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February 25, 2012

Human Ingenuity 2, Peak Oil 1 [ArthurK]

The debunking of the Peak Oil idea has popped up in this blog from time to time. It's popping up again because I like the quotes from this article.

Here's the money quote.


Doomsayers had reasonable grounds for suspecting (that global oil production has peaked) - but failed to address the bigger picture, one which includes technological innovation. They simply wanted Doomsday a little too badly.


Isn't that the truth! These guys anticipate, nay long for, humanity's* self destruction. The consequences of running out of oil are as much fun as a Zombie Apocalypse to them.

*or is it just Western Civilization?

Enough ranting. Summing up, technological progress when governments allow it to proceed is finding fossil fuel faster than we use it. Now for more tasty quotes.


The idea that seized the imaginations of the bien pensant chattering classes in the Noughties - "Peak Oil" - is no longer relevant.

"Peak Oil" is the point at which the production of conventional crude oil begins an irreversible decline. The effect of this, some say, is that scarcity-induced prices rises would require huge changes in modern industrial societies. For some, Peak Oil was the call of Mother Earth herself, requiring a return to pre-industrial lifestyles.

...

Oil production is far more contingent on upstream investment than many people realise. When it does respond, it responds rapidly; the US well count has increased 500 per cent in three years.


In other words, when you TRY to get more oil... You Get More Oil.


The death of Peak Oil kicks away the underpinnings from a great deal of policy-making by our bureaucracies and their advisers. Over the past two decades, we've seen the mushrooming of the "sustainability" sector, which is almost completely dependent on state funding* ...


*aka Obamaesque Crony Capitalism (Algae!)


The Victorians once depended on whale blubber for lighting and heating - and fretted, much like today's sustainability crowd, about what might replace it. Human inventiveness rapidly provided an alternative. And policy-makers were once gripped by the constrained and volatile supply of saltpetre, the nitrate* being essential to both feeding their populations and making things that went bang. Then chemistry came to the rescue. Of course a resource is a combination of things - the limits of human invention being just one.


*Naval battles were fought in WW1 to secure islands covered with guano. The Germans lost those battles and industrialized their invention to use Nitrogen from the air to make high explosives.


(peak oil debunking) signals the beginning of the end of what we might call Apocalypse Politics - where unpopular and daft* policies gain traction simply because their advocates claim that they're justified by some catastrophic and irreversible historical trend. Nobody but the superstitious can really believe that any more.


*aka Obamaesque Crony Capitalism (Solyndra!)

Also, I tweet at @ComradeArthur






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