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Peak Oil: The Next Steps Pt 4

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We remain free as always to choose to fear the consequences of a permanent decline in the availability of affordable and accessible fossil fuel supplies. The enduring impact on our society and our ways of life as a result of a diminished supply of our primary energy supply is no small matter. So fear is certainly an option.

We can also rely on those disinclined to examine the majority of production realities, offering instead a steady diet of optimistic statements and light-on-fact assurances.

Very few of us who are concerned with the full range of oil production issues and challenges find anything about the widespread future impact of peak oil to be other than a somber realization on our best days.

WE HAVE CHOICES

But so too do we have the choice to view the challenges we’ll face [sooner than we’re likely to be fully prepared for, unfortunately], as opportunities to fashion new successes for ourselves; new definitions of prosperity; new ideals of community; and new ways of projecting humanity into a future of hope and progress. Completely idealistic in this moment, to be sure. But it strikes me as a better attitude to have as we approach the urgency of addressing our concerns before available options start getting crossed off the list.

The opportunities to plan and prepare will surely be different than those crafted as a result of the many benefits of readily available crude oil and its countless products. We may not have much choice in that regard, depending on what plans and adaptations take shape in the years to come. This process of transition/adaptation is not going to be measured in any shorter time frame.

But there is no reason to lament, out of fear, that those descriptions will be less worthy or satisfying. We own the choice of assessing what needs to be done and what will be done, too.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Global Energy Advisory June 17th 2016

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Entrenched as each side is in what seems an endless and ever-disheartening conflict between conservatives and progressives, finding seams to broaden discussions is no easy task. Cocooned as each partisan is in the selective comfort of peer perspectives and beliefs, suspicion and ridicule are the easier guidelines to follow.

But at what cost to all of us, if not today, then soon enough? Has there been a collective, irrevocable determination by all that the political and ideological wars will continue until … well, when?

THE LEFT-RIGHT VIEW OF SCIENCE

Progressives consider the statements and rationales offered by most public leaders on the Right with a mixture of disdain, astonishment, and ridicule. Conservatives view every action and proposal from the Left with a blend of deep suspicion as to motivations and objectives. That few take the time to contemplate what’s actually being presented—and of greater importance: why—is doing nothing but perpetuating and deepening the distrust and animosity. Probably not the ideal outcome….

Few of us doubt the conclusions presented by professional engineers when they direct that construction of buildings or other structures must meet certain criteria. While second opinions are not uncommon, most of us accept the medical findings from doctors and dentists without doubting their competency or motivations. We trust airline pilots to fly planes more so than we would an investment banker, just as we would trust the latter to properly handle major financial endeavors more so than we would the owner of a chain of hair salons.

Yet the findings of climate scientists worldwide, or the concerns offered by those who examine the range of factors in the field of energy exploration and production are held to different standards. Unanimity and perfection are the requirements to be met before a sizeable portion of the populace will even consider the issues they raise. All or nothing seems to be the not-entirely-unspoken rule.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Peak Oil: Are We Not Better Than This? Pt 9

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There are—almost always—at least two sides to any story of significance and potential impact upon others. The greater the impact and potential for a range of outcomes, the more certain one can be that there are more than a handful of factors, considerations, and perspectives to be accounted for if the issue at hand is to be both understood and resolved effectively.

Ignoring the “other side” of the issue may be effective if one prefers their narrative to remain unchallenged and to provide reassurance to fellow believers, but beyond that, it’s hard to understand what the benefit might be to those seeking information if what’s shared is inaccurate or purposely incomplete.

From the second article I’ve been referencing throughout this series:

In the USA, hydraulic fracturing has taken petroleum production to its highest level since 1972, and oil imports to their lowest level since 1995. America now exports crude oil, natural gas and refined products.
The fracking genie cannot be put back in the bottle. In fact, it is being adopted all over the world, opening new shale oil and gas fields, prolonging the life of conventional fields, leaving less energy in the ground, and giving the world another century or more of abundant, reliable, affordable petroleum. That’s plenty of time to develop new energy technologies that actually work without mandates and enormous subsidies.

FACTS OFFER A DIFFERENT TAKE

But in the real world where facts are actually important, a different story is told. Two days before the above-referenced article was published, we had this:

[N]ow, over 1.5 years into the price collapse, production declines in shale oil are finally starting to appear as low oil prices have slashed company investments in new supply, and production begins to decline from existing wells….
The array of spending cuts and production declines announced by dozens of separate companies may be difficult to wrap one’s head around. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Peak Oil: The Next Steps Pt 1

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I ended last week’s post by explaining the significance of getting all of the facts about our energy supply future as a first step.

Before deciding whether or not to accept the realities of a depleting finite resource and the impact this will have on our society—or ignoring it for whatever comforting alternative explanations suit one’s needs—understanding the implications and those realities is a more beneficial approach.

THE FIRST CHALLENGE IS NOT THE ONLY ONE

The corollary to an appreciation for what a less adequate, less affordable, and less available supply of our primary energy resource is the transition itself. That effort will not happen via magic. Not only will the research, development, and planning require more effort, time, and contributions than we’re likely considering now, putting everything into place is no easy assignment, either.

Just to keep things interesting, the transition from an oil-based industrial economy to Whatever-Plan-B-Will-Be will have to be achieved using that same declining measure of supply to design and construct and transport and put into place the infrastructure we’ll need to support and maintain this as yet unidentified and not-planned-for-yet Plan B, thus making less available to us for all of our ‘normal’ demands and needs, creating its own set of problems. We’re talking about using a lot of declining energy supplies that’s a lot more expensive, over the course of a lot of years to put into operation a lot of new industrial and economic and civic foundations to (we hope) enable us to maintain some semblance of growth and prosperity—all while using new energy resources that simply will not be as efficient or inexpensive or dependable as oil has been.

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Peak Oil: Where To Begin?

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The unpleasant truth now and soon is that the ready supply of oil and gas which we almost always take for granted [the occasional price spike notwithstanding] is on its way to becoming not-so-ready. A host of factors now in place are steadily converting possibility into likelihood. Thinking that we’ll just implement a few crash programs to straighten out that potential mess is a nice thought, but we simply do not have the means to make that happen—not the technological capabilities, not the personnel, not the industries, not the leadership … yet. Clearly, we do not have enough time to do it all with effortless ease and minimal disruptions.

The farther we continue to travel down that path which relies on fossil fuels to sustain us rather than on a new one marked “new future with new and necessary alternatives”, the longer and more difficult will our backtracking be. What supplied us on the front part of the journey will no longer be there for us on the ride back. We’re going to have to create entirely new systems and infrastructures and modes of production and transportation—or at the very least re-build extensively—in order to adapt to new sources of energy. So relying on current conditions and practices and customs and tinkering only along the edges simply won’t work because we are going to be dependent on entirely different energy resources.

A recent article highlighted the fact that many oil producers are continuing production efforts even though they are operating at a loss. Many factors obviously contribute to such an incongruous decision, chief among them the costs associated with resumption. How long should we expect those trends to continue?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Peak Oil: Are We Not Better Than This? Pt 6

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I suggested at the outset of this series that I did not want it to turn into yet another exercise in mocking those who do not accept the implications of peak oil. A legitimate argument could be made that I’ve failed in that objective.

I view the tone adopted in a number of comments I’ve offered not as mocking so much as it is an attempt to point out that there is a communication problem emanating from the Right [not a news bulletin], and by doing so in the manner I’ve chosen—more wry, in my mind, than mockery—I’m trying to suggest that “the opposition” consider how their tactics and failure to substantiate their positions carries risks for them as well.

Actions and words create impressions and responses and outcomes. If the objective of one’s behavior—individually or in abiding by the expectations of one’s group—is to produce a satisfactory objective however defined or relevant to the issue, ignoring the impact on those who do not share the same considerations, values, or goals is a risk rarely considered to the degree necessary.

Reality will not be impressed by efforts to ignore it or deny its impact. Uttering statements as if their mere appearance online is sufficient to refute opposing viewpoints cannot sustain itself as a strategy for much longer. What Happens Then?

It may not be a message many wish to hear, but when it comes to peak oil and climate change—among other critical issues of at least national scope—we are all in this together.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Peak Oil: Time To Get Serious Pt 4

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A fossil fuel-driven-and-made-possible life is all any of us have ever known. There are virtually no aspects of commerce, leisure, transportation, or consumption which do not depend in some part on inexpensive, readily-available and easily-produced fossil fuels. That is most certainly not going to change dramatically overnight, but the situation we’ll soon be facing simply isn’t going to get any better if all we’re counting on for many more years is even more inexpensive, readily-available and easily-produced fossil fuels.

So what to do? Do we want a voice in the solutions or not?

Who among us wants even more problems and worries to contend with now? Plates are still full and then some. For issues like peak oil—where it’s not at all clear that problems with fossil fuel supplies exist today or tomorrow or next month—that challenge very quickly slides down our list of priorities.

Aided by determined efforts to shade the truths about current and future production challenges makes it that much easier to pay no attention at all to what a declining base of our primary energy source might mean for all of us.

All duly noted and a perfectly reasonable determination to make … today. The underlying concerns voiced by proponents of peak oil and its impact remains unchanged notwithstanding. A future with diminishing fossil fuel resources—our future, more specifically—is going to be so different and in so many ways, and so much more constrained by that fact, it’s unlikely anyone can legitimately wrap their mind around that eventuality at this moment.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Peak Oil: Are We Not Better Than This? Pt 5

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[T]he West’s energy security is assured to a degree that has not existed in the past.
That’s good news for the American people and for the world, even if it is not news that Obama wants to hear.

He doesn’t? I wonder how that author knows this? Any chance it’s instead just a variation of the same let’s-not-consider-facts-and-instead-just-make-stuff-up-to-“prove”-our-point-and-keep-the-followers-properly-agitated strategy?

With a century’s worth of cheap, practical energy in hand, the global economy has a good chance of expanding.

A “good chance”?! And that would be based on … what?

What if we actually had meaningful discussions about the assertions contained in ExxonMobil’s “The Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040” report which the author of the above-quote focused on [in one of the two articles which serve as the foundation of this series]? What if it was finally agreed that just firing off assertions based on little more than conjecture, hope, or a let’s-do-or-say-whatever-we-have-to animosity?

There’s no reason my grandchildren should not be living ten times as well as I am today. What stands in their way is not a lack of resources or technology – it’s government. Specially, liberal government.

Of course that’s the problem! Geology? Costs? An array of exploration, production, financial, and access considerations? Nah! Just liberals in keeping with their still vast, double-top-super-duper-secret conspiracy to … do stuff that the Right doesn’t approve of. We certainly don’t want our children or grandchildren to have better opportunities and better lives than we’ve enjoyed! Nope!

Our focus continues to be solely on dealing with facts, raising concerns based on same, seeking options and alternatives, planning, preparing, and … wait! Where is that approach going to take all of us? Damn those facts!

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Peak Oil: Are We Not Better Than This? Pt 4

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I’ve mentioned in the prior posts of this series that there were two articles posted online a number of weeks ago *  which caught my attention for reasons which at first puzzled me. No disrespect intended either author, but the contents of each were fairly routine offerings by those who clearly have not accepted the rationale of Peak Oil [and/or climate change] and have a decidedly anti-liberal/progressive perspective about … probably everything. Not exactly unusual these days, is it?

But as I suggested in the second post of this series, what struck me about the combination of the pieces [and the commentary from quite rabid believers in all things Right] was not the messages conveyed. They were what is by now standard fare from the Right. Perhaps it was nothing more than I had finally maxed out on the same vague, boilerplate, stay-with-the-message contributions to public discourse on matters of more than passing significance.

They each and both highlighted just about everything that’s not only “wrong” [disheartening and pointless, more accurately] about public policy and social issues discussions, but they also managed to encapsulate how each side in our ongoing Left-Right war talks past the “opposition.” They have no use for what we on the Left are trying to convey. From our perspective, the light-on-facts-if-they-even-bother approach seems more ludicrous by the day.

Given that our understanding of facts suggests we have some serious challenges ahead, the completely dismissive attitude of our perspective has flown past “just annoying” and landed on the “what the f*ck are they thinking?” square. Ignoring every bit of evidence offered in order to remain true to their foxhole partners carries the potential for significant consequences that will land on all of us. That makes us a bit edgy.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Peak Oil: Time To Get Serious Pt 1

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The truths, unpleasant though they may be, are the truths: inexpensive, readily available oil is slowly but surely becoming less readily available, more expensive, and harder to come by. Current conditions [ultra-low prices; curtailed/canceled oil production and exploration projects; over-supply; declining investments; high debt] only highlight that the problems of maintaining an adequate, affordable, accessible supply of fossil fuel needed to power modern society aren’t going away.

We can pay homage to and wish for all the magic technology in the world; ignore every single environmental consequence; disregard the fundamental differences and considerations regarding conventional crude oil production and tight oil production; ignore all the geopolitical and geological realities; pretend that oil will still be ours for the asking as often and for as much as we want; or hope that Someone Else is going to rescue us, but delusion and denial will only take us so far.

Those who know but have worked much too hard to mislead and misrepresent must now devote some of their prodigious efforts and considerable knowledge to not just truth-telling, but taking a vital leadership role in exploring how we plan for a future where fossil fuel resources will no longer serve as the primary energy supply for our society.

Recognizing the awesome complexity and widespread impact of that fact merits serious effort and honorable leadership. Are we going to find it? Soon?

The sooner we accept the evidence before us, the sooner we begin to plan intelligently for new methods of powering modern society. Anyone deluding themselves into thinking it won’t be all that difficult or will develop in anyone’s definition of a reasonably short period of time needs to step away from the conversation until the facts and realities settle in. We’ve had plenty of senseless denial as it is.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Peak Oil: We All Do This, But…. Pt 2

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I ended last week’s post on the topic of Confirmation Bias* with these questions:

After all, who among us wants to be wrong about important matters on which we’ve staked no small amount of credibility?

But what if being wrong about those important matters winds up being the least of our problems?

It’s human nature to seek out information, evidence, opinions, etc which support positions we’ve taken on a wide variety of topics. Contentious political and social issues provide glaring examples of this from both the left and right sides of the various debates. Climate change is certainly one of the more noteworthy subjects.

So is peak oil. I’m of the clear opinion that our future energy needs are not going to be based on an endless, forever abundant, affordable, easily accessible fossil fuel supply. I’m not alone, of course. There is an equally vocal, and more prominent contingent on the other side of this debate, claiming we peak oil proponents are nothing more than doom-and-gloom messengers who’ve been consistently wrong in predictions.

That’s the starting point.

The conflicts arise in part because of what one relies upon to support his or her position. In some instances, there are actual facts in dispute [some shaded to suit one’s inclinations, of course]. But in too many other instances—peak oil and climate change among them—one side has a clear tendency to not just restrict the facts relied upon to a select and duly-massaged few, they also completely ignore a more substantial and substantive body of evidence.

Offering statements with an assortment of qualifiers [“if”; “possible”; “could”; “potential”, etc] may offer those proponents some assurances that they are essentially correct. But to ignore an entire body of evidence contradicting—or least casting some reasonable doubt—on their staked positions calls into question motivations for disseminating partial truths.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Peak Oil: Are We Not Better Than This? Pt 1

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I’ll confess that I hesitated before starting this series. It was too easy to again just dive into mockery and sarcasm over pieces written several weeks ago by those who refuse to give credence to the concept of peak oil and/or its implications. [It’s also the gateway to yet another round of verbal grenade lobbing which generates a lot of high-five’s with fellow ideologues, but little else.]

I’ve contributed my share of mocking on numerous occasions, to be sure. It’s just part of the ongoing Left-Right hostilities….Tiresome. Pointless. Embarrassing. Damaging … always.

That exercise would have been gratifying to me, but only me. I need to have a more enlightened response to the question posed above. Doing more of the same will produce more of the same, and few of us seem to be benefitting from that strategy these days.

At first glance the subject matter of this series [Friday-only, and for a number of weeks to follow] may seem to be yet another opportunity to take down yet another [two, actually] light-on-facts, right-wing Happy Talk offerings generated for public consumption. Like so many others of similar content and intent, they played well to the far reaches of the Right, judging by most of the comments, and they were consistent with the messages offered in opposition to all things Obama and/or progressives.

Neither those comments nor the material offered by the two writers for their respective conservative publications [American Thinker and Townhall, to be discussed later in this series] were much different than countless others supporting the same essential message: but for President Obama, America would be great, yaddayaddayadda; and we have more than enough energy resources available to us for almost forever, yaddayaddayadda.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Peak Oil: We All Do This, But…. Pt 1

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Confirmation bias is the tendency of individuals to pay attention to or believe information that confirms the personal values and beliefs they already hold, rather than allowing their beliefs to be changed by new information.
It’s a powerful force that many researchers have suggested plays a key role in the persistence of phenomena such as climate doubt. With an overwhelming abundance of evidence pointing to the existence of anthropogenic climate change, for instance, many scientists have questioned why skepticism continues to be pervasive in society. Sociologists have suggested that the reason has to do with the fact that it’s difficult to change an individual’s worldview simply by presenting new information. Confirmation bias, rather, leads people to seek out evidence — however small or poorly supported — that supports their existing personal beliefs. [1]

Seems to be a simple enough explanation….We can all [present company included] insist that we’re always objective and always looking at all sides of important issues, but … not really. Human nature is what it is. This is true for conservatives and progressives—denials and finger-pointing duly noted.

For the great majority of issues, questions, and concerns that pop up on our daily radar screens, this psychological short-cut is certainly handy, and rarely a cause of any great trouble in our lives. It’s a different story for matters whose scope and impact extends beyond today in our own little worlds.

Climate change is certainly one such issue, as was explored in Chelsea Harvey’s above-referenced Washington Post article about a study which examined the spread of misinformation online. Any number of contentious political/economic/cultural topics likewise fall under that widening umbrella. The report’s lead author offered one of the main conclusions validating the impact of confirmation bias as it relates to the spread of climate change denial:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Peak Oil: Simplicity Has Its Disadvantages

Few of us appreciate just how much we rely upon inexpensive, readily-available supplies of energy to live our lives.

[W]hat future awaits us if we cannot be courageous and honest enough to plan for that future with the full range and understanding of all the facts now at our disposal? [1]

While there’s surely some benefit derived in keeping things simple for readers and followers, I’m still unclear as to what the long-term benefits are for them [and the rest of us] when the full range of facts and considerations about our future energy supply are kept off of the discussion table. It’s a defining characteristic of the conservative personality that they tend to prefer closure quickly; and this is so for matters both simple and complex.

But latching onto to one or two pieces of information or opinions in matters of greater complexity and accepting them as the final say can lead to bigger problems down the road when the majority of facts and considerations are ignored—or worse, not disclosed at all to those without the means to collect details on their own.

The issues surrounding the concept of peak oil are not a contest between progressive views and conservative ones. Peak Oil is about the facts on and in the ground. No one denies the great advantages and production increases for which tight oil production in the past few years is responsible. But that’s just a factual statement. It’s not the sum total of energy considerations and concerns today and/or tomorrow, despite the fact it tends to be couched that way by some.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Peak Oil: One-Sentence Problem-Solving

As is still the case—unfortunately, for all of us—there remains a sizeable number of individuals, organizations, and other associations determined at all costs [literally] to preserve the primacy of fossil fuels to power us into the future. Facts: good when they can be massaged to fit the partial-truth narrative required to breathe life into an industry unwilling to bend to the realities of geology, economics, and … well, reality. Facts: not good when they address the broad range of issues and concerns best left neglected to further that Abundance-No Worries narrative. 

One-sentence talking points seem to be the ideal. No concerns about having to delve into the complexities of ideologically-troublesome issues, for one thing. Summary statements suggest there are no worries, for another.

As for the harm caused by failing to properly inform those relying upon the assessments of those others presumed to know? Who has the time to explain all those facts and details and what-nots?

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 1998, when the article was written, global oil production was 75.7 million bbl/day.  In 2014 it was 93.2, and our problem is too much oil.
It’s useful to remember such things when the ‘experts’ grandly tell us what’s going to happen. [1]

With the world awash in oil and prices falling toward $26 a barrel, Iran is set to add to the oversupply now that international sanctions have been eased.
It’s as if the whole world were conspiring to bury the tattered remains of the ‘peak oil’ thesis, so popular a few years ago. [2]

Economics and I have a gentlemen’s agreement: the less I discuss, the better. Notwithstanding, I do understand that when prices are as other-worldly low as they are now, few in the oil industry are eager to venture out and invest in production efforts they can ill-afford.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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