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Sunday, June 06, 2004

Awareness vs Blinders

I hereby declare that the beginning of June 2004 marks the reawakening of peak oil issues in the mainstream media. For the near term it will be hard to keep up with news reports. Krugman was probably the trickle before the dam burst.

Latest editorial in the Washington Post

With the awareness-raising news items, we will also see the contrarians raise their voices. Examples of naysaying to oil issues:
Look at this passage in the Telegraph piece.
Impending disaster
Is this much too sanguine? Many people believe that before too long we will simply run out of oil, prompting economic disaster. Such thinking continues a long - and erroneous - tradition. In the mid-19th century, the then celebrated economist Jevons predicted the end of industrial progress because the world would run out of coal. In 1939, official bodies predicted that oil would last only 13 more years. As Professor Frank Noterstein said in his later years: "We've been running out of oil ever since I was a boy."

The official bodies reference is humourous. Otherwise, not much to argue in the last quote. He could have also said "time is monotonically advancing" and he would prove correct now and forever. At least the other pieces mention Hubbert.

The most common rhetorical arguments that I have seen are:

  1. They have been demonstrated wrong before

  2. It's simply a supply and demand issue

  3. Geez, look at the huge numbers we're forecasting. Aren't these numbers large?

The last point needs some explaining. The Minerals and Energy piece has this passage:
And indeed, when the 2001 discovery of the giant Buzzard field, estimated at 500 million barrels (Dafter 2003) or 70 million tones, is added to the UK curve, the new asymptote will be even less obvious. (my emphasis added) .

You notice the mention of 500 million barrels? They get you excited because the number looks big and they use the adjective giant to describe it. Well, 500 million barrels is enough for a liitle over 6 days of world-wide consumption, if we can get to all of it.

Just remember the three talking points ("wrong before", "market forces", "enormous amount")


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