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Peak oil - Jan 8

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

Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage

New primer from Spain: "The world in the presence of the peak oil"
Fernando Bullón, AEREN (ASPO Spain)
This article was conceived as a contribution to inform the global energy crunch in which we find ourselves. The references at the end of this paper are suggested to enable more information to be sourced. It was originally written for the Spanish website, where there are a lot of articles, plentiful and updated information, a debate forum, lots of oil and energy links, as well as the monthly bulletins of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil ( ASPO is a society formed by scientists from many countries who are trying to determine the date and the impact of the global oil and natural gas production peak.
(Jan 2007)
An attractive, compact peak oil primer with many graphics. Could be useful as a handout.

Note from AEREN who produced the primer:

We finished our Peak Oil Primer, translated to English: "The world in the presence of the peak oil." It was written and compiled by Fernando Bullón, member of AEREN (Association for the Study of Energy Resources), a Spanish association that represents ASPO in Spain.

Although we consider it finished, comments and criticisms are welcomed.
Daniel Gómez

The Closer We Get, the Worse It Looks
Bridging Peak Oil and Climate Change Activism

Richard Heinberg, MuseLetter via OpEdNews
The problems of Climate Change and Peak Oil both result from societal dependence on fossil fuels. But just how the impacts of these two problems relate to one another, and how policies to address them should differ or overlap, are questions that have so far not been adequately discussed.

Despite the fact that they are closely related, the two issues are in many respects dissimilar. Climate Change has to do with carbon emissions and their effects-including the impacts on human societies from rising sea levels, widespread and prolonged droughts, habitat loss, extreme weather events, and so on. Peak Oil, on the other hand, has to do with coming shortfalls in the supply of fuels on which society has become overwhelmingly dependent-leading certainly to higher prices for oil and its many products, and perhaps to massive economic disruption and more oil wars. Thus the first has more directly to do with the environment, the second with human society and its dependencies and vulnerabilities. At the most superficial level, we could say that Climate Change is an end-of-tailpipe problem, while Peak Oil is an into-fuel-tank problem.

Because of this crucial divergence, the training and priorities of people who study one problem often differ from those of people who study the other. Most advocates for the Peak Oil concept-sometimes known as "depletionists"-are energy experts, economists, journalists, urban planners, or workers retired from the oil industry (usually geologists or petroleum engineers). Among climate analysts and activists there are more environmentalists, fewer energy experts, and far fewer retired oil industry employees. It is my experience that, when placed in the same room together, the two groups often talk past one another.
(Jan 2007)
UPDATE: Just added this item to the PO headlines. Hmmm, looks like the site may not have gotten Richard's permission to reproduce the MuseLetter. In any case, consider supporting Heinberg's work by subscribing to the MuseLetter -BA

Making Other Arrangements:
A wake-up call to a citizenry in the shadow of oil scarcity

James Howard Kunstler, Orion Magazine
AS THE AMERICAN PUBLIC CONTINUES sleepwalking into a future of energy scarcity, climate change, and geopolitical turmoil, we have also continued dreaming. Our collective dream is one of those super-vivid ones people have just before awakening. It is a particularly American dream on a particularly American theme: how to keep all the cars running by some other means than gasoline. We'll run them on ethanol! We'll run them on biodiesel, on synthesized coal liquids, on hydrogen, on methane gas, on electricity, on used French-fry oil . . . !

The dream goes around in fevered circles as each gasoline replacement is examined and found to be inadequate. But the wish to keep the cars going is so powerful that round and round the dream goes. Ethanol! Biodiesel! Coal liquids . . .

And a harsh reality indeed awaits us as the full scope of the permanent energy crisis unfolds.

...The key to understanding the challenge we face is admitting that we have to comprehensively make other arrangements for all the normal activities of everyday life. I will return to this theme shortly, but first it is important to try to account for the extraordinary amount of delusional thinking that currently dogs our collective ability to think about these problems.

The widespread wish to just uncouple from oil and gas and plug all our complex systems into other energy sources is an interesting and troubling enough phenomenon in its own right to merit some discussion. Perhaps the leading delusion is the notion that energy and technology are one and the same thing, interchangeable. The popular idea, expressed incessantly in the news media, is that if you run out of energy, you just go out and find some "new technology" to keep things running. We'll learn that this doesn't comport with reality. For example, commercial airplanes are either going to run on cheap liquid hydrocarbon fuels or we're not going to have commercial aviation as we have known it.
(Jan.Feb 2007)
The article is accompanied by some chilling photos by David Maisel: Oblivion.

Joy Ride to Global Collapse
Reflections on Kunstler's Home from Nowhere

Jim Minter, e design
Posted 5 December 1996

Here's a prediction for you. In the next two decades millions of Americans will begin a serious search for an alternative to the gasoline-powered automobile. It is not going to be a happy search. If you think trying to wean gun owners from their passion for firearms is a hornet's nest, try talking to the great majority of us about reining in our passion for the automobile. Lordy! And yet, most of us agree there is a problem, vaguely phrased as, "There are too many other people out there clogging up the highways and slowing me down." Otherwise our attitude is similar to the rabid firearms bumper sticker: "You'll get my car when you pry my cold, dead fingers from around the steering wheel."

No one is talking to us about giving up cars today - even though there is hard scientific evidence that the freewheeling automotive world we know today will have totally vanished within the lifetime of most of us now living. A few idealists are talking about maybe getting us to constrain our use a little bit. None of them are running for any position of political influence in this country. They would be lucky to get their family's vote. We don't want to hear it.

...The sudden death of the automobile in America would produce a major crunch that would dwarf the Great Depression. Kunstler deplores the negative aspects of the car without understanding just how endangered the automobile truly is. He even purports to see signs that we may be wandering away from the automobile. ... Ah, would that Kunstler's prophesy of a gradual taming of the automobile were possible. Nothing so gentle as that seems likely to me. The Auto Age is going to hit a rapid deceleration.
(5 Dec 1996)
Minter critiques Kunstler's Home from Nowhere from a peak oil perspective, from a time when Kunstler, like almost every one else, was apparently unaware of the significance or imminence of Hubbert's peak. This article comes a full 15 months before Cambell and Laharerre's groundbreaking Scientific American article gave the issue a small amount of mainstream attention. If Kunstler was to critique his earlier work now it might not be too dissimilar to this.

Political Peak Oil

Ronald Bailey, Reason
One thing stands in the way of secure and abundant supplies of oil: Government
Petroleum geologists are pretty sure that there is more than enough oil in the world to meet projected demand for at least the next 25 years. In other words, as I reported in my article “Peak Oil Panic” last year, geologically speaking “peak oil” is at least a generation away.

But the days when you could punch a hole in the ground and up would bubble some crude have now passed. It will take increasing technical savvy and a lot of money to keep oil production up with demand. Fortunately, the International Energy Agency believes that projected demand for oil and gas can be met if producers invest $4.3 trillion and $3.9 trillion (in 2005 dollars) respectively over the next 25 years. The question is that level of investment happening?

That’s were I get worried. The problem arises because 77 percent of the world’s known oil reserves are in the hands of state-owned oil companies. Such “companies” do not respond with alacrity to market signals and so are under-investing in new production technologies and even in maintaining the production facilities that they currently have.
(5 Jan 2007)
Contributor SP writes:

Like all "reasonable" argument, your conclusions depend on your assumptions, and if your initial assumption is that "it's all the fault of government" then...?

Where the author complains of "ginned up ... tax evasion charges" and "ham-fisted bureaucratic maneuvers to seize the assets of foreign owned oil and gas companies" I was reminded once again of the equally ginned up WMD charges and worse than hamfisted US efforts at shoring up energy supplies/influence in Iraq.

Where the author complains that "the Mexican government loots the company to finance itself" presumably he objects to the uses to which the government puts the money?

"Again the administration of the leftwing populist Hugo Chavez is starving his country’s oil industry of needed investments to pay for an array of social programs." So, naughty Hugo is giving the people what they want while not sucking the stuff out of the ground as fast as possible... how un "free market" of him!

Reason is not a synonym for wise.


To support the assertion that peak oil is a generation away, Bailey quotes one paper by Thomas S.Ahlbrandt of the US Geological Survey. For a complex question such as the extent of oil reserves, it would make sense to examine a broad range of viewpoints -- particularly since the issue is clouded by industry and national wishful thinking.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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