Friday, October 8, 2010

Peak Oil Won't Cause Collapse

Oil production in any region follows a bell-shaped curve. In any region, the rate of oil extraction increases, after the initial drilling, until it hits a peak, and then inevitably declines thereafter. This is true for any given oil well, and may be roughly true for all oil in the world as well.

Peak oil refers to the point at which half the oil in the world has been used up.1 At that point, we've extracted half the oil which which will ever be extracted, or which can be profitably reached. Thereafter, we will face inevitable declines in oil production as time goes on. Once oil has started to decline, little can be done to reverse the trend in the long run. We cannot increase the rate of extraction, because it costs more and more money just to extract the same amount of oil. Even if we furiously increase the rate of oil extraction, using any means necessary, all we accomplish is to make extraction faster now but even more difficult in the future, because we drained even more oil out of the ground. Once oil starts to decline, we are on a downhill path, basically without exception or reprieve. We will run out of oil, albeit gradually, and nothing can be done about it.

We may be nearing the peak of oil production for the world. After that, oil production worldwide will start its slow, inevitable decline. Some experts claim that oil has already peaked, in 2005, while others claim that oil will peak more than a decade in the future. Either way, peak oil is relatively imminent.

Some commentators think that peak oil spells doom for our civilization. They have an argument, which runs as follows. Our entire industrial civilization relies upon oil: our cars run on oil, our trucks run on oil, our tractors run on oil, and so on. As oil becomes scarcer, which it will after the peak, we will become increasingly unable to provide fuel for essential machinery like tractors. We will find it more and more difficult to sustain long-distance transportation networks for goods, or provide fuel for our supply chains. Our industrial civilization will start to falter. Goods will become scarcer, and the essentials of life will become harder to come by. This could lead to "feedback loops" in which people could rebel, wars could break out, and so on, which could damage our oil infrastructure still further. Even if peace is maintained, reduced oil supplies mean that we'll have less oil to spend on transporting oil from the middle east to us. Yes, even oil extraction and transportation depends on oil, which means that a decline in oil supplies will make us less able to extract more oil in the future, further accelerating its decline.

Our civilization must collapse, doomers say, as oil supplies dwindle. It's a fact, implied by laws of physics and mathematics. As oil supplies decline, food supplies will also decline, since industrial agriculture is dependent upon oil.

We cannot transition to alternatives, because those alternatives require oil to build them and supply them, when oil is already running out. Not to mention, it would take decades to transition our infrastructure to alternatives, when peak oil is already upon us. It's already too late to transition to alternatives, because we needed to start decades ago. Now that peak oil is upon us, we face only one prospect: collapse.

Or so goes the argument. This argument (which I'll call the "oil doom argument") has gained tremendous influence. While still a fringe argument, it has convinced thousands of people. It has inspired many people to prepare for doomsday, to hoard food, to practice survival skills, to relocate to rural areas and live off the land, and so on, all in preparation for the coming collapse. The oil doomer argument has also inspired hundreds of books, websites, lectures, documentary movies, blogs, and so on, with ominous-sounding names such as "die-off", "twilight in the desert", "life after the oil crash", "a world made by hand", and so on. The oil doom argument has even gained the attention of the NY Times, which published a long article about it. The argument has even convinced a few scientists, and at least one Congressman.

Oil doomers generally believe their argument is unquestionably correct. They believe that the decline and collapse of our civlization is absolutely inevitable, implied by physical and mathematical laws. They generally think that anyone who denies it, is "in denial", using the perjorative psychological sense of that term.

There's one problem, however. The oil doom argument is wrong. It's totally wrong, from beginning to end. It relies entirely on incorrect assumptions, as I'll point out. Without those assumptions, its conclusions no longer follow.

Below I'll present an analysis of the oil doom argument. I'll show that it's mistaken, and I'll present a more realistic picture of our probable immediate future.


Analysis of the oil doom argument

The oil doom argument relies upon an incorrect assumption. It relies upon the assumption that our economy will sacrifice the most important uses of oil first as the supply of oil declines. In fact, our economy will sacrifice the least important uses of oil, at every stage of the oil decline. As a result, we won't begin to sacrifice things like tractors or oil transportation infrastructure until our oil supply has already declined by 80% or more, which won't happen for six decades at least, according to the most pessimistic projections. In other words, we can withstand declining oil supplies for decades with no collapse, and with no major interruptions in basic industry, even if we make no preparations, and even if we do not make any transitions to any alternatives. Oil declines would cause alterations in our standard of living, but they would not cause industrial or agricultural collapse.

The reason our economy will sacrifice the least important usages of oil first, is because consumers demand what is most important to them, which causes producers to sacrifice production of what's least important when they must choose between several options. That in turn causes suppliers to shift production, and so on, through a widening network until it reaches the whole economy. Agents in the economy communicate via prices, and everyone sacrifices what's least important. Consumers have some choice about this, but producers do not: any producers which sacrifice essential things, or which manufacture things deemed unnecessary in a new economy, will go out of business. You can see this easily during a recession. When the economy contracts by 10%, does our supply of food decline 10%? No. The first things that go away are jewelry stores at malls, which die off right away in every recession then come back. As another example, look at what happened during the late 1970s. When our supply of oil declined by 15%, quite suddenly, did it cause 15% of the tractors to stop running? No, it caused a recession and some annoyance, but no collapse of our transportation infrastructure, and no starvation.

Again and again, doomers wrongly assume that we'll sacrifice the most important uses of oil first. Let me provide an example. The following quotation is taken from the website LifeAfterTheOilCrash.net, which is one of the premiere doomer advocacy websites:

"Within a short time of global oil production hitting its peak, [the prices of oil will reach] up to, and possibly over, the $200 per barrel range... With oil at or above $200 per barrel, gasoline will reach $10 per gallon... This will cause a rapid breakdown of trucking industries and transportation networks which have all been built and financed under the assumption fuel prices would remain low. Importation and distribution of food, medicine, and consumer goods will grind to a halt as trucking and shipping companies go bankrupt en masse."

Again, this wrongly assumes that we'll sacrifice the most important usages of oil (like food, medicine, and shipping) first. Of course, we won't begin to sacrifice food, or its production or distribution, until oil supplies had declined by more than 90%, because food is the most essential thing to us, and we spend less than 10% of our oil on food and its distribution.

As a result, declining oil supplies won't cause the imminent collapse of our civilization. But that's hardly reassuring. Perhaps peak oil will cause a gradual decline and collapse, if not an immediate one. Maybe we'll shut off the tractors in 80 years, when oil is almost out. Maybe we're doomed to protracted collapse, with gradually declining living standards until we starve, decades in the future.

No. As oil becomes scarcer, we'll gradually replace it with alternatives which have become relatively cheaper. We'll replace SUVs with hybrids, and eventually, we'll replace hybrids with battery-electric cars. The transition away from oil will be entirely automatic, the result of basic market mechanisms. It will not require any preparation or forethought on the part of everyday consumers. All that will be required, is for consumers to respond to higher oil prices. As oil becomes more expensive, alternatives will become relatively cheaper, and consumers and firms will transition to alternatives at that time, merely by following economic incentives.

Some commentators claim that it's already too late for us to transition to alternatives, because peak oil is already upon us, and it takes decades to transition away from oil. However, they've wrongly assumed that we must complete the transition away from oil before declines begin. That's their second mistaken assumption. In fact, we only need to transition away from oil quickly enough to offset declines as they occur. In other words, if we want to offset a 2% yearly decline in oil supplies, we only need to reduce our oil consumption by 2% per year after the peak has occurred. We could accomplish that easily. For example, we could switch 4% of our car fleet to hybrids the first year, then switch 4% of the remaining non-hybrid fleet every year thereafter. (Hybrids get twice the mileage, so switching 4% of them per year will result in a 2% decline in oil consumption, which is the same rate as the oil decline). In other words, switching 4% of our car fleet to hybrids is sufficient by itself to offset declining oil supplies of 2% yearly, for 25 years, without any reduction in personal travel and without any preparation beforehand by consumers. Switching 4% of our car fleet to hybrids is hardly a daunting task, since we already turn over our car fleet much faster than that, without any special inducement. Of course, this strategy requires automakers to design hybrids beforehand and to start mass manufacture of hybrids before the peak occurs. But they've already made that preparation.

Of course, other consumers of oil (like shipping companies) would also have to reduce their oil usage by 2% per year, starting after the peak has occurred. But they also could accomplish it by transitioning only a small fraction of their fleet per year to more-efficient technologies. Shipping companies also have obvious alternatives to their conventional propulsion, which they will start using when it becomes economically sensible to do so. The only usage of oil which has no obvious alternative is aviation, but that is not required to prevent industrial collapse.

If anything, automakers and others have responded too aggressively to the prospect of oil declines. Chevrolet and Nissan started working on plug-in cars years ago, in anticipation of more expensive fuel, and it looks like they prepared too soon. Plug-in cars won't be strictly necessary for decades, since regular hybrids would suffice for a long time after the peak. Furthermore, plug-in cars won't become cheaper than hybrids like the Prius (on a TCO basis) until gasoline costs more than $8/gallon, which doesn't appear imminent. Bear in mind that we shouldn't start switching from hybrids to plug-in cars until gasoline costs $8/gallon (in 2010 dollars), making the arrival of plug-in cars extremely premature.

One objection to all this, is that alternatives (like hybrids) require an "investment" of oil, since we must use oil to power the machinery which mines the lithium for use in batteries. Since we're running out of oil, doomers say, we won't have enough oil to mine lithium for hybrid cars. Once again, this assumes that we'll sacrifice the most important uses of oil first. But the foundation for the next generation of our transportation infrastructure is more important than discretionary travel now, so we'll sacrifice discretionary travel. The reason is easy to see: when we pass peak oil, investment in alternatives will promise fantastic returns, even though manufacturing those alternatives requires relatively little oil. As a result, those alternatives will have enough money to buy the small fraction of oil they need despite declining supplies. As a result, we will respond to declining oil supplies by sacrificing a few SUVs, not lithium mining.

Conclusion

The oil doom arugment relies on two implicit assumptions, as follows. First, it assumes that the economy sacrifices the most important uses of oil first as supplies of oil decline. Second, it assumes that we must transition the entire transportation fleet to alternatives before the peak occurs. Both of those assumptions are false.

Doomers make those assumptions, over and over again, throughout the doomer literature. Watch out for it. Once those assumptions are dropped, because they're wrong, the doom-and-gloom conclusions found throughout the doomer literature no longer follow. Bear in mind that imminent collapse arguments require both of the aforementioned assumptions to be true, but neither of them are true.

In summary. Our civilization does not face collapse because of peak oil. Our civilization faces gradual transition to other forms of energy for transportation, that is all. The gradual transition will happen automatically, as a result of basic market mechanisms, without any preparation on the part of consumers.

This is not to say that peak oil will have no consequences. I expect that peak oil will cause a recession and modestly higher transportation costs. It will not, however, cause industrial collapse, nor will it cause starvation within the industrialized world.

NOTES:

1This assumes that the curve of worldwide oil extraction will be symmetrical, as the Hubbert curve clearly indicates, and as doomers assume. Whether this is true or not has no serious implications for the argument I'm making here.

113 comments:

  1. "Peak oil refers to the point at which half the oil in the world has been used up."

    Wrong - peak oil refers to the point in time when global oil production is greatest, regardless of how much oil has been used.

    "In summary. Our civilization does not face collapse because of peak oil."

    None of the "doomers" claims that collapse will be the result of peak oil alone - collapse has as much to do with debt, economics, population growth and unsustainable practices as it does post-peak oil energy.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Excellent. What you've set out is Maslow's hierarchy of needs applied to oil use, in response to price increases, and that has to be correct. I'm a transport planner and I believe that the large scale behaviour changes you've identified are already taking place. That doesn't mean that these changes won't be profound and possibly disruptive, but the simplistic 'die-off' outcomes underestimate the collective will of humanity to make sensible choices.

    Interestingly Prof Goodwin of the University of Western England has written about the the phenomenon of 'Peak Car' where traffic growth ends and begins to decline. It's already happened in London and it's possible that it's about to happen in the UK as a whole.

    Streeter

    Pr

    ReplyDelete
  3. The dieoff will not occur just from peak oil. You'll very rarely find a 'doomer' that just believes peak oil will be the sole contributor to civilization's collapse. In my opinion there will be a series of dieoffs and declines associated with converging crises including antibiotic resistance, food shortages, water shortages, environmental collapse, oceanic life collapse, over population, resource wars and debt. Peak oil just wont help matters will it, even if there are amazing hybrid cars on the market.

    ReplyDelete
  4. "The dieoff will not occur just from peak oil."

    Yes, GJ, sensible people know this, but it's not the kind of thing these self-appointed "debunkers" can get excited about. They need a horrible strawman to wail on.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Another great post! It's good to read some rational thinking on peak oil for a change.

    I think one of the problems doomers have is that they're not very technical, and cannot grasp modern technology. That's why you here doomers talking about "draft animals", and "living in villages". They are backward thinkers, much like the Luddites of the 19th century.

    ReplyDelete
  6. GreenJamie - instead of just setting out your views on why we're doomed, why not stretch your mind and respond to the post. Will oil use decline in response to increasing cost? And if so, will that decline be at least in part due to a reduction in discretionary activities in favour of essential ones?

    Streeter

    ReplyDelete
  7. "I think one of the problems doomers have is that they're not very technical, and cannot grasp modern technology."

    The biggest problem civilization has is techno-geeks with an insatiable appetite for trivial, throw-away technology. Mastering A PlayStation is not the same as grasping modern technology.

    ReplyDelete
  8. No - and that kind of false logic misses the point. Technologists are falling over themselves to develop more efficient vehicles and buildings and to tap other sources of energy in response to the impending crisis.

    Just because we use technology for other, discretionary things, doesn't mean we can't also use it for serious matters.

    ReplyDelete
  9. "Just because we use technology for other, discretionary things, doesn't mean we can't also use it for serious matters."

    Yes, "technologists" are busy designing more efficient vehicles so that we can continue driving to the mall and the Starbucks drive-through more "efficiently." Technologists are busy creating airplanes for religious zealots to crash into buildings, and security systems that don't work, and predator drones to kill people thousands of miles away. Technologists are designing computer viruses, surveillance spy equipment, and high frequency trading systems that produce wealth from churning a bankrupt economy. Technologists are designing computers that have an average life of 5 years before they go into the landfill to leech heavy metals into the ground water. Technologists are busy designing phones to distract drivers so that they can crash into crowds of people.

    For every "serious" matter you can name, I can name two utterly useless, trivial instances where technology enables us to waste even more energy than we would have had we not designed the crap in the first place.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Streeter:

    Will oil use decline in response to increasing cost? And if so, will that decline be at least in part due to a reduction in discretionary activities in favour of essential ones?

    Yes and Yes. Youre disingenuous in not appending a third question being: 'Will this be a problem for the current business-as-usual economic model and society also given increased external pressure from ecological collapse et al described above?'. The answer is yes.

    Anon wrote:

    For every "serious" matter you can name, I can name two utterly useless, trivial instances where technology enables us to waste even more energy than we would have had we not designed the crap in the first place.

    Good post Anon. Technology and 'progress' in general have resulted in global dehumanization, declining health and ecological destruction to name a few. Now before any idiot points this out, yes I am using a computer to discuss this - however does this my minor personal contradiction in any way whatsoever dispute my assertion? The answer is no.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I think one of the problems doomers have is that they're not very technical, and cannot grasp modern technology. That's why you here doomers talking about "draft animals", and "living in villages". They are backward thinkers, much like the Luddites of the 19th century.

    It’s not that they “cannot grasp modern technology”, they hate it with a passion. That is why they are hoping for something (anything really) to cause industrial civilization to collapse, even if that means “shaving a few billion off the population” as one of them once said in a comment on POD. Before you make the mistake of arguing about the value of technology with them you should read the wiki on Anarcho-primitivism and Theodore Kaczynski’s “Unabomber Manifesto” so you understand their ideology.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarchoprimitivism

    http://cyber.eserver.org/unabom.txt

    ReplyDelete
  12. "That is why they are hoping for something (anything really) to cause industrial civilization to collapse, even if that means “shaving a few billion off the population” as one of them once said in a comment on POD."

    You are a liar. No one is hoping for any such thing. This is your sick fantasy. Predicting decline is not the same as hoping for it to happen.

    ReplyDelete
  13. You are a liar. No one is hoping for any such thing. This is your sick fantasy. Predicting decline is not the same as hoping for it to happen.

    No, it’s you and your fellow doomers who are lying. You want a collapse but you won’t admit it.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Great post! I'm curious where you got the references to that 80% though.

    "As a result, we won't begin to sacrifice things like tractors or oil transportation infrastructure until our oil supply has already declined by 80% "

    ReplyDelete
  15. Yogi, I'm sure there are different levels of purposefulness to that. The doomers aren't such a homogenous lot either.

    And I don't think that ideological stuff is the most common cause. I think it's a lot more common to dislike your life and be generally depressed about it and therefore be more prone to believe in collapse (perhaps not even hoping for it, just believing).

    ReplyDelete
  16. It’s not that they “cannot grasp modern technology”, they hate it with a passion. That is why they are hoping for something (anything really) to cause industrial civilization to collapse, even if that means “shaving a few billion off the population” as one of them once said in a comment on POD. Before you make the mistake of arguing about the value of technology with them you should read the wiki on Anarcho-primitivism and Theodore Kaczynski’s “Unabomber Manifesto” so you understand their ideology.

    Yogi you have basically picked an extremist in the same way someone trying to attack Islam would pick Ossama Bin Laden.

    However, if you were to apply some brain to it you would see that ones fondness of technology depends on which receiving end they are at. If your family has been poisoned by Union Carbide, or more recently the Hungarian toxic mud catastrophe you would be forgiven for having misgivings over 'technological advancement'. If you get your water from a stream (which many people still do) and now a factory upstream is leaking heavy metals into the very thing that keeps you alive, you are going to hate that factory.

    It would be an interesting experiment to expose you to the same sufferings that others have had to endure in the name of 'progress', such as Bhopal, and see if you still hold your rosy view of technology.

    All because your personal circumstances are relatively unaffected by technological advancement doesn't mean others are so fortunate. The Unabombers home, deep in the woods, was being threatened by advancing developments and probably being a mathematical kind of guy (well a professor of maths) he saw that this pattern would continue until the whole worlds was one massive desolation.

    ReplyDelete
  17. More generally I have found that just as 'doomers' cannot 'grasp' technology, cornucopians cannot 'grasp' the drawbacks of technology.

    To expand on what I was discussing above and to paraphrase Derrick Jensen (insert scary organ chords) - if you get your water from a tap and your food from a shop you will defend this to the death. If you get your water from a river and food from the wild you will defend this to the death. I get the feeling, however, that technology and industrial civilization has already decided what is going to be the modus operandi and screw everyone else, they just don't understand the technology.


    Such childish thinking has resulted in global ecological catastrophe which we are only just really beginning to understand. So Yogi, you can understand why not all of us agree with you.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Kaczynski can be considered an unrepresentative extremist only in his actions.

    His opinions on the relative costs and benefits of industrial civilization are shared by many doomers.

    You only have to read greenJamie’s passionate and eloquent defense of Kaczynski’s world view to see an example of this.

    ReplyDelete
  19. You only have to read greenJamie’s passionate and eloquent defense of Kaczynski’s world view to see an example of this.

    Thats because I agree with his views, not his actions. His primary view is that civilization's trajectory will result in its own destruction anyway along with the rest of the planet. Do you disagree?

    ReplyDelete
  20. I have no desire to engage in a debate about value judgments with you gJ.

    To do so would be about as rewarding to me as debating theology with the Jehovah’s Witness types who regularly show up at my door.

    If your question is whether or not I regard a collapse of industrial civilization as likely (probability > 50%) within this century my answer would have to be “no”.

    ReplyDelete
  21. From Kaczynski’s manifesto:

    2. The industrial-technological system may survive or it may breakdown. If it survives, it MAY eventually achieve a low level of physical and psychological suffering, but only after passing through along and very painful period of adjustment and only at the cost of permanently reducing human beings and many other living organisms to engineered products and mere cogs in the social machine. Furthermore,
    if the system survives, the consequences will be inevitable: There is no way of reforming or modifying the system so as to prevent it from depriving people of dignity and autonomy.


    http://cyber.eserver.org/unabom.txt

    ReplyDelete
  22. "There is no way of reforming or modifying the system so as to prevent it from depriving people of dignity and autonomy."

    So what's to disagree with here? Officially, we're at 9.6% unemployment in the US now, and the real rate is much higher. Technology has enabled Wall Street and the Big Banks to steal trillions for a handful of greedy clowns while the US drops further and further down the ladder of developed nations in terms of literacy, infant mortality. TEchnology has also enabled a handful of warmongers to ensnare the US in useless, perpetual war in the Middle East, where millions live in fear of predator drones and laser guided missiles.

    In addition to our 13 trillion dollar and growing debt, there is an enormous deficit of dignity and autonomy around the world due to our blind faith in technology.

    ReplyDelete
  23. So what's to disagree with here?

    For a typical doomer? Nothing, except Kaczynski does not regard the collapse of industrial civilization as inevitable. This is why he advocates direct action. More and more doomers will come to share this view if the collapse they secretly hope for turns out to be not so inevitable or imminent.

    ReplyDelete
  24. "...the collapse they secretly hope for"

    You're so full of shit - this is why no one takes this blog, or JD/RGR seriously. You're full of shit. Technology worshipping bullshit. Go back to your PlayStation.

    ReplyDelete
  25. greenJamie:

    "Yes and Yes. Youre disingenuous in not appending a third question being: 'Will this be a problem for the current business-as-usual economic model and society also given increased external pressure from ecological collapse et al described above?'. The answer is yes".

    I agree with that too. You use the word 'current', and clearly there will have to be fundamental changes to 'business as usual' in response to higher energy costs and the other ecological issues you rightly set out. I just happen to have greater faith in the ability of the human race to respond positively to these challenges, rather than to enter into a period of terminal decline and die off.

    And as to the posters here that complain how bad 'technology' has made our lives (and by 'our' I mean those of us fortunate enough to live in developed nations). Well yes, not all in the garden is rosy, but perhaps you might like to reflect on whether living conditions were better at (say) the turn of the 19th century in the industrial heartlands of the UK, before the development of modern sewerage and other infrastructure systems? You could call those 'technology' and I for one would not want to lose them.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Streeter:

    As you say ultimately the outcome of the situation is an article of faith. I for one would very much welcome a fundamental change to BAU but a lot of people have a lot to lose if this were to happen. Where I disagree strongly with Yogi is that What Has Been, i.e the massive devastation inflicted on the environment, is not a matter of faith or religion but hard fact. His response is a dressed up version of sticking his fingers in his ears.

    In regards to how bad technology is - yes the UK human population has on a whole benefited from technology in the short term. You could also say that Generation X benefited short term from passing massive debt to their children; whether this is responsible is another question. One thing I would say in regards to pre-technology is that life was more brutal and harder, but in much greater balance. Industrial society is unbalanced and that very fact means it is not sustainable.

    To illustrate if the entire history of homo sapiens sapiens was compared to the life of a 50 year old person - industrial society would be represented by one day. In that one day we have become an extinction level event. Thats not something I want.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Yogi:

    Ok if you don't want to discuss it, don't discuss it. But it isn't a matter of religion on my part - I can list literally hundreds of thousands of incidents where technology has ruined human life and entire ecosystems and species. Your insistence that everything will be dandy is pure faith, backed by very little evidence.

    One final question, which will be more revealing than you realise, is do you think that people that 'secretly want collapse' are a traitor to their species?

    ReplyDelete
  28. Anon:
    "None of the "doomers" claims that collapse will be the result of peak oil alone - collapse has as much to do with debt, economics, population growth"

    gj:
    "The dieoff will not occur just from peak oil. You'll very rarely find a 'doomer' that just believes peak oil will be the sole contributor to civilization's collapse. ...antibiotic resistance, food shortages, water shortages,..."


    Doomers certainly did claim that peak oil alone would cause the collapse of civilization. I'm amazed how quickly that's forgotten. I've read through the arguments on doomer.us, LifeAfterTheOilCrash, dieoff.org, simmons' books, Richard Duncan, and so on. Their arguments rely entirely or overwhelmingly on peak oil as the cause of industrial collapse. My article was responding to that.

    Let me provide one example. Here is the first paragraph from LifeAfterTheOilCrash:

    "Civilization as we know it is coming to an end soon. This is not the wacky proclamation of a doomsday cult... Rather, it is the scientific conclusion of the best paid, most widely-respected geologists, ... in the world. These are ... individuals who are absolutely terrified by a phenomenon known as global "Peak Oil"."

    The remaineder of that website deals with exhaustion of oil supplies as the primary cause of collapse. It does not mention antibiotic resistance and or anything else like that. Neither do the other doomer sources like doomer.us, dieoff.org, Richard Duncan and the road to the olduvai gorge, and so on.

    In fact, I can't find a single peak oil doomer source which pays significant attention to many of the things you mentioned. Which doomer source claims that antibiotic resistance will cause collapse?

    Even when doomers focus on the economy, they usually claim that our economic problems are caused by peak oil. This kind of thinking is rampant on TheOilDrum and elsewhere. It's taken for granted that the current economic downturn was caused by peak oil. In fact,
    that very argument was made recently by Weaseldog on POD, which I'm sure you both remember.

    Anon, do you seriously claim that peak oil doomerism is just a "stawman" which I'm making up in order to argue against it?

    I realize that you guys may not believe in peak oil, but many doomers certainly do.
    -tom

    ReplyDelete
  29. Anon:
    "[To Yogi:] You are a liar. No one is hoping for [collapse]. This is your sick fantasy. Predicting decline is not the same as hoping for it to happen."

    Anon, you and Gj just spent several pages talking about how bad technology is. You also grasp at any argument which implies collapse, and you switch arguments as the old ones are refuted. For example, you now claim that peak oil was just a "stawman" to begin with, and now you've started talking about antibiotic resistance and water shortages.

    I've also noticed that some people on TOD write personal essays in which they clearly and explicitly hope for collapse. That may not be you, but such people definitely exist.
    -tom

    ReplyDelete
  30. With regard to the arguments about whether technology is good or bad. It's mistaken to list examples like Bhopal on the one hand, or the smallpox vaccine on the other. There are billions of examples of the effects of technology. As a result, whether it appears good or bad will obviously depend on the examples you select. Since there are so many effects of technology, any list of examples will obviously be extremely unrepresentative. You could just as easily say that "humans are bad" then list Stalin and Pol Pot, or "humans are good" and point to Mother Theresa.

    What's required are aggregate statistics of whether people are better or worse off on the whole because of technology.

    On that point, the evidence is obvious and unambiguous. Human well-being has obviously increased on aggregate because of technological advancement, despite things like Bhopal and Chernobyl. Even in the third world, most people owe their lives to fertilizer, vaccines, and the "green revolution"; and the effects of those things in aggregate vastly outweigh Bhopal and others. You can determine that by looking at statistics of worldwide population or life expectancy.

    Of course, modern human civilization hasn't been good for the planet. Whether human needs outweigh those of the environment is a moral question.
    -tom

    ReplyDelete
  31. Babun,

    Doomers certainly are a mixed lot. Some of them hate modern civilization, they desperately hope for collapse, and they're willing to sacrifice anything or anyone to get it. They're the ones Yogi was talking about. Other doomers are terrified by collapse and worry about it all the time. Some others are members of a weird doomsday sect. Some others want to go back to growing their own food, they joined agricultural communes in the 1960s, and they like that kind of thing. Some others are passionate environmentalists. A few of them are intelligent but naive people who really believe the doomer arguments; these ones usually figure out that doomerism is wrong and drop out fairly quickly.

    Most doomers have something in common. Most of them are drastically irrational. Doomerism is an outpouring of strange emotions. That's why it's so fascinating to me.
    -tom

    ReplyDelete
  32. Anon:
    "You're so full of shit - this is why no one takes this blog, or JD/RGR seriously. You're full of shit. Technology worshipping bullshit. Go back to your PlayStation."

    Anon, your post was totally devoid of relevant content. Frankly, your post was an inappropriate emotional outburst. I know this is a touchy subject for you, but I insist that you behave in an appropriate manner. Stop doing that kind of thing right now, or I'll delete your posts.
    -tom

    ReplyDelete
  33. Everyone,

    Anon responded to the above warning, by posting highly inflammatory and content-free material. I have deleted that material.

    Whoever has been posting as "anon" on this site is hereby banned. I will delete any subsequent comments which are posted anonymously and which I believe are from him, regardless of whether they contain useful content or not.

    I was perfectly clear from the beginning about the policies here. I said right away that any posts which are "childish, inflammatory, or devoid of relevant content" would be removed. Neverhtless, I tolerated several posts from anon which clearly violated those reasonable standards. I provided ample warnings, but he responded to those warnings by worsening his behavior. So I've decided to ban him.

    I wish to emphasize that the posts I removed were totally devoid of serious argumentation, one way or the other. The posts were filled mostly with profanity and inane remarks. By removing those posts, I am only trying to avert the pointless flame war which would ensue. I wish to emphasize that I'm not trying to discourage disagreement of any kind.
    -tom

    ReplyDelete
  34. Tom couple of replies to your posts:

    In fact, I can't find a single peak oil doomer source which pays significant attention to many of the things you mentioned. Which doomer source claims that antibiotic resistance will cause collapse?

    Try Kunstler, he is explicit about antibiotic resistance; so are The Dark Mountain Project. This isn't a peak oil source as such, but paints a dark vivid account of the future: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/aug/12/the-end-of-antibiotics-health-infections

    To reiterate my view there wont be a sole singular cause of collapse, but a collection.

    For example, you now claim that peak oil was just a "stawman" to begin with, and now you've started talking about antibiotic resistance and water shortages.

    As I say they all are going to contribute to collapse. Quite a few are related - water shortages and oil production are related, just look at Alberta tar sands. Some may mitigate each other such as end of cheap air travel and global epidemics. But to repeat again there isn't a sole cause of the collapse but a collection of issues.

    What's required are aggregate statistics of whether people are better or worse off on the whole because of technology.

    Which people though? People in Bhopal? How about Iraq? What about native Americans - did progress serve them well?

    On that point, the evidence is obvious and unambiguous. Human well-being has obviously increased on aggregate because of technological advancement, despite things like Bhopal and Chernobyl

    Again short term. I mean Chernobyl is case in point - the local residents well being in terms of employment, wealth was a lot higher until that one fateful day.

    Of course, modern human civilization hasn't been good for the planet.

    Strongly agree!

    Whether human needs outweigh those of the environment is a moral question.

    This, out of all your points, is the one I disagree with the most. Human are the environment, just as plants, water, animals and soil are. Its not a moral question but a question of survival. This sort of attitude is the most dangerous as it views our environment...us and everything we rely on as disposable, quantifiable and tangible. To put it bluntly s**ting in your owning house isn't a good idea, and our current house is all we have!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Tom couple of replies to your posts:

    In fact, I can't find a single peak oil doomer source which pays significant attention to many of the things you mentioned. Which doomer source claims that antibiotic resistance will cause collapse?

    Try Kunstler, he is explicit about antibiotic resistance; so are The Dark Mountain Project. This is a peak oil source but paints a vivid account of the future: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/aug/12/the-end-of-antibiotics-health-infections

    To reiterate my view there wont be a sole singular cause of collapse, but a collection.

    For example, you now claim that peak oil was just a "stawman" to begin with, and now you've started talking about antibiotic resistance and water shortages.

    As I say they all are going to contribute to collapse. Quite a few are related - water shortages and oil production are related, just look at Alberta tar sands. Some may mitigate each other such as end of cheap air travel and global epidemics. But to repeat again there isn't a sole cause of the collapse but a collection of issues.

    What's required are aggregate statistics of whether people are better or worse off on the whole because of technology.

    ReplyDelete
  36. ..continued..

    Which people though? People in Bhopal? How about Iraq? What about native Americans - did progress serve them well?

    On that point, the evidence is obvious and unambiguous. Human well-being has obviously increased on aggregate because of technological advancement, despite things like Bhopal and Chernobyl

    Again short term. I mean Chernobyl is case in point - the local residents well being in terms of employment, wealth was a lot higher until that one fateful day.

    Of course, modern human civilization hasn't been good for the planet.

    Strongly agree!

    Whether human needs outweigh those of the environment is a moral question.

    This, out of all your points, is the one I disagree with the most. Human are the environment, just as plants, water, animals and soil are. Its not a moral question but a question of survival. This sort of attitude is the most dangerous as it views our environment...us and everything we rely on as disposable, quantifiable and tangible. To put it bluntly s**ting in your owning house isn't a good idea, and our current house is all we have!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Apologies my first post should have read:

    This isn't a peak oil source but...

    ReplyDelete
  38. Yogi wrote:


    Before you make the mistake of arguing about the value of technology with them you should read the wiki on Anarcho-primitivism and Theodore Kaczynski’s “Unabomber Manifesto” so you understand their ideology.


    I realize that they hate technology, and don't believe it works (whilst posting in the internet). But my point was to the OP, and if there were a decline in oil supplies. It wouldn't be that hard to replace oil with something else. E.G. the ICE and gas tank in a car can be easily replaced with an electric motor and batteries. This has been done by high school students. Engineering problems generally have several different solutions. Being non-technical, doomers cannot grasp this concept.

    ReplyDelete
  39. One final question, which will be more revealing than you realise, is do you think that people that 'secretly want collapse' are a traitor to their species?

    No, just that they have adopted a somewhat unusual value system and are being less than completely honest about it.

    I realize that they hate technology, and don't believe it works (whilst posting in the internet). But my point was to the OP, and if there were a decline in oil supplies. It wouldn't be that hard to replace oil with something else. E.G. the ICE and gas tank in a car can be easily replaced with an electric motor and batteries. This has been done by high school students. Engineering problems generally have several different solutions. Being non-technical, doomers cannot grasp this concept.

    Some of them have technical or scientific backgrounds, but they see technology as the problem not the solution. In their view technology has caused unacceptable environmental damage and allowed the human population to grow to levels they regard as “unsustainable” and “technofixes” merely delay the “inevitable” collapse.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Yogi wrote:


    Some of them have technical or scientific backgrounds, but they see technology as the problem not the solution. In their view technology has caused unacceptable environmental damage and allowed the human population to grow to levels they regard as “unsustainable” and “technofixes” merely delay the “inevitable” collapse.


    I think the doomer leadership may understand it better. The ones that sell the books and movies. It's that rank and file doomer that's non-technical. This is why the doomer leadership can sell concepts like:

    "Without oil, farmers won't be able to grow food because their tractors won't work. So therefore, we're all gonna starve to death."

    This is an easy sell to the non-technical rank and file doomer.

    And speaking of technology, this is an interesting concept:

    http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2010/10/10/google-developing-driverless-cars/

    ReplyDelete
  41. gJ,

    "Which people though? People in Bhopal? How about Iraq? What about native Americans - did progress serve them well?"

    I meant all people. I meant that people in aggregate on this planet are much better off, on net balance, than they would have been without these things. We can judge that by looking at statistics like estimated life expectancy and average disease burden for the world population as a whole.

    Even in Iraq, much of the destruction committed against them was because of economic sanctions during Hussein's reign, which disrupted the supplies of essential medicines and vaccines. Clearly, those sanctions were intended to harm the Iraqi regime, and not to save it from the ravages of technology.


    "This, out of all your points, is the one I disagree with the most. Human are the environment, just as plants, water, animals and soil are. Its not a moral question but a question of survival. This sort of attitude is the most dangerous as it views our environment...us and everything we rely on as disposable, quantifiable and tangible. To put it bluntly s**ting in your owning house isn't a good idea, and our current house is all we have!"

    I grant that humans are part of the environment. I wasn't disputing that. I spoke imprecisely. What I meant to ask was: should we benefit humans at the expense of the remainder of the environment? That's a moral question, because it depends upon the moral weight we grant to non-human forms of life.

    Most of the time, when people damage the environment they do so in ways which they don't expect will harm them personally. Their garbage goes to a landfill, not their backyard. In cases where environmental degredation really harms people (like mercury emissions) then they do actually pass laws to prevent it.

    Saying that we shouldn't shit in our beds is true, but that's not what's usually happening. Usually, people shit far away from their beds. I expect that's what they'll do to the environment: they'll shit elsewhere, as much as possible. Of course, global warming will affect everyone, and their beds; it happens everywhere. But I suspect that some people think that global warming is a small enough amount of shit in their beds to be worth it. It's not easy to reduce carbon emissions. What's a little shit in the bed?

    There's definitely a trade-off happening here. Usually, people decide between protecting something in the environment and sacrificing something fairly trivial. I realize there are a few environmental issues where you can say to someone: "this will harm you more than it will benefit you." But that's not usually the case.

    I expect to be dead in about 40 years, right about when the effects of global warming will become a grave problem. In other words, I'm shitting in a bed I don't even have to sleep in. I'm probably shitting in your kids' beds. That's a moral question.
    -tom

    ReplyDelete
  42. Oops, I meant to say:

    "Usually, people decide between protecting something in the environment and consuming (not sacrificing) something fairly trivial."
    -tom

    ReplyDelete
  43. I think you have a well-written blog, and a good approach to handling your critics. I've been following this subject since early 2007, when I accidentally watched "A Crude Awakening" on cable and was overwhelmed by the "Oh my God is this for real?" emotion. Since then, I've read all I could find on the subject, and have my own opinions, which are much closer to yours/JD's/RGR's than the Impending Doom club's. It's not in my interest to argue with those who believe differently, but I would like to point out that anyone on the "doomer" side who is stating that "You'll very rarely find a 'doomer' that just believes peak oil will be the sole contributor to civilization's collapse" is being a bit disingenuous; ten minutes on LATOC (or "doomers.us", as I guess it's known now) will disprove that in a hurry; in post after post, under "PeakOil Breaking News" you'll find quotes about how the end is nigh. Semantically, that original comment (not the "sole" cause of doom") might be correct because the most vociferous LATOC peak oil doomers are also stridently proclaiming "peak coal", peak lithium", "peak natural gas", and "peak uranium", among other peak things, but the blog itself, in its "Rules" section postulates that there is no debate allowed on the "fact" that we are "already in the midst of massive economic and environmental dislocations" due to Peak Oil. In any case, the discussion is fun to watch; keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete
  44. Ok we should agree to disagree;

    I expect to be dead in about 40 years, right about when the effects of global warming will become a grave problem. In other words, I'm shitting in a bed I don't even have to sleep in. I'm probably shitting in your kids' beds. That's a moral question.

    I think shitting in anyone's bed, especially a kids, is not the right way to go about living as part of the greater commons of this planet and not a question of morality but common sense.

    To understand my view fully, if you want to, I can recommend reading/listening-to the book Ishmael by Daniel Quinn.

    ReplyDelete
  45. "Doomers" know that technology is a two-edged sword that works very well - both ways.

    High technology, such as an iPhone, improves the users life to a certain, infantile extent that they can be more connected with their friends. However the downside to the user is they are paradoxically disconnected - more and more of their life is managed through a screen; their employment encroaches on their personal life as they check emails and messages more and more. They are independent in one way and more dependent in another way. Zooming out from this example we see that the single phone has contributed a lot of pollution to the planet - from the coltan mined in the congo fuelling ecological disasters and political strife, to the shipping of the good from China to where ever, the memory card whose carbon footprint is 3000 times its own weight, to the on going energy needed to keep the device alive, to its final resting grave (usually in China or Indian techno-dumps) leaking lead and cadmium into local water supplies.

    The author of this site is correct in saying that technology, in aggregate, has improved human lifestyles in the short term to a certain extent. However in the past 200 years it has also started to destabilize a planet that for thousands of years (200,000 for humans alone) has been relatively stable.

    In my mind there is a threshold of usefulness versus destructiveness of technology; we have long since passed this threshold and the planet and future generations of humans will suffer because of this. Again I guess whether we care or not is the question, however the thousands of generations of people before us had the manners to leave us with a habitable world.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Finally I complement you on how this blog, compared to peak oil debunked, stays mature and doesn't involve clown noses on the deceased and phrases such as 'ridiculous dumb ass'.

    ReplyDelete
  47. greenjamie wrote:


    I think shitting in anyone's bed, especially a kids, is not the right way to go about living as part of the greater commons of this planet and not a question of morality but common sense.


    Especially not when the waste can be converted into biofuel:

    http://www.gizmag.com/human-waste-to-gas-project-goes-live/16572/

    Of course the standard doomer response will be that it costs too much. The EROEI is negative. Technology is bad, not good. And we're all doomed anyway so why bother?

    ReplyDelete
  48. SG:

    Or the waste could be used instead of fertilizer. Low tech solution.

    In my opinion the problem with biofuels is the continuation of BAU - the biofuels may be a green solution, but the vehicles that run on them are not (especially the aluminium: http://www.desdemonadespair.net/2010/10/all-water-life-in-hungarys-marcal-river.html)

    Standard 'debunker' response: more technology is always good!

    ReplyDelete

  49. Standard 'debunker' response: more technology is always good!


    Yes it is! More ethanol is also good.

    EPA approves 15% ethanol for newer cars:

    http://biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2010/10/14/e15-ethanol-approved-in-us-for-2007-model-years-critics-supporters-react/

    ReplyDelete
  50. Doom Awaits, thanks for your kind remarks.

    "I would like to point out that anyone on the "doomer" side who is stating that "You'll very rarely find a 'doomer' that just believes peak oil will be the sole contributor to civilization's collapse" is being a bit disingenuous"

    No kidding. Virtually all the PO doomer literature claimed that PO alone would cause collapse. The examples are too numerous to list.
    -tom

    ReplyDelete
  51. Anon is reminded that he is banned from this site. I may reconsider that banishment if Anon demonstrates that he can post an intelligent and non-inflammatory comment which is devoid of childish remarks. Until that time, I will delete everything he posts here. If he continues to post here, I may have to disable anonymous posting.
    -tom

    ReplyDelete
  52. gJ,

    You've written about how you expect the collapse of civilization to occur as a result of multiple environmental causes, like global warming, ocean acidification and antibiotic resistance. You've claimed that the combination of these things will cause collapse.

    I don't see how any of those things, in any combination, will cause the collapse of industrial civilization. I grant that they are extremely serious problems, but I don't see how they would cause collapse.

    For example, let's suppose that antibiotic resistance becomes rampant over the next 20 years and tuberculosis becomes an untreatable disease again. In that case, we will return to the levels of tuberculosis which prevailed in the 1940's and which did not threaten the continued existence of civilization. If we add global warming to the mix, we have crop failures as well. Even with crop failures, worldwide food production will still remain far higher than in the 1950s, because of the green revolution which won't be reversed because of global warming.

    Even if there were some kind of die-off because of wide-scale crop failures, or some emergent disease, I doubt it would cause the end of industrial civilization. Even if the world population were 20% lower in the future, which of course I ardently wish to avoid, I still would see no reason to believe that the somewhat-smaller population would abandon industrial techniques or return to an agrarian mode of life. I can't think of any plausible combination of events that would result in that outcome.

    gJ, what exactly are you saying would happen? And, what precisely would be the mechanism whereby a combination of elements would cause that outcome? What would be the sequence of events? Perhaps there's something I'm missing.

    -tom

    ReplyDelete
  53. "Finally I complement you on how this blog, compared to peak oil debunked, stays mature"

    gJ, thanks for the kind remarks. Also, thanks for posting mature and intelligent comments.
    -tom

    ReplyDelete
  54. To,

    I don't claim to have definitive answers - I just envisage a world in the future where several terminal problems of our own making converge. In the example of TB, compared to the 1940s there is a lot more intercontinental human traffic and denser human populations probably giving greater cause for concern if a drug resistant bug is spreading. Additionally I think changes in climate will promote massive insect growth that has not been seen before giving rise to further disease vectors (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/04/AR2006050401931.html). Loss of habitat, top soil, insect plagues and oceanic death will result in loss of livlihoods and resources. All this combined with increasing extreme weather events and resource wars (partly cause by the now lack of cheap energy) will result in massive surges in refugees causing further downward pressure on the system.

    I still would see no reason to believe that the somewhat-smaller population would abandon industrial techniques or return to an agrarian mode of life. I can't think of any plausible combination of events that would result in that outcome.

    A good analogy is of all of us living in a very very big house. Western industrial society is removing bricks from the bottom floors and foundations to build the house higher and higher. The bricks represent the resources, the land, the oceans, the species etc that we all rely on for our daily existence. The poor, represented by people on the bottom floors, are suffering as we're taking their bricks. The house is starting to wobble but still we keep going. We need it to be higher, we need it to grow and reach for the stars. One day we take that single brick that is key to the strucutural integrity and the whole structure falls down (this analogy is fitting as scientist are starting to find more and more the climate, ecologies, economies and societies have tipping points). When structures fall down some bits are left standing - so I agree with you to a certain extent that perhaps there will be small pockets of industrial society that go on; nevertheless the situation is not desirable and is avoidable if we were to take a step back view of what we are doing.

    ReplyDelete
  55. "No kidding. Virtually all the PO doomer literature claimed that PO alone would cause collapse. The examples are too numerous to list."

    Please, list one.

    ReplyDelete
  56. greenJamie wrote:


    Additionally I think changes in climate will promote massive insect growth that has not been seen before giving rise to further disease vectors (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/04/AR2006050401931.html).


    Is that the only alarmist nonsense article you could find on the global fraud that is "Climate Change"?

    Try this site for even more alarmist nonsense:

    http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/warmlist.htm

    ReplyDelete
  57. Well SG I for one believe in climate change as the vast majority of scientists do, and it makes sense from the point of view that unlocking previously locked carbon into a closed system will affect that systems operation. Simplest experiment is to take two closed beakers, one rich in CO2 and one not, expose them to the sun then measure their temperaturez. This experiment was performed hundreds of years ago and still behaves in the same way today.

    As for alarmist links, ok if you didnt like the one I provided try these:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070811220220.htm
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/3352974/Climate-change-will-allow-tropical-disease-to-spread-to-Europe.html
    http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/138193.php
    http://whyfiles.org/016skeeter/6.html
    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/07/climate-change-means-hunger-disaster-disease-will-be-new-normal-oxfam.php
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7657415.stm
    http://www.sciencealert.com.au/opinions/20092010-20038.html
    http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=100290
    http://www.windows2universe.org/teacher_resources/online_courses/health/disease_vectors.html
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=climate-change-disease-peru
    http://www.climate.org/resources/climate-impacts/health/disease.html
    http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:gJ9TcQmpLlEJ:www.bvsde.paho.org/bvsacd/cd68/HTingTsai.pdf+climate+change+disease&hl=en&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESgVG1qFOyWmNNNthdGwi9B7XBoZ4pgUuM993TsnJwOVIdptgrXlZNQbI8fdF8WCQqFd5Eb9yUIrQcbJuWibv_QEeXd4oGTcjrtinbwoduwBGWv9DGsA7rP-dqkVG17pgJbJ_7Jm&sig=AHIEtbROon7jIdNvpleQ-z1SOOkPP1OEQg
    http://news.mongabay.com/2008/1007-wcs_disease_hance.html
    http://www.slate.com/id/2183699/
    http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol4no3/colwell.htm
    http://news.mongabay.com/2008/1007-wcs_disease_hance.html

    I love it how 'climate change', the logical conclusion to uncontrolled release of previously locked carbon, is described as a fraud and conspiracy - yet when the conspirators get together (Copenhagen) its anything but...

    ReplyDelete
  58. Also SG, that link you provided links to a lot of sites that provide interesting information on climate change; did you really mean to post that as a backup to your argument?

    ReplyDelete
  59. gJ wrote:


    Simplest experiment is to take two closed beakers, one rich in CO2 and one not, expose them to the sun then measure their temperaturez. This experiment was performed hundreds of years ago and still behaves in the same way today.


    If climate sensitivity is that easy to prove, how about you post a link to a recent experiment validating those results? You won't find one, because even the climate fraudsters will admit that their "theory" cannot be proved by any experiment. If you study the history of the bogus theory a little, you will find that they didn't come up with their climate sensitivity numbers with any experiment. They did it by measuring CO2 and temperature in ice cores. Their mistake was ASSUMING that it was CO2 that controls temperature levels, and not the other way around. The infamous graph in Al Gore's science fiction movie wasn't caused by CO2 levels, but solar and Milankovitch cycles. This is why the climate fruadsters' models have been consistently proved wrong over time. And frustration from the "lack of warming" was noted in the leaked "Climategate" emails. Many scientists have quit the IPCC because they found out it was politics, not science.

    Here's some real climate science:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRyE9_5Z4dk

    ReplyDelete
  60. SG,

    I'm not going to get into a downward spiral argument with you about climate change where I spend ages posting links, discussing, and then you turn round and deny it anyway; thats happened too many times before on other sites.

    Read:
    http://climatedenial.org/2009/07/

    Read:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/category/communicating-climate/skeptics/

    The problem is that the climate is a massive chaotic system. Any sensible person would see that introducing previously locked away elements into a chaotic closed system is asking for trouble. I've shown a simple experiment that CO2 has an effect on temperature that even a primary school child can understand.

    You won't find one, because even the climate fraudsters will admit that their "theory" cannot be proved by any experiment.

    Yeah we're working on building another planet Earth to test the 'hypothesis'

    Their mistake was ASSUMING that it was CO2 that controls temperature levels, and not the other way around

    So are you implying now that the current temperature levels are causing human CO2 increase?

    Climategate

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/02/whatevergate/

    ReplyDelete
  61. SG,

    Also to short cut the pain of yet another climate debate, can you just run any denial by this list first

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

    ReplyDelete
  62. gJ wrote:


    So are you implying now that the current temperature levels are causing human CO2 increase?

    Climategate

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/02/whatevergate/


    Let's just stick to some basic facts. More than 95% of the world's CO2 is produced naturally. CO2 makes up only .03% or .0003 parts of the atmosphere. Now you want to argue that it's these .0003 parts that controls the temperature in the other 99.9997 parts?

    Proof that it's temperature causing the natural CO2 increases is in the ice core measurements themselves. CO2 increases lagged temperature increases by several hundred years. If CO2 levels were causing the temperature increases, why didn't they go up first? And why would they ever go down???

    And also, let's look at the records. More CO2 has been added in the past 10 years than at any other time in recorded history. Yet the WMO has 1998 as the warmest year on record. If CO2 levels control temperature, why would the temperature go down whilst CO2 levels were going up? And the warmest year on record in the US (by far the world's largest CO2 emitter) was 1934. 74 years ago. The Maldives aren't sinking. Neither is Tuvalu. The polar bear population is increasing, not decreasing. Global warming like peak oil is mostly alarmism.

    And realclimte.org is run by the same people mentioned in the Climategate emails. "Mike's nature trick to hide the decline" refers to Michael Mann. I doubt if you'll ever find any unbiased material over there.

    ReplyDelete
  63. gJ,

    How do you reconcile your belief in global warming .AND. peak oil? If it's true that we have peaked, and are at the half way point in hydrocarbon resources. Where are you going to get enough CO2 to cause more than 1.4 degrees of warming? The IPCC only has .7 degrees of warming for the 20th century - the halfway point in hydrocarbon use according to peakists.

    ReplyDelete
  64. Let's just stick to some basic facts. More than 95% of the world's CO2 is produced naturally. CO2 makes up only .03% or .0003 parts of the atmosphere. Now you want to argue that it's these .0003 parts that controls the temperature in the other 99.9997 parts?

    The fact is that this is classic denialist obfuscation: making the numbers sound as small as possible without any context. CO2 plays an important part in the greenhouse effect (http://www.skepticalscience.com/empirical-evidence-for-co2-enhanced-greenhouse-effect.htm)
    The fact that a large amount of CO2 is natural is more handwaving; it is the total aggregate effect that is the problem. http://www.skepticalscience.com/human-co2-smaller-than-natural-emissions.htm.

    The natural CO2 emittors also collect CO2. Humans do not collect any. (if someone is drinking shots of alcohol is it right to argue that the last shot they had which made them vomit couldn't have had anything to do with them being sick because that shot, on its own, isn't enough alcohol to make someone sick?). There is more CO2 in the atmosphere than there has been in a very, very long time (http://www.climatechange.sa.gov.au/uploads/images/carbon_level.gif)

    ReplyDelete
  65. How do you reconcile your belief in global warming .AND. peak oil? If it's true that we have peaked, and are at the half way point in hydrocarbon resources. Where are you going to get enough CO2 to cause more than 1.4 degrees of warming? The IPCC only has .7 degrees of warming for the 20th century - the halfway point in hydrocarbon use according to peakists.

    Quite simple really, and everyone else take note of the little switcheroo there where he's interchanging peak oil and general hydrocarbon sources casually. As JD has drummed into everyone ad nausem there is a lot of gas left and even more coal left. In the face of peak oil we will burn through everything else with greater abandon. (http://peakoildebunked.blogspot.com/2005/09/99-how-fast-can-we-mine-coal.html (omg I've used POD as a reference)). Compounded by the oceans decreasing ability to be a carbon sink and the reduction in biomass in general would indicate that we aren't going to meet carbon targets anytime soon.

    ReplyDelete
  66. gJ wrote:


    Quite simple really, and everyone else take note of the little switcheroo there where he's interchanging peak oil and general hydrocarbon sources casually. As JD has drummed into everyone ad nausem there is a lot of gas left and even more coal left. In the face of peak oil we will burn through everything else with greater abandon.


    Well I'm happy to know that you don't believe coal and gas have peaked. Most peak oil types do. In fact Simmons was openly talking about natural gas production going off a cliff, which was supposed to happen 5 years ago. Reserves have grown dramatically since then.

    ReplyDelete
  67. gJ wrote:


    The fact is that this is classic denialist obfuscation: making the numbers sound as small as possible without any context. CO2 plays an important part in the greenhouse effect (http://www.skepticalscience.com/empirical-evidence-for-co2-enhanced-greenhouse-effect.htm)


    You only need to read the comments on that article to find out it proves nothing.

    The bottom line is how the GCMs are performing against actual measured data. And they have been a total failure. This proves that the climate scamsters don't really know what they're talking about. And the leaked emails prove that they know they don't know what they're talking about! lol

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/04/25/predictions-of-global-mean-temperatures-ipcc-projections/

    ReplyDelete
  68. gJ wrote:


    The natural CO2 emittors also collect CO2. Humans do not collect any.


    Not true. Humans have been building products out of wood for millenia. Those structures/products that still exist represent permanent carbon sequestration. Humans also have been able to grow plants on formerly arid land with irrigation methods. This creates a new carbon sink.

    ReplyDelete
  69. SG,

    The bottom line is how the GCMs are performing against actual measured data. And they have been a total failure. This proves that the climate scamsters don't really know what they're talking about. And the leaked emails prove that they know they don't know what they're talking about! lol

    The models are trying to model a chaotic system which is pretty near impossible given the number of variables. I mean how could the models factor a drop in emissions due to economic recession? It doesn't 'prove' anything other than the fact that the models aren't good enough. (That said the models have showns some reliability http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-models-intermediate.htm). There is also a large body of empirical evidence to support climate change. The leaked emails prove nothing other than the media's ability to distort and exagerrate. In the face of climate change people stand a lot to lose by changing their lifestyles so its no wonder so many are quick to jump on the 'climate scamster' bandwagon whilst not really understanding what they are talking about.

    Re: Human made carbon sinks

    Humans have been building products out of wood for millenia. Those structures/products that still exist represent permanent carbon sequestration. Humans also have been able to grow plants on formerly arid land with irrigation methods. This creates a new carbon sink.

    Yes technically you are correct that the wooden bird ornament I have on my shelf is in actual fact a piece of carbon sequestration - but for the past 400,000 years CO2 has been relatively stable in its oscillations, until the past 200 years. This indicates to me that the 'products' we are making out of wood, compared to the gigatonnes of carbon we are releasing, aren't being effective in carbon sequestration. Unless you have a credible source to say that we are locking away as significant portion of carbon as we are releasing? As for growing plants - again not enough to offset our massive emissions - probably negated by the emissions of cattle grazing, deforestation etc. Then you have the plants that are then released again such as biofuels.

    All in all again you've said your bit, I've said mine - we're not going to agree on climate change - do you really want to continue to bat back and forth until the next record breaking weather event? Like I said I dont want to get into a protracted tete a tete about climate change, but thanks for not being derisive or using ad homs.

    Well I'm happy to know that you don't believe coal and gas have peaked. Most peak oil types do. In fact Simmons was openly talking about natural gas production going off a cliff, which was supposed to happen 5 years ago. Reserves have grown dramatically since then.

    No I don't think they've peaked - but they do follow the same laws of geology and physics. Unless theyre abiotic or something, they will peak. If oil is replaced with them, they will peak a lot sooner with a lot of carbon going into the atmosphere and a lot of ecological destruction.

    ReplyDelete
  70. Also if anyone else is interested in the truth on the 'climate fraudsters' email hack, this a quite funny debunking of the 'Fox News Analysis' of the emails is definitely worth a watch

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nnVQ2fROOg

    ReplyDelete
  71. This is quite funnier.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMqc7PCJ-nc&feature=related

    ReplyDelete
  72. SG

    Yes I always thought science and sensible debate could do with more dancing cats :D

    ReplyDelete
  73. The oil doom arugment (lear to spell or spellcheck) relies on two implicit assumptions, as follows.

    First, it assumes that the economy sacrifices the most important uses of oil first as supplies of oil decline.

    False: First to drop with $4.00 gasoline was discretionary driving with US miles driven down 30%.

    Second, it assumes that we must transition the entire transportation fleet to alternatives before the peak occurs.

    False: There is not enough energy in alternatives to support 'the entire transportation fleet.'

    Both of those assumptions are false.

    False: Both of your arguments have invalid premises and are therefore false.

    Freewheelin' Franklin

    ReplyDelete
  74. Freewheelin Franklin,

    So people actually read your arguments I'll point out the debunker 'hand wave' that you missed the 'n' off learn.

    I agree generally with what you are saying...but can also see Tom\JD's pov that there is quite a lot of waste in the system. In WWII the people of Britain managed by massively cutting waste to the point of using potato peelings, waste-not-want-not and all that. So there is some give in the system. A different question is can we survive without this give? Complex systems aren't simple by any means to map and understand and human brains are still used to very simple concepts despite the stories we tell ourselves.

    Lets say for instance wasteful driving is the first thing to go when peak oil bites. No problem, we stop driving so much. Then the businesses that depend on people driving wastefully (the fungus of fast food, shops and services that grow on the roadside) shrivel. The economy slows. Jobs are lost (why do people think so much money was pumped into car industries during the current recession?). So people drive less. More business dies. Now this is the part where our 'compartmentalization' breaks down and this is what I've been trying to tell people of POD. Peak oil isn't just science, or technology, but a mixture of these plus economics, psychology, logistics. The government pumps money into the system to get things going again. So the system has now ceased to depend on oil, but debt (which by the way the US government is sinking in). So we can sit and pontificate about techno-fixes, but if no one can afford them (which is what I think peak oil will cause the most: people not being able to afford) then theyre pretty useless:

    When I'm poor and jobless, in order to get around I'll just buy an expensive hybrid

    When our country is poor then we'll boost the alt.energy industry

    When there are food shortages, we'll build food skyscrapers

    ReplyDelete
  75. New "implicit" strawmen for Debunkers to tilt at:

    "First, it assumes that the economy sacrifices the most important uses of oil first as supplies of oil decline."

    Who "implied" this? Please, just one citation to give your strawman a little resistance for the ensuing punches.

    "Second, it assumes that we must transition the entire transportation fleet to alternatives before the peak occurs."

    Implications AND assumptions! Can you cite just one instance of this assumption, please.

    Tom still hasn't acknowledged that his first blog entry was dismantled, let's not let too many unchallenged implications and assumptions loose in the blogosphere lest they take on the appearance of serious debate.

    ReplyDelete
  76. I don't exactly think Carl's arguments are ingenious, but it is of course a point in itself that you can't really argue against "the oil doom argument" as an entity because the "doom argument" represents a multitude of views which differ from each other.

    But even so, I think there is a lot of truth to the views tom presents as belonging to the "doom argument". The issues raised regarding the urgency of any impending crisis as relating to the mere drop in oil production are definately valid.

    I think it's probably something most doomers don't pay any mind to. As we can see from gJ's comments, he says it himself : he doesn't have a very specific idea of the events he believes will unfold.

    Now on the other hand, I must say I don't really believe Tom has such a specific idea either. I asked him about his 80% statistic (which I suspect he pulled out of a hat) and he hasn't replied. But he has definately paid more mind to it than the average doomer, and the general argument makes sense. Anyone ought to be able to see we could uphold vital infrastructure with a lot less oil.

    How dire or insignificant the effect of the production drop will be remains to be seen. It's a tough question. But common sense - in my opinion - tells me it's not going to be anything like an imminent collapse of society.

    And people who believe that collapse is imminent ought to se that bad1 + bad2 = imminent collapse is not exactly good reasoning.

    ReplyDelete
  77. "When I'm poor and jobless, in order to get around I'll just buy an expensive hybrid

    When our country is poor then we'll boost the alt.energy industry

    When there are food shortages, we'll build food skyscrapers"

    That's definately a good point too. What bothers me the most too is the effect peak oil will have on the economy, and what kind of feedback-effects that might lead to.

    On the other hand there are a lot of low-tech fixes and efficiency gains. There's public transportation, carpooling. Groceries and other commodities could be delivered to the end-consumers centrally if really neccessary.

    There are lots of things that are done insanely regarding fuel-efficiency just because it's cheaper in economic terms to do it fuel-inefficiently. Once fuel becomes a more central part of the equation, it will change on all levels. It's just that people don't really understand how dirt cheap this stuff really is.

    There's a lot of luxury in our current habits that could be changed. I guess it could be seen as a lower standard of living, but still, quite doable if really faced with a tough situation.

    ReplyDelete
  78. Babun,

    I agree with you that there is a lot of luxury in our lives that could be cut. Cars need to be the first to go and replaced with the bicycle thereby making the population fitter (and healthier in terms of pollutants), reducing emissions and reducing oil consumption. A bike doctor may not be a bad 'hobby' to keep at the moment as it may turn out to be rather lucrative in the future.

    Kunstler does make a good point though - a lot of urban areas in America are not built for bikes. On POD I argued this and peoples answer was 'to move'. Given how the current housing fiasco unfolding in America, to render large neighbourhoods defunct by their very location is going to be a lot worse!

    ReplyDelete
  79. Anon,

    You've claimed several times that PO doomerism never existed, that it's just a "straw man" that I'm making up, that nobody ever claimed that PO by itself would cause collapse, and so on.

    I'm absolutely astonished. Apparently, the whole PO doomer argument has been flushed down the memory hole, after its predictions flopped.

    In case you've forgotten, here is a quotation from dieoff.org, which was the original doomer website:

    "The 'bad news' is that “peak oil” marks the beginning of the end of capitalism..."

    (Taken from the first sentence in the abtract of the first doomer website).

    As another example, there was LATOC, which was by far the most prominent doomer website. It was so prominent that it was mentioned on the floor of congress, in the WSJ, and in the NY Times. From that website:

    "Civilization as we know it is coming to an end soon... These individuals are absolutely terrified by a phenomenon known as global 'Peak Oil.'"

    Here is a another example. Here's a quotation from another doomer website (3k88.com):

    "Peak Oil Crisis - Prepare to Survive! (<--- title of the article)"

    Then there was Richard Heinberg, who wrote several doomer books that were hugely influential in doomer circles. One of his books was called "The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies".

    From the amazon summary:

    "The world is about to run out of cheap oil and change dramatically. Within the next few years, global production will peak. Thereafter, even if industrial societies begin to switch to alternative energy sources, they will have
    less net energy each year. Predicting chaos...he also recommends a 'managed collapse'."


    As another example, take Kunslter's book, "The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil". Kunstler is one of the most popular doomer authors. From the amazon summary:

    "Kunstler notes signs that global oil production has peaked and will soon dwindle, and argues ... that alternative energy sources cannot fill the gap, especially in transportation. The result will be a Dark Age in which ... 'all bets are off about civilization's future.' Absent cheap oil, auto-dependent suburbs and big cities will collapse..."

    And there are tons of other examples. It would take a long time to list them all.

    The PO doomer argument claimed that civilization would imminently collapse because of oil declines. That argument was re-iterated in books (dozens of them!), papers, websites, forums, presentations at conferences, and elsewhere. There was a virtual consensus favoring that argument on doomers.us and other forums. That argument is what I'm responding to in my article. It is not a "straw man".

    Anon, were you a "doomer"? I'm just curious...

    -tom

    ReplyDelete
  80. Franklin:

    "The oil doom arugment (lear to spell or spellcheck)"

    Heh. ;-)

    "False: First to drop with $4.00 gasoline was discretionary driving with US miles driven down 30%."

    Franklin, I'm not sure which side you're arguing here. I had claimed that the economy would sacrifice the least important uses of oil first, and you responded that discretionary driving declined 30% during the shortage. But discretionary driving is the least important use. Was food transportation down 30%?

    Which side are you arguing here?

    "False: There is not enough energy in alternatives to support 'the entire transportation fleet.'"

    What do you mean here?

    I brought up hybrids as an alternative. Hybrids get twice the miles out of the same energy. Do you mean there's not enough energy to build hybrids?

    Even if we transitioned away from oil, is oil the only source of energy? Is it even the most plentiful, or just the cheapest? (Be careful here, because plentiful does not imply cheapest to extract). why couldn't we use plug-in hybrid cars? Do you mean there's not enough energy available in the world to power them? Could you clarify?
    -tom

    ReplyDelete
  81. Anon:

    "Who 'implied' this? Please, just one citation to give your strawman a little resistance for the ensuing punches."

    Anon, I provided a citation with a quote in the article. Did you miss it? Look again.

    The quote was taken from one of the most prominent doomer websites.

    -tom

    ReplyDelete
  82. gJ:

    "Kunstler does make a good point though - a lot of urban areas in America are not built for bikes. On POD I argued this and peoples answer was 'to move'. Given how the current housing fiasco unfolding in America, to render large neighbourhoods defunct by their very location is going to be a lot worse!"

    gJ, why couldn't we use hybrids like Priuses? Why couldn't we use plug-in hybrids like the Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf? Why could't we just reduce discretionary driving? Why couldn't we use extremely fuel-efficient cars like the volkswagen 1L which gets 235 miles per gallon, using no special technology except weight reduction? Why couldn't we switch to mopeds? Granted, these things would be uncomfortable and/or modestly more expensive, and Americans wouldn't like it. But they might prefer it to collapse, or abandonment of their homes.

    There are also obvious alternatives for truck transportation.
    -tom

    ReplyDelete
  83. gJ:

    "So we can sit and pontificate about techno-fixes, but if no one can afford them (which is what I think peak oil will cause the most: people not being able to afford) then theyre pretty useless"

    Why couldn't we build Geo Metro's, which got 60 m.p.g. (more than twice the current average) and costed less than half the average new car? Wouldn't consumers demand cars like that if oil became scarcer, and they became poorer?

    What about mopeds, which became popular during the 1970s when oil was expensive? Some mopeds cost $500 new (in 2010) and get 100mpg. Why couldn't we afford that?

    -tom

    ReplyDelete
  84. Anon, you are reminded not to post childish or inflammatory remarks here.

    Anon, please just go away. You contribute nothing whatsoever to this debate.
    -tom

    ReplyDelete
  85. Everyone,

    I have deleted material from anon once again.

    Every once in awhile, he posts messages here which contain puerile inflammatory remarks and little or nothing else. He quickly degenerates and starts posting things like "you're a shithead, etc, etc." Comments like that are not allowed here.

    Anon, just go away. I don't wish to disable anonymous posting, because someone else may wish to post.

    -tom

    ReplyDelete
  86. Babun:

    "I don't really believe Tom has such a specific idea either. I asked him about his 80% statistic (which I suspect he pulled out of a hat) and he hasn't replied."

    Babun, I did a web search of oil usage for things like transportation of food, transportation to and from work, etc. Then I did some mental arithmetic to generate an estimate.
    -tom

    ReplyDelete
  87. Nissan begins EV mass production:

    http://wot.motortrend.com/6722232/auto-news/nissan-leaf-production-begins-in-japan-exports-start-next-month/index.html

    ReplyDelete
  88. John,

    Interesting stuff.

    Many car manufacturers are coming out with ultra fuel-efficient or battery-electric cars. For example, GM is releasing the Volt in 2 months, Nissan is releasing the Leaf, Toyota is releasing the plug-in Prius in 1 year, and so on. In addition, other car companies have completed designs of next-generation cars so they can begin production if the price of fuel increases. For example, Volkswagen has the 1L which gets 235 mpg, and also has a super-efficient "combined cycle" golf which gets 80mpg. And there are many other examples.

    I see no indication that car companies, or the market more generally, has been too slow in responding to the prospect of oil declines. Thus far, the commodities market is stockpiling more and more oil, and oil inventories are at all-time highs. Car companies have designed and released ultra-efficient cars. And so on. All these things have happened years before any actual oil declines.

    Auto companies have an obvious financial incentive to anticipate the future price of oil and to respond accordingly.
    -tom

    ReplyDelete
  89. Nice post Tom.

    BTW Green Jamie and his cohorts are inflammatory trolls. Everywhere he posts there are shadow-posters who post shortly after or before him who have the same writing style and give him pats on the back or vice versa. I suspect he's from 4chan or one of the other associated flame-groups who is trolling your blog for "the lulz".

    ReplyDelete
  90. DB again if you actually read my posts you'll see that I always sign my name - so the other anons are really not me.

    As for inflammatory I'll leave it to others to decide, but again if you read anything you'd see that the author of this blog complimented me on civility.

    I think you are confusing inflammatory with disagreement, which are very much different. The only one being emotive and inflammatory is ironically yourself.

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  91. Argues that energy is abundant and will become more so as time passes.

    If energy were to become more abundant over time the equation for energy (e=mc^2) would have to be proven to be ~ e=mc^2(tC*nI*n%)

    [tC=time constant, nI=number of intervals, n%=percent energy increase per time constant]

    Physics, specifically thermodynamics, has proven that total energy in a system is constant. Decreases in potential energy result in proportional increases thermal, sound, and kinetic energy.

    Power is the process converting energy from one form to another (hopefully more useful) form and is more likely what is meant when you say:

    Argues that power is abundant and will become more so as time passes.

    E.g. More solar panels will collect more solar energy to power more electric cars.

    Having abundant energy without the ability to power anything with it is not economically beneficial.

    E.g. The citizens of Montserrat live atop a near infinite thermal energy source yet can not power any venture of economic value with it, they have an economy powered completely by foreign aid.

    Are you really out to debunk Einstein & Co.?

    Carl

    ReplyDelete
  92. Carl, your idiotic arguments remind me of "Weaseldog" over at POD.

    The blogger is assuming that the reader has a modicum of common sense. Of course, that's not always the case.

    ReplyDelete
  93. "Our entire much praised technological progress, and civilization generally, could be compared to an axe in the hand of a pathological criminal"

    Albert Einstein

    ReplyDelete
  94. A little context gJ. He said this when he was living in Kaiser's Germany.

    ReplyDelete
  95. I have a feeling he'd say the same thing living in Alberta, or New Orleans, or Bhopal, or a nowhere city consisting of McDonalds/KFC/Walmart fungus, or maybe a Inuit town where the only source of food has the highest concentration of dioxins in the world, or maybe the Congo where organised rapings are used to move people from mineral rich areas. Or maybe if he was living in Afghanistan, Iraq? Nigeria?

    ReplyDelete
  96. Nagasaki? Hiroshima? Chernobyl? How subjective do we want progress to be, which narrow slice of positive technology do we cling to and ignore the rest?

    ReplyDelete
  97. Posting frenzy over at dieoff debunked:

    http://dieoffdebunked.blogspot.com/2010/11/yet-more-substitutes-asphalt-and-cement.html

    http://dieoffdebunked.blogspot.com/2010/11/yet-more-large-format-energy-storage.html

    http://dieoffdebunked.blogspot.com/2010/11/yet-more-substitutes-natural-gas-from.html

    http://dieoffdebunked.blogspot.com/2010/11/why-gm-volt-is-winner-for-everyone.html

    Enjoy.
    DB.

    ReplyDelete
  98. Jamie,

    Given that you're hand-wringing about the "negatives" of technology and have chosen to "champion" the plight of the poor downtrodden inuit (for example),

    You might not be aware then that recently a journalist went up to Northern Alberta to ask the Inuit about all the problems they were having due to climate change.

    The response? We don't want to talk about climate change. Our problems stem more from not having enough infrastructure to deal with the influx of all the workers. We have power plants and refineries going up all around us, we are awash in money but prices are skyrocketing because we have more money than goods.

    Sounds to me like an enviable problem to have.

    Oh and a big hearty fnck you from Alberta my green friend.

    ReplyDelete
  99. Oh and a big hearty fnck you from Alberta my green friend.

    You see this is what I'm talking about. No real substance to his arguments, just profanity, link spamming to his own blog and ad homs. How obnoxious!

    ReplyDelete

  100. Nagasaki? Hiroshima? Chernobyl? How subjective do we want progress to be, which narrow slice of positive technology do we cling to and ignore the rest?


    Einstein had a hand in the first two. He was instrumental in convincing FDR to begin the Manhattan project without delay. Try cracking a book once in a while will ya?

    ReplyDelete
  101. John I'm well aware of that; how does it nullify my point? It doesn't.

    ReplyDelete
  102. John,

    The amount of energy in a closed system is by definition finite. To think or believe otherwise is foolhardy at best.

    "— energy in one form can disappear but the same amount of energy will appear in another form. A restatement of this idea is that energy is subject to a conservation law over time.

    Go argue with Hemholz if you'd like.

    Carl

    ReplyDelete
  103. Carl,

    When you make it past the 6th grade, you'll begin to understand the concept of context. The context here is the peak oil theory and theories of declining resources. So when the writer used the term "energy", he's obviously referring to the total amount of products available to society which can produce power. E.G. the electrical grid, liquid fuels, gaseous fuels, etc. It is common practice within these discussions to use the term "energy" in this regard.

    Whether you are actually too stupid to understand this, or are being deliberately obtuse, is anyone's guess.

    ReplyDelete
  104. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  105. John,

    I am taking energy in context. More energy can not be created, we can only generate power more efficiently from total energy reserves and 'renewable' sources.

    E.g. Solar. Current solar harvesting is way less than <1% of daily insolation. We can increase the amount of solar energy converted to kinetic, thermal, or electrical power but we can not increase daily insolation.

    As for the sixth grade nonsense, you've got the snottypants bit well covered. Try physics 101 when you hit undergrad.

    Carl

    ReplyDelete
  106. Carl,

    I see your point. But my article was referring to usable energy like electricity and other forms. Perhaps I should have spelled that out more.

    In my earlier article I wrote the following footnote:

    "When we multiply energy, we're really only multiplying the amount of usable energy, like mechanical energy, electrical energy, chemical energy in food, and so on. We don't really increase or decrease the amount of energy in the universe. In fact, when we "generate" energy, we're really only converting energy, from a non-usable kind into a usable kind. Power plants multiply the amount of usable energy."

    I think that answers your objection.

    Usually, in discussions about peak oil, peak energy, etc, people are referring to usable energy and not energy altogether. I was following that convention wrt terminology.

    -tom

    ReplyDelete
  107. John:

    "The context here is the peak oil theory and theories of declining resources. So when the writer used the term "energy", he's obviously referring to the total amount of products available to society which can produce power..."

    I definitely agree with your point with regard to context. In this context I meant usable energy like electricity, mechanical energy for transportation, and so on. I was not including heat radiated out into the atmosphere or unexploited chemical energy. Obviously we aren't increasing the amount of energy by burning hydrocarbons; we're converting it into mechanical energy and waste heat. But waste heat is not what I'm including when I say "energy" because it does nothing for us.

    "Whether you are actually too stupid to understand this, or are being deliberately obtuse, is anyone's guess."

    Although I agree with your initial point, I don't think it's necessary to be impolite. I don't want this forum to turn into another POD forum, where people go back and forth with insulting each other. Please remember to disagree respectfully.

    Carl is clearly not an idiot, and I don't want to discourage him from posting here.

    -tom

    ReplyDelete
  108. gJ:
    I don't think it's necessary to revisit the issue of whether technology is good or bad. To my mind, technology is clearly a net benefit to humanity regardless of its drawbacks. In fact, it's responsible for most of us being alive. Without modern technology the human population would be less than 2 billion, and most of us would have died during childhood, and those who survived would look forward to a short life of poverty, disease and toil. Obviously there are drawbacks to modern technology but when you look at the aggregate effects of it on everyone then it's clearly a tremendous benefit.

    People employ technology because they think it will benefit them. Most of the time, they're right.
    -tom

    ReplyDelete
  109. The IEA says that Conventional Oil Peaked in 2005.
    They say that All Liquids Peaked in 2008.

    If they are right, shouldn't we be seeing some predicted negative effects by now?

    ReplyDelete
  110. Weaseldog:

    - High oil prices
    - Soaring food prices
    - Middle east riots
    - Flailing economies
    - High unemployment
    - Irresponsible unconventional oil techniques (more commonly known as scraping the bottom of the oil barrel, ie Alberta)

    I think we are seeing some negative effects; the question is can 'cornucopians' twist this to be anything but post peak oil?

    ReplyDelete
  111. Wow,
    Peak oil is the point in time when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction is reached.
    research your topics, you have zero clue what your talking about.

    ReplyDelete
  112. "Peak oil is the point in time when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction is reached."

    Duh, what do you think the article is about.

    "research your topics, you have zero clue what your talking about."

    You are a tremendously stupid person. You either didn't read the article, or you didn't understand it. Not only that, but you can't compose two simple sentences without violating numerous elementary rules of English grammar. Perhaps you should learn to read (and write!) better than a 2nd grader before commenting.

    ReplyDelete