feel
> ill. I am trying to break the addiction of these lists and
> move on to some other form of entertainment. If no one wants
> it, I will delete it so I can’t go back.

While many peak oil observers now reject Jay’s vision of the future (or at least the inevitability of it that true doomers insist upon), I’ve got to say that from an intellectual point of view, the whole dieoff thing is pretty impressive and does have a fair body of knowledge behind it – combining Peak Oil, William Catton’s “Overshoot” concept, Garret Hardin’s “Tragedy of the Commons”, “The Limits to Growth” and various other theories about human psychology and exponential growth into an apocalyptic view of the coming decades. Is Jay wrong ? I hope, and think, so…

Another announced exit from the peak oil blogosphere is JD from Peak Oil “Debunked” – given that Jay’s tribe of doomers vexes him so there may be a cause and effect relationship here, though JD has followed the example of many a politician or manager and declared “mission accomplished”.

Kunstler’s got it right calling peak oil the Long Emergency. It’s going to take so long that it’s not even worth paying attention to. Now I know what the doomers say: “You wait, man.. You just wait…

(25 May 2006)
This excerpt is at the end of BG’s long collection of links and commentary.

We notice too that Monkeygrinder at Peak Energy (Seattle) has decided to “pull back from my duties as a full fledged blogging machine.”

Blogging — it’s a dirty job — but somebody’s got to do it. Burnout is an occupational hazard.

The ‘peak oil’ deja vu

Bob Hoye, Asia Times
From Wall Street to Main Street, concerns over the phenomenon known as “peak oil” have reached a fever pitch. “Peak oil”, of course, is the hypothesis that global crude-oil production has peaked, or will soon, and is destined to start a permanent decline thereafter – with frightful consequences, it is usually argued, for Industrial Civilization as We Know It.

Unfortunately, there are still some laggards who are not sufficiently impressed with the self-evident truth of this theory to be spurred into dramatic action. Consequently, a leading energy expert has slammed the skeptics and, at the same time, elevated the status of the true believers.

Although energy is mainly a secular matter, the expert writes:

“This is a question of almost religious importance which needs the study and determination of every intelligent person.”

His key message is:

“It is the material energy – the universal aid – the factor in everything we do. With petroleum almost any feat is possible or easy; without it we are thrown into the laborious poverty of early times.”

Straight from today’s editorial pages, except for two minor details: these quotations have been provided without a date, and with one key word changed.

The date was 1865; the important energy source was coal, not petroleum; and the writer was Stanley Jevons – a leading economist. His book, The Coal Question, was thoroughly researched and broadcast his personal concerns that the industrialized world was about to run out of coal and civilization would therefore collapse.

Now, of course, the concern is that we are running out of oil and great distress will follow.

Bob Hoye is editor and chief investment strategist of Institutional Advisors.
(23 May 2006)
Standard objections to Peak Oil from someone with an economics/investment background. (Nice quote from Jevons though.):

  • Crying wolf: “The end of a resource has been predicted before, but it’s never happened.”

    Rebuttal: Remember the end of the Aesop’s fable of the boy who cried wolf? The villagers ignored the boy and the wolf came. In history, resources have run out and civilizations have suffered. Farmland in Mesopotamia was degraded by salts through constant irrigation. Forests in the Mediterranean were cut down. In the last 200 years however, we’ve been cushioned from similar depletions by the (temporarily) abundant supplies of fossil fuels.

  • It’s just the top of a cycle. “Oil prices rise and fall in multi-year cycles. This is just the top of yet another cycle.”

    Rebuttal: True, oil exhibits cyclical behavior. However, this does not refute the idea of a long-term trend.