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Page added on April 23, 2015

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Peak Oil: Still The Problem And Not The Answer

General Ideas

While all the buzz surrounds oil prices, the global demand side remains on solid footing: up. Supplying 33% of all energy, oil is the world’s primary fuel. Oil is so important that global demand is ever-growing: 67 million b/d in 1990, 77 million b/d in 2000, and 91 million b/d in 2014. I’ll never understand the animosity of some Westerners toward critical fuels that they depend on everyday, making their lives easier in ways their great grandparents only dreamed of. [1]

“Animosity” directed to fossil fuels? Has a nice right-wing playbook buzz to it, but those of us concerned with facts have an annoying habit of insisting that all of them be considered, and that consequences must also find a place at the table where overly-broad statements otherwise prefer being alone. And how exactly does one direct animus toward an energy source which has indeed made it possible for society to enjoy a magnificent history of progress and innovation?

Perhaps that’s not really the object of animus—real or imagined … ya think?

Lower prices lead to decreased investments and efforts by oil producers, which lead to reduced production of fossil fuel resources already more difficult to access and extract….The cumulative effect is that the wondrous increases in demand and the truthful expression that those needs can only be met [so far] by fossil fuels will collide with those other truthful realities as well. It’s difficult to make the math work when dealing with a finite resource and ever-increasing demand.

No legitimate proponent of the need to consider our energy supply challenges [let alone climate change] disputes the awesome numbers bandied about when discussing worldwide resource totals. But true to form, we can’t help ourselves; we just have to go and mention the fact that resources underground or under water are not nearly the same as fuel in hand for our use.

The more difficult, expensive, and challenging production becomes under present-day circumstances, the less relevant those resource totals become. And when that issue comes into play, ever-increasing demands are confronted with the harsh realities that we can no longer just dredge up whatever need when we need it at our preferred prices and for as long as desire.

The same oil industry cheerleader offering up the quote above also added this:

Thanks to derivatives gasoline and diesel fuel, the ongoing dominance of oil in the rapidly expanding vehicle market just now reaching into developing Asia is about as sure a thing as we have in our energy/environment discussion today. If there’s ever going to be common ground between fossil fuel companies, liberals, conservatives, environmental groups, Al Gore, and the Koch bros, the anti-oil crowd HAS to get over that fact.

We already know about oil’s dominance in modern society, so we don’t actually have to “get over” anything. What the anti-fact crowd has to get over is the policy of ignoring facts and reality and recognize that their boasts about oil’s prevalence and the impressive factoid that 3 billion oil-dependent cars on the road in another quarter of a century or so are in the process of contributing a big piece to the mother of all energy supply problems.

Technology and ingenuity—alone or in combination—are not new sources of energy. Earth has what it has in terms of finite resources.

Instead of leading the cheers for the legitimately wonderful ways fossil fuels have served mankind and how dependent we still remain on those same finite resources with all of the attendant modern-day production challenges we’re now confronting, perhaps some of that exuberance and ingenuity might be directed to paving the way for the inevitability that diminishing supply and increasing demand cannot be reconciled except at great and enduring cost.

And while couching all of this as now a “moral issue” has a nice ring to it, it doesn’t add much to intelligent planning and preparation. What’s immoral is to continue to mask the unpleasant realities of supply and production with Happy Talk ideology contributing nothing to the long-term well-being of all of us so that the few benefit at the expense of the many.

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13 Comments on "Peak Oil: Still The Problem And Not The Answer"

  1. paulo1 on Thu, 23rd Apr 2015 8:32 am 

    There is a ring of impatience to this article. It is similar to living on the slopes of a volcano and someone says, “you know this may not be such a good”…. After awhile you might have to give up on your warnings and make your own plans. Would it be better with a mass effort? Of course. Is that likely to happen? Not a chance. This baby is ripe for a huge disruption and there will be some very angry people as a result.

    I don’t pretend for a moment that what individuals are doing to prepare right now, or as Greer says, “collapse ahead of time”, will result in some kind of Little House on The Prarrie lifestyle with extra comforts provided through salvage. But it is better than doing nothing.

  2. Davy on Thu, 23rd Apr 2015 9:52 am 

    See the article on ZeroHedge “These Two Asset Classes Show Us a Crash Is Coming”. A great article explaining the reality of demand destruction through oil and coal. This is exactly what we have been discussing here with peak oil dynamics and economic descent IOW demand and supply destruction.

  3. marmico on Thu, 23rd Apr 2015 10:47 am 

    So what are the anti-STEM nutters going to write about when global oil production reaches 80 mb/d?

    There is no petroleum affordability (demand destruction) issue. In the 67 year history of the U.S. data set, the ratio of gasoline spending to wages & salaries has averaged 5.0%. The 2014 spending ratio was 5.3%. The 2015 spending ratio is estimated to be less than 5.0% and closer to 4.0%.

  4. Plantagenet on Thu, 23rd Apr 2015 11:01 am 

    When you are in an oil glut, oil prices fall and demand goes up.

    Its all so obvious.

  5. Davy on Thu, 23rd Apr 2015 11:20 am 

    Marmi, did you read the reference article? I thought of you when I posted it.

  6. marmico on Thu, 23rd Apr 2015 11:26 am 

    Don’t ya figure the STEM dudes & gals will figure out how to make the oil flow in your lifetime from the 5 trillion in place oil (kerogen) shales in the Green River Basin (Colorado, Utah, Wyoming)?

    It will stand the EROI types on their heads. Liquid fuel production will be EROI negative but economically positive.

    Even Hubbert knew about the kerogen resources in 1956.

  7. shortonoil on Thu, 23rd Apr 2015 3:35 pm 

    Green River will go into production as soon as Raytheon gets that dam anti-gravity machine running. As soon as GE gets its perpetual motion machine built, and as soon as dilithium crystals become as common as laptops. Pure, unadulterated fantasy!

  8. apneaman on Thu, 23rd Apr 2015 3:55 pm 

    marm-nony, how do you and your STEM heros explain why I can’t fly on the Concord?

    Some of our greatest cultural and technological achievements took place between 1945 and 1971. Why has progress stalled?

    ” It spluttered to a halt more than 40 years ago. Most of what has happened since has been merely incremental improvements upon what came before. That true age of innovation – I’ll call it the Golden Quarter – ran from approximately 1945 to 1971. Just about everything that defines the modern world either came about, or had its seeds sown, during this time.”

    http://aeon.co/magazine/science/why-has-human-progress-ground-to-a-halt/

  9. Nony on Thu, 23rd Apr 2015 3:55 pm 

    Staniford has gone pretty quiet on all his SA running out of oil BS. Seems like he never took the trouble to write a post-mortem of how he and many other peakers missed what happened.

    Maybe SA having an extra 2.5MM bpd is not BS? Maybe they’re not hiding anything. Other than a shitload of oil and efforts to control price.

  10. Nony on Thu, 23rd Apr 2015 4:04 pm 

    I told Orville and I told Wilbur…that thing will never fly.

    Peakers have a long history of failed predictions and a long history of not facing their failed predictions. They are not real truth seekers.

  11. apneaman on Thu, 23rd Apr 2015 4:16 pm 

    Nony – and it’s your life’s work to come here and argue because????????????

    According to your google stats, no one is paying attention, so why are you?

  12. Nony on Thu, 23rd Apr 2015 4:24 pm 

    Apnea: I blame the VN war. It’s got the kids all weirded out.

    I’m a loser too

  13. apneaman on Thu, 23rd Apr 2015 5:00 pm 

    There sumthin in the agent orange that does it to us.

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