The Petroleum Plateau  

Posted by Big Gav

Adjusting Hubbert's Peak to match reality.

This article suggests we have two options - War or Powerdown. Powerdown means planning a transition to a lower energy usage future (and supports the "globalisation is dead" theory).

As usual, the greatest obstacle to the Powerdown plan is the US.

So: how can the US be brought on board Plan Powerdown?

The simplest solution would be for a change of policy to come from within America itself. However, the neoconservatives in the current administration have taken charge of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. They are also rebuilding the military and intelligence bureaucracies to suit their own ideology (though not without some little-publicized resistance to their efforts). Moreover, there is evidence to suggest that the 2004 national elections will be illegally manipulated via unsupervised computer voting machines. While it is true that there is a division among ruling elites between the neocons on one hand and the internationalist wing of the business community on the other (the latter was much happier with Clinton), the neocons - for all their delusionality about diplomacy and geopolitics - are masters at gaining and maintaining power. Even the internationalist money masters may have difficulty ousting them. Thus there is currently no power base in American society that appears capable of successfully challenging the Plan-War neocons.

The article also discusses "thermal depolymerization" (recently discussed in a Discover article). While this is a good thing, it just helps manage decline rather than being the solution to the problem.

Whatever comes out of the process will inevitably carry less useful energy than what went into the process (this is necessitated by the laws of thermodynamics). True, what goes in is likely to be stuff that, for the most part, would otherwise just end up in a landfill, so there is an overall gain in energy efficiency for the society. However, most of that "waste" input (including plastics, tires, and turkey guts) is stuff produced using high-grade energy from fossil fuels (e.g., tractors burning diesel fuel, plastics made and transported using oil). Thus as there is less "virgin" petroleum available to do work in society, there will be less "waste" available to be transformed into depolymerized oil. The latter will help slow the depletion process (again, there will greater energy efficiency for the society), but over the long haul it cannot overcome the downward momentum of overall net energy availability.

Pickens on Oil Peak  

Posted by Big Gav

Even T Boone Pickens is a believer.

BP Head Says Peak Oil A Myth  

Posted by Big Gav

Its not often you see an executive trying to talk prices in their industry down.

After months of soaring crude oil prices, BP, the world's second-biggest oil company, has reported a 43 per cent rise in third-quarter profit and forecast that prices will stay above $US30 a barrel, and possibly higher, for years to come.

But in a first from one of the oil majors, BP also talked down the prospect of oil prices remaining at record levels in the longer term. "I think it is not helpful for the world to believe that we are running out of oil, which we are not," the group's chief executive, John Browne, said.

Rebutting Peak Oil  

Posted by Big Gav

For some balance, here are two articles that attempt to rebut peak oil theories.

"Oil: Who's Really Over a Barrel" - this one explains oil price rises based on a number of factors, mostly economic. There are some interesting statistics in here - for example, the number of oil refineries in the US has fallen from 315 to 155 over the past 20 years. Peak oilers would say this is because no one wants to invest in infrastructure that won't be needed as available oil declines. I'm not sure what the skeptic theory is - maybe oil industry consolidation that is trying to push prices back up by restricting supply ? Towards the end its sounding distinctly like Bush administration propaganda.

"Debunking the Hubbert Model" - this one attempts to scientifically debunk peak oil theories, mostly in a rather abstract way. It focusses on the curve shape, which shouldn't really matter - its the fact that you can't produce more oil than you discover, and that depletion will inevitably follow some sort of curve that is important. The shape of the curve is affected by shifts in available supply of oil and demand for oil, which change due to all sorts of real world factors.

It also seems to ignore that the Hubbert curve accurately predicted US oil production 50 years ago, along with the fact that if oil reserves really are finite, then it must be logical that the only aspect of peak oil that is debateable is when the peak arrives and how long it takes to travel the down-slope of the curve.

The Future of Las Vegas  

Posted by Big Gav

There are some places on the planet that are far more vulnerable to an oil shock than others. It appears Las Vegas might not be the place to be if peak oil becomes a reality.

Maybe they should start laying down the solar panels now like the Germans are...

First Post  

Posted by Big Gav

To save Reptile Rants from becoming a random assortment of Peak Oil notes interspersed with other interesting memes, I've moved the energy related stuff here.

I recently tried to explain the idea of peak oil to a friend, so its a good summary to start this blog. One day I'll explain how I came to be interested in the whole subject.

Peak Oil could be considered a fringe idea (or even a conspiracy theory), but it seems to explain the way the world is going pretty accurately, so I'm increasingly becoming a believer (and I've done a vast amount of reading over the last 2 months, having sort of ignored references to it for a year or so before).

Its based on the "Hubberts Peak" theory which accurately predicted the peaking and decline of US oil production (predicted in the mid-50's to occur in 1970, mocked for over a decade, fact since 1971). Peak oil applies this same theory to global oil (and other fossil fuels).

Nevertheless, some people hold its just nonsense (the head of BP for example, in a speech a few days ago), others that its a green conspiracy and others that its just another way of pumping up a stockmarket (oil and oil company shares) bubble. So have a look around and decide for yourself.

Here's an article published today on the subject - if you look you'll see new stuff appearing continuously (I use Google Alerts to track whats happening).

This article is also pretty good:

Or if you enjoy Edgar Allan Poe tales:

There are a few sites run by geologists that try to accurately predict the peak (the available data is incredibly murky) - the best one is the ASPO - look at their monthly reports:

I've even just started a blog to track stuff so I can try to work out what the truth is:

A good general directory of links is this one:

The range of opinion on the likely effects varies widely - the extreme pessimists ( say we're all going to die and have headed off to the hills and gone feral (in 2003). The optimistic camp say its not a problem and rising energy prices will encourage the market to go out and develop new energy sources. The oil geologists ask what the new energy source is going to be. The greens say we all need to reduce energy consumption and live much more frugally. Dick Cheney says its time to occupy the entire middle east and wipe out those terrorists who hate freedom.

(I made that last one up).

A comparison of the different camps can be found at:

A good discussion on possible alternatives (its not an optimistic one) is this :

Anyway - the timing of the peak and how long it takes to travel down the slope seem to be the key issues if you're working out how to react to the idea. No one agrees on either - the peak could be now, or it could be in 2025 depending on who you believe.

As its bound to result in a huge amount of change, there is certainly money to be made from it - however its almost certain that the net result will be negative unless some new energy source is found - most people will come out worse off.


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