An op-ed in the Bergen County Record

Normally, an article including the words "Hubbert's Peak" and explaining the concept of peak oil and referring to Deffeyes and Simmons wouldn't be anything new for us. But this one's a little different, I think. First, it's an op-ed from the Bergen County Record, a relatively small paper in Northern New Jersey. Second, it's written by William Tucker, who's an associate at the American Enterprise Institute, a prominent conservative think tank. And it ends with the following paragraphs:
Will paying $50 to fill up the tank make Americans start thinking more sensibly about alternative means of power? Will gas-electric hybrids start to look more attractive? And if people start refueling their cars on the power grid, where will we get the electricity to accommodate them?

We'd better not start blaming this all on President Bush or wailing about the perfidies of the oil companies. The time has come to start rethinking our energy future.
In the end, he's probably right—it probably doesn't help us to point fingers and allay our fears by blaming someone. Yes, we need to rethink our energy future, indeed. But I suspect that deep down inside, he does blame somebody or something, and I wish I could know what it is.

(Hat tip: Energy Bulletin and reprinted in Rigzone)

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We can forgive the past, but we should not excuse the present. We need to hold ourselves and our leaders to a higher standard if we are going to find our way through this mess.

This is a re-post from the AEI site by Tucker:

two is a "gusher?"

"The time has come to start rethinking our energy future." ?!? Did someone say 'energy bill?' I thought that this monstrosisty, three yaers in the making was supposed to be our new energy 'policy?'

Of course it's the fault of Bush (and all the presidents leading up to him), and the oil companies. Peak oil has been known about for decades, and they all looked the other way. If I knew about it in 1980, then there's no excuse for those in positions to have done something about it.

Actually, it is our "Fundamentally-Flawed" System that is at fault and not just our duly-elected Bulge Back Bush.

For a number of years I had kept an ongoing dialog (email) with a conservative think tanker. He thought I was equally "conservative" --I never said I was. At some point in our dialogs I started to express an uneasiness with the way "the system" was going. Something is wrong, I said. Manufacturing is being "outsourced". America is becoming a hollowed out shell. Relax, he said, the system will provide just as surely as it always has. That type of "sound" logic bothered me greatly. I dutifully heard it as any herd member would. But I could not swallow it.

I heard it, but I didn't see it. Instead I envisioned empty factories and long lines of unemployed factory workers.

I had personally witnessed the re-train rhetoric train wreck when them on the righteous right said we will re-educated older displaced Americans to be computer programmers. I sat in the classrooms with them that were to old to learn C++. There was a huge disconnect between what "the system" promised, namely, the quickened re-training of our over-the-ledge factory workers and "reality". You can bring a geezer to the C++ manual, but you can't make him absorb object oriented gobbledy gook.

So with that, my conservative friend started thinking I was going "Commie". Our dialogs fizzled.

When I hear talk now a days of how we will easily switch over and re-train ourselves to work with "alternatives" and with "renewables", I see the geezers all over again, sitting there in the C++ class room, transfixed over the Print("Hello World") page and never moving beyond that. Even the basic concept of a function call is too much for them. They will never advance to the chapter on variable declarations. They are slumped over their desks, gazing starry-eyed at the theory with good intent. But intent and execution are no different than wishing upon a star --and yes, Thumbileena it does make a huge difference who you are. "We" are not who we think we are. Our system is FUBAR. Gulp.


lem head: And an additional point in our agist economy is that even if the people manage to learn some C++ in retraining, or even learn it excellently, they won't be hired. A 40 year old programmer with 20 years of experience will only be hired because of the 20 years of experience, and in the process the HR person will probably be kicking itself for not finding a 25 year old with 20 years of programming experience. And in the next 10 years, there will be 30 year olds with about 20 years experience.

But a 50 year old who just learned C++ ... unless they've got a family member who can get them programming work, there skills will only be used in open source, and they don't pay that well.

Altho, I guess one could use open source to get reportable experience, as they could give a web page and say, "Hey, I wrote this from scratch." or if they're joining and existing project they could show their patches so one could evaluate complexity and grasp of language. But that will still be a mighty uphill battle.

Hell, as someone who's approaching thirty, I feel that I'm starting to get into the point where my experience/knowledge doesn't counteract my age as well.

It must be a full moon or something, the article from the political right had nothing bad to say about Bill Clinton, nor anything good to say about George Bush. It even said "the United States' thirst for oil - despite all the talk – continued to rise unabated". Denial may no longer be just a river in Egypt!

Changing pace, here's a nostalgic and perhaps depressing picture of the old days from Edward Hopper.

I still see a few old stations like this in the back woods.

Finger pointing is, IMO, inarguably a bad thing.

But I think it's just as clear that we need to understand in the greatest detail possible how we got into this mess. That requires not just a willingness to study history, but an unwavering determination to look at all the facts. I'm thinking of things like the business of the car, oil, and tire companies buying up and then shutting down public transit in the US in the early/mid 1900's (as mentioned by Heinberg in The Party's Over).

My feeilng is that an objective analysis leads inexorably to the conclusion that we've actied like drunken teenagers--we thought we were immortal and that nothing would ever stand in our way. Now that we're about to run into the reality of the situation, we need to grow up, sober up, and commit ourselves to the very difficult task at hand, ASAP. (I'm convinced that the first item on our to-do list is educating more people about peak oil, which I'm sure surprises no one who reads this blog.)

To get past this, we need leadership. Not finger pointing, not more study, not blaming X or Y administration or policy or playing the 'what if' game.

I wish I had a dollar for every person who has told me that "when prices go up we'll find an alternative." Hogwash. Prices have gone up. Finding an alternative is not like going to Wal-Mart.

We don't have any real leaders right now.

President Charter does not share in any of the blame. I was a kid and still remember some of his launguage and leadership on this issue. Granted it was at a time of crisis, but de had it right, he talked about, he made proposals, and led by example. As we move forward, let's not be too eager to forget who took down the solar panels.


08:12 Merrill ups long-term oil price forecast -- Reuters

Merrill Lynch on Friday raised its forecasts for long-term U.S. light crude prices by 40 percent to $42 a barrel, a day after bigger rival Goldman Sachs said it expected oil to be around $60 at the end of the decade. Merrill Lynch's Global Energy Team also increased its price forecasts for U.S. light sweet crude to $56 a barrel this year, up $6 from its previous forecast, and $52 in 2006, up $10. Oil prices have averaged $53.71 a barrel so far this year. "In our view recent strength has been driven by short-term supply disruptions and renewed geopolitical tensions. Longer-term, we believe $60 a barrel oil is unsustainable and expect prices to retrace," it said.

One of us has our head in the sand, and it ain't TOD.

Lou Grinzo. I'm not sure that finger pointing is always invariably a bad thing. Yes, it is bad if one doesn't try to take control of the present to try to influence the future. But with a complete lack of fingerpointing, we get administrations who refuse to accept any accountability for their actions. If there is no future accountability, strategy of present choice will not change.

It's bewildering the lack of accountability these days, CEO's get of light/free for corrupt actions because they were "maximizing stockholder value" when they really destroyed stockholder value in the long run. Presidents whip the public into going along with a war on a string of lies, and aren't held accountable. The list goes on and on, and there's been a non-trivial number of quotes one sees on the Daily Show of essentially those in power arguing that they made decisions with the best of intents, but that just because the results were bad they shouldn't be held accountable.

One can't proove intent, but if one refuses to learn from the past, and accept no responsibility, that goes a long way towards showing one's true intentions.

I don't believe that pointing fingers is a good thing either, but I'm actually more dissapointed in another group.

Where the heck have the academics, research institutes, think tanks, etc., been for the past 30 years? Some have been vocal, but it seems to me that outside a handful of geologists, academia has been largely silent on this issue.

I don't expect oil companies to look out for looming social/environmental problems. Their job is to look out for their bottom line. Nor do I expect pandering, tactical politicians to educate society. However, I DO expect our universities to be on top of these things. They stepped up to the plate on global warming, why not peak oil?

I get a deep-cough chuckle every time I hear the people (the lemm's) talk about stocks and return on investment to the shareholders. Remember when stocks paid something called "d-i-v-i-d-e-n-d-s"? The ultimate con job was convincing them (me included) that you don't need dividends. cough cough. Soon "they" will be convincing you that down is up.

Couple: No to gas
Published on August 19, 2005

By Nancy Hernandez
Frederick (Maryland) News-Post Staff
MOUNT AIRY -- Catherine and John Nazarene love cars. Their relationship blossomed at drag races and under the hood of their muscle cars. But these days, the self-described motorheads don't race anymore. They don't even take their well-tuned vehicles out for a casual spin around town.

When gas prices crossed the $1.50 mark, the couple decided enough was enough. They parked their power cars in the yard alongside their get-around-town vehicles and began footing it to destinations.

"It makes us sad to look at our toys just sitting in our driveway," Ms. Nazarene, 45, wrote in an email. "But gasoline is prohibitively expensive and our toys use a lot of it. So we hang over the fenders a lot, stare at the hardware under the hood and dream."

Until gas prices drop by 50 percent from current levels, the couple will continue their mini-boycott, Ms. Nazarene said.

"The last time I bought gas, it was $2.17 a gallon at Free State."

She's only logged 600 miles on her car since January. Before she began her protest, her odometer registered closer to 3,000 miles annually.

"I bought a wire granny cart with wheels and started doing my daily errands on foot," she said.

She works as a tax consultant from her home in downtown Mount Airy and is grateful to have a zero-mile commute to work.

Still, jobs aren't the only reasons people get behind the wheel, she said.

"Of course, we all have to get to work, to the doctor, to take care of emergencies, to buy large things that wouldn't be practical or possible to drag around in a wire cart. But do we really have to drive to get to the grocery store a mile away? Do we really have to take the SUV on a 1,500-mile vacation once or twice a year?"

Despite working 60 to 90 hours a week, she still manages to find time to walk, she said.

It takes a little planning, but combining errands into once-a-week walking excursions ends up taking about the same amount of time as several 15-minute car trips each week, and costs much less, she said. "My wire cart cost me $40. It's paid for itself many times over, and I'm not part of the demand that everyone says is the main factor in pushing prices up and keeping them there."

Plus, walking offers benefits, she said with a laugh.

"I'm in better shape than ever thanks to walking two to four miles a day in the hilly town I live in."

She knows exactly how long it takes to make it to the post office, grocery stores and just about any spot she needs to visit. To make it on time to an appointment two miles away, she planned to leave her house at 3:15 p.m. Thursday.

"Relentlessly awful" weather, long-distance business meetings and church are about the only things that force her into a car these days. Even then, she tries to get the most out of each trip.

"We plan things so that we run all our errands in one swing, if we have to buy heavy or large things or if we need something we can't find near our home," she said.

Living without wheels requires some sacrifices, Ms. Nazarene said. "I miss my family and friends in the South Carolina town I grew up in, but I haven't been home in three or four years."

She hopes gas prices will drop so that she can make the trip. If not, she'll keep writing and calling on the phone. She's not about to abandon her protest now.

"I'm putting a stick, albeit a tiny one, in the eye of whoever it is that's doing the gouging on oil prices," she said.

You might want to revisit some of our earlier posts about what has happened to the energy producing departments around the world over the last two decades. Since they cost more than other disciplines they have been repeatedly cut back, and now as demand for their product is rising, the number of qualified faculty that are available is a very small pool. And mainly with teaching and research demands we tend not to have time or the inclination to get into peak oil issues.

"We'd better not start blaming this all on President Bush or wailing about the perfidies of the oil companies. The time has come to start rethinking our energy future."

Who does he blame? I thought that was obvious: Bush and the oil companies... Who else would he blame?

But what he means is:

"Let's not argue over who ordered my Surf-'n'Turf and who ordered your small salad. The time has come to decide who has to pay this bill."

My comment wasn't directed at you or even energy producing departments specifically. Rather, it seems to me that researchers from a broad range of fields--and the institutions that fund them--should have picked up on this issue sooner.

Coming from more of a policy/social science background, I have to wonder how I managed to get two bachelor degrees in economics and political science, a masters in urban planning, and few years of work towards a doctorate in planning without ever coming across this issue in any of the literature. Instead I practically stumbled upon it while surfing the web during idle time, and then had to do a lot of digging to assure myself that I had not stumbled upon some junk science based conspiracy theory.

To all who placed their bets on or are blaming the US government:

To think that the US government is going to bring a solution to the peak-oil problem is an illusion. No matter what the taxes are, or who you'll vote for.

The US politicans and the whole government is formed and held by special intrest groups. You know what they are; oil & natural gas, weapon, automobile, tabacco and sugar industries (just look at the background of the Bush administration people, there's big oil all over the place). And we know what drives them; short-term profits.
The current oil-war-situation is not so bad for most of them.....

So, the most propable respons of the government will be; just the announcements of the deterioating situation. No actions other that those that will maximize corporate profits on the short term.

I think the only way is to change your own life-style and start making an example yourself. Me, I'm changing it right now. My car uses Natural gas and i drive as little as possible, only for work (I'm an IT-manager).
I have wood-stofe installed in my house and I am storing a over 3 years supply of wood in my garden (yes, hand sown and chopped by myself).
I've installed only 4 watt special light bulbs in my house.
I'm working om my own waterwell in my garden and working on a rainwater collecting system.
Next will be solarcells and a 12 volt power system with LED lights to replace the normal power system. After that,I will start growing my own food in the garden.
I'm working on getting to know my neighbours and start doing things for them. Allready they start doing things for me too.

You all could start to do the same, even in a urban situation. Remind you; I live 5 miles of the centre in a normal small city (180.000 people).

Who's next to put his actions to where his mouth is?

unfortunately Roger, for every savings you make, someone else is wasting your effort, just as Congressman Bartlett refers to in his Peak Oil speeches.. Its will take the effort of EVERYONE before any real results are realized on a national level. But I do applaud your effort.. I actually walked to the grocery store instead of driving the other day..

Roger, sounds like what you are doing is really great. Getting more independant from civilization's infrastructure and reaching out to the people you live near as if they were like family.

(Because there is no open thread this weekend, I am posting this here.) On the weekend, C-SPAN2 becomes Book TV. Tomorrow night (Sunday, 21 August) at midnight, Kenneth Deffeyes will be on Book TV giving a talk titled "Beyond Oil: The view from Hubbert's Peak".

The Book TV schedule can be found here: