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Aug 25, 2009


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Arguments against the facts used by Peak Oil'ers are fine. It's an interesting debate. But, so what? I think the emphasis currently is not being driven by worldwide scarcity of oil so much as it is a protectionist movement in the U.S. that is seeking to produce as much energy statside as possible and to find the means (clean coal, wind, solar, methane, natural gas, etc.) to do so. I think we are looking for energy security and I don't think that an argument that there are plenty of reserves worldwide changes the game for the U.S. at all unless that argument also includes vast unknown amounts of oil in the United States or in U.S. controlled territories.

Ed Cone

One of the lines of argument he pursues involves the logic of national security and energy independence.

He says we've always had unfriendly suppliers, and that previous political problems didn't end the world.

Which is true, but not a compelling case against weaning ourselves from dependence on unstable and/or hostile sources.

Fec the Jihadist

As regards national security, don't discount the rate at which our infrastructure is managed online with open source apps vulnerable to internet failure and hackers. When everything is written with PHP and MySQL, the opportunities for insult explode.


The US hit 'peak oil' around 1970 . To extrapolate that to the world - the underlying geophysics are the same. This is similar to Laffer's curve in that the endpoints are not argued. In 0 AD, we extracted very little petroleum (did use some where it came out naturally), in 10,000 AD we will extract very little relative to today - it will eventually mostly run out.

His whole point is that oil prices will go back down to $30/bl, which hopefully he PHMWHMI. The other economic fundamental he ignored is demand. Demand is down due to the global recession. There is also a huge step-function in an individual's oil demand that occurs when they get a car. As a larger percentage of the world owns & uses cars, oil demand will continue on an upward trend. We should be prepared for an economic environment where oil is $100-$200/bl @$74/bl today.

Internal combustion engines will continue to reign for a long time because of the energy density of gas/diesel, and it's ease of delivery. I wonder what the reliability differences for pure electric engines vs ICE's is? Fewer moving parts, no burning anything. The peak distance on a charge & ability to recharge if stranded will limit the pure electrics.

Obviously the govt should be sensible about alternative energy research, but consider the massive investment in highways, which are NOT completely paid for by gas taxes. Those are de-facto investments in the oil economy. Where we get double bang (a bang-bang) is conservation. Less oil bought, and prices come down because of reduced overall demand.

Any NYTimes piece that name-calls its opponents "Chicken Littles" needs a healthy dose of skepticism. Other chicken littles so unwisely said, in 2007, that the housing problems might not be contained to subprime.


The Oil Drum most likely has the most comprehensive set of POV's on the Lynch piece at the moment.

Morgan Glover

Yes, you can find comments on Lynch's article at the Oil Drum here:

And more coverage about oil here:

There's also a peak oil debate between Lynch and Julian Darley here:


#5 result for 'chicken little' - An opacity post from 10/2007. Interesting to see how charged the r-word was when we were only 2 months from the official beginning. Is meb still reading - his investment advice was pretty good then?

Roger Greene

Glenwood you've hit it on the nose. I don't buy into the Peak Oil or Global Warming panics. They are background noise to the real issue, national security. I want us off foreign oil. A smart administration would couch their justifications for measures towards that end in those terms. I want to starve the sheet heads and deprive them of the wealth they would use to arm themselves with. For that I'll make common cause with the Al Gore nerd legion and others if need be.


Sheet heads? My dad was born in Canada. I resent that. Bigot.


Could it be a fifth column kind of thing?


I only know fifth column as a dance club in DC from my college days.


Right now, under our very noses, those sunbitch commie canucks are taking our petrodollars to secretly fund support of ObamaCare in order to bankrupt our fine country. Invasion to follow. Stay tuned.

Roger Greene

"Sheet heads? My dad was born in Canada. I resent that. Bigot." Canada can be exempted by virtue of being the defacto 52nd state.



I'll take Meb's advice over most. All one needs to do is talk to him about his own business and how he beat cheap foreign imports to stay afloat.

Not that he's got it made but he's closer to it than most of us and it's due to his smarts, not luck.

Now if I could ever get away from the office I'd buy him lunch as he bought my lunch several times when my own economic situation was at its worst.


I dunno when or if we will, or have, hit peak oil. Whatever set of numbers you choose to accept, it seems inarguable that we are consuming a finite resource without replenishing it. So, sooner or later, the wells tap out.

Long before that, of course, the real crunch hits as the price of oil rises high enough to make its consumption untenable. That's why efforts to stand up affordable alternative energy sources makes sense. Ten years or so from now -- sans real health care reform and fast track energy projects -- there's every chance we'll be paying double for health insurance and more than double for gas and the utility bill. If you think it's hard selling a used SUV these days, wait until gas costs $12 a gallon.

That said, notions of making the U.S. "Energy Independent" strike me as silly and pointless, much like any other vacuous political soundbite. It's also bloody impossible. If nothing else, it presumes we will all happily buy American energy when cheaper foreign energy is on the market. Doubtless, the "form the laager!" crowd will disagree.


still out here reading once in a while...not posting very much anymore...just reading.

thanks for the kind words

Billy, We can do lunch anytime...always enjoy your company.


Meb - I hope you checked your comments from 2007. It's worth a look back to see what people were thinking then.

Morgan Glover

As someone who has been following the Peak Oil debate for some time (and interviewed Mike Lynch last year), I find myself more interested in what writers like John Michael Greer have to say as they take a long historical view and realize that it's easier and more entertaining for people to get caught up in fantasizing about techno-utopias and apocalypses than dealing with the day to day, year to year, decade to decade events of a crumbling civilization.

The fact is many laypeople will continue to watch the ping pong ball go across the net in the peak oil/climate change debates, waiting and waiting for certainty. Others will conduct "what if" risk analyses, steadily make lifestyle changes that fit the future they envision, and let the chips fall where they may, knowing that there is no certainty.


Morgan: this is certain. France and Britain pulled out of Saudi Arabia and gave up going for the stuff on top of the ground. The next level of hydrocarbons is going to take more sophistication and a more stable currency attached to the commodity being extracted. Add the unstable currency to the radicalization of the regions that produce the most hydrocarbons. China now realizes that they have been duped by counterfeiters. The model has been exposed to the rest of the planet which has resources to export. "Why do they hate us" is still the largest advertiser at the ping pong tournament.

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