I came across this article today: Peak Oil Returns: Why Demand Will Likely Peak By 2030 by Think Progress.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
Hmmm, I don’t believe a word of this. Well, maybe some of it is all right.
But when they talk about peak oil is dead, or peak oil returns (with a different definition), they are issuing mixed messages, neither of which contains any truth.
Peak oil, by the original definition, which says that oil production (that is oil in barrels, not still in the ground, and not requiring some form of further extraction to make it even look like oil and flow like oil and act like oil) would fall behind oil demand at some point and never again rise above it. That point being named ‘Peak Oil’, occurred in 2005. That is indisputable, if you look at production graphs broken by type of oil produced over the years of this current century.
Yes, I know that total oil production has always marginally led demand during this century, and demand has unexpectedly begun to fall in recent years, such that we are globally storing oil from over-production, but that is really all smoke and mirrors. Here’s why:
The world corporate, government and financial sectors could never accept that ‘Peak Oil’ might arrive of course, because if it did, that would mean the end of our modern society, the end of growth, the end of our ability to wage modern warfare, or pursue industrial agriculture, globalised transport and commerce, and as a result usher in the end of our economic and financial structures. Societal collapse. So, expecting an ever increasing demand (the foundation of growth) from an ever increasing population (a second foundational pillar for growth), they took whatever measures they could to ensure that ‘Peak Oil’ never happened, or at least never appeared to happen. They began the ‘Drill, drill, drill, baby, drill’ project of unearthing anything that vaguely resembled or even smelled like oil, in a mad, mad, rush to beat ‘Peak Oil’ at any cost. And I mean ‘At Any Cost’, no matter whether it was sustainably profitable, and ignoring any perceived risk to public welfare or environmental hazard.
Well, of course that didn’t last long. It never could last long. We are now seeing the result of that folly.
But I am getting carried away and straying from what I intended to say, which is: Any breakdown of oil production this century, will show that total production has marginally kept increasing over the years. But if you take the amount of real oil, produced from genuine oil-fields, oil that needs no extra processing to make it fit for purpose other than the standard refining processes, has been on the decrease since 2005 as expected and forecast. It will continue to decline as good wells and fields expire and close. It will never entirely cease of course, until the ability to pay for it falls behind the benefits of having at least some small amounts for certain specific needs, and it will definitely outlast all other forms of commercial oil production carried out today.
So, ‘Peak Oil’ has never died. It has just been cleverly or mischievously hidden from public view. That subterfuge is now being revealed for what it is, and the peak-oilers who caved in to peer pressure and went along with the general flow are revealed for the weaklings that they are.
Just what is this new definition of peak oil about then? Well, they are saying in this post – I will quote it: “The idea of peak oil supply — the notion that our reach (demand) for oil would exceed our grasp (global supply) — is dead.” But (I say) that has never been what peak oil is about. As I explained above, peak oil has nothing to do with ‘demand’. ‘Peak oil’ is the point in time when the maximum daily production amount (an amount that cannot be exceeded) is reached. Simply that, and nothing more.
So, the new peak oil – ‘Peak Oil Supply’, is actually nonsense. It depends on two variables. One which is most likely, from now on, always going to be on the slide (supply), whether we are talking about good oil or anything resembling oil, and one which can operate in either direction almost at will (demand). There is no sense to that. It can never peak. Perhaps that is the point they want to get across. Idiots.
The conclusion, according to the ‘new peakers’, and I quote:
“It appears instead that homo sapiens might just be wise enough not to over-reach, that we may voluntarily let go of oil (and coal) before they destroy a livable climate for the next 50 generations. Let’s hope so.”
To which I say:
The conclusion, according to me:
First thought – “Mankind is genetically pre-disposed to consume everything in its path, whatever the cost, until it renders itself unviable as a species. The End.”
Second thought – “Maybe, by some chance of fate, enough of us will be left over in some dark corner of the world to start the whole process over again, from scratch. Nature does tend to run in cycles. Another million years or so of human development to reach the same point as we are at now. The world might even have grown (grown?) some more oil by then” 🙂
Peak oil is a geological phenomenon and nothing to do with demand, except in so far as if we completely stopped producing it, it would never peak. So it’s about production, too.
It won’t be just about cost either, Once the EROEI falls to 1 or < 1, there won't be any reason to produce it.
In your first thought, I'd change 'mankind' to 'all species' and the end result would be either extinction or living at the carrying capacity of one's environment.
Yes, some of us will probably survive, but they won't necessarily be any more intelligent than our lot are now. Their genetic makeup will mean they'll just set to and do it all over again. Cycles, as you say. Good post.
I wrote that comment before looking at the linked article. The silly clots don’t realise it’s going to take lots of oil energy to make all those electric cars, plus continue to maintain the road system, plus build all the batteries and solar panels needed to power them…plus…plus…plus. Why don’t people do their energy sums before posting this stuff?
Yes, it’s a) the ridiculous expectation that somehow, with electric vehicles or whatever, things will keep on going much as they are now, even though b) the population is still increasing at a doubling rate of just over 60 years, coupled with c) the unsupported and unproven idea of humanity’s ability to not ‘over-reach’, that is the killer trio of ideas.
The abandonment of the expectation of a) may happen, but undoubtedly too late to have any effect, even if it were to occur right now.
The reversal of momentum of b) will never happen, short of nuclear Armageddon or some sort of cataclysmic act of nature (which offers many possibilities, and may be the only valid hope for any sort of continuance).
The realisation of the impossibility of c) occurring may happen, and it doesn’t matter whether it does or not, nor whatever actions arising from that may ensue.
So, let them huff and puff, plan and posture, yell and bluster, or weep and wail, as they will. You and I know that it is likely all in vain and they (we) should have taken notice of Peak Oil way back decades ago when it might have made a difference.