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Saturday, August 27, 2005

Occupation: Organized nature cultist

Thomas Sowell writing in Capitalism Magazine:
Organized nature cults go ballistic at the thought that we might drill for oil in some remote part of Alaska that 99 percent of Americans will never see, including 99 percent of the nature cultists.
Well Dr. Sowell, I don't actually see the fecal matter coming out of my anal sphincter either. Nice to know that with your head stuck up your hindrocketquarters, that you can get a front row seat on the action.

The proprietor of the BizzyBlog marvels at Thomas Sowell's publishing output, affectionately calling him "Four Hands". I suppose if I suffered from diarrhea of the keyboard, it would come out like this typical Sowell entry (Part 2 of his "prolific" output):
Back in 1960, a best-selling book titled "The Waste Makers" by Vance Packard showed that the known reserves of petroleum in the United States were only enough to last another 13 years at the current rate of usage. Yet, 13 years later, the United States had larger known reserves of petroleum than in 1960.
Actually, Packard got it about right! The USA hit peak production in 1970 -- three years under his prediction. We have never hit that level of production again. In the early 60's we wasted oil, effectively treating it like tap water, leading to a huge per-capita usage. In the 70's, we started a huge correction in reducing our use and well before that we started importing oil. If we extrapolated that usage from 1960, and had no imports, we would have soft-landed long ago, closer to 1973 than today's date.

And then Sowell produces this priceless gem:
When John Stuart Mill was a young man, he worried that we were running out of music, since there were only 8 notes and therefore there was only a finite amount of music possible. At that point Brahms and Tchaikovsky had not yet been born nor jazz created.
Now I finally understand! Highly educated scholars conflating rules of mathematical permutation with basic arithmetic (i.e. subtraction) may confuse the organized nature cultists into rejoining productive society. Why, if we can only rearrange the oil molecules into N factorial combinations, it may just last forever! We saved Alaska! G'night, John-Boy.

In reality, I may have to pull some all-nighters. At the rate at which these oil depletion skeptics seem to multiply, I will also need 4 hands and bone up on my permutation skills to keep them in check.


Professor Blogger Engineer-Poet said...

Great fisk.

8:38 PM  
Professor Blogger monkeygrinder said...

I couldn't resist reading Sowell's column.

He doesn't have any idea what he is talking about. And so it goes.

12:16 AM  
Professor Blogger Bubba said...

These economists do what I call "praying to the volcano god". They are clueless about oil, but the almighty market "aka volcano god" will save them from the wrath of the smoldering volcano. Then they, as the self declared high priests of the volcano, claim that everyone who doesn't pray to the volcano god is deluded.

Oh, and don't believe those "estimates" of 10 billion barrels of oil in ANWR. The informed industry estimates I have seen have a mean of about 2 billion barrels. And of course, these are still "yet to find" barrels that commonly are also "yet to prove are not there".

Also, I updated my blog with the post "Deep Water Basins Will Save Us" (facetiously of course).

7:58 AM  
Professor Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you're serious about Peak Oil, don't get caught up in catfights with the PO skeptics. It's a waste of time. The focus should be to advance our own agenda. The only time to engage with the skeptics is if one can use it to get the PO ideas to a wider audience.

( energybulletin. net )

11:17 AM  
Professor Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Bubba,

When Bubba Clinton was in charge, his Department of Energy and USGS estimated that the technically recoverable oil and natural gas liquids from the ANWR Coastal Plain were as follows:


- There is a 95 percent probability (a 19 in 20 chance) that at least 5.7 billion barrels of oil are recoverable.
- There is a 5 percent probability (a 1 in 20 chance) that at least 16 billion barrels of oil are recoverable.
- The mean (expected value) estimate is 10.3 billion barrels of recoverable oil.

Perhaps the median is lower than the mean. But what has changed, except that at higher prices and 6 years of improved technology, even more should be recoverable?

12:15 PM  
Professor Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, meant to sign the last comment:
Tom Blumer

12:16 PM  
Professor Blogger WHT said...

I don't see any catfights so far. Seriously, take a look at some of the wikipedia entries on abiogenic oil, Hubbert's peak, etc. They actually border on the skeptical.

6:51 PM  
Professor Blogger Bubba said...


I am talking about estimates made by geoscientists from my company who have mapped structures and have added them up. You can believe what the DOE says, but I guarantee you that Exxon, BP, Shell, Chevron, etc. don't.

12:33 PM  
Professor Blogger Bubba said...

The above comment should read "mapped the structures". What I mean by that for not oil-industry people, is mapped the subsurface and identified the areas of potential oil accumulations. Most of the underground "structures" that potentially contain oil in ANWR are relatively small compared to Prudhoe Bay and Kuparak River, the two big producing fields on the AK North Slope.

12:41 PM  
Professor Anonymous Preston Wingerter said...


7:40 AM  

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