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.

Google.org 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.