Thread: The Peak Is Now
09-03-2004, 10:03 AM #1
The Peak Is Now
Get Ready for the Peak Experience
By Kelpie Wilson
Monday 30 August 2004
When history looks back, 2004 will turn out to be a remarkable year, and not just for the unraveling of the lies and deceits of the Bush presidency. Equally as significant is the emergence into public prominence of certain scientific facts that have long been suppressed.
Two new realities are fast converging on the public consciousness with what may be serendipitous timing: climate change and peak oil. After years of controversy and denial, there finally seems to be a solid consensus that climate change is here, it threatens everything from agriculture to human health, and it will probably turn out to be even worse than predicted.
Peak oil is a still obscure term you will soon be hearing a lot more about. It simply refers to the peak of oil production. Oil was made over millions of years as ancient life was crushed and buried under the earth, and they ain't making any more of it - at least not on any timescale that is meaningful to us - so like any limited commodity (think Picasso paintings or antique porcelain), the supply will rise to meet demand and then begin to fall. As supply falls, prices will go up, perhaps drastically.
Like a hiker climbing through clouds, we can't know where the peak is until we reach it and feel the ground falling away beneath our feet. But wait -- why are there clouds? Why can't we see the peak before we get there? Don't we have monitoring agencies that exist to make predictions about things like when the oil supply will peak?
As far as the average consumer and SUV buyer is concerned, the climb has been a stairway to heaven. The coming decline in oil production is something rarely mentioned in public, and when it is, it is portrayed as something so impossibly far off in the future that there is no sense in talking about it. The obscuring clouds have been deliberately generated by a collusion of oil industry, financial and government interests. They don't want us to know that we are about to fall off the world as we know it.
So I was mildly shocked to hear Texas oilman and corporate raider, T. Boone Pickens declare on NPR's Morning Edition last week: 'The peak is now.'
Pickens is certainly not the last word on peak prediction, but other serious analysts come close to his views. Petroleum geologist Kenneth Deffeyes, author of the breakthrough book 'Hubbert's Peak,' predicts the peak will fall on Thanksgiving Day in 2005. Others are more reluctant to pinpoint the peak and say it may be a few more years yet, but certainly before 2010. That's five, six years at the most to get our ducks in a row and ready to face a world of vastly accelerating oil prices.
Contrast this news with what governments and oil companies and have been saying. According to the US Energy Information Agency, oil production won't peak until 2035.
On the corporate side, British Petroleum publishes an annual Statistical Review of World Energy that is widely cited. Responding directly to the critics who point to an early peak, Lord Browne, chief executive for British Petroleum wrote in the latest edition of the Review that: "At current levels of consumption, there are sufficient reserves to meet oil demand for some 40 years and to meet natural gas demand for well over 60 years." There is no acceleration of oil depletion, he maintained.
But last week the Energy Institute of London released an independent analysis of BP's data showing that total world production declined by 1.14 million barrels a day last year. On top of that, the analysis found that the annual rate of decline is accelerating.
Oil companies do not want the word to get out. On August 24th, Shell Oil agreed to pay a $150 million fine for inflating its proven reserves by 4.5 billion barrels. Shell is the third largest oil company in the world and one fifth of their stated reserves were a lie. They did it to protect their stock value.
From the perspective of climate change, news that oil is peaking sooner rather than later is good news. We need to end the fossil fuel addiction anyway, and only higher oil prices will tilt the economics in favor of solar, wind and other renewables.
But we have got ourselves in a very dangerous situation. The potential exists for oil prices to increase quickly and radically. There won't be much time to manufacture the new energy infrastructure. Belt tightening will be needed. Economies could turn to dirty coal for a quick energy fix and the competition for the remaining oil could heat up into further wars.
For this reason, accurate widely disseminated information about energy is absolutely critical. At all costs, we must not allow the media game that went on with global warming to happen with peak oil.
A recent study ('Balance as Bias: Global Warming and the U.S. Prestige Press,' in Global Environmental Change) examined coverage of global warming in prestigious newspapers such as the New York Times and the Washington Post. The study found that these 'papers of record' responded to industry propaganda campaigns to discredit global warming by regularly setting up a handful of industry trained critics as 'balance' against the larger scientific consensus. Confusion reigned in the public mind, and a precious decade was lost.
Now Gaia is asserting herself. Seas are turning acid, corals bleaching; vapors and smoke are bleeding into the stratosphere where all is not well with the ozone skin. Massive forest fires, storms, floods and heat waves are waking people up. When the news comes in through your window, or tears off your roof - TV turns irrelevant.
This newfound awareness of global warming will be of great help as we attempt to quickly map out the path to a new energy future. As we climb down from the peak, the way is perilous and uncertain. There will be a temptation to go all out for extracting oil and gas from heavy oil shales, tar sands and coal. This will only dig us deeper into the global warming hole. Knowing that the hole is there will help keep us on the straight and narrow path to a truly renewable society based on solar, wind, hydro, tidal and biomass.
The new energy economy will be diffuse as different technologies are used to harvest the energy resources particular to each region. Solar and wind are low density energy sources and we will have to work harder for our energy. Oil's high energy density is what makes it possible for a handful of men to control it and the politics and economy of the world.
Many will wail and cry that the end of oil means the end of the American Dream. It could mean that, but only if we let it. The American Dream is not the endless accumulation of stuff and sprawl. The American Dream is not empire without end and the garrison state. The American Dream is freedom and the pursuit of happiness.
For too long, we and the world have been chained to the petro-dollar. New possibilities await. Let us go forward not in fear, but in the spirit of adventure.
09-03-2004, 10:27 AM #2
i hate global warming, espically after seeing The Day After Tomorow. Sucks we screw planet up for our childen and their children
09-03-2004, 12:12 PM #3
Now Gaia is asserting herself. Seas are turning acid, corals bleaching; vapors and smoke are bleeding into the stratosphere where all is not well with the ozone skin.
LMAO. I don't even know where to begin with this article.
09-03-2004, 01:19 PM #4
You kill me sym!!!!!!!! j/k bro thats some radical Shi> bro!
How about those speaches this week 4 More years, 4 more years, 4 more years.
You gotta admit Arnold was great "Kalifornia" "I am a republican"... awesome!
We'll see in 2 months bro.. its gonna be a close one.. feels like the Ohio State Michigan game!
09-03-2004, 01:28 PM #5
I agree with oil reserves not being what they are and prices going through the roof. I see more and more office workers having a virtual office at home and things like that. Solar power for heating andd cooling will come into play. As far as the global warming thing I remember watching an episode of Nova on PBS thirty years ago when Leonard Nemoy was talking about a second ice age.
I fart in the general direction of the global warming lies!
09-03-2004, 01:39 PM #6
By 2050 the 3/4 of the tibetan mountains will no longer be covered in snow according to some estimates..... guess we can wait till then for proof of global warming
09-03-2004, 01:58 PM #7
The planet is a "living breathing thing" it will make adjustments on it's own. What about all the body heat from humans and the farts. Canada did a study on how cow farts effect global warming It could be all those Fuc*ing cows fault!
09-03-2004, 04:26 PM #8
09-03-2004, 05:59 PM #9Originally Posted by 1victor
thats why i love sim city games i just load up on solar power plants and microwave power plants.....no polution whatsoever, no affect on global warming!!!
09-12-2004, 05:00 PM #10
Man thats a seriously depressing article.
I just hope they will pump more cash into fusion power. When we crack that then every other energy source will be obselete. **** solar power, screw wind power. Nothing has the potential of fusion power!!
09-20-2004, 09:07 AM #11
If energy rises in price, I'd expect the trend for population would be to congregate in cities again. Takes less energy to heat/cool an apartment/condo than a big box out in the suburbs. Takes less energy to go shopping, work, etc. and mass transit is more practical in dense population centers than in the 'burbs.
I'd say the coming trend would be for denser cities, and few folks in the 'burbs, that is, if energy continues to become scarcer and more expensive.
What do y'all think?
09-20-2004, 09:10 AM #12Originally Posted by MMC78
That would be fine, if only we had a secure place to dump the waste. Last I heard, they've still got 50 years of nuclear waste in 55 gallon drums just waiting to be tossed . . . somewhere.
Probably shouldn't do any more nuclear until they solve the waste problem.
09-20-2004, 11:24 AM #13
I think we should load up nuclear waste into rockets and shoot them into space. Or even aim them at the sun (like they'd ever get there) but seriously why not? It would cost a pretty penny, but space is a large place, something like 1 atom per cubic meter in deep space. theres plenty of room
09-20-2004, 11:42 AM #14
As soon as automakers can get hybrid engines with excellent fuel economy to be competitively priced, that will be a huge step.
09-20-2004, 12:11 PM #15Originally Posted by inheritmylife
I used to get 56 mpg with my 1995 Geo Metro. It had a nifty 1 liter engine which was about the size of a basketball. I really liked it . . . it was inexpensive to buy and to operate. I'd still have it if some clod hadn't run into me on the freeway. For some reason, they don't make 'em any more. But folks are paying big bucks (3 times what the old Geo cost) for a Prius that gets about the same mpg . . . seems nuts to me.
09-20-2004, 12:25 PM #16Originally Posted by Tock
In 05' Honda is making an Accord with a hybrid electric that gets the same mileage as the Civic and has more power than the standard Accord. That is a good alternative for the people (turns nose up) that would never think of driving a Geo.
Free market economics is exactly that-free, but when people see good looking cars that get 50 MP/G, they'll jump on board.
I would buy one now, but I need to work from January to July just to pay taxes.
09-20-2004, 03:52 PM #17
I paid about $7000 for my 1995 Geo Metro brand new, got 56 mpg with it. To get that same mpg with a hybrid electric, ya gotta pay lots more $$$, which I see as pointless.
I don't really care what I drive so long as it's reliable and frugal, and as long as it's comfy for a 10 hour trip, and if someone thinks I'm beneath them for driving cheap cars, well, that's a dead giveaway that they're too shallow and superficial to hang with me, so that's not a problem.
But, as I tend to think of things from a practical, utilitarian view, I still think it's strange that people would pay three times the purchase price of a Geo Metro just to get the same mpg that a gas/electric hybrid car delivers . . . seem an unreasonable price to pay for a boost to the ol' self-esteem . . .
09-20-2004, 03:55 PM #18
I am a lot more worries about running out of fuel than I am of global warming.
Running out of fuel is a real problem thats coming and that we'll have to deal with, no matter hown much we burry our heads in the sand.
Global warming on the other hand doesn't worry me one bit.
Is it a myth? Nope, global warming is as real as it gets... but it's also a natural and normal process this planet goes thru in cycles.
Studies of the polar ice caps has shown that global warmings and global coolings have been happening in cycles for as long as this planet has been here.
People freak out because of a few cow farts, CFC's, fireplaces or internal combustion engines... gimme a break. Mother nature has unleashed FAR worse on the planet in the past and guess what... the planet recovered. Just look at the dust clouds released by a single volcanic eruption... that releases more pollutants in the atmosphere than all the cars in New York city for a year... gee funny you don't see no greenpeace folks demonstrating against volcanos....
This planet has withstood countless natural disasters on a planetary scale from eruptions to massive meteor strikes, floods, ice ages, global warmings and coolings, massive tectonic movements... and guess what... it always recovered.
I think it's a little arrogant to think we humans can do any significant long lasting dammage to this planet... at the very worse we may make it unpleasant to live in for us... but in a few million years, when humans are nothing more than a forgotten memory, the planet will recover... it always does.
09-20-2004, 04:20 PM #19
I'd sport a metro but I cant fit in one
09-20-2004, 05:23 PM #20Originally Posted by symatech
Geez, how big are you?
I'm a bit over six feet, 240 lbs, and I fit just fine. Lots of legroom for my 34" inseam legs. Of course, the car can carry only 800 lbs total, so it couldn't carry 4 of me . . .
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