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Peak Oil

Peak oil and the fear of losing immortality

peakguy, The Oil Drum: NYC
There’s something I’ve been pondering for a long time about the reluctance of the collective conscience, particularly in the US, to accept the implications of peak oil theory. It’s there, just below the surface, but drives many the various psychological defense mechanisms that people have built up.

It’s the general philosophy that we as a species are above and apart from nature. It’s found in many religions. It’s definitely found in Star Trek. It’s a pillar of both Communism and Capitalism. It’s the universal idea that we are special, our superior brains separate us from the biosphere we inhabit. That we can transcend any traditional limits that nature sets for a species. That through ever greater technological innovation our species can continue to expand its size and consumption levels indefinitely into the future.
(26 November 2005)

Peak oil events in the UK for December

Powerswitch via Prleap
A series of events in the UK in December aimed at raising awareness of the imminent peak and decline of global oil supply looks to press ‘Peak Oil’ onto the national consciousness, culminating in a large conference at the London School of Economics on December 14th.
(26 November 2005)

Don’t dither about energy crisis

Henry Porter, The Observer
We cannot afford to dither any longer about the impending energy crisis. All governments must act now

The great game of the 21st century is being played out before our eyes, but few seem to notice.

Last week, Tony Blair hinted that he was prepared to go ahead with a new generation of nuclear reactors at an as yet unknown cost. In Iraq, an American-inspired deal to hand over development of oil reserves, the third largest in the world, to US and British companies is being rushed through by the oil minister and Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi before next month’s election.

In Russia, President Putin has ruthlessly constructed a monopoly of oil and gas production which controls some 90 per cent of the country’s reserves. On the way, he imprisoned Mikhail Khodorkovsky, stripping his oil giant, Yukos, of its assets and, in a separate deal, paid off Khodorkovsky’s fellow oligarch, Roman Abramovich, with US $13 billion for his stake in the oil producer Sibneft.

The link is the supply of energy to the high-consuming, wasteful Western democracies. With about 50 years of oil reserves left and maybe 85 years of gas, the struggle for control of the world’s energy resources will increasingly dictate events.
(27 November 2005)
The headline writer at the Observer labeled this story “Nuclear power? Don’t dismiss it” which misrepresents the point of the essay. -BA

Time running out for oil, gas reserves

Jessica Aberle, Peoria Journal Star
Experts point to coal as possible alternative
…Regardless of the timing, the known oil reserves will not last through the next 50 years and natural gas reserves are predicted to last only another 80 years, according to Tomasz Wiltowski, an associate director of the Coal Research Center and a professor of mechanical engineering and energy process at Southern Illinois University.

“The only solution right now for today and for the energy industry’s future is coal,” said Wiltowski, who has received more than $3 million in grant money to produce transportation fuels from coal.

If you assume we know all the reserves for oil, coal and natural gas, in Illinois alone at current production levels there is more than 300 years of coal, he said. “The future of coal also is transportation fuel,” he said. With the implementation of clean coal technologies, all of this is good news for the high-energy coal found in Illinois.
(27 November 2005)
Related story by Jessica Aberle:
Is coal the answer?

“Risk” and “probability”: MIA in the peak oil debate

Kurt Cobb, Resource Insights
People desperately want to know the one thing which they cannot know: The future. All sides in the peak oil debate are only too happy to oblige with confident predictions about the future which flatly contradict one another. Strangely, it is not only the charlatans who offer such cocksure pronouncements, but also many thoughtful, accomplished people who are competent in every other way, yet who feel compelled to share their opinions as if they were channelling Nostradamus.

The result can be a game of journalistic ping-pong in which unequivocal pronouncements from various sides of the peak oil debate leave the public confused. Many in the public simply dismiss this debate; after all, if the experts can’t agree, let them sort things out before they bother me.

While it is true that the public is looking for definitive answers about the complex issue of oil depletion, it is also true that there are none. We are all groping forward in a twilight of partial and often uncertain knowledge. What the public desperately needs to know are the risks we run as fossil fuels deplete. In short, they need a brief course in probability and risk that can prepare them to think clearly about the path we should all take individually and collectively.
(27 November 2005)

Trafalgar Or Waterloo ?

Big Gav, Peak Energy (Australia)
A grab bag of peak oil and energy news from the past week.
(27 November 2005)

Peak oil: what we know now

Bill Henderson,
The momentous challenge facing the Bush Administration and America is the very real danger to the continuing supply of America’s very lifeblood: oil.

Global oil production will peak (or has already possibly peaked) within several decades. Already, growing oil demand – from China and India especially, joining ever increasing American (20% of global demand) and other developed world usage – has created a very tight market with the price for benchmark crude oil staying above $50US….

The permanent military bases and Pentagon sized American consul offices in Iraq are being built because 60% of the world’s crude comes from an increasingly hostile Middle East – this percentage of the supply of the world’s most valuable commodity will increase over the next decade – and because control of Iraq is the decisive high ground for control of the Middle East..
(27 November 2005)

Fitzsimons: Surely the time is now?

Jeanette Fitzsimons, NZ Green Party Co-Leader via Scoop
Opening address of ‘Solar 2005’ – the Australian and New Zealand Solar Energy Society conference at the University of Otago, Dunedin, delivered 8.45am, 28 November 2005.

…In the thirty years that I’ve been working to advance sustainable energy, it would seem there has never been a more propitious time to get the solar future seriously underway.

Oil prices have doubled in 18 months. Our oil dependence is showing up in the current account deficit and in the inflation rate. During the last few months I’ve been meeting with groups of 100 or so people around the country and showing The End of Suburbia. Citizens, unlike governments, are taking it seriously and are deep in discussion about what we should do.

New Zealand has passed peak gas. Our gas reserves peaked in 2001 and Maui is in rapid decline. New finds are likely but uncertain and will almost certainly be much smaller and much more expensive.

Energy demand is growing at an alarming rate, fuelled by rapid and, in my view, unsustainable economic growth, but outstripping even that. The growth is especially fast in transport fuel, the hardest of all to supply in a post-oil economy.
(28 November 2005)

Why $5 gas is good for America

Spencer Reiss, Wired
The skyrocketing cost of oil is sending pump prices soaring. But it’s also subsidizing research into new technologies that can change the energy game.
… [Matthew] Simmons’ techno-cluelessness would be funny – calling Jed Clampett with his 12-gauge! – if he weren’t the spearhead of a whole hand-wringing school of petro-pessimism. The oil fields are running dry, the gas gauge is on empty, the American way of life is doomed – these ideas bob like plastic shark fins on the storm surge of current oil prices. But the history of energy innovation suggests something very different – and a lot less dire.

Yes, a few billion newly motorized citizens of BRIC – that’s economist-speak for Brazil, Russia, India, and China – have turned up unexpectedly at the filling station, pushing prices sharply north. And yes, the oil world has lately endured more than its usual share of ugly headlines: insurgency in Iraq, unrest in Venezuela, mayhem in the Gulf of Mexico. And, OK, all those air-conditioned Cadillac Escalades are thirsty beasts. A million extra barrels a day burned here, a million fewer pumped there, a little geopolitical instability, and suddenly the price of the stuff that makes the wheels go around is flirting with historic peaks.

All of which would be seriously alarming but for one happy fact: We’ve never had more options for keeping those wheels turning.

…So what’s a price-shocked, carbon-afflicted highway jockey to do? Keep driving. In fact, drive more. The longer gas stays expensive, the higher the chance we’ll see alternatives. Put that pedal to the metal. And smile when you see a big black $3 or $4 out in front at the gas pump. Those innovators need all the encouragement they can get. Shale oil, uranium, sunlight – there’s enough energy out there for a dozen planets. Where we’ll all park is another matter.
(Decenber 2005 issue)
The truth in Spencer Reiss’s Cornucopiana is that oil prices need to stay high in order for alternative solutions to take place. -BA