Peak Oil Media

Here's three four pieces of media that you can send to folks to explain the basic arguments regarding peak oil. First is Matt Simmons on CNBC a month ago talking about the GAO report (7 mins), then under the fold a link to Jim Kunstler's latest talk (which is great), a piece by ABC Radio of Australia on the GAO report and peak oil, and Boone Pickens on the issue as well.

"The GAO report found no focussed coordinated government plans to prepare for peak oil or other supply disruptions."
"We are on the verge of replacing the term 'global warming' with the term 'peak oil.'"
"The best new oil basin we will ever find is the one called 'conservation.'"

And then, James Howard Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency, speaks to the Commonwealth Club of California (.mp3 warning) about the American car culture and our illusions of maintaining it with alternative fuels. (thanks to Global Public Media). (It's about one hour.)

I found this presentation on the GAO report by ABC Radio International out of Australia on the GAO report and the topic of peak oil (which kindly mentions TOD, thanks!) presented by Paul Barclay featuring Michael Lardelli (5 minutes).

and then Boone Pickens (8-ish minutes):

November, 2005 Simmons/Kunstler Interview

Just listened to a Kunstler lecture.


His arrogance and lack of scientific rigor will really diminish the credibility of the Peak Oil cause to those who don't know much about it, imo. And I'm a New England liberal!

I guess this points to a possible problem coming up. At the moment, peak oil is a "niche" enough cause that so far it's been able to be dominated by credible voices. But as it becomes more widely known about, blowhards-with-a-cause like Kunstler may take over the debate in the public forum, and make it more difficult to generate and sustain real understanding and action as people tend to take it less seriously because of its visible proponents.

"blowhards-with-a-cause like Kunstler"

How many times and for how many years has this "blowhard" been warning us that the US suburban model is unsustainable and likely to collapse?

The End of Suburbia DVD (EOS) was built around an interview with Jim Kunstler, and everything he said in EOS looks remarkably prescient now.

I'm listening now, and 2/3 through I haven't heard him repeat his technologically uninformed comments from Long Emergency. I think he has learned from critics of that book (I'm guessing) and is confining himself to the cultural/political critic mode, which he does very well.

Look, we all understand that Kunstler was fiction writer first, cultural/urban critic second, and is not trained as a scientist. He has sometimes said things that make that painfully obvious. That doesn't mean he deserves to be dismissed.

Kunstler's analysis of the state of our society and its possible futures are worth thinking about and meditating on.

I found him to be very sober and well grounded (even in scientific terms) in this talk.

Which technologically uninformed comments are you referring to, from The Long Emergency?

Frankly, I remember rolling my eyes when I read his technological arguments about alternative energies in the Long Emergency... sounded like an undergraduate term paper. My copy is long gone by now. I remember him lumping his dismissal of completely loony ideas together with his dismissal of techno-solutions upon which reasonable people still disagree (with no sense that he understood the difference), and having a sense that he was parroting opinions, not analyzing options. Scientifically informed friends of mine rejected his good arguments about human society in the present because of his amateurish discussion of energy alternatives... and I remember having to agree with them that his discussion was pretty weak.

Kunstler is not in a position to speak intelligently about alternative energy options. The best he can do is report other people's opinions.


I think his critique of the contemporary social and political blindness is spot on. His "greatest misallocation of resources in human history" argument hardly seems disputable. His "they still want to make the world safe for cars" is the bomb. He's a prophet.

Nobody knows however how fast things will fall apart, how quickly and to what extent we'll organize alternatives (in energy and in ways of life). But a great deal depends on technological unknowables that people other than Kunstler have a better basis to speculate on than does he.

The best argument that civilization can survive peak oil comes from Cuba, in my opinion. The American southwest is of course doomed. Huge areas of the world are overpopulated for a non-petro-agricultural food economy. We're heading for a big mess. But even as we descend, I'm a techno-optimist in the sense that I think islands of humanity will devise clever and violent ways of surviving.

I don't know how big those geo-political islands will be... I just think that the general downward trend will be resisted in some places.

I'm betting that we're screwed, but not doomed.

>Kunstler is not in a position to speak intelligently about alternative energy options. The best he can do is report other people's opinions.

Kunstler also believe that the Y2K probably would cause a huge collapse as technology all over the US would fail plunging us into darkness. His creditablity is virtually non-existant at this point.

>The best argument that civilization can survive peak oil comes from Cuba, in my opinion.

Bad example. Cuba imports a massive amount of food from the US and its economy is dependant on toursism.

His creditablity is virtually non-existant at this point.

Clearly, that's not true. Otherwise he would not get invited to speak at conferences or in documentaries and he would sell only fiction. Also, people like oregon7 wouldn't be saying nice things about him. Maybe you meant to say that you, personally, don't accept anything he says, simply because he was predicting catastrophe over Y2K. Who knows, his prediction may have worked out, to some extent, if nothing had been done about it. Something was done about it, so some people now say that it is an example of a non-event and proves peak oil will be also.

Well, one of his constant themes in The Long Emergency is that he's not convinced that the alternative energies that he examines can be built without a fossil fuel based infrastructure. I guess his failing here is that he never quite explained why that would not be possible in the future. But I generally agree with him, in the sorts of timescale we need.

He's not an energy scientist so I don't know why your friend would expect a highly technical study of the alternatives. Others have done better jobs there and largely come to the same conclusions (like Richard Heinberg and Paul Roberts, though the latter did, at one time, appear to hold out hope for hydrogen). So far I haven't read a convincing case that a combination of alternatives could keep the party going for long, once oil starts to decline.

Remember that Kunstler was examining alternatives, in terms of enabling our current oil based way of life to continue. The alternatives may be very useful for different living arrangements, but that was not his focus in that section of his book.

Not PO related, but Kunstler disciples might find this talk from 2000 interesting.

Audio only.

I agree with WT. Kunstler has done valuable work on promoting PO and especially EOS. And I say this despite his (JK's)frothing on the 9-11 issue and unwillingness to think unpleasant thoughts about some of the geopolitical corollaries of PO. His insights on EOS more than make up for all other defects.

Scientific rigor is extremely important in the Peak Oil debate, but it's not what's going to shift public opinion.

Perhaps no one has done more to get Peak Oil into the public forum than James Howard Kunstler.

Don't forget Nate's post:

Kunstler is OK, way too Yankee-centric for my personal taste however. I will take my chances here in Texas with the rest of the "country boys". Be sure and check back in 20 years or so and lets see who did better.

He does seem to be in favor of Vermont going it's own way. Great, take all the other original 13 with you. I always had the feeling the umbilical cord to Europe grew back 50 or so years ago anyway. Here is to the future Grand Duchy of Texas!

Mose in Midland

Maybe you would enjoy Joe Bageant. Great Writer.
I call him the NASCAR Kunstler.


Madmen and Sedatives: Inside the Iron Theater

Back to the Ancient Future

Somewhere a Banker Smiles

Poor, White and Pissed
A Guide to the White Trash Planet for Urban Liberals

AND TheOilDrum just got mentioned in this posting on his site by a reader....

Tired of fear and loathing in Los Angeles

Hey Joe,

I have been reading your articles for about a year running now and each paragraph pushes me a little closer to escape. Each article shines more light on the psychotic vampire of a socio-economic system we live under. I can see the blood dripping from its fangs. But I am confused, lost. You see, I happen to have a very specific skill that the Hollywood mythmakers find very appealing. As a result, I am 23 and making more money than 99% of the world's citizens. Yet it does not feel that way. Living in this city drains you as fast as it fills you, be it gas, food, rent or entertainment. I spent $40 on four drinks Friday.

I can't stand it here anymore, yet I find it impossible to leave. I used to like my job, but now I can't see it outside of the context of the greater machine: I create amazing visual events for people to be awed by. A modern shaman. Instead of spinning tales of heroism or epic journeys, I merely create the vast explosions and immense destruction demanded by the modern audience. But why do they need this? To pepper their lives with some element of the spectacular? I wonder if what I am doing is any good. Sure, people have a good time going to the movies, but more and more, I leave the cinema feeling worthless, controlled and foolish. I don't think entertainment in its current incarnation has much to offer the world.

So I wish to escape. I want to run, to leave what this nation has become, even though I love what is was. But all the signs are pointing, the klaxons are blaring. This is the time. I need to leave. But I am scared. My father is dying, I am young and stupid, and no one seems to understand what it is that upsets me so much about this American life, beyond my sister and fellow bloggers like JHK and The Oil Drum crowd.

I first got into this through the peak oil connection, and now peak oil is starting to get major press. But it seems that the whole horrible affair goes much deeper than mere oil supplies. I think I am watching my fellow countrymen be mentally crippled, incapable of thought or action. Incapable of organization and fearful of his peers.

jh kunstler rocks.
been fan of his since early 90's.
omly got into peak oil cuz of kunstler.
the man's a literary genius.
Have u READ any of his books??!
I'm a southern libertrian.
he has big following down here.


hbj is just trying to show you how dumb a "liberal" from New England is capable of being! ;]

"A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel."
--Robert Frost

O, got it.
thanks mr f

Why is this PO cause and its credibility so important to you and many other posters? IMO we don´t have to persuade others of the facts, the facts will present them selves when the crisis begins in earnest.

Tell your nearest friends if they care to listen, and prepare yourself to survive the coming debacle. And let the others take the full hit and possibly the risk of die-off also.

IMO it´s too late for the societies to mitigate the crisis(Hirsh report et al).; ASPO article 374; "Second Dimension Surface Transport Logistics Platform"

It is frustrating, living the distance through which the USA went from lending not borrowing nation, & Energy Independent too! More so, knowing some of the mis-steps along the way, and not in position or able to do much about it. This geezer in middle 60's knew America with something now lacking, and, needed badly. "Plan B" -conservation in transport fuel use- must include rehab of dormant railway corridor network. Long-haul trucking, some running some 4000 miles from Eastern Canada to Southern CA & Mexican border!! - should be rail haul.

The policymakers and corporate boards across North America need to put themselves in the mindset of China's Strategic Planners long enough to see railway requisites for the Oil Interregnum. GM gets the press in China- enjoy it while you can, Jimmie- but smart Chinese money is going into a Trillion $$ railway expansion program. Is there a US entrepreneur reading this who will champion a new US 50 Corridor TranSierra rail line connecting Sacramento, Tahoe & Carson Valley/Reno? See ( article 374...

USA rails must continue the incremental rehab/capacity expansion program now going on under the radar. Interested Oil Drummers can collaborate with their locales' historic societies, county planners and Railway savants to compile maps of past, present, and desireable future rail footprint to keep 'em rolling thru the fossils rollover. The important detail includes ASAP installation of freight container apparatus at local level on existing and rehabbed segments. Author Jim Kunstler's suggested morale factor is an important factor in this railway/renewable renaissance.

Freight handling with the rail line at local level is a crucial element to assure victuals & necessities of life distribution when the trucking shrinks. This is no disrespect to the magnificent job trucking does to enable the "Just-In-Time" distribution policy now in vogue. Reality intrudes; the long-haul part of truckers' duties will return to rail movement. This return to rail-focused transport economics will come from analytical look at energy usage, not any sort of favoritism or political pressures. Still indispensable as since their beginning as local teamsters, trucking will continue pick-up & delivery, door to door and specialized haul role.

The limits of rail will be where the load goes more efficiently by trucks, bicycle, carts, etc. Weather extremes will force otherwise good aviation and marine options to favor rail in many cases, as well.

Strategic Planners public & private will profit from James A. Van Fleet's 1956 transport manual: "RAIL TRANSPORT & THE WINNING OF WARS", obtainable from Association Of American Railroads in D.C. This will prompt FEMA & Homeland Defense responsibles to reconstitute the State National Guard railway Operations & Maintenance Battalion units. Dated- until you see eerie parallels to current energy challenges and post 911DAY threats...

The parallel expansion of electric generic railway & renewable energy capacity needs no explanation to this website. The mid 20th Century USA transport formula of local warehousing in city environs, including produce markets likewise rail-served is a useful step back to the future. See the maps. Learn the warehouse track geometry and ascertain where same can be applied in the new downtowns and suburbs. Immerse planning in the Railway hierarchy of electric interurbasns, branch & secondary mainlines, and appropriate new rail corridor where appropo.

For Federal Legislative staff seeing this, suggest you query the Transportation Curator at the Smithsonian, the Association of American Railroads, American Short Line RR Association, respectively, for track footprint maps. Also, the Rails To Trails Organization is a good source, although R2T will probabably get heartburn if they find that many trails make more sense as railways in post 911DAY America. "Something Extraordinary Is Afoot"

Sure James Kunstler is obnoxious, and hard to take. I appreciate someone getting upset at the stupidity and tragedy of American society. I appreciate him trying to tie together the many threads of impending threat this nation faces (no simple task). Kunstler keeps abreast of peak oil, currency and real estate crises, global politics, global warming, among other things. Few writers even try.

If he makes technical errors, because he believed one expert rather than another, well it aint easy. He never claimed to be a scientist. He's a reporter.

Kuntler is a dystopian fiction writer/speaker and a good one. Good fiction has to start with a plausible thesis. Dystopian fiction must have a dystopian thesis. Kunstler's choice of PO as his thesis is brilliant. The main thing I critique him on is his "Do as I say not as I do." way of life. He's not conserving energy with his many gigs around the country.

If he'd stayed at home, tending his vegetables and learning the basic skills to help him survive in a sustainable future, he'd be better off but who would see him living a sustainable life?

Until the house of cards starts collapsing, we need people to take the message to the masses, so his many gigs are fine, in my book.

I've heard the same criticism made about Al Gore and climate change. What these criticisms leave out, is that Kunstler and Gore are spreading the message to many people. The fact that they fly on airplanes is irrelevant. It the EROEI they get by converting the masses.

... for the convenience of TV, you can only be one of two kinds of human beings, either a liberal or a conservative. -- Kurt Vonnegut

Lets start a whole new thread with all the geologist on this board who think man-made global warming is a great steaming pile of it (my hand is raised). The climate is changing? So when has it not been changing? What exactly is an optimal base line climate, and when was it? If a bunch of vikings could raise sheep and wheat in Greenland why can't we?

From someone who has made his living for the past 28 years on glacio-eustatic sea level fluctuations.

Mose in Midland

The issue with AGW is that our actions now are leading to significant risk that in 50, 100 or 150 years time the climate will begin to change at a rate or in a manner that is well beyond or current ability to handle. Now, sure, in 100 years time, the world will be a very different place, and it's very difficult to know exactly what sort of technologies we're likely to have in place to help manage the climate (whether it's extensively engineered food supplies, or even the ability to suck large amounts of GHG out of the atmosphere), but ultimately it comes down to risk management. If we can make relatively small and inexpensive changes now, that significantly reduces the risk of painful and expensive (and even involuntary) changes in the future. Not only that, but it seems that most of the changes we can make now should actually save us money, and help boost the economy. Look at Sweden (who started preparing for a FF-free future in the early '90s).
And of course the Greenland Norse died out, as you know...

The vikings died out, due to global warming? No, they froze to death in the little ice age. Maybe the Roman optimum preceding it is, in fact, our optimal climate base line and mother nature is finally getting off of her dead ass and getting us back to it. The constant harping about man made CO2 is what drives me nuts. Remember Biolab? They had to pump fresh air secretly into it because nobody seemed to take into consideration the amount of CO2 soil bacteria generates. Exactly how much CO2 goes into solution in the cold ocean depths from the 80% or so of active volcanos located along the oceanic rifts and is expelled when that water finally upwells (yes, CO2 goes into solution in cold temps, comes out when it warms)? You all agree methane is a greenhouse gas? I believe termites can volumetrically account for all of it in the atmosphere by their lonesomes.

I agree with others once peak oil is rammed into the collective conscious, global warming hype is going to fade into oblivion. We are all going FF free, like it or not.

Mose in Midland

My only suggestion is that you go and actually read the IPCC report. Then come back with some informed questions.

Global warming "hype" will be subsumed by peak oil concerns in the near future, but the problem won't go away: especially if we race to extract what oil we can from coal and tar sands, no matter what the emissions cost.

Hello there, we vikings are still alive.

Alive, no doubt, just not as widespread.

Mose in Midland

Thats the thing about AGW deniers - they are prepared to accept (on slimmer evidence) PO but in the face of overwhelming expertise on AGW they remain stony still.

Not saying that PO is not happening or real (understand finite resources should be enough), but AGW denial demands a particularly stubborn form of stupidity.

A graph of man-made CO2 for the last 50+ years

I do not think that soil bacteria have suddenly become much more active in the last half century (humans have though).

The sawtooth is the annual spring/fall cycle in the Northern Hemisphere and entirely natural.

The effects of humans are clear.

Best Hoeps for Understanding basic facts,


Lets start a whole new thread with all the geologist on this board who think man-made global warming is a great steaming pile of it (my hand is raised). The climate is changing? So when has it not been changing? What exactly is an optimal base line climate, and when was it? If a bunch of vikings could raise sheep and wheat in Greenland why can't we?

Better still, let's get all the climate scientists doing active work in this area and ask those who think AGW is a pile of doo-da to raise their hands. Oh, I think there was one over there, a couple of hundred miles away.

The point that the climate is constantly changing is irrelevant and not part of the serious debate. The fact that Greenland was more hospitable in the past is irrelevant and not part of the serious debate.

If you want to debate the science, go to a site dedicated to that activity, like

Make sure those climate scientist do not have their funding dependent on toeing the official line, as brought forth by the prophet Algore.

"The fact that Greenland was more hospitable in the past is irrelevant and not part of the serious debate."

Comments like this are why I am up past my bedtime. The past is irrelevant? Chief, all we have to go on is the past. Go get a geology 101 book and look up the term "uniformitarianism". I hope to God you are not an exploration geologist, if so we are so far beyond screwed, the light from screwed will not reach us for 1000 years.

Mose in Midland

Make sure those climate scientist do not have their funding dependent on toeing the official line, as brought forth by the prophet Algore.

Now that's a fine bit of totalitarian doublespeak. Al Gore is the official line? No, Mose the official line says that government scientists can't mention global warming. The official line says "who are we to decide what climate is best for other people"!

Al Gore is the insurgent voice warning the officials of the Bush Administration, and the rest of us.

The Official Line is what Exxon promoted when it stopped the science teachers from distributing copies of Inconvenient Truth.

Your comment reminds me of folks who think that there is something called the "liberal media", when of course almost all we have today in the US is a far right wing corporate media. Yet still they rant against this imaginary enemy! I wish we had a liberal media. In my dreams.

Most folks under stand very well what the official line is, and how that official line uses Orwellian techniques to represent "official" positions as endangered and so on. Please desist.

I seem to recall the head of NASA getting bitch-slapped back into submission last week when he dared stray from the "official" line.

Mose in Midland

He should have been fired. He said, in essense, "What's the big deal, the climate changes every few thousand years naturally. Who cares if we do it in just 100 years".

As Midland is evacuated in between massive dust storms (those that did not leave or die when the power went out in that record heat wave of 130 degrees in 2015), remember to tell me that climate change is no big deal.

Human society and our economy has evolved and established itself around the climate "as is". Any change, and especially any fast change, is traumatic and destructive. The NASA admin is a fool for not recognizing that. But being a fool is something many Bush appointees have in common.


If a bunch of vikings could raise sheep and wheat in Greenland why can't we ?

Wheat was never raised in Greenland, only barley (a far more northerly grain).

Icelandic sheep can live in Greenland today, but they would devastate the ecology.


Please do start a new thread. That would be much easier to skip over. There is something in common between the AGW denialists and the cornucopions: Both groups persist in a belief because they are not able emotionally to handle the truth. So please yes, pile your poo elsewhere.

Hmm, I consider myself an AGW believer AND a "long-term" cornucopian. AGW is pretty easy to believe, because the evidence is quite compelling, and the science relatively straighforward (compared to, say, quantum field theory, anyway!). As for trying to work out what to believe about the long term future for the human race, there's really not all that much solid evidence to go on, and not even much in the way of science. I fully accept that a catastrophic collapse is possible, and even that for us to get through the next 100 years without some sort of major calamity is somewhat unlikely, but I can't see any justifiable reason to believe that the there's nothing but doom and gloom for the rest of our foreseeable future, and furthermore, if it does occur, it will in no small part due to the lack of people prepared to envision and work towards a better future.

If someone doesn't like Kunstler's style, that's their problem.

Focusing on a number of related subjects gives him credibility if anything, much more then the [I have a head ache - you need light rail] one trick pony crowd that gives the impression of a specific agenda.

When you really get down to it society in the US is so leveraged and dysfunctional that we are not looking at one problem but many.

Welcome to the Great American Bubble Race.

Mose, stick to your guns. You are right on.
Wizofaus, if you are open minded, and would care to work a little by e-mail, I will be happy to give you much reason to brlieve that the last 2 IPCC reports are maybe the worst science since the Church clobbered Galileo. Murray

Testify brother!!!!

Mose in Midland

If you really have proof, get it published in Nature or Science.

I'm sure that the world of science would be delighted to find out that the majority of climatologists are wrong. That's what science is about, finding out the truth.

But before you do that, make sure your geological findings have not already been refuted twice over by peer-reviewed papers in top journals.

A set of most common counter-arguments that have been proven wrong appear at:

with arguments taken from highly ranked peer review journals (more than 1 paper / argument).

I recommend to start with the following:

Climate myths: It's been far warmer in the past, what's the big deal?

Climate myths: We are simply recovering from the Little Ice Age

Climate myths: It was warmer during the Medieval period, with vineyards in England

I would disagree that there isn't a solution in that the solution is nuclear, due to the ability of breeder reactors to reenrich uranium as they utilize uranium. According to Engerypulse, (one of the most respected websites for the power industry) we have a 100,000 year supply of uranium and a 300,000 year supply of thorium. See:

Nuclear resources:

Is it is isn't it a supply of 100,000 years
of uranium? Can anyone disagree with this? (with valid reasons?)

If there is, then this is our solution.

To put the energy problem in perspective, here is an interesting article by Dr John K Sutherland (nuclear industry expert) that blames much of our current problems on the decision to the Carter Administration not to pursue nuclear power: