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The scientific status of the peak oil theory

General discussions of the systemic, societal and civilisational effects of depletion.

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Re: The scientific status of the peak oil theory

Unread postby firestarter » Sat 13 Jan 2007, 12:17:56

Popper's problem of induction doesn't mean we can't use science to approximate geological/geopolitical probabilties or timelines regarding peak oil theory. Most complex issues do not follow a strictly deductive process. I don't think peak oilers generally employ Hegelian dialectical methodologies to fortify their arguments in hopes of deluding the uninitiated. I don't need any complex reasoning skills to understand that in 1990 there was apprx 11 million barrels of spare capacity a day on the market, and by 2006 there was apprx 1.5 million barrels of spare capacity. Induction doesn't keep us from seeing the forrest because of the trees. Denial might, however.
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Re: The scientific status of the peak oil theory

Unread postby Dreamtwister » Sat 13 Jan 2007, 13:42:00

bubmachine wrote:
seldom_seen wrote:It's been pointed out over and over that the world peak in production can only be confirmed in the rear view mirror....
The inability to predetermine this moment does not make it any less real or imminent.


If it can only be confirmed in the "rear view mirror", then you cannot say that it is imminent. ?


Maybe "imminent" is a little sensationalist, but with the data available, we can reasonably state a time-range. Even the hyper-optimists like CERA say "2030 at the latest".

That may not be "imminent", but it's certainly cause for immediate action.

And don't pay any attention to RGR when he says things like "2 years post-peak and nothing bad". When he makes those claims, he consistently fails to notice the ~$13 billion worth of adjustable rate mortgages that reset last week, the half-trillion dollar war and the degeneration of Mexico from third-world vacation destination to failed state.
The whole of human history is a refutation by experiment of the concept of "moral world order". - Friedrich Nietzsche
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Re: The scientific status of the peak oil theory

Unread postby JustinFrankl » Sat 13 Jan 2007, 14:37:08

bubmachine wrote:
JustinFrankl wrote:
And Heinberg dislikes coal because it is dirty and nuclear because it is dangerous. This is silly, and it shows a basic ignorance of psychology or sociology.

Nuclear waste remains radioactive and toxic to the environment for millions of years. Coal is a dirty fuel to burn, and the global warming and climate change scientists point to coal as one of the largest contributors of pollution and greenhouse gases.

The only thing this has to do with the human psyche is the psychological and sociological effects of prolonged suffering.


Well, in the debates that I have heard, Heinberg doesn't think coal or nuclear is a viable option, because he doesn't like them.

I think people would prefer to have energy and try to deal with the problems of that energy production. Whinging environmentalists are not going to stop nuclear power. Sorry.

The environmentalists aren't whining, and they don't have to stop nuclear power. Its long-term unmanageable toxicity will do that for them.
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Re: The scientific status of the peak oil theory

Unread postby Ludi » Sat 13 Jan 2007, 15:20:12

bubmachine wrote:OK, that is fair enough. I think I need to find some quotes then, because I am not convinced by Heinberg's doomism.


Maybe if you read up on the subject more, such as here on the boards, and elsewhere, you would understand the "doomer" position better.
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Re: The scientific status of the peak oil theory

Unread postby lper100km » Sat 13 Jan 2007, 15:55:09

bubmachine wrote:My position is quite simple. No-one can predict the oil peak, but world peak must happen sometime. So we must do something about it. I agree that some sort of action is needed.


As a general statement, especially if the second sentence was qualified as "No-one can predict the oil peak 'within a five year time period' ......" were added, no one here would take issue.

So why come here with all the other dismissive and irrelevant material and simply try to promote a cock fight? What's your point?? :roll:
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Re: The scientific status of the peak oil theory

Unread postby bubmachine » Sat 13 Jan 2007, 17:12:29

lper100km wrote:So why come here with all the other dismissive and irrelevant material and simply try to promote a cock fight? What's your point??:roll:


Are you kidding? If this is a critical-free zone, then we are all waisting our time.
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Re: The scientific status of the peak oil theory

Unread postby TonyPrep » Sat 13 Jan 2007, 17:14:00

bubmachine wrote:My position is quite simple. No-one can predict the oil peak, but world peak must happen sometime. So we must do something about it. I agree that some sort of action is needed.
Well, I'm not sure you do agree that. Your dismissal and mischaracterisation of Heinberg's position (on many issues), your seeming approval of unsustainable power generation methods (coal and nuclear) and many other statements you've made seem to suggest that you have a position closer to deniers.

If you agree that peak requires action now, then why quibble about all of the irrelevancies that you have quibbled about? No-one can tell when peak will be, exactly, and no-one can tell just how the effects of that peak will play out. Everyone's considered opinion is potentially valid. I find Heinberg's position well considered and well argued, but he may be well wide of the mark, as reality unfolds.

As lper100km has asked, what is your point?
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Re: The scientific status of the peak oil theory

Unread postby dinopello » Sat 13 Jan 2007, 17:43:57

bubmachine wrote:I think the following types of things would be useful:

1) Diversify. And that includes coal and nuclear. Coal is dirty and nuclear is dangerous, but I am sure we can work it out.


Why are you "sure" we can work it out? How long does your theory say it will take to work it out? What's the proof it will take that long?
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Re: The scientific status of the peak oil theory

Unread postby ReserveGrowthRulz » Sun 14 Jan 2007, 11:33:05

Bubmachine wrote: Goodbye



Don't run away so fast! While most people here are seriously whacked, that doesn't mean you shouldn't defend your position until at least you get properly banned for not being gullible enough to swallow the standard dogma....in the meantime, what with dropping oil prices, cheaper natural gas and no economic consequences like dieoff a year post peak, you can have some fun pointing out the obvious contradictions in the entire mess which most around here so desparately want to ignore.
So....heading into our 3rd year post peak and I'm still getting caught in traffic jams!! DieOff already!
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Re: The scientific status of the peak oil theory

Unread postby pstarr » Sun 14 Jan 2007, 13:48:18

ReserveGrowthRulz wrote:
bubmachine wrote: Goodbye.


Don't run away so fast! While most people here are seriously whacked, that doesn't mean you shouldn't defend your position until at least you get properly banned for not being gullible enough to swallow the standard dogma....in the meantime, what with dropping oil prices, cheaper natural gas and no economic consequences like dieoff a year post peak, you can have some fun pointing out the obvious contradictions in the entire mess which most around here so desparately want to ignore.
RGD looks like you lost a potential harem member. It must be tough being you, alphadogdenier without a pack to sniff.
Yikes!
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Re: The scientific status of the peak oil theory

Unread postby Aaron » Sun 14 Jan 2007, 13:55:54

at least you get properly banned for not being gullible enough to swallow the standard dogma....


Now that's funny.

Some don't like the roller coaster... some do.

This is the full-contact Internet... get a helmet.
The problem is, of course, that not only is economics bankrupt, but it has always been nothing more than politics in disguise... economics is a form of brain damage.

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Re: The scientific status of the peak oil theory

Unread postby ReserveGrowthRulz » Sun 14 Jan 2007, 19:57:46

Aaron wrote:
at least you get properly banned for not being gullible enough to swallow the standard dogma....


Now that's funny.


Thank you for not disputing the accuracy of the statement.

Aaron wrote:
This is the full-contact Internet... get a helmet.


But this isn't a full contact bulletin board..... says so right there in the COC.

But the real riot is the terms of posting over at LATOC. You aren't even allowed to ARGUE Peak oil...its a given. Only allowed to talk about consequences.

They can't figure out why, 18 months post Peak, the world still thinks of Peak oil as some quirk of tree-huggery.
So....heading into our 3rd year post peak and I'm still getting caught in traffic jams!! DieOff already!
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Re: The scientific status of the peak oil theory

Unread postby TonyPrep » Sun 14 Jan 2007, 20:27:37

ReserveGrowthRulz wrote:They can't figure out why, 18 months post Peak, the world still thinks of Peak oil as some quirk of tree-huggery.
Can you (assuming you're correct in your belief that peak was July 2005)?
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Re: The scientific status of the peak oil theory

Unread postby Kingcoal » Mon 15 Jan 2007, 12:21:02

What a funny string of posts from bubmachine. He was doing good, I was enjoying the joisting and then he runs away crying!
"That's the problem with mercy, kid... It just ain't professional" - Fast Eddie, The Color of Money
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Re: The scientific status of the peak oil theory

Unread postby Aaron » Mon 15 Jan 2007, 13:59:41

ReserveGrowthRulz wrote:
Aaron wrote:
at least you get properly banned for not being gullible enough to swallow the standard dogma....


Now that's funny.


Thank you for not disputing the accuracy of the statement.



No Problemo... if anything I'm a pretty patient fellow.

It's patience which allow people like me, to tolerate a person such as yourself.

Honorable men may disagree.

I wouldn't validate ad hom nonsense like your sig by responding to it... likewise your ranting about biased board policy.

In fact, rants about board policy are in violation of our COC.

But that's for our Moderators to decide.
The problem is, of course, that not only is economics bankrupt, but it has always been nothing more than politics in disguise... economics is a form of brain damage.

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Re: The scientific status of the peak oil theory

Unread postby ReserveGrowthRulz » Mon 15 Jan 2007, 15:54:57

Aaron wrote:
I wouldn't validate ad hom nonsense like your sig by responding to it...


I actually thought my sig line was quite good. And accurate enough to make it difficult to respond to.
So....heading into our 3rd year post peak and I'm still getting caught in traffic jams!! DieOff already!
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Re: The scientific status of the peak oil theory

Unread postby Aaron » Mon 15 Jan 2007, 17:25:37

ReserveGrowthRulz wrote:
Aaron wrote:
I wouldn't validate ad hom nonsense like your sig by responding to it...


I actually thought my sig line was quite good. And accurate enough to make it difficult to respond to.


Fair enough... one man's trash & all...
The problem is, of course, that not only is economics bankrupt, but it has always been nothing more than politics in disguise... economics is a form of brain damage.

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Re: The scientific status of the peak oil theory

Unread postby EnergyUnlimited » Tue 16 Jan 2007, 07:52:24

ReserveGrowthRulz wrote:PO is not a Peak issue. PO isn't an Oil issue. PO isn't an energy issue. PO is a "How outrageous of a economic/societal consequence can I fabricate with the minimum amount of reality intruding" issue.

Correct.
The issue is about how much actual damage is going to be done.
There are 3 possibilities.
1. Much (doomers).
2. Not much (cornucopians).
3. None (idiots).
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Re: The scientific status of the peak oil theory

Unread postby ashurbanipal » Tue 16 Jan 2007, 13:16:50

I think the idea of a peak is almost tautological


Tautological as in true on every line of a truth table? I think not...

a geological product is limited, by definition. I know that some people doubt that oil is a fossil fuel at all, but this does not make much difference. From a logical point of view, there cannot be a limitless supply of it.


Logic says absolutely nothing about this.

It seems to me that the idea that the oil will peak is obvious. But it seems that it is beyond the limits of science to predict when it will happen. No-one seems to know how much oil is in the ground. By using the data of discovery, seems very weak as an accurate method of prediction. It is too easy to explain falsified predictions on other factors. (The oil crisis caused the 2000 prediction to be delayed, the OPEC countries are exaggerating the amount of reserves .... all these are "ad-hoc" hypotheses to "save" the theory).

My main problem is that false predictions, by the peak oil theorists, are always explained away by these methods, and I am afraid, this is a sign of a pseudoscience.


Popper probably wouldn't have thought so. But so what? Falsificationism runs into Quine-Duhem too easily. We use natural language because we have to (more or less); but we understand a scientist who puts forth some theory as proposing a number of related theories that make slightly different predictions. If oil peaked in 2001 rather than 2000, Popper would still have allowed that Hubbert's theory was corroborated, not falsified, unless some other competing theory had different ontological implications and had predicted 2001 as the date specifically.

Technically, by your apparent interpretation of Popper, Newton's laws of motion have been falsified by every single trial ever held to test them, since no ideal environment has ever existed. The actual experimental results have never once, and will never, precisely match what Newton's laws calculate. By the principle you seem to be stating, this means that Newton's laws were falsified the first time they were tested.

I'm not aware of a single branch of science that doesn't have a certain level of tolerance in measurement, and this is something that Popper was very much aware of. He would not have thought that because oil didn't peak in 2000, suddenly Hubbert's theory is false.

Perhaps we could say that no-one can give hard evidence for when the oil will peak. It seems difficult to base any kind of political policy on such a vague prediction.


The hell it is. We ought to be doing roughly the same things whether oil will peak next friday or 20 years from now. Only if oil peak is more than 20 years away should our politics be different.

It could be argued that the peak oil theory, although weak from a strictly scientific point of view, is in awareness, but the powers that be are "managing" the oil supply.


That's less Popper and more Duhem...

Making doomsday predictions is not science. Sorry.


I thought you were a Popperite? Popper had no problems making predictions (specifically in contradiction of Hume's problem of induction). So, let's say the sun blows up. We are perfectly justified in predicting doomsday, and Popper wouldn't have said otherwise--unless, that is, the sun blew up and even long after life was rolling along, in which case the doomsday theory would be falsified.
In a world that is not whole, you have got to fight just to keep your soul.

-Ben Harper-
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Re: The scientific status of the peak oil theory

Unread postby TonyPrep » Tue 16 Jan 2007, 16:08:17

ashurbanipal wrote:We ought to be doing roughly the same things whether oil will peak next friday or 20 years from now. Only if oil peak is more than 20 years away should our politics be different.
Not even then, IMO. Continuing down an unsustainable path, knowing that it's unsustainable is madness. I think the only difference regarding peak date is that the transition to some other energy system or social/economic system can be much more controlled and gradual. But the difference implies a certainty over the date of peak, which we'll never have, so policies should always include dealing with the possibility of an imminent peak, whilst moving societies and economies in a different direction. Even if peak was likely to be 100 years from now, or further away than that, this approach should not be different; if a business as usual approach was used where peak was likely to be 100 years away, that would be based on an unverifiable assumption - that we'd somehow figure out a way to keep things going longer, given a bit more time.
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