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That Time the U.S. Government Wrote a Report on Peak Oil

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Last year, on October 29, the White House released a strategy and a multi-agency plan to prepare for and coordinate responses to space weather threats. What’s a “space weather threat” you might ask?

From the intro to the White House report: “Space-weather events are naturally occurring phenomena that have the potential to disrupt electric power systems; satellite, aircraft, and spacecraft operations; telecommunications; position, navigation, and timing services; and other technologies and infrastructures that contribute to the Nation’s security and economic vitality.”

Basically, it’s when the sun misbehaves and causes problems for everyone in the immediate neighborhood.


These events are rare, but not nearly as rare as you might think. In fact, an extreme solar storm, likely the most powerful in 150+ years, came very close to hitting the Earth in 2012. How bad would it have been? As NASA explains: seconds to minutes after the eruption from the sun, radiation would cause us to experience radio blackouts, GPS navigation errors, and electronics damage to satellites. A day later, when the slower moving clouds of particles arrive, the real problems begin: “widespread power blackouts, disabling everything that plugs into a wall socket. Most people wouldn’t even be able to flush their toilet because urban water supplies largely rely on electric pumps.”

In other words, a global catastrophe, that almost no one would have saw coming, and one that actually happened in July 2012. So why didn’t it hit us? Timing. It was a single week too late. The storm hit the spot where the Earth was located just seven days prior.

There are those out there that would look at this and say, “There you people go again, talking about doomsday stuff that will never happen” because that’s what they always say. But it’s critically important to be able to separate fantasy doomsday predictions from sober risk analysis.

Properly understanding risk means acknowledging that even though the probability of certain events are low, the extreme risk of those events are sufficiently high to justify some basic consideration and planning on the issue. Does the White House think a solar storm hitting us is likely? Of course not. But they absolutely understand that they better have a plan on the books, just in case.

In other words, you don’t walk around everyday assuming that your house is going to catch fire – but you still carry insurance on the home because you rationally understand that to do otherwise would expose you and your family to an unacceptable amount of risk. That’s a normal and rational reaction to the risk of house fires. No, you don’t worry about it obsessively. Nor would you take the path of blind optimism and live a life without insurance because you believe that nothing bad will ever happen. You invest the amount of preparation appropriate for the issue, and then you get back to living your life.

This all leads us back to 2007 when the U.S. Government Accountability Office released one of the only official U.S. Government reports on Peak Oil. When you read the report today, almost a decade later, one is struck both by the measured language (a key component of all GAO reports due to the very rigorous review process) and also the realization of how little anyone actually listened to the report’s recommendations. The energy world has changed dramatically since the report’s publication. It’s from a pre-shale boom era where ethanol was still a big deal. But don’t let the details distract from the fact that the report’s basic thesis and recommendations are still solid.

You can sum up the report’s main points this way:

  • Peak Oil is real and will occur at some point between now and 2040.
  • Federal agencies do not have a coordinated plan to address the issue.
  • We really should have a plan. This is kind of important.

How utterly reasonable of a proposition is that. That various federal agencies should get together in a room every once in awhile and discuss the inevitable peaking of world oil production. Or start an email chain. Or something.

“Federal agencies currently have no coordinated or well-defined strategy either to reduce uncertainty about the timing of a peak or to mitigate its consequences. This lack of a strategy makes it difficult to gauge the appropriate level of effort or resources to commit to alternatives to oil and puts the nation unnecessarily at risk,” the report reads.

After a GAO report is released, the affected agencies usually try to take some actions to address recommendations made. In the case of the Department of Energy, GAO reported that they performed a few actions including this one: “EIA’s 2008 Annual Energy Conference, held in April 2008, included a session entitled “Peak Oil: Has the World Oil Production Peaked.” EIA estimates that over 600 persons attended the session.”

It’s easy to remember that day, because I was one of those 600 persons. This was back in the days where it was free to attend the annual EIA conference, and it was no problem for anyone in DC to simply take the train to the Washington Convention Center and hear discussions about energy. Of course I would attend, it was a no-brainer.

The first Secretary of Energy, James Schlesinger, was still alive at the time, and he was there giving a keynote talk well in line with his peakist views that he would later expand on in his 2010 talk to the ASPO-USA conference.

There was so much interest in the Peak Oil panel that it had to be moved to a larger room. Not only was there great interest in the discussion, but the EIA had also recruited the most well-known Peak Oil speaker at the time, Matt Simmons, the former energy adviser to the first President Bush and frequent energy commentator on CNBC, CNN, and other outlets.

The presentations from Simmons, as well as opposing views from CERA’s Peter Jackson, and EIA’s Glen Sweetnam are still available on the EIA website.

I’ll always kick myself for not taking the time to speak to Simmons during that EIA Conference. Less than two years later, he would be gone. Dead at 67 from a heart attack in his Maine home.

GAO’s concludes their section on agency actions this way, “EIA believes that this action addresses GAO’s recommendation and also provides a solid framework for future steps.”

Looking back, nearly a decade later, it’s easy to feel a little underwhelmed. Where GAO asked DOE and the Secretary to “take the lead, in coordination with other relevant agencies, to prioritize federal agency efforts and establish a strategy for addressing peak oil issues.”

And in response, EIA held a single session at one of their annual conferences.

The likelihood that the Earth is going to be blasted with a space-weather event is incredibly low. But I’m still glad that someone somewhere within the halls of government is sitting down and thinking up a response plan “just in case.”

We know the peaking of world oil production is inevitable, and that it will be an event of potential high risk. The hope is that the Department of Energy took to heart the reasonable request of the GAO of almost a decade ago. To take some steps to elucidate the timing of the peak, the level of risk involved, and the amount of federal resources that should be allocated to addressing the problem (if any).

“This Action Plan acknowledges the challenges associated with planning and preparing for extreme events that do not currently have well-defined recurrence rates,” writes the White House authors in their National Space Weather Strategy. Acknowledging that even though the planning is hard, uncertain, and often incorrect – that the planning process itself is still important, worthwhile, and necessary.

Drawing inspiration from those words of Eisenhower: “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything… That is the reason it is so important to plan, to keep yourselves steeped in the character of the problem that you may one day be called upon to solve.”

Ray Long

31 Comments on "That Time the U.S. Government Wrote a Report on Peak Oil"

  1. Plantagenet on Mon, 25th Apr 2016 4:44 pm 

    The GAO determined that peak oil will hit sometime before 2040.

    That would give us aa much as 24 more years of continued growth in the oil supply and concomitant economic growth.

    Thats kind of a mixed message. Yes we’ll hit peak oil, but not soon enough to make it a crisis right now.


  2. Cloud9 on Mon, 25th Apr 2016 5:25 pm 

    We have a 12% chance of a solar flair taking down the grid in the next decade. I don’t think I have a 12% chance of my house burning down in the next decade yet I still have insurance.

  3. Boat on Mon, 25th Apr 2016 5:31 pm 

    Alternatives to oil will cause oil to peak for the last time way before 2040. But there will still be plenty of demand. My guess would be 2030 +/- 5 years with demand around 110 mbpd. Then slowly the market for oil will shrink.

  4. Comic Relief on Mon, 25th Apr 2016 5:35 pm 

    We hit peak oil when total EROI fell from its peak. The rest is smoke and mirrors, debt and lies. Stick that up your ass Plantagenet.

  5. shortonoil on Mon, 25th Apr 2016 5:36 pm 

    “That would give us aa much as 24 more years of continued growth in the oil supply and concomitant economic growth.”

    Or, we might have 24 days. It says sometime now (2007) and 2040. That could be
    tomorrow? You also missed the part about risk; in Project Management there is a rule, it says “you deal with risk, or risk will deal with you”. You have the reading comprehension of a third grade drop out!

    The Hills Group two years ago projected peak all liquids in 2016; not long to wait to find out.

  6. Boat on Mon, 25th Apr 2016 5:50 pm 

    Yes short, we know you think oil as we know it and the world will have crashed by the end of 2019. 4 months have gone by and no signs yet. The clock is ticking.

  7. Comic Relief on Mon, 25th Apr 2016 6:00 pm 

    Grow a pair boat, describe why “the world will *not* have crashed” by the end of 2019.

  8. makati1 on Mon, 25th Apr 2016 6:23 pm 

    Comic, you are correct. We passed every definition of “peak oil” long ago and are on the downside of the chart. The deniers can argue all they want but that changes nothing. All we read now are lies and rah-rah pieces funded by the petroleum cartel. Any real articles are covered up or 100 other articles from the oily guys are posted to dispute the real and confuse the non-educated sheeple.

  9. Boat on Mon, 25th Apr 2016 6:27 pm 

    The signs of imminent collapse are just not there. I just read signs better than many.

  10. Apneaman on Mon, 25th Apr 2016 6:58 pm 

    “The signs of imminent collapse are just not there.” …….says boat from Houston that is still recovering from more multi billion dollar fossil fuel externalities. Not the first one in recent years and certainly will not be the last.

    How you calculating that boat? Are you subtracting the billions from the fossil fuel column as externalites and adding them in the GDP column under disaster rescue and rebuilding capitalism? That’s a good one. That way GDP can only go up. See, don’t need no university degree to be a good little economist.

  11. Plantagenet on Mon, 25th Apr 2016 7:10 pm 

    @comic relief

    Your potty mouth is overflowing. Please flush!


  12. Northwest Resident on Mon, 25th Apr 2016 7:42 pm 

    “The signs of imminent collapse are just not there.”

    Then why do the central banks keep injecting billion$ and trillion$ of debt/liquidity into the financial system?

    Answer: To delay economic collapse.

    Why is the FED unable to raise interest rates even a quarter of a point?

    Answer: Because the global economy is on the verge of collapse, burdened with excessive debt and rapidly depleting resources, and raising interest rates even a tiny notch would be enough to spread economic ruin globally, instantly.

    The signs of imminent collapse are everywhere.

    The signs that Boat is reading must be the ones posted by the propaganda operatives whose job it is to keep the herd of sheep tranquil and unaware of their approaching slaughter!

  13. HARM on Mon, 25th Apr 2016 7:52 pm 

    As Planter pointed out, that 2007 GAO report agreed we *would* hit peak oil sometime between now and 2040. And it’s quite obvious that as things stand today, we’re not yet there.

    And if fracking & uncovenentional “liquids” push that date out even further… there is little incentive for the BAU crowd to get concerned. Which is bad for those of us who would like a sooner than later transition to (a) smaller world population, and (b) sustainable and less destructive forms of energy.

  14. Comic Relief on Mon, 25th Apr 2016 8:30 pm 

    Harm you are a bigger idiot than Plantagenet. Imagine a forest around and on a mountain, at the front and at the base of the mountain are large hardwood trees, they burn well, have the highest BTU content and are easy to harvest, as they are used, the small hardwood trees, behind and a little higher are used, then the larger softwood then the smaller.

    There are lots of them but the energy content is much less, they are more expensive to harvest and we need many more of them to do the same job. That is how oil is. We are halfway up the mountain into the shit wood. Similarly we passed peak oil when we began using, tar sands, deep water and shale oil. Get it now.

  15. Boat on Mon, 25th Apr 2016 8:45 pm 

    There is a huge difference between a market downturn, recession, crash like 2007, depression and total crash. In the US the “Great Depression”, 75 percent of the work force was employed. Collapse? No

    Doomers on a regular basis claim imminent collapse for a variety of reasons. They have always been wrong.

  16. Comic Relief on Mon, 25th Apr 2016 8:49 pm 

    Boat you are just a run of the mill gutless wonder.

  17. makati1 on Mon, 25th Apr 2016 8:56 pm 

    Boat, really. Always? When the SHTF and YOU are on the street begging for bread, but the other 75% is not, does that mean you are an “exception”? I’m sure that to you, it will be a catastrophe and a collapse, not something that is just another doomer talking.

    We do not live in the past. What is coming has never happened in a long time, if ever. Does that mean it cannot, will not happen? Nope. It just means most will be in denial and not prepared for it. Global warming and massive climate change has not happened for millions of years, yet, it is happening in front of your eyes. To deny it is just denying what you see and experience every day. Ditto for the economy and it’s obvious collapse.

    Keep drinking that government/Wall Street cool aid. It will be fun t o watch you and your compatriot deniers suffer when you did not have to.

  18. Northwest Resident on Mon, 25th Apr 2016 9:35 pm 

    Boat — Keep denying reality until the bitter end. You’re doing a valuable public service, working hard to keep the general populace clueless, misinformed and believing that all is well. Every tiny contribution such as yours helps.

  19. Apneaman on Mon, 25th Apr 2016 9:58 pm 

    Boat, how about “The great depression” of 1929? Ever hear of that ape disaster? Maybe check it out and you will see many similarities. Except there were no nukes, nuke plants or or climate disruption, 5.4 billion less apes and much unexploited resources. All the greed, debt, incompetence and stupidity were there. Same for the sabre rattling. You know what the consequences were? Hunger, misery, death, despair leading to Fascism and WWII. Then the cold war. Yeah nothing ever bad happens. doomers just make stuff up. Like I said, you are sitting in the middle of a 3 day old billion dollar climate disaster and you are making claims like a contrarian 10 year old. Same goes for most of the Texas denier retards. Seriously, it’s a fascinating as it is frustrating to listen to you people try and rationalize, minimize and deny these things. There is no end to the shit y’all come up with – very creative and persistent. I understand it intellectually, because I have read everything I could get my hands on pertaining to ape behaviour, but to see it action when everything is on the line is still jaw dropping. In the days just before WWI when they were mobilizing, the attitude of the Brits and their commonwealth countries was it would be a short war – “Home by Christmas” The young men thought it would be the great adventure. A bunch of young Americans came up to Canada and enlisted in the Canadian forces so they wouldn’t miss it. It was a fucking horror show that no one predicted – not one military expert was prepared for what the weapons would do.

    Oh and prior to the crash of 1929 all the financial people, bankers, economists, CEO’s and politicians were spouting the same shit they and you are today. They were spouting even after the crash until enough reality finally shut them up. Nothing has change. Don’t take my word for it boat. Read what all the “experts” of the day said in their own words.

    “We will not have any more crashes in our time.”
    – John Maynard Keynes in 1927

    “I cannot help but raise a dissenting voice to statements that we are living in a fool’s paradise, and that prosperity in this country must necessarily diminish and recede in the near future.”
    – E. H. H. Simmons, President, New York Stock Exchange, January 12, 1928

    “There will be no interruption of our permanent prosperity.”
    – Myron E. Forbes, President, Pierce Arrow Motor Car Co., January 12, 1928

    “No Congress of the United States ever assembled, on surveying the state of the Union, has met with a more pleasing prospect than that which appears at the present time. In the domestic field there is tranquility and contentment…and the highest record of years of prosperity. In the foreign field there is peace, the goodwill which comes from mutual understanding.”
    – Calvin Coolidge December 4, 1928

    “There may be a recession in stock prices, but not anything in the nature of a crash.”
    – Irving Fisher, leading U.S. economist , New York Times, Sept. 5, 1929

    “Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau. I do not feel there will be soon if ever a 50 or 60 point break from present levels, such as (bears) have predicted. I expect to see the stock market a good deal higher within a few months.”
    – Irving Fisher, Ph.D. in economics, Oct. 17, 1929

    “This crash is not going to have much effect on business.”
    – Arthur Reynolds, Chairman of Continental Illinois Bank of Chicago, October 24, 1929

    “There will be no repetition of the break of yesterday… I have no fear of another comparable decline.”
    – Arthur W. Loasby (President of the Equitable Trust Company), quoted in NYT, Friday, October 25, 1929

    “We feel that fundamentally Wall Street is sound, and that for people who can afford to pay for them outright, good stocks are cheap at these prices.”
    – Goodbody and Company market-letter quoted in The New York Times, Friday, October 25, 1929

    “This is the time to buy stocks. This is the time to recall the words of the late J. P. Morgan… that any man who is bearish on America will go broke. Within a few days there is likely to be a bear panic rather than a bull panic. Many of the low prices as a result of this hysterical selling are not likely to be reached again in many years.”
    – R. W. McNeel, market analyst, as quoted in the New York Herald Tribune, October 30, 1929

    “Buying of sound, seasoned issues now will not be regretted”
    – E. A. Pearce market letter quoted in the New York Herald Tribune, October 30, 1929

    “Some pretty intelligent people are now buying stocks… Unless we are to have a panic — which no one seriously believes, stocks have hit bottom.”
    – R. W. McNeal, financial analyst in October 1929

    “The decline is in paper values, not in tangible goods and services…America is now in the eighth year of prosperity as commercially defined. The former great periods of prosperity in America averaged eleven years. On this basis we now have three more years to go before the tailspin.”
    – Stuart Chase (American economist and author), NY Herald Tribune, November 1, 1929

    “Hysteria has now disappeared from Wall Street.”
    – The Times of London, November 2, 1929

    “The Wall Street crash doesn’t mean that there will be any general or serious business depression… For six years American business has been diverting a substantial part of its attention, its energies and its resources on the speculative game… Now that irrelevant, alien and hazardous adventure is over. Business has come home again, back to its job, providentially unscathed, sound in wind and limb, financially stronger than ever before.”
    – Business Week, November 2, 1929

    “…despite its severity, we believe that the slump in stock prices will prove an intermediate movement and not the precursor of a business depression such as would entail prolonged further liquidation…”
    – Harvard Economic Society (HES), November 2, 1929

    “… a serious depression seems improbable; [we expect] recovery of business next spring, with further improvement in the fall.”
    – HES, November 10, 1929

    “The end of the decline of the Stock Market will probably not be long, only a few more days at most.”
    – Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics at Yale University, November 14, 1929

    “In most of the cities and towns of this country, this Wall Street panic will have no effect.”
    – Paul Block (President of the Block newspaper chain), editorial, November 15, 1929

    “Financial storm definitely passed.”
    – Bernard Baruch, cablegram to Winston Churchill, November 15, 1929

    “I see nothing in the present situation that is either menacing or warrants pessimism… I have every confidence that there will be a revival of activity in the spring, and that during this coming year the country will make steady progress.”
    – Andrew W. Mellon, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury December 31, 1929

    “I am convinced that through these measures we have reestablished confidence.”
    – Herbert Hoover, December 1929“[1930 will be] a splendid employment year.”
    – U.S. Dept. of Labor, New Year’s Forecast, December 1929

    “For the immediate future, at least, the outlook (stocks) is bright.”
    – Irving Fisher, Ph.D. in Economics, in early 1930

    “…there are indications that the severest phase of the recession is over…”
    – Harvard Economic Society (HES) Jan 18, 1930

    “There is nothing in the situation to be disturbed about.”
    – Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon, Feb 1930

    “The spring of 1930 marks the end of a period of grave concern…American business is steadily coming back to a normal level of prosperity.”
    – Julius Barnes, head of Hoover’s National Business Survey Conference, Mar 16, 1930

    “… the outlook continues favorable…”
    – HES Mar 29, 1930

    “… the outlook is favorable…”
    – HES Apr 19, 1930
    “While the crash only took place six months ago, I am convinced we have now passed through the worst — and with continued unity of effort we shall rapidly recover. There has been no significant bank or industrial failure. That danger, too, is safely behind us.”
    – Herbert Hoover, President of the United States, May 1, 1930

    “…by May or June the spring recovery forecast in our letters of last December and November should clearly be apparent…”
    – HES May 17, 1930

    “Gentleman, you have come sixty days too late. The depression is over.”
    – Herbert Hoover, responding to a delegation requesting a public works program to help speed the recovery, June 1930

    “… irregular and conflicting movements of business should soon give way to a sustained recovery…”
    – HES June 28, 1930

    “… the present depression has about spent its force…”
    – HES, Aug 30, 1930

    “We are now near the end of the declining phase of the depression.”
    – HES Nov 15, 1930

    “Stabilization at [present] levels is clearly possible.”
    – HES Oct 31, 1931

    “All safe deposit boxes in banks or financial institutions have been sealed… and may only be opened in the presence of an agent of the I.R.S.”
    – President F.D. Roosevelt, 1933

    Same as it ever was….same as it ever was.

  20. HARM on Mon, 25th Apr 2016 10:29 pm 

    Children… calm down. No, we have not yet hit the peak of “oil” production. No, reality is not precisely bending to the will of Hubbert’s 60-year-old graphs, or the more doomerish prognostications here. And, no, that’s not the end of the world.

    We will hit a peak at some point, just not as soon as many here would like. Personally, I’d prefer to miss it altogether and be dead by then, as the aftermath –as so many have pointed out– will not be pretty. Relax and enjoy the show, boys.

  21. Comic Relief on Mon, 25th Apr 2016 10:48 pm 

    Harm you moron. You still don’t get it yet? Producing more with a lot more leaves less to market. The published production figures DO NOT reflect what remains to be used. Clowns like you think everything remains the same.

  22. GregT on Mon, 25th Apr 2016 10:54 pm 

    “No, reality is not precisely bending to the will of Hubbert’s 60-year-old graphs”

    He predicted the peaking of then known proven reserves of conventional crude oil production. Hubbert’s 60-year-old graphs were correct. Stop with the BS already.

  23. Apneaman on Mon, 25th Apr 2016 10:57 pm 

    Good podcast interview here with Prof George Mobus. He talks about the interconnectedness of systems, ape and natural, so people like HARM and boat won’t get it.

    Financial Sense Newshour Podcast – Interview

    “Last Wednesday I was interviewed on the FSN podcast with Cris Sheridan. You can hear the interview here:

    The concerns about energy and the economy are still at play. In this interview Cris was interested in my work on the relation between money and energy and Biophysical Economics. Long time readers will recognize these themes from my blogs of yesteryear.

    In the not-too-distant future I will be reporting on some of the exciting developing situations vis-a-vis systems science. I’ve just returned from Linz Austria where I participated in an intense week-long conversation re: systems science research and systems literacy. Some very important developments are under way. Till then…”

  24. adonis on Mon, 25th Apr 2016 11:12 pm 

    were at the stage where the boy that cried wolf is no longer believed that the Wolf is at the door and the wolf is there world leaders are starting to panic they have no answers growth is finished and they can no longer hide the truth that peak oil was the real deal that it was an immanent threat to our civilization

  25. rockman on Tue, 26th Apr 2016 7:16 am 

    Friends – Nothing wrong with this debate. Other than the fact that it’s rather meaningless. LOL. However much one wants to applaud this govt report it emphasizes the completely unimportant date of PO. When ever GPO (Global Peak Oil) is reached the price might be $30/bbl with all capable buyers acquiring all they want or $120/bbl with very limited supplies available. The date of GPO will not determine the conditions at that time. The rise and fall of oil prices during just the last 10 years proves that fact.

    It constantly amazes me how so many act as if the effects of the continued depletion of oil in the world hasn’t caused already caused great tragedies: $TRILLION of US tax payer funds spent in “oil wars”, many tens of thousands of US military casualties along with millions of civilians, huge disruption of the US/global economies by high oil prices followed by the huge disruption of a major US industry by the current low prices due to the world’s inability to sustain oil consumption at the higher price.

    Yes friends and neighbor….it’s the POD speech once more. Again it’s truly amazing to see how so many willfully ignore what the US economy has gone through recently and continues to deal with today. And they still completely disconnect that reality from our energy predicament. And obviously these facts aren’t going to stop many from arguing about the date of GPO since that’s the only simplicity they can handle.

    Analyzing the entire energy dynamic in one conversation is beyond the capabilities of many. Which IMHO goes a long way to explaining the lack of any meaningful govt reaction to the situation: if the govt doesn’t recognize the real nature of the problem how can it develop a logical response? And if the citizens are equally ignorant how could they try to move the govt in the right direction? To a large degree the US is a ship of fools with incompetence at the helm.

  26. Dredd on Tue, 26th Apr 2016 8:08 am 

    That Time the U.S. Government Wrote a Report on [national security threat posed by fossil fuel use]”

    (Global Climate & Homeland Insecurity – 2).

  27. Dave thompson on Tue, 26th Apr 2016 8:39 am 

    @ Apneaman great link and pod cast sums up the equation; energy inputs+- = economic outputs +-. @ Rock thanks for keeping it real, perhaps some of the misguided and under informed will take heed. However if past performance is any indication.

  28. Boat on Tue, 26th Apr 2016 9:10 am 

    “To a large degree the US is a ship of fools with incompetence at the helm.”

    Since I was a young man as a society have dissed the other governments, our own government, the people we elect, the other political party, other religions, other races, the opposite sex and who we have sex with.
    Then we have high expectations for others not to make mistakes, live as I live, think as I think and problem solve all our problems away.
    I feel better now. You?

  29. GregT on Tue, 26th Apr 2016 10:08 am 

    “However if past performance is any indication.”

    If you still have any doubts, read the above post from Boat.

  30. marmico on Tue, 26th Apr 2016 10:29 am 

    The 2016 GAO Report means that you show up at a 4 seater Dunkin’ Donuts table by the window.

  31. energyskeptic on Tue, 26th Apr 2016 11:44 am 

    I have a post that extracts the most interesting parts of the GAO 2007 document at

    It is one of the few documents, anywhere, that understands that it is diesel fuel that needs replacement, because that’s what trucks, locomotives, and ships run on:

    The rate of decline after a peak is an important consideration because a decline that is more abrupt will likely have more adverse economic consequences than a decline that is less abrupt. In the United States, alternative transportation technologies have limited potential to mitigate the consequences of a peak and decline in oil production, at least in the near term, because they face many challenges that will take time and effort to overcome. If the peak and decline in oil production occur before these technologies are advanced enough to substantially offset the decline, the consequences could be severe. The price of soybean oil is not expected to decrease significantly in the future owing to competing demands from the food industry and from soap and detergent manufacturers. These competing demands, as well as the limited land available for the production of feedstocks, also are projected to limit biodiesel’s capacity for large-volume production, according to DOE and USDA. As a result, experts believe that the total production capacity of biodiesel is ultimately limited compared with other alternative fuels.

    And the exponential nature of the crisis:

    …because oil production could decline even more each year following a peak, the amount that would have to be replaced by alternatives could also increase year by year.

    The conclusion is:

    The prospect of a peak in oil production presents problems of global proportion whose consequences will depend critically on our preparedness. The consequences would be most dire if a peak occurred soon, without warning, and were followed by a sharp decline in oil production because alternative energy sources, particularly for transportation, are not yet available in large quantities. Such a peak would require sharp reductions in oil consumption, and the competition for increasingly scarce energy would drive up prices, possibly to unprecedented levels, causing severe economic damage. While these consequences would be felt globally, the United States, as the largest consumer of oil and one of the nation’s most heavily dependent on oil for transportation, may be especially vulnerable among the industrialized nations of the world.

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