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The W - Current Events & Politics - Peak Oil? (Or, Are We Screwed?)
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drjayphd
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Since: 22.4.02
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#1 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.95
Anyone hear about this concept? Basically, that we could be running out of economically viable oil in the next ten to fifteen years. This site (lifeaftertheoilcrash.net) has a bunch of horror stories, including why the world's population is going to contract to 1/12 of its current size and we'll be back to 1765, civilization-wise. I'd heard stories going both ways about this... but what, exactly, is the reality of this?



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Nag
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Since: 10.1.03
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#2 Posted on | Instant Rating: 3.53

I'm not a geologist and haven't read about the subject of peak oil before this, but as my grandad used to say, consider the source. The guy starts off in a scientific manner, then, quickly switches gears into an Anti Bush/Anti War mode. If it's inevitable that the world is going to hell in 5 years, blow 90 percent of your story on politics? Dislike the president or not, I don't know how you are going to blame him for 100 plus years of oil usage.

It is something that needs to be addressed yes, but sometimes I wonder if going back 200 years is such a bad thing. In some regards, my vision of the future is much less optimistic than his.




AJ_Levy
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Since: 31.3.02

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#3 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.45
    Originally posted by Nag

    I'm not a geologist and haven't read about the subject of peak oil before this, but as my grandad used to say, consider the source. The guy starts off in a scientific manner, then, quickly switches gears into an Anti Bush/Anti War mode. If it's inevitable that the world is going to hell in 5 years, blow 90 percent of your story on politics? Dislike the president or not, I don't know how you are going to blame him for 100 plus years of oil usage.

    It is something that needs to be addressed yes, but sometimes I wonder if going back 200 years is such a bad thing. In some regards, my vision of the future is much less optimistic than his.







Actually, there's 2 things to consider: the messenger, and the message. And if years of watching WCW have taught me anything, it's that attacking the messenger is a-okay if you don't like the message they're delivering.

So I will.

This piece is biased, and the author admits it. Repeatedly. "In general, I do identify with the "left." But not always.† I do hate Bush - particularly because he is treating our troops like pawns.† I do like Michael Moore.† I don't listen to the Dixie Chicks, and I haven't seen a Sean Penn movie since "Colors" ". In other words, while he's not the stereotypical champagne socialist, he is left of the center. He also writes 'While I love it here, I also recognize that America has done some pretty atrocious things. † Regardless of your political outlook, the unfortunate truth is we used forced labor to build our nation on stolen land. (So did many other consumer based, oil driven nations, and they will be crashing also)..." before writing a list of everything wrong with America. So our messenger is left of center, and his 'open letter' should be read accordingly.

In fact, it's hard to not read it accordingly; his piece reads like 'A list of Bush Administration policies I don't like, viewed through the prism of peak oil or justified by peak oil'.

There is also internal contradiction in his piece. He writes "In the context of Peak Oil, the wars in the Middle East are not wars of greed.† Rather, they are wars for survival.†
You can expect the U.S. to invade Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia within the next 2-5 years.† As you watch the news, you can already notice the hints are being dropped.† "Iran has WMD" or "Syria isn't cooperating in the war on terror" or "Saudi Arabia is funding terrorism".† "The war on terror will last for decades."† The stage is being set so that the American public will accept these future invasions".

Okay, so President Bush does have a responce to the impending crisis: he is buying time for America and its allies. An elected official must have the interests of their electorate at heart, and if a situation of 'every man for themselves' emerges, that means looking out for their electorate over the interests of other electorates. If a worldwide peak oil crisis is to emerge, doesn't it make sense to buy as much time as possible for your own country (and its allies) when an 'every man for himself' situation emerges? After all, if 500 million people are going to survive this thing, might as well be 500 million Americans, Britons, Australians, and Poles. While the rest of the world experiences the crisis, the US and its allies switch over to more renewable energy sources.

So wouldn't that make war in Iraq very much in the interests of the US and its allies?

To put it another way, would you have wanted Saddam holding the world's oil when the world's oil when the music stops? I sure wouldn't!

Thankfully, he also admits that "Peak Oil is happening with or without Bush.† In fact, you may have the Bush administration to thank for the couple extra years of cheap oil he is robbing from the Middle East.† This gives us in the U.S. some extra time to prepare for the post-peak Oil Crash. (Note - I in no way feel this justifies the invasion of Iraq or Afghanistan)
The President, his administration, and most of our legislators have been reduced to ceremonial figureheads for the energy and defense industries.† These industries control both parties.
None of the presidential candidates except Dennis Kucinich have publicly mentioned Peak Oil even once.
In other words, regardless of who gets elected, we're on our own."

Like I said earlier, this guy is a left wing ideologue. This thing (assuming it's true) is going to happen regardless of whether Bush is in power or not. And if Gore / Lieberman were in power, they'd be following a somewhat similar path. As Nag shrewdly pointed out, George W. Bush is not responcible for 100 years of oil use. But my guess in his reasoning for writing the above is that this guy is either a Kucinich supporter, or a Green party supporter. By his own admission, War In Iraq (assuming the truth of his argument) was a stalling tactic to buy valuable time.

* * * * * *

The messenger has been exposed. Time to look at the message.

Look, colour me skeptical about 'end of world / mass death and destruction / fall of western civilization' scenarios. Consdering every one I've heard in my lifetime, there would be mass death, destruction and carnage everywhere by now about a hundred times over.

From insane millenium cults, to people preaching that Armageddon is literally at hand, to global warming (wasn't New York City supposed to look like Venice by 2004, back in the 1980's?), to Nostradamus misinterpreted, Cocaine, AIDS, a nuke contest between the US and the USSR, stray asteroids from outer space... I'm sure everyone on the board can name at least a dozen more.

Most of us aren't dead yet.

Again, by authors admission, "The most wildly optimistic estimates indicate 2020 will be the year in which worldwide oil production peaks.† Generally, these estimates come from the government.
A more realistic estimate is between the year 2004-2010.† Unfortunately, we won't know that we hit the peak until 3-4 years after we actually hit it.† Even on the upslope of the curve, oil production varies a bit from year to year.† It is possible that the year 2000 was the year of peak oil production, as production has dipped every year since". Okay, so this peak will hit some time in the next 20 years. If you haven't noticed, this article is by a paranoid green-leftie with a propensity for exaggeration and Bush-bashing, and thus his guess is that is that 2000 was when it hit.

But there's another point he downplays.

He points out that "All oil production follows a bell curve, whether in an individual field or on the planet as a whole. On the upslope of the curve production costs are significantly lower than on the downslope when extra effort (expense) is required to extract oil from reservoirs that are emptying out". Note that term 'bell curve'. After peak oil production is hit, there will be a downslope, where oil supplies will slowly dry up. Again, if the global peak oil production theory is valid (and note it is just a theory), oil prices will increase. Note also during this time, the laws of supply and demand will force a global switch to renewable energy sources, or alternatives to oil. And - even by the author's own admission - the US and its allies are in the best position for the switchover when it happens.

So take a deep breath. Oil won't dissapear tomorrow. And if a crisis is looming, I doubt it's half as urgent as suggested.

* * * * *

One final thought: I've been assuming through most of my responce that the underlying theory is valid. But it is a theory, and theories are often wrong. If anyone is interested, I suggest you look up unbiased studies on the issue (ie ones not sponsored by either the oil companies, or green groups). Failing this, look up both sides, as the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
Big Bad
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Since: 4.1.02
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#4 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.54
We really need to get the Stonecutters to stop holding back the electric car.



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The Thrill
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Since: 16.4.02
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#5 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.03
I remember hearing about 20-25 years ago that the world would run out of petroleum in 20 years, and if everything wasn't converted to other sources of energy by then, {R.E.M.} it's the end of the world as we know it {/R.E.M.}

We're still here, the oil's still here, so...feh.



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DrDirt
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Since: 8.10.03
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#6 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.58
    Originally posted by The Thrill
    I remember hearing about 20-25 years ago that the world would run out of petroleum in 20 years, and if everything wasn't converted to other sources of energy by then, {R.E.M.} it's the end of the world as we know it {/R.E.M.}

    We're still here, the oil's still here, so...feh.


If we had spent the last 30 years working on alternatives that were affordable, we would likely have them by now. We will never run out of oil as the price will simply climb til no one can afford it. It is , however, not a renewable resource. Our myopic, piggish view of resources never ceases to amaze.

We must stop our short-sighted view of the world and put the money and time into alternative energy resources now, not later.



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Since: 9.1.02
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#7 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.72
I think the key words that people tend to ignore in these "omg no more oil" stories is "at our current rate of consumption".

Advances in engine technology keep changing the amount of oil/gasoline we're dependant on, so any kind of long-term prediction is pretty worthless except as a kick in the pants to the companies working on more efficient systems.

That said, DrDirt's right, eventually we WILL run out, and we'd be well served to make sure that we've got a plan B ready BEFORE that happens, whenever that is.



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eviljonhunt81
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Since: 6.1.02
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#8 Posted on | Instant Rating: 3.75
An estimate of the amount of oil reserves left in the world was in this month's Maxin, oddly enough. It might be available on their website.



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wordlife
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Since: 4.4.03

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#9 Posted on | Instant Rating: 10.00
I remember reading on a environmental webpage that their guess was that we would run out of oil sometime in 2050.

If there is anyone to blame, it is our government and the oil companies. Everyone knows that ExxonMobil is always one of the biggest political contributors out there, I mean look at who is always one of GW's biggest contributors...does anyone remember reading about the "pill" that was invented that if you put it into your gas tank that it made your tank of gas last twice as long?

Probably very few of us, due to the fact that our gov't would not give a patent to the inventor...until ExxonMobil can figure a way to syphon the next energy source so they can have a buck, we are stuck with oil until it disappears
DrDirt
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Since: 8.10.03
From: flyover country

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#10 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.58
    Originally posted by wordlife
    I remember reading on a environmental webpage that their guess was that we would run out of oil sometime in 2050.

    If there is anyone to blame, it is our government and the oil companies. Everyone knows that ExxonMobil is always one of the biggest political contributors out there, I mean look at who is always one of GW's biggest contributors...does anyone remember reading about the "pill" that was invented that if you put it into your gas tank that it made your tank of gas last twice as long?

    Probably very few of us, due to the fact that our gov't would not give a patent to the inventor...until ExxonMobil can figure a way to syphon the next energy source so they can have a buck, we are stuck with oil until it disappears


Companies give to both sides. They may have a preference but they want both sides' attention.



Perception is reality
ges7184
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Since: 7.1.02
From: Birmingham, AL

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#11 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.83
I tend to think economics will take care of the whole "alternative fuel" thing. Once the oil starts running out, prices will drive up. At that point, there will actually be a demand for alternatives. Therefore there will be an economic opportunity for companies that develop those alternatives. Right now, the reason there is no rush to develop these alternatives is that there simply wouldn't be demand for any such alternative. It's hard to expect companies to invest in developing such alternatives if there isn't going to be some sort of return on this investment. (and the fact is, I've already seen enough development on cars that run on alternative resources to believe a conversion will be easily doable once it is economically feasible, once it is necessary)

A lot of the "doom and gloom" theories seem to be based on some idea that all the sudden we will run out of oil on a single day. I find it hard to believe, unless we have incredibly bad luck, that every oil well in every section of the world will dry up at the same time. I find it much more likely that slowly but surely we would find less sources of oil, which would both (a) cut the supply slowly, raising prices and (b) make it obvious that we are running out of oil, but we will still have time to spare. I think that realistically what will happpen is that oil will phase out, while something else is phased in, over time.

I really don't understand the whole idea of forcing a shortage of oil before we have to, though. Exactly what would we be saving the oil for? Is there any point to having oil just for the sake of having oil? If it's not being used, it's not a resource.



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Grimis
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Since: 11.7.02
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#12 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.29
Let's also not forget that there are sources of oil we still haven't tapped yet. Lots of oil in Central Asia that we haven't gotten a chance to get to in the 'Stans, plus Siberia. Plus new drilling technology should allow us to do more slanted drilling and to use what we're getting more efficiently.

Of course, this does not mean we shouldn't look at practical alternative energy sources.



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DrDirt
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Since: 8.10.03
From: flyover country

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#13 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.58
    Originally posted by Grimis
    Let's also not forget that there are sources of oil we still haven't tapped yet. Lots of oil in Central Asia that we haven't gotten a chance to get to in the 'Stans, plus Siberia. Plus new drilling technology should allow us to do more slanted drilling and to use what we're getting more efficiently.

    Of course, this does not mean we shouldn't look at practical alternative energy sources.


While true, wouldn't it be more prudent to start now. Fossil fuels, no matter what we do are dirty. There are cleaner alternatives out there that would be renewable. Also hybrid car technology that would allow us to maxmize the oil we can pump.

But for some reason, it takes our backs to the wall and a crisis to move forward on almost every important. Investment now would be much cheaper for all of us in the future. I likely wont be around when the oil runs out but many of you will. Presssure your reps to get off their butts.



Perception is reality
Von Maestro
Boudin rouge








Since: 6.1.04
From: New York

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#14 Posted on | Instant Rating: 3.51
    Originally posted by DrDirt
    While true, wouldn't it be more prudent to start now.


With all due respect Doc, why do you think that we haven't started looking already?

Just becuase we currently use oil as our main source of energy, doesn't mean that we aren't exploring other sources at the same time...
DrDirt
Banger








Since: 8.10.03
From: flyover country

Since last post: 7 days
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#15 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.58
    Originally posted by Von Maestro
      Originally posted by DrDirt
      While true, wouldn't it be more prudent to start now.


    With all due respect Doc, why do you think that we haven't started looking already?

    Just becuase we currently use oil as our main source of energy, doesn't mean that we aren't exploring other sources at the same time...


We. as a nation, are not committed to developing other sources. We pay it lip service at best. For example, parts of Kansas could generate a lot of wind power. First, the technology is coming from Europe. Second, the state goverment is doing little to promote it. Third, the power companies don't like it. Fourth, the power grid is getting old, we aren't planning to do much about it, and it is at capacity. There is no leadership.



Perception is reality
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