Great News About Global Warming!

An analysis branch of the German Army, that famously sloppy outfit which nobody would call exacting or thorough, has concluded that peak oil might arrive as soon as right now. Maybe we can find a sensible compromise solution that prevents chaos, collapse and Mad Max: Beyond Boise? Something like an alternative energy Apollo Program that every President, George W. Bush included, keeps promising, might do the trick.

Ha ha, just kidding. We’re fucked.

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142 replies
  1. 1
    El Cid says:

    Once you take into account that Al Gore is fat and has a big house and also that a lot of people reckon that the Sun is getting hotter no matter what all them people are what measure it is saying, this will prove to be more liberals trying to blow up oil platforms.

  2. 2
    evinfuilt says:

    It’s so weird how much I’m looking forward to Peak Oil. Our country only seems to be able to react to immediate crises, and as long as there’s plenty cheap oil we’ll never get off our lazy bums and move on. It took $4 a gallon to get us off of our SUV craze, but now that gas is closer to $2.50 I’m seeing plenty of people going around in large people movers with no passengers.

  3. 3
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    In the comments of the first link:

    While we will eventually run out of oil, science will save us.

    But what happens when Americans believe the only true science is prayer?

  4. 4
    Chyron HR says:

    Mad Max: Beyond Boise

    Kill here, kill now!

  5. 5
    Tim F. says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent): Hee. Science runs on oil too.

  6. 6
    WereBear says:

    When you can’t get people to throw away their pens that don’t work, or get rid of food in the fridge that they know they aren’t going to eat but won’t throw out until it gets fuzzy; we aren’t going to get anywhere just by asserting what we “know” will happen.

    It ain’t happening NOW. Because they can’t see it.

  7. 7
    Violet says:

    The U.S. Navy is preparing for an ice-free Arctic too. You know, because climate change isn’t real and Al Gore is fat.

    The dwindling Arctic ice cap has launched an international race for control of northern waters: Russia, Canada, Denmark, and even China are hustling to expand their military presence, plant flags and eye those 90 billion barrels of natural gas under the cap. Now the U.S. Navy’s getting ready for the thaw, with a strategic plan to maximize the U.S. stake up north.

  8. 8
    S. cerevisiae says:

    I think those in the know in most governments know we’re fucked, but to admit it is political death. So the kabuki continues and we all get to play along while we live out Kunstler’s long emergency. Interesting times indeed.

  9. 9
    catclub says:

    From the NYT blog:
    “In the medium term the global economic system and every market-oriented national economy would collapse,” the study continues.

    So, North Korea will be fine, also Somalia!

  10. 10
    Crashman says:

    Aww, damn you Tim. It’s thursday, almost the end of the week. I was feeling good. Couldn’t you have saved this for a Monday when I’m already near suicidal?

  11. 11
    toujoursdan says:

    Alternative energy ultimately runs on oil too, so we’re pretty fucked, especially in the U.S. where we’ve built big suburban housing projects that can’t work without cheap oil and natural has. Almost every building in New York City, including most of the skyscrapers would have to be retrofitted for electric heating. They run on natural gas and oil.

    Read Kunstler’s book “The Long Emergency”. Seriously.

  12. 12
    cleek says:

    it’s the tragedy of the commons.

    except the role of “the commons” is being played by our atmosphere.

  13. 13
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @toujoursdan: It’s true that natural gas is also a finite resource, but most of our oil consumption is for one purpose: automobiles. And it’s the least efficient way to use oil.

  14. 14
    Violet says:

    @S. cerevisiae:
    I agree. But it seems really weird that smart politicians can’t figure out a way to create and sell to the American people an alternative energy Apollo project. It seems so easy.

    First you talk about how the Chinese are trying to beat us at something we’ve always been best at, energy. Then you insist that America is the best and we’re going to prove it. You talk up the trade benefits (sell solar panels to the world, etc.) and jobs creation and other economic benefits. Rope in Christians with talk like this: God gave us dominion over the earth, but we are to treat it with respect and tend our gift carefully. Using alternative energies helps us do this (Christians and environmentalists are already finding common ground, so this would be building on that.). Finally, rope in wingnuts with American Exceptionalism: America is a leader. We will be the best in this area and show the world how it is done. Only America can set the true example.

    It really is a win in so many ways. It’s baffling to me why it isn’t being done. I guess business would hate it, but then you ask them “Why does Business hate America?” and “Why does Business want us to follow not lead?” It seems really easy, but what do I know.

  15. 15
    toujoursdan says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    Both are at, or past peak.

  16. 16
    beltane says:

    Is it wise to take advice from the Wehrmacht? This sounds very KenyanNaziCommie to me.

  17. 17
    liberal says:

    @Violet:
    In fairness, you could think the climate is changing, and that the Arctic will be “up for grabs,” without thinking the change is anthropogenic.

  18. 18
    liberal says:

    @Violet:

    It really is a win in so many ways.

    Not necessarily. I read the dead tree edition of Kaplan Test Prep daily on my exercycle a couple days ago; they had a pretty good article on how a lot of the renewable/conservation technology might end up being manufactured in China.

  19. 19
    soonergrunt says:

    OT, but what the hell, right?
    Chest hurts a little bit, but the pain drugs are working very well. They took the drain out earlier this morning, and I passed right out and slept until a few minutes ago. I’m in a regular ward and I hope to go home on Saturday morning.
    I read the posting about the 12 Soldiers in the 2-2 Stryker Brigade. I don’t have anything to say about that right now. I’m reading the article in the Army Times in another window. I fade in and out a bit so it may take a while. I guess I was pretty loopy last night.
    Thanks for the thoughts and prayers, and hug your loved ones for me.

  20. 20
    John Cole says:

    The free market will fix this!

  21. 21
    Violet says:

    @liberal:
    Most climate change deniers that I’ve run into seem to think the climate isn’t changing at all. Hence all the: “Global warming? What global warming?” comments when the east coast had those big snows this past winter. They claim it’s just natural variations and fluctuations. When you ask them about ice core samples, etc., they deny that this change in climate is any different than what has happened at any time in the past.

  22. 22
    licensed to kill time says:

    Convert to cow dung and peat now, citizens!

  23. 23
    Montysano says:

    Dontcha know that the earth is a nougat with a creamy, oil-filled center? Sean Hannity sez it’s so.

    In addition to “The Long Emergency”, I’d also recommend Kunstler’s novel “A World Made By Hand”. It’s a flawed piece of work, but his depiction of a post-oil world is fascinating. It’s grim and hopeful at the same time.

  24. 24
    liberal says:

    @evinfuilt:

    I’m seeing plenty of people going around in large people movers with no passengers.

    Christ, how badly do I hate large SUVs.

  25. 25
    Violet says:

    @soonergrunt:
    So good to hear from you! Glad you are recovering and that everything went so well. I’m really impressed that you are so lucid and coherent and reading articles 24 hours after such major surgery. Very impressive. Rest up and keep us posted.

  26. 26
    J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford says:

    We’re fucked.

    This is excellent news for McCain!

  27. 27
    toujoursdan says:

    @John Cole:

    Just like it did for the Easter Islanders, Maya and Romans :)

  28. 28
    Violet says:

    @liberal:

    I read the dead tree edition of Kaplan Test Prep daily on my exercycle a couple days ago; they had a pretty good article on how a lot of the renewable/conservation technology might end up being manufactured in China.

    Avoiding that was the point of the Alternative Energy Apollo Project, as I outlined it in my original post. Build it here, show how America leads and is great, etc. It would take government support to make it happen, but it could easily be spun as a win for the US.

  29. 29
    Bruce (formerly Steve S.) says:

    science will save us.

    Fortunately for all of us science is done in basements by loners, bankrolled by their private fortunes.

  30. 30
    liberal says:

    @Violet:
    I don’t disagree.

    While I don’t really know that much about the science, though, my naive impression is that proving anthropogenicity or whatever it’s called is harder than just showing warming.

    I was kind of agnostic a decade or so ago, but much more in the warming camp now because the evidence seems convergent.

    OTOH, I think the political difficulties in finding a solution far outweigh the technical ones (like a lot of issues). The fact that a majority of non-Hispanic whites voted for a batshit crazy candidate for president in 2008 doesn’t give me much hope.

  31. 31
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    Consider the source carefully before you give credence to this bit of green agitprop – the German Army is still sore about us bombing their oil facilities back during WW2 and making them run out of gasoline during the Ardennes offensive.

    Payback isn’t just a marketing slogan for ca$inos hawking their slot machine action.

  32. 32
    Ryan S says:

    A ray of hope maybe? Sry for the pun

  33. 33
    liberal says:

    @Violet:
    I’m sure we could create the technology; that’s true of a lot of things. Problem is that the only way to prevent the manufacture from going to China is to set up trade barriers.

    Not saying I’m opposed to that, insofar as I think shipping one’s manufacturing plant overseas lock, stock and barrel is completely nuts, but I don’t see the elites allowing it.

  34. 34
    toujoursdan says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    The most important part of our oil consumption is for agriculture. It takes 10 oz of oil to make 1 oz of food, and this is the only thing that keeps a planet of 7 billion from mass starvation. Take oil out of the equation and driving cars will be the last thing on our minds.

    Even if we could find a replacement that has the same ease of recovery, transport and flexibility of use, it would take decades to retrofit a society built around oil for something else.

  35. 35
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Violet: I saw a very interesting statistic the other day in the Yahoo! real estate section: July was the 305th consecutive month where the global monthly average temperature was higher than the average for the 20th century. We started this record in 85.

  36. 36
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Unfortunately, idiots have been screaming “Peak Oil” for so long now that it’s hard to take seriously. We had morons in these very comments telling us the soaring gas prices of a year ago were caused by Peak Oil when, in fact, they were caused by Goldman Sachs.

    It reminds me a lot of the fundies I grew up with convinced Jesus’ imminent return and the destruction of the world was right around the corner. Every little unrelated thing was seen as a harbinger of imminent doom.

    When Peak Oil does actually happen and no one is prepared for it, we can certainly offload a good portion of the blame to these Chicken Littles, not that it will matter who is to blame at that point.

  37. 37
    Montysano says:

    @liberal:

    Christ, how badly do I hate large SUVs.

    During the Deepwater Horizon event, I stopped by our local grocery. There in the parking lot were not one, but two huge SUVs, unoccupied and idling, so that the owners were spared the horror of getting into a hot car. It nearly sent me into “Hulk Smash!!” mode.

  38. 38
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent): No, petroleum is used for a lot more — plastics, fabrics and yarns, drugs, chemicals, fuel for heat and electric power. The most visible use may be as gasoline/oil for transportation but there is so much more that is made out of petroleum. That’s why it’s been important to find other ways to move transportation vehicles and heat buildings and produce light.

  39. 39
    Martin says:

    @toujoursdan: The trigger for the housing crisis here in CA was the summer of $4.50 gas. Suburban communities of cheap-ish housing 50+ miles from jobs in LA and SD and SF (with no mass transit) allowed people to buy housing, or buy bigger housing than they previously could have, trading a manageable mortgage for monthly gasoline bills in the $200-$300 range when gas was $2.50. When gas shot up to $4.50 and those monthly gasoline bills went to $400-$500, the mortgage was no longer manageable. Demand for these areas plummeted as new buyers worked out the costs to get to work and the store, and weakened further as early movers got out and bought or rented closer to jobs. Those that waited were fucked – demand and home prices collapsed, there weren’t any owners with significant equity to weather the market as the communities were brand new, and they pretty much universally went bankrupt.

    The housing collapse killed them, but it was gas prices that triggered the whole thing.

  40. 40
    Punchy says:

    I heard dead animals produced our oil. Therefore, in the future I’m just going to fill up my tank at the zoo.

  41. 41
    red plaid says:

    Something like an alternative energy Apollo Program that every President, George W. Bush included, keeps promising

    If you haven’t seen it, The Daily Show has a great clip illustrating your point. As usual, the incentives for doing the right thing are not there. With powerful entrenched companies (energy, telecom, etc.) more interested in maintaining current revenue streams instead of investing in future technologies, it seems very likely that the US will continue to fall behind. This had been said many times in the past but never came true; is it different this time?

  42. 42
    toujoursdan says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    Actually, those soaring gas prices are still soaring. Even in the midst of a recession oil is now at $75/barrel.

    In the 1990s we paid less than $20/barrel. See: http://priceofoil.org/wp-conte.....prices.png So prices are on a long term curve up. Our economy has merely adapted by “destroying demand”

    So speculation took it up to $147/barrel, but you’ll notice it hasn’t dropped anywhere close to where it used to be. Peak oil is only something that can be seen in retrospect. Those are crying alarm do so because it will take 20-30 years to change the economy to run on something else, and there is still a lot of denial about the problem.

  43. 43
    Andrey says:

    @toujoursdan: That looks like one of the statistics that are so vague as to be meaningless. Does it not matter what kind of food is being produced? Does soy require the same amount of oil as rice? Wheat the same amount as beef? Does that figure include the cost of transportation of the final product and/or the inputs to the process? How much of that would go away if our truck fleets were running electric? How much would go away if our farm vehicles were running electric?

  44. 44
    toujoursdan says:

    @Martin:

    Every major recession since the 1970s has been triggered by a run up in gas prices. When we hit $147/barrel in 2008, I knew we were in for a bad recession.

    See: http://www.jpods.com/JPods/010.....ssions.png

    It’s amazing that this is never mentioned by economists.

  45. 45
    Alwhite says:

    Peak oil? Hell that is actually the LEAST of our coming problems. All those exotic minerals needed to make those spiffy batteries? We are at or near peak on each of them too. Along with many other more familiar metals that are not going to be magically replaced in our lifetime. Many of the proposed solutions to peak oil can not be produced in necessary quantities because of the lack of these other resources.

    The fact, plain and simple, is we can not support 6 billion people living anything like the way we currently are. Certainly the US is the worse hog of resources but CHina will surpass us soon if not already simply because you could wipe out a billion of them & they would still have more people than the US.

    There was a great extinction event in our history & science estimates only 10,000 breading females came out of it. From that we reached 6+ billion. We have set in motion the next great extinction event, maybe 10,000 will survive but maybe not.

  46. 46
    wasabi gasp says:

    This will also have an indirect, but nonetheless devastating, impact on our ability to make lemonade.

  47. 47
    evinfuilt says:

    @toujoursdan:
    This it the moment we start talking about stock piling our non-hybrid seeds and everyone learning how to make your own soil without petroleum fertilizer.

    Oh, and don’t forget your three G’s.

    Guns
    Gold
    and Goats!

  48. 48
    toujoursdan says:

    @Andrey:

    It takes oil to create fertilizers for food, to plant the seeds, to irrigate (if needed), to harvest, to transport to the processing centre, to process, to manufacture the packaging, to take to distribution points, to take to the supermarkets, to take to the table and to prepare it. Meat is even worse, given that you have to feed an animal for years before it is ready.

    There are no alternatives to much of these processes, and even if you could convert every single piece of farm equipment, all the equipment in food industrial plants and the fleet transport trucks to run as efficiently on electric as on gas (which involves creating a type of engine that doesn’t exist and building the spare electrical capacity to handle the demand), how much of that cost would be passed on to the consumer and what would that do to the poorest 1/3 of consumers?

  49. 49
    Mike E says:

    @Violet: The one big flaw in your argument is the notion that wingers will be dissuaded from their disaster capitalism routine, and this gig has a pretty huge positive feedback loop built in. The only times they leave their fat perch is to molest enviros and work the media/Congress which they own part and parcel. Sensible Dems will offer tax breaks which will do nothing but pay winger ransom, and benefits of any future Apollo project would’ve been pre-negotiated away.

    Al Gore’s tears will be desalinated, bottled.

  50. 50
    MattR says:

    @soonergrunt: Sounds like great news. Ellie is giving you a virtual lick on the cheek.

    @Violet: The question is will he remember reading or posting tomorrow?

  51. 51
    Tim F. says:

    @Andrey: Yeah, it does matter. Meat demands something like 6-10 times as much oil. We can save vast amounts of energy by eating a lot less meat, and we will! It will happen right around the time that we stop driving. It is how we make that transition that worries the worriers.

  52. 52
    Glenndacious Greenwaldian (formerly tim) says:

    I have no idea whether “peak oil NOW” is true or not. And that is kind of the problem: I’ve been hearing off and on since 1970, when I was in eighth grade, that we were hitting peak oil VERY SOON, only somehow it never seems to happen.

    Now I’m 53 fucking years old and not in ANY grade, and just two years ago, as gas neared $5 a gallon, it was all peak oil this and peak oil that, and the price will never go back down again, get used to it, things will stay this way forever and only get worse, at least according to the liberal NPR, and then of course, gas prices once again mysteriously dropped and here I am paying almost half of what I was paying two years ago and I HAVE NO IDEA WHY, as there has yet to be a coherent summary and narrative of what the hell is going on with supply/demand/speculation presented by any MSM organization. And I pay a lot of attention to such things.

    I have no idea what to believe about this. I DO find it very suspicious that industry and research has come up with almost nothing new to move vehicles since the invention of the internal combustion engine well over a hundred years ago. WTF?

    I also find it hard to trust peak oil info coming from extreme far far far left enviro-psychos who seem way to eager to see us all living in trees and eating acorns yesterday.

    Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see us OFF fossil fuels ASAP; it’s a stupid, dirty and anti-modern technology. But I have no idea what to believe about what’s really going on.

  53. 53
    evinfuilt says:

    @Andrey:

    Michael Pollan’s book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” talks a lot about how our nation is eating nothing but oil. We basically pour it onto our crops (modified of course.) What with all the mechanization and the massive quantities of fertilizer we use (cheaper to just use that than proper crop rotation.)

    Then you go down to the Gulf and see where all this oil ends up, in the giant dead zone due to the run-off.

  54. 54
    wasabi gasp says:

    Guns
    Gold
    and Goats!

    Although you can try using the goat, none of those are a satisfactory toilet paper alternative.

  55. 55
    Martin says:

    @toujoursdan: Well, the oil is used in different ways. A fair bit of it is for fertilizer, which could be reduced simply by shifting demand from corn to other types of crops like soybeans (ethanol -> biodiesel) so that crop rotation would be effective. Other is to power equipment, which is actually not that bad of a problem to solve. Large farm equipment has limited range issues and more flexibility to accommodate alternative fuel options. Also, there’s no so many of these vehicles (though they are expensive) that we couldn’t set up an program to get them replaced. That is, it’s a much easier problem to solve than the car problem.

  56. 56
    Tim F. says:

    @toujoursdan: I actually think that we could make it on an almost totally vegetarian diet. However, by the time that that point becomes common knowledge the food distribution infrastructure will itself be very close to crossing the rainbow bridge.

  57. 57
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @PurpleGirl: To be more specific, the largest single use of oil is in gasoline. According to this site, 45% of our oil consumption is on cars and light trucks. I was hoping to find stats on percentages of all oil usage, but could not find anything else.

  58. 58
    russell says:

    Is it wise to take advice from the Wehrmacht?

    You know who else took advice from the Wehrmacht….

  59. 59
    toujoursdan says:

    @Martin:

    Worldwide, even in developing nations? Forgive me if I’m dubious. Even if you could pull off such a transition (assuming that one crop is replaceable with another in all climate zones), it would take decades.

    Food is sold on a single world market. Russian droughts lead to Mozambican food riots.

  60. 60
    Montysano says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    Unfortunately, idiots have been screaming “Peak Oil” for so long now that it’s hard to take seriously…
    When Peak Oil does actually happen and no one is prepared for it, we can certainly offload a good portion of the blame to these Chicken Littles

    Gawd, what dumbassery. If the sea levels begin to rise, are you gonna blame that on those who’ve been warning about it for years?

    And you do realize that Peak Oil doesn’t happen, don’t you? It’s a process, not an event, which is why it’s a Long Emergency.

  61. 61
    Pangloss says:

    Now if anything SHORT of a Mad Max-style apocalyptic breakdown of society occurs, it will just go to prove that Algore is fat.

  62. 62
  63. 63

    @soonergrunt:

    Hugs for you, too.

    Except that these won’t hurt.

    (( ))

  64. 64

    Peak oil:

    During discussions on The Oil Drum, the year 2008 keeps popping up. Of course, the production of oil in 2007 and 2009 was not much different. But several people seem to think that we turned the corner around 2008.

    The Oil Drum, a blog, was set up to discuss Peak Oil. They have several serious discussions about reduced amounts of oil, alternatives, and the social implications of reduced gasoline. Some of it is pretty technical but much of it is in English. :-)

    http://www.theoildrum.com/

    [remember “the” because oil drum dot com is something else]

    While Deepwater was gushing, several people followed BJ and TOD. Your kind of people.

  65. 65
    Poopyman says:

    @Tim F.:

    Hee. Science runs on oil too.

    Ridiculous! Science runs on grad students and caffeine.

    And cookies. Lots and lots of cookies.

  66. 66
    Jager says:

    Mrs J and I camped at a National Forest Campground last summer, the Camp Hosts were unusual because they were a young couple. (the job is almost always held by an old retired geezer and his wife) We had a couple of long conversations with this college educated pair, they were living a lifestyle that would prepare them for when the “Shit Hits The Fan”! They lived in an 80’s era Toyota motorhome that gets around 22-24 mpg, they had pared back their usage of propane to little or nothing. They told us they owned 9 acres of land in northern Nevada and planned to have it self sustainable within the next couple of years with chickens, goats, a cow and a big garden. They had a solar array on the Toyota for power and hot water, they even had a single side band long range radio. As far as these kids were concerned, the time to take action was yesterday!

  67. 67
    Interrobang says:

    Martin — There are tons of better things to make biodiesel out of than soybeans (which can be eaten) or corn ethanol (which is stupid, and I’m a biodiesel proponent). Try switchgrass, which can be grown in field verges or on highway medians with no tilling, watering, or other cultivation; or jatropha, which is about the same in terms of being low-maintenance, algae, human or animal waste, or even normal byproducts of existing industries, like sawdust or straw. Do you remember when lots of people were saying, “In the future, cars will run on used fast-food grease! Car exhaust will smell like french fries!” Because I do.

    It’s stupid to use edible things to make biodiesel, but not stupid to use inedible things that can be grown on junk land and harvested with minimal energy expenditure.

  68. 68
    Poopyman says:

    @licensed to kill time:

    Convert to cow dung and peat now, citizens!

    Don’t got no cow dung. Got lots of cat shit though. Will that work?

  69. 69

    By the way, Tim,

    I am so THRILLED that you brought this subject up.

  70. 70
    catclub says:

    @Glenndacious Greenwaldian (formerly tim):
    “I also find it hard to trust peak oil info coming from extreme far far far left enviro-psychos who seem way to eager to see us all living in trees and eating acorns yesterday.”

    I think that was the point of refering to a study by the German Army intelligence branch. Probably not far left wackos. … but you never know ( as Dwayne Dibbley would say.)

    But until your gas price goes way up, why believe them either, right?

  71. 71
    licensed to kill time says:

    @Poopyman:

    Scientists are working on it, but their catshit specimens keep getting eaten by certain doggies.

  72. 72
    toujoursdan says:

    @Interrobang:

    But today, even in a recession the world uses 82 million barrels of oil every single day. Can we get the meet the same energy requirements on these alternative schemes? I haven’t seen a cost benefit analysis done that supports these schemes. Either you have to convert too much farmland from food to energy, or processing these alternatives take more energy that they net. It’s like paying $2 to get a $1.

    Beyond that, the bigger problem is that our economic system can only work in a state of constant growth, so unless we want to go into another financial and social collapse, we have to increase production and consumption essentially forever, which takes ever increasing amounts of energy. Modern capitalism can’t work as a steady state system. Why would a bank risk lending to a customer or business if there is no chance they will get a bigger return (in real dollars) in the future?

    This is a great ponzi scheme which takes more energy, more production and more consumption by more people. At some point we’re going to hit a very painful wall. It may be eco-fascists like me who are sounding the alarm and we may be dismissed as anti-modern (even though I am gadget geek who loves modernity) but it doesn’t mean the alarm isn’t real. This is a finite planet.

  73. 73
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @soonergrunt: Congrats on coming through ok. Now get better, damn it.

  74. 74
    catclub says:

    @Montysano:
    Alex, I’ll take answers to self-answering rhetorical questions for $100.

    “If the sea levels begin to rise, are you gonna blame that on those who’ve been warning about it for years?”

    What is “Yes”?

  75. 75
    eemom says:

    @PurpleGirl:

    The most visible use may be as gasoline/oil for transportation but there is so much more that is made out of petroleum.

    This reminds me of a report I heard on NPR back when the BP oil was still a-spillin.

    It was about how all the bird rescuers used Dawn dish soap to clean the oil off the birds, all of them swearing that Dawn was absolutely the best for the job.

    Know why Dawn worked best? Because it contains petroleum.

    The Seventh Generation folks donated a bunch of their petroleum-free dish soap to the rescue effort, and none of it got used.

  76. 76
    urbanmeemaw says:

    @Violet: OMG!!! An Ice Cap Gap!!! (Shades of George C. Scott’s concerns about a mine shaft gap in Dr. Strangelove.) The Ice Cap Gap will, of course, be Obama’s fault because he will try to build a mosque in the Arctic to attract Moose-lim terrorists who want to steal our oil. Oh, and Michael Moore is fat, too. Is there a NYT Best Seller here, somewhere?

  77. 77
    Montysano says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    During discussions on The Oil Drum, the year 2008 keeps popping up. Of course, the production of oil in 2007 and 2009 was not much different. But several people seem to think that we turned the corner around 2008.

    aka The Peak Plateau. From what I’ve read, 2008 was the year. We didn’t produce as much oil in 2009, and won’t again in 2010. The economic collapse will have the effect of extending the plateau, however, as usage declines slightly because people are broke.

  78. 78

    And if you would like to be really depressed, worried, scared, etc. . . . . .

    Try this one:

    http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/

  79. 79
    KG says:

    @Tim F.: what do you mean “we” Kemosabi? I’m sure we could make it on something resembling a vegetarian diet. But I’m sorry, that’s just not a world that I want to live in.

    At the end of the day, I think @toujoursdan is right on his second point that it’s going to take a very long time to change things over from oil to something else. Just think of all the cars on the road, the cars that have been bought in the last five years, that people can’t necessarily afford to trade now. The fact that it’s going to take a lot of time isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it gives us time to figure out what will and won’t work.

  80. 80
    Roger Moore says:

    @toujoursdan:

    Every major recession since the 1970s has been triggered by a run up in gas prices.

    Post hoc ergo propter hoc. If you look at that graph, you can see that there are two different effects. The 1973, 1979, and 1991 recessions were triggered by oil supply shocks- the original OPEC price increase, the Iranian revolution, and the invasion of Kuwait, respectively. Those are characterized by a rapid price spike coincident with the start of the recession, meaning that the external oil shock triggered the recession.

    That’s not true of the 2001 and 2007 recessions. In both of those, there was a longer run-up in oil prices that started long before the recession, and oil prices dropped rapidly almost as soon as the recession started. That’s a sign that the oil price increases were part of the normal business cycle trend of increased inflation triggering a recession. You’ll see similar price increases in other commodities before those two recessions.

  81. 81
    Ahasuerus says:

    @soonergrunt: Were you gone? /snark

    Seriously, welcome back man. And get better, also, too.

  82. 82
    cleek says:

    Guns
    Gold
    Goats

    so you have a goat, a gun and a huge bar of gold, and a boat. and you need to cross a river. the boat can only hold two of your items at a time. you can’t leave the goat alone on either shore, because it will run away. and you can’t put down the gun or someone will steal your gold.

    how can you get across the river ?

  83. 83
    superking says:

    There was an article in Time last week that argues that the stimulus bill is doing a lot of this work already. Worth a read, here.

  84. 84
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Ruckus: I don’t think we’re in disagreement at all. There are definitely a lot of steps that we need to do and if we would do any of them we would ultimately be better off.

  85. 85
    jl says:

    I think a lot of the uncertainty lies in whether Saudi Arabia is making up its annual reserve estimates.

    If the oil in ‘peak oil’ refers to all the oily fossil fuel liquids that can be extracted from shale and sand by expensive and desperate and destructive measures, then there is probably no peak oil.

    If the oil in ‘peak oil’ refers to the crude oil that can be recovered using currently known technologies, that is something that should be taken more seriously.

    If crude oil discovery and production was a competitive industry, and there was public information on true reserves, we would know the situation better. But that industry is dominated by a very few powerful producers who have the power to manipulate supply and prices in the short to medium run, and who can hide the truth about their reserves.

    I don’t worry about the seemingly short time horizons quoted for reserves of various minerals. Reserves are an economic concept, and refer to how much we know is in the ground that will be extracted and marketed at a given market price.

    I think the problem is that with crude oil, there is extra special uncertainty due to a few very large players who may be untrustworthy.

    Another problem is that we are dealing with big shifts that are taking place gradually, and the effects of these shifts depend upon different kinds of capital stocks (carbon in the air, fossil fuel burning infrastructure) that are irreversible in the short to medium run. The effects of these capital stocks have a momentum that cannot be easily changed, and avoiding bad consequences requires making decisions in the face of uncertainty.

    In the long run, a lot of this stuff will work out. I read an article by a climate scientist, who was not one of the skeptics, who said in the very long run global warming is not a big problem. Give a few 100K years, the oceans will absorb the carbon, and things will balance out. Problem is that getting there likely kill us all and most of the things we eat, if we are not careful.

    Doesn’t seem like we are being that careful.

    Edit: what upsets me is that there are a lot of things we could be doing that address global warming, and ocean acidification, and the potential peak oil problem that we should be doing anyway, but are not doing for silly reasons, or because of the massive corruption of our political system.

  86. 86
    PurpleGirl says:

    @eemom: Know why Dawn worked best? Because it contains petroleum.

    All detergents are made from a petroleum distalate. That gallon of petroleum crude is separated and refined to different molecular weights and they are used differently.

  87. 87
    Andrey says:

    @toujoursdan: Yes, this is a finite planet, but we aren’t even close to tapping the limits of its resources. Our problem is not that we’re exhausting the planet, it’s that we’re barely trying to use some of the most abundant resources while pushing deeper and deeper to the limits of some of the least abundant resources. The supply of sunlight and water alone have many orders of magnitude more potential energy (and everything does come down to energy in the end) than all the oil in the planet.

    The future of humanity (within the foreseeable millenia) is not in a steady-state solution, it is in harnessing additional sources of energy to fuel our growth. A sustainable system can still be a growing system. Now, in the short term, we will have problems if we don’t ramp up those additional energy sources fast enough, and from a more localized perspective, those of us in America may have problems if we lag behind other locations which ramp up those additional energy sources. The future expansion of humanity and improvement of the human state may not be particularly relevant to the people who lose jobs in the U.S. because shortsightedness or greed causes an economic stall there while other nations prosper with advanced energy technology.

  88. 88
    CalD says:

    Ha! I happen to know that almost the entire German army is made up of people known to be Europeans. ‘Nuff said.

  89. 89
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Montysano: Yeah, you were one of those idiots last time around. Thanks for reminding me.

  90. 90
    PeakVT says:

    @Glenndacious Greenwaldian (formerly tim): But I have no idea what to believe about what’s really going on.

    The short-term price of oil strongly reflects above-ground factors, which a lot of people who talk about Peak Oil forget. That leads them to declare “PEAK!” every time oil prices spike. The reality is that the combination of above-ground factors and a lack of transparency on the part of a lot of producing nations means we won’t know that we’ve definitively peaked until production falls permanently by 5-10%. However, prices could go up and stay up before the peak if global demand recovers. The world would have to produce 400 million barrels a day to for everyone to live like Americans currently do. But the world currently produces about 86 million barrels, and by now few people think that global output will ever go much higher than that figure.

  91. 91
    Martin says:

    @toujoursdan: No, good point. I was just thinking domestically. Even moving to Europe the problem gets harder. Our massive corporate farms makes this an easier problem to solve. As you move outward, it gets progressively harder until you start getting into human/livestock labor where it gets easier again (but only because it’s horribly inefficient).

  92. 92
    BR says:

    I’ve often said that we should be giving Steven Chu a trillion dollars a year and tell him: fix this shit.

    That’s the only place or person I’d give money at this point.

  93. 93
    ...now I try to be amused says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    Consider the source carefully before you give credence to this bit of green agitprop – the German Army is still sore about us bombing their oil facilities back during WW2 and making them run out of gasoline during the Ardennes offensive.

    Funny you should mention that. Germany was a pioneer in the production of synthetic oil (from coal, as I recall) out of wartime necessity.

  94. 94
    gene108 says:

    Oil is not a finite resource. Our sense of time is what is preventing us from realizing this.

    Oil formed when dinosaurs and forams floated to the bottom of the Cretaceous seas and thanks to plate tectonics, those critters to be buried at just the right temperature and pressure to turn into oil.

    Well plate tectonics hasn’t stopped, unlike on say Venus or Mars. In a few hundred million years all the contents will be bunched up together, just like they were at the end of the Permian and then the continents will break apart recreating oil.

    We just have to be patient.

  95. 95
    BR says:

    @Tim F.:

    We can save vast amounts of energy by eating a lot less meat, and we will! It will happen right around the time that we stop driving.

    This.

  96. 96
    toujoursdan says:

    @Andrey:

    Yes, this is a finite planet, but we aren’t even close to tapping the limits of its resources.

    I emphatically disagree with this. We have tapped the limits of the type of resources we can run an industrial civilization on – commodities, oil, minerals, etc. Different types of energy and materials have different properties which can’t just be substituted willy nilly.

    Beyond that we’re overfishing, overgrazing, there’s desertification, salinization and paving over of prime farmland for suburbia, water shortages, peak minerals, peak oil, peak natural gas, pollution of the oceans and collapse of fisheries, deforestation and the disruption of climate change. All these things have costs to address.

    The supply of sunlight and water alone have many orders of magnitude more potential energy (and everything does come down to energy in the end) than all the oil in the planet.

    But oil is millions of years of concentrated sunlight in a form that comes out of the ground fairly easily, can be stored, transported and used in a variety of different ways. Sunlight is highly dispersed, harder to recover per unit and can only be used in certain ways that are very different than how we are set up to use oil today.

    It’s apples and oranges. One energy source or material isn’t just a one-to-one substitute for another. It doesn’t work that way.

    Our problem is not that we’re exhausting the planet, it’s that we’re barely trying to use some of the most abundant resources while pushing deeper and deeper to the limits of some of the least abundant resources.

    We first use the resources that are the easiest and most practical and then move on to harder to recover and less practical resources, but that happens at a cost. At some point that cost will override the benefit. We are never going to recover every single drop of oil, coal or whatever on the planet. At some point it will become too expensive to take these things out of the ground and we will stop. When a gallon of gas is $10 most people will stop driving cars. In some cases there may be a substitute but in many cases there won’t be (otherwise we’d transition already).

    A sustainable system can still be a growing system.

    No it can’t, but I understand there is a lot of denial to overcome.

  97. 97
    BR says:

    @…now I try to be amused:

    Funny you should mention that. Germany was a pioneer in the production of synthetic oil (from coal, as I recall) out of wartime necessity.

    Yup. The 2005 DOE Hirsch Report (which forecasted what the German report is saying only now) suggested that the only way we can mitigate the impact of peak oil is to start a crash program to convert coal to oil.

    The bad news is that making synthetic oil from coal is a very dirty process, and we’d only exacerbate climate change going this route.

    Basically:

    Solution to peak oil: Stop using oil, maybe move to coal.

    Solution to climate change: Stop using coal, oil, and natural gas.

    Solution to both: Stop using fossil fuels.

  98. 98
    Jager says:

    Aaron Robinson, a columnist at car and Driver, has written a couple of columns on why a high gas tax is a much better idea than CAFE regulations, better for the consumer, better for the industry, etc. (In addition we’d be able to buy some of the very nice, very cool, high mileage cars like they have in Europe)) Everytime he writes about a higher gas tax, the wing nuts attack him with the same vicious nonsense they apply to everything they disagree with…even in a fucking car magazine. Btw, the most efficient vehicle sold by Ford is the E 350 Van, but only when you have asses in all 10 seats!

  99. 99
    KG says:

    @Poopyman: for some reason, this reminds me of a line from Young Guns II when they come across the guano mine.

    Billy the Kid: Hey old timer, what are you mining here?
    Old Timer: Guano.
    [blank stares]
    Old Timer: Bat droppings.
    Arkansas Dave (played by Christian Slater): I’ve been to gold towns, I’ve been to silver towns. Hell, I’ve even been to a turquoise town. Never been to a bat shit town. Can’t wait to see the women.

  100. 100
    KG says:

    @cleek: I’d say use the bridge, but that’s just me.

  101. 101
    toujoursdan says:

    I’ve got to bail, but again, I highly recommend people read Kunstler’s book as it is written specifically for an American audience and gives a good overview of U.S. history from an energy point of view, as well as discusses the pros and cons of alternative fuel use.

    You can get a used paperback copy from Amazon for less than $5.

    Amazon.com: The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century

    It’s an easy read but one of the few books that completely changed my worldview. Even if you disagree with his conclusions you’ll see things differently.

    He’s not the only one who has made the same case. There are other links on the Amazon page to investigate.

  102. 102
    ...now I try to be amused says:

    @BR:

    Solution to both: Stop using fossil fuels.

    Or go for an 80/20 solution that replaces fossil fuels for most applications that don’t require the high power-to-weight ratio that fossil fuels provide, permitting aircraft and such to continue using fossil fuels.

  103. 103
    Andrey says:

    @toujoursdan: Sunlight and oil are not immediate substitutes, in that you can’t shoot sunlight into a gas engine and have it work. But energy is energy.

    We first use the resources that are the easiest and most practical and then move on to harder to recover and less practical resources, but that happens at a cost. At some point that cost will override the benefit.

    We start with the resources that are easiest, yes, but that does not mean the ones that are most efficient. For example, for a long time humanity mostly used wood for fuel. Then we learned to harness coal – and we boomed. The cost was greater, but the benefit was much greater. Now, we are pushing the limits of that energy type, and looking for a new one. We are harnessing other energies – solar, nuclear, wind, tidal. Those have vastly more potential energy. They will require more cost, but the benefit will again be a return in multiples. More energy strikes the earth each day than is present in all the world’s petroleum reserves.

    Your assertion that a sustainable system can’t grow is simply silly. If there is input to the system, the system can (and generally will) grow. We have a vast fusion reactor pumping energy into us; of course we have the capacity to grow! The only limitations are that the speed of the growth be no greater than the input to the system, and that the kind of growth be possible given the state of the system.

  104. 104
  105. 105
    Arclite says:

    @Violet: Stop making sense! My brain hurts.

    Also, your idea is “teh socialism” just like the Appollo program and Manhattan projects were.

    EDIT: What in this comment is causing it to require moderation?!?

  106. 106
    Catsy says:

    @liberal:

    Christ, how badly do I hate large SUVs.

    With a screaming passion. The parking garage in the building where I work is badly oversold, to the point where the valet attendants have just started parking cars in the traffic lane on the lower levels. This shortage of parking has only exacerbated the problem of SUVs and big trucks parking in the compact spots, often to the point where you either can’t get another vehicle in the next spot or can barely open your door when you do. The parking attendants don’t give a fuck.

    I am seriously on the verge of carrying around a stack of those “You Park Like An Asshole” forms. In the meantime I have absolutely zero compunction about slamming my driver-side door into the SUV that’s crowding out the spot I’m in–if they give a shit about having their vehicle hit by car doors, they shouldn’t be parking their oversized piece of shit in the compact spots and making it hard to park or get out of the cars next to them.

    I actually had the opportunity to confront one of them personally a while back. There was this lady in an SUV who I often notice parking in the compact spots near where I park, and one day she pulled in just moments after me. This inconsiderate moron was putting on a magnificent display of not getting the point–her position was that her vehicle is a compact SUV, and that if she’s not over the line then I have no right to complain. Her sense of selfish entitlement was something to behold.

  107. 107
    Arclite says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    Unfortunately, idiots have been screaming “Peak Oil” for so long now that it’s hard to take seriously.

    There’s a reason for that. You need 20 years to change a $10 trillion oil-based infrastructure. We should have started down this path 10 years ago.

  108. 108
    Arclite says:

    @Andrey:

    Does it not matter what kind of food is being produced? Does soy require the same amount of oil as rice? Wheat the same amount as beef? Does that figure include the cost of transportation of the final product and/or the inputs to the process?

    Excellent questions. It takes 35 cals of oil to produce 1 cal of beef. Pork is 67 to 1. Oats on the other hand, can produce 3 calories of food per calorie of oil. It is among the most efficient foods to produce. On average, for the food americans consume, it takes 10 cals of oil to produce 1 cal of food. But we can change that equation by eating more fruit, veggies, and grains, and less meat and dairy.

    As for overall oil use, I think this analysis was done on The Oil Drum last year, and from seed to shelf, only 15% of the oil we use went to food production.

  109. 109
    Brachiator says:

    @soonergrunt:

    Chest hurts a little bit, but the pain drugs are working very well. They took the drain out earlier this morning, and I passed right out and slept until a few minutes ago. I’m in a regular ward and I hope to go home on Saturday morning.

    Take care of yourself. I hope all is better soon.

  110. 110
    RalphW says:

    China isn’t investing like mad in alternative energy because it makes them feel all green and happy. They’ve read the research on peak oil, and because they don’t have to answer to idiot shareholders, they’re going like gangbusters into post-carbon fuels.

    They’ll burn a lot of coal along the way, too. But who’s century is this gonna be? Not ours.

    When the populace actually figures out we’ve been totally suckered by gutless, visionless leaders in gubmint and industry, they’re gonna look up briefly from their TVs and say, “huh?”

    So yes, Tim. We’re fucked. Welcome to the re-broadcast of Britain in the 50s/60s. Didn’t they have fun.

  111. 111
    Cermet says:

    The Navy has helped fund a program called Nike (see the Wiki) which is studying inertia drive thermonuclear fusion using direct drive lasers (unlike the worthless NIF program that uses indirect drive which is only useful for weapon studies). The Nike laser delivers nearly 12% conversion efficiency (wall to traget!) and has demonstrated rep rates of its power system of over million shots @ 10 shots per second. The pellet design can yield a factor of 100 increase in yield (compared to energy in) and the pellets have been massed manufacture for about $0.25 each. This design can create viable power cheaply in the 1000 MW range and be used to create cheap liquid fuels (hydrogen.)
    Of course, DOE wants to kill the Nike program because they know it shows up their golden child NIF which will never work – wrong laser, too inefficient, and far to complex. It is on the ropes and unless congress changes DOE – it is doomed. Then we will all wait another ten years before they try this again.

  112. 112
    Arclite says:

    @Glenndacious Greenwaldian (formerly tim):
    If you really want to learn about peak oil from a logical, empirical perspective, I highly recommend The Oil Drum.

    just two years ago, as gas neared $5 a gallon, it was all peak oil this and peak oil that, and the price will never go back down again, get used to it, things will stay this way forever and only get worse, at least according to the liberal NPR, and then of course, gas prices once again mysteriously dropped and here I am paying almost half of what I was paying two years ago and I HAVE NO IDEA WHY, as there has yet to be a coherent summary and narrative of what the hell is going on with supply/demand/speculation presented by any MSM organization.

    Peal oil predicts that at peak, there will be a “rocky plateau” of wild fluctuations in price and production. Despite high prices that should (according to econ 101) bring new entrants in the market, production has been stagnant at 85m barrels per day for the past 6 years.

    I have no idea what to believe about this. I DO find it very suspicious that industry and research has come up with almost nothing new to move vehicles since the invention of the internal combustion engine well over a hundred years ago. WTF?

    Gasoline is an incredibly concentrated and convenient energy source. There is no substitute for powering autonomous vehicles. Only very recent battery tech comes close, and very expensively at that. What really needs to happen is a comprehensive, electric-based public transport system needs to be developed, so that when gasoline hits $10/gal, people will still be able to get around.

    I also find it hard to trust peak oil info coming from extreme far far far left enviro-psychos who seem way to eager to see us all living in trees and eating acorns yesterday.

    The Oil Drum is a good place to start.

  113. 113
    RalphW says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    We had morons in these very comments telling us the soaring gas prices of a year ago were caused by Peak Oil when, in fact, they were caused by Goldman Sachs.

    Other way around, dude. The collapse of Goldman Sachs – well, the collapse of world economic demand post-Sachs – is what delayed the realization of peak oil.

    Prices were soaring because production couldn’t meet demand at the end of the boom cycle. I, and some others with more credentials than me, think that the oil price shocks were an underrated part of the formula for the great recession. There’s a vested interest in not acknowledging the role rising energy prices played in the downturn.

    But back to the main point: peak oil was causing prices to surge, and then they dropped because of the Sachs related recession.

    As we – or at least Asia and Europe – emerge from the trough, oil prices will climb, and maybe quite quickly (but also sporadically and with some down cycles). Countries such as ours that play dumb in service to entrenched carbon-based energy companies will then be hit by a series of recessions and/or stag-flation.

    Much more energy efficient economies will leave us in the dust.

  114. 114
    Tim H says:

    @Arclite:

    20 years? I wish. Try 50.

    The knee in the world oil production curve happened in 2005. The total world production has been bumping around the same amount plus or minus for 5 years now. The more hilarious fact is that oil fields, once they’re exhausted, go down fast, about 20% a year. Like Cantarell.

  115. 115
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Violet:
    __

    First you talk about how the Chinese are trying to beat us at something we’ve always been best at, energy. Then you insist that America is the best and we’re going to prove it. You talk up the trade benefits (sell solar panels to the world, etc.) and jobs creation and other economic benefits. Rope in Christians with talk like this: God gave us dominion over the earth, but we are to treat it with respect and tend our gift carefully. Using alternative energies helps us do this (Christians and environmentalists are already finding common ground, so this would be building on that.). Finally, rope in wingnuts with American Exceptionalism: America is a leader. We will be the best in this area and show the world how it is done.

    Unfortunately, the Americans who really need convincing have all switched to the Global Bully philosophy: We’ll just steal take our lunch money from the smart / rich / weak kids on the playground! God wouldn’t have blessed us with the BIGGEST BEST WEAPONS EVER if He didn’t intend for us to use them taking our energy resources away from the benighted heathens squatting on it, amirite? There are too many of those people anyways, it will be a service to the environment if we forethoughtfully wipe out a few hundred million before they starve to death anyway, because America, Fvck Yeah!

  116. 116
    Arclite says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    Here’s the chart of US oil usage by percentage.

    http://peakoildebunked.blogspo.....oleum.html

    Basically:
    Cars & Trucks – 53.4%
    Raw materials (plastics, chemicals) – 10.3%
    Air Travel – 6.7%
    Heat for factories – 5%
    Heat for hot water – 5%

    Everything else is 3% or less.

  117. 117
    futzinfarb says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):
    re:

    I was hoping to find stats on percentages of all oil usage, but could not find anything else.

    see the energy information administration website

    there’s enough info there to make your eyes glaze over

  118. 118
    Arclite says:

    @Tim H:

    20 years? I wish. Try 50.
    The knee in the world oil production curve happened in 2005. The total world production has been bumping around the same amount plus or minus for 5 years now. The more hilarious fact is that oil fields, once they’re exhausted, go down fast, about 20% a year. Like Cantarell.

    I heard 20 years with a strong govn’t led effort.

    Cantarell is declining rapidly, but I don’t think that’s usual, is it? The continental US didn’t decline that rapidly.

  119. 119
    frosty says:

    @Montysano: As for book recommendations, John Michael Greer’s “The Long Descent” is a reasonably positive take on the dislocations that are on the way for industrial civilization.

  120. 120

    @KG:

    The fact that it’s going to take a lot of time [to change to oil to alternatives] isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it gives us time to figure out what will and won’t work.

    Are you assuming that you will have plenty of oil until we get all of this figured out?

    What is your evidence that the supply of a finite resource will last until it is convenient for humans for it run out?

  121. 121
    frosty says:

    @toujoursdan:@Glenndacious Greenwaldian (formerly tim): The earlier comment about demand destruction helps tie oil prices and peak oil together.

    Oil goes up, parts of the economy fail, people get laid off, houses foreclose. Fewer people working or driving, therefore less demand for oil, therefore price goes down.

    Chindia oil demand goes up, supply can’t match it (definition of Peak Oil). Price goes up, more parts of the economy fail, lather, rinse, repeat.

    Eventually, we have much lower GDP, lower oil consumption, more people in the unofficial economy, and the same price of oil per barrel. Those who have jobs and an income are still buying gas and driving. The others, not so much.

    Peak US oil in the 1970s meant gas hikes and gas lines until we were bailed out by new supply from Alaska, Mexico, and the North Sea. Peak oil in the 21st century won’t bring high prices and gas lines, just a slowly disintegrating economy.

    Oh, and economists will never get this right because they can’t see the problem with infinite growth in a finite world.

  122. 122
    frosty says:

    @russell: Actually, IIRC, someone was giving bad advice TO the Wehrmacht …

  123. 123
    frosty says:

    @toujoursdan: @KG:

    …it’s going to take a very long time to change things over from oil to something else.

    Here’s the bad news. There isn’t something else. Oil is unique in its energy density and flexibility of use. The world today uses about a cubic mile of oil per year. Equivalent energy can be provided from:

    * 4 Three Gorges dams, cranking for 50 years.
    * 32850 1.65 megawatt wind turbines, cranking for 50 years (100% capacity factor).
    * 91,250,000 2.1 kW solar PV installations, for 50 years.
    * 104 500 megawatt coal-fired electric plants, for 50 years.
    * 52 1.1 gigawatt nuclear electric plants, for 50 years.

    Thanks, TOD, http://www.theoildrum.com/node/2320

  124. 124
    PeakVT says:

    @Arclite: Cantarell is very unusual, so I wouldn’t generalize from it.

  125. 125

    @Arclite:

    Moderation: You spelled soshulism correctly. Moderation Nazi doesn’t like that.

  126. 126
    frosty says:

    @Andrey: The difference between fossil fuels and renewables is the energy density. Nothing beats coal, gas, and oil. We’ve had 350 million years to concentrate all that sunlight into energy-dense chemicals.

    Here’s a comparison in megajoules / kilogram (energy/mass).

    Natural gas 53.6
    Gasoline 47.5
    Ethanol 30.0
    Wood 18.0
    Household waste 8.0
    Li-ion battery 0.46
    Lead-acid battery 0.15

    We can’t run an oil-based civilization on alternatives. We will end up using less energy per capita, either voluntarily or not.

  127. 127
    frosty says:

    @Arclite: What I learned on The Oil Drum this summer:

    Continental US oil production decline is a bit different than the rest of the world because of … the free market.

    No, really. Texas is full of really small producers who own a couple or a dozen stripping wells pulling the last bits of oil out of a depleted reservoir. The wells can go on for years and provide a good income for a single owner. They’re totally uneconomical for national oil companies (Saudi ARAMCO) or the big multinationals.

    One of the impacts of Katrina was that it shut down a lot of offshore platforms producing in the same mode. They made money if they were running, but didn’t make enough to make it worthwhile to get them going again after the hurricane damage.

  128. 128
    themann1086 says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: Some knowledge of peak oil theory might help you sound much less stupid. To wit:

    In 1956 Hubbert predicted that production from the US lower 48 states would peak between 1965 and 1970. Despite efforts from his employer to pressure him into not making his projections public, the notoriously stubborn Hubbert did so anyway. In any case, most people inside and outside the industry quickly dismissed the predictions. As it happens, the US lower 48 oil production did peak in 1970/1. In that year, by definition, US oil producers had never produced as much oil, and Hubbert’s predictions were a fading memory. The peak was only acknowledged with the benefit of several years of hindsight.

    For the interested, Hubbert predicted global peak oil between 1995 and 2000. If you look at a graph of oil production, you can see the oil shocks pushed things off, giving us another decade or two. Sadly, we didn’t take advantage of that extra time to do anything about it.

    Source

  129. 129
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @themann1086:

    If you look at a graph of oil production, you can see the oil shocks pushed things off, giving us another decade or two.

    Yeah, something will always push it off a while longer, even though it’s a really long process that’s already happening and can only be seen in hindsight.

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    themann1086 says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: I’d forgotten how apt your pseudonym is.

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    Tim F. says:

    @KG: We will stop driving and eating meat a lot faster than you think. The real trick will be if we can do it slow and controlled.

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    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @themann1086: And I’d forgotten how clever you are.

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    themann1086 says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: I doubt you knew who I was. I rarely comment.

    To be less glib, the entire idea behind peak oil is actually pretty simple. Oil is a finite resource. First, we get the easily-acquired oil. This costs very little. Then, you get the moderately-difficult stuff, which costs more. Lastly, you seek out the hard-to-get oil, which is hideously expensive. In other words, your return on oil decreases as the cost of extraction decreases. Peak oil (hell, peak-anything) is an inevitability; increases in price, drops in demand, and rationing are the only things which will kick the can farther down the road.

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    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @themann1086: And as oil becomes more expensive, other forms of energy become better values.

    Or, ya know, we can scream “Peak Oil!” and fantasize about catastrophes.

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    themann1086 says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: if you don’t have the infrastructure in place to use those alternate energy sources, it is a catastrophe. That’s the problem.

    ETA: Shorter Fuckhead: “The free market fairies will fix it!”

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    Lurking Canadian says:

    @russell: You know who else took advice from the Wehrmacht….

    If you mean who I think you mean, his problem was that he didn’t take advice from the Wehrmacht.

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    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @themann1086: Shorter Peak Troll: The Sky Is Falling!

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    jim says:

    Combine declining oil production, rapidly vanishing mineral resources (some of which are essential for basic industrial processes & have no realistic substitute), increasingly severe summers & winters throughout the populous temperate zones, an exploding population & rising energy & consumption demand … & what you have is a recipe for The Mother Of All Clusterfucks.

    The tragedy is that we’ve been able to avoid it – if only we’d gotten going on major energy-conversion & urban redesign circa 1975-1985. The scale of work & expertise necessary to pull this off is titanic, & its level of difficulty increases along with population. Anyone that thinks this can be done in a mere 10 or 20 years is being VERY optimistic – I’d love for them to be right, but I don’t think we have that long before TMOAC gets rolling in earnest.

    I think history is going to say that we were exponentially worse than the mobs in the Coliseum laughing & cheering as the lions had their Christian buffet … they may have been morbid sociopaths, but at least they didn’t condemn their offspring to living in a 24/7 nightmare. We screwed the pooch, & now future generations get to raise the rabid litter.

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    jim says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    Other forms of energy all rely on oil – most of them very intensively so. Oil production peaked in 2004-5, & there are no large reserves left. Demand keeps growing. All the snark about “Peak Trolls” it takes to pave hell won’t wish away basic mathematics.

    Do you think that the Pentagon is “fantasizing about catastrophe” when it says that climate-change & energy crises are by far the most dangerous secirity threats to the US? Or that the German army are a bunch of Peak Oil loony-tunes?

    The people who have real knowledge of this subject all either have increasingly bad news, or are conspicuously silent. What does that tell you?

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    themann1086 says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: Oh sure, call the scientists chicken littles. What the fuck do they know anyway?

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    TJ says:

    @Arclite:

    Cantarell is declining rapidly, but I don’t think that’s usual, is it? The continental US didn’t decline that rapidly.

    U.S. never used EOR (enhanced oil recovery) like Pemex and SA do. When you use N2 or water flooding the well just ups and stops.

    20 years with an all-out government program might be doable. If we treated it like a war. And started this year. At this point every year you delay would add about 5 years because of the economic decline coming. That is, we are very shortly not going to be able to afford maximum effort.

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    Nathanlindquist says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    Ok, so I’ll buy that maybe Peak Oil is not such a big deal.

    So let’s see it. The US military says we have 5 years until oil shortages kick in. This is not a theoretical discussion anymore. If there are alternatives to oil, lets see it. We don’t have time to wait.

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