Peak Oil Media: Matt Simmons on Bloomberg and Jim Puplava's Financial Sense Newshour, (and even more under the fold...)

moved under the fold to decrease load "there's more."

Matt is also on Financial Sense Newshour this morning (3rd hour): More under the fold, including links to Albert Bartlett's seminal lecture on exponential growth, Simmons on CNBC on the GAO Report, and Jim Kunstler's great talk on our car culture from a few months back. Please put your own links to recent peak oil media in the comment thread. Here's some peak oil media for the folks who haven't seen them. The first is an oldie, but a goodie by Albert Bartlett. Below that are links to recent media appearances by Matt Simmons and Jim Kunstler.

It has always seemed to me that one of the keys to the puzzle of why people don't understand the problems that peak oil and other sustainability issues present is a lack of understanding of measurement, pure innumeracy and/or a lack of understanding spatial/change functions--namely the meaning and implications of constant growth.

Here's the best lecture that I can find as a primer (linked over at GPM here) by Dr. Albert Bartlett. Dr. Bartlett professes physics at the University of Colorado. He knows what he's talking about--that much I can vouch for. If you haven't watched it, watch it.

The tagline of the Bartlett lecture? "The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function (as related to peak oil and sustainability)." Bingo.

Now, I know/use calculus and differential equations and teach econometrics pretty frequently, so this stuff is already in my head. But, because I use it so much, for some reason, I forget some days that most folks do not have exposure to these ideas or the ability to use them in their daily lives.

It can be intimidating stuff. But we've used versions of calculus statements around here all the time by saying phrases like "8% depletion" or "we aren't actually running out of oil and that we're at half of supply."

But what does 8% depletion really mean?

The problem is that people, journalists, even some experts do not know what the functions behind these ideas mean, or more importantly their implications for the future. The numbers hide the meaning. Bartlett's lecture can help you give these numbers the meaning they deserve.

I don't mean to say that these people who don't get this or have never gotten are not intelligent. It's that they haven't connected those wires in their head, that's all. Bartlett is wonderful at making those connections, and that's why I am bringing this to you today.

So, if you're a wannabe geek and you have an hour, I would suggest that everyone in the world watch this lecture by Dr. Bartlett. Please. It's an easy piece to understand. In fact, it's damned near enjoyable for an arithmetic lecture.

One of the main points of Dr. Bartlett's lecture is that "we cannot let other people do our thinking for us." So, so true. But to do that, you have to have the toolbox to actually think for yourself!

Which reminds me, there's another book that I suggest for my students: Joel Best's Damned Lies and Statistics. It's a wonderful primer on how experts, politicians, and the press screw measurement and statistics up on a daily basis. This is another important book I would suggest that everyone reads to pick up the daily fallacies that try to enter our cerebra.

< rant >
I still believe that every single person on this earth should have to take a research methods course (understanding measurement, science, modeling, etc., etc.) and a basic calculus or statistics (understanding what to do with those measurements) course, damn it.
< /rant >

Now here's the other two pieces I mentioned, first Matt Simmons on the GAO Report (7 mins), then Kunstler's wonderful polemic on our car culture (1 hour).

"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.)

Leanan's likely already got these, but this is a good sample of MSM pieces lately:

As oil prices rise, many grow concerned about the coming months
NPR: High Oil Prices Affect Many Products [Real Player]

Is $100 Oil As Lethal As It Looks?

In Maine, 'a lot of fear out there' as heating oil prices keep rising

Over a barrel, cruise lines boost ticket costs

USA National Gas Temperatures Map

Mud, Sweat and Tears

Matt seems to be using that "whistling past the graveyard" cliché more and more.

"The best new oil basin we will ever find is the one called 'conservation.'"

While technically true, conservation runs against garret hardins biological principles of Tragedy of The Commons, and Jevons Paradox can be extrapolated to predict that if some conserve, others will use more. Conservation will only work if ALL conserver - this really wouldn't be called conservation but a culture chance.

While we do need to 'conserve', and indeed that is the only best path out of this, I don't think it will work if its termed 'conservation' - that has a connotation of sacrifice and 'doing something for the public good', so there is more for future generations, etc.

People aren't really like that - we need to use less, conserve more, change our lifestyles ,because its better for us and we will be happier and healthier. If framed in that way - not as sacrifice but as a better way of life, it will have a much greater chance of taking hold..

"Avoid appealing to a man's 'better nature'. He may not have one. Invoking his self-interest gives you more leverage."
-- Ambrose Bierce


Why on earth would I conserve? To give the guy in the Hummer a break while I cycle to work in the freezing cold?

Do you mean I actually have to feel sorry for those nutcases? Didn't they do enough harm already?

You have got to be kidding me!

Let's do it the All American Way: I have more money than you, so you cycle to work! (Or the unemployment benefit centre, whatever)

"Why on earth would I conserve?"

Unless you expect to be amongst the richest, you could learn how to conserve now in order to be prepared for less later. As was mentioned in another thread, the Amish will be one of the most resilient cultures in North America.

Confucius say, "Man who cycle to work healthier, happier, and live longer than man who drive Hummer."

Reality say:"Until Hummer run over man cycling to work."

If there were a tax/tariff significantly raising the cost of fossil energy, people would conserve.

Followed shortly by an angry mob with pitchforks and torches coming after the politician who introduced the tariff.

The problem will solve itself.
But not in a nice way.

Well said Nate. I think the problem is even worse than that - our economic culture is based on maximum consumption. The entire discipline of economics, which frames and underpins policy, is based on maximising "utility". In a politico/economic sense you then have the argument about socialism vs. the free market etc.

And this is where the nub of the problem lies. To achieve the levels of conservation needed some form of intervention is required. To dress it up in free market clothes cap and trade schemes will no doubt be imposed for coal, but this does not address peak oil.

I have always thought that conservation on this level must be led by government; and to achieve that taxes need to be imposed on fossil fuels, at the well or pit head. The taxes need to reflect the cost of externalities and the true price of scarcity. Gas prices need to reach $10 per gallon at the gas station pump in short order and similar equivalent prices for natural gas, while coal needs perhaps an even higher price to halt the development of global warming. This would result in the junking of much of the US car fleet, but the fleet represents hubris and policy failure. I am not sure what can be done about that.

Taxing fossil fuels in this way need not be as painful as it sounds. If energy taxes replaced income tax, in whole or in part, people might not be any worse off. Added to that our tax system would be easy and transparent and not open to exploitation by the rich. Of course the coal and oil lobbies wouldn't like it; and that is why it will never happen. These people would genuinely prefer to fry the planet and maintain their power.

Taxing fossil fuels in this way need not be as painful as it sounds. If energy taxes replaced income tax, in whole or in part, people might not be any worse off. Added to that our tax system would be easy and transparent and not open to exploitation by the rich. Of course the coal and oil lobbies wouldn't like it; and that is why it will never happen. These people would genuinely prefer to fry the planet and maintain their power.

Or prefer to feed their families. Introducing drastic taxes on fossil fuels will kill millions of jobs, especially in the auto industry. They are already feeling the pain in the Big 3 with thousands laid off. People out of work can't pay their debts. Which would just fuel the aready spiraling debt crisis. Increasing natural gas would just force people to not be able to heat their homes and default on those mortgages fueling the crisis even more.

Then you would see the masses hitting the streets in protest.

Taxing FF is political and economic suicide.

Richard Wakefield
London, Ont.

No one is ahead of their time, just the rest of humanity is slow to catch on.

A George Carlin short, about education, critical thinking, why the problem won't get fixed, and the fraud of the American Dream.

I'd also love if people got the education they need, but it works out better for those at the top when most of the populace lacks the very ability to figure out how badly they're getting screwed.


Your video has apparently been censured due to excessive violence.

Suggest you replace it with a patriotic piece explaining why killing Iraqi's over there so they now have a reason to come over here is a good idea for America.

Speaking of education, I remember in grade school they taught us about the parts of the human body: the heart, the skeleton, the muscles; but nothing about the brain.

Maybe the first step is to teach kids about that odd lump of grey that fills our skulls and how it actually operates rather than filling the lump with fantasy tales about Snow White, Cinderella and the Sorcerer's Apprentice?

We're not what we think we are.

Here's another Carlin video of exactly the same thing from the same performance. Have no idea why the other one was removed, all of Carlin's other bits are still out on Google Video or YouTube.

Alternately, view the entire 75 minute performance at:

The bit on education starts at 39:45.

As for a patriotic piece on the war in Iraq, what's more patriotic than one of those *#@&^%&# magnetic ribbons on your car?
(warning: language)

I remember the same thing from grade school about the brain, being told that the brain was the least understood of the organs.

"The American Dream; you have to be asleep to believe in it" --George Carlin


Thanx for the link. George had so much in that whistling past the graveyard show that I forgot about this one small section of it.

I'm not big on conspiracy theories though. (Carlin argues that there are "owners" who own and control this country.) I don't think there is one controlling group of Illuminati who know all and control all. That's as absurd as believing in an invisible deity who actually gives a hoot about whether you, as one of 6.6 Billion festering insects stuck to your diet. Oh Lord give me strength to resist this chocolate cake. Give me a break. There is only one "Lord" listening and that's you listening to you.

No. There is no conspiracy. This madness is all the product of our evolution-cobbled brains playing tricks on us. We are so easily fooled by the randomness that we see faces on Mars.

"Education" is the way it is because of the interplay between all the greed driven forces in our society.

We're not what we think we are.

Note on the Bartlett lecture: you can now purchase a DVD version of this lecture from the University of Colorado bookstore; it's $12.00+ $10.00 shipping. Worth it to me, to show a few people in my circle who can't be bothered to sit at a computer...

Matt and one of his interviewer seemed to have difficulty in understanding why so few people pay attention to PO as comparing to GW or CC or ACC (Abrupt Climate Change - instead of Antarctic Circumpolar Current it usually stands for - though the latter is where we could get all the energy we need from). well, here is an simple explanation: genes - the inner and commanding voice of most human beings. mankind's genes have been shaped by the climate changes in the past and they force us to pay attention or to disappear. mankind's use of hydrocarbon will be so short a duration (an impulse function) in our evolutionary process, it won't and shouldn't have a chance to alter the genes. while PO could replace GW as the top issue in some societies, particularly in the US, it may not and should not be so in many other societies. to the tribes unaffected by the "modernity", PO will never be known yet CC is readily felt.

there are no isolated tribal societies unaffected by peak oil.


Even in the deepest darkest Africa or Amazonian jungle, everyone has access to modern clothing, radios, plastic bags and bottles and steel tools.

There are no isolated groups any more.

As for Conservation efforts, it was once described to me that getting entire societies to change is like trying to turn a fully loaded supertanker in a sea of cold molasses. Its not going to happen quickly, so don't try to make it happen quickly.

As for Conservation efforts, it was once described to me that getting entire societies to change is like trying to turn a fully loaded supertanker in a sea of cold molasses. Its not going to happen quickly, so don't try to make it happen quickly.

Therein is the problem. Timelines of geological contraint don't wait for laggard cultures to get with the program.

You are right only in one sense. Even uncontacted tribal people's of the world are possibly going to be effected by concequences of the peak oil induced collapse.

However I would wish people to educate themselves before making such naive comments. There are many native populations in the world which we call 'poor' ie. they don't use oil but instead have land, water and skills to live and are doing so perfectly happily on their own free will. Some of them are more westernized then others but that's beside the point.

As Simmons himself says in the documentary Crude Awakening, there are few countries in the world today, which are not fundamentally dependant on oil. He mentions Papuan New Guinea and some of the pacific island nations. As nations these places have low levels of western development and a large unspoilt ecological reserve with a relatively low population/land-area/carrying capacity ratios.

What is happening here is that a bunch of western people, and I might add to my peril, USians!, are discussing how human nature prevents us from trying to preserve anything in the current situation. Well, there are people and communities in the world who are the living proof that human nature isn't what we think it is:

I found their dismissal of Climate Change quite annoying - as though both issues are not important. How anyone can look at the evidence for Peak oil and see it and look at the evidence for anthropogenic climate change and dismiss it is just mind boggling.

Also their characterization of the effects of CC not being visible for decades when those effects are more and more visible seems to indicate that they are actively engaging in denial about that problem while going on and on about how people mistakenly think PO is decades away. I think Homer-Dixon's "Upside of Down" has done a great job of showing how the two problems (along with population, degradation of soil, water oceans etc, and economic inequalities) are happening simultaneously and could cause what he calls "synchronous failure."

We should be intelligent enough to see that BOTH are serious and that any solution to one must address the other as well.

some thing in there then may make some sense to you:

Kucinich discusses peak oil

Now what's a 58 year old short little man doing with a tall 30 year old hottie?

That's perhaps the stupidest question I've ever seen on the Oil Drum. What would you be doing ?

Anyway, I thought it was cute how she said Kucinich might be on the ticket with Ron Paul.

Is America ready for a flilf?

Some meathead at work was trying to convince us to vote for Fred Thompson because his wife is "hot".

Uh, great plan for getting quality leadership into office!

Having met the two of them and seen them together in an informal setting, I'd say he's having a great time is what he is doing...

she's not only a hottie, she's quite bright and very personable - and Dennis seems (quite rightly) smitten

and he would be my first choice in an election - unfortunately he hasn't a chance in he** of a) getting the corporate funding needed to be a serious candidate (see HRC and Obama) b) getting nominated (see a) and c) getting elected if a & b somehow worked out...

instead we will get the "business as usual" candidates and instead of ending our occupations and doing what is right for the US we will get more war, more big Pentagon budgets, more ADM handouts via ethanol, more "bailouts" for poor banks who made poor loan decisions etc. etc.

"Peak Oil is a fact" --Kucinich

Some people actually get it.
Next time I see an alien, I'll tell him Kucinich is our leader.


Prof Goose: here is a more recent link to goings on in Maine:

State is planning for fuel shortage

Record-high oil prices and a desire to be prepared for potential fuel shortages this winter are prompting the state government to develop an energy emergency management plan.

Gov. John Baldacci said Friday that he is setting up an energy task force to help coordinate state resources. Fuel shortages or price spikes during the heating season could lead Baldacci to declare energy emergencies and take steps needed to protect public.

Too little, too late, I'm afraid.

The Keep ME Warm program is providing kits that include efficient light bulbs, weatherstripping and window insulation through Community Action Programs.

Heh, don't you want to use inefficient bulbs up there in the cold?

The problem will solve itself.
But not in a nice way.

I know that many TOD posters and readers are at the cutting edge of technology, but I do hope you know that for many more of us, access to highspeed broadband out in the outback of America is still a dream, and even where it is available, due to the price is still viewed as a luxury.

Thus, for those of us closest to the Earth out here, the YouTube excerpts are useless.

For those with high speed access, I can't help but ask....are you really, I mean really certain that your ready for the Ulduvial (spelling?) gorge plunge back to the stone age?


I finally got high speed Internet last May. My phone company has about 110 customers. When they installed my high speed modem which uses the same phone line but at a different frequency I think (I'm not an expert), I asked how many had signed up. He said 16 of the 110 had signed up, which I thought was low for such a valuable service. I pay $50 for the fastest speed offered and it is worth every penny. My point is that you should contact your phone company and say you want it. If a teeny weeny little phone company in north Iowa can get high speed, there is hope for all. As for plunging back to the stone age, I think high speed Internet will be one of the last things sacrificed. I have discontinued satellite TV. I will give up a couple of vehicles and some other stuff before I give up high speed internet.

The problem is that you have to be within about 3 miles of a POP(point ofpresence--or a switching office) in order to get DSL/ADSL...otherwise the attenutation of the copper will not afford you a usable signal...

And that is why so many of us in the rural areas are not able to obtain 'broadband'. Sats are out of the question anyway..for various reasons.

So here we sit and have to wait and wait and wait just to get
online and each time it rains the signals diminish..

Dial up is most of what we have...there are spots..but again they are just that.."spots".

Now I am sure not many on TOD with all their wunnerful toys give a real blue rats ass about us out 'chere in the country.

Thats going to change a whole lot in the future.

Sometimes I wish it already had because we are eating this planet alive. Each day I see more tree lines bulldozed down..just to put in more corn and soybeans and wheat....we are seriously tearing our own asses apart.....

Again JoeChardonnay could give a shit less.. since he can't understand how it all works out.

Enjoy your bandwidth while you can.

Airdale-and yes those YouTube posts are a pain in the arse

Airdale and Roger

I finally got high speed after struggling with dialup for years. I never have had tv, or tv reception, antenna, cable or dish. But I broke for satellite high speed. Got a dish just for it, and though I hate loss of transmission in weather events, the alternative now is much worse.

To me, it's worth the 50/month. Why not consider satellite?

Now I am sure not many on TOD with all their wunnerful toys give a real blue rats ass about us out 'chere in the country.

Don't let FACTS get in the way of your crazy rant:

The Senate Finance Committee voted 17-4 in favor of providing $400 million in tax credit bonds for projects that would include expanding rural high speed Internet access. The proposal, which was promoted by Senators Jay Rockefeller and Olympia Snowe, would stimulate investment in high speed Internet infrastructure. It provides greater incentives for investment in next-generation infrastructure that reaches 100 mbps download and 20 mbps upload speeds.

Federal Funding for Rural and Underserved Communities

The telco will HAPPLY sell you a T1 of bandwidth anywhere you want it. You are looking for low priced bandwidth - Might I suggest you move to Korea?

Is the Grumpy Old Man competition still open? We might have a winner!

That's a whiner - and stay offa his lawn, he intended to eat from it later.

The problem is that you have to be within about 3 miles of a POP(point ofpresence--or a switching office) in order to get DSL/ADSL...otherwise the attenutation of the copper will not afford you a usable signal...

DSL became available in my area 2 years ago and we are probably 8 miles from the nearest POP. There must some kind of repeater technology they are using to extend DSL service. It is roughly as fast as the cable I used to have back east. I was surprised at how soon it became available and now I have an ISDN modem to give away. Anyone out there need a good ISDN modem?

You should check around for a wireless ISP. I started my own company last year. I currently have 20 families sharing a DSL line that I'm connecting to 10 miles away.

And there are 3 (soon to be 4) competing WISPs in my area, in addition to satellite and EVDO from Sprint & Verizon.

Fixed wireless like I do avoids the long latency of the satellite connections.

Also, it is possible to install DSL repeaters, the phone exchange to the north of me, and the one to the south both offer dsl nearly to the edges of the exchange, six plus miles. Still no DSL in my exchange.

[someone else mentioned just getting a T1 ... well, OK, that costs $650/month for a T1 to my house, no thanks!]

Hughes Internet has satellite broadband for around $50/mo I think. Works well except when the dish fills up with snow.


This interview with Simmons and Jim Puplava last April is a favorite. It made me a regular Financial Sense News Hour listener (though I will say the politics can be a bit righty for me; the economic and related info is right up my alley.)
I have used this audio repeatedly since April for PO outreach, at least for those quick enough to keep up with Simmons' sometimes rapid-fire delivery. His frustration is palpable, and Puplava leads with complete understanding. Great stuff!

In the caller section at the end of Hour Three, Jim Puplava said that they would be discussing getting ready for post-peak oil, but he didn't want to ruin people's Thanksgiving celebrations, so he is going to discuss it later.

It also sounded like Mr. Puplava has already made considerable progress on building his personal bunker.

Jim Puplava is a smart guy. I listen to him regularly, and have some of my small nest egg invested with his firm. However, it does disturb me that he continually casts doubt on the reality of climate change, even after the IPCC reports. Come on Jim, after releasing the carbon sequestered in a trillion barrels of oil into our thin sliver of atmosphere, how difficult is it to believe that we have changed the composition of our thin sliver of atmosphere enough to affect the climate? His position here hurts his credibility.

would their view still be the same if there is a more promising money making scheme related to the CC that they can take advantage of? "follow the money"...

Is Sadad Al-Husseini as pessimistic as Matt Simmons?

What about this evidence that he isn't:

( which cites this New York Times Magazine article )


The End of Growth as We Know It

"The End of Growth as We Know It"


teogwaki did you coin this?

I think so, Roccman. I don't recall seeing anyone else use it.

When I picked a name to use here at TOD it was that or WileECoyoteMoment.

- teogawki (The End of Growth as We Know It)

Has a video of Pickens and Musberger been posted anywhere?


In the James Kunstler speaks to the Commonwealth Club of California presentation, Kunstler indicates your export land model suggests the potential for exports to be cut in half in ten years. Is that statement true? Is it possible for someone to provide a link to the most recent ELM predictions for five and ten years. It is my opinion that the extrapolation of the ELM data as a predictor of future exports to be of great service to those planning a post peak oil future.

The last 2/3 of the Bartlett lecture about Peak Oil is good, but the 1st third about population growth in bunk.

Population doesn't grow exponentially. He's obviously never heard about the "Demographic Transtition" whereby population growth shifts from a high birth rate and high death rate regime to a low birth rate low death rate regime. The intervening period is a transition where population grows rapidly because death rates fall earlier than birth rates.

Experience has shown that when parents know that their children have an almost 100% chance of surviving into adult hood, when they know that they temselves have a near 100% chance of being reasonably fit into their 70's, when they realise that their children's best chance at success is to succeed in school, and that children do not make a significant economic contribution to income until they are over 18, then the fertility rate drops below replacement level. This has happened naturally in all industrial countries and is happening rapidly is most industrialising countries, most notably in Latin America, the Middle East and South Asia. So far the only place where fertility rates have not fallen dramatically is Sub-Saharan Africa, but this part of the world only accounts for 10% of the world's population. All serious demographic projections expect the world's population to peak in the 9 to 10 billion range sometime in the nexte century and then gradually decline as the average woman has only 1.5 or so children.

The tagline of the Bartlett lecture? "The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function (as related to peak oil and sustainability)."

I've watched this a couple of times now. Thanks for posting
the link.

You might be interested in the lectures available over at . Whilst the majority are not specifically
centered around energy, a great many of the speakers
deal with sustainability and the future.
A favourite of mine is this by Sir Ken Robinson on
education. A highly entertaining delivery of a
profound message.