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Informal Survey of the Political Blogosphere

Super G, The Oil Drum
Here at The Oil Drum, we strive to be politically non-partisan. We are primarily concerned with raising awareness of peak oil and advocating those policy steps which we think will bring about a smooth transition to the post-peak world. In these efforts, we have praised and criticized politicians from the left and right.

Almost all of the most highly-trafficked blogs are politically oriented, so its worth paying attention to what the top political blogs have to say about energy issues in general and peak oil in particular. Here, I have surveyed four of the most widely-read blogs that have discussed the concept of peak oil in some level of detail.

Daily Kos …
Political Animal …
Outside the Beltway …
(13 October 2005)

Renewable energy: too little, too late
Big Renewables cannot replace Big Oil. In fact, Big Renewables IS Big Oil

Michael Kane, guerrilla news network (gnn)
Presented by Michael Kane at the NYC PetroCollapse Conference,
October 5th, 2005

This paper focuses on the limitations of big renewable energy technologies and, more importantly, how society lacks the proper mind state and will to address the Peak Oil crisis appropriately. I conclude by taking a look at what people can do to prepare themselves for what is to come, as well as looking at small renewable technologies which may be helpful going forward.

… what is critical to understand at the outset is that renewables are not being viewed as a way to transition away from, or even to limit, the consumption of hydrocarbons, but rather to supplement over-consumption.

…With renewables being used to supplement over-consumption and promote SUSTAINABLE DESTRUCTION, there is no possible way renewable energy can offer a path to true sustainability. A massive shift in human consciousness is a prerequisite to any hope of technological mitigation of the Peak Oil crisis.

…The cruelest of all myths concerning renewable energy is known as “the hydrogen economy.” We have yet to see any significant indication that hydrogen fuel cells will be capable of successfully moving the transportation sector away from fossil fuels. There are some vehicles being tested today, but they are literally time bombs waiting to explode, as a hydrogen fuel cell can be very dangerous if compromised in an accident. More importantly, the net energy gained compared with the net energy used in the process of storing energy in a hydrogen fuel cell is low. It is not an energy efficient system. Fuel cells function at lower than 40% efficiency, often much lower.[6]

There is a lot of rhetoric claiming one day hydrogen cars will be powered by renewable energy on the grid. This will never happen – not on the scale of 700 million automobiles. The intermittent nature of renewables cannot sustain such a massive system of inefficient over-consumption. The only way the hydrogen economy becomes remotely feasible is with a massive deployment of nuclear power plants.

When you hear “hydrogen economy,” think “nuclear power.”

Biofuels are good-and-fine as long as there is plenty of oil to burn. Getting a massive feedstock of corn husks to create biodiesel can only be done within the hydrocarbon intensive world of petro-farming. Once hydrocarbons are removed from the picture, try harvesting all of that corn by hand. Try not using petroleum-based pesticides and see what your yield will be. Try finding a replacement for the commercial fertilizers that are derived from natural gas.

And if you wanted to power every single truck in America (excluding cars) with biodiesel you would have to cover the entire nation’s surface with crops dedictated to the creation of fuel. Biofuels are great for recycling, not for fueling a massive society of over-consumers.
(12 October 2005)
This isn’t a message anyone much wants to think about, good on M.Kane for broadcasting it.-LJ

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) discusses fuel economy, peak oil and Tom DeLay
E&E TV On Point via Global Public Media
…Roscoe Bartlett: Well, I think that there is a move, in both houses of Congress, to be more receptive to the government playing a role here.

In the past there were many people who felt that government shouldn’t be involved in a process like this, that market forces ought to control. But I’ll tell you there are two issues today that I think are pretty controlling. First is our far too much dependence on foreign oil. It’s really a national security issue and the less foreign oil we used the better our national security.

The second issue is that there are an increasing number of professionals in the world who believe we are probably facing, now or imminently, peak oil production in the world. That’s the point at which the world will have reached its maximum capacity for producing oil. Then it will be kind of plateaued for a little and then inevitably start downhill and nothing we can do will reverse that. It happened in our country in 1970. It was predicted in 1956, that this would happen, and it’s probably happening to the world now. So these are two very good reasons to enact higher CAFE standards.

…Brian Stempeck: Now House Resources Committee Chairman Pombo is also working on a bill himself to open up ANWR, to open up the outer continental shelf to energy exploration. What do you think of those efforts? I mean in the past almost, about a month ago you wrote a letter saying that you didn’t want to see ANWR in the budget bill. Is that enough to get you to oppose these kinds of bills?

Roscoe Bartlett: Well I’m not going to vote for drilling in either one of these places and my reason is that if you have only 2 percent of the known reserves of oil and use 25 percent of the world’s oil and import two thirds of what you use, I’m having a hard time understanding how it’s in our national security interest to use up the little bit of oil we have as quickly as possible. If we could pump ANWR and the offshore oil tomorrow, what would we do the day after tomorrow? This may be a rainy day. I think is going to be a rainier day. It’s like money in the bank and money that’s going to yield a big interest rate. Let’s just leave it there.

…Brian Stempeck: Now one of the questions that was asked at the conference, which I thought was interesting was have you spoken with President Bush about this and if so what’s his reaction been to the question of peak oil?

Roscoe Bartlett: I did speak with the president. I think he understands it, but I’ll tell you what’s happening is a really good example of the tyranny of the urgent. The urgent always takes precedence over the important, whether we would like it to or not. And the urgent thing today is down there in the gulf and he’s been there a number of times and not just weeks the important things off the table. I hope the important things get back on the table. And dealing with the coming energy shortage is a really important thing.
(3 October 2005)
Mr Simmons point about there being greater receptiveness to govt ‘playing a role’ is supported by a recent CEDA lunch hosting Bruce Robinson – I have never heard so many businessmen so agreed on the need for subsidy and govt intervention. Me thinks there is a need to talk up other strategies so subsidy isn’t applied by default.-LJ

Price Hikes

Steve Gabriel, Ithaca Times (NY)
(12 October 2005)
Long summary of peak oil and related themes. Not much new to EB readers, but encouraging to see appear on the front page of a newspaper. The Ithaca Times is a free weekly, heavy on culture and entertainment -BA

The peak oil problem
We may be running out sooner than we think

Greg Pahl, Rutland Herald
Greg Pahl of Weybridge is the author of “Biodiesel: Growing a New Energy Economy” (Chelsea Green, 2005) and “Natural Home Heating: The Complete Guide to Renewable Energy Options” (Chelsea Green, 2003). He is also a founding member and current president of the Vermont Biofuels Association.
(13 October 2005)
Another summary of peak oil for a local newspaper.

Survivor’s Guide to the Energy Crisis

Jeremy Rifkin, Boston Globe via Common Dreams
Panic has set in. With the price of oil hovering at more than $60 a barrel on world markets and forecasters predicting that we will soon see oil selling for $100 a barrel or more as worldwide oil reserves dwindle, politicians and business leaders are running scared. The global economy is beginning to slow, and there is talk about a new and sustained long-term global recession — some economists are even talking about a global depression — that could last for decades.

We are quickly waking up to the fact that the whole world runs by oil. We are an oil civilization. We grow our food with the help of petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides. Our plastics, pharmaceutical products, and clothes are for the most part derived from oil. Our transport, power, heat, electricity, and light are all dependent on oil.

…It appears that the president and his team do not understand the enormity of the energy crisis facing the United States and the world. The White House clearly needs guidance. The president should download the just published European Union Green Paper on Energy Efficiency ( The paper lays out a detailed survivor’s guide, a roadmap of what every individual, family, community, and country — including the United States — can do to cushion the cost shock of rising oil prices.

According to the report, the European member states alone could save at least 20 percent of their present energy consumption for a net savings of 60 billion euros per year, by enacting tough energy conservation programs across European society — in homes, commercial buildings, factories, and transport. The EU report says the United States could save far more with widespread adoption of energy conservation practices since the United States currently wastes approximately 50 percent more energy than the European Union to produce one unit of GDP.

The EU commission study says the average EU and American household could save as much as $1,200 per year in cost-saving energy efficient practices, thus offsetting much of the increased price of oil. The EU green paper is replete with detailed information on how to overhaul every aspect of our lives to achieve more energy-efficiency.

Jeremy Rifkin is author of ”The Hydrogen Economy: The Creation of the World Wide Energy Web and the Redistribution of Power on Earth” and principal adviser to the European Union parliamentary leadership group for renewable energy and a hydrogen economy.
(13 October 2005)