Wednesday, June 17, 2015

There are many alternatives to oil

One of the main ideas of the peak oil doom movement is that there are no possible alternatives to oil. Oil is apparently some magical irreplaceable substance with no known alternatives, and no way to find alternatives. For example, here is a recent post from a prominent peak oiler on peakoil.com:

...It is highly unlikely we will discover a viable alternative to oil... We can't invent a new energy source to oil since that would violate the laws of thermodynamics. You can't make something out of thin air just by imagining it.

As usual, that idea is factually totally wrong.

There have always been many alternatives to oil, since the beginning of the oil age. For example, cars can use electricity from batteries (most major car companies have released, or are releasing, battery-electric cars). Trains and buses can use electricity from overhead wires; more than half of rail traffic worldwide now uses this. Ships can use steam turbines which can use anything that will burn as fuel, such as coal, peat, wood chips, oil shale, torrefied biomass, etc. Internal combustion engines can use natural gas--even gas from fracking or methane hydrates. For the few uses which really require a liquid combustible fuel, there are many synthetic liquid fuels such as anhydrous ammonia, dimethyl ether, and many others. Those synthetic liquid fuels can be manufactured using electricity from renewable sources and abundant elements. All of the aforementioned alternatives have been available for many decades, and everyone in the relevant industries knows about them.

The only reason we don't use those alternatives already is price. For example, battery-electric cars and synthetic fuels are only competitive when oil costs $120/bbl or so.

When oil production enters its gradual terminal decline, the price of oil will shoot up and stay there. The economy will then gradually transition to now-cheaper alternatives. There is vastly more time than is required for the economy to transition to those alternatives (we have at least a century), and the economy has already begun transitioning to them, far earlier than required (car companies started designing plug-in vehicles at least a decade before any declines in oil production).

This kind of transition is something the economy does all the time. Companies are always evaluating alternatives and switching between them. Take ships as an example: the shipbuilding industry started off using sail, then switched to reciprocating steam engines burning coal, then switched to steam turbines burning coal, then switch to steam turbines burning oil, then switched to diesel engines burning oil. There have already been four major transitions in ship propulsion. There are many, many alternatives for the fifth transition. As another example, electricity production switched from hydroelectric, to oil, to coal, to nuclear and back, and now is switching from coal to gas in the US, because gas is now cheaper.

This notion that "there are no alternatives to oil" is just factually totally wrong.

It is also possible to use oil far more efficiently. When oil begins its very gradual decline and prices shoot up, people can buy cars such as Priuses which get twice the mileage. Shipping companies are already ordering ships that are more than twice as fuel-efficient. Cargo traffic can be switched from truck to rail which is 4x more efficient. Those things by themselves would compensate for declines in oil production for many decades.

Don't expect anything exciting or dramatic to happen to transportation networks. Granted, the price of oil may swing around wildly (because of inelasticity of demand), and there are recessions caused by many things. However, the actual supply of oil changes gradually over decades. Oil production won't enter a sustained decline for at least another decade, and the decline will be very gradual thereafter. There is a lot of time, and there are many alternatives.

21 comments:

  1. Hi Tom,

    I have on-and-off searched for "peak oil critique" over the years, and have just found your blog. I'm pleased about that. I haven't read it all, but I've found it extremely interesting. Especially your idea of EROI vs cost of net energy for energy sources, as well as your observation that fossil fuels' EROI is lower than it appears because of efficiency considerations. I have a few thoughts/questions:

    As a preface, I am not convinced that collapse is imminent or inevitable, but I am very concerned about peak oil, the other ecological crises that are undermining our natural support systems, and the consequences this will have for our civilisation.

    Have you heard the statistic that CAPEX of the oil majors has gone up 5 fold in the last decade, with approximately static production? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on it.

    Also, regarding your idea that EROI is irrelevant (only cost net energy matters), it seems to me that for most (all?) of our techs the two are inversely related in practice (ie. the $10 fusion reactor with EROI = 1.01 doesn't exist ;-) and in general EROI and cost of net energy are simply inversely related [please correct me if I'm wrong here]).

    Related to this, I wonder what a graph of the historical EROI/$netEnergy would look like over the 20th century. My feeling is that there is a whole lot of "embodied energy" in industrialised nations -- in everything from roads to educated populations to bureaucracies. You said that most of industrial society was built in the last 30 years -- that would imply that it would take 10 to 15 years before insufficient maintenance would start to become a big problem. I wonder if the latency between the decrease in available net energy and affects on our society is something that is not considered in your analyses.

    Cheers, Angus

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    1. Hi Angus,

      Thanks for your thoughtful remarks. I appreciate it.

      "Also, regarding your idea that EROI is irrelevant (only cost net energy matters), it seems to me that for most (all?) of our techs the two are inversely related in practice (ie. the $10 fusion reactor with EROI = 1.01 doesn't exist ;-) and in general EROI and cost of net energy are simply inversely related [please correct me if I'm wrong here]). "

      It seems very plausible to me that there's some correlation between price and EROI. If so, then there's only a modest difference between the EROI of renewables and fossil fuels.

      Also if there's some correlation between price and EROI, then I would guess that nuclear and renewables have higher EROI than their price would suggest. A large part of the cost of nuclear and renewables is interest on loan payments, which doesn't represent any energy except negligible amounts to record the loan; a loan is simply a transfer of money from some people to others. Both renewables and nuclear power are paid for "up front" and have slight recurring costs so their interest portion is higher. If we corrected for this, then both nuclear and renewables are cost-competitive with fossil fuels right now and so would have similar EROI.

      "My feeling is that there is a whole lot of "embodied energy" in industrialised nations -- in everything from roads to educated populations to bureaucracies."

      I assume there's a lot of embedded energy in things like bridges, roads, buildings, and so on, that are long-lasting. Also I think there's a lot of embedded energy in recyclable materials such as steel in cars, trucks, ships, and so on. When the cars or ships are scrapped, the steel is recycled which takes only 25% of the energy of making fresh steel. This is embedded energy going forward.

      This is another reason why I don't expect any kind of sharp disruption. The capacity to expand our usage of steel would disappear long, long before our current stock of steel could no longer be recycled. Bear in mind that the stock of steel worldwide is expanding.

      "You said that most of industrial society was built in the last 30 years -- that would imply that it would take 10 to 15 years before insufficient maintenance would start to become a big problem."

      I think that would be apparent when the number of roads, power plants, infrastructure, and so on, which is being built, would be insufficient to replace those being retired. If there were no new power plants being built anywhere, then there would be a 3% decline in electricity production every year for the next 30 years or so. Of course, it's implausible that new power generation capacity would suddenly drop to zero.

      If there's a large amount of embedded energy in civilization, then that implies there's a lot of "momentum" to civilization. The embedded energy is still available to us even if fossil fuel energy starts declining.

      -Tom S

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  2. This blog probably constitutes the best opposing view to peak oil and related energy doomerism that I have seen, but I must say it has a fatal flaw. You keep assuming that the price of oil will shoot up when oil production enters its terminal decline, but that is not what the peak oilers are saying, at least not anymore. They are saying quite the opposite -- that oil production will end because of low prices, a process which has already begun. Do you have any plausible ideas for how we can avoid deflationary collapse? If you insist that the oil price will simply rise as high as it needs to in order to enable continued extraction (and substitution) for decades more, then you haven't understood peak oil theory. It was the danger of deflation that convinced me that the peak oilers are likely right, particularly as explained by Gail Tverberg. It makes sense to me that commodity prices have been propped up by a debt bubble which is now collapsing, and we won't have a way to keep them high enough for much longer because people's wages depend on the work they can do with the net energy content of oil, which is declining and dragging the oil price down at the same time as the cost of production keeps increasing.

    The turning point came in 2014 and now oil prices and many other commodity prices are way too low. This is not a sustainable situation and it will only get worse because the economy is not improving, is it? Demand is now collapsing even at these low prices, leading to layoffs and bankruptcies in the oil industry and rising unemployment and poverty, which will reduce demand further and drive oil prices even lower. I fear that this process will reach a tipping point and start feeding on itself until the whole system breaks and there will be no more fossil fuel extraction and no more renewables made either. I certainly agree that industrial civilization would not be endangered if oil prices could rise arbitrarily high, but that is a wrong assumption for reasons that make intuitive sense when I think about it. Think of it as a competition between energy producers and everyone else. If the latter group has to pay more and more to the former due to diminishing returns, then they get poorer and gradually less able to pay, which eventually drives the price below the cost of production and we won't get any more oil no matter how much we need it.

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    1. I agree Elvind -- I'm very happy to find this blog, but I feel the same. I think the flaw that you have identified is not the only one, either. Another flaw is the idea that pollution has no consequence, and the only things required by industrial society are raw materials and energy. This is simply not borne out by any study of the agricultural, aquifer and atmospheric systems upon which we depend for our survival.
      Peal oil is (potentially) a big problem, but another big problem is that our society has treated natural systems as a dumping ground for our waste for centuries -- naively expecting that those systems will be unaffected, or that any effects won't harm us.
      Cheers, Angus

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    2. Angus,

      I'm certainly not saying that pollution will have no consequence. I think pollution will have substantial negative effects and possibly severe negative effects. However, those effects will manifest themselves as droughts in some areas, reduced farmland area, rising sea levels, and (very unfortunately) starvation in the poorest countries. I don't think it will have much effect on per-capita industrial production in first world countries since manufacturing equipment is not sensitive to those things and could very easily be relocated away from rising sea levels. The largest effect in first world countries would be the expense of relocating housing because of rising sea levels.

      Certainly we should do something to prevent global warming. However, the way to accomplish that is through an expansion of nuclear and renewable power, and electrified transportation.

      -Tom S

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    3. Hi Eivind,

      "They are saying quite the opposite -- that oil production will end because of low prices, a process which has already begun."

      I don't think that's right. Oil prices declined because Saudi Arabia opened the floodgates, thereby increasing supply.

      One problem with Gail The Actuary's predictions (and other predictions of peak oilers), is that the predictions are being made after the fact. Back in 2010 and earlier, peak oilers were saying that oil prices would reach stratospheric levels. Instead, oil prices levelled off and then declined -- and then peak oilers predicted that in retrospect and said it's explained by their theory. Predictions must be made beforehand to be valid.

      What's happening is consistent with basic supply and demand. Oil was not plentiful enough in 2007 so prices shot up (not down). Then Saudi Arabia opened the floodgates and prices went down (not up). In the late 1970s, the middle east organized into a cartel and curtailed oil output, and prices shot upwards (not down). When the cartel was ended, prices went back down (not up). I don't see any evidence for this view that oil scarcity causes prices to decline and abundance causes prices to increase.

      Consumers in first world countries could pay far more for oil than they do at present. They'd be forced to use far less oil, but the could pay far more per gallon (or liter). Expenditures on oil represent only a very small fraction of total income.

      -Tom S

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  3. I have been reading Gail Tverberg's blog for three or four years now, and I am quite certain that she predicted low oil prices before it happened. Here is a link to a post from 2013 where she does just that:

    http://ourfiniteworld.com/2013/12/18/th-real-oil-extraction-limit-and-how-it-affects-the-downslope/

    She said "“Oil Prices Don’t Rise High Enough” Is the Real Limit" back when oil was over $100 a barrel -- and now this limit is manifesting. It also makes intuitive sense to me that low commodity prices follow from depletion, because diminishing returns lead to less productivity per worker and therefore lower wages and less purchasing power, which will drive down commodity prices because you can't have demand without affordability.

    I guess we will know of for sure when there are real shortages. If the oil price fails to rise when there is too little oil to meet our basic needs, then the deflationary collapse theory is correct. This scenario seems entirely plausible to me, because there really is no way to have demand without affordability, and so a global credit collapse can easily destroy demand. Just imagine if the sort of situation we are seeing in Greece now goes global. How are commodity prices supposed to rise then, when everybody is running out of credit?

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  4. Hi Elvind,

    "I have been reading Gail Tverberg's blog for three or four years now, and I am quite certain that she predicted low oil prices before it happened."

    I've been observing this peak oil movement since about 2007. If I recall, there was a large crash in oil prices in the 2008 timeframe; prices crashed from about $140/bbl (the highest ever) down to about $50/bbl or something like that. Nobody in the peak oil community had predicted it. There was also another increase and then another decline around 2011-2012. Since Gail's blog post is from 2013, it came after there had already been two slumps in prices, so it was not a valid prediction.

    The problem with her "after-the-fact" prediction here, is that she is retrospectively changing the failed predictions of this theory, making it so it would have predicted what has actually happened. It's always possible to do that because "energy is everywhere" and there are complex interactions in the economy, so any consequence could conceivably be attributed to peak oil. Both rising prices and declining prices have been ascribed (after the fact) to peak oil. In 2007, peak oil was assumed it would cause constantly rising prices. Then, when prices slumped, she started saying "peak oil would cause that too". That's not a valid procedure, in my opinion.

    If oil prices were causing a crisis of affordability, then there would be a general massive deflation and a decline in per capita income, not just a reduction in oil prices. However, the decline in oil prices has come after some degree of economic recovery.

    There are other, more obvious reasons why prices declined. There was a severe recession in 2008 caused by a housing bubble and by a consequent banking crisis (not by peak oil). The recession may have caused the reduction in oil prices in 2008. Then, the combination of fracking and Saudi Arabia increasing production led to an increase in supply which subsequently reduced prices in 2012 to the present. Bear in mind that the theory that increased supply will decrease prices was around long before those events occurred.

    -Tom S

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  5. Hi Tom,

    I think that (part of) the problem is that there is not an established consensus about what "peak oil" means, which makes the creation of testable hypotheses difficult/impossible. Add to this that there are very few people actively researching this and there has been a conflation of the subject with doomer/survivalists and we have a recipe for peak oil "being all things to all people". I certainly agree that some prominent peak-oilers have changed their predictions to suit unfolding circumstances. I feel that John Micheal Greer has been quite consistent in his writings for the last 6 - 8 years, though I don't agree with all he says.

    Having said that, this charge can be equally levelled at economists. There were many who, in the lead up to each recession, loudly proclaim that all is fine. Generally speaking, economists expressing alarm about the direction of the economy are in the minority. I would argue that, generally, economics is a social science rather than a science (not a criticism, just an observation), and that peak-oil is in the same boat.

    What is (in my opinion) incontrevertable is that there will be a peak in production at some point. The physics of it is simple. The precise effects that this will have on our society is up for debate, and will of course be influenced by public policy. My feeling is that it is impossible to separate peak oil from the effects of pollution since the extraction of more marginal fossil fuels (one can't call tar sands "oil" in any meaningful sense) is inherently more polluting (per unit of net energy) than conventional oil plays. In other words, the negative effects of peak oil could manifest as environmental degradation rather than high/low prices, etc.

    Also, Hubbard forecast a bell-shaped production curve. In the real world, one might expect future production to be brought forward by the application of large amounts of capital (the increases in CAPEX in recent years could support this). That could lead to a sudden collapse in production as the system could no longer maintain the financial injection. I hope this is not what we are about to witness!

    I would also caution that blanket statements about whether (or not) these environmental problems will affect the developed world may lead to a dangerous complacency. I think it is defensible to say that environmental problems in the developing world will make the maintenance of order more difficult which would (to take but one example) make the rise of despots and fundamentalists harder to control. This would (to take a completely selfish angle) have huge effects for the developed world as most of our manufacturing occurs in the developing world, and much of our resources come from there too.

    You have brought some excellent observations to the debate (as I mentioned earlier in this thread), and I plan to try and synthesise them into my thinking.

    Many thanks, Angus

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  6. What about flight? How do you get 600 people from London to Melbourne without kerosene?

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    1. Flight would definitely require a chemical fuel. It's possible to manufacture chemical fuels using renewable electricity, however that would be more expensive than kerosene is now. It's possible long distance flights would become more expensive in the future.

      -Tom S

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    2. Jet fuel (kerosene) is manufactured synthetically right now from natural gas:

      Shell – Gas to liquids (GTL)

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  7. Maybe you are right. If that is the case then our next theory to debunk is endless population/economic growth on a finite planet. I could see there being a plausibly deniable 'event' to take care of this.

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  8. I also just found this blog and read through the past posts, which were very interesting. Probably one of the strongest points made on this blog is the uselessness of EROI/EROEI as a standard of measurement.

    However, the weakest post is surely this one: New Year Predictions

    This post shows that you don't really have a full picture of what Western civilization is, nor an idea of what your idealized technocratic resource management entails on the ground. I recommend that readers of this blog also read through the archives of the Archdruid Report, looking not for economic information, but for discussions of why civilizations collapse. Total resource exhaustion basically only happens to small, undeveloped societies; civilizations have many more factors at play.

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    1. I guess I should be a little more specific, so here's one of the most damning quotes:

      "The economy transitions to alternatives when it's appropriate to do so. There are alternatives for every use of fossil fuels, and the economy will use them when the time is right. The economy transitions very reliably, like clockwork."

      This "clockwork" civilization is the stuff of economic models, and has become idealized by libertarians, but this is never the way enormous technological transitions actually play out among human beings--not to mention the fact that world industrialization and infinite GDP growth has consequences.

      Why are refugees flooding into Europe now? What changed in the past 5 years? Were you including Africa and the Middle East in your idea of what happens next? Is the rise of ISIS simply a glitch in the system, soon to be resolved as the world GDP rises? Or is the Middle East totally irrelevant to the closed system of American power (hahahaha)?

      In December 2012, when this was written, the determining factors that would actually drive the 21st century had already been set in place, but they were merely bad dreams in the sleep of clockwork knights.

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    2. Hi Avery,

      Thanks for your insightful comment.

      I wish to be clear about what I'm claiming here. I am claiming that a market economy transitions seamlessly from one resource to another, as the first resource becomes relatively scarcer or more expensive. There are market mechanisms which work reliably and which assure it. This implies that peak oil (or coal, or gas, or copper...) does not threaten the end of civilization. There are obvious alternatives (such as electric cars and renewable sources of power), and the market economy will transition to those alternatives. The economy has vastly more time than is necessary to carry out that transition.

      For example, the economy recently transitioned from copper to aluminum for network cables, because copper was becoming more expensive. Did you even notice? Did anyone?

      One difficulty in arguing this point is that doomsday adherents (I don't necessarily mean you're one of them) usually hold several doomsday theories simultaneously and will switch to another one if you are arguing against one of them. If you point out that the calculations of peak oil adherents were wrong, they will change the topic suddenly and say antibiotic resistance is about to wipe out civilization.

      Of course, there are all kinds of catastrophes which are plausible but which cannot be predicted. Things like wars, revolutions, political decisions, disease outbreaks, and so on, are essentially unpredictable more than a few years in advance. Who could have predicted either World War I or II, both of which began due to circumstances which easily could have been otherwise? Who could have known (decades in advance) the outcome of the Russian civil war from 1917-1922 -- something which was to shape world events for decades to come?

      All I am saying is that the "resource collapse" movement (including peak oil collapse, natural gas cliff, die off, the book "Limits to Growth", and so on), is just totally wrong and is based entirely upon misconceptions.

      With regard to the wars which will occur ten years from now--well, that's just unknowable for us and cannot be predicted using any kind of curve.

      You said:
      "Why are refugees flooding into Europe now?.. Were you including Africa and the Middle East in your idea of what happens next? Is the rise of ISIS simply a glitch in the system, soon to be resolved as the world GDP rises?"

      Those things are not relevant to the point I'm making.

      There is simply no mathematical curve or inevitable trend which implies that civilization will soon end. Of course, there could certainly be disasters which destroy civilization (meteor strike) but none of them are inevitable or predictable now.

      -Tom S

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  9. I still don't think you have adequately addressed the prospect of deflationary collapse, which we seem to be entering into now. Yes, deflation was poorly predicted by the doomer movement, and some of them also believe all sorts of other factors will do us in if deflation doesn't, but that doesn't mean deflation can't turn out to be the real show-stopper. How can the market economy "transition seamlessly" from one resource to another if there is too little demand to sustain the production of either? All sorts of commodities are going down now, including the ones we need to produce renewable energy.

    It is clear in retrospect that oil prices going very high and breaking civilization that way was an impossible idea all along, because a primary energy source obviously needs to be paid for by the economic activity that it fuels, which needs to exceed production costs. When production costs go up as a result of depletion, the energy source creates less and less value in the economy, and so affordability (and thus price) goes down until it becomes thermodynamically impossible to produce the resource without introducing another primary energy source to drive the process. It looks like oil is now rapidly losing its ability to serve as a primary energy source (the oil price falling below production costs for more and more producers is a symptom of this), and there is no realistic alternative ready.

    It is too simplistic to dismiss deflationary collapse by saying peak oilers didn't predict it back in 2007. An idea can still be right even if no one thought of it until recently.

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  10. I just found your outstanding blog. Your views are generally consistent to what we have been arguing, see www.solarUtopia.org

    Best wishes,
    David Schwartzman
    dschwartzman@gmail.com

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  11. Tom,

    It strikes me that you're not much better than many of the people you critique. Where are your falsifiable predictions? Where's your data analysis (I don't think I've ever seen a graph or equation on this blog)? What makes your arguments any more worthwhile? Simply typing the words "anyhdrous ammonia" is far from a compelling, nuanced argument.

    I find your arguments about transitions equally uncompelling. Yes, in the past there have been fuel transitions and in the future there undoubtedly will be too. But historically these transitions have involved moving from lower to higher quality fuels, and have occurred within a context of generally increasing availability of all fuels globally. Whenever peak oil happens, this context will have changed, and there is no guarantee that the transitions will proceed as smoothly as they did in the past.

    Imagine, as a thought experiment, that the period around 2005-2007 had in fact been the peak of global oil production and fracking had never happened. How well prepared were we? There had been warnings (made in good faith, a point you often miss), but few people had paid any heed. The markets had not responded to the threat of a peak by significantly increasing prices far enough in advance to act as a warning, and indeed were basically caught napping (looking at futures curves from 2005 always brings a chuckle). Wind and solar were even less significant players than they currently are. Given the inherent lags in the system, the time required to turn over capital and machinery stocks, roll out new distribution mechanisms and so on, it seems unlikely that everything would just smoothly roll over.

    Besides, there have been plenty of decent economic and scientific analyses of this issue, the recent royal society special issue on the future of the global oil supply is a good read. And the imf have published on the issue too ( https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2012/wp12256.pdf ). Their analysis is, I think, extremely useful. Couched as it is with reasonable uncertainty over things like the degree of substitutability, income elasticity and whether oils contribution to output is larger than its cost share. These are subtleties which you seem to miss, and is frankly why I don't think your analysis is significantly more useful than that of Gail Tverberg.

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  12. Hi Sam,

    "Where are your falsifiable predictions?"

    I predicted in 2007 that civilization was not collapsing, that the economy would adjust to higher oil prices without the "feedback effects" that supposedly would cause sudden collapse, and that global seaborne trade would remain roughly constant or increase. All three of those things were correct. I realize I wasn't going too far out on a limb with those things, but peak oilers strongly disputed all of them.

    Even if I had not made any falsifiable predictions, there is still a point to logical criticism and to pointing out the severe mathematical and factual errors of this strange doomsday group.

    The reason I require falsifiability of peak oilers is because they are the ones offering what they wrongly claim are scientific theories.

    "Simply typing the words 'anyhdrous ammonia' is far from a compelling, nuanced argument."

    That's just a drastic misinterpretation of what you're reading. Do you seriously think that I just typed "anhydrous ammonia" and then left it at that?

    "Where's your data analysis (I don't think I've ever seen a graph...) "

    Don't confuse graphs with rigor. Most of the time, the peak oilers are making severe LOGICAL errors.

    "But historically these transitions have involved moving from lower to higher quality fuels"

    Really? What about the movement to natural gas, which was considered a dangerous waste product only 50 years ago? What about tar sands?

    "Imagine, as a thought experiment, that the period around 2005-2007 had in fact been the peak of global oil production and fracking had never happened. How well prepared were we?"

    We were prepared just fine. It's obvious now that Saudi Arabia and the ME were not in terminal decline. Nor was Russia in terminal decline (quite the opposite). Even without fracking, oil supplies would be more than 97% of what they are now.

    Without fracking, we'd still be paying $4 per gallon at the pump, but how much difference would that seriously make.

    "There had been warnings ... but few people had paid any heed."

    It turns out that people who didn't pay any heed were RIGHT. The end of the world didn't happen. The 99% of the population who just ignored this stuff were CORRECT, and peak oilers' judgments and predictions were far worse than those of the vast majority of the population.

    "The markets had not responded to the threat of a peak by significantly increasing prices far enough in advance to act as a warning, and indeed were basically caught napping"

    Prices began increasing in 2002. I would guess they began increasing more than 20 years before any absolute declines. Almost all car manufacturers started working on electric cars years ago, way in advance. Tesla is building a gigafactory. Where've you been?

    "degree of substitutability, income elasticity and whether oils contribution to output is larger than its cost share. These are subtleties which you seem to miss"

    Sam, I just don't see any argument you're making. I just don't see anything like you pointing out some claim on my blog and then saying "this is wrong for these reasons". Thus far, you've not actually disputed anything I've said.

    -Tom S

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  13. >> Where are your falsifiable predictions?
    > I predicted in 2007 that civilization was not collapsing, that the economy would adjust to higher oil prices without the "feedback effects" that supposedly would cause sudden collapse, and that global seaborne trade would remain roughly constant or increase.

    Those weren't falsifiable predictions. An example of a falsifiable prediction would be Chris Martenson's prediction on November 16, 2011 at the Gold & Silver Meeting in Madrid of $200+/bbl oil in 2011 dollars at any time by January 1st, 2015. On January 1st, 2015, that prediction became falsifiable, and was falsified.

    Another falsifiable prediction was the subject of the Simmons–Tierney bet:

    "The Simmons–Tierney bet was a wager made in August 2005 between Houston banking executive Matthew R. Simmons and New York Times columnist John Tierney. The stakes of the bet were US $10,000.00. The subject of the bet was the year-end average of the daily price-per-barrel of crude oil for the entire calendar year of 2010 adjusted for inflation, which Simmons predicted to be at least $200. The bet was to be settled on January 1, 2011."

    Yet another example of a falsifiable prediction would be the subject of the Simon-Ehrlich wager:

    "The bet was formalized on September 29, 1980, with September 29, 1990 as the payoff date. Ehrlich lost the bet, as all five commodities that were bet on declined in price from 1980 through 1990, the wager period."

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