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Peak Oil Denial: Abundant Nonsense # 3

General Ideas

We don’t like bad news, particularly when it has very long term implications. Individually and collectively we tend to slip into denial mode, focus on diversions, become numbed to the reality of the situation, cling to anyone willing to assure us it just ain’t so, that things are going to get better. You can’t live your life in crisis mode.
We have, in recent decades, turned this into a political institution; the denial industry. The primary objective of the denial industry is not clarity but rather to create confusion and conflict in the minds of the public by creating the impression that there are legitimate differences of opinion between experts and scientists. It is a strategy honed and perfected around the issue of smoking, a strategy they have continued to use, often with the same players, on issue after issue and now dominating the debate over global warming and peak oil.
But it is a generational culture shift that has facilitated the success of the denial industry. With the growth in accessible information through the media, the internet, cell phones and more, people have abandoned seeking answers to their questions through independent thought and instead turn to various media for those answers. They have abdicated to others the right to tell them how and what they should think, to define truth. It has been a key part of the technological dumbing down of society, nowhere more obviously than in North America [1]

In the most recent post of this Abundant Nonsense series, I discussed another in the endless parade of cherry-picked, half-truth missives being offered by those who find value in denying facts.

Content with having dismissed peak oil via an explanation which evidenced less than full knowledge about what Peak Oil means, the author offered a curious observation drawn from our nation’s Energy Information Administration and its recent report, the 2013 Energy Outlook (Early Release Overview, to be more accurate).

Whoa! Not So Fast

Far from peaking, oil production is climbing and will ‘peak’ later this decade, but will level off for the next two decades. It doesn’t decline as the peak oil theory predicts.

First of all, the fact that current production increases are forecast to “level off for the next two decades” in just a few years is actually a very important fact, and a potential problem—a big one. What happens when leveling off occurs? Safe bet that the United States won’t be the only one having trouble maintaining steady production increases, given that’s what most oil-producing nations are already dealing with.

As for the “doesn’t decline as the peak oil theory predicts” observation, production is still not going to exceed the 1970 peak, so what’s the intent behind that too-clever-by-half proposition? [And the EIA peak projection for later this decade is still 2 million barrels per day less than the 1970 peak. Damned facts!]

His next pseudo-factual argument is an apparent attempt to dismiss a fellow journalist’s claim about peak production, but it is just more of the same. He other does not understand, or he does and prefers avoiding any evidence which might burst the Oil Industry God’s Bubble:

Another Vote for “Doesn’t Understand”

Talton’s [Jon Talton, the Seattle Times business columnist intended to serve as the convenient foils] claim that U.S. production peaked years ago turns out to be entirely false. In fact, even with the slight decline after 2020, production will continue to be above the levels of 2011….

His colleague’s claim suggested a peak about 5-6 years ago. That’s the high point since the actual 1970 peak, so it’s not an entirely accurate assessment, but our industry cheerleader doesn’t bother pointing that out either. The cherry-picked “production will continue to be above the levels of 2011” statement is no less misleading than any of the other comments. Why do this?

But let’s give the man his due. This was a very moving tribute to the Free Market Is God, Government Is Satan (& Useless) talking point—I was this close to getting a tissue:

Given a choice between the politically motivated predictions of those who want to guide the economy and the free-market creativity that generates innovation and allows us to do more with less, why would we ever choose a system that fails both to accurately predict the future and provide the ability to solve problems before they occur?

Just for the hell of it and in keeping with this annoying insistence of mine on pointing out that there is actually another side to these stories [fact-based, too!], two articles [here and here] are good examples among many of the “other side” stories. They do screw up the ideological story-line, but what can I say?

Tough Choice: “Doesn’t Care” or “Doesn’t Understand”

Just to be certain that all the right-wing Playbook highlights are touched upon, the author then gives us this regularly-spouted claim—context-free and just-truthful-enough-not-to-be-a-complete-fabrication:

If reserves are growing, then supply is outstripping demand. We are finding new sources of oil faster than we are using it. Worldwide proven reserves in 2011 (the most recent year available) are 45 percent greater than in 2000. Reserves are 12 percent higher than 2007, the year Talton claimed was the peak, meaning that even as demand has increased, new supply has increased even more rapidly. Far from hitting a peak, oil discovery is increasing rapidly.

Here’s what never gets added to that observation. “Finding” new sources is one thing. Accessing them profitably, timely, with current or future technologies, at the rate needed to match demand, are entirely different matters. The cheap, easy-to-access conventional supplies are on a steady decline. What’s left is harder to get at, more costly, has less energy bang for the buck—and that’s just the beginning of the challenges now faced by the fossil fuel industry.

It doesn’t matter how much is found. The myriad practical/financial considerations which must then be successful implemented are what matters, and if the capabilities aren’t there, then the vastly massive whatevers are going to stay right where they are.

But we wouldn’t want to explain those truths to the public, Right?

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3 Comments on "Peak Oil Denial: Abundant Nonsense # 3"

  1. BillT on Tue, 27th Aug 2013 2:04 am 

    This is the best article I have read recently about denial. It is ALL about money and keeping the sheeple asleep for a few more days/weeks/months/years while ‘for profit’ capitalism continues to destroy the earth and your wealth. The 1/100% want it ALL before the final curtain.

  2. dave thompson on Tue, 27th Aug 2013 2:50 am 

    The more I look at the corporate string pullers as in this article,the more I conclude that the manipulation will go on for some time(years, decades?). The downfall could be an unforeseen awakening of non compliance in the masses.

  3. Harquebus on Tue, 27th Aug 2013 4:28 am 

    When Ben starts winding down those presses then, the house of cards will implode. Physical realities will always trump political and economic ideologies.
    The oil that the U.$. and others are consuming is being paid for on credit.

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