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Monday, August 08, 2005

Extraction of Dignity

Michael Lynch works hard at his job of chief apologist for oil consumers everywhere. The racket he has run for the last few years at least involves convincing people that a much delayed peak will occur for oil production, leading to continued exuberance for the pigs at the trough. He tends to attack the oil depletion modelers with a vengeance, seemingly armed only with his political science degree from MIT.

Somehow, he accepted an invitation to carry on a conversation at PeakOil.com. Although he both uses a handle Spike and his real name, which makes his authenticity seem a bit suspect, I assume he wrote the following:
If tar sands is too expensive, why is production booming? And from before the recent price surge?
Mike Lynch
Why, you ask. Because we live in an extractionist society and not a capitalist one. Try as you might, Mr. Lynch, in believing that the pure supply & demand economics rules the world, reality will eventually play you a cruel joke. We can sum it up in one concise quote by Stirling Newberry:
Extraction is when value can be generated much more easily than by any alternatives, but in a non-sustainable manner.
From the Dominionists of the world to the busy ants at the Corps of Engineers, humans like to control things and keep occupied because idleness remains the devil's trademark. So if they can control by extracting to their hearts content, a little thing like lack of profit won't suppress their urges. I say a lack of profit on the whole because somebody makes money off of these enterprises -- the cleanup and death of extraction happens to land on the succeeding generations.
Newberry:That means that extraction can be of natural resources, but it can also be of human resources, or social capital. One example is to slash education to the bone, and save money, until the uneducated become adults. Or slashing public health. Looks great until the next epidemic. The 20th century was dominated by a series of struggles over the control over extraction.

I did a hit&run piece early in the PeakOil Lynch thread, so I haven't posted again to not look like a complete gloomster. But a poster named Doufus finally nailed it:
I've come to the conclusion that Lynch is another snake oil salesman-perhaps just misguided (and maybe all of the analysts in the debate are misguided in one way or another)- but equally vacuous.

He dismisses the Nth American gas experience with a wave instead of looking at the list of sources quoted in the Hirsch report and their unbridled optimism for gas production (all statments made in the early 2000 period). I'd cite them here but can't them out of the pdf.

Equally, he dismisses current gas prices as being due to raised demand, but the Hirch report identifies them as being due to dwindling supply.

Lynch, what a great game this is! What a bollocks of a discipline. If economics is a dismal science, this is a simple joke.

Do you and others make a living off this crap? No wonder prices bounce around. With data like this to inform markets and producers it's a wonder we have a market at all. NO_ONE can agree on production, resources, rates of explotation, exploration or anything else. There's always another explanation for something or other.

No, there wasn't dwindling production, it's just that the tankers changed size or the pipelines got more friction. Demand increased because of a surge in hamburger sales due to pizza production decline froma mozarella cheese blight across Europe.

ANYONE can say ANYTHING with this data!

I actually DO analyse real data for a living and publicly available oil data is a joke- biased, partial, missing, inflated, deflated, incorrect. And then overinterpreted to death when not a single agreed fact or figure is accepted by any kind of consensus.

In PO-speak, the sun both sets and rises at the same time, or not at all and people can be partially pregnant.

It's not worth our time subjecting the PO process to this rubbish yardstick and court jester logic.

I hope you make a decent living at it because it's an utterly vacuous, wasted existence. But better than flipping burgers I suppose.

POilers would be better off accepting its eventual reality and help the transition to a post carbon economy without concern for date. The available data is worse than an erratic clock- with that you actually begin to ignore it. With PO data people waste their lives on a fractured crystal ball using mud stained glasses.

The moderator, Aaron, tried to quash this impertinence, likely mainly to keep Lynch on the thread. Don't worry, Lynch has a thick skin, and ego to boost. Clearly, judging from his constant references to his busy schedule or to the fact that he has to get ready for a radio show, Lynch only thinks of extracting every last ounce of dignity from himself and his customers. After all, everyone has a price.


Professor Anonymous Anonymous said...

If tar sands is too expensive, why is production booming? And from before the recent price surge?
Mike Lynch

It seems that "Mr. Lynch" is beliving "in the market". A fine believe if the "the invisible hand" of "the market" was not constrained or directed via non-market forces like, say, tax laws.

If "Mr. Lynch" wants to argue the idea of the market, then "Mr. Lynch" should show that the market operates w/o outside influence like tax law.

I await the proof.

10:21 PM  
Professor Blogger WHT said...

Lynch throws all sorts of mud at the walls, hoping some of it will stick. Canada, like USA, probably gets all their leased lands for free and also tax-free. Another reason that cost is a ruse for extraction.

11:03 PM  
Professor Anonymous AK600 said...

Well, Doufus doesn't have much to say about Lynch's oil predictions, which have been more accurate so far than the depletionists' predictions, am I correct?

I didn't get the impression from that thread that Lynch's criticisms of Campbell & Laherrere have been convincingly answered by anybody.

4:52 AM  
Professor Blogger WHT said...

Lynch really doesn't do predictions. He does extrapolations from current and recent data, which don't mean squat when production keeps increasing. Lynch wouldn't know the meaning of an inflection point if it came up and bit him in the hindrocketquarters.

9:59 PM  
Professor Anonymous AK600 said...

Campbell & Laherrere's predictions are based on extrapolation too. They're predicting a peak in the near future, but they've been wrong so far, and we don't know what they've done to improve their methods. So we can't take their peak date(s) very seriously. Is the information provided by C&L actually any more relevant to peak timing than Lynch's extrapolations?

1:16 PM  
Professor Blogger WHT said...

Don't talk in generalities, they're all wrong--Lynch more so than the others because he has an agenda. How can you say one is right until it occurs? Read these posts and then report back:
Macro model: http://mobjectivist.blogspot.com/2005/07/part-1-macro-peak-oil-model.html
Micro model: http://mobjectivist.blogspot.com/2005/06/part-i-micro-peak-oil-model.html

3:37 PM  
Professor Anonymous AK600 said...

Yes, when t approaches infinity, a model that gives a peak at some point obviously predicts better than any model that doesn't. But we're talking about the next 20 years or so here. All the recent interest in PO isn't because of people suddenly realizing it might be an issue 25-50 years in the future. Most peak oilers are convinced that global production decline is just around the corner, and this belief seems to be primarily based on the claims made by C&L & Deffeyes. I don't quite understand why their short-term forecasts are considered so credible given the lack of successful predictions and the rather vague description they give of their methods.

9:05 AM  
Professor Blogger WHT said...

Because you can only look at the accuracy of predictions in hidsight. Hubbert, in hindsight, was incredibly accurate for his prediction of US lower 48 peak. In relative terms, one of these current PO prognosticators may be accurate to within a few years. There is a lot more oil in the entire world than the US alone, so the relative temporal accuracy will certainly not be as exact as Hubbert predicted.

Millions of years to generate all of the oil, and people complain peak oil predictions are a few years off. I say that is accuracy to a few parts in a million!

5:33 PM  

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