Peak Oil for Economists  

Posted by Big Gav in

Stuart at Early Warning points to a recent paper from James Hamilton (PDF) on peak oil - Peak Oil for Economists.

A few quick thoughts on Jim Hamilton's new magnum opus. The paper is essentially a summation of Jim's current thinking on the evidence that peak oil is near enough to care about and that it's likely to be quite economically disruptive. It is thoroughly researched, superbly argued, and very clearly written, as one would expect from this author. I hope and expect that it will be quite influential in getting economists to take the whole subject more seriously.

In terms of the content, long-time readers of mine will probably find a limited amount they didn't already know and little to disagree with. Six years ago, when I first began exploring and blogging about peak oil, Jim and I had some spirited debates on his blog as well as at The Oil Drum (see here for a flavor). However, I like to think that we are both empirical and pragmatic and six years of additional data have been enough to cause our views to increasingly converge.

The one thing that I think is sad (though perhaps understandable) is that one will search the references in vain for names like Hubbert, Campbell, Laherrere, Hirsch, Hall, etc. The argument is couched completely without reference to the line of thinkers about peak oil that stretches back over the last fifty years. Given the enormous walls of incredibility that prevent diffusion of thought between academic disciplines, that is arguably necessary to make a persuasive case to macroeconomists. However, from the standpoint of giving intellectual credit where it is due, it's unfortunate that it's not possible to recognize that a number of thinkers had earlier come to quite similar conclusions using their own methods (even where one might disagree with aspects of those methods - disagreements one is free to note).

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