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Page added on March 25, 2013

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Peak Oil: Another Ride On The Denial Train (Pt 1)

General Ideas

Curious how things work out sometimes….

Last Sunday, the always-insightful Kurt Cobb posted at his Resource Insights blog [on my Blogroll and one which should be on yours as well], a collection of observations whose title said it all: “Depletion: The one word oil optimists refuse to utter.

Several weeks ago, I wrote a post which was then published last Tuesday, lamenting/wondering for the zillionth time why industry/media personnel who should (and surely do) know better share with the general public much less fossil fuel-related information, facts, and truths than citizens deserve.

A nice statement from an article written by David Ropeik prompted my piece, which included this observation:

It may take more cognitive effort to think critically and independently rather than just parrot our tribal leaders … but that simply can not excuse people knowingly and selfishly putting themselves and their self interests above others in their community and as a result putting the rest of us at risk.

And nice enough to oblige Mr. Ropeik, Kurt, and I was this latest entry in the Cornucopian pursuit of barely-there truth-telling. A nearly 3,000 word article on the “miracle” of our “energy boom” and nowhere did the word “depletion” appear. (“Decline” didn’t make the final cut, either.)

Facts, as I’ve noted on many occasions before, can royally screw up an attempt to mislead or mis-direct. So it’s of course perfectly understandable why an article clearly intending to convince readers that energy nirvana is close at hand would omit facts which tarnish the luster on energy abundance Happy Talk or suggest the Magic Technology Fairy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Such is the nature of political, environmental, and economic dialogue these days.

One side works damned hard to make sure only a carefully-selected group of marginally-truthful statements are offered to the public, which are then massaged vigorously according to the established, disingenuous criteria of its Playbook.

Those of us on the other side of these discussions are actually willing to cross the line and admit to at least the basic premises on which those others operate in their curiously-scripted world. But damn us, we then just have to add facts, other evidence, and reality-based analyses to round out the conversations—presenting all the information we believe citizens should have.

Some of us don’t always do it very well or often enough, to be sure. But on balance we’re very confident we act in that manner a whole hell of a lot more than does the other party to our public discourse. We’re even willing to do so if the Happy Ending is not so happy.

It’s not a perfect strategy by any means—the ideal or its implementation. Perfect eludes us, too. But speaking at least for myself, more information is usually better. Nothing noble about it, actually. Just some common courtesy and respect.

Fools that we are, we think the public has a right to know both sides of a story, especially when an issue is of great importance to them and their well-being. Some surprises are good; others … not so much. So we’re even foolish enough to think the public should be allowed to have all the pertinent information—what we and “the other side” are offering. That way, citizens can both understand and then make their own decisions on matters directly affecting them. Such a concept….

It sucks when it’s not all Happy Talk and Technology Fairy pixie dust, but we just can’t help ourselves. We actually believe that facts and truth matter … still.

[And it bears noting again: I’m NOT Peak Oil’s poster child. We’re among the fortunate ones; my family enjoys a very nice lifestyle which energy supply disruptions will screw up big-time. I want to believe the optimists! But those damned facts….]

Rounding out last week’s nicely-arranged set of coincidences was an interview Mason Inman conducted with ecologist Charles Hall of SUNY’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse. Mason jumped right in:

‘Drill, baby, drill’ has become a slogan of those who want to produce more oil and gas and who scoff at alternatives to petroleum. But rarely mentioned is the expense required to get that oil and gas—and still more rarely mentioned is the energy required to access those resources.

It is awfully curious, isn’t it? Wonder why that is? Wonder who’s benefitting from that approach? I know who isn’t….

I’ll get it into this some more in tomorrow’s post.

Peak Oil Matters



4 Comments on "Peak Oil: Another Ride On The Denial Train (Pt 1)"

  1. GregT on Mon, 25th Mar 2013 2:32 pm 

    “‘Drill, baby, drill’ has become a slogan of those who want to produce more oil and gas and who scoff at alternatives to petroleum. But rarely mentioned is the expense required to get that oil and gas—and still more rarely mentioned is the energy required to access those resources.”

    And even more rarely mentioned is the elephant in the room; Climate Change.

  2. PrestonSturges on Mon, 25th Mar 2013 5:00 pm 

    US oil production is down 50% from its peak in the 1970s, and recent increases in production are a small speed bump at the bottom of a long hill.

    We would need to find a new North Slope oil field every two years to be self sufficient.

  3. DC on Mon, 25th Mar 2013 8:55 pm 

    Alaska as well, temporarily halted the decline of US production, but only for a time as well. Alaskan production is in terminal decline now. How much ‘relief’ did that provide, a decade? a little more? A decade in which nothing was done about the larger issue.

    So it is with tar-sands and shale, and w/e. Except this time, the relief wont last as long, and it will cost a long more. And like in the past, zero will be done about the larger issue.

    All recent finds have but one purpose, to keep BAU rolling on till it no longer can, until the day when it all just…stops…

  4. bonanza on Tue, 26th Mar 2013 2:24 am 

    so where are the facts?

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