Monday, March 07, 2005

The Panic Over Peak Oil?

Geez, just when I'm ready to do some personal whining (my ex-job), something way more interesting comes along.

There was an interview with Andrew Nikiforuk on this noontime radio show I sometimes get to hear when I'm running errands. It was about this idea called Peak Oil, and a companion concept with the catchy title High Noon for Natural Gas. Now when you live in oil country, these are subjects of intense interest. Not only that, the gov'mint here has boasted it is one of the few debt free jurisdictions in the western hemispere. You can bet it weren't cattle that did it,not with the border closed and all ( yet another blog). It was oil royalties. Where oil is, how much is left, and how hard/expensive it is to get at, is personal bottom-line stuff around here.

Simply put, Peak Oil is the notion that we've already pumped out the majority of easily recoverable oil that is available in the earth, and while there's still a lot of oil around, the cost in terms of energy input to turn that oil into something usable is more than the energy we will get out of it:

It is widely accepted that oil is a finite resource; there are basic laws which describe the depletion of any finite resource:

Production starts at zero;
Production then rises to a peak which can never be surpassed;
Once the peak has been passed, production declines until the resource is depleted.

These simple rules were first described in the 1950s by Dr. M. King Hubbert, and apply to any relevant system, including the depletion of the world’s petroleum resources.

The link is to an excellent summary page of Dr. Hubbert's theory.

High Noon for Natural Gas
is running more or less on the same theme. Here is a quote from the book of the same title by Julian Darley:

In this timely expose, author Julian Darley takes a hard-hitting look at natural gas as an energy source that rapidly went from nuisance to crutch. Darley outlines the implications of our increased dependence on this energy source and why it has the potential to cause serious environmental, political, and economic consequences. In High Noon for Natural Gas readers can expect to find a critical analysis of government policy on energy, as well as a meticulously researched warning about our next potentially catastrophic energy crisis.

Sounds pretty dire eh? Just to make everything more confusing, there is the Abiotic oil theory proposed by Thomas Gold, among others, which says that oil is not dead dinasaurs at all. It is being formed continuously deep in the earth's mantle:

[....] Gold's theory of oil formation, which he expounded recently in a book entitled The Deep Hot Biosphere, is that hydrogen and carbon, under high temperatures and pressures found in the mantle during the formation of the Earth, form hydrocarbon molecules which have gradually leaked up to the surface through cracks in rocks. The organic materials which are found in petroleum deposits are easily explained by the metabolism of bacteria which have been found in extreme environments similar to Earth's mantle. These hyperthermophiles, or bacteria which thrive in extreme environments, have been found in hydrothermal vents, at the bottom of volcanoes, and in places where scientists formerly believed life was not possible. Gold argues that the mantle contains vast numbers of these bacteria.

So there might be lots of oil after all, and the evil industrialists aren't telling us that because it would cut into their control over the world.


But what if this whole circus is a distraction from even more damaging situations which the PTB don't want us to pay attention to? From an article called Ruppert and Hopsicker Co-Opting the 9-11 Truth Movement:

Ruppert has been making alternative news headlines for the past few months over two issues: the flack he has been taking, and giving, in a war of words with several high profile 9-11 investigators, and the issue of "Peak Oil". Quite often the two controversies are related. [...]

If we look at what thrust Mike into a unique position among 9-11 researchers, we find that it was not his research into 9-11, but rather his shocking revelations about "peak oil". Now it is no surprise that, from Mike’s point of view, this particular issue would eventually eclipse the events of 9-11 altogether, as he stated in his recent
lecture at Washington University. After all, what’s the point in pursuing the prosecutions of Cheney and the boys when a large percentage of the population, according to the peak oil scenario, will never get to enjoy the trial anyway?

[...] If we look at the situation dispassionately (not an easy thing to do given the subject matter - "you’re all gonna die" - tends to make people a little emotional don’t ya know), what seems to be true about Mike’s message is that it is so shocking that it tends to have the effect of suspending the critical thinking capabilities of people who hear it. In a way it is like one of those doomsday cults where blind faith is asked for and given because: "we’re all gonna be toast pretty soon anyway, so what have you got to lose?"
It is also, coincidentally, a very good way to focus attention away from 9-11.

It's a cogent analyis of all these different forces, and some you have may not considered which play in our world. Good solid reading from a unique point of view. Enjoy.

Blue Ibis

1 comment:

monkeygrinder said...

No reason to panic over peak oil, but the historical trends hold up to intense scrutiny - in other words, there is a lot of evidence that Hubbert is correct, and Gold (to name one particular) is wrong about abiotic oil.

There is a working oil pump in an east coast (US) museum that can pump a trickle of oil every day. It was dug in the 19th century, and at one point it produced like gangbusters.

That is peak oil - a slow rise in production, a peak, then a slow fall until it takes more energy to extract oil than you can get in return. We see it in every oil field.