Andris Piebalgs : it may have peaked.

When public office holders approach the ends of their terms, they sometimes feel less constrained by political correctness. That's precisely what seems to be happening with European Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs. In a note that could be your regular post on The Oil Drum, the Commissioner talks about peak oil in the past tense and warns that present oil prices at relatively low figures are simply transient.

Below the fold is the 8th May entry to the Energy Commisioner's weblog is reproduced in its entirety, for such words from a such stakeholder are a precious thing.

Emphasis added to the text.

Are we moving towards a new oil crisis?

One of the few good pieces of news in the current economic crisis (maybe the only one) is that oil prices have gone from the 147$ a barrel of July 2008 more than 100$ down to less than $50 a barrel on the international markets. However, in the last days we have seen oil prises rising and reaching the price of $58 a barrel for the first time in nearly six months. Nevertheless low oil prices are also good news for gas, since gas prices are normally linked to those of oil. If we remember the difficulties that European fishermen and truck drivers had last year we can imagine what their problems with be if in the middle of an economic crisis they had to deal as well with prices over 100% a barrel.

However, we should not be under any illusion. The current fall of oil prizes is just the consequence of an even more dramatic fall in demand due to economic crisis. I add to that the fears in the financial markets you will understand why investments in futures of any commodity except the safest ones (gold, for instance) are so rare. But the fundamentals that drive the energy markets have not changed. Once the economic crisis is over demand for hydrocarbons will soar again, particularly in the developing world. And some countries are preparing for that. For example the Chinese government has granted a credit to Russian State owned oil companies Rosneft and Transneft $25 bn. against daily supplies of 48,000 tonnes of oil for the next 20 years.

The world is aware that the production of the existing oil wells is decaying and that new discoveries are more scarce and more expensive. Some experts consider that global oil production may have peaked at 94 million barrels a day [sic - the correct figure would be arround 84 Mb/d]. The current economic crisis can make the situation worse. The lower prices that we are enjoying now can be in fact bad news. At this price oil producers have been forced to postpone many necessary investments in new production capacity. These investments take decades to be accomplished. In consequence, if the current economic crisis finished and demand recovers we could be facing huge shortage of supplies that can lead to extremely high prices.

How high? According to the Secretary General of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Nabuo Tanaka, oil prices could go up to as much as 200$ a barrel in the next 4 years. A quick look back on the situation of last year when prices were at a mere 147$ a barrel maybe gives an idea of what the consequences may be if the prices goes a 25% higher.

The current relatively low oil prices give a respite to prepare for the coming new oil crisis. We have to reduce our dependency in all those areas in which black gold is not indispensable, such as heating, or electricity production. For those areas which will have to continue to depend on it, like transport, we need to accelerate the research for alternatives, like biofuels, electric cars or hydrogen. And in all sectors, we have to accelerate our efficiency being aware that every barrel of oil that we are using is one of the last.

It is difficult to forecast when the next oil crisis is going to come. As Nobel Price Niels Bohr once put it “prediction is very difficult, particularly about the future”. But one thing is certain, one day we are going to run out of oil, and to prepare for that day we may be running out of time.

There isn't much to add to these lines, for anyone reading this post likely agrees fully with them.

Taking the opportunity, it may be perhaps time to reflect on this Commissioner's term. The Commission took office with oil prices below 40$ and saw them climbing above 140$, dealt with protests from professionals dependent on oil products: hauliers, fishermen, farmers. He leaves office during the worst economic recession since at least 1980. While during the first half of its term both the Commission and the Commissioner were reluctant to accept the hypothesis of serious Energy supply problems, they eventually aknowledged the situation.

First with the setting of the 20-20-20 goals but especially with the second Strategic Energy Review, the Commission showed that it understood (even if partially) that Europe's energy entitlement is at risk. Acknowledging the Union's unsustainable dependence on imported Gas and the present importance of its Nuclear park, were two relevant steps. To that adds some interesting initiatives like the Mediterranean Energy Ring or the Solidarity Plan. But the most positive outcome to this Commissioner's term ended up being the commitment to Energy Efficiency - the policy that can have most impact over the short term.

On the negative side are the sense of abundance inherent to the 20-20-20 goals, the promotion of damaging dreams like CCS, agro-fuels or hydrogen and the Marketplace adulation. Although the 20-20-20 goals are in themselves defensible objectives, they were designed for a Europe of the past, when energy was easily accessible in the Market. As for agro-fuels et alia this was possibly more the result of certain lobbies, although here the Commission also evolved by limiting the number of CCS pilot plants and reconsidering its bio-fuels goals. Nonetheless, the greatest shortcoming of the Commission's Energy Policy was the absence of an integrated approach to Transport, where the EU spends most of the oil it imports. Jet-fuel and Liquefied Petroleum Gas continue to be subsidized, the Union is still heavily dependent on road transport (especially for freight) the High Speed Rail network is not fully integrated and far from reaching all states. The weakest link seems to have been overlooked.

What seems most difficult for European politicians to grasp is that the coming decline of fossil fuel consumption will be imposed by Nature and the Market, it won't be an option. With this weblog entry Andris Piebalgs definitely distances himself from that class of energy illiteracy, and just for that deserves praise.

When the largest party at Parliament, EPP-ED, writes in its campaign booklet that CCS and hydrogen are energy sources, one has to feel fortunate for having an Energy Commissioner capable of writing the lines above. Yes, it took the whole term to get there, but it eventually did. It seems unlikely that Commissioner Piebalgs can continue in office. Especially with the realization of the importance of the energy link with Russia, the largest states will possibly fight for this important office. Being the appointee from Estonia, Andris Piebalgs will likely see his place occupied by a German or Italian Commissioner for the next term. If member-states chiefs and the Parliament are able to agree on someone with the same understanding of Energy as Andris Piebalgs it won't be bad.

But alas, these lines end up highlighting how ineffective the current political system in preparing in advance and planning for the long term - only when the crisis hit comes the direct acknowledgement of a problem. Tragic.

Hat tip to Rembrandt for pointing out Andris Piebalgs' original entry.

Thanks Luis.
Piebalgs is probably in political minority - if he is to make a meaningful difference NOW is the time to enlist his colleagues in understanding this problem. I suspect there are many other 'excuses' that most politicians/economists will point to for oil supply declining, most notably the credit crisis. I spoke at a medium-large US oil company yesterday and many of the employees did not know the US had peaked in 1970!

The irony in the situation is we need 5-10 years before peak to divert resources towards changing infrastructure, etc. but most politicians will wait until they see whites of eyes on oil decline (5-10 years after?) before sticking their neck out. The ones that acknowledge it now need to use their political skills to effect change (I know in USA Roscoe Bartlett has been trying...)

"The irony in the situation is we need 5-10 years before peak to divert resources towards changing infrastructure, et"

Is this based on replacing ICE vehicles with rail/bus/trams or replacing existing ICE vehicles with EV and PHEV's or other fuels? It would seem that the later would be possible to give a reduction in gasoline and diesel of 5-15% based on average replacement rates and VMT by different aged vehicles. Would you expect the first 10 years of post peak oil to decline faster than 5-15% per year?

Iran converted 400,000 vehicles to duel CNG/petrol in 2years, surely US industry could convert 5-10 Million a year, a lot of dealerships in US seem to have not much else to do these days!

Suddenly increasing the demand for natural gas would likely make its price skyrocket adversely affecting home heating, electricity generation, plastics and fertilizer. How fast can the natural gas industry expand supply? When will the U.S. and the world reach peak natural gas? Can the economy withstand extreme price volatility of both fuels?

Even 10-50 million vehicles duel gasoline/ CNG over 2-5 years is not suddenly increasing demand, and its not permanent, only until half of new vehicles are using electricity or are replaced by 50mpg hybrids. Electricity will still be cheaper than CNG, but increasing battery production will take time, later on the HEV's can be converted to PHEV's and duel gasoline /CNG vehicles scrapped.

Some price rise in NG would occur, and drilling could return to 2008 levels, more incentives for home insulation, conversion to electric heat pumps.

I am running a converted (LPG) car for a couple of years already in germany - everything fine.

But forget the hybrids: this is not thought to the end. EROEI: If you include the energy needed to manufacture and recycle (!) the batteries (and recycling of Li or NiMH batteries is truely energy intensive) plus the additional weight of the car in comparison to a non-hybrid car then there is no advantage of such a car (Basis: total energy in lifetime of car).
I was also present at Andris Piebalg's latest presentation on natural gas in Europe. Supply will be tight, and at what prices the natural gas comes is completely unknown.

Christech,I don't know any thing about what it costs to recycle the newer types of batteries,but it seems likely that it would be a lot less than building new ones from scratch.At least the critical materials such as nickel and lithium can be recycled,if indeed they are available in large enough quantities to build such batteries by the tens of millions in the first place.

As far as the rest of your argument goes,if energy and resources become really expensive,as will almost certainly happen,several major changes in the ways cars are built,driven ,and scrapped will come about as a result of govt mandates if not market forces.

One is that cars will be downsized,batteries and all.

Nieghborhoods will become if not more bicycle and pedestrian friendly, at least more short car trip friendly as zoning rules change to accomodate more mixed use communities.People have shown a willingness to pay more to live in nieghborhoods such as Richmond Virginia's Fan District where the biggest problem with cars is parking the ones driven there to eat out and shop.The developers will make sure that the zoning people get it sooner or later.

Another is that cars will be corrosion proofed so that rust will not be the cause of millions of otherwise serviceable vehicles being scrapped.

A third is that electrified cars will,after the bugs are worked out,last much longer than ice cars.
A well made electric car should imo last at least thirty or forty years,given the facts that the batteries can be swapped out easily and that the entire drive train is greatly simplified. Electric motors running in nearly perfect circles without the need of pistons going up and down simply don't wear out,althouigh they do occasionally fail.
I suspect that eventually very high taxes on non renewables such as steel and aluminum will ensure that cars are upgraded like computers and driven into the dirt before they are scrapped.

Cars will eventually be built to certain standardized specifications, so that critical components such as the motor /axle /suspension assembly car be yanked out and replaced with one either a new one or one reconditioned by aftermarket companies,in much the same way that light lulbs, batteries, and tires are standardized on todays cars.I expect mandates to have quite a bit to do with this development.My point is that cars do not necessarily have to be built with literally hundreds of components unique to a given model built for only a couple of years,as is often the case today.

There is no question that repair costs in this scenario will fall dramatically both due lowered component costs,reduced shop time,and dramatically reduced need for skilled labor.It takes a lot longer to r and r a late model car engine in most cases right now than it does to do the same job on a big highway rig,because the expectation is that the truck engine will be replaced or reconditioned at least a couple of times whereas it is the norm to scrap a car more than 10 to 12 years old in need of a new engine,unless it is in unusually good condition otherwise.

It is a generally accepted as a foregone conclusion that, the batteries excepted,the savings realized from eliminating or simplifying the intricately cast and machined piston engine with its hundreds of individual parts plus the associated cooling system, exhaust system,fuel tank,etc will more than amply offset the necessary additional components unique to a battery powered car.

Furthermore while it is true that we have a general energy crisis, it is also true that the most immediate aspectof this crisis seems to be liquid fuel for transportation.An electricity crisis is much farther down the road,as we can and will burn coal until we either suffocate or get it together with nukes and renewables.

So it seems to me that while you may be right about the life cycle energy costs of electric cars,the question is open to debate.

As a practical matter,if we can build a practical electric car,we will be able to supply the jiuce to keep them charged for a good long while, whereas the liquid fuels needed otherwise may be unavailable.This means the window to renewables stays open a little longer,and adds a couple of useful positive feedback loops as well.The batterys of a few million electrics can suck up a lot of kwh generated by photovoltaic and wind,resulting in less oil usage and more political support for renewables.It might even turn out that if your car battery is fully charged it will be practical to plug your house into your car and run your ac and lights on solar and wind saved from earlier in the day for a couple of hours,thereby shaving the peak load on the grid,thereby saving ng,which is the primary peak load fuel.The coal,nuke and hydro base load plants would then top off your battery for your in the wee hours,when excess capacity is generally available.

There is nothing original here,but it seemed like a good spot to sum up the likely primary advantages of electric cars.

Cars will eventually be built to certain standardized specifications,

Hmmm shall we have metric or imperial? This won't happen for anumber of reasons that have nothing to do with logic.

Firstly a lot of folks already upgrade their cars because of fashion reasons, driving the latest model etc. This constant turnover of the fleet has allowed car companies to innovate and get better efficiencies from the cars they do produce. Without this volume and turnover, the car manufacturers will struggle with R&D investment to actually make some of the EV fantasies a reality.

Second a company that has to build a standard model has no incentive to improve on it if their competitors are being forced to offer the same thing. It will simply come down to manufacturing efficiencies as the only competitive advantage and that has diminishing returns. Better to make something else that has a growth future.

Thirdly, the market has to want to buy them. It may be possible to build micro cars such as Mitsubishi's iMiev but these have limited use as city based commuter vehicles. There are far more wider uses for car sized vehcles that include tradesmans vans and utes, delivery vans, etc that double as family vehicles outside of work hours. Developing these type of mid size cross purpose vehicles to run on EV technolgy will require breakthrough battery technolgy to get close to being able to deliver enough power for a sustained period (at least 16 hours would be my minimum). This question of market acceptance of EV's is far from certain. There may be a segement of the vehcile buying market that embraces them but it is a sub-segment , not the whole market that will suddenly roll over to them.

The rest of the vehicle driving market may just do some some calculations on sticking with ICE, but driving a whole lot less and drastically improving efficiency by filling more empty seats. This is a different paradigm from the EV fantasy but one that is far more achiveable and doesn't require breakthrough technology or heavy handed government design standardisation. The market will sort it out, one way or the other...

The price of natural gas skyrocketed and plummeted in tandem with crude oil last year suggesting their prices are linked in the market. They are both depleting fossil fuels. I do not see a benefit to the consumer in having a duel gasoline/CNG vehicle. Rather I see this plan as squandering valuable natural and financial resources on an unnecessary conversion. It would detract from converting to PHEV's similar to how former President Bush's underfunded plan for a hydrogen economy distracted us from adopting functional solutions. If you must, advocate running the generator of a PHEV on CNG. The beauty of a PHEV is that the generator can be inexpensively manufactured, converted or replaced to run on a variety of fuels. PHEV's are a superior transitional vehicle than dual gasoline/CNG ones.

Last year Pickens was proposing building wind turbines to displace natural gas powered electrical generators to free resources allowing the American automobile fleet to be converted to run on natural gas without creating a shortage. Now his proposal advocates ample supplies of natural gas without any mention of the wind turbines. If one could not see his genuine agenda before, it is exposed to the full light of day now. All he cares about is enriching himself.

Its not just about the transport and its certanily not just about converting cars. Waht was/is required will be a whole new way of occupying the landscape (to quote Kunstler), which does not presuppose that everyone has personal point to point conveyance capable of travelling at high speed at whim. It will take much energy including oil to transition our way of life to the new reality of much lower oil availability.

The irony in the situation is we need 5-10 years before peak to divert resources towards changing infrastructure, etc.

But Nate, haven't you heard? Governments' around the world have been squandering what capital remains to be begged, borrowed or stolen, to bail out the financial sector's bad bets and induce a frenzy of Plasma TV buying amongst the masses.

In the words of the immortal Soup Nazi; "No soup for you!"

Kudos to Andris Piebalgs!

I have to hope that this published admission will get the ball rolling for more Peak Outreach efforts from politicians, top oil executives, the IEA & EIA, the MSMedia, and other orgs.

Is now the time for M. King Hubbert's family to receive international recognition of what he started so long ago? Picture Putin, Obama, Queen Elizabeth, the Saudi King, and other notables all gathering in one room to bestow a special Peak Outreach award...

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Is now the time for M. King Hubbert's family to receive international recognition of what he started so long ago? Picture Putin, Obama, Queen Elizabeth, the Saudi King, and other notables all gathering in one room to bestow a special Peak Outreach award...

Maybe they could hold it here and they could all arrive by solar powered blimp.

Peak Oil

Terrific Photoshopping Job! Kudos!

[Edit] One Question: Is the Hubbert Downslope the left side of the building if the building's right side is the representative graph of the cheap & easy oil upslope? Yikes!

Terrific Photoshopping Job! Kudos!

Thanks for the compliment I do appreciate it! However this was a quick and dirty 5 minute job done in Canvas 11 a high end scientific and GIS graphics package from ACD Systems. I could have used Adobe just as easily.

Is the Hubbert Downslope the left side of the building if the building's right side is the representative graph of the cheap & easy oil upslope?

LOL! I'll have to find a picture of the building taken from the other side and redo it...

Thanks for the idea, found one from the right direction to depict the precipitous drop and it happens to be at night.. may the darkness descend!

Night Peak

I'd like to be able to forward this link to friends and family, but no doubt they'll gripe about the typos. Can they be fixed?

Anybody know why Piebalgs got his peak production figure wrong (94 mbpd instead of 84, or whatever)?
Anybody asked him?


the typos are in the original blog by Andris. See here.

Yes, I realise. But anyone that's ever read a magazine article (or whatever) with distracting grammatical errors generally thinks lesser of it. Just makes it more difficult to pass the message on to others.

Regards, Matt B

I agree, it is very offputting to read spelling and grammatical errors in publications (especially in national newspapers like The Australian!!!!!)
BUT, Andris is writing in his blog, not for a formal publication. He is Latvian, so he is writing in his (probably) third language. If you explain this to the people you show the article, they may cut him a bit more slack.

Numbers are international. It's just sloppy.

True. Grammatical errors when writing in your third language for a non-formal purpose is excusable. Sloppy numeracy from an energy professional isn't.

Mind you, it's Bartlett who says that the problem with the human race is that we don't get the exponential function... we are collectively innumerate.

One of the few good pieces of news in the current economic crisis (maybe the only one) is that oil prices have gone from the 147$ a barrel of July 2008 more than 100$ down to less than $50 a barrel on the international markets. However, in the last days we have seen oil prises rising and reaching the price of $58 a barrel for the first time in nearly six months.

Many people have had the idea that the peak in oil production won't be noticed untill we are way over. We can only establish peak in hindsight. But that would have implications on the way we look at rising and falling oil prices. Price is just another word for the value the general populace give to a certain item and since it won't be known that oil is "running out" untill way beyond the peak the oil prices can be low a long time after the peak. Rising oil prices, in other words, are no indicator of a oil production peak.

Hello P,

Agreed, we necessarily need to not see prices as the presumptive 'be-all indicator' of Peak. I suggest some metric of un-affordability: If a person is now unemployed, paying $2/gal for gasoline is much more expensive than recently paying $4/gal when they were employed.

This is similar to a young cheetah having no problems running down gazelles in the Serengeti [fully employed in High ERoEI harvesting] versus an old, arthritic, half-blind cheetah unfortunately having to go Vegan [ERoEI<1].

Notice that there is no discussion of price in the above sentence. Peak Everything just means that an huge number of us--of all ages--will be just like the old cat.

Hi Bob,

I have taken a few measures to prepare for peak oil. I have a garden that produces potatoes, I paid a quarter of my mortage. And one of the most important preparation is getting rid of prejudice, bias, belief systems and all those mental shortcuts you tend to make when dealing with your daily stuff. You see, I figured nobody could provide me with a roadmap how this is going to play out, so I was better off with an empty mind reacting unbiased to whatever emergency presented itself.

It is amazing how much you find out once you get rid of those mental inhibitions. One of the things I started thinking about is what terms are used describing the need for fuels. Main stream media uses "energy". But energy is everywhere. Every stone, every drop of water contains huge amounts of energy; the very mass of it. That is the exact meaning of Einstein's "E=mc2". You just can not tap that energy.

The peakoil incrowd often use the term "enthropy". That term indeed does describe how much you can tap from a certain system. Yet, if you'd drop me in a desert with a barrel of oil I could sit on that barrel and that would mean I would sit on a barrelfull of high enthropy. Still it wouldn't do me any good, I would die of thirst and hunger. In case of total economic collaps having a few barrels of oil in your backyard might very well be one of the stupidest investments you could make.

Then it occured to me that in physics there is a term which describes exactly why we want enthropy. That term has the simple, yet stunningly revealing name "Work". So I think the amount of labour that needs to be done by men and animal in stead of machines is what we need to look at.

Work. It is as simple as that.

Work. It is as simple as that.

“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” Archimedes

I live within a short drive of Coral Castle and have had the opportunity to see what one smallish man, pretty much single handedly was able to accomplish with the most rudimentary of tools. I suggest that we all need to use our brains, get off our comfortable asses roll up our sleeves and get to work!

OH and just for the record I do not believe in any of the magical power stories that superstitious people have made up about this place. The simple tools are still there in plain site as are unfinished blocks of coral still in the ground outside his walls. Any one can go there and see that no magic is involved except for the obvious intelligence and ingenuity of one man.

The thermodyanmic term used to describe the amount of energy potentially convertable to work is "exergy". I do not ever remember that term being used in my college thermo classes in 1970.

Energy not converted to work results in an increase in entropy.

"Jet-fuel and Liquefied Petroleum Gas continue to be subsidized"

Comments like this really annoy me. Jet fuel and LPG are NOT subsidised. They are merely not taxed as heavily.

Just because something is not taxed does not make it subsidised.

A subsidy is when you give taxpayers money out in order to influence the marketplace (eg Payments to farmers from CAP).

A fuel subsidy is something like India's policy of buying kerosine cooking fuel and selling it at a loss to ensure people choose to burn kerosine and not the local forest. In this instance public money is being spent.

This meme that jet fuel and LPG are subsidised is annoying and inaccurate. You could just as well argue that natural gas is subsidised to householders because it isn't taxed at road fuel rates either.

Reporting accuracy please.


andytk, Perhaps I can reduce your annoyance. The thing is that just about everything is taxed and so the few things that are not are in effect relatively or even absolutely subsidised. Furthermore their use very definitely generates very serious externalities which are borne by non-users more than users. So take a rest from being annoyed about the first issue and become more annoyed about that last point above.

Robin,you make an excellent point about airline fuel receiving what amounts to a subsidy in effect if not in strict fact by definition.Most of us fly only occasionally if at all,and as far as I can see it is grossly unfair for airlines and thier customers to expect me and other non fliers allow them to operate fuel tax free when everybody else pays.This is no doubt in effect a very regressive sort of policy as the poor hardly ever fly for any reason at all.I think starting here I am going to start spreading the word on this subject.Besides I can hardly ever go outside when it is otherwise dead quiet way out here in the boonies unless a xxxxned jet roars over so that I have to listen to it for at least 5 minutes.Half the time another one is only 5 minutes behind,and the result is no peace and quiet fifty miles from the nearest city.

'Fraid not, Robin.

It's still not a subsidy.

Doesn't matter if you want it to be considered a subsidy, its still just a lower rate of tax.

As I pointed out nat gas isn't taxed.

Think we should tax that at petrol tax rates? That would triple its price overnight.

Do you consider that a "subsidy" too?

And finally, it doesn't matter what the end use of a fuel is. That doesn't give you the right to simply change the definition of "subsidy" to suit yourself.
You may think nat gas for heating/cooking is more laudable than jet fuel for foreign holidays, but it doesn't matter whether the use of the fuel is "good" or "bad".
That alone doesn't allow you to simply change the English language to suit your own ends.

As I said, its not a subsidy, its just a lower rate of tax. ('Preferential tax treatment' if you prefer)


"its just a lower rate of tax"

Now you're the one playing with the English language. "Lower rate" implies SOME rate of taxation. But just fuel isn't taxed at all.

So you think this benefits those most in need? Those least able to pay?

The policy is one of many "reverse Robin Hood" schemes that is taking more and more money from everyone else and funneling it to the wealthy.

Robin, even if you are playing with words, I agree with your notion that taxing one sytem at a higher level, in order that a another system can be taxed at a lower level is in fact a subsidy. It is a weopon governments use to transfer wealth from the well off to the less well off.

This situation applies to electric cars. The electricity used to charge them is exempt from the 70% tax, imposed by duty and VAT, applied to road vehicle fuels. If a modern car gets about 10 miles per litre, the government is getting 7 UK pence per mile in tax revenue. If you compare this to the claimed 200 Whr/mile for an electric car, the tax revenue based on 11p/whr is less than one UK pence. The government will have to make up this shortfall by some means. To raise 7p/mile in tax it would have to add a duty of approximately 35 pence to the 11 pence already charged making the cost of electricity closer to 40p/kWhr than 11p/kWhr. Then there is the congestion charge exemption that, according to the radio the other day, is valued at about £6000 year, another subsidy which will ultimately have to be recovered by other sources.

Sorry, notwithstanding possible copyright issues, I really think a degree of netiquette should have been observed with this article - a short extract with a link to the original.

That the EU Energy Minister understands and accepts Peak Oil is a tremendous benefit to the EU (and the world in general). Several TOD contributors/posters have made many comments on his blog over the last year or so, which may have helped to raise his consciousness on the topic. Kudos to those who participated, and know that continued participation is necessary to keep the issue alive as he works to meet the challenges from several other energy issues.

Fascinating that politicians like Piebalgs only feel comfortable talking about issues relating to post peak once they are out of office.

Think about it, by most accounts oil is already post peak, but it's still only politically convenient to talk about this issue AFTER one is out of office. We've already experienced rising prices during the 05-08 plateau, crescendoing with 147 a barrel, yet it's still evidently politically incorrect to talk about it while still in office.

When will it be ok? Once we've seen 147 again? Or maybe once it hits 200? Humankind is an amazing specie from the standpoint of what's ok to talk about and what's not. If we were termites on a log we were consuming out at sea, would it be politically incorrect to talk about concerns relating to the reducing mass of the log as it pertained to our future well being?

If we were termites on a log we were consuming out at sea, would it be politically incorrect to talk about concerns relating to the reducing mass of the log as it pertained to our future well being?

Yes, short term gluttony is more important than long term survival for those afflicted with cognitive dissonance. The politically incorrect termite needs to figure out a way to chew of a large enough section of the log and float away from the group toward a forested island before it is too late.

The first part of your solution was the impetus for the Iraq war. As to your second point, there is no forested island, and even if there were, the termite population would expand until it consumed the forest on the island.

On the island there would be predators, such as ants and birds, to limit the termite population. Termites seldom kill living trees instead feeding from rotting wood that died for some other reason limiting their ability to destroy the forest. A properly functioning biosphere will regulate itself and become sustainable. If not, life on Earth would have become extinct billions of years ago. Even population overshoot causing a die off does not guarantee the extinction of the species. Yeast has managed to avoid extinction, but as Bob Shaw asks, "Are humans smarter than yeast?"