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Peak Oil Denial: Nonsense Keeps Rolling Along # 6

General Ideas

At the risk of starting a cat fight where truth may too quickly become a casualty, why don’t we more forcefully challenge those who deny peak oil (and global warming) and who do so for reasons that generally ignore reality in favor of narrowly-defined interests? Those motivations will ultimately do nothing but promote more eventual harm by denying the truths to those who clearly need them the most….
Of course, we run the risk of getting bogged down in he said/she-said arguments that quickly devolve into the lowest forms of ‘debate’, but why let those types of offerings go unchallenged? They feed on themselves, and it is tiresome and time-consuming to have to rebut all the nonsense. But if we don’t, uninformed readers and listeners have no reason to at least consider the possibility that there may indeed be other facts out there that should at least be examined in order to make informed assessments, rather than accepting the words of the few. More information is rarely a bad thing, and giving everyone the opportunity to examine the facts and engage in rational discourse as a means of seeking common ground makes for a healthier and more productive society.

That’s from a post I wrote three years ago, and my attitude hasn’t wavered. The constant flow of articles and opinions give me yet more opportunities to bat down the nonsense passing as advice and learned observations about the world of energy supply.




The most significant characteristic of modern civilization is the sacrifice of the future for the present, and all the power of science has been prostituted to this purpose. [1]

There’s a fairly consistent pattern of denial which serves as the common thread running through  almost every written or spoken piece denouncing those of us who are urging greater awareness of our future oil supply challenges. The “myth/theory” of peak oil is consistently targeted by an assortment of disingenuous, pseudo-factual might-possibly-could perhaps arguments, as I’ll continue to point out—here and in future posts.

Just wondering: if it was indeed anywhere near as much of a nutty concept as the body of fact-free, Happy Talk cheerleaders insist, why do they keep at it? That they are unable to do so without some impressive contortions of facts and geological realities seems to be delivering a not-to-subtle message they probably do not intend.

Below is a sampling of the typical straight-from-the-buzzword-playbook typically found in the bag of Happy Talk team members. The next few posts in this series will take a closer look (including facts as a bonus contribution) at some of these sorry displays of pseudo-certainty, and why pointing out the nonsense is so important.




Oil production in Canada as well as the U.S. – long written off as a virtual resource wasteland – began to creep up, then roar. [2]

The fact is, governments have almost always thought their countries were about to run out of oil….[3]

The implications [of future production possibilities] are vast. [4]

In hindsight, you drive oil to $147 barrel and lo and behold, five years hence the world is swimming in oil. It really is that simple. [5]

But it’s now clear that a revolution has occurred: U.S. crude oil production is up 50 percent since 2008. [6]

North Dakota, the center of the now-famous Bakken Formation shale, has overtaken Alaska and California to become the second-largest oil-producing state in the country, outpaced only by Texas. (links in original) [7]

Christoph Frei, Secretary General of the WEC said that the chances of the world running out of oil were slim, citing the fact that global reserves of the engineering resource were 25 percent higher than in 1993 while production has increased by 20 percent. [8]

[T]here is little reason to fear that the oil will run out before an alternative can be found. [9]

‘[T]he unconventional oil and gas revolution has already had major impact in multiple dimensions. Its significance will continue to grow as it continues to unfold.’ [10]

Not only are oil companies looking for more places to drill, but they are trying to maximize the amount of recoverable oil per well [11]

The Arctic’s potential for oil and gas production is huge, massive, colossal even….The U.S. has six of the 18 major Arctic fields (not including Russia), which means it will be able to cash in on the huge potential….
Imagine the potential: If just one play could yield that much oil and gas, then more is sure to come in other areas….
The Arctic is just one of many plays America has the potential to see continued production from — the Gulf also has some promise. [12]

There are 89 billion barrels of oil still trapped inside America’s oil wells. That’s because the average oil well in America only gives up 30% of its black gold. This is oil that’s vital to fueling our economy and it’s just sitting down there.
To put this into perspective, if the U.S. could recover all its oil, our nation would rival Iraq and Iran as a top five holder of oil reserves in the world. [13]

One of the keys to unlocking all of the oil still trapped is to find the right technique to unlock it. [14]

A lasting lesson of the crisis years is the power of markets and their ability to adjust to disruptions, if government allows them to. The iconic images of the 1970s—gas lines and angry motorists—are trotted out whenever some new disruption happens. Yet those gas lines weren’t the result of markets. They were the largely self-inflicted result of government interference in markets with price controls and supply allocation. [15]

Keep in mind that this was just a sampler, but a good one. There’s lot more … unfortunately, as future posts in this series will discuss. But first, I’ll pick apart the comments above to shed a bit more light on the “geological gibberish” of peak oil. (Facts—the other side of the peak oil story—still suck….)

Peak Oil Matters

25 Comments on "Peak Oil Denial: Nonsense Keeps Rolling Along # 6"

  1. Northwest Resident on Mon, 27th Jan 2014 3:24 pm 

    All the “Happy Talk” is meant to keep the herd calm and moving along peacefully, much like the soft lullaby singing of cowboys driving their herd of cattle to the slaughter house back in “the good old days.”

    All the “Happy Talk” falls under the category of planned, deliberate and purposeful misinformation. The fact that the MSM and all its subsidiaries is owned and operated by TPTB tells us exactly where all that Happy Talk is coming from, and is Exhibit “A” in the argument that TPTB KNOW what is going on and have a plan to deal with it.

    All the Happy Talk is, bottom line, meant to keep the peace and to conjure up the image of BAU in the minds of the masses, with the ultimate goal of Buying Time. We are all living on borrowed/bought time right now. Forces are moving behind the scenes, getting ready. And we should all be doing the same, urgently.

  2. Meld on Mon, 27th Jan 2014 4:46 pm 

    That’s an interesting theory NW resident. I am more inclined to believe that TPTB are telling themselves this story in the same way an addict tells themselves “one last hit” I think they genuinely believe all the puff pieces and as such the regular people (who on the whole look to TPTB for guidance and protection) all believe it too. I think TPTB are in the bargaining/denial stage and will be the last to see the writing on the wall as the effects of PO will hit them last.

  3. Meld on Mon, 27th Jan 2014 4:52 pm 

    Just to continue that point on a bit more. TPTB are at the top of a pyramid, that pyramid could be viewed as the vertical axis of a graph in such a way as the bottom is reality and the top is fantasy. Those that are at the bottom deal with the effects of reality every day whilst those at the top barely notice reality at all.

    This bares some correlation with the way children and old people differ. Children live in and adapt to the world as it is right now where as old people still live in a world that existed 40 or 50 years ago.

    Reality takes longer to filter to the elites and the elders than it does to the proles and the young

  4. rockman on Mon, 27th Jan 2014 5:07 pm 

    “…the soft lullaby singing of cowboys driving their herd of cattle…” Very good. And do you city boys know how to stop a stampede? Two tried and true methods. You turn the lead steers so they circle back into the rest of the herd and confuse them. Or you shoot the lead steers to stop them from guiding the herd.

    And do we similar efforts by the cornucopians today in dealing with the PO alarmists? Not a bad analogy, eh? LOL.

  5. Northwest Resident on Mon, 27th Jan 2014 5:23 pm 

    Meld, you could be right about TPTB. But, I doubt it. Here’s what I posted on this topic a few days ago — look forward to you comments:

    There are a lot of people who tend to think that TPTB are a collective group of near-senile old men so wrapped up in their pursuit of digital wealth and power that they are ignorant of the impending doom that faces humanity, or that they are so selfish and short-sighted that they are just sitting in their McMansions thinking, “Got mine, screw it”. Or, that they are so diverse and so independently disconnected from each other that there is no way that they “collectively” are capable of directing the course of BAU or other major trends in the world.

    I STRONGLY disagree with those characterizations of TPTB.

    It seems pretty obvious to me that even though — given the entire collection of individuals that comprise “TPTB” — there are no doubt many of them that fit into the above-stated characterizations, there is still a solid and extremely influential core of individuals who are collectively “running the show”. They are sitting at the top of the world, monitoring the situation, processing information. They have access to all the secrets, to all the top scientists. Politicians and corporate CEOs and military commanders REPORT to them. Military commanders certainly see the dangers of climate change and peak oil — it is silly to think that those commanders are bending the ears of powerful people to explain the danger. To assume that the chaos we see in the world equates to ignorance of lack of planning on the part of TPTB is asinine (in Meld’s case, substitute “perhaps incorrect” for “asinine” — but “asinine” applies to everybody else), IMO.

  6. Northwest Resident on Mon, 27th Jan 2014 6:06 pm 

    What I meant to write in the above: “it is silly to think that those commanders are ***NOT*** bending the ears of powerful people to explain the danger

    rockman — excellent analogy!! Of course, only those of us who have been fortunate enough to live a large part of our life as a “Texan” would know about that cattle herding stuff. Get along, lil’ doggie… Yee-hawww!

  7. J-Gav on Mon, 27th Jan 2014 7:07 pm 

    Turning the lead steers would be preferable but what happens if they won’t turn? Shoot ’em? The ‘lead steers’ in this case are behind bullet-proof glass. Which doesn’t mean they’re invulnerable, just hard to get at …

  8. rockman on Mon, 27th Jan 2014 7:16 pm 

    Who are TPTB who control the nation’s policy on energy matters. I see several groups. First, the corporate leaders who run the pubcos. But those chaps have to follow the lead of the shareholders to a fair degree. And the more power of those are the fund managers. And if the fund managers don’t make their investors happy they will be replaced.

    The politicians with the national leadership shaping much of it except for those state govt’s, like Texas, that exert on good bit of local control. Of course, nation a pol in D.C. or a state official in Texas will last long in office if they go strongly against the will of a large majority.

    So are the corporate leaders and the politicians TPTB or are they just surrogates for the general public? I dislike it when some folks cast all the blame on someone else and give the voting public a free pass. Don’t like the energy policies of President Bush or those of President Obama? To freaking bad…they were elected by the people. Sure, they had lots of monetary support from small groups and wealthy individuals. But in the end all that mattered was the vote count.

    IMHO this country is following a path the majority of the public favor. Many may not like some of the details but the vast majority IMHO agree with Dick Chaney: our life style is non-negotiable. When the folks in NY start running short of NG they’ll welcome all the frakers with open arms. When all the liberals in San Francisco can’ get enough gasoline for their trips to head to the redwoods many won’t have a bad word to say about the Canadian oil sands. They may think it but won’t push against it.

    Haven’t used it in a while but as Pogo said long ago: We have met the enemy…and he is US. LOL.

  9. Northwest Resident on Mon, 27th Jan 2014 7:48 pm 

    All true, rockman. What the American public collectively wants, they get. But, WHAT does the American public want? The answer to that question is, they want what they are TOLD they want. The American public “wants” and “needs” are shaped by incessant bombardment of commercials and slanted “news” via all broadcast medium. What Americans *think* they know is what the MSM and other “news” media feed them on a non-stop basis. American attitudes are manipulated by lies, by false facts and by illusions skillfully and expertly produced by the corporate and government “marketing” departments.

    Case in point: During WWII, Americans willfully submitted to a policy of self-sacrifice, doing without and long-term hardship, all for a worthy cause. They *could* do the same again, if called upon to do so, but the big difference between then and now is that Americans could see the light at the end of the tunnel during WWII — sacrifice, do without, work like dogs and at the end of it all, there will be peace and prosperity and a bright new future. However, given the brutal realities of peak oil, there is NO light at the end of the tunnel this time, no hope for a brighter future, nothing but a long darkness approaching on the horizon with all kinds of terror and unknowns attached to it.

    And when it comes to shaping American perceptions — what they think they know, what they think they want — there are two other groups involved that we should mention. One is the CIA (and all their offshoots of which we know almost nothing about). The other, closely related, is the U.S. Military, an entity that is not about to let things in America get out of control. Those two groups are propaganda experts, they are experts at deploying and measuring and fine-tuning “psy-op” campaigns. And I am 100% certain that the barrage of “feel good about the future of BAU” articles that we see examples of on this blog, and everywhere else, are all part of a “psy-op” campaign to keep not just Americans, but as much as the world “in the dark” about the approaching doom that peak oil and the economy are about to deliver to us. It is obvious to me — maybe my education in Public Relations and “shaping public opinion” gave me a better set of antennae or a better bullshit-sniffer than other people. Or maybe I’m delusional — but that has never been the case before, and my intuition has rarely failed me.

    Bad shit is headed down the pipeline and it is coming fast. Everything we see, hear and read through MSM is geared to keeping us “in the dark”, and calm, and carrying on as usual.

    We might all remember a little history. When Berlin was surrounded by the Allies and by Russia during the closing days of WWII, and the Russians were scorching their way on a direct path to Berlin, the propaganda being pumped out to the German people was “all is well, we are winning the war, keep on working.” The “in-the-know” Nazis used this time to make their own secret escape plans. If the German people had been told the truth, then their society would have collapsed, and the Nazi rats would have had a much more difficult time making their escapes. Just think about it.

  10. Bandits on Mon, 27th Jan 2014 8:45 pm 

    “Case in point: During WWII, Americans willfully submitted to a policy of self-sacrifice”
    You have that exactly ass backwards.
    Corporate profits exploded during and after WWII. There was no “suffering” in the USA. Everyone was employed and they had so much money they bought every consumer item available, much of it just because they could.
    The US was suffering a bit before WWII but not during, by a long shot.

  11. rockman on Mon, 27th Jan 2014 8:52 pm 

    NR – “The answer to that question is, they want what they are TOLD they want. The American public “wants” and “needs” are shaped by incessant bombardment of commercials and slanted “news” via all broadcast medium.”

    Chicken vs. egg again, eh? Are they pitching it because it’s all they have to sell or are they pitching what the public wants to buy? Does any 55 yo guy buy a corvette because of the advertisement or do they run the advertisement because they know what some 55 you guys want?

    Or put another way: how many Btu’s have you bought over the years that you didn’t really want but some slick ad talked you into it? And while we’re at it: do you still beat your wife?

  12. louis wu on Mon, 27th Jan 2014 8:59 pm 

    Since at some point the inevitable reality of the phenomenon of peak extraction of oil, coal, gas(Hubbert came up with a theory to describe the obsrved fact of peak extraction rates) will become known to everyone and one of the many byproducts would be great devaluation of companies engaged in that business, I think it would be an interetsing to try and track what upper management at said companies does with their company stocks and options. An increase in selling activity could be a usefull sign.

  13. Northwest Resident on Mon, 27th Jan 2014 9:27 pm 

    rockman — In answer to your Chicken vs egg question: It is a combination of both. If I were going to shape the public opinion of a targeted group of people, I would do a dedicated and statistically intense study of the prevailing attitudes in that group, then devise a strategy that takes those prevailing attitudes into account. Some of those attitudes might prove to be highly beneficial to the ultimate goal I wish to achieve, and so I would create “communications” that reward and promote those attitudes. Other attitudes might stand in the way of the goal I wish to achieve, so I would devise a strategy to undermine and discourage and invalidate those attitudes, and to REPLACE those attitudes with ones that are more in line with what I want.

    Propaganda is still an art, but it is based on a LOT of science.

    Most people WANT to believe in order, in BAU, in a world that is steady and constant with no big surprises. It is easy to create propaganda that appeals to that group — we see it all the time — a combination of stories proclaiming “oil gluts”, America overtaking Saudi Arabia in oil production, constant articles telling how new technologies will save us — they are rewarding already-held beliefs and attitudes. Then we see articles targeted at the same group that downplay peak oil, that ridicule those who promote peak oil — again, they are telling people what they want to hear, reinforcing their beliefs and attitudes, attempting to build up an impenetrable wall of denial in those people — and at the same time they are attempting to sway people who are on the fence and convert them to “peak oil is BS” believers. And we see how well all that works in the majority of the cases.

    We express our points of view here on and discuss these issues in a microscopic corner of the world wide web. But if you or I or anybody were to go out and start proclaiming peak oil and the coming doom to the masses, we would very quickly be portrayed as lunatic. If we began to get a large following, or threatened to convert a large (enough) segment of the population to our belief in peak oil, then TPTB would simply NOT allow that to happen — that person would be ridiculed, discredited, unsavory details from that person’s past life might be discovered and/or made up and publicized, or other bad things might happen to that person. No person is going to be allowed to substantially contradict the “BAU is doing just fine” theme, except in scattered and low-visibility communcations outlets like this one. Reason: TPTB cannot allow the herd to panic, which they will most certainly do if they recognize the truth.

  14. Northwest Resident on Mon, 27th Jan 2014 9:39 pm 

    And rockman — I have no idea where you got that “are you still beating your wife” question from. Unless, of course, you are much more than the privco geologist from Texas that you seem to be. (cue up “Twilight Zone” theme song intro here)

  15. meld on Mon, 27th Jan 2014 10:20 pm 

    I once thought in the same fashion as your explanation NW resident. I see it as unlikely.

    Rich people are generally rich because they have a ridiculous amount of hubris and optimism, I’ve met a few entrepreneurs through my transition town work and they seem to be totally unworried by peak oil. They see a technofix coming down the pipeline and the most vocal and famous scientists in the world are quick to give them plenty of fodder for their world belief (i’m looking at you Michio Kaku, ray kurzweil and the rest)So we can safely say big companies aren’t worried about PO, it’s not even on their radar other than as a hiccup in profits.

    If we move onto politicians they are even less aware of what is happening. Again politicians follow the narrative that is most likely to get them voted in. The current narrative is one of infinite progress through technology with a hint of green tech to keep the planet going until we perfect space travel and can “get off this rock” Peak oil to politicians is an untouchable issue and the majority of them don’t even understand it.

    The scientists that actually study the area of oil (geologists) are pretty much unanimously agreed that peak oil is happening. But much like ecologists, geologists can be ignored within the narrative of infinite growth. Ecologists know that biodiversity and working with nature is the key to healthy sustainable food and earth biology, and yet we have big agra spitting out wave after wave of monoculture crop fixes and new machines that do the exact opposite of what is needed. But how many plant geneticists really understand ecology. I’m guessing the same amount of ecologists that understand genetics.

    The problem is everyone is so specialised now that it is quite easy for certain sections of one discipline to cherry pick information from another discipline to support their world view. Politicians can cherry pick info about GM crops for instance to make an argument that they should be the main food tech to concentrate on, whilst at the same time having zero knowledge about ecology.

  16. Northwest Resident on Mon, 27th Jan 2014 10:38 pm 

    meld — Think about the Iraq war. The American people were given a set of “facts”. Our attitudes had already been shaped by the 911 event and by subsequent “facts” regarding 911. Turns out, we mobilized the armies of many nations and invested trillion$ into a war that was based on a lie — that Saddam had WMD. The real truth of course is exactly this — we did it to secure our oil supply. That is a good example of “TPTB” in action. No doubt, there are a lot of rich optimists who are oblivious to reality — but they are not in the core group of “TPTB” that drive world events.

  17. Meld on Mon, 27th Jan 2014 11:34 pm 

    I’m pretty sure Bush and Cheney understood the importance of oil supply to getting votes, and they knew Iraq had a shit load. Cheaper oil meant cheaper gas, meant economic boom = reelection. Plus it gave Bush the chance to finish of Dad’s work, and look like he was saving the wold from evil at the same time. Politicians care about their “legacy” and that’s about it.

    I think you are giving too much credit to people who really in the grand scheme of things don’t exactly have overflowing levels of intelligence.

    Who in your opinion would be members of this secret elite cabal that move and control world events?

  18. Northwest Resident on Tue, 28th Jan 2014 1:46 am 

    Meld, I didn’t think that you would attribute the Iraq war to President GWB, as if it were his decisions and leadership that provided the driving force behind that war. I’m surprised.

    “Two years before the invasion of Iraq, oil executives and foreign policy advisers told the Bush administration that the United States would remain “a prisoner of its energy dilemma” as long as Saddam Hussein was in power.

    That April 2001 report, “Strategic Policy Challenges for the 21st Century,” was prepared by the James A. Baker Institute for Public Policy and the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations at the request of then-Vice President Dick Cheney.”

    Here’s a link I found just doing a quick search:

    The Iraq invasion was planned long before GWB became president, and before 911. Invade Iraq for cheaper gas? Give me a break.

    How would I know who is in the “TPTB” club? I have a couple of guesses, but that’s all, just guesses. You can be sure the oil industry is well represented in the “TPTB” club though, that’s for sure.

  19. Northwest Resident on Tue, 28th Jan 2014 2:59 am 

    Meld — quick follow-up. I really don’t “know” that TPTB are all that organized, or that there is a core group that are directing world events. It is just what I believe. Your opinion is just as valid as mine. Cheap gas and re-election the rationale for invading Iraq? Ok — I think it is way more complicated than that, but could be… Let’s just keep putting our ideas and thoughts out there and occasionally engage in a little friendly debate, and wait to see what happens.

  20. GregT on Tue, 28th Jan 2014 6:11 am 

    “You can be sure the oil industry is well represented in the “TPTB” club though, that’s for sure.”

    You can also be sure that they are well represented in the CFR, the Trilateral Commission, AIPAC, the PNAC, the Bilderberg Group, the BIS, and the IMF. A quick cross reference of members coincidentally reveals many of the same usual suspects.

    And then there are the Rothschilds……..

    “Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes it’s laws” — Mayer Amschel Bauer Rothschild

  21. meld on Tue, 28th Jan 2014 11:56 am 

    Northwest Resident I tend to go with Occam’s razor when it comes to working out why things happen. It doesn’t mean it’s always right but it’s a good starting place. No doubt Cheney was behind the scenes along with others but it would have been Bush’s call and Cheney probably know just the right words to convince him.

    I have no doubt that there are little segments or cabals of powerful people, but they are all competing against each other to put forward what they believe is the right direction for their country or company. Money and power is the real “illuminati” and the people who seek it are it’s servants.

    Seek not power and wealth but compassion and understanding and thou shall find peace,freedom and love – Meld 2014 🙂

  22. Beery on Tue, 28th Jan 2014 12:18 pm 

    Should be “…thou shalt…”.

    Forgive my pedantry: correcting the “thees and thous” of the internet is the only benefit I get from having been raised in the only place on the face of the Earth that still uses the form of English used in the King James Bible..

  23. rockman on Tue, 28th Jan 2014 12:33 pm 

    NR – The wife beating question was just a weak joke about asking a question that can’t be answered without implying something is wrong. They all can’t be Zingers. LOL.

  24. meld on Tue, 28th Jan 2014 1:37 pm 

    haha cheers Beery 🙂

  25. Northwest Resident on Tue, 28th Jan 2014 3:35 pm 

    rockman — I KNEW it was a joke, I just didn’t get it. NOW I do! I really enjoy your sense of humor, rockman, don’t change anything. If I don’t get it — I’ll let you know…:-)

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