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Saturday, June 12, 2004

Theory or Consequence?

Do we believe that the "thing" we call Peak Oil is best described as a theory? In a mathematical sense, the Peak Oil concept does depend on numbers, has predictive value, and various empirical formulas have been attached to it. But just because we can involve math, does not make it a theory; this actually makes it sound a tad pretentious. And fundamentally, is it even fair to call it a theory? Fair in the sense that Peak Oil has occurred in several countries (in the sense of easily extractable oil) and thus is provably correct in cases.

Take, for example, some analogies to Peak Oil and try to call them theories.
  • Species Extinction: Extinction has occurred in the past, scientists can predict more extinctions will occur in the future. So is extinction a theory?

  • Dam Sedimentation: The fact that reservoirs will eventually fill with sediment. Engineers can predict when it will happen. So is this a theory?

  • Lunar Eclipse: These have happened in the past and will happen in the future. Theory?

Backing off a little on the rhetoric, maybe defining Peak Oil as a parametric model would fit better semantically than labelling it a theory.

Actually for the layman, Peak Oil is best defined as a predictable event and a set of consequences.
Professor Frink: Here is an ordinary square.
Chief Wiggum: Whoa, whoa ... slow down, egghead!

better -- Peak Oil, like a cheap battery running out of juice, will happen, the only question is when.


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