Peak Oil Booklet - Introduction and Chapter 1 - What Is Peak Oil?

On June 26, I posted an article titled Peak Oil Overview - June 2006. A number of you made comments. In this post, I take the initial steps toward expanding the June 26 post into a booklet that could be available with links on TOD, as a PDF, and also could be self-published. I say self-published, because I doubt that a regular publisher would want to publish something that is available without charge on the web. Also, I think there would be a long time-delay in getting it published by a regular publisher. The Appendices would provide supplementary material if the booklet is used is a classroom situation, or if a person wants more background.

This post includes a proposed Introduction and Chapter 1: What Is Peak Oil? I would be interested in hearing people's comments and suggestions. A PDF of Chapter 1 is included at the end of this story.

Introduction to Peak Oil

by Gail Tverberg


Chapter 1: What Is Peak Oil?
Chapter 2: Is This a False Alarm?
Chapter 3: What's Ahead?
Chapter 4: What Should We Do Now?
Chapter 5: Where Can We Get Reliable Information?


Appendix A: How Oil Is Produced and Traded
Appendix B: Countries Already Reporting Energy Shortages
Appendix C: Rear Admiral Hyman Rickover's 1957 Speech "Energy and Our Future"
Appendix D: Discussion Questions for Classroom Use

Booklet draft begins below the fold


Most of us have read that oil shortages may be a problem in the not-too-distant future. Some news sources even mention the term "peak oil" as being part of the problem. Finding additional information can be difficult, however. Textbooks don't generally cover the subject, and material on the Internet is often fragmented or of uncertain accuracy. This booklet has been prepared to try to fill that gap. If you would like to reproduce your copy to share with others, feel free to do so. (TOD) is an Internet forum where researchers of all types plus interested lay people meet on a daily basis to discuss "Energy and Our Future". I am on the staff of TOD. Quite a few of TOD's members felt that it was important that someone prepare an introduction to peak oil for the general reader, so I undertook the task of bringing together some basic information.

Since I am not an expert on all areas, I prepared drafts of important material and put them up on for review by members. After members had had a chance to comment, I made adjustments to try to reflect a reasonable version of current thinking on the subjects presented.

This booklet has been prepared with chapters and appendices so that readers can pick out those sections of interest. The basic information is in Chapters 1 thorough 4. People who are confused about the differences between what they are seeing in the press and what they are reading here will want to read Chapter 5 as well.

The Appendix provides some additional background information and discussion questions. It is expected to especially useful in a classroom setting. If your copy does not include the Appendices and you would like them, they can be found by searching for "Peak Oil Introduction Appendices".

I want to thank all members who helped with this project. While I received input or assistance from many, the final decision as to what to include was mine alone.

Gail Tverberg, known on as "Gail the Actuary"

Chapter 1: What Is Peak Oil?

In this chapter, we discuss some of the basic issues relating to peak oil and the expected worldwide decline in oil production.

1. What is peak oil?

"Peak oil" is the term used to describe the situation when the amount of oil that can be extracted from the earth in a given year begins to decline because geological limitations are reached. Extracting oil becomes more and more difficult, so that costs escalate and the amount of oil produced begins to decline. The term peak oil is generally used to describe a decline in worldwide production, but a similar phenomenon exists for individual countries and other smaller areas.

2. Why would oil production begin to decline? Can't we extract oil as fast as we want, until it finally runs out, many years from now?

What happens isn't quite as simple as "running out". Oil production in an oil field usually starts at a low level and increases as more oil wells are added. Eventually some of the older wells start producing more and more water mixed with the oil, and pressure declines. Oil companies do what they can to maintain production - drill new wells nearby, inject gas or water to maintain pressure, and apply other newer production techniques. Eventually, the proportion of oil in the oil/water mix becomes very low and the cost of extraction becomes very high. When it costs more to produce the oil than the oil is worth, production is abandoned.

On a worldwide basis, the phenomenon of peak oil can be thought of as a crisis in resources needed to produce oil. It's the size of the tap, not the size of the tank. As we deplete the large, easy-to-produce fields and move to ever-more-difficult fields, it takes more and more drilling rigs, more petroleum engineers, and more investment dollars. Eventually we reach a point where we are out of equipment, out of trained personnel, and the investment cost for expanding production becomes prohibitive. When production begins to drop because of all of these pressures, we reach "peak oil".

3. Aren't we continuing to discover more and more oil every year?

We are continuing to discover oil, but the quantity of oil discovered is lower now than it was 50 years ago, and much lower than the amount of oil we are now using. A graph of oil discoveries by ten year periods is as shown below:

Oil Discoveries

We often read in the news about finding new fields, but these fields tend to be smaller and harder to reach than those discovered in the past. We are now so concerned about finding oil that even small discoveries are reported as news.

4. Do we have any historical reason to expect that oil production will begin to decline at some point?

When we look at oil production in a given area, production tends to rise until approximately 50% of the oil that will eventually be extracted is gone, and then begins to decline. For example, Figure 1 shows oil production of the 48 states of the United States, of Alaska, and of the North Sea. Production in all these areas increases for a time, and then begins to decrease.

Production of US 48, Alaska, and North Sea

We have now reached the point where oil production is declining, apparently for geological reasons, in the majority of oil-producing countries. It is logical to expect that world oil production will eventually begin to decline.

5. What does world oil production look like?

Figure 3 shows recent world oil production, plus a rough estimate of future demand for oil. The future demand line assumes prices equivalent to those in early 2005 ($50 dollars a barrel for West Texas Intermediate) and an adequate supply of oil. This price level was chosen because it represents the price before the recent stall in production and the resulting escalation in petroleum costs. It also reflects the fact that there are many current reports of oil shortages around the world.

Historical World Oil Production and Expected Future Demand

On this graph, a person can see that world oil production was rising fairly steadily, but recently has "stalled out". Based on data of the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA), oil production for the 2005 to 2007 period is level or drifting slightly downward.

Because of this "stalled out" condition, there is a growing gap between what the world would like for petroleum production and what is actually being produced. At this point, the countries that are suffering a shortfall because the current price is too expensive are mostly third world countries from Africa and Asia. The International Energy Agency (IEA) in June 2007 expressed concern that oil production is not high enough, and wanted Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to produce more.

6. Can OPEC raise its production of petroleum?

Many people suspect that the answer to this question may be no. Some publications report that Saudi Arabia is having production difficulties, as are several other OPEC countries (Kuwait, Iran, Nigeria and Venezuela). Saudi Arabia does not admit to any production problems. EIA data indicates declining oil production for Saudi Arabia, even before OPEC production cuts were announced in the fall of 2006.

It is likely that we will learn the truth about OPEC's ability to raise production this winter. OPEC has its next planned meeting in September. Unless something very unusual happens, there will be a need for significantly higher oil production. OPEC's actions at that time will tell what the real situation is.

7. Doesn't OPEC report very large oil reserves? It seems like those high reserves would assure us that OPEC can increase its production at will.

No, the high reserves aren't all that helpful. First, there are serious doubts about the accuracy of OPEC's oil reserves. The reserves are not audited numbers. Analyses such as this one suggest that the reserves are likely overstated.

Second, even if OPEC reserves are accurate, the reserves tell us nothing about the flow rate. If the reserves include much very viscous oil, or if there are other production difficulties, it may take years to produce a relatively small flow of oil.

One important piece of detective work regarding Saudi oil reserves was done a couple of years ago. Matthew Simmons analyzed published scientific papers relating to Saudi oil wells and determined that Saudi wells were reaching a serious state of depletion. He documented his findings in the book Twilight in the Desert. This book is now available in paperback, and has been translated into German and Chinese.

8. What is the pattern of world oil production in the next few years expected to look like?

We can't know for certain, but Figure 4 shows three possible oil production scenarios as dotted lines.

Future world oil production - three possible scenarios

If OPEC production is now falling, it is likely that we are at "peak oil" now, because production for the rest of the world is flat. If we are at peak oil, we might expect future oil production to follow a pattern similar to Scenario 3 (the lowest dotted line, with production falling immediately) or possibly Scenario 2 (the middle dotted line, with production falling after a plateau). Several respected energy industry insiders, including Matthew Simmons, energy investment banker and author of Twilight in the Desert, and Samsam Bakhtiari, retired Iranian oil executive, believe that we are at peak oil now.

Scenario 1 (the top dotted line) shows a scenario in which peak oil is still a few years away. Some scientists believe that this is a more likely scenario. The Newsletter of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas forecasts peak oil in 2011, four years from now. The PhD thesis of Fredrik Robelius showed that peak oil is expected to occur between 2008 and 2018. Chris Skrebowski, author of the Megaprojects analysis forecasts a worldwide peak in 2011/2012.

9. When was peak oil first predicted?

M. King Hubbert, in 1956, first predicted that US oil production for the 48 states would peak in 1970. This prediction turned out to be correct, to everyone's surprise. He also predicted a worldwide peak around 2000.

10. Will alternative energy sources be able to make up for the shortfall in petroleum production?

At this point, it seems unlikely that they will make up the shortfall.

On Figure 4, the gap that needs to be filled is the gap between future demand (the top line) and actual future production (something in the vicinity of the dotted lines). Clearly, the sooner oil production begins to drop and the steeper the decline, the bigger the gap that needs to be filled. Even if oil production stays level, there can be a gap because demand continues to increase.

At this point, there does not seem to be any "silver bullet" for replacing lost oil production. Oil is unique in its abundance, its high energy density, and its portability. There do appear to be a number of approaches that may solve small parts of the problem, however. These include:

ethanol from corn,
ethanol from sugar (generally imported),
cellulosic ethanol from biomass, and

None of these appears to be able to replace more than a small fraction of the oil we use, especially in a short timeframe. In addition, there are other drawbacks -- cost, environmental damage, and for coal-to-liquid, climate change issues. Indirect approaches to circumventing the shortage, like using battery operated cars, may be part of the picture as well. If these are used, they will probably need to be phased in slowly, as existing cars are retired. It is likely that conservation will need to be part of the mix.

Links by question:

Q5-1: Canaries in the Coal Mine

Q5-2: Click on June 2007 IEA Highlights Report

Q6: Oil Market Under Pressure, Supply Not Able to Counter Demand

Q7-1: "Lies, damned lies and BP statistics" by Euan Mearns

Q7-2: Twilight in the Desert by Matthew Simmons

Q8-1: Matt Simmons on Bloomberg: Peak Oil is Now (video)

Q8-2: "World Oil Production Capacity Model Suggests Output Peak by 2006-07" by AMS Bakhtiari

Q8-3: Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas- Ireland Newsletter Shows Projections

Q8-4: PhD Thesis by Frederik Robelius - Giant Oil Fields and Their Importance to Future Production

Q8-5: "Magaprojects Planned Capacity Listing" by Chris Skrebowski

Q8-6: "How close to peak oil are we?" by Chris Skrebowski

Q9: Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels by M. Hubbert King, 1956

Q10-1: "Corn-Based Ethanol: Is This a Solution?" by Gail Tverberg

Q10-2: "Lessons from Brazil" by Robert Rapier

Q10-3: "The Myths of Biofuels" Interview with David Fridley (45 minutes)

Q10-4: Whither Cellulosic Ethanol?

Q10-5: Coal-to-Liquid Boondoggle

PDF of Chapter 1: What is Peak Oil? (reflects edits)
What Is Peak Oil?

I'm curious Gail.

1) How many of your colleagues know you are 'into' peak oil?

2) Do you intro them to this stuff and if so what do they make of it?

3) Are they believers or do they think you are a fruitcake?!!:-(

The reason for my questions is that if I try to introduce the topic I get the blanked over looks and/or head in sand and/or shut up treatment!! This reaction is not proportional to IQ either!!


They generally know I am into this, and I am sure some think I am somewhat crazy (but are too polite to say so). Most seem to "wall it off" from the rest of their life.

I have had two articles published in insurance periodicals. One was Oil Shortages: The Next Katrina?. It was published in May of 2006 in Emphasis magazine. Emphasis is a "free" company magazine that is sent to a large number of insurance executives around the world. In order to write the article, I had to convince a whole host of people who had never heard of peak oil (including the head of our division of the company) that peak oil was enough of a threat that I should write about it.

The other article I had published was Our Finite World: Implications for Actuaries?. This was the lead article in the May/June 2007 issue of Contingencies magazine. Contingencies magazine is published by the American Academy of Actuaries. The American Academy of Actuaries is the umbrella organization in the US that includes all types of actuaries - life, health, and pensions. The magazine is sent to all actuaries - the cost is included in their annual dues to the organization.

I have received a lot of nice comments on the Contingencies article. There has been some interest by an "Actuaries of the Future" group in actually talking about peak oil issues at a meeting.

Marco, Gail,

I ran into two sets of people when I used to mention "peak oil," the VERY FEW who were interested & the majority that developed glazed over eyes.

Now, I don't mention it that often.

I used to organize discussions and such with environmental groups and chatted about PO with engineering and electrical tinkerers like myself. Even among these people whom you might think would be interested in the subject, you get glazed eyes for the most part.

Among most other people, you here "Well, they've been saying oil is running out for along time and it hasn't happened," which is usually rhetorical and intended to end the discussion. If discussing the problems with ethanol, oil sands, etc, I was always berated for being so negative. Why am I so down on everything?

Now, I don't mention it that often either.

I like your use of the phrase, "wall it off", as in compartmentalizing one's life; building a mental fortress and continuing life within it.

That's different than the concept of "Their eyes glazed over."

I personally fit into the "walled off" category. I am aware of Peak Oil. Yet I live most of my life "walled off" from it. I dare not mention it to co-workers lest they think me crazy and kick me out of my job. I generally do not bring up the topic in social circles because the ROI is usually a 99% chance of being shunned by the social group because you dared bring up an inconvenient and unpleasant topic. It's sort of like talking about a festering skin wound at the dinner table. Most people simply don't want to hear of it.

As for the very first part of your intro:

1. What is peak oil?

"Peak oil" is the term used to describe the situation when the amount of oil that can be extracted from the earth in a given year begins to decline because geological limitations are reached. Extracting oil becomes more and more difficult, so that costs escalate and the amount of oil produced begins to decline. The term peak oil is generally used to describe a decline in worldwide production, but a similar phenomenon exists for individual countries and other smaller areas.

I would suggest staying away from talking about the "amount" of oil. I know that what you say is true. Nonetheless it creates a bad frame and opens you up instantly for the "reserves" refrain. How about something like this:

1. What is peak oil?

Most people assume that our advanced economy can "supply" whatever goods are demanded in whatever quantity demanded simply because supply usually rises to meet demand.

If people want to buy the latest cellular telephone (say the Apple iPhone(TM)) then "poof" it seems like the marketplace almost overnight magically delivers the demanded quantity of cell phones at conveniently located outlets.

If folk want to acquire the latest high definition (HD) flat panel TV, then "wallah" it seems like the marketplace almost instantaneously delivers to us the quantity we demanded at almost affordable prices.

But what if the marketplace could not deliver? And what if the good involved was not a luxury toy but rather a necessity for life as we know it?

"Peak oil" is the term used to describe several complex issues all at once. First and foremost it tries to highlight the importance of crude oil to our very way of life. Second it indicates that the market cannot put a gun to Mother Earth's head and force her to year after year exgorge ever increasing quantities of a dwindling nonrenewable. In fact the physical reality is opposite to what our common sense would tell us. On a year-after-year basis, oil fields all over the world invariably fall into a pattern of giving up less and less oil and no new mega-fields have been found in the last 40 years. That spells trouble. Big serious trouble.

The VERY FEW deserve to know the truth. I can live with everyone else thinking I'm crazy.

Hi Marco, have a look at this wee video:

You'll be Post Peak Man while their eating dust... ;o)

I expect a good majority of people that visit TOD experience this. After all, 99% of people have never heard of PO and if you extrapolate the worst effects of decline you quickly get into apocolyptic global scenarios that people just don't want to believe will happen. Personally I have 'another half' who I have stopped trying to convince.

As PO related effects start to impact peoples lives in a real way the idea itself will at some point 'cross the chasm' in marketing speak -just as Global Warming has done in recent years- but don't hold your breath. Just about every excuse in the book is likely to be rolled out before 'the big one' is recognised.

Has anyone got any good links to what happened back in the 70s and how people reacted/coped?

Regards, Nick.

I have several questions:

1. What experiences have people had with self-publishing books? Who do you recommend?

2. What is your view on using a "regular" publishing company? (By the time one counts up the pages, what I have laid out is a small book.)

3. What requirements would schools have with respect to supplemental texts? Would they need to be published by known publishers?

4. How does one handle promotion and distribution of a booklet or book?

5. Are individual chapters in PDF form helpful?


Self-publishing is great if you have a small, specialized market/target audience. When it comes to publicity, remember that you'll (probably) need to do most of it. Also, you'll probably need to pay publishing costs up-front... out of your own pocket.

There are several "print on order" companies, i.e., a book is only printed when an order is at hand. You might want to contact James Rawles at for his suggestions. (He runs the site.) He did this with his own books.

edit URL

I looked at one or two print on order places and it looked like the selling price of books would be $30+.

It seemed like some of the pay in advance places were on the order of $3 or $4 per book to print. The selling price would be higher, but not $30+.


I have self-published a couple of novels using, now a subsidiary of Amazon. The key to keeping the costs within reason was to do ALL the editing (with friends) and formatting myself. That meant preparing the professionally formatted high-quality PDFs with 300 dpi figures for downloading into their POD printer system, one for the cover and one for the body. It cost me $99 to get into their system and another $50 to get listed on Amazon (that was 3 years ago - recheck prices). On yes, I found I needed to get my own set of ISBN numbers -- another $250.

Take a look at Memphis 7.9 (revised) and Broken River on Amazon to see the results. Total sales about 900 copies so far combined, and I consider that a success.

You will have no luck with "regular" publishers unless you have a truly hot-selling concept (or your name is hot). Peak Oil is not a not a hot topic, just as earthquakes is not. In fact, most people shy away from negative concepts. Publishers are in business for the money only, and they will judge your book purely on that basis. You can expect a royalty of ~4%, going higher if it is a best-seller. You will have to do all the work on the promotion and marketing anyway -- they will give you suggestions on what to do, make arrangements for you to be places, and maybe give you a little advance to help you do it, but it will be your time and effort that make the difference.

Marketing is a matter of sending out PR and getting attention. TOD is a good start. Send free copies to other peakoilers and get someone(s) to write a review of the book The book should have its own website from which you can sell the book, or at least direct link to Amazon (~25% royalty). See You can also get on the lecture circuit and sell the books at the end of your talks.

Booksurge and Amazon offer one means for distribution, and a pretty good one, but it is Print On Demand. They have plans for authors to get their books into the book distributers, like Ingram, but it requires more of an investment, and the price points can become a problem. You may need to print several thousand copies using offset printing to get the low cost needed for the normal book channels into the brick and mortar book stores. Then you have the problem of storing the books.

I believe there is no real competition between having the PDF chapters on the Internet and selling hardcopies in places like Amazon. Some people demand hard copy; others will whine when they cannot get PDF files. They are not the same people. So do both, but your PDF files should tell them how to get their own "signed" copy from you for a price. Also, on the Internet you can ask for a donation to help defray the cost of your website and your time in writing the book everyone needs.

I am not sure about the situation in schools, except most of what I hear is that choice of school books is more political than quality driven. If you find some teachers that want to push your book, great.

Hope that helps. Good luck, and if you want more specific information, get in touch.

Sam Penny
the Prudent RVer

As one who has published a book used in college and tech-school classes ("Economics: Making Good Choices," Southwestern, ITP, 1996) I have some suggestions.

1. Write the book to please yourself. You can rewrite later to make editors happy.

2. College textbooks sales representatives can be very valuable resources. They know what is out there, what is selling, what publishers want.

3. An agent may help--but maybe not. I had a supposedly first rate agent who tried for a year to sell my book; he failed, even though he believed in the book and made substantial efforts to get editors to look at it.

4. Personal marketing is what worked for me. The editor who finally bought my book saw it because of the efforts of a sales rep who was a distant cousin of a former student of mine. The book nearly died three times, first when an editor got sick and died of cancer while the script was on her desk, and second when ITP bought Southwestern; then the acquiring ediotr (my chapmpion and mentor and sponsor and guy who wrote the advance check) moved on to another company.

5. When the book was first published there was no publicity, no advertising budget--so I took matters into my own hands and personally promoted the book at a big critical thinking conference. (A critical-thinking perspective is a distinctive feature of my book.) This promotion worked, and a woman whose family owns a chain of tech schools loved the book; they adopted it; many tens of thousands of copies were sold, and I got to retire early.

The most useful advice anybody can give to an author is:

Write the best book you can. Then hope that somebody likes it.

By the way, try to hold out for a goodly advance, because the bigger the author's advance the bigger will be the advertising budget.

Thank you for sharing that story with us.
It demonstrates several things:

1. The Marketplace is not some autonomous machine that always comes through for us. It is a bunch of little stalls with half-asleep proprietors running most of them.

2. Persistence can pay off while giving up is the sure fire kiss of death.

3. You are the only person who will champion your idea.

Hi Gail,

I teach Science in further education in UK. I have also taught in schools.

In response to question 3, I would buy mostly from established educational publishers (for the library as well as the lab. book shelf) simply because of the reliability factor.

Also remember that schools are very curriculum/exam syllabus driven. So if PO is not on the syllabus (and it isn't here, although renewables/non-renewables are) then we generally don't have time to "teach" it from a specialised text. That's not to say that I don't manage to sneak the message in when the curriculum allows! :)

Really to answer 3. It all depends on who is doing the buying, how much time they have to research books and how much budget they have to buy books that deal with only a tiny part of a curriculum.

I wonder if there are many PO aware teachers out there?


PS Teachers do have an advantage over others when it comes to spreading the word - a captive audience! I only feel slightly guilty about this! :D

I wonder if there are many PO aware teachers out there?

I've been looking into the same question. While I am not a teacher, I have several family members who are.

You pretty much hit on the major issues when talking about curriculum and buying from a "reliable" source of texts. In most places, the state (the government) dictates to teachers what they will and will not teach. For example, in most states of the United States, public school teachers are barred from teaching about Creationalism (Intelligent Design, or whatever else it is called) and prohibited from teaching religion.

Second, textbooks are a multi-billion dollar a year big business. Book companies are in the business of constantly revising their texts to make them politically correct (PC) for the current political party in power. When you look at some of the elementary textbooks that the State of California (where I live) forces down the throats of students and teachers, you can't help but wonder who bribed whom and with how much. The books are atrocious and boring beyond any mild case of ADHD. Even I as a literate adult can't understand half of them.

The likelihood that any in-power political party or big-business book company will broach on the topic of Peak Oil is close to nil. Look at what happened to poor congressman Roscoe Bartlett of the United States even while his Republican party was in full power. They wouldn't give him the time of day. It's an uphill battle. But who is there to fight the good fight if not us peons?

Hi Gail,

Kudos for the article. I'm looking forward to the rest of your series!

As for self-publishing, I would take a look at Lots of people swear by them, and their services do seem pretty straightforward.

You can do it pretty cheap if you take care of all the typesetting + design yourself. I would recommend using a document processing system like LaTeX: it takes care of most of the hard typesetting decisions, and the results are professional in quality. Also, stay away from Excel if you want print-quality graphs (sadly, most graphs published here in the Oil Drum look cheap and amateurish because Excel makes such a terrible job). It is worth learning Gnuplot — and especially Asymptote — if you want beautiful professional graphs and illustrations:

(All of the above are Free Software!)

Here is also a quick link to Lulu's book cost calculator:
(as I said they are very straightforward)

Thanks for your ideas.

I had found the Lulu site myself. Its good to hear that others like their services. Their web site seems to be very helpful. My one concern with Lulu was that the retail cost seems to come out a little higher than many would like to pay, $30 or so.

Thanks too for the graphics references. I had already come to the conclusion that Excel is pretty limited for graphics, and asked a question on the Chapter 2 post about better graphing software. When I have had magazine articles published in the past, the publisher always took care of making the nice graphics.

I hadn't thought about LaTeX. My husband uses it a lot. I haven't tried it.

There is a word like front end end for LaTeX that really does make it easy.

Hi Gail,

Thank you for doing this. It's wonderful to see.

I'd like to give some "quality time" to reading both of your posts, etc. - and don't have it for a few days. Any chance I could respond later w. comments?

I don't know anything about publishing. Still - have a few suggestions! :)

Yes, I would definitely try for a "regular" publishing co. My suggestion would be to email Paul Roberts (from his official website) and ask him if he might offer some suggestions. Perhaps his agent or editor could help you.

I say this because I have the view that people who are concerned at the level "we" are take a view towards supporting everyone's efforts. (At least, I hope so.)

New Society Publishers has published Richard Heinberg's books (not sure which ones), but you might try them, as well.

I have a couple of other suggestions of specific people to contact, and if you could email me (aniyacafe at yahoo dot com), I'll be happy to send you those as well.

Personally, I think there is a growing interest in "peak oil" and a huge need (and growing potential demand) for a book like this. Also, if it's published by a larger co, you might be able to add more graphics, perhaps even photos, etc.

From what I can see, for example, there's a surge of interest among college-age people in "peak" and environmental issues in general. I think your book is needed and welcome.

I beg to differ regarding your estimate of current demand and "growing potential demand".

Richard's latest book, as an example, has been out for almost a year. Has sold less than 5,000 copies. Books generally sell mostly in the first three months after publication, which means the totals for it are unlikely to go much higher then where they are currently. Considering he's the high priest of Peak Oil and that he's got New Society pushing it, that's a damn small number.

Why so few? Obviously, it has nothing to do with a lack of quality as this is Richard Heinberg we're talking about here. I think the real cause is the market is saturated at this point with "Peak Oil 101" books and most of us who have discovered it in the last 5 years bought these sort of books in 2003-to-2005.

New Society asked me to write something and I said "What is there left to say other than 'we're in serious deep shit' as explained by Richard and 2 dozen other authors ad nauseum?'" (insert sound of chirping crickets here)

When I say "the market is saturated" here's an example: I sell PO books for a living and I can't even keep up with all the new titles. In 2004 or 2005 I would sell 30 copies of a book like TLE the day it came out and 200-400 over the course of the year.

Now if a new PO 101 book (like Last Oil Shock by Strahan) comes out I don't even bother adding it to my storefront. It *might* sell 20 copies the whole year. The faithful have already been converted and are now looking to figure out what if anything they can do, not buy yet another Peak Oil 101 text. Sorry.

Now if you've got a good book on growing food or something like "Gardening When it Counts", also a New Society publicaton, that's a different story. Why? Because the "raising awareness" phase is now in decline and has given way to the "figuring out how the hell to survive or what to do" phase.

As far as "growing potential demand" if somebody hasn't wised up now and looked into this stuff the chances of them ever looking into it are next to nill. I'd say 95% of all the people ever likely to be truly concerned about these issues are already onboard. The idea that there is a "growing potential demand", I just dont' see that. I think those of us who have been concerned for some time are getting increasingly nervous as the news is getting worse and worse these days. But our collective anxiety shouldn't be mistaken for others wising up.

@Gail: I'd say put up a site and blog for your stuff. Post the thing as a PDF under a commons license. Truth be told, you're not going to make any money from it even if it does get a publisher so I wouldn't worry too much about losing money. In fact, you'll probably make more if you convert it to html, get a google ad sense account and put in the ads then you will make from having a publisher . . . (That's not legal or financial advice mind you.)

Then update it once a week with an original article of your own. I suggessted Dave Cohen do this to promote himself but he didn't seem too interested in self-promoting. Then he got the ASPO gig. If you do that you can probalby generate 500 visits a day on average (if not more) as I'd likely link to the articles on LATOC's news page and I'm sure Leanan would here at TOD.

If you self publish it: Assumming you price it in the $12-to-$15 range, you'll end up making a couple bucks, $2 or $3, per book by the time you've paid for:

1. having it printed up and bound

2. the isbn numbers (they make you buy ten of them at a time)

3. any licenses you need for cover art

4. fees to have a firm take, pack, ship, track and account for your orders. (Unless you want to do all thatt yourself)

I hope I don't come off as a party pooper here.

For those who are curious: I self-published a book on this stuff. I have 300 copies left and a guy in Texas just offered to buy them all. I'm selling them to him for $6 a copy which is just barely over what my costs for it are. I'm not bothering to have any more printed up. I might - emphasis on the word "might" - put together an encylopedia of prep articles by others and have that printed up, the profits being shared among the contributors. But see the difference here: a "Here's why we're in trouble" Peak Oil book has little value at this stage of the game. If you're going to publish a PO book at this stage of the game it needs to be of the "How the hell do we get ourselves unscrewed" genre as opposed to "Here's an indepth explanation of why we're screwed" cause, frankly, that's overdone at this point.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about. LATOC's two newest additions, available next week, will be:

Getting Out (of the U.S.)

Preparednes Now

Notice I don't have any of the Peak Oil 101 books published in the last 2 years on the site any longer.

Here's one I'll be reading myself:

It was 1972, time of the cult-occult-commune explosion. By day, the Source Family served organic cuisine to John Lennon, Julie Christy, Frank Zappa and others at the famed Source restaurant. By night, in a mansion in Hollywood Hills, they explored the cosmos through the channeled wisdom of their charismatic leader, Father Yod. Father was an outlandish figure who had 14 “spiritual wives,”



I appreciate your comments. It is good to have some thoughts from someone who has been there.

I would like to think that Peak Oil will go "mainstream" in the not too distant future, and there will be a need for additional material, in large quantities. Schools in particular will want to cover the subject (one might hope).

My husband right now has a contract to prepare Power Point slides to go with a computer science textbook that he has been teaching from. I asked him this evening who his contract is from, and he said Pearson Education. They are a big college textbook publisher. I think it would be worth my time to try to talk to the woman my husband has been dealing with, to see if there is any interest.

I am not in this to make money, but it would be nice not to lose a lot of money. I agree that I do not want to get into the business of mailing out packages of books. I have a sister who self-published a book a while back, and she has told me some stories about mailing out packages - not for me. She is of the view that now days, most people should self-publish their first book. She now has a contract, with an advance, to publish her third book. I haven't been able to discuss my current idea with her because she has been out of the country for the last few weeks.

While TheChimp has a lot of good advice and information, I would take the advice about not going forward with a new PO 101 book publication with a grain of salt. Of course it's a risky proposition, but, just like the future in oil is not going to be like the past, the future for PO awareness will not be like the past. Probably one thing you could try to do if success is most important, is to time the book's release to coincide with some defining moment in the MSM where PO starts to have general coverage, (if that happens). As people wake up they'll start looking around for further information and background. It's going to be the latest and greatest book on the market that they'll grab.


Hi Chimp,

I'm glad my comment was occasion for sharing your expertise.

It sounds like good advice to blog and/or publish under a "creative commons license" (whatever that is - Chimp knows).

Here's my take on it, though. There are a whole lot of young 'uns who are interested in "Environmental Studies", "sustainability" and such. I find a gap in what's offered. "Global warming" is understood as a topic, "peak oil" - as far as I can tell - just is not.

I know, Chimp - it's obvious to those who know. To those who don't understand, especially WRT "our" FF dependency and the inter-connection of uses - it's just not. Simply isn't. Several aspects are not getting through, for example, "Do alternatives add up to an easy answer?" Or, "What is the amount of work done by a gallon of gas in terms people can relate to?"

Yes, Richard is the "high priest" in many respects. At the same time, an overview with more "background and history" on the entire picture - I think there's a gap. (Though I haven't read Strahan and confess to not reading the ODP). (I also think Richard's 9/ll references in "The Party's Over" kind of detracted, in a way, but this is relatively minor.)

The thing is - for background, what Gail's doing appears to me to be different. (Would you say she covers material in a different way?) (Richard's essays cover ground in a different way, too, than his books do, is also my impression.)

Something that is in book form (or can be obtained in book form), accessible and yet covers all the bases. And has references. And also - gives a way to analyze the references. People (esp. high school, college, etc.) need "means" - a way to critically look at the topic.

My guess is that a book has advantages. Unless, of course, there's a conflict between having it up free on the web (which I'm all in favor of - ) and publishing - (probably there is...wups?) (Heaven - (or, at least - our resident non-practicing attorney)- knows).

I am just looking from the sidelines at what I perceive to be a potential in the academic "market" - if it exists, if it isn't too politically tied up or whatever.

Perhaps you could contribute the "How the H*ll Do We" chapter(s), which is also a good idea.


I will be check back at this site for comments for several days. I have discovered in the past that comments tend to continue for several days.

Let me think about your offer regarding people to contact about publishing. I want to try Pearson Education, where my husband has a contact, first (see my comment below).

Nice summary, I think. The balance and tone are well crafted. The facts, so to speak, without the doom and gloom.

Two things...

Your first graph is about discovery and the text directly above it refers to production.

A graph of oil production by ten year periods is as shown below...

Second. A couple of days ago. RR offered a fascinating short math exercise in one of his bio-fuel comments. It went something like...

there are 4047 square meters per acre, average insolation is 4 kWh per square meter, 1 kWh = 3412 BTUs, photosynthetic efficiency is about 4.5% therefore...and he walked it all of the way to global potential (or lack thereof).

His logic would be a great asset to one of your future chapters. It really nails the energy density consideration.

My fear, from folks that I talk to, is the ubiquitous assumption that we will be able to fashion a substitute liquid fuel. I think it is important to kill that assumption.

I changed production to discoveries. I will change the PDF in a bit.

Thanks for your suggestiong with repsect to the math exercise. It is a good idea for a later chapter.

Peak Oii? Is that the pinnacle of shouting?

"Oii Oii Oii! You kids get off the lawn!"

Oii looks sort of like Oil when you are tired. I fixed it.

Gail, I believe that #10 needs a change in emphasis to the short term, transitional problem, as it seems clear to me that in the medium to long term wind & solar (mainly as electricity) can indeed replace oil.

As far as transportation & liquid fuels go, it seems to me that the clear solution here is to electrify transportation, mostly in the form of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), like the GM Volt.

It's scalable, practical and cost-effective. The techology is here, and the practical engineering & production planning will be done in 2-3 years: take a look at .

Vehicle turnover is faster than you might think: 50% of vehicle miles are driven by vehicles less than 6 years old - see

EV's and PHEV's were never competitive before, but they were always workable - heck, Jay Leno drives a 1909 EV that works just fine, and still uses the original battery - they just weren't all that convenient, what with charging and limited range. Now batteries have gotten better, fossil fuels much more expensive, and we're sensible moving to a compromise PHEV design. PHEV's are now surpassing ICE vehicles in every way, and their competitive edge is only getting stronger.

The current grid has surplus night capacity sufficient to replace most vehicles with PHEV's (see ), and PHEV charging and wind power are a match made in heaven.

What’s the downside? Only that it will indeed take a frustratingly long time (from our point of view) to get on the road in large volumes. The Volt is planned for 2010 (though I suspect GM is planning a 2009 surprise), and GM plans for 1M on the road in 5 years.

A plug-in Prius may take 3-5 years to arrive, though when it does it will probably arrive with a bang, as Toyota says they expect to move all of their vehicles to hybrids, and changing a hybrid assembly line to make plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) is pretty straight forward. In the US hybrid sales are at 350,000 per year, or 2% of all light vehicles, and growing at about 55% per year. It may take 10 years from now to get to where hybrids/PHEVs are a majority of sales.

Does that make sense to you?

Gail, as always another super compilation of interesting stuff.

Nick, your comment reminded me of a study I'm working on for TOD regarding wind energy. As I'm sure you are aware, wind energy production is diurnal. That means its production follows the sun with peak production occuring in the afternoon or evening most days. Weather of course plays a big part in day to day wind production. The least wind energy is generally produced during the night and early morning, precisely the time you want to charge your car.

This does not mean wind is not viable for EVs and PHEVs. During the day, wind tends to be a good match for electricity demand. Thus it displaces consumption of resources needed for electricity production by other sources. These resources can be called upon at night to charge cars instead, when electricity demand is lowest. This is indeed good news as the study you cite indicates.

Thanks for pointing others at this study.

Kevin, as best I can tell wind tends to peak slightly at night: see page 29 of , though this varies geographically (Denmark sees the same thing, but IIRC some other places don't). It has generally looked to me like night time production was at least significant, and that, like nuclear, wind's output didn't match as well with consumption as does, say, solar. I agree: if wind matches more closely to normal consumption patterns, that's good news.

In the short term, PHEV's would take advantage of excess production from other sources, like nuclear and coal. We can see a common pattern here: . We see 1-3 cents per night-time KWH for several hours per night, which means a fuel cost of about half a cent per mile, compared to about 15 cents per mile for a gasoline powered car.

I should note that the other way in which PHEV/EV's match well with wind is in their buffering of wind's intermittency.

I'd be very interested in looking at your data - if you have some links, that would be great.

Nick, I've completed a computer study of observed hourly wind data from the Continental US for a 16 month period. I'm now in the process of trying to boil my results down to something meaningful for a TOD post.

The basic question I set out to answer was the very long term question of how much variability in Total US Wind Production would there be if we had a National Electric Grid capable of distributing Montana wind to Florida if that is where the supply and demand are at any given point in time.

President Eisenhower foresaw the need for a National Interstate Highway System to help facilitate commerce and bring the country closer together. A similar effort to build a National Electric Grid to provide reliable, cheap and resilient transport of energy across the country from wherever supply is available to wherever the need exists will be a necessary step to capilalize upon wind, photovoltaic, solar theremal and any other transitory or geographically pinned energy source that we may need to call upon.

I'm still at least a month away from posting.

I'm looking forward to it. If you have the time, it would be interesting to see sub-analyses for regions, perhaps those of the seven regional ISO's.

Gail, excellent job!

One slight wording change in your chapter "What is peak oil" . Oilfields don't "gradually" get better as new wells are drilled, they "incrementally" get better. Also, add "as the pressures decline" to your explanation of why wells decline. The chart labeling problem, which I also noticed was covered above.

But these are slight editing problems, I like the idea! Keep writing!
Bob Ebersole

I took out gradually. Using "incrementally increases" was a little too much alliteration. I also added "and pressure declines". See if you like the new version better.

I haven't had a chance to fix the PDF yet. That will probably have to wait a while.

Much better, Thanks!Bob Ebersole

Peak oil (PO) is a difficult thing for people in OECD countries to understand while it is in the future ... "bad things don't happen to nice people." ... that's why you don't see much about it on TV or in newspapers ... yet!

However, it looks like PO is soon to be here (at the very least!) and then people will panic and want to know more real quick ... so to be prepared with your book is a good idea IMO.

For free publishing you might want to try

Also, somewhere you might want to include that 'geologic PO is a "best case" scenario' ... in general things are likely to be considerably worse because of above ground factors like terrorism (example Nigeria) or political idealism (example Venezuela) or Export Lands looking after their own people first after the peak occurs (example UK) etc, etc.

Or is that just way too frightening?


However, it looks like PO is soon to be here (at the very least!) and then people will panic and want to know more real quick ... so to be prepared with your book is a good idea IMO.

I sell PO books for a living. As per myh other post in this thread, the demand for the standard "PO 101" book, like the one in question here, peaked around 2005.

Great article.

For limited runs, you might try ClickBook. You can print your own book from a PDF, or from Word. It was featured in a Writer's Digest newsletter.

If it isn't too many pages (less than 120), then you can just print each copy as you need 'em.

Gail: great job, will be a very useful site (and booklet) to direct people to. I eagerly await your Chapter 3, as this seems to be the most, well, consequential aspect of the booklet.

Gail, - good project.
I think you need one or two chapters on "Prior to Peak Oil", covering demand exceeding supply and the Export Land model.
Is there any chance that you will produce a complementary power-point presentation?

Regarding to "Prior to Peak Oil", I was thinking about putting that in the Appendix - background information. I didn't want to start out with that - it gets too long and boring. Alternatively, it could also be a later chapter.

The power-point presentation idea is a good one. Ready-prepared presentations are probably just as important as the books. I know my husband has a contract with a textbook publisher this summer making power point slides to go with a textbook he teaches from.

I suppose one thing I might do is ask my husband's contact if his company (I'm not sure which one it is) would have any interest in publishing something related to peak oil.

Hi Gail,

More editing comments:

There's a typo in the third paragraph:

Can you insert the TOD "header" graphic at the top of each chapter? That will give the brochure a more polished look, plus give TOD more brand awareness.

Adobe Acrobat enables you to make active web links inside a PDF document (unless you have a really old version).

Don't forget to include a brief bio for yourself in each chapter document. That will give it more clout.

Keep up the good work!


I fixed It is hard to see words that you know will not pass spell check. I will have to look for the Adobe Acrobat feature you mention.


Q8-iranian investment...Iranian investment

Q9 "He also predicted a worldwide peak around 2000."-Not necessary. Could list all Campbells' prediction's too, but it adds little to primer.

Q10 "None of these appear to be very scalable" Scalable is a slightly undefined term, reader probably not sure of meaning. Better to just explain for a primer. Perhaps: "None of these options can provide the required volumes of oil to replace that which we use."

I fixed Iranian investment. I have a hard time distinguishing i and I on my monitor.

I also changed scalable to something longer. I have discovered on my blog
where I have been posting some of these articles, I get a lot of traffic from Sweden. I looked at the link which seems to be sending all the traffic, and the write-up (which I had to translate to English) says "It is in English, but it is not too difficult to read." I expect that besides foreigners, there are others who have difficulty with a word like scalable.

An admirable task you've undertaken. It's looking good, best of luck on publication.

Gail, I wanted to say thanks for the great pieces. I've recommended Part I to quite a few. You seem to be able to say it in a way that I can't. That is, being an engineer I tend to lose them pretty quickly.

I had no idea what Peak Oil was until I read about it this March. At first I thought, "Is this some Saudi horse race?". And then I kept on reading. I really shouldn't have read LATOC first though. I'm not as dystopian as Savinar, although I am looking for my relocation location. I'll give you a hint, it will be in a country with a lot less automatic weapons being wielded by unprepared and angry mobs, and at 1/9th the population with lots of natural resources - I hear hockey is pretty popular there.

I've been finding the receptive audience mixed. Some are in denial and some have come around. I do get the glazed look and have learned to move on. When I've conducted discussions on the subject I try to remain middle of the road for predictions. Looking forward to more material!

P.S. my user name comes from the fact that we've been renovating a Victorian era house for the past two years and you bend quite a lot of nails in 120 year old heart of pine. Everyone in our neighborhood gets it right away ;)

I'll give you a hint, it will be in a country with a lot less automatic weapons being wielded by unprepared and angry mobs, and at 1/9th the population with lots of natural resources - I hear hockey is pretty popular there.

I'll give you a hint as to where many of those angry mobs with automatic weapons will be heading to in order to grab those natural resources.

Hint: it's the same place you're thinking about moving to.

Do you really think for a moment "War Plan Red" either A) hasn't or B) won't be updated when the need arises?

War Plan Red: US Plan to Invade Canada (Aka "Raiding the icebox")

Very nice beginning, and about the right pace.

A quibble: "nuclear" is only mentioned as a reference link to issue #9 -- it's actually related to #10. Also, I'd recommending discussing it in the list of alternatives in that issue, if for no other reason than that many people will think of it as an "obvious" solution.

(Maybe it's worth a chapter or appendix on the possibilities and limitations of the main alternatives, divided into short-, medium-. and long-term sections.)

Beleive it or not, the #9 reference for the Nuclear and Energy and the Fossil Fuels is correct. That is the name of M. King Hubbert's paper in which he predicted peak oil in 1970.

If this gets made into a "regular" book , as opposed to just a booklet, adding a chapter on alternatives would seem like a good idea. I could problably use a fair amount of What Are Our Alternatives, If Fossil Fuels Are a Problem?

I think an emphasis on alternatives would be a very good idea. A lot of things can help such a project, such as humor, graphics and good writing, but most of all you need hope.

Fortunately, hope is realistic.

Many here have noted the glazed eyes and even angry, isolating responses they have received when discussing peak oil with others. Patience is the order of the day. Those who are peak oil aware may feel powerless facing the phenomenon of cognitive dissonance. The belief that we have plenty of energy and can afford to live as we now live has deep cultural currency. In fact, most people have based the way the live upon that belief. When evidence is presented which challenges that which undergirds our lives, it creates dissonance, a sour note which must be resolved. The theory of cognitive dissonance (psychologist Leon Festinger) predicts that people will strongly favor resolution which confirms their commitments, and deflect evidence which would require change.

What may be required for change is saturation of the airwaves with peak oil news and explanation. Right now, news is only available to those who search for it (peak oil aware). It is very easy for those inclined to ignore (plug your ears, "la, la, la") to do so. I have no interest in becoming a target by being the personal bearer of bad news. As long as CERA, Lynch, et al, are able to present a believable alternative, people will continue to choose to believe what is comforting and reduces dissonance. I'm not sure what the critical mass would be to produce a World War II patriotic response toward energy in the USA. In World War II, the population reduced consumption of energy markedly once they knew the cause was serious. Many abandoned overnight commonly held views that the US should stay out of European and Asian Wars once we were attacked by Japan. I believe our job is to continue publishing what we know, writing letters to Senators and congressional leaders, the newspapers, the blogosphere. Once we have the equivalent of a Pearl Harbor with energy, others will talk to us and be willing to hear what we have been saying all along.

Unfortunately, the catalyst for change may come too late to mitigate a hard crash. May it not be so.

Patience is the order of the day.


One can be patient forever. Repeating a failed approach is not a good plan of action.
Perhaps it would be better to understand Why their "eyes glaze over"; Why they turn away and shun what you perceive as being your attempt to "educate" them?

Imagine yourself walking down a city street. An old friend comes from out of the corner and screams at you that the ground beneath is not solid and is about to collapse at any moment!

You look down.
What do your lying eyes tell you?
The concrete sidewalk below is as solid as ever before.
You jump up and down to see if it bends.
Rock solid as always.

You look at your "friend".
There is something funny about his position over there. With him also standing on the rock solid concrete, he seems on shaky ground. He seems a bit of a sky-is-falling chicken head at the moment.

You search your memory banks.
Buried in there is a model of a Chicken-Little persona. Your friend matches this pre-existing understanding of how the world works.

By using your validated models of how the world works, you reach a conclusion that your friend is the one with the problem. Your eyes glaze over. You say, have a nice day and move on ... on rock solid ground.

Moments later: Boom. The street caves in.

Not a failed approach. One which has not reached a critical mass. Roosevelt sent arms to the Brits secretly before lend-lease. There was lots of opposition and denial about the need to get involved in WWII. The opposition mostly evaporated after Pearl Harbor.

So we need to wait for an Energy Pearl Harbor?

It may be too late by then.
USA was just plain "lucky" that it had time (and an ample domestic energy supply) to recoup from the Pearl Harbor fiasco (whether it was orchestrated or not).

Energy shortages are not deterred by the Big Pond gaps between us and "them". When we're out of energy, we can't gear up and start manufacturing another Liberty Fleet. The analogy to WWII just doesn't float.

I think what Gail is doing is very important if only she can figure out how to resonate with the masses and get them to tune in rather than glaze out before it is too late.

Hi Gail,

Thanks again for the opportunity to give feedback. I actually made fairly extensive notes, and I'm not sure of a nice (readable) way to share them. I'll just give it a try and perhaps try again later. And...could you please put a large "IM(very)HO" in front of each one? (I'd very much like this to be helpful.)

1) Something I don't quite know how to say or where it belongs - except it seems crucial to me:

What seems missing right in the beginning is a sentence or two that lays out the extreme degree of dependency (on oil, FF in general) that humans today have, and that human consumption is key. The whole tone kind of comes across w. an emphasis on the supply, as though human needs, or what we might call "human-constructed" needs and human actions are left out.

To be specific, I'd suggest going through and taking a big marker ("To Revise") to *any* sentence with passive construction. Example, #1, sentence one: "...the amount of oil that can be extracted from the earth..."

An active voice is almost always better for several reasons. One of them - to note "who" is doing the action, seems to me to be a crucial part of what we want to convey when we talk about the entire issue. (It's people - and people can (perhaps) change.)

So, an alternate might read "...the amount of oil human beings - (specifically, national and corporate oil companies) - can extract..."

2) While I'm on sentence one...To use the phrase "begins to decline" as the essence of the definition of "peak" I think might be confusing to the novice reader. Why? Because "peak" implies "top of hill" - and then to talk about "decline" brings in a different image.

Perhaps something like: " 'Peak oil; refers to the maximum (in both rate and amount) of oil that humans can extract from the Earth. For over a hundred years, we have been able to find and use increasing amounts of oil..." - ?

(Gail, I'm sure you can find better suggestions! I'm just trying for what it's worth.)

Or, perhaps:

"Peak is the maximum amount of oil that human agents (national and private oil companies) can extract from the earth at any one time. This rate is set by both geology and the ability of extraction technology. The maximum is there because the amount of oil underground is finite in volume."

I meant to take a look at the "Peak Oil Primer" over at Energy Bulletin - to see what they say. (Given my luck, though, I don't dare leave the page.) **

3) I'd also highly recommend even just one additional sentence that talks about *why* the "what" is important. I know to many of "us" here, these things are obvious. I can't tell you how strongly, though, I've come to the conclusion that many people simply have no way at all to grasp what "we" would call (perhaps) energy density. Plus, (again) the degree of dependency.

So, I'd suggest - even one sentence, such as: "'Peak Oil' is important because oil is the primary energy source for a huge number of human activities..."

4) Gail - I don't know to what extent you'd like to make this a group project. I was thinking that one of the editors over at EB might be able to lend a hand, and the result might be "two heads better", etc.

I'm thinking that the beginning here (even though I may sound picky) is important because this is where you'll grab the reader.

5) You know, now that I look at it, sentence two is also in the form of a passive construction, as is sentence three.

a) Let's see: "We find it more and more difficult to..." Or "Oil workers find it more and more difficult to..."

b) "X uses the term "peak oil" to describe a decline in..."

Analysts? Do you see what I mean? Generally, active voice is more engaging. Or even "We use the term 'peak oil' to mean.."

Question 2:

1) Here I just have a technical question. Is it the case that each and every field (known to humankind) also has water in it?

2) Again, it's work - but I think it might pay off to just take a look at the passive construction, or perhaps see if someone else might be willing to help with this. eg. "production is abandoned." v. "producers abandon the well."
It's kind of nitty detail - the thing is, the "voice" adds up after a while. The more active voice, the better.

3) "We can think of..." (as opposed to "can be thought of")

Here, I'd try to come up with a list of phrases that can substitute ("on call"!) for "peak oil". Examples. "Beginning of production decline", "Maximum oil we'll ever see" - I'd suggest enlisting better help than mine for this. Just that - it might be nice to have several different ways to convey the meaning. This way the phrase "peak oil" will not be over used.

I'd also q why you write "on a worldwide basis" for this sentence. I'm just not sure the main point you'd like to convey. The idea of "resources needed to produce oil" seems very important.

Do you think it might be helpful to distinguish "energy resources" ("the oil it takes to get more oil") and the other resources you list?

Or, perhaps say "We can think of "peak oil" as a crises in having resources , esp. energy resources, we need to produce oil."

The sentence as is, is kind of vague, in that I'm not sure what you're trying to say. I'm just thinking you might be able to be a little more specific. Otherwsie - well, what is the "crises" in resources mean? Does it mean that - well, just wait a while, or do X, Y, Z and the "crises" will be solved? it not the case that...even with "enough" rigs, engineers and money...we'd still reach "peak"? (i.e., but we can't have "enough" money,'s really the work required to get at the oil translated into money.) (Well, like I said...perhaps Bart or Adam could help out?)

So, I guess I'm saying...I kind of like the meaning (or intent) in "step backs" offering below. I'm not a fan of the way he puts it, exactly. I do like the first two sentences of his third paragraph. Talking about putting a gun to Mother Earth's head...well, perhaps a little bit of a different tone that what you want. I like quite a bit of his paragraph three.

Question three:

Again, I'd just be on the lookout for that pesky passive voice, (if nothing else, just to try out the difference).

more active "...the quantity of oil we discover"

Or, try this:

"We do continue to discover oil, but the finds are smaller, on average, and the rate of discovery has dropped quite a bit over the last four decades. Also, new finds are located in much harder-to-reach places, such as in the ocean (known as "offshore")."

I'm going to just add a couple more things, and hope I haven't worn out my welcome. (Also, to try to get this in before I run out of time.)

Number 5: Here, seems like you might be able to write this in such a way that we get more of a sense of where oil comes from. Yes, "we all" know. But (believe me) a lot of people just have never given it a moment's thought.

So, I'd try to re-write sentence two. "...assumes an adequate supply of oil..."

My suggestion one be to try to paint more of a picture, and be alittle mroe specific.

What does world oil production look like?

Well, I'd say the first thing to find out is - where does it come from?

Maybe a little map with major oil extractors (regions) noted?

Also, I'd add a short phrase giving a little more definition to "OPEC".

Again, the passive ..."unless...there will be a need for..."

I'd try something like "...unless...motorists and other users will continue to want to increase the amount of oil they consume..."

Ok, well, now that I've stuck myself out on such a limb...

Question 8.

First sentence..."We can't know for certain..."

My first reaction is "Why not?"

If you're going to say "We can't know for certain...", I'd suggest adding at least one sentence about "why".

Gail, I'm thinking...I have some more detailed comments. Would you like them and/or would this be helpful?

If so, would you like me to send them via email? Or, should I come back tomorrow and see if I'm still "allowed" back on this thread?

I also made some notes on Chapter two, if you'd like me to share those.

In any case, thanks again.

Thanks for your comments.

I will have to read comments side-by-side with a copy of my article.

If you have other comments, it is OK to make them here, if the site still works. I think it lets you make comments for a week - but I could be wrong on that. Or send me an e-mail at gailtverberg at comcast dot net.

What background do you have in writing?