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What happened to peak oil? With Richard Heinberg

We talk peak oil with Richard Heinberg, Senior (and very fine) Fellow with the Post Carbon Institute. Richard is regarded as one of the world’s foremost advocates for a shift away from our current reliance on fossil fuels.  He’s the author of 13 books, including some seminal works with titles like The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality, and Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World.  His latest book is Our Renewable Future: Laying the Path to One Hundred Percent Clean Energy (available for free online!) co-authored with Berkeley energy expert David Fridley. If you want to do an online course with Richard checkout Think Resilience. This is the first of a two part interview.

Later in the show we talk about the concept of ‘energy slaves’. Check out this video an Olympic cyclist vs. a toaster.

13 Comments on "What happened to peak oil? With Richard Heinberg"

  1. Anonymous on Tue, 30th May 2017 6:53 pm 

    Is this loser still bleating? He has been wrong for 10+ years now. And he’s not even a geologist or an analyst. He’s an English major type. Got his start with very fringey history study (Velikoviskian planets in collision weird stuff).

  2. Cloggie on Wed, 31st May 2017 3:19 am 

    Have spent too much time on Heinberg already in the past, a complete waste of time. A giant titanic screw-up, wrong on all accounts. It is 2017 now and we should all be queuing up in front of the petrol station.

    We have been listening to esoteric laymen with a dream and personal agenda for too long.

    Heinberg, after two years in college and a period of personal study, became personal assistant to Immanuel Velikovsky in November 1979 and after Velikovsky’s death assisted Mrs. Velikovsky editing manuscripts. He published his first book in 1989, Memories and Visions of Paradise: Exploring the Universal Myth of a Lost Golden Age, which was the result of ten years of study of world mythology. An expanded second edition was published in 1995. He began publishing his alternative newsletter, the MuseLetter, in 1992. His next book was published in 1993: Celebrate the Solstice: Honoring the Earth’s Seasonal Rhythms through Festival and Ceremony

    Heinberg needed the peak oil story to insert his magical ecological anti-industrial world view and he is free to do so. But it is green-leftist cultural-Marxist anti-technological program and agenda, his predictions were plain wrong. Ecological views have become main stream in the developed world and have arrived at politics. Yes we should get rid of oil and the effort is underway and apparently even Heinberg is sold on a 100% renewable energy future, although he is still too pessimistic about its true potential. For a country like Holland an offshore wind farm of 400 turbines is sufficient to power its entire fleet of 8 million cars, provided these cars were e-vehicles. The Gemini wind farm of 400 turbines was commissioned earlier this year and many more of those wind parks are in the pipeline for the coming few years. The Dutch rail system is already fully covered by wind-power. The demand for corporate solar panels is now so big that China no longer can deliver and a new factory is going to be built in the Netherlands. And mind you, the Netherlands is lagging behind with most other European countries.

    The North Sea provides for 200,000 km2 shallow water and high wind speeds, offering the potential for producing two times the current electricity consumption for the entire EU. And then there is the Baltic and Irish Sea. And you don’t even need shallow water as you can work with floating turbines.

    Yesterday China opened the largest floating offshore solar farm in the world:

    The prices for wind and solar are falling rapidly; the industry is predicting 285W solar panels for $100 by 2020.

    Renewable energy is globally now the largest part of new installed capacity today. Countries like China and India do not need to be convinced that renewable is their future. The governments of the US and Russia are not yet convinced but on a state level, people have their own plans. If oil state Texas were a country, it would be the fourth wind power in the world.

    The transition is happening and is unstoppable and will be accomplished in a few decades, probably in Europe and selected US states first. And there is no upper limit to the amount of energy. A country like Spain covered with solar panels would be enough to power the entire world. But we have the North Sea, Sahara, Saudi-Arabia, Gobi, Australia, etc.

    Forty years ago, around 1977, began the personal computer revolution:

    Computers were no longer the exclusive domain of data centers run by the likes of IBM but began to invade households. The first models had a RAM of 4 kb, data was stored on cassette tapes. Compare those machines with what the average Westerner or Asian has in his home: gigabits of RAM and terabytes of storage, for a price less than the original home computers.

    The renewable energy revolution will follow exactly the same pattern of price decay and performance increase.

    This whole 2005 ASPO-2000/Heinberg depletion story has become completely 100% irrelevant. The party is NOT over.

    There is still a lot to worry about: climate change, overpopulation, mass migration, proliferation of nuclear weapons, geopolitical reconfiguration, the potential for war, the demise of white civilization as a result of the schemes of deep state of the US empire, etc., etc.

    But the energy depletion story has been wiped of the map. Fossil is going to be replaced by renewable without a glitch. There is no energy problem.

  3. Davy on Wed, 31st May 2017 6:03 am 

    “But the energy depletion story has been wiped of the map. Fossil is going to be replaced by renewable without a glitch. There is no energy problem.”

    This is an example of exaggerated optimism. Look at current penetration of Alternative and EV’s and ask yourself does this deserve exaggerated optimism? It most certainly does not. There has always been an energy problem and always will. All species have always struggled with energy and we are no different. There is a lot to worry about and your list of worries is pretty short. We might be buying some time for the older guys here but I think the young should be very worried.

  4. Midnight Oil on Wed, 31st May 2017 6:42 am 

    Hmmm, seems you all are being too hard on the man….but it is easy to criticize when one is just posting here in the comment section and not actually publishing. LOL!
    Read his book on Shale…titled Snake Oil and a recent post on Amazon

    Must Read
    ByClear Lake Manon January 25, 2017
    Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
    Enjoyed his latest work. Read some of this other books and kept up with him on the internet and You Tube. Recommend. Publish date was 2013 so he must have been working off 2012 and earlier data. We are now in 2017. Would be interesting if he were to do a revised version of this with revised up to date information. No doubt much of the fracked reserves would have been greatly diminished with some new discoveries coming on line. In November they discovered a potential 20 billion barrel reserve in Wolf’s Camp West Texas. This could be a game changer at least in the short run. None the less for far sighted individuals and policy makers a delay of even ten years in global peak oil does not buy us much time. The weakness of past peak oil predictions was that they gave perhaps unrealistic peak dates that had not come to pass. The real issue is not when oil will peak but how will society deal in a post peak-oil environment

    So, maybe the man isn’t a certified Prophet…
    Thank you Richard…boy I’m so glad you are not 100% accurate.. Keep up the good work…
    Now back to the Dirty Laundry.

  5. John on Wed, 31st May 2017 6:53 am 

    Someday some of you may grow up and realize that it’s all about ideas, not who proposes them. So what if Heinberg was wrong in some of his predictions. Some of his ideas have merit and can be studied and weighed against personal experience and other ideas.

    I always remind my boys not to judge an idea by it’s author. I always print out postings to read later but make sure i remove the authors name so it’s not tainted.

    I use the same approach with stock charts.

    it works. Why be prejudiced about things?

  6. ALCIADA-MOLE on Wed, 31st May 2017 7:47 am 

    @john, I like heinberg because I was one of the first to line up for his book “the party is over”. I bought it even though i didn’t understand much. I’m very stupid.

    I think u need to listen to all ideas and u have to employ ur instinct too. If someone who has a terrible tract record I’d tune him out. I’m not talking about Heinberg in this case. I think he has a lot of useful ideas

    What u usually find is people are biased toward a goal. And I’m always guilty of this. When they focus on teh goal they miss the details (details that could’d alerted them that they’re wrong). Try to look for clues that a person is goal oriented idiot.

    I like data driven dudes but I also like some flare that comes with the interpretations.

    In general I avoid really smart dudes. I’d rather do the thinking myself. Smart dudes like Stefan Mollyneux are self serving because we’re all self-serving.

    The meat I have on top of me is what I have. I need to be brave enough and use what I have.

  7. Revi on Wed, 31st May 2017 7:54 am 

    It looks like global oil may have peaked, so maybe he will be seen as more relevant now. We’ll see. We have built a very fragile fossil fueled infrastructure. Even slow growth is a nightmare. When we get no growth or even shrinkage what he says may be more relevant…

  8. Danny on Wed, 31st May 2017 10:46 am 

    “In 2014, the Netherlands produced only 5.5% of its total energy from renewables”

  9. Apneaman on Wed, 31st May 2017 10:57 am 

    “Smart dudes like Stefan Mollyneux….”

    Bahahahaha. If conning dupes like you into believing and paying for his ever changing and contradictory bullshit makes one smart, then Mollyneux is a fucking genius. So, you’re one of the fierce soldiers in his army of true believers? Figures.

    “Molyneux has a group of very ardent fans, even though he is only questionably an ancap at this point, and is hated by a large portion of them: he defends cops, is a “racial realist”, says weird red pill things about women, and is a hawk on Mid East relations. He presents a crank magnetism chimera of men’s rights crybaby, white rights crybaby and some sort of fedora-lover’s Glenn Beck[3] (or a thinking man’s RooshV) who is known for mistreating his guests.”


    Like most laissez-faire economists, he denies overpopulation is a problem. Stefan believes there’s no such thing as too many exploitable wage slaves to boss around too many people. He believes the real problem is that not enough people follow his philosophy.[44] ”

  10. bobinget on Wed, 31st May 2017 11:30 am 

    US production increased by 62000 barrels day to 9.098 MM barrels/day.
    EIA today’s data.

    Doesn’t look over whelming.
    I’ll be this week’s holiday travel used over 21 M B p/d in the USA. We won’t know till NEXT report.

    BREAKING: US March crude production rises to 9.098 mbpd versus 9.036 mbpd in February (revised up from 9.031 mbpd) – EIA
    Here’s the march weeklys

    2017-Mar 03/03 9,088 03/10 9,109 03/17 9,129 03/24 9,147 03/31 9,199

  11. ALCIADA-MOLE on Wed, 31st May 2017 12:55 pm 

    @AP mollyneux is formidable because he correctly called out physicists as doing nothing useful and it offended me because I had training in physics.

    But he mislead his audience because he himself is producing nothing tangible.

    So he contradicted himself if he says he’s being useful. So he has to issue a follow up video saying physicists are useful. but he hasn’t and never will.

    He also said he won’t run for President of the US because it would corrupt him. He never said it’s because he’s a Canadian. So he used his cult influence to say the US Constitution doesn’t matter.

    This offends me because I’m a Paultard and the Constituion is way up there on the list.

    I think people are useful. I only dislike druggies and people in power if they prevent others from working.

    An example is people who say others have to hold off work because they have to do “that” first. But before “that” he has to do some other things. So this means people who want to work can’t proceed.

  12. Anonymous on Wed, 31st May 2017 10:45 pm 

    9.098 versus 9.031 (the before revision) is an increase of 67 bpd in a month. That is .804 MM bpd increase per year. Pretty darned substantial and more than the previous EIA yearly increase predictions. It starts to approach the disco increases of 1MM bpd per year of the 1600 rig 2012-2014 era.

  13. Dan on Thu, 22nd Jun 2017 6:17 pm 

    The resources for “renewable” energy have to be mined, just as minerals for computers do. This means more wars, and more uprooting and outright slaughter of indigenous peoples the world over.

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