Archive for the ‘Peak Oil’ Category


We must make a lot of mistakes

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Very interesting insight by Kurt Cobb into the path ahead as we hit economic crisis and peak oil.

Read it below (original at Kurt Cobb’s website Resource Insights)

We must make a lot of mistakes quickly

We often think of progress these days as coming from carefully planned research conducted by government- or corporate-funded laboratories with large staffs of scientists and technicians. As it turns out, many of the key innovations in history have arrived serendipitously or resulted from trial and error.

Most people know the story of Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin. He wasn’t looking for antibiotics, but simply noticed that a certain area on one of his cultures was devoid of bacteria. He deduced that the mold he observed was producing a substance that inhibited bacterial growth.

As for trial and error, when we think of modern airplanes, we don’t normally imagine that their current configuration is largely a product of trial and error. In fact, the Wright brothers spent much of their time testing models in wind tunnels to observe their performance. This method is still used today for modern aircraft design though computer simulations have made it possible to evaluate the most promising designs before going to the expense of building and testing actual models. Today, an occupation called test pilot still survives, proving that despite all of our vaunted technology, we must yet rely on trial and error even in the most technological of pursuits. The modern management argot for this is: “Fire, ready, aim.”

It should come as no surprise then that efforts to create a sustainable society will require a lot of trial and error. This is true in part because we are still only starting to understand what practices in areas such as building, farming, transportation and energy production might be sustainable in the long run. (It is also true because people differ on what they mean by “sustainable” though that deserves a discussion all its own.)

The rather leisurely pace of early 20th century life in which the Wright brothers did their first experiments with aeronautical engineering has been replaced by the breakneck pace of modern 21st century society, a society which finds itself hurtling toward a rendezvous with limits in energy, water, soil and population. Hence, the admonition from Pat Murphy, the current executive director of what is now called the Arthur Morgan Institute for Community Solutions, that we must make a lot of mistakes quickly.

Murphy and his organization have been promoting German passive house design, a design that can reduce energy use by 80 to 90 percent. A builder by trade, he experimented with retrofitting a carriage house standing behind the offices of his organization. He said he used several types of insulation and made many mistakes. But his trial and error endeavor has advanced his thinking enormously about the problems of and solutions for passive house design in North America.

The “quickly” part of his admonition comes from his concern that world peak oil production is near or has already arrived, and that it will be followed by peak natural gas and peak coal production. That means that the trial and error process somehow needs to be speeded up in the area of sustainability.

Fortunately, many people around the globe are busy with wide-ranging experiments in building design, intentional communities, local food production, alternative energy, new forms of transportation, traditional neighborhood design, energy efficiency and the whole host of issues that fall under the rubric of sustainability for a lower-energy world.

It is important to keep in mind then that sustainability efforts are not likely to move from success to success, but as with every other endeavor will be marked by many useful failures and partial successes. That is why it is imperative that we “make a lot of mistakes quickly” so that successful formulas can be found soon in order to help others to avoid elementary mistakes that will slow our evermore urgent movement toward a sustainable society.


Peak Everything

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Does not take much to figure out that if we have depleted oil to the point that we are peaking in its extraction and consumption, then there must be many other useful things that we are peaking in also.  Peak Everything: Eight Things We Are Running Out Of And Why is the article to tell us all about it and certainly gives you more to think about in case  you have been preparing a carefully made out case as to how we are simply going to replace oil with alternate energy.  Try replacing some of these things.  This article is a must-read for the from-the-hip Peak Oil Debunkers!


The Investment Delusion by John Michael Greer

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An absolutely fabulous article on the nature of wealth (usually wrongly perceived as money) and its implications in a post-petroleum, de-industrialised society.  You must read this one to go to brass tacks on what should be the real perspective of investment in the years to come.  All else is sweet delusion….. The Investment Delusion


How much Coal is there?

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Here is a sobering article on the prospect of ‘coal-to-the-rescue’ as a source of alternate energy.  The author, Byron W. King, points out that when faced with the idea of Peak Oil and it’s implications this the kind of response that we most often hear……

“If there’s one common thread in the discussion over the course of nearly four decades, it’s that someone is sure to say something like, “The U.S. has a lot of coal.” Depending on who is doing the talking, maybe the comment will be even more specific, along the lines of “Heck, the U.S. is the Saudi Arabia of coal.” Or if the speaker really wants to impress you with precision, it will be, “The U.S. has a 250-year supply of coal.”

Nevermind that it will cook the planet in greenhouse gases and other forms of damage but the real point is…………… How much coal is there really?


Jim Kunstler puts The Crash in Perspective

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Ever since the price of oil has collapsed along with the economy in unison, people have been confused and don’t correlate all the aspects of the chaos.  One thing they assume that Peak Oilers were wrong about price of Oil going thru the sky.  That is not true.  All that is best explained in Jim Kunstler’s weekly CFN Nation update – entitled “What Next?”.
You could read it at Jim Kunstlers Site.
A short excerpt is  below.
This is what Jim Kunstler has to say…………..
What next………….
“The Peak Oil story was never about running out of oil. It was about the collapse of complex systems in a world economy faced by the prospect of no further oil-fueled growth. It was something of a shock to many that the first complex system to fail would be banking, but the process is obvious: no more growth means no more ability to pay interest on credit… end of story, as Tony Soprano used to say.
Read the complete article at Jim Kunstlers Site.


Peak Oil & the Global Economy

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You can read the whole article Peak Oil & The Global Economy by Clifford J. Wirth, Ph.D. especially in the light of the current Big Collapse.  Below is an excerpt from the article by ASPO, Ireland.

ASPO-Ireland examines the economy in light of Peak Oil (excerpts from the ASPO Newsletter):

“Oil demand had begun to outpace supply around 2005, when the production of Regular Conventional Oil passed its peak. The shortfall was however relatively small and was partly met without undue difficulty by a modest reduction in consumption. But as prices began to firm, oil traders and other speculative financial institutions began to take a position in the market, which had the effect of driving up the price. Gradually the process built momentum as huge notional profits were reaped from the appreciating asset. In a conventional market such movements would soon be countered by increased production, but in the case of oil, there was no spare capacity to release, and the speculative surge fed on itself leading to an extreme escalation in price which reached about $150 a barrel by July 2008. However as this peak [in prices] was approached, the traders began to conclude that a limit was close and began to buy future options at lower prices, which began to undermine the price in a self-fulfilling process. In parallel the high prices began to undermine many other aspects of the economy with for example airlines and automobile manufacturers facing difficulties. They themselves relied heavily on debt, which itself was traded between banks without adequate genuine collateral, and were forced to unload their speculative oil positions in order to try to shore up their failing businesses. Gradually the whole edifice collapsed, and oil prices fell to around $50 a barrel, although nothing particular had changed in the actual supply/demand relationship.

The flaw in the system was to treat a finite resource whose production was largely controlled by the immutable physics of the reservoir as if it were a normal commodity capable of responding to ordinary market pressures. If the price of potatoes increases, farmers can grow more and the market responds, but oil is different.

Governments responded to the crash by pouring yet more money, itself lacking genuine collateral, into the system in the mistaken belief that this would restore the position of assumed eternal growth, and quite possibly the stock market will respond positively as traders sense a new upward direction. They have no real interest in reality: their job being to try to reap rewards from short term movements.

But if there is an economic recovery, that would serve to increase the demand for oil, which is in a sense the lifeblood of the modern world, and oil prices would again begin to surge. Probably, it will take several such vicious circles before governments and, more important, people at large at last come to grasp the reality of the situation, which will likely prompt radical changes in the human condition.

Meanwhile, desperate efforts are being made around the world to shore up the crumbling financial system. For example, the Bank of England has radically reduced interest rates in a country facing a severe recession, effectively taking money from savers to give to spenders.

The Government has evidently failed to grasp the underlying causes of recession and hopes that pumping a bit of money into the system will restore it to its previous condition. That was premised on eternal economic growth, which is a somewhat unrealistic proposition for a Planet of finite dimensions, but Governments subject to re-election are by nature short-term in their thinking.

One is led to conclude that the entire Stock Market, including especially the oil market, has become a thoroughly debased speculative institution. In earlier years, investors clubbed together to build a specific project, such as a canal or railway, with the resulting dividend being the prime motivation. Things seemed to have gone wrong when such investments were traded on markets by financial institutions which naturally can have no serious knowledge of the underlying business or the true value to be placed upon it.”

Read excerpts from this excellent book called Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change.  It gives a chronological account of how man got into this mess of overconsumption and defining the world by his own fancy rules.  But mainly it draws a parallel between earlier Economic Collapses and the present one and shows how they were just previews of things to come.

Wonderful article by Tom Whipple from the site Peak Oil News.  Titled The Peak Oil Crisis – Mea Culpa it draws a parallel between the way the Financial Crisis evolved in public consciousness and them becoming aware of it in retrospect and how the same will repeat in the case of Peak Oil.   Very very interesting to see the role of our media in this.  They made most people aware in a patchy manner but without connecing the dots to underline the deeper and really dangerous implications until it exploded in everyone’s face and then everyone was asking ‘why were we not warned about it’.

Well let me add here……….  me and others following Peak Oil issues are formally warning you about the salient features and implications of Peak Oil which is presently upon us!!!  Salut to Doomers!


Breaking the Silence on falling Oil Prices

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In case you are wondering why I have not put a post about the now falling prices of oil in the light that I was once giddily posting about the rising prices………. well first…….. nothing has changed.    The price has fallen as world economy has collapsed.  That was not what the Big Boyz were predicting anyway….

More imporant the fundaments have not changed.  Lower price only means lower demand but not lower consumption and so has not postponed the date for the effects of oil depletion to kick-in.  The sad part is that this stunning economic collapse has actually distracted people from the more fundamental event that is going to happen nevertheless.  It is like a big firework on the other side of the street that you turn to look at in awe while your own house burns behind you.

Check out my favourite author on the combined issues of Peak Oil and Economic Collapse.  Here is James Howard Kunstler with a Farewell to George W. Bush.


Oil passes $147

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Now this is what wimbledon matches are famous for.  An underdog, 2 sets down, fighting back to win the finals.  But when it happens in oil prices we can’t make anything of it.  Oil dropped 9 dollars day before and now surged over 10 dollars in a day!!  So what of it.  Well read the tennets of Peak Oil and you will find that this volatility is part of the phenomenon of Peak Oil.  It is not about reaching the end of oil.  It is about reaching the MIDDLE POINT of oil.  That is when everything reverses.  All the economics that we have taken as gospel gets inverted.  And volatility is a part of it till we cross the plateau and start the steep relentless decline.

Oh shit I scared you.  Now you are not going to read the article.  But anyway here it is.