Monday, December 14, 2009

I'm a Patriot, and a Traitor

I'm a Patriot, and I love my country....

But I'm also a Traitor to my country's cause of maintaining unequal control of global resources as described on page 188 of TPIO (Richard Heinberg's The Party is Over).

My definition of politics is:

The intentional inequitable allocation of finite resources.

It is probably more accurate to call it a mis-allocation.

We live in a world of more than 7 billion humans where the Bottom Billion live on less than one dollar a day and the Bottom Two Billion don't have access to clean water.

This insane global inequity is fueled by oil and controlled by politics. It's just that simple.

Peak Oil is going to change all that.

No more BAU (Business As Usual).

Although my analysis indicates that it is less likely that we will experience an out-of-control "collapse," we are definitely now experiencing what is described as Energy Descent and Energy Collapse remains a constant threat. (I'm a One-Four-SixtyFive-Thirty).

As the PeakOil fueled BAU world unwinds, human awareness will shift towards sustainable living and relocalization of food production which will tend to disarm the politically powerful and empower the disenfranchised.

The WorldWideWeb is already spreading the basic ideas of sustainability faster than the PowersThatBe can control them. My intention is to be part of that solution, part of the wave that shifts the inequality back to our human compatriots.

So, I am a Traitor. A traitor to the cause of BAU. This is not heroic or really very interesting. It is really just a matter of education, understanding, awareness and acceptance. BAU is done anyway, whether I am a traitor to it or not. I'm just fortunate to have evolved as a human and been educated as a geologist and tuned-in to the fundamentals of resource depletion rather than suffering the fate of my fellow "Patriots" that were taught to "Pledge Allegiance to the Economy."

Soon, very soon, the celebrity-worship ModernMediaCircus will be unable to hide the truth of Peak Oil Energy Descent.

Unfortunately, the US government doesn't have a PLAN. That's because they don't have the courage to get realistic about the problem.

Instead, the ModernMediaMachine continues to serve up a menu of tasty tidbits in the form of soundbites attempting to rationalize why President Obama's escalation of a war should be rewarded with a Nobel Peace Prize and Tiger Woods' lying, cheating and thieving should be rewarded by continued reverence and undeserved "respect" for privacy. Don't be fooled. The Party is Over.

The cool thing is you don't have to make a choice between being a Patriot, and continuing your allegiance to a fundamentally flawed economic system and the government that protects it, and being a traitor to that system.

The reality is that in the new world after Peak Oil, a traitor can express their commitment and fervor by positive action in the form of investing in new world systems of sustainability.

There is nothing to "fight about." No bullshit "war on drugs" or "fight against cancer" or other phony nonsense. The old system is imploding on itself no matter what your politics and what your allegiances might be.

We don't need to round up all the Traitors and throw them in an internment camp. As a matter of fact, that is exactly what the government doesn't want to do. We need to keep people out there struggling for solutions and learning how to rewire everything to run sustainably. This is a good thing.

So maybe for the first time in history, one can be a traitor, and a patriot both.

Listen to my friend Jackson Brown sing about it, and don't forget to raise your Peak Oil Freak Flag high, HIGH!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Blinkenlights on the Peak Oil Machine






In other words, if you are not a Geologist or OilHand and you've never done any mud logging or thrown the spinning chain, DON'T TRY TO FUCK WITH SHIT YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND.

Just sit back an enjoy watching the BlinkenLights on the global Peak Oil Machine economy as the world slides down the Peak Oil Crash Depletion Curve.

Thank you for your attention. Auf widersehen.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hey Mr. Economist, the war is over!

Remember those Japanese soldiers who were left behind to fight on little islands in the Pacific after World War 2 ended?
This is a picture of Lt. Onoda who was one of them and remained convinced for 29 years after the war ended that the world he used to know still existed. You can check out this fascinating true story about the Lt.

Just imagine meeting Lt. Onoda and trying to explain to him that things have changed a little and now in fact, men have "walked on the moon."

Ha, ha, ha, ha! You can almost here Lt. Onoda laughing. "No way! Men walking on the moon! Nonsense," he would say.

Funny thing is, this is pretty much the attitude I observe with Wall-Streeters, Bankers, CEOs, Biz School Grads, Government Officials and just about everybody else, including all those "educated" types that went to "Haaa-vaaad" and Yale and LSE or whatever.

Guess what guys? The joke is on you. The war ended a long time ago. Didn't you get that memo? Didn't you notice all the leaflets dropping from the sky?

It's incredibly strange that all these otherwise intelligent people have continued to ignore the signs. You know, little things like the fact that US oil production peaked way back in January 1971.

Hey! Guess what?

1971 was 29 years ago!

Just like Lt. Onoda hiding in the jungle for 29 years, these same masters of the universe have continued to "believe" in the myth of infinite cheap oil and GROWTH, GROWTH, GROWTH.

It almost sounds like some kind of cheer, doesn't it? Or scarier still, some kind of chant. Imagine a whole stadium full of economists chanting together, "GROWTH, GROWTH, GROWTH." Although I always enjoy it when they do "the wave." (otherwise known as the Wall Street Journal; nothing but entertainment) ;-)

Economic growth, as we know it in the late 20th century and early 21st, was completely dependent upon the exponential rise in the availability of cheap oil for transporation fuels and food production and everything else. End of story.

The Global Crisis is caused by the change in the vector of oil production. Simple.

But economists and the ModernMediaMachine remain convinced that the war is still on!

Maybe we should drop some leaflets down on them in the jungle and tell them the war is over and to come on out and get with the solutions to Peak Oil?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The United States of Terrorism

I spent a couple of minutes today reviewing one of my favorite books, one that taught me more about the system of modern medicine than any other- "The Great Influenza" by John M. Barry.

Let me share one short passage with  you.

"As terrifying as the disease was, the press made it more so. They terrified by making little of it, for what officials and the press said bore no relationship to what people saw and touched and smelled and endured.  People could not trust what they read. Uncertainty follows distrust, fear follows uncertainty, and, under conditions such as these, terror follows fear."

So, you see. Terrorism, I mean real terrorism, not just silly boogeyman bullshit like the Department of Homeland Security masturbates about all day long, is created by government officials and members of the mainstream media.

This is true whether the subject is the H1N1 "SwineFlu" virus of 2009 or the Iraq War or especially Peak Oil.

People are stupid, but not that stupid.

Just because 60 Minutes is dumb enough to broadcast a story about there being plenty of oil in Saudi Arabia doesn't mean that people believe its true.

I found it interesting last week when everybody jumped on Joe Biden just because he gave an "honest" answer and realistically recommended that you keep your loved ones off the mass transportation systems. He was right. If the H1N1 was as virulent as the 1918 H5N1 then it would make good sense.

Believe me, as a former airline captain, I love the airlines, I love the freedom of being able to fly wherever I want to go on a moment's notice. But I also understand the potential for the airlines to spread a pandemic disease so wide and so fast that it gets out of control.

The best that I can tell, the world got lucky in March and April 2009 and the H1N1A didn't kill a hundred million people. At least not yet. It could easily come back in a newly mutated and more virulent form after multiple passages through humans over the next few months. Don't be surprised if we have to shut down all the airports in October or November if the H1N1 gets turbocharged again or the H5N1 goes wacky.

The bigger danger is the threat from the terroristic policies of governments and corporations and the media stooges they control.

You can fool some of the people some of the time....

I talk to people everyday about Peak Oil.

Most people look at me kinda sideways and make sure to nudge their children closer to them.

Peak Freakers are scary to soccer moms!

But I'm stuck in a world where I need everybody else to help me survive, I can't do it by myself.

I'm committed to spreading the awareness of Peak Oil to anybody who gives me even half a chance.

But it is obvious that most people feel terrorized by their own government. They know the government is lying.

Bailing out the banks? What a joke! I can't imagine why anybody would ever pay taxes again.

Maintaining the status quo is the obvious plan of the U.S Congress and whatever administration is in power at any given time.

Pointing the finger at Osama Bin Laden is a neat trick but I think lots of people are starting to wise up and realize that the so-called "War on Terror" is a big joke and the joke is on anyone stupid enough to believe that the infinitesimal threat from some fanatics on the other side of the world is anything like the immediate danger from a ModernMediaMachine that is completely manipulated by lobbyists and Political Action Committees.

Terror is terror.

It starts with distrust. Any idiot can tell the media is bullshitting them.

I respect your right to "believe" that Obama and his green shoots are going to turn the "economic crisis" around and soon we will be back to growth and Business As Usual as long as you respect my right to tell you you are totally wrong and the world is experiencing an energy crisis not an economic crisis and that the U.S. economic system designed on exponential debt and phantom dollars whipped into existence out of thin air by the Federal Reserve and not connected to any physical reality is a fundamentally flawed system.

Peak Oil is the Black Dragon. We already peaked 4 years ago so there won't be anymore growth. Get used to it.

The terror comes from the fact that the government and the media is making little of Peak Oil.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Is the World Wide Web Sustainable?

I like the Web, don't you?

Email is convenient for me. News is convenient. Weather data is a snap.

The Web has become so fundamental to our way of life that it is obviously assumed to be sustainable, that it will last forever moving forward. But, is it really sustainable?

The consistent decrease in net energy available to civilization necessitates an exploration into the future viability of the Web assumption.

I haven't heard any discussion about the sustainability of the Web. Have you? Please send me some references if you have.

The analysis of the sustainability of the Web reminds me of some of the truly nutbag statements I see on a daily basis about our energy choices, for example: I often hear people try to "explain" to poor little old me about the "fact" that "wind is carbon free" or "solar doesn't use any oil."

Well, those kind of statements just emphasize the complete lack of competency of the author to discuss energy.

Solar panels use tons and tons of oil. They do so at every level of the supply chain that it takes to design, develop, fund, manufacture, transport, install, maintain, sell them and deliver energy to the grid.

The same with wind power. You have to build factories, with oil. Build components like steel towers and even carbon-fiber blades, with oil. You have to transport the components, with oil. Feed the workers, with oil. Etc., etc..

The Web is the same.

It takes oil to build the components. It takes about 630 units of energy from oil to make one unit of silicon computer chips.

It takes oil to build the servers, the switchgear, the cabling, the fiber optic, to lay the fiber optic, to build satellites and deploy them, to fill the maintenance trucks with fuel and feed the maintenance workers.

It seems to me that at some level it would be interesting for some clever doctoral candidate to attempt to conduct a real energy-based cost analysis of the Web. I'll bet the real numbers would make us gasp. Unfortunately, life calls, or I might attempt such a difficult analysis here.

All I am saying is that I doubt if it is going to be so simple to keep the Web up and running in a world of collapsing EROEI.

But, I think the military, for one, will take resources away from something else to protect the continued operation of the Web. Like, taking energy away from somebody that they could otherwise use for food production. This is more than sad. It is potentially inhumane.

Think about it.

Enjoy the Net Energy Free Fall as it gets worse this year, and next.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Crisis is Energy, not the financial markets!

The idea that the Global Crisis is financial in origin is a catastrophic misunderstanding that is continuing to prevent the creation of a solution. Wall Street, global media and governments are filled with fools who mistakenly think that sub-prime paper was the origin of the problem.

These people have a fundamentally flawed view of reality.

They fail to understand that the growth of the industrial world over the last 100 years was only possible because of cheap energy from oil, not because of "brilliant" financial geniuses and "talented" leaders.

The U.S. property bubble and it's collapse was entirely due to forces driven by energy and the complete failure of governments to use energy from oil to build an energy-sustainable world before Peak Oil caused the current catastrophic crash in global energy markets that is forcing a Power-Down from the unsustainable days of essentially free energy from oil.

The longer the world stumbles along thinking that the problem is with financial markets, the deeper the energy crisis will become and the harder it will be to start to rebuild fundamental infrastructure that could eventually bring back the possibility of new growth.

The world will have to learn how to adapt to the new paradigm of NO GROWTH because global oil production will no longer support it.

Massive debt taken on by the U.S. and other nations during the current crisis will likely cause the collapse of many nations, including perhaps the U.S., unless the economists start to understand that the economy is supported by energy, not the other way around.

This is hard for most people to grasp. For a simple reason.

Everybody alive today has been taught the wrong lesson. We have all been taught, every day of our lives, that energy was "free," meaning that rock oil was so cheap that it was basically free.

That was never true and now we are getting bit by our failure to understand the fundamental nature of natural resources like oil and the necessity of the peaking, depletion and lowered EROEI or net energy on the downside of the curve of production.

If this view of the economy doesn't quite make sense to you, I suggest you watch some of Chris Martenson's videos to learn about the connection between energy and the economy.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

"Growing Liquids Supply Challenge"?

The "Growing Liquids Supply Challenge"? Hmmm....

Doesn't that sound like it could be Peak Oil?

Check out the graph above from page 12 of the "One Year Later" September 17th 2008 update to the 2007 "Hard Truths" report issued by the National Petroleum Council, an oil industry organization.

Go ahead, click on it. I dare you.

It's interesting how this oil industry group avoids the term "Peak Oil" at all costs. They don't want to call it Peak Oil. They want to sanitize it and call it a "growing liquids supply challenge."

Well, too bad. I'm going to call it what Hubbert called it, Peak Oil.

Peak Oil, Peak Oil, Peak Oil. There, we got that straight.

But, check out the graph. Do you notice anything scary about it?

See that prominent gray band starting from the left at about eighty-something million barrels of oil PER DAY? Then, going DOWN to the right, the gray band is prominently labeled "4-7% Production Decline."

Production decline, starting in 2007, and going DOWN all the way to the end of the projected period in the year 2030.

That means Peak Oil. Plain and simple. And, this data is mostly from 2006 and 2007 and was updated in 2008.

Peak Oil is HERE! Even the oil industry is showing this.

But, it gets worse. Notice the UPPER gray band? That range shows the projected DEMAND curve according to the 2008 International Energy Outlook.

Look how bad it gets. In just 2015, a mere 6 years from now, the projected shortfall in "liquids" is 30 to 45 MILLION BARRELS PER DAY!

By 2030 it is even worse, catastrophic! The projected shortfall, to keep up with the projected demand of about 110 MMBOPD is 70 to 100 MILLION BARRELS OF OIL PER DAY!

That is just outright ridiculous!

No way is the world all of a sudden going to find and produce an extra 70 to 100 MMBOPD in 2030 when we can't even keep producing eighty something per day in 2008!

No way!

Notice up at the top of the graph, it says clearly, "Increasing Demand and Natural Production Decline Create Growing Need For Significant  New Production Capacity"

That might be the understatement of the century.

This is why the Global Economic Crisis is about to get a lot more interesting.

Are you living sustainably, with your own private energy supply?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Houston, We've Got A Problem!

Buzz, buzz, buzz. Twitter, twitter, buzz.

Can you hear all the noise out there?

And not just the ModernMediaMachine.

It's on Twitter, it's on MySpace, it's on Facebook, on text messages.

Houston, we've got a problem!

But, is all the buzz, buzzing about the real problem? It's NOT just the economy, I can assure you.

Did you see "Apollo 13"? Classic.

Did you catch the part in the story line where the crew was scheduled to do a live broadcast while flying towards the satellite of a small, water covered planet, third out from it's sun?

And, the ModernizingMediaMachine of the time decided that watching real live human beings flying from the tiny home planet where they evolved to an entirely different celestial object was just not interesting enough for "ratings" to rate being broadcast?


What does that remind you of? All those Demon Derivatives weren't too interesting until they started to crash the global economy huh? Or sub-prime mortgages, or greedy bankers or sleeping politicians.

And, do you remember the part where they were buzz, buzzing, trying to figure out how to get the astronauts home again safely and finally, at one point, one of the engineers explains that the only thing that matters is ENERGY!


That's all that matters. If you don't have any energy, nothing else on the spacecraft is going to work or make a difference at all.


Is this sounding familiar?

Every day I talk to people about Peak Oil and for even the nicest, most intelligent ones, their eyes just seem to glaze over with the whole subject.

Pick a subject, any subject. Paris Hilton, pro basketball, the Academy Awards, whatever.

Anything is better than actually discussing our emergency situation with our spacecraft.

Make no mistake about it, the Good Ship Blue Marble is in trouble!

Ask yourself, if you are reading this, and therefore at some level you "care" about Peak Oil and our energy emergency, how many people did you tell about the problem today? What about yesterday?

Make a list. I dare you. How many people do you know that can even explain what Peak Oil is?

Global Warming is warm and fuzzy now. Lots of people are freaking out over that.

But hardly anyone seems to have the slightest concern that our main source of energy is crashing and we don't have a replacement ready.

Ever since I first learned about Peak Oil in 1981 I've watched with amazement while the people around me just kept burning, and burning and burning. And, I can assure you that nobody, I mean nobody wanted to hear about Peak Oil. I learned to only discuss that "strange" subject with other "earth scientists." Nobody likes a party pooper do they?

It makes you wonder if we will end up as "lucky" as Apollo 13 and make it home again?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Peak Oil Myths

Peak Oil is incredibly poorly understood.

I constantly come across people who have never heard of it, don't care, or want to change the subject to something more mainstream like the ball game or even some light celebrity worship.

Those that have heard about it often are suffering from various "beliefs" about Peak Oil. So, it seemed worthwhile to discuss a few of the major myths about Peak Oil.

Peak Oil Myth #1: We're running out. Wrong! Nothing could be farther from the truth. Peak Oil, by definition, means we are at most, halfway through. We probably have at least 1.3 Trillion barrels left!

Peak Oil Myth #2: Peak Oil is a scam created by the Big Bad Oil Companies. Wrong. It is amazing to me that most people are so illiterate when it comes to Peak Oil that they don't understand that "investor-owned" oil companies, like ExxonMobil, control very little oil and instead the truth is that it is the world's "national" oil companies, like Saudi Aramco, that control about 52% of daily production and 88% of global reserves.

Peak Oil Myth #3: Hydrogen will make oil obsolete so there is no reason to worry. Wrong! The "hydrogen economy" is a fairy tale. Hydrogen is an energy CARRIER, not an energy SOURCE. Hydrogen can at best be used to transfer energy from place to place but you can't drill hydrogen wells, not even in Iraq. Sorry Mr. Cheney!

Peak Oil Myth #4: "They" are working on "new technology" that will increase alternative energy. Wrong! There is no "they." There is just us. This is a giant failure in conceptualization. People just don't seem to understand the "miracle" of oil. Oil is an amazingly dense energy source. Nothing else we know about comes even close. That is why it is "worth" probably at least $300.00 per barrel and may soon cost that much or more with some tricky "supply and demand" price spiking and a little help from the "electronic herd." This is known as the "new technology myth." Even algal biofuels won't be scaled up soon enough to provide substantial relief from the impact of Peak Oil. Solar, wind, and the rest are no way getting scaled up fast enough.

Peak Oil Myth #5: The problem is Global Warming. Wrong. Global Warming, or it's popular alternative title, "climate change," is NOT the problem. Peak Oil is the problem. Why? Because first of all, global warming is a question. Even though evidence is mounting to support the conclusion that man's activities are influencing the amount of "greenhouse gasses" in the atmosphere and causing significant changes in energy flows, global warming is still a question. There may not be any such existent as a "climate" anyway. Or, the thing we perceive as a climate might be a natural, non-linear dynamic variation in weather across scales and drivers we don't yet understand. 

Peak Oil is a certainty. Geology is simple in that respect. Oil is a finite resource and the last of it will be very hard to find, really hard to extract and really expensive. The big problem between Peak Oil and Global Warming is that if global warming IS true, we need energy to re-tool the giant global machine we built that is spewing out all the greenhouse gasses anyway! Let me say that another way. We need energy to fix global warming. We will need energy to re-build our big machine. That's another reason is why Peak Oil is so important.

 Peak Oil Myth #6: The "Peak" is way, way off in the future, so technology will provide a solution by then. Wrong. Global Oil production seems to have already peaked, maybe in 2005! Even if it hasn't, it may be peaking right now, maybe "plateauing" enough so we really can't tell with our coarse oil inventory technology we have. Even the craziest, most optimistic "forecasts" put the global Peak at 2040 or 2050, even one says 2100. No way we have that much time. Don't fool yourself. The Peak is upon us now, deal with it.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Peak Presidents

Consider this: Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama.

And still, we have the threat of Peak Oil?

Hubbert told Kennedy about Peak Oil in 1962.

Oil production peaked in the United States in 1971.

Global Oil Production may have peaked in 2005.

Most people haven't even heard about Peak Oil.

I guess you can't fix something you don't know about.

Are you going to tell them, or should I?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

It's the Stupid, Economy!

Have you ever heard that phrase, "It's the economy stupid!"?

What about, "It's the stupid economy!"?

Well, guess what? Neither are correct!

This is what I might call "economistic myopia."

The real answer is, "It's the ENERGY stupid!"


You can't have an economy without any energy. Energy is everything.

And, guess what? You can't FIX an economy without any energy either!

This is the main problem with the noise on Wall Street and the mainstream media.

They just don't get it.

You can take all the blue ribbon panels, Nobel Prize winning economists and Wall Street Gurus you want and you still won't move anywhere if you don't have any energy. No economy can run on theories.

The world is facing a vicious worsening collapse due to our energy challenges. This is nothing new, and, as Joseph Tainter has pointed out, the EROEI of modern industrialized society is a big problem and seems to indicate imminent collapse of energy-imbalanced countries like the USA. The same thing caused the fall of Rome.

Remember right after 9/11? I do. I was an airline pilot at the time.

I remember seeing people driving down the freeway with little plastic American flags bolted on their side mirrors. Unfortunately, most of those little plastic flags were made in CHINA but that hypocrisy seemed lost on all the "towel-head haters!" I also remember seeing hundreds of those flags littered all over the freeway for a couple months as they eventually wore out and tore off. That was pretty patriotic.

The knee-jerk Patriotism of 9/11 has pretty clearly faded, and, despite the new "hope" of the Obama administration, the "system" is bogged down chasing the elusive ghosts of economic theories that fail to recognize the foundation of energy.

Well, I can tell you that it is not the least bit patriotic to remain ignorant of our energy challenges. Awareness is the first step. Most people don't have a clue.

There is a simple reason for that lack of awareness. Oil is our main energy source. Yeah, you can talk about coal and natural gas and nuclear and wind and solar and even corn ethanol, but make no mistake about it, oil is our God.

To get the oil to burn to fuel our modern society, you first have to discover it, then you have to produce it, then you get to waste it.

That's the problem. Most people are only involved in using oil, so they don't have a clue about how oil is produced and the fact that Peak Oil is threatening them.

We can't create a solution if most people don't even know what the real problem is!

So, next time the ModernMediaMachine barfs some nonsense all over you about the "economy," remember that the real problem is the Stupid.

"It's the Stupid, Economy!"

The solution is awareness!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Peak Oil Solutions?


You want solutions?

Solutions to the Dragon of Peak Oil?


How about this one. is working on a system to give electricity consumers the ability to closely monitor their consumption. Click here to check it out.

This is not only a good start to saving energy by taking the first steps towards a "smart" power grid, it also raises some very serious sovereignty questions about who owns their power consumption information. The consumer, or the power company? 

Kinda reminds you about the squabble over who owns their medical records huh? See, those things really do matter, don't they? Maybe people will start to get a clue that our medical records, our electricity consumptions records and especially our CELL PHONE RECORDS belong to us. Not the government, and not the corporations.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Gulf Polo

Here you go sportsfans!

Click here to check out the latest, greatest extreme sport for your entertainment pleasure.

"Gulf Polo"

Yes, this is truly exciting.

Watching ships beat each other into submission while risking catastrophic oil spills at the same time!


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Peak Fish?

I once thought about producing a "coffee table book" that would showcase a collection of pictures of people that have been photographed right at the instant that somebody asked them what they felt about eating raw fish.

Ooooh! Ick! Yuck! NO! Take it back! Gross! I've seen all these reactions and more. ;-)

I don't think I could count all the different times that I have watched people scrunch up their face to that question.

Either you like sushi or you don't.

Have you ever been out to the sushi bar with some "landlubbers?" It is comical to watch them fumble with the chopsticks or give up and try to handle a handroll with the tips of their fingers, lest they stain them forever with stinky fish smell. Hilarious. They might try a nip off the corner of some maguro sushi, spit it out and then retreat to comfort by ordering some nice, well cooked, tempura chicken.

And, by the way, don't even try to discuss the conditions in meat processing plants with those same people who eat loads of cheeseburgers or chicken or whatever. They don't want to hear it and don't tolerate that flavor of criticism as well as they expect you to understand how extreme sushi really is to them.

Peak Oil is an extreme topic.

We humans we use our power of reflection to discern, to compare.

Peak Oil, Peak Natural Gas, Peak Gold, or my personal topic of close concern, Peak Caviar. Man, how I love that stuff! In Russia we call it "Ikra," and eat the fisheggs in "blini," little tasty pancakes, or snack on "zakuski" with caviar spread on crackers or deviled eggs.

Peak this or Peak that. They are all predictable lines of inquiry.

What about Peak Fish? Ever heard of that one? It's simple.

The world has passed the peak in the harvest of fish from the ocean. Even though fishing is a potentially sustainable system, apparently we have screwed it up and legitimate authorities have concluded that we are in a "race to the bottom" to rape the last schools of fish out of what was formerly conceptualized to be an unlimited source.

I'm a "waterman." I'm from the "Ocean Tribe."

People like me are surfers, sailors, divers, and fishermen, all at the same time.

And, I can tell you from personal experience that Peak Fish is real.

I have watched the world destroy the ocean. And, unfortunately, I have to take personal responsibility for my part in the destruction.  Pollution and overfishing has caused amazing impacts just in the short time I have been alive. Short geologically speaking that is.

You might find it not only interesting but probably disturbing to hear that the world's fishing peaked long ago, back in the 1980's, in some places it was the 1970's. Kinda reminds me of the Peak in US oil production that nobody paid attention to in 1971.

This is not good.

Peak Fish, as a concept, offers a spectrum of lessons, especially about politics and greed.

And, it seems only prudent to consider that Peak Oil is sailing along on the same course.

Lack of awareness, lack of what Mr. Gore calls "political will," lack of courage basically.

I can't tell you if the ocean is beyond repair. It certainly doesn't look good.

We have been playing around with a big toy we don't understand in the least. And we haven't taken very good care of our toy so far.

Discussing Peak Fish or Peak Uranium or Peak Platinum is all fine and dandy.

But I think it important not to dumb-down the discussion by making the other Peak concepts seem even nearly as important as Peak Oil.

Oil runs everything that matters. It's a fact.

We built up everything dependent on oil and so right now, Peak Oil is the "mother of all peaks."

The most important thing to understand is that if we are going to fix any of the other challenges, it is going to take energy to do it and the only "spooled-up" source of energy we have is from oil.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Peak Oil solutions?

It's easy to be negative isn't it?

You know. The glass half-empty thing.

We get tired, we get cranky, we don't get enough sleep.......modern life.

Peak Oil Awareness is not about being negative. Please don't misunderstand the topic.

It is about being realistic.

Living an illusion is negative. And un-patriotic too. No matter where you live in world.

And the world, especially the United States, has been living an illusion for a long time.

So, what are the solutions?

How can we change things to get the monkey off our back?

Nobody has all the answers. I certainly don't.

But a vague notion of "energy independence" is not going to cut it.

We need some very specific plans.

And those plans have to be based upon realistic assumptions and in understanding the scope and limitations of various technologies that can offer parts of the solution. We can't depend upon fantasies like dilithium crystals, can we?

So, let's be positive for a moment and think about things we can do that can be implemented without delay.

Transportation is one of the biggest areas that is being impacted by Peak Oil.

Personal mobility is a concern for everybody. Transportation to support trade and industry is another important aspect.

The challenge in the transportation space is mostly about the fact that we have built a giant global machine dependent upon non-renewable oil to provide liquid fuels.

Yeah, there are a few busses that run on natural gas, but most of the fleet of commercial trucks and other machines don't. My neighbor's Mercedes-Benz 600 doesn't.

And, even though things like corn ethanol sound good, the reality is that the conceptualization is flawed. Remember, people get hungry. And corn for fuel takes away food for hungry people.

An analysis of corn ethanol needs to also consider the EROEI (Energy Returned On Energy Invested). How good is your physics? Can you explain the concept of an "energy sink?" Its not tough. If the amount of useable energy you get out of a technology is less than the energy you put in to get it out, that technology is an energy sink and is not sustainable. That pretty much explains corn ethanol.

I have a lot of hope for algal biofuels.

I think this area offers a lot of the solution potential for decreasing the burden of having to come up with so many millions of barrels of go-go juice everyday.

It's simple. Throw some algae in a photobioreactor and make sure there is enough carbon dioxide nearby (like from a coal-burning power plant) to bubble through the mix to feed those little blue-green guys, make sure you get some radiation from the sun or grow lamps, keep the kettle stirring, and, you've got a potentially sustainable source of liquid fuels.

Then, you run the blue-green muck through a press or whatever and get the oil out and then transesterify the stuff or throw it in an adequately designed engine that can run it straight.

The strange thing about algal biofuels is that many voices claim that they are "too expensive." Well that is just silly. Continuing to run on non-renewable rock oil is way more expensive. We are heading for a disaster. It would be cheaper to subsidize algal biofuels than face the bill we will have to pay when global oil production crashes.

I already lived through the gas rationing in 1973 and 1979. It wasn't fun.

What is strange is that we just fell asleep for 36 years or so.

We don't even have an emergency plan for gasoline rationing. That would be a good solution. Get a gas rationing plan, just to have in case of an emergency, which we could have again any day.

Some of these solutions seem so simple it is amazing that they are not deployed.

The big problem is scaling them up. Making enough biofuel from algae to make a significant difference. Or making enough batteries for deploying at least some electric cars.

The other basic problem in the transportation space, especially personal transportation is the ridiculous inefficiency of most vehicles.

On average, less than one percent of the energy used to move a vehicle moves the weight of the operator! That is just stupidly inefficient.

Remember the "Africar?"

That was a cool idea!

It was all about building vehicles out of wood that could be harvested from sustainable forests and constructed with simple wood and resin technology that anybody could fix, even out in the bush in deepest Africa.

Apparently, the company was financially unsound. I would guess they didn't have a good business plan and ProForma financial statements like lots of people I try to help. Wish I could have had the chance to help them.

There are lots of other Peak Oil solutions to discuss in subsequent posts but the transportation issues are the ones that are most challenging because of the scale of the problem and huge bridge needed to span the gap between dependence on non-renewable rock oil and fuels of the future.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Analysis of Simmons January 14, 2009 Brief

You'd better sit down.

Things are really bad. Worse than anybody ever imagined.

Allow me to strongly suggest you visit Matthew Simmons' January 14, 2009 briefing on Peak Oil.

My summary analysis is as follows:

1) The 2008 oil price "spike" was not really a spike but just the culmination of a multi-year rise in oil prices due to fundamental changes in the oil industry.

2) 2008 high price was NOT due to speculators!

3) Recent new oil discoveries were unfortunately small and deep. (inadequate to compensate for crashing production from existing fields).

4) IEA's November 2008 WEO (World Energy Outlook) "yanked the covers" off the naked truth of some very ugly facts about the world's 800 largest oilfields and revealed (confirmed) the fact that most of them are in irreversible decline.

5) Cheap oil/energy is OVER!

6) "Hard data" now confirm that Global Oil Production PEAKED IN 2005!

7) Oil prices are way too low!

8) Oil should be at least $150.00 per barrel with a permanent pricing "floor"

9) The world is facing the reality of the "twin cancers" of the oil biz, people and rust.

The "People" problem is due to the upcoming retirement of the bulk of the oil biz

The "Rust" problem is due to the fact that the world's oil infrastructure is built out of steel and is way too old and must be replaced immediately

10) Even at just an 80% replacement rate the rust problem is bigger and more complex than World War 2!

11) Obama does not know what is going on.

12) The world cannot adjust given the current "blueprint" of oil dependency

There obviously is a lot to discuss here.

If it turns out to be true that Global Oil Production has already peaked in 2005......we don't have enough time to fix the problems.

I want to make it clear that I am not attacking President Obama just for the sake of attacking somebody. I have always had great respect for the commander in chief.

But on a daily basis I talk to people who seem to think that Obama's concept of "change" is the magic potion that will wipe away the current inconvenience and bring back the heady days of cheap energy. It won't.

And, most importantly, many experts are warning us that Obama does not have a PLAN!

Look, don't be pissed at me as if I am calling your favorite football team names. We mean that Obama does not have a plan that is SCALED UP big enough to deal with the huge energy gap!

Obama's recent speech, as analyzed professionally here on The Oil Drum might sound good to a layperson. It sounds good to "double" the alternative energy in three years. But that is nowhere near enough to avoid massive problems. It is too little, too late.

Please don't confuse realism with pessimism. I'm not particularly pessimistic. But the reality of the Peak of Oil production is very, very real.

It is very important for as many people as possible to instantly develop an AWARENESS of the SCALE of the problem.

That is the most important concept. The scale.

This is very difficult for most people. Thinking about really big numbers doesn't mean that much to people on a day to day basis. A million here, a billion there. What does it matter to somebody working for an hourly wage at Wal-Mart?

I think the thing that scares me the most is that Obama doesn't even use the term Peak Oil in every paragraph. I'm talking about "mindshare." Not enough mindshare.

Forget about the "terrorists" and everything else. Peak Oil is the enemy within. We are killing ourselves.

How much of the new Obama "Stimulus Package" is dedicated to the estimate 100 TRILLION dollars we need for oil infrastructure replacement?

Doesn't anybody understand that all the stuff we built back around World War 2 has now rusted away? It's so simple.

Just take a walk near any refinery or pipeline or oil field or port and you can see for yourself that everything is in really bad shape.

Making just a "down payment" on fixing the economic crisis is not going to solve the CAUSE of the economic crisis, Peak Oil.

I don't even have the courage to try to discuss the last point. "The world can't adjust" is too negative, too extreme. Even for an old hang glider pilot like me :-(

Monday, January 26, 2009

The United States of Nationalization

The New York Times reported yesterday that Obama is heading towards nationalization of the banking system in the USA.

Isn't that interesting?

I don't remember hearing that as a campaign promise. ;-)

Didn't somebody tell the Obama "team" last summer that nationalization was the only solution?

I'm guessing they knew it all along.

I wonder what happened to the idea of letting the banks fail, like Summers and Geithner told the asians in 1997?

We seem to be breaking our own rules.

Its interesting that you don't hear much discussion about the Gold Standard and Bretton Woods or Bretton Woods 2, and nobody, I mean nobody is talking about the banking crisis, the gold standard and peak oil all in the same sentence.

For some reason, the best and brightest continue to "see" (or not see, according to your point of view) the "economy" as an abstract floating in space completely independent of the energy it is floating upon.

Energy in formal economics is treated as a type of collateral co-factor or something to be plugged into supply and demand formulas or whatever.

It's real simple guys. Oil runs everything! 

Oil is captured sunshine. It took millions of years for sun energy to get stored in chemical form.

Sunshine gets stored in oil similar to a capacitor gaining a charge.

The problem is that now we are discharging the capacitor and we are going to use up millions of years of energy storage in a short time.

Oil is our God. In a very literal sense.

It may seem warm and fuzzy to talk about tax breaks and credits for "alternative energy" but the fact is that we slept through the last 38 years since oil production peaked in 1971!

38 years!

Electric cars sound like a good idea, but it won't solve the energy crisis and threat of Peak Oil because we can't replace enough of the fleet of 230 million gas guzzling cars and light trucks fast enough to make a difference.

This is the problem with laypersons who didn't bother to pay attention in science class. It is impossible for the public at large to grasp the fact that the scale of the problem is too large for  band-aid solutions and wimpy nonsense like the latest push to let the individual states set stricter gas mileage standards.

It is way too late for making a difference with state gas mileage standards. And, if state standards should be raised, why not get the whole country standardized and raise the Federal standards to equal the highest state levels? That is why the auto companies should be left to fail. We need new solutions.

Peak Oil is an emergency right now!

Oh well. Stay tuned to watch the show over the next few weeks and see how long it takes Obama and company to admit that we have to nationalize the banks.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Oil Hits $336.00 a barrel in USA!

Wake up America!

Peak Oil is here

The Los Angeles Times reports on January 25th 2009 that oil prices have reached $336.00 dollars per barrel in the USA!

That is the price of heating oil this month in fishing villages in Alaska. ($8 a gallon times 42 gallons in a barrel).

People are having to decide between heat or food!

Even Sarah Palin's new celebrity status hasn't seemed to prevent this crisis.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

HyperChange, or Change Hype?

Time will tell.

So far, it doesn't seem that President Barack Obama is in Hyperchange mode.

But it will take some time to figure out if all the talk about change is just hype.

As the New York times reported today on Inauguration Day, Obama doesn't have a plan, at least not one for a quick fix, not for the banking "crisis," or a plan for Peak Oil.

Obama has talked plenty about Energy. But it doesn't seem that the Peak Oil concept is part of the literacy.

And, don't forget Obama's foolish campaign trail suggestion to drawdown the Strategic Petroleum Reserve just to save money at the gas pump for summer driving vacations!

Hopefully, once you become President, you get a better briefing on the oil and gas infrastructure of the country and the proper use of the SPR.

I didn't hear any inauguration day call for changing our fatal dependency on oil.

No "New Manhattan Project" for energy.

No nationwide conservation measures.

No plan for gas rationing.

No "what you can do for your country" stuff.

What I am doing for my country is developing AWARENESS of the problem of Peak Oil.

What would I tell Mr. President?

Number 1) The USA is the weakest country in the world because of our dysfunctional dependence on oil. Admit it. Admit the problem and then we can fix it.

Number 2) It is not reasonable for the USA to use 25% of the world's oil every day. The rest of the world hates us. For good reason. Instead, get a plan to change our greedy monopolization of oil and spread the new technology to help everybody else!

Number 3) The US needs a State of Emergency declared! Maybe if the President himself got serious, everybody else would too? The New Manhattan Project should be a program of URGENCY but not one of blind dependence on "blue ribbon" panels made up of the same people who got us into this mess. Would a "Wiki" type model work?

Number 4) We need to immediately re-work the petroleum inventory infrastructure in the US and apply up to date technology to make the inventory data publicly available. This is a jobs generator for sure.

Number 5) The USA needs a crash-implementation of "Alternative Energy" Congress needs to get serious and lose all the stupid corn industry subsidies and create major incentives to kill gas guzzler vehicles and deploy large scale solar and wind and develop algal biofuels. Don't forget about tidal power too.

Number 6) Establish a Federal system for gas rationing to prepare and protect the country. Didn't we learn anything from the 1973 crisis?

Number 7) Drill the ANWR and drill everywhere else, including the continental shelves. The tree huggers and whale savers are totally wrong, drilling is ridiculously safe and should be ramped up to maximum capacity within 6 months.

Number 8) Create a new model for oil and gas price stabilization that creates a "floor" for prices to promote large scale investment in oil and alternative energy production.

We are living through an emergency. It is time to admit it. Bailing out the banks won't work, it already didn't.

"Experimenting" with the economy, like Bob Rubin and Timmy Geithner are thinking about doing is a recipe for disaster.

Oil is everything. Peak Oil is the dragon that threatens everybody and everything.

Time to deal with it.

Fix the oil dependency problem and then we can fix the rest.

Don't fix the oil problem, and we can't do anything.

Not only that, but the rest of the world is depending on us.

My suggestion- develop your awareness of Peak Oil, and tell the President to make the changes he has promised, at

Join the revolution, be a real patriot and get the courage to change our oil dependency!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Fuel back in the fuel truck? How about gas flaring?

One of the first things I teach my flying students is that fuel that you leave back in the fuel truck won't do you much good.

Flying requires a completely different level of AWARENESS when compared to other human activities, like driving a car.

It may seem like flying is just driving in the sky. I can assure you it is not.

Last time I checked, they still didn't have any gas stations in the sky.

You can't just buzz around town doing errands and then push the OnStar Button when you run out of fuel in the sky.

Not paying attention to your fuel status is not just stupid, it is unacceptable.

It is not reasonable to go flying if you don't understand that running out of fuel can kill you.

Peak Oil is routinely misunderstood to mean "running out."

Running out is not the concept.

Insufficient production is the issue. The world needs more oil and gas than the amount we can produce everyday.

So, given the fact that Peak Oil is happening right now, today, you have to wonder how we could be so stupid to continue flaring gas?

Russia and Nigeria flare lots of gas. So does the USA. Click here to read the latest.

Flaring means burning off excess gas from a well.

See, when you drill an oil well, it sometimes doesn't turn out to be an oil well. It might be a gas well. There might be mostly gas that comes up. Or brine.

The engineers make some calcs and decide what horizons to produce from and then let er rip.

Sometimes an oil well will produce mostly oil, but it will also produce a lot of what used to be called "casing head gas." Sometimes called "associated gas."

This means that not only does oil come up the well, but a lot of natural gas does too.

But it takes money to build pipelines. A lot of money. So if you are already spending money to pipe the oil to market, you sometimes don't want to spend the money to also pipe the gas to market.

Now, you have to ask yourself. If about 93% of the oil and gas in the world is controlled by governments, and not the oil companies, why is it not a condition of a government granting an oil and gas lease that the lessee must collect and pipe the gas out of the field and off to market in addition to the oil? Long answer....................

So, here we are in January 2009 and my friends in Ukraine are wearing their snowboarding suits indoors tonight because the natural gas from Gazprom in Russia got shut off in another political squabble. 

At least they have some nice new snowboarding suits to wear. A lot of Babushkas are sitting under 5  layers of blankets tonight instead.

Is this necessary? Why is Russia flaring so much gas every day and there is no gas getting to Ukraine, Slovakia or Greece? Politics.

Met any cloud huggers lately? You know, a cloud hugger is somebody who used to be a tree hugger but now they smoked the Al Gore Inconvenient Truth bong and they spend all day thinking about hugging clouds and global warming conspiracy theories. ;-)

Why don't the cloud huggers head over the the scenic Niger delta and spend some of their trust fund money negotiating between the oil companies, the government and all the residents who were promised schools and jobs?

Maybe they could figure out a way to stop flaring all the gas and cranking up the carbon credit machine?

20 years from now when Peak Oil is absolutely crushing human civilization, all that gas we are flaring is going to be about as useful as fuel back in the fuel truck.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Peak Oil Risk

Initially, the risk of Peak Oil was ridiculed.

Currently, the risk is being ignored.

Soon, the risk of Peak Oil will be considered self-evident.

Historically, when people look back on the history of energy, they will wonder how so many people could have been so stupid and failed to take action.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Peak Oil will be the Blacker, Black Swan

The World has fundamentally changed in the recent past.

Just to give yourself some perspective, I suggest you read this article in Forbes, an interview with Bill Gross, one of my neighbors here in Newport Beach and one of the world's most respected investment managers, known as "The Bond King."

To paraphrase and oversimplify a bit, Gross basically explains that since the US Government has now elected to "rescue" major parts of the financial system, instead of letting them die according to the principle of "creative destruction," the financial environment will be much more regulated in the future and we will not be able to "go back to the prior stasis."

This sounds to me like the very definition of what I would call a fundamental change.

In fact, Bill Gross estimates that it will take "15 to 20 years to escape this new regulatory environment and the lack of risk taking."

15 to 20 years!

That's an entire financial lifetime! The bulk of many people's productive working years before retirement. I would argue that is very fundamental.

But, if you think the so-called "global economic crisis" is bad, get ready for something worse.

Peak Oil. You can think of it as the "blacker" Black Swan.

The basic problem is that we are completely failing to manage the risk of Peak Oil impacting human civilization.

For one thing, everybody is too myopically focused on the current media darling, global warming.

If you are really interested in understanding how the financial crisis got so out of control, I suggest you read this article in the New York Times by Joe Nocera about Risk Mismanagement.

Even if you don't have a strong background in statistical modeling, Nocera does a great job of explaining the concept of VALUE AT RISK, or VaR and it's relationship to the derivatives that have melted down and driven the world into crisis.

The important concept is the idea of what Nassim Taleb calls the "Black Swan."

A Black Swan is an unforseen event that comes along and causes a disaster even though a fancy, shmancy risk model estimates that the chance of such a thing happening is down around 1% or less. And guess what? The world has seen this Black Swan thing before, and recently, in 1997-1998.

And guess what else? The people who caused it were the "best and the brightest." In fact, the two guys who set the whole thing up were winners of the Nobel Prize in economics.

But they still blew it.

I'm talking about the financial collapse of Long Term Capital Management and the US Government bailout.

See, the basic problem here is that we don't seem to have learned that these really big catastrophic events that seem really unlikely actually can and do happen. And when they do, they trash everything and make everybody look like an idiot. Black Swans bite!

I enjoyed the analogy I heard that it is like a pilot who is flyin' along, flyin' along, and doesn't understand that there is a thing called a THUNDERSTORM!

Well, Peak Oil is an even bigger and badder and blacker Black Swan.

Except Peak Oil is not unforseen.

That is the strange thing.

It is happening right in front of your eyes.

You can have a conversation with anybody anywhere in the USA about gasoline prices and everybody, I mean everybody understands perfectly well that we are paying a high price for gasoline because we have to IMPORT so much.


That by definition means that the US production has peaked and we don't have enough domestic oil to go around.

There is just some kind of mental disconnect and people have become sort of numb and blindly charge ahead complaining about Arabs and high gas prices while they jam their foot on the pedal of their SUV to go 85 miles an hour down a residential street towards a red light. Well, at least that's how they drive in Newport Beach, but you get the point.

There is a giant lack of awareness of Peak Oil.

I'm trying to change that. Will you help me?

The best military plan the US could have would be to start a "Manhattan Project" style effort to re-leverage the entire country towards energy sustainability like Matt Simmons has suggested for years. However, the style of such a  "Energy Manhattan Project" should only be similar in urgency to the original Manhattan Project. The last thing we need is blind reliance on a panel of government and industry "experts" of the same kind that got us into this mess!

Despite my respect for highly successful guys like Bill Gross, it is still amazing to me that I never, and I mean never hear any discussion at all on "Wall Street" about the relationship between Peak Oil and the economy.

And the interesting thing is that now we know that all the smartest, best educated, best paid people in the financial world were dead wrong.

Are we going to sit around and wait for the Peak Oil Black Swan to bite us too?

It certainly seems like it. Global oil production seems to be peaking right now in 2008-2009.

Dozens of countries, especially the US (1971) have already peaked.

The first part of the solution is developing an AWARENESS of the problem.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Risk is Relative

Have you ever heard somebody say, "Well, Einstein said 'it's all relative,' right?"


That's not what Einstein said.

This is a common misconception of laypersons who don't bother to do their homework.

Mr. Einstein helped us to understand that there is no such thing (existent) as "space," or "time".

The way the universe actually works is by a concept called SpaceTime.

Both together at the same time.

There is no such thing as space. There is no such thing as time.

Space and Time are merely elements of SpaceTime.

The Relativity that Mr. Einstein was talking about is limited to the relativity of space to time. Nothing else.

So, no, it is NOT all relative.

This is just one simple example of a LACK OF AWARENESS OF REALITY.

Most people I talk to about SpaceTime lack the awareness that their "belief" about space and time is an incorrect mental picture of reality.

Peak Oil is real. 

But Peak Oil is misunderstood by most people also.

They lack an AWARENESS of Peak Oil. That is what this blog is all about. Raising awareness. So we can work together to find a solution to our energy emergency.

How serious is Peak Oil?

What are the risks?

Well, let's explore the risks of Peak Oil RELATIVE to other serious threats.

I will attempt to put Peak Oil in perspective and raise our awareness by constructing a list of threats. These are realities that pose a serious risk to both human civilization and life on Planet Ocean (Planet Earth is an ignorant term I refuse to use).

I'm pretty well qualified to judge risk based on my lifetime of experience as an extreme sports athlete, an investor and also my experience as an Airline Captain. My ability to rationally evaluate risk might be explained by comparing the difference between flying my hangglider close to a thunderstorm (an acceptable personal risk, given adequate flying skill) and operating a transport category airliner with a whole load of passengers onboard who depend on my judgment for their lives.

Let me put it to you another way.

Answer this question: What is Safety?

Tick, tock, tick tock. Did you instantly spit out your answer?

Most people I ask this question have a very difficult time coming up with anything coherent and organized.

Their egos tell them that they are their own "expert" and they say things like, "I know what safety is. I just KNOW."

This is the mark of a layperson, or as we call them in the world of hanggliding, a "Pear Person" or "Whuffo." This is a person who does not have a clue how to rationally evaluate risk and achieve safety. And, they probably shouldn't be interfacing with dangerous machines like lawnmowers or hanggliders or helicopters.

The answer is: Safety, is the optimal minimization of risk.

Optimal. This is the most important concept. Not all risk can be systematically, operationally or economically eliminated. The goal of safety in any activity with risk is to optimize the minimization of risk.

The basic questions in evaluating the risk associated with a particular event are 1) What is the worst it could get? 2) How likely is the event to occur? Check out this analysis that puts Peak Oil into perspective with other extreme risks that humans face today.

I would argue that the risks of Peak Oil are extreme and humans are definitely not doing enough to optimize the minimization of risks associated with Peak Oil.

Very simply: This means we are NOT SAFE from the risks of Peak Oil.

1) GRB (Gamma Ray Burst). A GRB is an exotic cosmological event that could destroy our entire planet and everything on it. Astronomers and Physicists are just beginning to study this phenomenon but we do know that the risk of a GRB is extreme because of the vast amounts of destructive energy that would be released. It is probably not worth staying awake at night worrying about a GRB event but the risk is there nonetheless. Everybody dies.

2) Asteroid Collision with Planet Ocean. You don't have to be a genius to understand that there is an extreme risk of destruction from an Asteroid. The only question is whether the impact would be a "PK" (planet killer; killing off most of the macroscopic life but leaving at least some microscopic life) or an ELE (Extinction Level Event; driving many species to extinction). Again, this one might not be worth staying up at night, but the risk is extreme and ignoring the possibility of an asteroid impact is just fooling yourself by failing to construct a correct mental picture of reality. Just look up at the moon on any night and you can get a good sense of the reality of an asteroid impact. I've been to the meteor crater in Arizona and picked up meteor fragments and held them in my hand, so you can't tell me the risk is not real. I've been to Russia and seen trees knocked over and looked at meteor fragments there too. An asteroid impact could happen at any time, and if it does, it will likely be severe. The severity varies from a few hundred or few thousand to Everybody dies.

3) Skynet. No, just kidding. Even though the Terminator movies were great, there is a zero likelihood that "machines" are going to take over the world and hunt down the humans. I just throw this one in there to give perspective to those who don't "believe" in Peak Oil. If they are wrong about Peak Oil, which they are, it is about as stupid as letting the machines take over the world. If Skynet were real, it would fit into the list about here.

4) Volcanic Winter. I put this one on the list because we (geologists) know for sure the risk is real and could threaten life on the planet at any time. Tambora stratovolcano erupted in 1815 and caused the "year without a summer" in 1816. This is no joke. There is nothing keeping another similar eruption from causing another year without a summer or a couple of years without a summer due to the volcanic ash. The difference between now and then is that now there are about 6.7 Billion people on the planet that are far more susceptible to the impact from a volcanic winter and the destruction of food production. Hundreds of millions of people could die from a volcanic winter. Maybe a billion.

5) Nuclear Winter. This would be similar to Volcanic Winter but with the added fun of radiation poisoning and large-scale permanent impact to life. I only rate nuclear winter below Volcanic Winter because current politics appear to be stable enough to decrease the likelihood of a full-scale Russia-USA conflict even if India and Pakistan or Israel and Iran decide to light em up. Volcanic winter is just a lot more likely.

6) Peak Oil. This is the first event in the list that we can control to any degree at all. The far side extreme of Peak Oil is that the collapse of oil production could cause a global die off. Some estimates are that the globe can only naturally support about 1.5 Billion people. So there is a risk that in about a 10 or 20 year period about 5 billion people could die off. Others have made suggestions that the globe could support as much as 8 billion people. I consider both scenarios unlikely. The actual consequences of Peak Oil will be somewhere in between. But we could easily see several hundred million people die off. Maybe on the scale of 5 to 8 World War IIs (50m), which would mean about 250 million deaths at a minimum.

Deaths attributable to Peak Oil are hard to measure at this point in time even though they are already occurring. Global famine and poverty are already widespread and even though the best understanding involves accounting for the effects of politics, Peak Oil is already hugely impacting the development of human civilization. China, for example has been hamstrung and could have grown at a much higher rate and so could most of Africa if adequate cheap energy had been available in the last several decades.

Peak Oil exposes the world to the risk of a catastrophic collapse in oil production that would fuel war, famine, poverty, disease and economic collapse. The scale of the number of deaths could easily be in the hundreds of millions of people. That is why it is critical to develop an AWARENESS of the risks associated with Peak Oil.

7) Death of the Ocean. We live on a water planet. Nothing really matters as much as the ocean. The problem is that we may have killed the ocean already. Nobody knows. Nobody can say with any degree of certainty whether we have already caused a critical impact with pollution and overfishing. Dr. Sylvia Earle is trying to help us figure out how bad it is. The ocean contains thousands of interlocking networks of non-linear dynamic systems that may be pushed into permanent collapse by unintended effects and unseen consequences. We are playing with a dangerous toy that we do not understand. The problem is that the vast majority of people live largely unconnected to the ocean in their consciousness. But the impact of humans is already known to be extreme. Not just bad, but catastrophic. There are large "dead zones" all over the ocean and recent evidence shows extreme impact from humans in about 95 to 98% of the ocean. The "death" of the ocean could easily kill off all the humans and make the planet uninhabitable for most macroscopic life. Hundreds of millions to billions of people could die. The big problem is that we need energy to fix our human-generated ocean-killing activities. Peak Oil impacts our ability to fix the ocean.

8) Global Warming. We know from the geologic record that the planet has gone through many large swings in chemical conditions including changes in the amount of carbon dioxide and temperature variations. The first question is whether there is any existent as a "climate." There may not be. Weather is understood to be the natural day to day and hour to hour variations. Climate is understood to be the long term trends. But the problem is that humans live such a short time and have a very brief record of competent analysis to work with. Despite the apparent correlation between man-made "greenhouse gases" and warming of the globe or "climate change," the fact remains that nobody "knows" for sure. In fact, it is not just possible but likely that the "trends" we see on the short term as a "climate" may actually be just periods of stability in an otherwise continuously naturally fluctuating non-linear dynamic system of instability at every point in time. Global Warming is serious because the risk is potentially large. Things like large changes in sea level could cause the displacement of hundreds of millions of people and a huge impact to food production and economic pressures. This is the same situation as playing with the ocean. We don't know what we are doing. But it is apparent that man made activities have the potential to have a huge impact and so they must be carefully considered.

The problem is that Peak Oil trumps global warming. The reason is that we are not going to have enough cheap energy to rebuild vast areas of many countries to change our lifestyles to decrease the impact of humans on climate change. But global warming is a media darling and people are stupid enough to continue to drive SUVs down to Wal-Mart to buy plasma TVs so they can watch programs about drowning polar bears.

So, even if global warming is "true," meaning that man's activities are causing it, Peak Oil means that we won't have enough energy to change the ridiculous machine that we built that is causing all the greenhouse gas emissions.

9) Global Economic Collapse. I actually wrote up this list about 2 years ago when I saw the real estate bubble blowing up around the world. Now that the bubble has popped and  the economic collapse is actually happening. And nobody knows how big and deep it will get. Peak Oil will probably cause an even more extreme Global Economic Crisis that what we are seeing in 2008-2009. Just wait until people figure out that all those companies selling stocks to uninformed investors have not accounted for the future lack of cheap energy. Oil is ridiculously cheap right now and could easily go up to $300 per barrel or higher. When it gets really expensive, the world's miltary organizations will just take it away from private use and save it for oppression and control.

10) Rise of a Dictator. Adolph Hitler? Joseph Stalin? The appearance of some new character that could turbo-charge himself with the world wide web and go global is a scary thought but a real risk.

11) Global Pandemic. The H5N1 virus is constantly mutating and drifting. Avian influenza may mutate and become capable of crossing into human populations. The 1918 event killed about 50 million. Many experts have written that they think a similar event today could kill 100 Million or more. It's a good thing that Larry Brilliant and Google are working on an "early warning system" for us.

12) Bio-Terror Event/ Dirty Bomb. Humans are amazingly destructive. Just look at how good we are getting at killing the ocean. Religious ignorance of all kinds is fueling a whole spectrum of dangerous world-views that could lead to a significant event where hundreds of thousands of people could be killed. There might be a suitcase bomb driving down the freeway next to you today for all we know.

13) 8.5 or 9.0 Metropolitan Earthquake. The big one. We haven't really had an extreme event since the human population got so big and so concentrated. Even though China had a large event in 2008, a much bigger one could easily happen any day. Several hundred thousand to perhaps a million could die.

14) Tsunami. The Indonesia event killed about 230 thousand people a few years ago. We could see a bigger one any day. Maybe a million?

15) Food-Water Wars. These type of events are getting more and more likely. For the most part these will probably remain regional and isolated and small in scale.

16) Magnetic Pole Reversal. Here's a potential disaster you don't think about every day. I'm amazed that Hollywood hasn't come up with a disaster flick based on this concept. The rock record seems to indicate that we are overdue for a pole-reversal event. Nobody really knows what would happen and what the consequences would be for life and technology.

So, there you go. Peak Oil is really serious. Right up there with other big risks. We need to start working together to prevent the collapse of oil production from hurting lots of people.

Ever wonder who the most dangerous person in the world is? The answer is, the one who kills you. This usually means the person who you were not AWARE  would kill you, or you probably would have done something about it.

Peak Oil is the dragon that is sneaking up on us. Hopefully awareness of the risk will grow.

Then maybe we can work on minimizing the risks and achieving a more rational degree of safety from the risks of Peak Oil.