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Peak oil isn’t dead; it just smells that way

Chris Nelder, smartplanet
… Emboldened by the recent exuberance over fracking in the United States, these pundits now claim that the only thing that has peaked “was the ability to argue that the era of oil, and hydrocarbons, was over.”

Not one of them said a single word about the global rate of oil production, which is the essence of the peak oil question. Why get into the data when merely slinging mud at your opponents and proclaiming your faith will do?

… what’s really going on here?

First, what did in The Oil Drum was volunteer burnout, falling visitor traffic, and an insufficient flow of high-quality original work and contributors. It’s unfortunate, because for the past eight years The Oil Drum has been the best free site on the Web for good rigorous work and informed discussion about energy data. I owe it a great debt for the education, the contacts, and the visibility that I gained through it.

I learned of its closing the same day I learned that Randy Udall had died. It was truly a sad and dark day for the peakists, one of those watershed moments that felt like a real turning point in the peak oil dialogue. Using the occasion to dance on their graves, as some ardent peak oil opponents did, was a low blow.

But the reason The Oil Drum has been lacking for good original content wasn’t that it had lost the argument and there wasn’t anything left to say. Far from it. The flow of content simply moved to where good analysts and writers on the subject could actually get paid for their work. That was inevitable, because a publishing model that relies on a steady flow of free articles that take days or weeks or even months of hard, highly skilled work to create simply isn’t sustainable. Freelance writers like me moved on to paying publications like SmartPlanet where we could actually make a living. Consultants and hedge funds began restricting their work to their private clients and subscribers, with maybe a teaser of free stuff posted in their blogs and newsletters.
(24 July 2013)

Peak oil lives, but will kill the economy

Nafeez Ahmed, Guardian
Hype around peak oil’s demise is premature, though you wouldn’t know that if you believed BBC misrepresentations

Last Monday’s BBC News at Ten broadcast a report by science editor David Shukman arguing that concerns "about oil supplies running dry are receding." Shukman interviewed a range of industry experts talking up the idea that a "peak" in oil production has been "moved to the backburner" – but he obfuscated compelling evidence in his own report contradicting this view.

… The thrust of the message was that peak oil is a myth because we’re not running out of oil. Even if costs go up, this will automatically spur the technological innovation that will make continued extraction of expensive oil viable.

But Shukman’s characterisation of the new Eos paper is a combination of falsehood and half-truth. Far from describing peak oil as a myth, the paper’s conclusions are far more nuanced, and point to an overwhelming body of evidence contradicting the industry hype that the rest of his report parrotts uncritically.
(22 July 2013)

Technology vanquishes the peak-oilers, again

John Kemp, Reuters
The decision to shutter "The Oil Drum", the leading website devoted to peak oil, has come to symbolize the end of an era – and sparked a furious debate about whether the theory was all along based on a fundamental mistake.

… For critics, the site’s demise marks the end of a flawed theory and more generally the fact the commodity supercycle has turned.

… The site’s authors have hit back, insisting it is not folding for lack of interest. Instead peak oil has gone mainstream. "Repetition of the basic information, beyond a certain point, was counter-productive," the site claimed.

… The Oil Drum became the popular front-end for a growing community of experts. They succeeded in pushing concerns about peaking oil supplies back up the agenda for policymakers after almost two decades when it had been absent.

In 2000, the phrase "peak oil" occurred just 2.5 times in every billion words published in English, according to Google’s N-gram language-analysis tool, which can search an enormous corpus of books, articles and websites published in English and other languages. By 2008, the number of references had risen 65-fold to 160 occurrences per billion words (Chart 1).
(22 July 2013)

Oil barrel drip via shutterstock. Reproduced at with permission.