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Bartlett Gets It; Bush Doesn’t

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If all it takes is one US Congressman, then so be it. Kudos to Roscoe Bartlett for bringing the peak oil issue front and center to Congress. He has also taken an extraordinary step in modern day Washington – as a Republican he has voted against HR 6 – the Energy Bill.

Bartlett recognizes what President George W. Bush will not publicly acknowledge – that time is running out on the age of oil for the US and the world. And we should be doing far, far more about it than the current legislation, which is simply a giveaway to energy companies.

The lies that are being fed to the American people on energy issues are truly stunning. Again, as I have written earlier, the capitalist class in the US is either in very deep denial or is embarking on an evil strategy to keep the consumptive and lucrative oil culture of the US dancing as long as possible so they can make the most profits before the storm breaks.

The shields against lawsuits against those that have polluted groundwater stocks with MTBE are merely rubbing salt in the wound and completely in line with the rapaciousness of the business class in the US.

The bottom line is that there is NO WAY that the US can do much under the current mindset to alleviate the shocks that are coming on peak oil. We simply cannot drill our way out of it domestically and the best conservation efforts will only buy us months. We simply are not sitting on enough oil compared to our rising needs, to make much of a difference.

All the oil in ANWR buys the US 6 months of domestic consumption.

Bartlett is correct that a “Manhattan Project” crash course to immediately conscript the energies, intelligences and infrastructure of the nation to the development and deployment of alternatives to oil is absolutely necessary. In fact, it should have started 20 years ago.

And many in the Bush administration, including Dick Cheney, all of whom have been briefed by Colin Campbell, know this.

But they also know that such frank admissions will send Wall Street into panic putting the fortunes of those that back their administration at risk. There is no way they are going to do that, even if it means watching the whole system crash as they count their last dollars made.

How they plan on ruling and thriving after the crash is the main question that I have.

For Bartlett, his background and previous statements seem to bear out his honesty and diligence and sincerity in approaching this issue. He counts himself as an old-fashioned conservative and has a background in science.

He puts the looming crisis in stark, understandable terms readers of previous postings will recognize:

“Peak oil is not unique to America,” added Congressman Bartlett. “There is a consensus among energy experts that global peak oil will occur and is fast approaching. Forty percent of the world’s oil is shipped through the Straits of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf that is vulnerable to terrorist attacks. China increased its oil consumption 25 percent last year. China is investing in oil projects around the globe and building a blue water navy to secure oil shipping lanes.”

Bartlett’s oblique reference to Chinese geopolitical aims is chilling as is the reference to the Iranian controlled Straits of Hormuz.

Bartlett has taken on a mighty task and his recent vote may get him nailed by the same people that have their sights on Senator Voinovich.

But it seems that Bartlett’s first allegiance is to the truth and to the people of the United States, not to the Bush administration or the Republican Party. I can only wish him the best in his role of Cassandra.

The clock is ticking . . . faster.

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About Keith Gottschalk

  • Bennett Dawson

    The sooner we get a non oil baron president, the better the chance that our country can finally take the steps needed to move on toward a non oil based society.

    It baffles me that, knowing that oil is a limited resource, we allow our elected representatives to pretend that “all is well, no reason to panic, everything will work out okay in the end…”

    Folks, IT WON’T! I may not be around fifty years from now, but my kids probably will. I’d like to know that our country, and the world, is taking steps to avoid a second dark ages, one where the world’s resources have been stripped, sold, and burned. I hate the idea that we’re willing to push this right up to the edge of the chasm, before working to develop the technologies that will keep us from an enormous crash and burn.

    Orbiting Solar Power Satellites – Jobs, inspiration, freedom from nuclear waste, and cleaner air. NASA could be working towards a first launch, if only we let them.

    This is not a dream, this is reality, or could be if we force our elected reps to deal with one of the few long term issues that really matters to the US, and the world.

    Thanks for this post.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    LOL, Bush is an oil baron now? How does starting and then folding an oil company make him an oil baron? Bush’s main business success was as CEO of the Texas Rangers baseball organization, which he actually handled very well. His negotiations with the city of Arlington to get the new ballpark built were his great accomplishment. His career in oil came at the worst possible time. No one could make money on oil in Texas in the 70s and he failed just like everyone else.

    Dave

  • Bennett Dawson

    Regardless of GW’s personal business success in the industry, his family and campaign contributors (they still own oil related businesses, right?) profits from the oil based energy system we have.

    Don’t go off on me Dave, regardless of your assertion that GW is, or is not, an “oil baron”, the rest of my post is what I wanted to put up for discussion.

    When do we start developing non-oil based energy sources?

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    We already have, Bennett – it’s called nuclear power. What we need to do now is get the anti-nuke people to go away and reestablish the legitimacy of nuclear power so that we can develop it the way that countries like France have done. It’s been what, 20 years since we built a new nuclear plant? That’s just foolish given the energy situation.

    BTW, I’m a big fan of SSPS, but as far as I can tell there’s no interest whatsoever in developing them seriously. Back when Gore was in the congress and I worked for him I wrote up a detailed assessment of the viability of them and even Gore didn’t try to do anything with it. At the time I think it seemed too science fictional. Today the main problem is that NASA really isn’t up to a project of that scale.

    Dave

  • Bennett Dawson

    Have to agree with you on this one. But oh so sadly. Nuclear is thousands of steps above coal burning power plants, but its downside of waste is hard to ignore. SPSS has everything going for it, except politicians.

    That said, I’d vote to build a second Vermont Yankee in an instant.

  • Eric Olsen

    I agree that oil in particular and energy in general is Bush’s worst blind spot

  • http://emeraldcitycomments.blogspot.com/ Roy Smith

    I’m all for nuclear power – as a solution to global climate change. Unfortunately, the peak oil problem is not primarily about climate change, it is about the ENTIRE STRUCTURE of the modern industrial economy. And nuclear power is only a little piece of the solution there.

    The main (but by no means only) problem is transportation. Ninety percent of transportation energy comes from refined petroleum products. Assuming the average engine (automobile, truck, train, ship, airplane) has a service life of 10 years (its probably higher than that, but I don’t have numbers), it is obvious that it will take a while (less than 10 years at best) to get rid of or significantly reduce the transportation sector’s dependance on oil. And by dependance on oil, I mean dependance on cheap oil. So if the peak is this year (as some experts are predicting), then the transportation sector will be in for a very rough time, because the price of oil will shoot up dramatically (on the order of several hundred percent) in order to bring demand in line with supply.

    The really bad news is that the rest of the industrial economy depends on transportation. The entire premise for globalization is cheap transportation to move goods internationally. Large cities don’t work without reasonably economical transportation (trucks bring your food to Safeway), and even a fairly short term disruption is a large scale disaster (anybody know how long NYC could last before it ran out of food if fuel supplies were interrupted for a month?) And interrupting basic things for survival, like food, water, or transport is a sure recipe for economic devastation on a grand scale.

    If the folks predicting peak oil before 2010 are right (and I have no reason to believe they aren’t), then I have a difficult time seeing how many, if not all, of the world’s industrial economies are going to avoid complete collapse. And that is very bad news indeed.

  • http://emeraldcitycomments.blogspot.com/ Roy Smith

    As far as SSPS, as my post above (comment #7) demonstrates, SSPS can’t save us 1) because it will take years to deploy (assuming we have the political will to do it) and 2) because it makes electricity, and the transportation sector doesn’t run on electricity.

    SSPS is another solution for global climate change (though I’m a little skeptical on the technical and economic feasability – somebody needs to build a prototype) that does nothing to address the Peak Oil problem.

  • http://frontrowseat.motime.com/ Keith Gottschalk

    SSPS is something quite frankly, I’m not up on, but its very interesting. While I’m foursquare for nuclear power, that keeps the lights burning as others have written, but you can’t put a nuclear generator in your car (too bad, really). I also have read where the uranium is also a finite reseource so there is another problem with nuclear power plants that may be insoluble in the long run. Be that as it may, everything should be on the table, now.

  • Jack Crapse

    I am a chemical engineer and have watched this for thirty years. There is no back up. Zero-Zip. I blame this on lack of education and greed, not any president. Even if the president (any president) gave a speach tomorrow he would be attack from every side and more than 75% of the people would not believe it. Half of them believe stories about dropping a pill in water and running it in a gas motor. There is not one alternative source that will stop a crash. Countries without oil are just as poor or poorer than they have ever been. Probably we will start a fusion project which is the best bet for the future. Any other fuel that we have has a multitude of drawbacks. The economic downturn has already started in 2000. All time high on the Dow was about 11,700 of which I will never see again. The decisions that will have to be made will be harsh and and will come too late because of debate. In our society every one thinks they have another day, month, or year to make changes. Unfortualy we have wasted our time of learning and a degree in the arts, social studies, law, and political science is not going to save us. Neither will more jails, watered down schools, SS, broken medical care, unions, or corperate giants. All of these does and will make the problem worse. The only cure that I see is the over weight problem. One had better start educating and thinking for themselves because you are on your own. Any retoric that you follow politicaly will be wrong. Oil peak is not coming, its here. PS; I never said I could spell.

  • http://www.psychopundit.com Dave Nalle

    >>If the folks predicting peak oil before 2010 are right (and I have no reason to believe they aren’t), then I have a difficult time seeing how many, if not all, of the world’s industrial economies are going to avoid complete collapse. And that is very bad news indeed.<<

    Say ‘welcome back railroads’.

    Dave

  • Bennett Dawson

    Say ‘welcome back railroads’.

    Dave

    Great answer! Oh, but we’ve decided to dismanlte Amtrack. Baaaaaad decision.

    But seriously, how big of a garden should I plant this year?

  • http://emeraldcitycomments.blogspot.com/ Roy Smith

    Railroads are (or were, when we still had time) part of the answer to this – the advantage railroads have over other forms of land transportation is that they can be electrified. Of course that takes a lot of time and a level of expense that was deemed “uneconomical” when oil was cheap.

    Another big problem that will be encountered is that most of the chemicals used in modern agri-business (fertilizers, pesticides, etc) are petroleum based, and the use of these chemicals is one big reason that agricultural yields are a lot higher now than they were in the past. Reducing use of these petroleum based chemicals will result, at least for a few years, in a drop in crop yields.

    Between these two problems, growing the food and transporting it to our grocery stores), the bottom line is that food is likely to get a lot more expensive and less abundant.

    You might not need a big garden this year (it is kind of hard to say with what speed this will happen – James H. Kunstler has nicknamed it “The Long Emergency” to explain it as a very slow motion collapse – inevitable but not rapid). But plant a garden, and make sure you practice techniques that you can duplicate ten years down the road without oil or electricity. And make sure you use “heirloom” type seeds that will propagate to another generation when you save some of the seeds from this crop. And start raising bees so that those crops get good pollination and have viable seeds for the next generation.

  • http://www.psychopundit.com Dave Nalle

    I will say only two words:

    Nuclear Trains!

    If we can put a nuclear power plant in a submarine we can put one in a railroad engine.

    Dave

  • Bennett Dawson

    This is great Roy, and oh so true! I have a post on my blog about the minimal cost of 40 acres in the country, ’cause it’s what I have.

    “But plant a garden, and make sure you practice techniques that you can duplicate ten years down the road without oil or electricity. And make sure you use “heirloom” type seeds that will propagate to another generation when you save some of the seeds from this crop. And start raising bees so that those crops get good pollination and have viable seeds for the next generation.”

    Dave, brilliant man! Nuclear trains moving all cargo (UPS, USPS, loaded trucks, produce, etc etc..)

    Short haul only from hubs near cities with electrical Semi’s. A TON of fuel saved. Hybrids, or total electric (SPSS remember?) vehicles for public transpo.

    SCRamJets for coast to coast flights.

    I’m starting to feel a bit better…

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    “Bush’s main business success was as CEO of the Texas Rangers baseball organization, which he actually handled very well. His negotiations with the city of Arlington to get the new ballpark built were his great accomplishment.”

    Huh? They never won the division until after he left and for six out of ten seasons under his reign they didn’t make .500. What exactly did he handle well? The trading of Sammy Sosa?

    I wonder if his fellow tax-cutting Republicans in DC would also agree that his great accomplishment in business was the result of getting the voters of Arlington to approve a one-half cent sales tax in an effort to raise $135 million for the ballpark complex.

  • http://emeraldcitycomments.blogspot.com/ Roy Smith

    Yes a nuclear train is quite possible. So are nuclear aircraft. But the public will never accept the perceived risks unless the risks of much more fundamental things (like starving to death) rise much higher due to lack of oil. And by then it is too late. And nuclear trains still do not address the agricultural chemical problem (see comment #13 above).

    It’s not the transition to a non-oil based economy which has the potential to destroy industrial civilization; it is the complete lack of planning for the transition. The industrial economy (as it now exists) is not flexible enough to handle something like this without decades of preparation, and the preparation only happens when people are convinced that the risk is real in the first place. People are not convinced, and even if they were, it is not likely that we have decades to prepare.

    Happy planting!

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    >>His negotiations with the city of Arlington to get the new ballpark built were his great accomplishment.

    You mean made the taxpayers and government pay for somethng baseball owners should pay for themselves, not government? is this one of those crtical needs only government can perform? Defense and ballparks?

    The nuclear (power) option is obviously the way we’re going. But with transportation biodiesel seems a better option then trains (lots of countryside torn up, though also good jobs.)

  • http://www.psychopundit.com Dave Nalle

    >>Huh? They never won the division until after he left and for six out of ten seasons under his reign they didn’t make .500. What exactly did he handle well? The trading of Sammy Sosa?< <

    Ah Bicho, so naive. You think that winning games is the mark of success as a baseball magnate? Hardly so. Success is measured by asses in seats, especially in the skyboxes, and that's where Bush absolutely excelled. If you can get a huge new stadium built, get the taxpayers to underwrite it, then fill it with paying customers when your team sucks, you're a business genius.

    >>I wonder if his fellow tax-cutting Republicans in DC would also agree that his great accomplishment in business was the result of getting the voters of Arlington to approve a one-half cent sales tax in an effort to raise $135 million for the ballpark complex. <<

    I totally disagree with it as a political decision, but that’s on the idiots in the Arlington city council. As a business move by Bush and his cronies it was first rate. Bush was the great schmoozer – able to move between wealthy businessmen and red neck rancher millionaires with ease and coax money out of all of them.

    Dave

  • http://www.psychopundit.com Dave Nalle

    >>You mean made the taxpayers and government pay for somethng baseball owners should pay for themselves, not government? is this one of those crtical needs only government can perform? Defense and ballparks?< <

    Never said I agree with it as a matter of policy, but from the point of view of the business getting the taxpayers to foot the bill is a great idea.

    >>The nuclear (power) option is obviously the way we’re going.<<

    You think? Then where are the new nuclear plants? Where are our fusion reactors?

    Dave

  • http://emeraldcitycomments.blogspot.com/ Roy Smith

    >> The nuclear (power) option is obviously the way we’re going. But with transportation biodiesel seems a better option then trains (lots of countryside torn up, though also good jobs.) <<

    Electricity is only a very peripheral concern in the Peak Oil problem. Coal can probably take up the slack as easily as nuclear (of course, the environmental damage would be immense).

    As for biodiesel, I don’t think it will work because a) it will take years to convert all those things that are currently powered by gasoline engines to diesel; and b) it would probably take more land than the earth contains to produce enough biodiesel to meet the transport fuel need of all the people on earth (according to current consumption habits).

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    Um I was agreeing with the idea. Picking the least of evils. I have confidence that we can make it and keep it safe. Balancing that with the idea of global warfare or the EU or the US or China trying to take over the world in its fight for resources, the nuclear option is the way to go.

    The EU on the other hand is far more advanced in its progress toward a world without oil. It occurs to me to wonder about synthetic oils but I have not looked into it.

  • http://emeraldcitycomments.blogspot.com/ Roy Smith

    My point is that making electricity with nuclear power does very little to address the Peak Oil problem. We could fairly easily go to 100% nuclear power for electricity production (France and Japan have both gone towards that goal with no problems), but making lots of electricity still does not solve the transportation fuels problem, which is the heart of the Peak Oil problem. There has been no significant progress or effot made towards changing the petroleum basis of the transportation infrastructure, and even when the will exists for making these changes, the scale of infrastructure changes required mean it will take years or decades to complete. Until then, the economy may be in for a very rough ride.

  • Sri

    If there’re lessons we need to take away from Peak Oil and from failed societies of the past (as depicted in Jared Diamond’s “Collapse…,” they are:

    (a) Don’t rely on non-renewable sources for your basic energy needs.

    (b) Be careful with the environment. There is a point of no return after while whole groups of people will die.

    Lesson (a) rules out nuclear and coal, unless they are only used as stop-gap measures, or to assist in getting to sustainable sources.

    Lesson (b) says we have to be very careful using up coal and other forms of fossil fuels still not at their peak.

    As has been mentioned, sustainable sources will not be enough to produce as much energy as we consume today. The only solution seems to be conservation in conjunction with a massive development of renewable energy technologies.

    The idealistic side of me wants the entire world to cooperate and strengthen multi-national organizations to do what’s necessary in the face of this crisis.

    My pragmatic side goes, “Fat chance!”

    It seems more likely that we’re just going to look for militaristic solutions to corner the last drop of oil. I wish I could just fast-forward some 30 years or so.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>(a) Don’t rely on non-renewable sources for your basic energy needs.

    (b) Be careful with the environment. There is a point of no return after while whole groups of people will die.

    Lesson (a) rules out nuclear and coal, unless they are only used as stop-gap measures, or to assist in getting to sustainable sources.<<

    How is nuclear not a renewable resource? We have to assume that future development will concentrate on fusion reactors and they don’t run out of fuel, correct?

    Oh, and you forgoc (c) move to a fortified compound and buy a good selection of guns.

    Dave

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Ah Dave, so predictable with your lame condescension and lack of facts.

    Under Bush’s watch, Rangers’ attendance was always below the league average, except for 1991, and they never came close to the stadium’s capacity, always missing by more than a million people. Go to the site below to see the numbers.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/TEX/attend.shtml

    If you raise people’s taxes by blackmailing them with the threat of moving their team and sell out your political beliefs to make a buck, you are not a genius. Sure, you may be wealthy, but you also lack integrity. If Bush were a great businessman who cared about his consumers, he would have found private investors to finance the new stadium.

    How much does it cost to get you to sell out your principles, Dave? I’m sure other BCers would like to know. You obviously have a price if it makes good business sense.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>Under Bush’s watch, Rangers’ attendance was always below the league average, except for 1991, and they never came close to the stadium’s capacity, always missing by more than a million people. Go to the site below to see the numbers.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/TEX/attend.shtml< <

    That's something I didn't know. His reputation in Texas is for having made the franchise profitable again. I'm guessing the key is sold out skyboxes which more than make up for empty bleachers on the bottom line.

    >>If you raise people’s taxes by blackmailing them with the threat of moving their team and sell out your political beliefs to make a buck, you are not a genius. < <

    I didn't say he was *A* genius, just that making the Rangers profitable again was genius. With a small 'G'.

    >>Sure, you may be wealthy, but you also lack integrity. If Bush were a great businessman who cared about his consumers, he would have found private investors to finance the new stadium. < <

    I also never said he cared about sonsumers. That's not necessarily what it's all about. But I will say that as a consumer of baseball, the new stadium is a great improvement and that makes the baseball consumer happy while drinking his $7 beer.

    >>How much does it cost to get you to sell out your principles, Dave? I’m sure other BCers would like to know. You obviously have a price if it makes good business sense.<<

    Ah yes, ‘Paid Blogger’ – the new ‘Chickenhawk’. So predictable.

    Dave

  • http://www.taospost.com MDE

    What’s with all of the pro nuke nonsense? Cold fusion is still a pipe dream, practical hot fusion is decades off ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/1573450.stm ) and fission is still a dangerous and polluting process (think ‘depleted uranium’).

    It is hubris and fantastic optimism to maintain that we have developed the ability to create unbreakable systems in the past fifty years, and the question of acceptable risk remains. (Even if development of fusion reactors were to move ahead rapidly, are they what we need – a bunch of little suns around our cities ‘controlled’ by people?)

    In any case, how will we deliver the concrete to the construction sites if peak oil is now? Sounds like we need to prepare for major dislocation.

    The anarchists might get their way after all…won’t they be suprised.

    Mark

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Of course, one thing which no one has considered here yet is that we might not actually be anywhere near peak oil. There are a variety of considerations which run against that. First, there’s the issue of harder to extract oil. There’s lots and lots of oil shale and harder to reach oil bearing strata which could be exploited if the price went high enough to justify the extra work – that might prolong the peak oil point substantially. Then there’s also the theory that oil is not a finite resource and in fact is naturally generated at a much faster rate than anyone previously expected. There’s a phenomenon of old dry wells suddenly having oil again, and of oil which seems to come from deeper strata than should be possible under the current theory that oil comes from decomposed biomass. If this theory is correct then there may be no such thing as ‘peak oil’.

    Dave

  • http://emeraldcitycomments.blogspot.com/ Roy Smith

    Nuclear energy (fission) is less polluting than coal (by a huge margin) and is probably less environmentally disruptive than renewables. It is definitely less environmentally disruptive than hydropower, the only form of renewable energy to be developed on a significant scale (by significant scale, I mean actually big enough to be important to the global economy). Also, through the use of breeder reactor technology and use of elements other than uranium in reactors, the supply of fuel, while not limitless, is certainly enough to last several millenia. That should be plenty of time to work out a permanent solution.

    If somehow we figure out how to use coal to address all of the problems of Peak Oil, that is really only robbing Peter to pay Paul – climate change will then move to front and center of the world’s problems. So I hope we don’t use coal as a stopgap anything beyond a bare minimum.

    And again, finding better ways to make electricity (renewables, nuclear energy, etc.) still doesn’t do anything for the Peak Oil problem.

  • http://emeraldcitycomments.blogspot.com/ Roy Smith

    If we are lucky Dave is right about Peak Oil (at which point, we need to pull our heads out of the sand and worry about climate change, but that’s a subject for another thread).

    As far as the (as Dave puts it) “harder to extract oil. There’s lots and lots of oil shale and harder to reach oil bearing strata which could be exploited if the price went high enough to justify the extra work – that might prolong the peak oil point substantially.”: A big (possibly fatal) flaw in this argument is that a significant portion of the cost of extracting this oil is the energy used to extract it. For oil sands, for every 1.5 barrels extracted, the energy of 1 barrel is used). (For more on Energy Production Ratio go here.) That means the price has to go absolutely sky high so that the cost of the other inputs (capital investment, labor, etc) is a small enough portion to make it worthwhile. Not to mention that the infrastructure for developing this stuff isn’t in place yet, and will take years to get installed (the lead time on a conventional oil project from time construction starts to oil production is over 5 years – I imagine oil sands and oil shale take just as long if not longer).

    Meantime, the economy still has to somehow adjust to the new prices without melting down.

    Consider the U.S. dollar. The price of the dollar is being propped up by a number of other central banks (most notably China and Japan) because they do not want their currencies to appreciate against the dollar because their economies are centered on exports to the U.S. The way they prop up the dollar is buy buying all of the treasury bonds they can, effectively loaning money to the U.S. Meanwhile, the U.S. is running massive (and growing) budget and trade deficits, and has a lousy domestic savings rate. And what is causing the biggest part of the U.S. trade deficit? Oil imports.

    So if you cut out all the economic gobbledy-gook, the simple explanation is that China and Japan are loaning us money so that we can buy oil. Now when oil gets truly expensive, are they going to continue doing this? I think not. When China and Japan stop supporting the U.S. dollar, the dollar will drop sharply. Oil will then become more expensive (because we are bidding against other nations that now have relatively stronger currencies), and the twin shocks of a dollar crash and oil price skyrocketing (beyond what it took to precipitate this mess in the first place) will throw the U.S. economy into a very deep recession. Optimistically, this is the worst that happens – after a recession of Great Depression like magnitude, we (and the world, which now has lost its biggest export market – the U.S.) can eventually climb out of the recession. Of course, it took a World War to really make sure the Great Depression was ended ….

    The worse (and not implausible) end of this whole mess is that the U.S. (and probably world) financial system just simply collapses – completely. Readers might want to sharpen up their bartering skills.

  • http://www.taospost.com MDE

    re:”Nuclear energy (fission) is less polluting than coal (by a huge margin) and is probably less environmentally disruptive than renewables”…etc

    This statement is hypothetically true at best and requires the prefix, ‘if all goes well’. At worst, it is untrue; we have yet to solve the problems of waste transportation and long term storage.

    Mark

  • http://emeraldcitycomments.blogspot.com/ Roy Smith

    Re: nuclear energy.

    All has gone well in U.S. nuclear energy production for about 50 years. The worst U.S. nuclear accident at Three Mile Island caused no deaths and had adverse health impacts on absolutely nobody (unless you count stress and psychologically trauma caused by ignorance of what the actual health risks were). And post Three Mile Island, the industry has gotten significantly safer.

    The problem of waste storage is a political, not a technical problem. Same for transportation. The technical parts have all been worked out. But fear continues to exact a potent political toll. But better yet than disposing of the waste would be reprocessing the fuel in breeder reactors to produce more fuel. But that involves plutonium, and those opposed to nuclear energy use that to create even more fear by equating nuclear power plants to bombs. They are not bombs, but a significant portion of the public thinks they are.

    Coal, on the other hand, dumps all kinds of pollutants straight into the atmosphere (think of the amount of acid rain and lung disease that we have had to deal with as the result of coal power plants), and that is even without thinking about the problems of carbon dioxide and climate change.

    But this is all beside the point of this thread (Peak Oil). Nuclear energy is not a substitute for oil. Neither is renewable energy.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>All has gone well in U.S. nuclear energy production for about 50 years. The worst U.S. nuclear accident at Three Mile Island caused no deaths and had adverse health impacts on absolutely nobody<<

    I went to college in the TMI area when it had the meltdown, and some physics geek friends recruited me to drive them around while they took readings of background radiation levels in the area. Throughout the crisis – as everyone else evacuated – we got readings lower than or equal to normal background radiation for the area, even downwind of the island.

    Dave

  • http://www.taospost.com MDE

    re:”All has gone well in U.S. nuclear energy production for about 50 years.”

    Where I come from, when somebody says, “Nice day”, the common response is, “Yeah, so far.”

    I repeat what I wrote in #28 about hubris and acceptable risk.

    re:”The problem of waste storage is a political, not a technical problem. Same for transportation”

    Political problems can be harder to solve that technical ones. Meanwhile, the waste piles up.

    I can’t disagree that coal is bad, bad and that this is beside the point concerning Peak Oil.

  • http://emeraldcitycomments.blogspot.com/ Roy Smith

    >>Where I come from, when somebody says, “Nice day”, the common response is, “Yeah, so far.”<<

    Wow, and here I thought I had encountered cynical, pessimistic people before now!

  • http://emeraldcitycomments.blogspot.com/ Roy Smith

    >>Political problems can be harder to solve that technical ones.<<

    Exactly true.

  • http://www.taospost.com MDE

    re:”Wow, and here I thought I had encountered cynical, pessimistic people before now!”

    As I’ve commented somewhere before on BC, I am a cynical pessimist suffering from an acute case of constantly justified paranoia. Sorry.

    Mark

  • http://emeraldcitycomments.blogspot.com/ Roy Smith

    From this morning’s news: Bush seeks Saudi help on oil prices. Basically, Bush plans to pressure the Saudis to increase production. But what if they are already at capacity and can’t?

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    They announced yesterday that they were going to max out production asap to 11 billion barrels a day. Really makes no difference since we don’t have the refinery capacity to process it until the Kuwaitis finish the new refineries they’re building.

    Dave

  • http://emeraldcitycomments.blogspot.com/ Roy Smith

    Nice of them to promise … can they deliver? A little while ago, the Saudis promised to bring oil prices down to $25 a barrel and it in fact has done nothing but go up.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Actually, it openned $4 a barrel lower today, Roy.

    Dave

  • http://emeraldcitycomments.blogspot.com/ Roy Smith

    >>Actually, it openned $4 a barrel lower today<<

    Still a long way from $25/barrel.

    Okay, I misstated that it has “done nothing but go up” – oil prices are in fact quite volatile as usual. But the general trend has been doing nothing but going up. Goldman-Sachs predicted that oil would reach $105/barrel recently.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Man $105 a barrel would be pretty amazing. Glad I own stock in Honda.

    Dave

  • http://emeraldcitycomments.blogspot.com/ Roy Smith

    Goldman-Sachs: Oil Could Spike to $105.

    And this from Basic Points, an investment monthly:

    Because the combination of the news that there’s no new Saudi Light coming on stream for the next seven years plus the 27% projected decline from existing fields means Hubbert’s Peak has arrived in Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom’s decline rate will be among the world’s fastest as this decade wanes. Most importantly, Hubbert’s Peak must have arrived for Ghawar, the world’s biggest oilfield, and Wall Street’s most-cited reason for assuring us month after month that oil prices would plunge because there were so many billions of barrels of readily-available crude overhanging the market.

    This is excerpted from the full report, available here.

  • http://www.taospost.com MDE

    Perhaps a solution to the transportation problem will emerge from a ‘fringe’ approach like

    Sites like this and others proposing plans for perpetual motion machines and the like are rampant on the web. There is a lot of day dreamy crappy science out there, but maybe a few gems as well

    Mark

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    This is, of course, assuming you even believe in an oil peak. They’ve projected declines like this before and been dead wrong – case in point Eugene Island off the coast of Louisiana which went through a brief decline in the mid 90s and was projected to tap out and then almost doubled production and has been pumping wildly since then.

    Dave

  • http://emeraldcitycomments.blogspot.com/ Roy Smith

    How big a field is Eugene Island? In the 1950s, Hubbert predicted the peak in U.S. oil production was going to be in the early 1970s and was dead on. U.S. oil production has declined ever since.

    Peaking of commodities production (those produced by resource extraction, at least) is a fact of life – numerous commodities have experienced the same phenomenon. This history was the source of the data that Hubbert based his theory on. The major difference is the unique role that petroleum plays in the industrial economy. No other commodity has been nearly as important.

  • http://www.taospost.com MDE

    re;”This is, of course, assuming you even believe in an oil peak.”

    Correct. It simply might be a production problem. Interesting how it all boils down to belief in this so-called ‘Age of Science’.

    Mark

  • http://emeraldcitycomments.blogspot.com/ Roy Smith

    What production problem might that be? Why aren’t we hearing about it?

  • http://www.taospost.com MDE

    re: “What production problem might that be?”

    See Dave Nalle’s comment #29 above.

    Mark

  • http://emeraldcitycomments.blogspot.com/ Roy Smith

    See my comment #31 (in response to #29) about oil sands and oil shale. Energy and water costs are probably too high for those to ever be economical, no matter how expensive oil gets. But by then the shock of very high prices will have already collapsed the economic structure.

    As far as the “abiotic oil theory” – the fancy name given to the idea that oil regenerates on something other than a geological time frame – most petroleum geologists will probably tell you that it is wishful thinking.

  • http://www.taospost.com MDE

    re: “most petroleum geologists will probably tell you that it is wishful thinking.”

    This leaves open the question, what about those other petrolium geologists who believe (or might say that they believe) otherwise? Is it possible that reasonable scientists might disagree about “abiotic oil theory” ?

    Mark

  • http://emeraldcitycomments.blogspot.com/ Roy Smith

    Even more important than whether or not it is wishful thinking is that nobody actually has found any evidence that supports the abiotic oil theory.

    Also, while some small individual fields may have refilled, apparently spontaneously, this is more likely explained by seepage from neighboring layers or fields or other geological shifts. In no case has a large oil producing basin spontaneously refilled or otherwise been able to increase production after reaching that basin’s peak.

  • http://www.taospost.com MDE

    re: “nobody actually has found any evidence that supports the abiotic oil theory.”

    I can’t argue that a theory with no observational evidence supporting it and which tries to reinterpret phenomena that already have explanations seems reasonable.

    Mark

  • http://emeraldcitycomments.blogspot.com/ Roy Smith

    From this article in EV World:

    energy’s not the whole story. One example : To supply the total current U.S. production of plastics, synthetic fibers and rubber, solvents, and other petrochemicals using biomass (plant-derived materials) instead of petroleum would consume the entire net annual growth of all the nation’s forests – and we’re already using that wood for other purposes.

    The real reason this will be a crisis is that oil impacts EVERYTHING, not just energy or transportation.

  • http://emeraldcitycomments.blogspot.com/ Roy Smith

    From the article Eating Fossil Fuels, this on the petroleum basis of modern agriculture:

    In a very real sense, we are literally eating fossil fuels. However, due to the laws of thermodynamics, there is not a direct correspondence between energy inflow and outflow in agriculture. Along the way, there is a marked energy loss. Between 1945 and 1994, energy input to agriculture increased 4-fold while crop yields only increased 3-fold. Since then, energy input has continued to increase without a corresponding increase in crop yield. We have reached the point of marginal returns. Yet, due to soil degradation, increased demands of pest management and increasing energy costs for irrigation (all of which is examined below), modern agriculture must continue increasing its energy expenditures simply to maintain current crop yields. The Green Revolution is becoming bankrupt.

    The whole article is very much worth reading.