My Daughter

My Daughter
Remember when you learned how to do this?

Friday, December 30, 2005

The Importance of Being Earnest

Earnest was my grandfather's name.

Almost everyone loves and respects their grandparents of course, but he was, bar none the best example of how to live your life as I have ever encountered. Seen through the loving granddad-colored glasses to be sure, but I have never met anyone who knew him, who didn't think the exact same thing.


- Heartfelt, serious and diligent, emotionally intense and solemn.

A pretty good description really. All things considered, I can only hope to live a life that reflects these values.

And why am I writing this on my depletion blog?

Because that's what I think is missing from many of our discussions about our collective future.

Absent an earnest treatment of this complex and world-changing topic, what's left is a cursory & misleading characterization of the challenges we face.

As a pessimist, it's tempting to think in terms of problems, rather than solutions; & the opposite is true as well I think. If we are to be heartfelt, serious and diligent, emotionally intense and solemn as we approach depletion issues, it demands that we remain open to the widest range of thinking considered realistic. True "due diligence" must include the ideas any one individual might find objectionable.

How inclusive of opposing viewpoints is the argument?

This is a yardstick for the "earnest" appraisal of the topic by the author(s).

Or lack thereof...

Or put in the colloquial euphemistic jargon of Southern Texas...

"The more ya think you're right... the less I'm gonna trust what you say."

And finally, here's an example of exactly what I mean.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Production Peak - The Bottom Line

I'm a reader.

Love it... read everyday.

And from a wide variety of sources from fiction, to history, to historical fiction; & more recently technical papers on the geology of oil production & exploration of all things.

Like many of you, I'm more than a little interested in this idea that the midpoint of conventional hydrocarbon production looms near.

After 2 years of studying everything I can find on peak oil, I have distilled what I think are the most significant & compelling arguments regarding oil production.

As always, my friend Billy of Occam leads the way thru the foggy waters of reality.

And it goes something like this:

The determination of exactly when midpoint conventional oil production will occur hinges on exactly how much oil we can find & produce.

Our knowledge of estimated "known and probable" oil reserves rests with OPEC & the major oil companies.

There is significant financial advantage to OPEC & the oil majors in overstating their reserve estimates.

Which is the same as saying that OPEC & the oil majors are overstating their reserve estimates.

Since even the USGS predicts that conventional oil will eventually peak & decline around 2030, these over-stated reserve numbers shrink their estimate for peak.


It's really a question of just how inflated the OPEC & oil majors reserve reporting really is.

It's not hard to imagine that the world's oil producers have grossly exaggerated and the actual peak date is long since passed.

At the very least, it means that the 25 year window the USGS claims is fantasy, and the actual date will be much sooner.

What sounds more reasonable to you?

The major oil producers voluntarily gave up profits and made accurate reserve reports because it's the right thing to do?


The major oil producers inflate their reporting numbers to maximize profits regardless of other considerations?

Is there even any question?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

A Visit from Jevon

The subject of much debate, and more than a little misunderstanding, Jevon's Paradox is a simple observation with terrible consequences.

In a single stroke, Jevon has savaged the notion that conservation & efficiency are desirable, and are in fact at the root of the very problem we would like to overcome.

Peak Oil

" suppose that the economic use of fuel is equivalent to a diminished consumption.

The very contrary is the truth.

As a rule, the new modes of economy will lead to an increase of consumption according to a principle recognized in many parallel instances…. The same principles apply, with even greater force and distinctiveness to the use of such a general agent as coal. It is the very economy of its use which leads to its extensive consumption…. Nor is it difficult to see how this paradox arises….

If the quantity of coal used in a blast-furnace, for instance, be diminished in comparison with the yield, the profits of the trade will increase, new capital will be attracted, the price of pig-iron will fall, but the demand for it increase; and eventually the greater number of furnaces will more than make up for the diminished consumption of each.

And if such is not always the result within a single branch, it must be remembered that the progress of any branch of manufacture excites a new activity in most other branches and leads indirectly, if not directly, to increased inroads upon our seams of coal….

Civilization, says Baron Liebig, is the economy of power, and our power is coal. It is the very economy of the use of coal that makes our industry what it is; and the more we render it efficient and economical, the more will our industry thrive, and our works of civilization grow.

The contemporary significance of the Jevons paradox is seen with respect to the automobile in the United States. The introduction of more energy-efficient automobiles in this country in the 1970s did not curtail the demand for fuel because driving increased and the number of cars on the road soon doubled. Similarly, technological improvements in refrigeration simply led to more and larger refrigerators. The same tendencies are in effect within industry, independent of individual consumption. "

" the extent you make any useful commodity more affordable, you encourage it's consumption by that same margin."

Another way to put this is by looking at the difference between what any given commodity costs today, and what it would have cost absent the additional supplies which conservation & efficiency have provided.

Lower relative cost = greater relative consumption.

And unless you plan on invading China, India, South America & Africa and force them to comply with your conservation plans, the net effect will be generating energy subsidies for these emerging energy consumers in the form of lower energy commodity prices.

This is why all efforts at conservation & efficiency are actually counterproductive, and lead us even further into the quagmire of Hubbert's Peak.

It is indeed this sobering analysis, coupled with the notion that so many believe otherwise, which makes me the pessimist I am today.

I have said so many times, but it bears repeating...

Be aware of peak oil.
Be afraid of how your neighbors will react to it.