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Monday, July 24, 2006

The reason

Why do we need good oil depletion models? To placate people that say things like this:
Economist A.F. Alhajji of Ohio Northern University, contributing editor for World Oil magazine, dismissed the idea of peak oil as the echo of an old notion. That's a fear first broached in 1862 and repeated periodically since, he said.

"We don't have the right methodology to estimate. It could be that oil already peaked. It could be the peak won't come for another 200 years."

Which brings up an interesting point. While Alhajji seems apprehensive about placing error bars on something as obvious as oil depletion, other economists can generate a model at the drop of a hat. Take a look at this essay by Ulrich at the Wharton School, who claims that bicyclists actually add to the global energy load over their lifetimes, primarily by living healthier and therefore longer, which means they will extract more energy than their sedentary counterparts. Obviously written partly tongue in cheek, as Ulrich remains a committed cyclist, it nevertheless illuminates how we should occasionally go out on a limb and take fresh looks at the numbers and what they may imply. What could we fear from this other than we gain a little insight?

  1. Cigarette smoking reduces social security outlays
  2. Vegetarians clog up septic tanks faster
  3. etc.

And how about this one? Electric cars, because of their inherent reliability, reduce the after-market profits which account for 40% of money spent on maintaining gasoline powered cars. Thus the reluctance to put them on the market according to Chris Paine's documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car". [mp3]


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