By on September 9, 2010

Here’s a cheery study on the effects of Peak Oil, which is widely considered to be happening…right about now (throw in a few more hours/months/years depending on how big of an optimist/denialist  you are). Der Spiegel got their hands on a confidential study commissioned by the German military, which has not yet been sanitized approved for publication. It’s a bit explosive…might get the civilian population riled up and all. It warns of shifts in the global balance of power, the decline of importance of western nations (oil importers), as well as “the total collapse of the markets” and…gulp…even worse. Let’s go talk about 1970 Boss 302 Mustangs. The study, by the aptly named Future Analysis Dpartment of the Bundeswehr Transformation Center, is not the only European Chicken Little:

“The (German) leak has parallels with recent reports from the UK. Only last week the Guardian newspaper reported that the British Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is keeping documents secret which show the UK government is far more concerned about an impending supply crisis than it cares to admit.According to the Guardian, the DECC, the Bank of England and the British Ministry of Defence are working alongside industry representatives to develop a crisis plan to deal with possible shortfalls in energy supply. Inquiries made by Britain’s so-called peak oil workshops to energy experts have been seen by SPIEGEL ONLINE. A DECC spokeswoman sought to play down the process, telling the Guardian the enquiries were “routine” and had no political implications.”

The German report assumes that Peak Oil is happening while we argue this point endlessly, and that the effects will “be felt 15 to 30 years later”. Here are the key points:

  • Oil will determine power: The Bundeswehr Transformation Center writes that oil will become one decisive factor in determining the new landscape of international relations: “The relative importance of the oil-producing nations in the international system is growing. These nations are using the advantages resulting from this to expand the scope of their domestic and foreign policies and establish themselves as a new or resurgent regional, or in some cases even global leading powers.”
  • Increasing importance of oil exporters: For importers of oil more competition for resources will mean an increase in the number of nations competing for favor with oil-producing nations. For the latter this opens up a window of opportunity which can be used to implement political, economic or ideological aims. As this window of time will only be open for a limited period, “this could result in a more aggressive assertion of national interests on the part of the oil-producing nations.”
  • Politics in place of the market: The Bundeswehr Transformation Center expects that a supply crisis would roll back the liberalization of the energy market. “The proportion of oil traded on the global, freely accessible oil market will diminish as more oil is traded through bi-national contracts,” the study states. In the long run, the study goes on, the global oil market, will only be able to follow the laws of the free market in a restricted way. “Bilateral, conditioned supply agreements and privileged partnerships, such as those seen prior to the oil crises of the 1970s, will once again come to the fore.”
  • Market failures: The authors paint a bleak picture of the consequences resulting from a shortage of petroleum. As the transportation of goods depends on crude oil, international trade could be subject to colossal tax hikes. “Shortages in the supply of vital goods could arise” as a result, for example in food supplies. Oil is used directly or indirectly in the production of 95 percent of all industrial goods. Price shocks could therefore be seen in almost any industry and throughout all stages of the industrial supply chain. “In the medium term the global economic system and every market-oriented national economy would collapse.”
  • Relapse into planned economy: Since virtually all economic sectors rely heavily on oil, peak oil could lead to a “partial or complete failure of markets,” says the study. “A conceivable alternative would be government rationing and the allocation of important goods or the setting of production schedules and other short-term coercive measures to replace market-based mechanisms in times of crisis.”
  • Global chain reaction: “A restructuring of oil supplies will not be equally possible in all regions before the onset of peak oil,” says the study. “It is likely that a large number of states will not be in a position to make the necessary investments in time,” or with “sufficient magnitude.” If there were economic crashes in some regions of the world, Germany could be affected. Germany would not escape the crises of other countries, because it’s so tightly integrated into the global economy.

The article makes the following prediction: oil importers like Germany will increasingly suck up to exporters like Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran regardless of the effects on other countries (Israel, Eastern European countries, etc.), or other once-important moral or social imperatives, like…never mind. Shall we talk about the Nissan Leaf instead of the Mustang?

Der Spiegel; gm-volt.com

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123 Comments on “German Govt. Study Warns Of Dire Post Peak-Oil Crisis: End Of Free Markets And Democracy...”


  • avatar
    gslippy

    Uh-huh.  I heard this same story as a kid in the early 1970s.  There is more oil now than then, and its origins from ‘fossils’ remains unproven.

    You know, even if oil becomes more scarce and therefore more costly, people will tend to consume less of it. One theory says that we will never run out of oil for this reason alone.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Do you really want to get to the point where oil is prohibitively expensive?  Because that’s what saying “We’ll never run out!” is going to enable.
       
      Why not avoid all the social, economic and technical issues of oil costs spiking by being proactive?  Why not try to ready in advance?

    • 0 avatar
      carve

      Does it matter whether it is biotic?  If it isn’t replinished, by whatever means, as quickly as it’s used, then it is a limited, finite resource.

      People consuming less of it IS the problem, when there is no alternative.  It would grind the economy to a hault.  Furthermore, people spending more on oil means spending less on other stuff.

      Fossil fuels is the slave whose labor has built our economy.  The cost of an industrial product, generally, is proportional to how much energy it takes to make (e.g. mining, refineing, running the factories, shipping).  Doing those things with, say, human labor is VERY expensive.  Doing it with oil has been cheap, and has made everything cheaper, and lives better.

      Of course we’ll never “run out” of oil.  When it takes more energy to extract than the oil provides, we’ll stop pumping it.  We’ll actually stop pumping it long before then.  The fear is we’ll stop pumping not because we want to, do to better alternatives, but because we HAVE to, because what little is left is to expensive to extract.

      Also, without alternatives, demand will remain close to constant.  It only takes a small hiccup in supply to cause the price to skyrocket.  I believe in the oil crisis of the late 70′s, global production was only down 5-10%, and that caused a price spike of over 100%

    • 0 avatar
      Macca

      I’m a petroleum geologist working in upstream oil and gas exploration, and as most conventionally educated geologists will tell you, few people dispute the existence of abiotic hydrocarbons – it is the quantity of which that sparks more debate. I’m certainly not an organic chemist, but the following is the conventional wisdom as I know it – and the issue here is basic organic chemistry. I’ll apologize for the long-winded response up front.

      Pieces of preserved organic material, called kerogen, can be found scattered throughout myriad rock formations, primarily those that were deposited in an environment conducive to preservation of organics. Anoxia is a helpful parameter in preservation, a factor normally found in restricted basins and/or deep oceanic settings. These depositional settings typically yield shales, sometimes highly organic in nature. Kerogen can be heated in a lab setting to generate oil and gas – in a process called pyrolysis. Resultant hydrocarbons, especially long carbon-chain oils, exhibit key signatures when analyzed in a mass spectrometer that link the hydrocarbon back to its source kerogen. This is hardly cutting-edge science.

      The idea of “fossil” origins for oil and gas conjures up images of dinosaur-sourced oil in the minds of the public (certain company mascots don’t help dispel this misunderstanding). The dominant source rock theory still holds that the predominant type of kerogen found in source rocks is algal in nature. Woody plant material makes up a significant portion, too. The hydrogen-to-carbon ratios of these organic materials helps dictate the type of hydrocarbons that will be produced.

      Throughout the US, and worldwide, such ‘source-rock’ formations (usually shales/carbonates) have been identified and acknowledged for decades. These include formations like the Woodford Shale of Oklahoma, the Barnett Shale in Texas, the Haynesville Shale in Louisiana, and the Marcellus Shale in the NE US. These four shale source rocks (among many others) are also now being heavily drilled because they’re prolific hydrocarbon (predominantly methane) producing intervals in and of themselves. That they lack traditional porosity and permeability of reservoir sandstones and carbonates is what has earned them the moniker of ‘unconventional’ plays. You can take a chunk of these aforementioned formations and heat them up in a lab and produce hydrocarbons – it’s pretty compelling proof that much of the hydrocarbons produced from the subsurface have easily-traced organic origins.

      Abiogenic hydrocarbons, primarily in the form of natural gas, have been documented in granitic (igneous) basement rocks, among other settings. Carbon and hydrogen exist in these rocks, too, so their synthesis under heat and pressure is not surprising. The argument you’ll hear from most petroleum geologists, however, is that these sources are simply not prolific enough to contribute economically significant accumulations of hydrocarbons, especially not when we can key much of the oil and gas from conventional reservoir strata in the midcontinent basins back to organic-rich shales like the Woodford or Barnett.

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      Do you really want to get to the point where oil is prohibitively expensive?

      I don’t, which is why I want nuclear power.
      A person cannot rationally say one minute that peak oil is going to be civilization-destroying, and then say a minute later that we shouldn’t use nuclear power because of some inconveniences.

    • 0 avatar
      Contrarian

      Not to mention, most apps that use oil , including cars, can easily be converted to CNG, which is almost unlimited.

      Next.

    • 0 avatar
      Macca

      @Contrarian: exactly!
       

    • 0 avatar
      Stingray

      Not to mention, most apps that use oil , including cars, can easily be converted to CNG, which is almost unlimited.
      I have talked about the CNG as an option for cars many times before here. But the excuse not to do it is that there’s not infrastructure.
      The CNG systems for cars today are so good you don’t even realize there’s other fuel being used.
       

  • avatar
    mikenem

    Indeed. I believe oil is abiotic. Just my opinion.

  • avatar
    mikenem

    Indeed. I believe oil to be abiotic. Just my opinion.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    Interestingly enough I was just reading yesterday that for the last 50-60 years Russian scientisits have (largely?) concluded that oil is not derived from organic matter and and actually is seeping up from much deeper reserves.  As they have found it down to 40,000 feet underground they may have a point.

    Thoughts?

    Bunter

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      You can read about the two abiotic theories here.  Not exactly mainstream science.
      http://static.scribd.com/docs/j79lhbgbjbqrb.pdf

    • 0 avatar
      cwallace

      You might take Soviet-era science with a grain of salt.  At one time Soviet science said that acquired physical characteristics could be inherited, with disastrous results when applied to agricultural planning:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lysenkoism
       

      • 0 avatar
        2ronnies1cup

        Yabbut, the abiotic theory is really just a nice pile of warm, comforting sand for some folks to bury their heads into.

        It’s kind of like the theory of hormesis is for those who think nuclear power is the answer to all our problems. “Yeah, there will be a lot more radioactive shit in the environment, but that’s OK, cos some scientists have this theory that radiation is actually really GOOD for you…”

  • avatar
    scottcom36

    All those things have already been going on for decades. Talk of peak oil has been going on even longer, since the 1860s.
    The good news is that alternates like electric vehicles are improving. They’re not economically practical now, but they will be when the price of oil reaches a certain point and their utilization will explode accordingly.

    • 0 avatar
      Macca

      What is ultimately problematic about alternative fuels (electricity, hydrogen) is that you have to consider the source – both of which still fall back on hydrocarbons at some stage in their generation.

      Our predominant sources of electricity are coal and methane.  “Alternative” electricity sources, such as solar, wind, and hydro, supply a meager proportion and various constraints limit them to always remain that way (lack of ability to transport electricity long intrastate distances, lack of infrastructure, lack of ability to store electricity for peak demand intervals, etc.).

      If it wasn’t for the enormous coal lobby, natural gas would, and should, play a larger role in electricity production in the US.  With every shale-gas play found (see my other reply up above) we add several TCF of methane to our domestic reserves.  Natural-gas fired turbines can be effectively turned ‘on’ in very short time to boost production to respond to demand much quicker than a coal-fired plant.  Methane is also a very pure substance with minimal pollutant emissions.

      I would rather automotive companies pursue expanding their natural-gas offerings, given that it’s cheap, clean, we have enormous reserves, and the infrastructure is largely there.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      electricity and hydrogen may be “alternative fuels”, but they are not a source of energy, just a means of storage and transmission.
      I am surprised Macca, as a petroleum geologist why you would not make that distinction between energy source and storage method? “CNG vs. Electric” is apples and oranges.

    • 0 avatar
      Macca

      @Power6: You’ve missed my point; perhaps I didn’t express it properly, either.

      My point was merely that the hoi polloi, in my estimation, see electricity as clean, emission-less “fuel” on which cars can be propelled. Same with hydrogen. What lacks consideration is the source of this energy – just as you point out – which ultimately falls back on hydrocarbons.

      As for your “apples to oranges” comment – I’m arguing for more CNG cars versus electric because of this very ‘source’ and ‘storage’ distinction you speak of. CNG should be touted more for its ‘green’ qualities, especially when you factor in the battery disposal issue with electric/hybrid cars. You make the distinction between ‘source’ and ‘storage’ – but that’s not how these means of automotive propagation are pitted in the marketplace or in the public’s mind.

      I did go off on a tangent regarding the source of electricity generation. Our country is not using a resource of which it possesses vast reserves to its potential. Coal still accounts for approximately 45% of electricity generation in the US, whereas methane only makes about 23%. But this is another argument for another time.

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    Yet another reason the drill-baby-drill crowd is clueless.
    Suck the rest of the world dry, THEN drill more wells in the USA.
    There is absolutely no reason to produce oil in the USA as long as the rest of the oil-producing nations are willing to trade borrowed US dollars for oil.  Especially as everyone and their brother knows that those dollars are worth less tomorrow than they are today.

    • 0 avatar
      carve

      Exactly- we have 5% of the world’s known oil reserves, and are the 3rd biggest oil producer.  I’d saying we’re already drilling pretty hard and our straw is making that sucking noise on the bottom of the cup.

      The smart thing would be to stop drilling, buy everyone elses oil while it’s still cheap (say, under $400/bbl), and then when it REALLY skyrockets, open the spigots.

  • avatar
    colin42

    and its origins from ‘fossils’ remains unproven

    Please explain?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Because they claimant doesn’t understand how science works?
       
      Theories are almost never proven.  You refine and correct and redevelop theories as new data becomes available.  What you don’t do is throw the whole thing in the trashcan because it hasn’t been conclusively proven.  That doesn’t stop people from saying stuff things like “Well, it hasn’t been proven” as a way to prove that the opposite is true.
       
      Science is not courtroom drama, but that doesn’t stop people from treating it like one.
       
      In the case of oil, yes, some of it might be abiotic.  All the oil on, say, Saturn’s moon of Titan is abiotic.  It doesn’t mean that all (or even most) oil on Earth is abiotic, or that we wont run out of commercially viable (or at least cheap) oil and shouldn’t look for alternatives regardless of whether oil comes from dead dinosaurs or a magic hydrocarbon pixies.  

      That doesn’t stop people who are stuck in ideological mud from being pigheaded obstructionists, though.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    See, THIS is why we entered, and should stay, in the Middle East!

    What is SOOOO wrong with a few more “states” added to the union, only they being rather sandy, dry places?

    The entire study seems to not understand real power and shifts in global control.
    Power eventually provides the answer.
    Always has.

    Understanding that this is hard to accept in an environment nurtured on feel good politics and an entire generation having never really confronted real human nature, Logic and truth, or the lack of, have always eventually given way to power.
    And it’s a given that as a society we have become comfortable with people explaining their actions as being true to themselves, their conscience or their god…or whatever, and not truth. So the only way to actually settle such differences in position, you eventually fight and the winner’s thoughts carry the day.

    Long story short, you might have the oil, but do you have the power to hold it?

    • 0 avatar
      slance66

      “Long story short, you might have the oil, but do you have the power to hold it?”.
      If things are as dire as predicted in this report, that will be what matters.  I don’t think they are that dire, since reserves keep increasing.   Prudhoe Bay in Alaska was supposed to be dry by now and is still flowing strong as ever.  We need alternatives, but we have some time.  The U.S. also has massive natural gas and coal reserves.  I can imagine that this presents a bigger problem for Germany.
       

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      Plus, as mentioned above, this is a THEORY!
      I am so tired of the “experts” telling us about global warming and the end of oil…and civilization.
      Only we eventually grow old and warn out from the everyday wear and tear of life.

      I think the ONE lesson I must give my kids…This To Shall Pass.
      Relax.
      Breath in, and then out.
      News todays MUST be bad to sell and they need to rush to the nearest car crash in order to get people to watch.

      When we need more oil, we will pay more.
      When the easy oil is harder to find, we pay more to get the dirtier and more difficult to drill and refine.

      But we get more oil!

      This was another pull on our chains.

      Relax, buy a fun car and drive the hell out of it…for tomorrow you die.

    • 0 avatar
      segfault

      “See, THIS is why we entered, and should stay, in the Middle East!”

      By the same logic, the US should also still be a British colony.  Just think about how much nicer and more British everything would be.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I am so tired of the “experts” telling us about global warming and the end of oil…and civilization.

      Personally, I’m tired of industry-shill demagogues telling me it’s all part of a commie plot to control my precious bodily carbon.**

      ** it’s always a good day when I can quote Strangelove more than once.

    • 0 avatar
      nonce


      I am so tired of the “experts” telling us about global warming and the end of oil…and civilization.
      Just take them at their word and lobby for more nuclear power.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr Strangelove

      Personally, I’m tired of industry-shill demagogues telling me it’s all part of a commie plot to control my precious bodily carbon.

      Good one. However, not all people who doubt man-made global warming and the other various doomsday scenarios are paid shills for industry, you know. Most are just people who think for themselves.
       
      Good one. However, there is a third possibility

    • 0 avatar
      Daanii2

      Personally, I’m tired of industry-shill demagogues telling me it’s all part of a commie plot to control my precious bodily carbon.

      I have a lot of interest in this area. I haven’t heard much, if any, from industry-shill demagogues. Who did you have in mind?

    • 0 avatar
      MattPete

      “Plus, as mentioned above, this is a THEORY!”

      TrailerTrash: it’s obvious that you don’t understand science, let alone what the term “theory” means and implies.
      I dare you to ignore gravity, even though it “is a THEORY!”

      http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/p67.htm

  • avatar
    Daanii2

    Oil depletion is a problem. A big problem. Too bad these doomsday, “the sky is falling” prophets make most of us ignore the problem.

    My own opinion is that we should indeed shift our focus from gasoline cars to electric cars, from the Mustang to the Leaf. Then, even if it turns out that oil does not run out too quickly, and that we can continue to burn it without raising the earth’s temperature, we will still have new technology — electric cars — to go along with the old gas hogs. No harm done.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      “Doomsday prophets” don’t make people ignore the problem.
       
      Between Big Media’s creative misinterpretation and the oil industry’s real profits, it makes a lot of sense to cast reasonable scientific research as “doomsday prophecy”.  It certainly helps reframe the debate in ways that are very, very favourable: nothing works quite as well as calling your opponent an extremist.

    • 0 avatar
      Daanii2

      “In the medium term the global economic system and every market-oriented national economy would collapse.”
       
      That kind of doomsday prophecy is not, in my book, reasonable scientific research. That’s the kind of thing that people read and then turn away from the problem, thinking it is being blown out of proportion. And it is.

      Serious problems then get little attention. We saw the same thing with Paul Ehrlich in the 1960s. And then with the Y2K “crisis.” And now with oil depletion. And the mother of all doomsday prophecies — global warming.
       
      None of these problems should be ignored. They do pose legitimate risks. Those risks should be evaluated. Action should be taken.
       
      But it doesn’t help to scream like Chicken Little that the sky is falling. That the whole global economic system is headed for collapse.

      Because then you sound like a kook. Whether you are one or not. And few people pay attention to kooks.

    • 0 avatar
      greenb1ood

      I like you two…this is how the majority of Americans should think.
      Is there data indicating a risk? Yes
      Should some plans be made to lessen or avert that risk? Yes.
      Is the end of the world imminent to the point that we need radical solutions tomorrow?  Nope.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Lot of sophisticated and not so sophisticated denial being presented here.
    It will be fun to hear what the same people will be saying 15 to 20 years from now.

  • avatar
    Dr Strangelove

    Of course at some point we are going to run out of oil. However, it will take a while for truly difficult consequences to arise. Reasons:
    1. The Canadian tar sands are pretty big, and the extraction can and will be scaled up.
    2. Oil shales are more expensive to mine than tar sands yet the costs per barrel are below some recently experienced prices.
    3. Conversion of natural gas and coal to liquid fuel is already commercially viable at current oil market prices.
    As the oil price keeps creeping up, more and more such unconventional fuel sources are going to come on-line. That will keep us going for several more decades.
    BTW the U.S. are in an enviable position re. coal, oil shales and natural gas. The oil sheiks of the future are the Americans. (Is the Hummer brand still up for sale?)

    • 0 avatar
      Engineer

      Right on!

      SASOL in South Africa has been producing oil out of coal for 50+ years, profitably for 10+ years. With all the coal reserves in the US the answer is rather obvious.
       
      Before it becomes obvious, though, the economics has to pan out. Oil prices are STILL way too low for that. So forget about the HUMMERS, oil prices would head for the sky.

      Before oil prices head for the sky, you need enough economic acticity to stimulate demand. Right now, that is NOT our problem. I believe it won’t be for several years to come…

      And if you are still concerned I suggest learning Arabic. Those sheiks will be spending their money on something. You might as well be ready to sell.

  • avatar
    folkdancer

    In my 67 years I have heard 4 theories about why we have oil.

    1. Decaying plants. Scientist say we never had enough plants to create all the oil we have found.
    2. Decaying dinosaurs. Again scientist say we never had enough.
    3. Decaying diatoms. This is the most popular theory currently. It is supported because all the oil we have found use to be or now is under oceans.
    4. Earth was hit by asteroids containing oil. For eons earth did not have an atmosphere and oil containing asteroids could hit earth without burning up.

    I like theory number 4 (it is the most exciting) but almost no one believes in this theory now.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      If you like #4, keep rooting for it … just think, the guy that said that all of the water on Earth probably came from microscopic pieces of ice caught in Earth’s gravity was ridiculed for years … until somebody put a satellite up in space that was able to count all the pieces of ice passing by … a little integral calculus later and this guy was looking like a genius…

  • avatar
    tced2

    Oil may be power but have you ever noticed that the oil-producing nations don’t seem to produce anything else?
    Where are the fine Kuwaiti automobiles?
    Where are the clever Saudi Arabian semiconductors?
    These countries have sure had enough capital to fund their own industries from oil profits.  The capital has gone to other (foreign) places.  Automobiles from Germany.  I believe Mid-Eastern folks are some of the biggest owners of Diamler.  Semiconductors developed at Intel.
     

  • avatar
    cleek

    Yawn.
    Why does this “study” have anymore credibility that the previous works going back ~ 100 years? it seems that market-manipulated $4 gasoline a couple of years ago has just made the echo chamber bigger and louder. When oil is truly more scarce, the relative price will rise and substitutes will take hold.  But remember this will be due to actual long term scarcity. Not political fiat, govt subsidies, inflating the currency nor hatred for some cartel or industrial entity.
    Throughout history innovation has outpaced the nightmare scenarios preached to the hoi polloi. I will probably buy an alternate propulsion vehicle in my life time, but I expect it will be due to the quality and capability of the product rather than scarcity or political repression.
    Well that and I like cool toys.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    Ahh, peak oil – the crisis that’s always happening tomorrow.
     
    It’s obvious that at some point we’re going to have to deal with the problem, but anyone using the term ‘peak oil’, or saying that it just happens to be happening right now after decades and decades of people saying the same thing, has absolutely no credibility.

    • 0 avatar
      Daanii2

      Good point. I tracked down and read an interesting Scientific American article a few months ago. The title was “How Long Will the Oil Last?” The answer was 20 to 40 years. And that was only if steps were taken immediately to make car engines more fuel efficient.
       
      The oil’s lasted a little longer than that. The article was published in 1919.

  • avatar
    AaronH

    This is just to get the bratty public school retards to cower and obey their political masters.
    How about a study to end governments and thier parasitic supporters? How about a study to get rid the taxtakers?

    • 0 avatar
      greenb1ood

      I see your non-public school education has been strong in sentence structure and vocabulary.  Note of advice: It really is difficult to take an argument against the public education system seriously when the advocate uses the immature term “retards” and misspells the word “their” after spelling it correctly the first time.  Thank you for making your argument easy to ignore Aaron.  :P

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      How about a study to end governments and thier parasitic supporters?

       
      You should move to the government-free paradise of Somalia, then. No taxes in sight, and no central government! What freedom!

  • avatar
    200k-min

    There is one alarming statistic, since the 1970′s there have been no large super giant oil field finds.  The oil that is currently being pumped out of the ground is overwhelmingly coming from fields that were discovered 40+ years ago.  Now it is verifiable fact that individual oil fields rise in production, hit a peak, and then decline.  The only way we will not hit a world wide peak is to discover new sources of oil.  That simply is not happening.  And what few places we have been able to increase production are hostile places, i.e. deepwater gulf of mexico.  Like it or not the Germans are correct that exporting countries hold all the power.

    At current the USA consumes about 20 million barrels per day of oil.  We produce about 5-6 million ourselves.  Much of this consumption is motor vehicle travel.  I read this website because I enjoy motoring as much as the next person but the reality is that someday in the future we will have to approach our driving habbits differently.  The easiest barrel of oil to find is one that is saved.  Increased efficiency and less waste (unnecessary travel) is where the biggest gains will be found, not in exploration.  (The supergiant Mexican Cantarell oil field peaked at 2 million barrels/day – nothing that huge has been discovered since it was found in 1976!) 

    I don’t think driving vehicles on liquid fuels is going away anytime soon, but I do think we will eventually have either prices that change our consumption habbits or physical rationing that force us to change.  Obviously the politicians have been afraid to put on European style fuel taxes, which IMO would soften the coming shock.  Believe in abiotic fairy tales if you wish and buy your gas guzzlers.  What’s that they say – ignorance is bliss?

    • 0 avatar
      cardeveloper

      in the mid 30′s, US peak oil discoveries.  Mid 60′s worldwide peak oil discoveries.
      Mid 70′s peak US production.  Around 2006, peak worldwide production.
       
      40 years between peak discoveries and peak production.  We are on the downward side.  Oil recovery is going to get more expensive, both in financial and socioeconomic basis.  It used to bubble out of the ground in TX, now we have to drill 10,000′ under the ocean with very expensive rigs to get the oil.

    • 0 avatar
      JimsTR3

      Google “Tupi Oil Field”.  8 billion barrels discovered by the Brazilians in 2006.  Coming on line any day now.  They have the Jupiter field waiting in the wings.  Same reserves.  I’d call those super giants!

      • 0 avatar
        2ronnies1cup

        And China and India will swallow them in one massive gulp.

        It’s not just that reserves of oil are dwindling, but that demand for it is expanding almost exponentially.

  • avatar
    babstg

    Guys,
    GM is spreading these rumors thru Opel to prop up the VOLT.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    Yikes, there’s a lot of speculation and conjecture in this thread.
    If you want some very good discussion on the topic, I suggest heading over to theoildrum.com and following some of the threads over there.  Lots of discussion between people who are in the petroleum industry so you can learn yourself something good at that site.
    That all said, I believe that we are running into the wall of *cheap* petroleum, and this indeed is a problem. However, that does not mean that the end of the world is nigh, much as the Malthusians of a 120 years ago were wrong when they proclaimed we were running out of aerable land, food and water for our booming planet of homo sapiens.
    The mistake the Malthusians made and I think that many Peak Oil doomsdayers (note I’m not saying Peak Oil adherents, because I think there are two distinct branches) are making is not taking into consideration our immense capability for technological progress and development. Malthusians did not foresee modern agricultural techniques, nor modern processing equipment, irrigation, etc.  As a result, they failed to foresee our ability to greatly increase the supply of food to the populace.
    Similarly, I think we have the ability to somewhat mitigate the end of cheap oil through alternative energy sources.  Be it nuclear, solar, geothermal, coal or otherwise, we do have the resources at our disposal to ween ourselves off of oil.  The question is whether or not we have sufficient time to make this a smooth transition or if it will be a forced reduction in standards of living. What we need is a more balanced source of energy and to reduce our dependence upon petroleum. We’ll never be able to get rid of our reliance on the stuff completely, but we can better balance its use for sure and buy ourselves more time.
    Make no mistake, empires are built upon cheap sources of natural resources such as oil, and cheap energy has been the driver behind almost all of the past 50 years’ worth of “progress” in the Western world.  I think it’s an inevitability, the question is whether or not we start taking steps to introduce alternatives into the energy potpourri now.

    • 0 avatar
      carve

      The problem is finding something with the combonition of qualities oil has

      1) CHEAP
      2) Very high energy density, both by mass and volume.  Any known alternative requires a MUCH bigger, heavier, often vastly more expensive storage device.  This is especially a problem with airplanes, and anything that is mobile and requires long range (like turcks)
      3) Storable for long periods
      4) Easily transportable (pieplines, unpressurized tankers), and easy to move from one container from another at VERY high energy flows (e.g. gas pumps)

      And this is just considering oil as a fuel- it’s also important as a base-stock for many chemical industry processes.

      Nothing comes anywhere close to offering the same combination of benefits, so alternatives while undoubetedly be less cost effective without some monumental breakthroughs.  Could you imagine a battery-powered truck?  Or, how big and draggy would a hydrogen-fueled airplane be (H2 probably makes the most sense in airplanes, since they burn all their fuel in a few hours, and the fuel is light).

      About the only thing that can save us is fusion, for unlimited energy, and some new type of energy storage device that’s cheap and dense, such as storing your electricity in a block of aluminum (which takes a ton of electricity to make), which you’d quickly oxidize to make electricity.  Refueling would consist of dropping of your load of aluminum oxide and buying a fresh ingot.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      Carve -
       
      You make a very good point.  There really isn’t anything with the same portability or density or relative safety and low-cost.  That said, my point was more that we will not necessarily *replace* petroleum, but we can find substitutes and deploy those where it makes sense to deploy those substitutes.  The net result being that we extend the available petroleum resources longer.
      We’re also proving capable of making more efficient, lighter weight vehicles that consume less fuel.  A little ingenuity here and there adds up when necessity is the mother of all invention. ;-)

    • 0 avatar
      Engineer

      hreardon,
      What makes you think a “smooth transition” is even possible? Here’s how I see it:
      1. We need a free market to price a resource fairly, especially in a time of scarcity. Of course, politicians may very well try to interfere, with as much success as the “Summer of Recovery”. For all the chaos and heart-stopping unpredictability, the free market is the only way to accurately price a resource, in times of scarcity or aplenty.
      2. Assuming we do run short of oil (I’m not convinced, just yet), we’ll basically see a repeat of 2008: as the realization spreads that supply is not keeping up with demand, prices will spike. Spiking prices will reduce demand and encourage supply, as well as (workable) alternatives.
      3. The “Peak Oil doomsdayers” as you call them, believe spiking prices will kill the economy, make everything unaffordable and lead us to live out “Mad Max” for real. The real question is: how much damage does high oil prices do to the economy? The answer I believe goes something like:
      a. Much damage to the economies of oil importers, especially those without alternatives.
      b. Huge growth to the economies of oil exporters. Better get used to Hugo Chavez and Achmadinajoke lecturing us on how we need to change our lives. OUCH!
      c. Remarkably little difference to the world economy. Wealth transfers from oil importers to oil exporters. Many of us may get the opportunity to pursue exciting carreers in the Middle East. And to learn Arabic.
      4. Eventually some entrepreneur develops a cost-effective alternative to oil: Syngas? CTL? BTL? Who knows? The entrepreneur likely comes from a nation that encourages innovation. I know some countries that used to be great with that. This time around, we’ll have to see.
      5. Exxon-Mobil, sitting on huge piles of cash and getting tired of dealing with Hugo and Achmadinajoke, buys the process from said entrepreneur. They eagerly advertise their commitment to alternative fuels, using a small percentage of their huge profits.

      Sounds a bit familiar, doesn’t it?

    • 0 avatar
      Stingray

      b. Huge growth to the economies of oil exporters. Better get used to Hugo Chavez and Achmadinajoke lecturing us on how we need to change our lives. OUCH!
      Nah, see, our oil production is lower now than it was in 1998 when Chavez got to the power.
      And continues to go down.
      He may encourage the coming of “big oil” to invest, and then it will expropiate everything once is built.
      I don’t see the situation for this oil exporting country improving.
      Ummm… you sure will have to stop making jokes about your neighbors north of your border.

    • 0 avatar
      timotheus980

      Engineer 

      Well said. If it is one thing a free market does well is offer alternatives.  A lot of the problem is that the transportation/oil markets haven’t been as free as they should have been because of a cabal of cartels.  Something a properly functioning gov’t should have prevented from happening, but I digress.

      I remember reading a couple of years ago in the NY times (of all places) that researchers have found a way to refine atmospheric nutrients into liquid fuels methanol, gasoline, and diesel from a nuclear plant.  The cost would be about $4.60 per gallon at the pump.  This is a virtually limitless source of liquid fuels and would (and should) set a long term ceiling to the price of gasoline.  They also mention they could use solar power to drive this process but didn’t mention the cost for that.

      http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/02/13/federal-lab-says-it-can-harvest-fuel-from-air/?ref=science

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Predictions that we will soon run out of oil are nothing new. If you believe the earliest ones, we ran out long ago. In 1972, a think tank called the Club of Rome published a study, The Limits To Growth, which predicted that we would shortly run out of just about everything. It scared the hell out of a lot of people. I remember the satirical advice, “Get yours while there’s still some left.” We now know they were full of s—. Their underlying assumptions made no allowance for greater efficiency, finding new supplies, or substituting other materials. There is no reason to believe we cannot do the same for oil. To counter this kind of hysteria, I suggest people read The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley.

  • avatar
    jmo

    This is the German army?  I thought they had only one solution to everything.  Invade Poland.

    I kid, I kid.

    Since we can create hydro carbon fuels through known chemical process using electricity produced by fast breeder nuclear reactors – will this ever really be that much of a problem?

    http://aaenvironment.com/CECE/SynthesisofHydrocarbonFuels.pdf

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      “You started it!”
      “No we didn’t; you invaded Poland!”

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      I didn’t even know they had a standing army!
      Does anybody in Europe????
      They never use it.
      They must march around and judging from this report, do research.

      Every time I hear about the Euro trash doing better than the USA, I BEG them to put some of their financial holdings into an armed force so ours can come home…or at least be used to strenthen our hold on our middle eastern colonies.

      Sorry…. I digress.

  • avatar
    nonce

    So… nuclear power, then?

  • avatar
    bill h.

    I’m less interested in what anti-science/anti-government conspiracy types on an automotive blog think about this than what the Chinese leadership think about it.  And who may well be in a better position to act on their consideration than are western democracies bogged down with their militaries in southwestern Asian oil countries.

    Besides, I’m tending more to the thought that the next big Resource Conflicts will not be about petroleum, but over usable water.
     

    • 0 avatar
      Engineer

      For the future of water, google “Groundwater Replenishment”: a truly drought-proof source of water. No wars required.
      Who knows what the Chinese leadership thinks? They do seem to be positioning themselves to get early claims on oil sources in Africa, particularly Angola and Sudan…

  • avatar
    skor

    So “peak oil” is bunk?  Please explain why BP was drilling for oil in water that was a mile deep.

    • 0 avatar
      Bunter1

      Actually this one is easy, they have been lobbied out of shallower water and they are not allowed to exploit the most promising on land opportunies.

      Have fun.

      Bunter

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Because they’re not permitted to drill closer to shore, where an accident is much easier to repair and clean up.

    • 0 avatar
      scottcom36

      Because Congress prohibited drilling in shallow water along much of the US coast.

    • 0 avatar
      dartman

      HaHa!…wrong…wronger…and wronger again!…When Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks he answered:  “because that’s where the money is!”…ditto BP.  Did you see how much that sum-b**ch was flowing and how BP was trying to downplay the actual flow?! …If BP had not been such a typical English broke-dick, tightwad, short cutting company, their share holders would be very happy right now instead of so pissed off…

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    Why would we assume that oil on Titan is abiotic (if there is any).
     
    Anyways, two words that pretty much demolish the above study and peak oil: shale oil.  There’s enough recoverable shale oil to power our Suburbans for a long long time (my napkin math puts it at 121 years with the bottom end of known reserves and constant consumption of 63 million barrels a day).  A barrel of shale oil costs $100 bucks or less to produce.  So shale has been for uneconomical compared to normal oil.  If peak oil puts normal consistently over 100 a barrel, shale production will step up.  I hate to break it to the peak oilers, but we’ll have plenty of oil during our lifetimes even if peak oil is true. More than long enough to have a develop new energy tech that doesn’t have the downsides of oil without causing massive political turbulence/end of modern civilization.

    • 0 avatar
      Chicago Dude

      toxicroach,
       
      The issue is not running out of oil.  The issue is that as soon as demand is higher than supply for a sustained period of time, things start to get out of hand.  Yes, prices increase dramatically, but other geopolitical events happen as countries try to grab the share of supply that meets their needs.
      As for oil shale (and tar sands for that matter), there are significant environmental costs in addition to the production costs.  We really need to avoid doing this damage to our own environment for as long as possible.
       
      And as my previous point implied, the US is very well positioned if things start going crazy.  We shouldn’t use this stuff up now when things are cheap!

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Why would we assume that oil on Titan is abiotic (if there is any).

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lakes_of_Titan
       
      It may actually rain liquid methane, though you’re right it might be from biological sources, though not from a biochemistry we’re familiar with.

    • 0 avatar
      toxicroach

      If it comes down to wars and 300 bbl, shale oil will get done, the environment be damned.  Some environmental damage is weak tea compared to what an oil crunch would do to the world.  Not to mention that all that political chaos would probably be a lot worse for the environment than some nasty oil plants.  I’m afraid the environmental argument doesn’t really hold water against decades of chaos and war.
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Germany, we have shale oil the likes of which God has not seen!

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      “Some environmental damage” is one thing.  That’s what your typical oil production/consumption does now.  Shale oil production is devastating to the landscape, poisons the groundwater, emits significantly more carbon dioxide; the list goes on.  This is like strip mining coal, only worse.  Not the answer.
      “Peak Oil” has to happen at some point.  World wide energy consumption is bound to spike as China, India, and other countries race to first world living standards.  Countering that is new discoveries, new drilling methods, alternatives, conservation, etc.  So, picking a date is folly.  But the Germans have it right, if the scenario was left to run unchecked.  What is needed is a new source of energy.  Because of the high energy density of petroleum, sources of fuel for mobile sources is going to be tough.  For stationary sources, the near future is, like it or not, nuclear.  Long term, fusion should be the goal.  If electricity can be generated cleanly and cheaply, it can be used to produce other sources of energy like hydrogen, perhaps.  The long term goal must be to get away from burning dirty fuels.

  • avatar

    toxicroach: are you calculating the length of time we can power our SUVs, our cars, or everything we run on oil ?

    • 0 avatar
      toxicroach

      There is are 414 gigatons of known shale oil deposits.  This is enough to make 2.8-3.2 trillion barrels of oil.  I divided 2.8 trillion by 63 million.  Somehow or another I was got the idea world consumption was 63 million barrels a day (which I take to mean all oil used for anything), which apparently is lower than actual demand.  But at that consumption rate, and the low end of shale reserves would give us 121 years of known oil supply.  The projected consumption of 2030 (130 million barrels a day) would last 59 years.  And nobody really looks a lot for shale.  It’s never been particularly valuable, so it’s not unreasonable to think there’s a lot more out there that would be discovered once it was a valuable asset.
       
      Point being, we’ve got plenty of oil, and thus time, to develop the technology needed to peacefully and responsibly switch to alternative energy.  At least in terms of proven oil reserves.  Global warming is another issue.

  • avatar

    My sense is that BEVs will be about as practical as ICE in another 15-20 years.
    IF the US would try harder to be a leader in renewables (as Germany already is, including solar, despite the fact that it is further north than any of the United States except for southern Alaska), we’d be in a much better position if and when the sh*t hits the fan.
    Still, the world is so globally interconnected that the prospect of a major oil crisis is quite daunting, and something the world needs to anticipate. As if!
    Of course, everything that would help us mitigate global warming would also help deal with peak oil. Some thoughtful conservatives are pushing this, and driving Priuses.
    http://www.setamericafree.org/alternet110905.pdf
    http://www.alternet.org/environment/28011

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      Germany is probably in for trouble because they decided that nuclear sucks, so they import about two-thirds of their energy.  Lots of it from France.
      Quelle ironie, since France gets 80% of its power from nuclear energy.
       

    • 0 avatar
      Daanii2

      IF the US would try harder to be a leader in renewables (as Germany already is

      With all due respect to the Germans, their renewable energy effort has been an expensive flop. Same with Spain. Intermittency and diffuse energy sources bedevil all attempts to efficiently use solar and wind. No solution to those problems makes sense. At least so far.

      Now France is different. Their use of nuclear power for electricity shows that can work, and work well. Sweden the same. The barriers to nuclear power are political. They can be overcome.

      The United States should try harder to be like France than like Germany.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian


      Now France is different. Their use of nuclear power for electricity shows that can work, and work well. Sweden the same. The barriers to nuclear power are political. They can be overcome.
      The United States should try harder to be like France than like Germany.

      Oh, this is going to go over really well….

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      Do you think if someone in government said “we should use more nuclear power, like France does,” that the Republicans would be the biggest opponents?

    • 0 avatar
      Dr Strangelove

      “Germany is probably in for trouble because they decided that nuclear sucks, so they import about two-thirds of their energy.  Lots of it from France.
      Quelle ironie, since France gets 80% of its power from nuclear energy.”

      You are confusing the import of fuels with that of electricity. Germany imports most of its fuels, but they produce almost all of their electricity themselves; mostly from coal, only about 1/6 from renewables.

    • 0 avatar
      Daanii2

      Although not much electricity is involved, Germany exports more electricity than it imports. Particularly to France. Germany exports to France over three times what it imports from France. rwecom.online-report.eu/factbook/en/marketdata/electricity/grid/germanyimportandexportofelectricity.html

  • avatar
    twotone

    It’s not that we don’t have enough oil (or water, food, money, medical care, etc.) it’s that there are too many people. The earth has finite resources and it’s are getting tapped out with 7+ billion people. As oil (or any other resource) becomes depleated, human population will decrease. A self-regulating system, like it or not.

    Twotone

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      In a certain way, if previous trends hold, China’s rise to economic parity with the West should cause a significant drop in the birth rate there ….  generally speaking, as people become more wealthy and  better educated (and vice-versa), they tend to need or want fewer children…  this will ease the strain on natural resources… it’s been a while, and you can decide for yourself if the UN has any credibility here, but the last report I saw from them on this topic, ca. 5 years ago, forecast this same emerging nation, declining population, trend.

    • 0 avatar
      Engineer

      Yes Twotone, earth is finite. However, the human population it can support is NOT: Earth cannot support 6 billion hunter-gatherers, each needs too much land. Add some technology (agriculture, energy, environmental, etc.) and 6 billion live pretty comfortably. Not perfect, but, for the most part it works.

      Look at it this way: the fresh water challenge is simply this: you need to return toilet to tap in a shorter cycle, wasting less, using less energy, etc. Apply that thinking to all materials: we never need to run out.

      Energy, of course, is different: you need energy if you plan to recycle spent carbon (aka CO2) to fuel. But then there is a natural process for doing so: photosynthesis. And the bulk of the planet (the oceans) are not (yet) very productive. Not to worry: expensive energy may well change that…

    • 0 avatar
      musiccitymafia

      Too many people. Once here the opportunity to best their lives should not be denied … straining finite resources. Maybe China is giving up on an idea with merits …

      I’m hungry, please pass the chemicals …

    • 0 avatar
      Engineer

      “…straining finite resources…”
      Finite resources have the odd habit of getting cheaper over time. As Paul Ehrlich found out to his (considerable) cost.

      From Wikipedia: “All of [Ehrlich\'s] grim predictions had been decisively overturned by events.” It will happen again, to the religion of Peak Oil…

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Oh, btw, I was wondering if those secret British and German think-tanks might be able to forecast what will happen to Vauxhall and Opel !

  • avatar
    folkdancer

    Please, I hope someone at TTAC is saving this graph and will bring it out every few years to compare with new graphs. Seeing how accurate it is will be fun or scary.

    • 0 avatar
      Daanii2

      Above I referred to a 1919 Scientific American article called “How Long Will the Oil Last?.” The graphs they had with that article are fun to look at now. As you can imagine, they were way off. But no one could have known that at the time.

      Not to ridicule things like the German study. But the peak oil graphs you see now should be taken to be about as reliable as Farmer’s Almanac weather forecasts. They are based on common sense extrapolation from the past. They are not, at all, a reliable forecast of the future.

  • avatar

    I’ll be perfectly honest, I wanted a Mustang or Camaro, but it’s stuff like this that’s making me seriously consider a Chevy Volt when it comes out in Florida.

    I’m kicking around the idea of writing a little article to TTAC for publishing about my dilemma.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    The massive populations of China and India are rapidly joining the developed world. As such, they have a massive and growing appetite for fossil fuels. When exactly the world will reach peak oil extraction is of course a matter of ongoing speculation, but it will certainly happen at some time. The question after that peak is reach is how precipitous the decline will or won’t be and how that matches up to demand. The demand side, without a doubt, is going to be growing strongly in the decades immediately ahead of us. Even the most optimistic folks don’t really think that enough crude oil can be extracted such that the people of India and China can consume it at the same rate as is done in North America.
    Something is going to have to give. What it is and when it is is hard to say, but the crude oil will hit the fan. Unfortunately, American society has shown that it is really, really bad at dealing with problems prior to the point at which they become a complete catastrophe.
     

    • 0 avatar
      Daanii2

      Unfortunately, American society has shown that it is really, really bad at dealing with problems prior to the point at which they become a complete catastrophe.

      Really? Any examples come to your mind?

      I would have said the opposite. We are, I think, very, very good at dealing with problems once they threaten to become (but before they actually do become) catastrophes. 

      What I think we are very, very bad at is evaluating and dealing with risk. Whether it’s in the economy or in the environment, we often spend all kinds of money and effort on problems that turn out to be minor. Many times the cure is much worse than the disease. Then on big problems we blithely let them fester until they do cause near catastrophes.

    • 0 avatar
      musiccitymafia

      Lets see …. Risk vs Catastrophe …. hmmm …. What about GM and the lack of scenario planning and risk abatement strategies?

      Or maybe they actually had some strategies. Things in fact are working out in such a way as to mitigate damages for some.

      It’s how the story is told and by whom.

  • avatar

    @Nonce
    re France’s 80% of electricity being nuclear: electricity only represents about 20% of total energy use. so all that nuclear really doesn’t go that far. And it is quite expensive

    Engineer: “Add some technology (agriculture, energy, environmental, etc.) and 6 billion live pretty comfortably. Not perfect, but, for the most part it works.”

    In fact, most of the world’s nearly 7 billion (yes, it’s gone up by nearly a billion in the last decade) live pretty damn badly by our standards. 3 billion plus live on the equivalent of $2/day or less. And yet, we’re living unsustainably, on the bounty of fossil fuels (if we were living sustainably we would not be having this discussion).

    • 0 avatar
      Daanii2

      And it is quite expensive

      Au contraire, mon frère. France’s electricity is the cheapest in Europe.

    • 0 avatar
      Engineer

      David,
      You are changing the subject: inequality is NOT the same as running out of resources. I’m quite aware that many live in desparate conditions, but that’s what you get when you have a maniac like Robert Mugabe or Omar al-Bashir as your leader. Get a better leader in there, and the shortages disappear…
       
      As I said, “not perfect, but, for the most part it works.”

  • avatar

    @engineer: human health plunged after humans invented agriculture. whereas earlier food supplies had been pretty stable (because ecosystems are pretty stable), depending on farming led to much greater incidence of famine. It also caused malnourishment because people tended to eat far fewer different kinds of foods, and as any nutritionist will tell you, variety (of nonprocessed foods) is key to good nutrition. Greater population density and domestication of animals led to a host of diseases that just didn’t exist for hunter-gatherers. I’m not saying hunting and gathering was a picnic (unless you were in a benign climate) but the average hunter-gatherer had it far better than the ***average*** European until fairly recent times. (The upper classes are a different story.)
    The ethnobotanist Wade Davis tells of a hunter-gatherer among a tribe where he worked for a while (studying their pharmacology) who died probably in his 80s when he fell out of a tree he was climbing.

    • 0 avatar
      eh_political

      @ David Holzman,
       
      Nice to see another fan of Wade Davis, a Harvard educated ethnobotanist from Canada, and all round interesting individual.  I am posting the url to an article he wrote that fits in with peak oil, namely the end of natural rubber:  http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1997/08/04/229714/index.htm
      It’s definitely ttac fodder, and Davis is an excellent writer.  Must be all the ayahuasca…

    • 0 avatar
      Engineer

      David,
      Your romatic portrayal of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle leaves me teared up and ready to move into the nearest cave. Before I do so, though, I have a few questions:

      1. Why is it that hunter-gatherers were displaced by farmers (primitive as they were) where-ever the two groups came into contact? Was it a Darwinian thing where the horrible life of a farmer meant that only the toughest survived?
      2. What do you think of Jared Diamond’s theory that disease-resistance (gained from contact with cattle) were key to Europeans’ ability to subject all they encountered? Another Darwinian thing?
      3. Why would early farmers adopt farming, if it was so horrible, compared to the carefree life of a hunter-gatherer? Because the chief said so? Nobody thought of rising up against the chief? Nobody decided to slip away under the cover of night?

      “studying their pharmacology”
      Stop, you’re hurting my stomach. Unless you meant to redefine pharmacology to include “get the witch doctor to chase out the evil spirit” as all primitive societies do, even farmers.

      Sure, there is a one in a gazillion chance that the witch doctor discovered some rare medicine that has so far evaded modern science. But its a LONG shot.

  • avatar
    dartman

    “Peak oil”; “The trade tower attack was an inside job of controlled demolition”; “Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya”; “Sarah Palin graduated from college”;…wing nut theories dessiminated by wack-jobs and charlatans looking to sell books. ( O.k, maybe that last one isn’t totally implausible…)  Trust me, we ain’t running out of dino juice anytime soon.  Did you see how much the BP well was flowing?  Google Eagle Ford Shale, Barnett Shale, Marcellus Shale etc. and you willl see that technology is being used to revive US fields once thought to be long since played out.  The US is sitting on as much natural gas as any place on the planet.  The reason we continue to import so much foreign oil is simply because it is cheaper to do so and contributes to geo-political stability.  BP, Exxon Mobil, Total etc. after all are muli-national corporations with no allegiance to any one country.

  • avatar
    ra_pro

    Whether the world is running out of oil or not, the US is definitely receding from its position as a dominant power thanks to its many problems, the main one being the idiocy of its population as witnessed by many of comments on this thread. While many people around the world are skeptical about the immediacy of ‘peak oil’ most understand that this is a logical and physical certainty. Its just a matter of when. And since world is already running out of many other physical resources such as water, arable land, some precious metals etc, as can be easily seen if one just bothers to check the news (other than US TV stations) why should oil be any different? Perhaps it may last a few decades more, perhaps not. But it will run out and relatively shortly (compared to the span of human civilization on Earth of 6-8000 years), no reason to treat it as a ‘News of the World’ story about ‘green bunny carrots on Mars’ as many here do.
    US army has produced a report similar in its conclusions to the Bundeswehr report years ago. The funny thing is the US military up-and-coming weapons are thirstier than ever. I guess this just proves my original point that the US is doomed more due to its ignorant populace than its dependence on the cheap oil.

  • avatar
    johnharris

    >>>>>>Whether the world is running out of oil or not, the US is definitely receding from its position as a dominant power thanks to its many problems, the main one being the idiocy of its population as witnessed by many of comments on this thread.>>>>>>
     
    I actually read through all of the comments to this post and came away frightened and unsettled.  Nearly all of the posts were parched repetitions of partisan talking points.  Some of the hand-wringing over how petroleum is created reminded me of discussions about how many angels dance on the head of a pin.

    Oil is a finite resource.  There is no dispute that its origins are geologically ancient, and it isn’t being renewed in the fashion of, say, trees or fresh water.  Rather than debating what day of which year “Peak Oil” will land—there are too many variables for that date to be knowable give or take a few decades—the reality is that it is getting more costly, in money and environmental terms, to acquire.
    So, as it gets more costly, the world economies will need to gradually improve the cost-efficiency of their transportation.  Neither the hoarse howls from the drill-baby-drill crowd nor the bed-wetting of the greenies will arrest the corrosive climb in the price of oil as we drill deeper, frak shale, and fight nastier wars.

    Some sensible combination of oil, natural gas, and various electric strategies will smooth our path to better efficiency in the next 25 years.  If you’re older than 50 or 60, quit throwing bricks at the hippies because nothing is going to change fast enough to really disrupt your oil habit before you go to your reward.  (There may be political disruptions at intervals, sure, but there’s still enough oil to keep on truckin’.  Don’t forget that those grumpy Arab countries need us to buy oil as much as we need them to sell it to us.)  If you’re my age, in your 20′s or 30′s, stop wetting the bed.  You will be driving an electric car soon enough and your ascendant political potency will gradually neutralize the influence of those who came of age on 30-cent gas and were brought up to hate liberals and Arabs.

    Meanwhile, there are hybrid and electric sports cars and bikes that are getting interesting.  Maybe not this year, but certainly within five years.  Within the decades of the rounding error of Peak Oil, there will be awesome sports cars for us to drive.  Peace out.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    Take a look at the IOE’s Annual Review of Energy 2009.
    Electricity production from wind in the US is doubling every two years. It will pass petroleum for  fifth place this year; in two more years, it will overtake nuclear and hydroelectric and be third only to coal and natural gas. Remember, wind turbines get cheaper every year – and at some point they will start replacing other plants on cost alone, and other plants that are used for base load now will be relegated to producing power when the wind dies down. Most coal plants can’t be spun up and down for varying power requirements (between the combustion process optimization for one power level and the shafts and bearings not liking different torque levels and speeds), but the gas turbines used for power production from natural gas certainly can.

    We have to be realistic with our expectations, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be set high.

    • 0 avatar
      Daanii2

      Take a look at the IOE’s Annual Review of Energy 2009.
      Electricity production from wind in the US is doubling every two years. It will pass petroleum for  fifth place this year; in two more years, it will overtake nuclear and hydroelectric and be third only to coal and natural gas.

      Do you mean the DOE (Department of Energy)? If so, I think you’re reading those figures a little too optimistically. Wind isn’t blowing its way up the charts that hard. And the Danes’ experience with wind should be sobering, rather than encouraging. 

  • avatar
    ronin

    >>”The Bundeswehr Transformation Center writes that oil will become one decisive factor in determining the new landscape of international relations:”
    Nice prediction and all, but hasn’t this already been true for the last 100 years?     The conclusions sound rather elementary, and like something the new hire college kid was assigned.
     

  • avatar
    Daanii2

    I’m not so sure about natural gas now. We had an explosion with a 1,000 foot fireball here last night. It was about 3 miles away from my home. We can still smell the smoke.
     
    At least one person killed, many injured, and 50 homes burned to the ground. The 30-inch high pressure gas main — built in 1948 — fed a fire shooting flames 60 feet in the air for 2 hours before they could shut it off.
     
    The neighborhood looks like a war zone.

  • avatar
    threeer

    What?  And the explosion on the rig out in the Gulf with the resulting oil spill was better how?  There are risks involved regardless of which form of energy is used.  I take JohnHarris’ approach here…oil is finite.  Plain and simple.  And yes, we (human beings) have accelerated changes to the world’s ecology due to our immense use of said resources.  That being said, a mix of numerous resources makes the most sense as we transition away from oil.  I’m all for us reducing the dollars we send abroad to those countries that are less than friendly with us.  My take on America has always been that we are typically slow to make a change until faced with an urgent need to do so…but when we do decide to get behind something, we tend to go all in.  I guess I’m a hopeless optimist when it comes to this country…


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