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Variety gives thumbs up to “Crude Impact”

Dennis Harvey, Variety
That road trip you were planning for 2057 might look a tad less likely after viewing “Crude Impact,” which sees disaster looming all too soon in the growing global demand for a shrinking oil supply — especially in the U.S., where consumption and native supply levels are most out of whack. James Jandak Wood’s docu is playing scattered theatrical dates, but will probably prove most effective as a spur for education and activism on DVD.

Pic links the enormous world population growth in recent decades to the seemingly endless use and supply of oil, which is involved one way or another in “nearly every product we consume,” particularly food production. President Bush the First famously said this “American way of life is non-negotiable,” but Mother Nature may nullify the contract.

One striking graphic illustrates that while there’s a car for every 1.7 Americans, there’s one for every 117 Chinese. This extravagant use of energy was cemented in the 1950s, when the U.S. was indeed the world’s largest producer of petroleum. Shell geologist M. King Hubbert’s warning then that production would peak in the early ’70s and decline steadily thereafter was laughed off as hysterical doom-saying.

But in fact, Hubbert was on the money. While little has changed in terms of U.S. energy conservation or wasteful usage, the vast majority of oil is now imported from Third World countries. Rather than elevating their citizens’ general well-being, these nations too often enrich a ruling elite while the majority endure poverty, starvation, disease and political oppression. A military massacre protecting Shell Oil interests from protestors in Nigeria and environmental devastation wrought by Texaco in Ecuador are among examples cited.

First World nations are now starting to look seriously at climate change. But such attempts at rollback are not welcome by such rapidly expanding nations as China and India, which have arrived at their own industrial booms.

Other topics touched on in this chapter-organized feature include the virtual mainstream media blackout on discussion of long-term oil issues and the prospects of widespread species extinction due to pollution and global warming.

Various scientists, analysts, politicos and others add talking-head commentary in a smooth package that makes good use of archival materials, especially some campy old educational cartoons that add fleeting levity to a grim message.
(26 March 2007)

Peak Oil – Who to Believe?
Part One – “There’s Plenty of Oil, CERAiously”

Nate Hagens, The Oil Drum
If you’re like me, you might have spent a moment or two in recent months pondering how billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens, oil banker Matthew Simmons, and many others are suggesting that the world is reaching Peak Oil now, and at the same time, Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) headed by Pulitzer Prize writer Daniel Yergin, and others such as Exxon Mobil, are not predicting a Peak in global oil production until circa 2040 followed by a slow gradual decline. How can such smart and successful people disagree by decades on a topic so vital?

Is it possible they use different data sources? Do they mean different things when they say “Peak Oil”? Do they get different secret handshakes from Saudi princes? Do they have different agendas? Are they using different boundaries of analysis? Is one of them kidding? This 3 part post will address how people can differ so much on something so important as a peak and subsequent decline in world oil availability, addressing both factual and psychological reasons. Does the world have plenty of oil? Maybe, but as I will discuss below the fold, this is not among the questions we should be asking.

Part One is a general background and history on why people can disagree so much on peak oil.
Part Two will explore the many factual areas that are confusing and lead to different conclusions.
Part Three will look at social and psychological reasons for disparate opinions on this critical topic.
(28 March 2007)
Written with a lighter touch than many of the TOD pieces — a little easier for the general population to read. -BA

Book review : The Last Oil Shock by David Strahan

James Howard, PowerSwitch
David Strahan’s book ‘The Last Oil Shock’ smartly covers the subject of Peak Oil in a way that makes it very educational to newcomers but at the same time sounding fresh and interesting to those well-read on this topic.

Strahan is an award-winning investigative journalist. This is visible throughout with his countless interviews with key insiders in energy, politics and economics, used to highlight and reinforce the arguments laid out. His knowledge and understanding of all aspects of Peak Oil has been fermenting for almost a decade and it is clearly distilled in this book for the reader.

…There is plenty to praise about ‘The Last Oil Shock’. It is not a technical book, but where necessary the data is presented in a comprehendible manner that will not deter the average reader. He masterfully builds the case for concern. However, he also presents and deconstructs the arguments of the Peak Oil deniers and dubious official figures. The reader is left with little doubt that we are staring trouble right in the face. What makes this book even more interesting are the revelations that have not been covered before, such as the extent to which No.10 may really understand Peak Oil, and why.

The likely consequences of Peak Oil are also dealt with, but done so in a way that alarms without appearing to be a goggle-eyed doom-monger. Every argument presented is solid and backed up. Strahan reveals the apocalyptic possibilities without appearing apocalyptic himself. Nor does he limit his analysis to Peak Oil. Climate Change is clearly addressed …

The Last Oil Shock’ by David Strahan is released on 3rd April 2007 Amazon entry.
(26 March 2007)

Peak oil scenario paints frightening future for all

Guy R. McPherson, Arizona Star
By day, Chris conducts research in conservation biology and prepares for the intellectually demanding exams required of doctoral students. At home in the evening with his wife and 2-year-old daughter, he teaches himself to create fire by rubbing sticks together.

Chris is one of the graduate students with whom I am fortunate to work, and he has wisely chosen to live in two worlds. The first is the overindulged culture of make-believe in which most Americans are comfortably ensconced; the second is the real world of peak oil.

World oil production reached a peak in 2005 at 85 million barrels per day. We’ve been easing down the bell-shaped oil-supply curve, losing production slowly and gradually. Next year we will fall off the oil-supply cliff, with an average daily production of less than 78 million barrels.

… It’s time to start making other arrangements, the kind that do not include cars, airplanes and the delivery of cheap plastic crap to a Wal-Mart near you. It’s time, in other words, to start living in the real world.

Take a page from Chris: Start learning skills for a post-carbon world. If you can find a way to do something practical and useful on a smaller scale than it is currently being done, you are likely to be well-fed and even revered in your local community.

If that community is Tucson, I recommend you learn how to harvest water, grow edible crops and get along with your ill-prepared neighbors when it’s 100 degrees and the calendar says summer is still around the corner.
(28 March 2007)
Contributor Rod Campbell-Ross writes:

A familiar tale, but the first time I have seen it written in elegant prose in the MSM. The author also goes way out on a limb. Production is going to average less than 78 mbpd next year! Counting the barrels I am not quite sure how he got there; and it depends what he is counting. The article might be dismissed as too scary.

Author Guy R. McPherson is a Professor of Natural Resources and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona. He was featured in an article by another Arizona paper: Apocalypse Soon?. In an earlier commentary he wrote: Expect the beginning of the end of Tucson as we know it to arrive next year -BA