Informal Survey of the Political Blogosphere

Here at The Oil Drum, we strive to be politically non-partisan. We are primarily concerned with raising awareness of peak oil and advocating those policy steps which we think will bring about a smooth transition to the post-peak world. In these efforts, we have praised and criticized politicians from the left and right.

Almost all of the most highly-trafficked blogs are politically oriented, so its worth paying attention to what the top political blogs have to say about energy issues in general and peak oil in particular. Here, I have surveyed four of the most widely-read blogs that have discussed the concept of peak oil in some level of detail.

Daily Kos (TTLB ranking: 1, political orientation: left)
Daily Kos is by far the most widely-read political blog out there. One of the site's diarists, a Parisian "energy banker" named Jerome a Paris writes about energy issues regularly. Many of his diaries are highly recommended, which means they end up on the front page. To get started, you may want to look at his 13-part series "Countdown to 100$ oil" (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13). Recently, he has looked at formulating a Democratic energy policy that takes into account peak oil (see here and here).
Political Animal (TTLB ranking: 17, political orientation: left)
Kevin Drum is a political writer for Washington Monthly, which hosts his blog. In May and June of this year, he wrote a 6-part series introducing his readers to peak oil (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, coda). He has also wrote an article about peak oil for the June, 2005 issue of Washington Monthly. Drum does a solid job of presenting the key peak oil concepts, and the only material that may be new to this audience is the discussion of policy in Part 5. Overall, he's relatively optimistic:
The coming peak in oil production, which is likely to lead to permanently expensive oil and increasingly frequent oil shocks, isn't the end of civilization as we know it. Honest. But it is likely to be fairly painful.
Peak oil is a serious problem, but the free market really will work the way economists say it does, by reducing demand and spurring innovation as prices rise. If we combine that with some common sense planning for the future, we can go a long way toward making this problem manageable. Both our economy and our national security depend on it. (TTLB ranking: 20, political orientation: right) didn't have much substantive material, but they've recently launched an Energy section, although I have to say that the inaugural post was pretty disappointing ("This country's energy policy has been held hostage for years by a small band of extreme environmentalists"). A diarist named kowalski recently chimed in with a post called Oil, Oil Everywhere where he characterizes peak oilers as "professional doomsayers and anti-capitalists".
Outside the Beltway (TTLB ranking: 67+90=26, political orientation: right)
Outside the Beltway's business editor, Steve Verdon, works in the energy industry and has written about peak oil. He has put together a part-by-part reply to the Kevin Drum series (1, 2, 3, 4). Verdon thinks the market will save us:
There has not been a single case of any commodity going through a complete Hubbert cycle in the sense that we don't switch to something else. There have been peaks in the production of a great many commodities many of which are finite in the same sense that crude oil is finite. Yet the end of the world has not occured. One reason is that as the price goes up for whatever good is being used up, the price of previously uneconomical substitutes becomes relatively cheaper. Also, looking for subsitutes becomes relatively cheaper as well.
He goes on to say:
I just want to point out quite clearly I think that the Hubbert curve/peak oil is a valid concept. My complaints are that the hubbert curve is problematic for use in policy making, and that the model is lacking to be a truly predictive model. As for peak oil my view is that "running out" of oil does not have to be a catastrophe.

So, now you know that there are some peak oil-aware political bloggers out there. What other widely-read political bloggers are taking on peak oil? What are they saying?

Good idea for a post Super G.

Sean Paul (left) over at the Agonist did an interview with Matt Simmons back a few months ago. I would dig it up if I have time. He just wrote about a Yergin follower today.

You mean this peakguy?
Exactly - a very in depth report from a pretty center-left blog. In that Sean-Paul does not strike me as a reflexive liberal on the subject, but rather he's looking at this from a very pragmatic point of view. His focus is on international affairs from a progressive point of view.
I'd be interested in people's impressions: is there a tendency for right-wing bloggers to be optimists or market believers on this issue? Between Jerome and Kevin Drum, we get some variety, but the (small sample n=2) right wing blogs both seemed rather, um, dogmatic. Has anyone encountered more variety on the right wing?
The right wing (especially those called "wingnuts") have a significant problem in discussing Peak Oil, and that's politics.  Any discussion cannot avoid the energy wasting engendered and encouraged by the administration (prior to the recent minimal conservation pep talks), nor can it avoid the fact that Bush and Cheney have energy industry backgrounds - and therefore should know the answer yet choose to ignore the question (at least in and/or for the public).

I am surprised that the libertarian blogs (mostly on the right) haven't picked up on peak oil - but perhaps the survivalists have been down on the ability of society to continue for so long that they've all assumed there won't be any oil anyhow.

Well, it might be fair to say that the right-wing instinct is to trust the market and the left-wing instinct is to organize a non-market solution.

There are subsets of people at either extreme who allow their preference for a mechanism (market or non-market) to influence their perceptions of possible problems, or their attraction to a particular problem.

The problem for that extreme sort of conservative is that there isn't an easy free-market solution to PO (or GW), so they've got to recognize a problem that has a "foreign" solution.

On the other hand ;-), we could say the left has a lower bar to leap.  They might be more willing to believe that industrial society has put us in a tight spot, and so on,

Some problems would surely show the opposite pattern, with conservatives quick to recognize the issue, and liberals more grudging in their response.

I'm generally more trusting of moderates, who are not typically backing a "standard play" ... which is probably why I evolved to become a moderate myself.

"Well, it might be fair to say that the right-wing instinct is to trust the market and the left-wing instinct is to organize a non-market solution."

I think this is a myth.  There are many political interventions just because "the market" just might not come up with the "correct" ansewer.

I'm not understanding.  Are you saying that the right wing has its own "non-market" solutions?

If I were to guess maybe you are talking about the right's social policies?  I like those x-y graphs that plot economic freedom on one axis and social freedom on another.

What we typically call the "right" is for economic freedom with more social control, and the "left" is for social freedom with more economic control.

... or maybe I'm missing your meaning.

I don't have much time at the moment.  Briefly, markets can be circumvented when necessary and/or when opportunity presents itself. One example would be the negotiations which began the petrodollar recycling system.  These actions were bilateral and secretive against all public statements by the US govt.  The myth exists today that the "markets" solved the problem.

I am reading "The Hidden Hand of American Hegemony" by David Spiro who makes this case.

I guess all I am saying is that both liberals and conservatives say they trust the markets and both seek at times to circumvent them when opportunity presents itself.  

How about the Texas Railroad Commission for a non-market solution to petroleum allocation, a non-market solution that undoubtedly had the enthusiastic approval of all the supposed free-market ideologues in the US oil industry?  (The TRR played the role of OPEC in the domestic US until 1971, when the Peak predicted by Hubbert rendered it moot.)

Does one have to be politically on the left end of the spectrum to note the glaring hypocrisy here?

I don't think anyone, of any party, "working a deal" or "putting one hand in the til" really disproves the general philosophical theme.

I didn't invent it, it's out there.

... and I think it plays into the parties' slow acceptance of some problems.

The Republican party is splitting apart between the socially conservative and financially liberal southern and rural faction, and the socially liberal and financially conservative high income faction.
Socially conservative means government control of reproduction, sex, religion, etc.
Financially conservative means low taxes and/or government spending (delayed tax increases and/or spending cuts).
Socially liberal means no government control of reproduction, sex, religion, etc.
Financially liberal means high taxes and/or government spending (delayed tax increases and/or spending cuts).
The Democrats are relatively uninvolved in this argument between the Republican factions. Most antiMiers stuff is coming from the faction who liked Roberts for his implied solib/ficon stance, and disliked Miers for her implied socon/filib stance.
Turns out Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit (right) is banking on oil shales.
And you would go to Instapundit for investment advice? The guy doesn't know the difference between preferred stock and livestock.
Instapundit is a nanopundit in my eyes.
I think that Matthew Simmons makes a very good case for Peak Oil. And I do think it is something to take very seriously. I also believe that peak oil is coming a lot sooner than most people think it is (or want it to), but it is farther off than the true believers believe it is. And I also doubt that it is going to be nearly as apocalyptic as Kunstler believes that it will be.

Don't get me wrong, it will be disruptive. But I am of the opinion that the free money/housing bubble will be of much more consequence over the next 3-5 years than the cost of oil will be. Although oil will exacerbate an already bad situation.  

But what concerns me right now more than anything else are the externalities of oil, the external costs: the geopolitical sparring, the wars, the pollution, the abberations that cheap oil creates (like suburbia) etc. . . and yes, I posted the Yergin follower for a specific reason: it's good to challenge the orthodox thinking from time to time because it helps me, at least, to look at a problem from another point of view, another angle as it were. One problem with William Sargant (among many, many others) is that he says nothing about the costs of global warming.

And those externalities are largely fallout from peak oil itself. If oil was near infinitely plentiful, this jockeying for position, saber-rattling, and other actions would not even have to occur because the market would supplant expensive producers with cheaper ones.

However, I think your optimism is wrong for another reason - that we have not yet found a replacement for oil that will allow the continuation of a consumer-driven, growth economics civilization as it currently exists. No matter what else happens, I just cannot see the "sell-sell-sell" mentality continuing as-is. If we're smart and lucky (both at the same time) we may get an even better world out of all this but it's not going to be Ozzie and Harriett in the suburbs buying disposable razors and being subjected to endless marketing to buy more "stuff". And if we're not both smart and lucky, then old Malthus gets to teach us all a lesson or three.

Who said I was optimistic about much of anything these days? We seem to concur, a term used in legal circles meaning we largely agree on the end result of something, but come to that agreement from different premises. I agree with just about everything you say in your comments will ultimately happen, and soon. I just don't see it being a result of peak oil. The high price of oil is a factor, no doubt. But the free money, housing market/ATM of the last few years will cause much more of an economic hangover than this relatively brief oil spike we are enduring.

We are indeed well and truly screwed in the near and mid-term, and perhaps the long term. But I am op the opinion that the closure of the Port of New Orleans and the loss of the 2005 entire harvest of the Mississippi watershed is of much more immediate consequence than $65 barrel oil.

Is that what you consider optimistic?

Not to mention the incredible tightness on the natural gas market...

My current scenario is that of an economic crisis triggered by energy prices this winter, with dropping demand and inflation, thus no let up on the interest rates increases. After an energy price spike, the prices will go down again, but to a level higher than today. The economy will not do well.

Welcome Jerome, Welcome Sean Paul. Glad to see you guys here. My question to both of you is how much do you think that the readers of your respective sites appreciate the gravity of peak oil?
Peakguy, glad to be here. Great site been a fan for a while.

To answer your question: I think Agonist readers keenly appreciate the gravity of peak oil. It's  one of the topics that is really kind of always a no fail topic. A good example of that is the contrarian post I put up last night by the Yergin fan. It generated some really good comments and very thoguhtful ones. We also have a couple of guys from the oil patch that still work in the oil patch that are converts, mostly cuz they really understand the oil biz.

Anyhow, I think most bloggers that don't have a really nasty political axe to grind, left or right, realize, like Matthew Simmons, a Bush supporter, that peak oil is real, the question is simply when. Because we all know that there is no infinite supply of oil in the world. Or, at least I hope we all know that.


On dKos, there's a big enough group that cares enough about the topic now that my energy diaries get recommended regularly, and thus get some visibility on the site. I've seen the topic ef energy become mentioned a lot more now by others in unrelated posts (for instance, discussions of what a Democratic political programme should include do include some nod to "energy independence" or "alternative energies".

Can you post diaries here as well? I suppose I should crosspost some of my diaries if possible. (Not that there is much new in them for readers here I suppose, I've tried to target the non-initiated more)

No diaries yet.  My recollection is that site was reborn as a Scoop site in mid-Aug, and the back-to-back hurricanes kind of blew the site traffic off the chart that created problems by itself.  I thought I heard mention that the  folks who run the site might like to do diaries at some point.

Back when I first found this site, they still let you post anonymously.  As a sort of joke I was thinking of registering a sock puppet called "Anonymous Oil Drum Reader" just to see how long it would take people to figure it out.

I think you are correct that the audience here is a bit different than the usual at eurotrib or dkos.  There are days that the apocaphiles are posting like crazy here - hmm, come to think of it, we have those sorts at dKos too.

Did we really lose the entire Mississipi watershed 2005 harvest?
Yes, most of it. Some can be shipped out via other ports, and some can be held over to the next year, but yeah, most of it is gone. Bye bye. See ya. Gone. But that reality has yet to sink in with the folks on CNBC, etc. . . .
We did not lose the harvest. It is still here, but increasing capacity problems on the railroads leading to coal movement limits. This is a problem that is not that important.
Unless you are going hungry someplace overseas, of course. It's a problem for you then.
I sort of disagree with what you meant. Oil is real, money is by agreement. We can just print more money and start over whenever we want, if we are willing to pay the social and price. Oil means cars that don't run.
This is a helpful post. The strategies we use to address peak oil will be intensely political. The facts about peak oil (its existence, speed, and ramifications) must become nonpartisan.

Outside the blogosphere, let's note that there are some strong voices the right: Roscoe Bartlett, our only congressional voice on peak oil, considers himself to be one of the most conservative members of the house. Matt Simmons strongly identifies himself as Republican. Given the current right-dominated political landscape in the US, I'd suggest that voices from the right will be perceived as more credible, hence more important.

What I find good about what Simmons and Bartlett say about the solutions is that they are largely in line with Heinberg and Kunstler say - more trains, sea-shipping, less suburbs, more renewables, changing out wasteful habits. Those seem like natural solutions to the problem

Of those that are aware of PO as a problem and publicly talk about it what is the other side of this debate?

In addition to comments from the political blogosphere, we also need to pay and bring attention to pronouncements from industry leaders.  For example ChevronTexaco's Will You Join Us Campaign that states "One thing is clear. The era of easy oil is over".  

And then there is this pronouncement from Malcom Brinded, Executive Director for E&P in Shell.

"The challenges of supplying the expanding
energy needs on which rising living
standards for billions of people depend -
while still preserving our environment -
are increasingly apparent. I believe they
are among the greatest challenges ever
faced by mankind."

"Conventional wisdom is that high
prices stimulate supply and reduce
demand. Yet on the demand side we
have so far seen surprising inelasticity,
with continued strong growth in energy
demand in major emerging economies
like China.
On the supply side - despite increased
activity - the response has been limited,
particularly in non-OPEC supply.
Overall upstream supply has struggled to
match demand growth"

There's a pdf document referenced at Bubba's Shell citation which is well worth reading. I quote from a discussion of EOR (enhanced oil recovery):
Making EOR projects work properly is a huge challenge. So such technologies have often been seen as too high cost, and received relatively little attention from the industry globally. But, in a higher price world, there is significant scope for much more widespread application of EOR. This has only just begun to be properly explored....

The unique complexity of the operation can be seen in areas like Belridge - with 9,000 producing wells in 170 square kilometres, as well as three power stations, 100 steam generators, nearly 9,000 electric motors and over 100,000 instruments. And they drill over 700 wells a year.

To get the best from this Aera has developed a TPR (Total Process Reliability) approach and a lean manufacturing model - with advice from Toyota - based on standardisation, rapid implementation of best practice, and a relentless search for improvement. They have been able to improve productivity and cut costs - for example reducing maintenance costs by 40% in five years.

Applying TPR and the lean manufacturing model to development and operations has enabled them to keep the annual production decline from mature fields to just 4% rather than the expected 15%. (Figure 12) And it opens up significant EOR potential, for example in the Diatomite reservoir.
Whoa.. and that was from Shell. Nice find Dave.
So it's official: in old fields, enhanced recovery means slower decline, not more oil. Simmons' point about EOR is that is will keep recovery rates higher for a time, then production will plummet.

There's a real future problem lurking here: we learn to rely on a mere 4% decline rate, then we find we can't maintain a 4% decline, or even 15%. A real rude awakening could occur.

Check out James Wolcott, at . Although not a "pure" political blogger, he cites James Knustler and energy issues quite often.

Bruce from Chicago

Re: The Peak Oil Straw Man

When Steve Verdon says (as quoted above)
My complaints are that the hubbert curve is problematic for use in policy making, and that the model is lacking to be a truly predictive model.
I've got to strongly object. He wants a truly predictive model??? That's weak. In my research of climate change issues, there are huge issues around creating such a model. Most model results converge around 3 degrees C. for a doubling of CO2 levels in the atmosphere (550 ppmv). That's the best we can do and it's pretty good. Uncertainties are reduced over time.

For peak oil, we lack the scientific rigor of the climate change community but ASPO (ODAC), Stuart (TOD), Laherrere, Koppellar, et. al. are trying to model the damn thing. Most results point to a peak before or near 2015. I note that the "faith-based" school of thought in which higher price and technology come to the rescue (Lynch, IEA, CERA, Levitt) either 1) do no modelling at all or 2) assume slippery slope economic models based on non-existent advances in technology, future price predictions, demand projections given the future prices, et. al. In other words, it's voodoo or Nostradamus, whichever you prefer. So, don't tell us that the peak oil community is not on to something because we have no truly predictive model. That's a straw man argument if I ever saw one.
The choices that are going to be made with regard to how to ameliorate the problems presented by peak oil are going to be inherently political and normative.  How can they be otherwise?

My concern however, is with the way government has been growing under both Republican and Democratic regimes; it means a concentration of power and resources never before seen in the world.  

Whether you call it socialism or fascism, it really doesn't matter.  It's government concentration of power.  And, as someone who enjoys their freedoms, I quake at the thought of losing my civil rights to that concentration of power.

See, whether or not those concentrated powers and resources are going to be used for good or for evil or for something in between is not just a question of politics, but also a question of the quality and type of representation that exists in this country.  Whose interests are being represented right now?  (btw, have you seen the efficacy numbers lately?  go to or the NJ hotline sometime...they are some of the lowest numbers ever...people do not feel like "government" represents "them.")

I have spouted many times about the tragedy of the commons here at TOD.  Individuals cannot be counted on, without government coercion or the development of strong norms, to solve collective action dilemmas, until well after it is in their interests to do so.  

That in and of itself is a normative and political problem that can only be solved with leadership and foresight.  

Those are two qualities I do not see in either of the two parties that are responsible for our government.

Good post, PG. Of course, I say this because it mostly reflects my own position.... Couple of comments.

Re "whether or not those concentrated powers and resources are going to be used for good or for evil..."

That will be for evil. History teaches us that great concentration power leads inevitably to abuse and extension of that power. Lord Acton's "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely". This is absolute power we're talking about here. Only some countervailing historical force can arrest this and turn it around. Cf. the growing wealth inequality in the US and the continuing dominance of longtime vested interests, especially in energy.... Our leaders have ceased to represent us and this has been the case for a long time now. Mass cultures controlled by vested interests (in this case, corporations) are susceptable to propaganda and wide-spread falsehoods, so there is no rebellion by the people yet. This will occur when there is an undeniable and stark opposition between what citizens are being told and what they are actually experiencing in their daily lives.... This is coming about.

Re "Individuals cannot be counted on, without government coercion or the development of strong norms, to solve collective action dilemmas, until well after it is in their interests to do so."

Absolutely correct. TOD threads alluding to what we can do as individuals to alleviate the coming energy crunch strike me as idealistic and naive ie. unrealistic, especially given the growing powerful interests just discussed. We await the day when a political rebellion opens up a new path.
The increasing centralization of power is a natural consequence of manufacturing automation. The Enlightenment was tied to human-run manufacturing: As long as a person could produce substantially more in a factory than on a subsistence farm, people were economically valuable. But now that one person can produce vastly more (of both crops and products) than any person can sanely use, people are no longer valuable. And it shows. When the country can get by with only half its people employed, then say good-bye to democracy and Enlightenment, because the government can then afford to ignore the people.
When the country can get by with only half its people employed, then say good-bye to democracy and Enlightenment

- perhaps this makes PO into good news of sorts: without all those "energy slaves" the elites will need more laborers, thus perhaps a potential for more democracy?  Perhaps TPTB would then put more effort into preparing for a threatening flu pandemic?

I've read and posted to this and numerous other blogs concerning PO. I keep running into the same discussions, the same disconnects, the same arguments. I would like to pose a challenge to readers:

Go without gasoline or diesel for a week.

Nothing fancy, just something very simple. Four syllables: no-gas-o-line.

If you live near your workplace, you might make it. But don't go large grocery shopping - your bicycle won't hold the bags. Dating is problematic with a bicycle too.

But otherwise, you are shut down. There are no alternatives except your feet or a bicycle unless you live in a city with rail. Simply getting to work becomes a huge task.

When you start looking at solar cells, wind, battery technology...what you will find is that none of these are robust enough to replace oil and the internal combustion engine. Sure, metal hydride batteries will work, but how many of you have seriously tried to buy them? The original RAV 4 EV was scrapped because the metal hydride batteries lasted 48 months and then pfft!  Replacement cost exceeded the value of the car by 30%, and these still provided only a 200 mile range!!

Going to power your home with solar and get off the grid? Get ready to apply for a second mortgage, because the entry cost is around $25k for a small setup. And insurance will not cover busted panels - if you have a hailstorm or a tree limb drop on your panel, you just ate it. Insurers aren't friendly to anything new. And we haven't even gotten to the battery storage issues - better add some square footage to your house - these batteries are not small either.

So where can you go? There is no viable commercial answer on the table. Even trying to setup your home for off the grid function involves using a minimum of two energy sources if you live in any kind of climate that varies. Throw in air conditioning and you double everything, because the folks designing these systems don't bank on air conditioning in many cases!!

The problem with Adam Smith and others placing faith in "the market" is that if it isn't already there, it is years away. The same thing holds true for technology - go look at any government site, like NREL. What they have to offer you is nothing but some white papers. If you are looking for solar solutions, you quickly find out that you cannot get your hands on them because the government has ordered a shitload of them, and all the PV guys are 6-12 months behind on production. They have even discontinued smaller unit production because of these big orders from government and international clients.

It will require some serious thinking to work out how each of us can be self-sufficient in energy. It is not simple, and there is no single source solution. And if you cannot do it for a home, how problematic will it be for an entire civilization??

Don't take my word for it - go and try to do some of these things yourself. Go and see what is actually out there and in production. If you cannot buy it, then it doesn't exist commercially. Next look at the cost. Don't tell me that the price will drop - that doesn't happen until demand is saturated, and that is additional years of waiting.

This is where the rubber meets the road, and the world is simply nowhere near ready for this transition. I know - I'm trying to set up right now, and I am amazed at how much of what I need has to be manufactured at home in my shop or contracted out to fabricators. The only place a lot of these parts and items can be found is in the military, and they have military pricing, similar to the $300 hammer the navy uses.

Don't talk so much - go out and just try to do a little bit in alternative energy. Try and put up a wind generator to run your kitchen appliances. But get ready to buy the lot next door...

Once a few of you have actually tried this, I think your faith in the market and in technology will be drastically altered.

"Go without gasoline or diesel for a week."

Much easier to cut it in half, and with sufficient enducement I'm sure people would do so ... remember, peak oil is not zero oil.

Or maybe I should ask what sort of scenario makes you think 'zero oil' in the short term?

P.S. - my bicycle has panniers and will hold the bags ;-)

That or else one could go to someplace like Wike and get a nice cargo trailer. This particular one is rated for 100 lbs, which is a fair carrying capacity. And if you really want to get some heavy duty stuff, check this out.

Sure, it may be only in Toronto that can one rent something like this right now. But this is one of the situations where the invisible hand will work. With time others will realize that they can make their living on bike maintenance and with a few good trailers to rent out as people need them. Assuming that people would be buying enough crap that they would need the trailers. Long live the bikes (and cold showers after).

Not to be rag on a minor point, but dating is GREAT with a bicycle.  You meet much cooler girls that way.


Everything I've seen says that hail-damaged panels require, at most, a small rider on the homeowner's insurance.  What makes you say different?
i just toured a home last week with 40 solar panels 50 kilowatts each.  the system has 18 kilowatts worth of storage capability and is tide to the grid.  it cost the homeowner just over $18,000 to install.  half of that is being rebated back to him by the state of north carolina.  not only is he selling power back to the local provider but they're paying him a premium for his "green" energy.  planning a solar system should start with a hard look at your energy consumption habits and ways you can conserve.  it doesn't have to be super expensive though.  
Just to emphasize the point you are making nulinegvgv:

What about individual partail solar houses, tide to the grid, with the grid being ramped up with nuclear and wind (or geothermal, tidal, etc) reliance? And then add plug in hybrids? All of which the technology is already here and is continuing to be refined.

Accompany that with some demand destruction for gas and increased efficiency in our daily lives, and perhaps we could come out of peak oil a much better society then we entered. I can dream can't I.

I don't see why a politician doesn't stand behind this. But then I don't understand politicians.

You are so ignorant of the latest renewable energy options it's sickening. Check out and get an education.
Spooky, you write:
And we haven't even gotten to the battery storage issues - better add some square footage to your house - these batteries are not small either. ... So where can you go? There is no viable commercial answer on the table. Even trying to setup your home for off the grid function involves using a minimum of two energy sources if you live in any kind of climate that varies. Throw in air conditioning and you double everything, because the folks designing these systems don't bank on air conditioning in many cases!!

Some commenters try to pooh pooh what you are saying.
Don't take it to heart. There are plenty out here who feel your pain and understand exactly what you are saying. The run-for-the-hill people have already given up. At least you are trying.

Let me try to make your point about there being NO "commercial answer" from another angle:

The worshippers of Adam Smith's "Invisible Hand" will explain their faith based beliefs this way:

If your appendix is bursting,
You don't go fixing it yourself.
Instead you go to an outside person.
You go to a "doctor".
He knows how to, and he will fix it (for a price).
This is an example of how the markets always provide.

Whatever your problem,
there is ALWAYS an outside person (a "specialist") who will provide the solution for a price.
The markets always provide the specialists with the answers as they become needed.

Problem is:
  (1) There are no specialists who know how to build batteries that last a very long time and provide great energy densities.
  (2) There are no specialists who know how to build alternatives that will substitute for gas-O-line.

The markets cannot provide that which is simply not there.

Every time another billionaire believer starts dying from some icurable disease, he raises his hands skyward and cries, "Oh, Adam Smith why hath thou foresaken me?"

For further reading, here is an interesting essay on the fallacy of the anonymous "market" and on the fallacy of separation between "consumers" and "producers". (We ALL need to be producers):

Battery metal mines are different from oil fields. Double the price of oil and production doubles in about ten years as people explore for and develop smaller, heavier, dirtier, sourer, smaller deposits.
Double the price of copper, zinc, lead, nickel, and production increases by a factor of ten over ten years as people drill up and develop lower grade and smaller mines. We have already found many low grade, small, and distant mineral deposits. They become economic very quickly at higher prices.
We can have battery powered commuter cars for six days a week, and diesel powered vans for the one day a week you buy groceries or take the soccer team around or go skiing.
So DailyKos and Political Animal get it, and they're liberal blogs, and and Outside the Beltway don't get it, and they're conservative blogs. Cheney, the so-called "conservative," doesn't want to conserve anything when he says the American way of life is non-negotiable. So perhaps we should abandon the pretense that understanding Peak Oil is "nonpartisan." Let's call ourselves the Democrats that we are, and be proud of it.
I think it is wiser to keep these issues as nonpartisan as possible, at least as far as acknowledging the problem is concerned. Why make things partisan and automatically have 30% of Americans reject us on ideological principle?

As stated upthread, there are conservatives and liberals who get it, and conservatives and liberals who don't. The more effectively this can be framed as a bipartisan issue, the more likely it will be that something get done.

willpax, I suppose that since we're still in the "raising awareness" phase of the Peak Oil situation, you're correct. But the purpose of political parties is to take up issues and rally behind them. That's what happens naturally as issues present themselves. So I suspect that once the United States public is made aware of peak oil, the parties will react by forming their own policy platforms around them. Hypothetically speaking, perhaps the Republicans will decide that the answer is to get more oil by drilling in national wildlife reserves, going to war, and giving tax breaks to oil companies. Perhaps the Democrats will decide to push for conservation like Jimmy Carter did. Since this issue is too new to be noticed by the mainstream, it's still within the realm of the "nonpartisan."
Well yes, but "we" aren't just Americans. "We" come from all over the world, so not all left wingers are democrats, and not all right wingers are republicans.

Just try to be a little less US-centric is all I'm asking. The web is global media and peak oil is a global problem.


Xuewen, you're absolutely right. I suppose I was thinking about a U.S. audience when I wrote that because I was thinking of this in terms of U.S. electoral politics. But we're dealing here with a global problem via a global medium.
Mmm. The only politiician who's shown the slightest guts on this so far is Roscoe Bartlett and he's a conservative Republican.
But DailyKos also has it's share of conspiracy buffs that think this is all a scam by Big Oil.  They are a minority, but they are part of the liberal spectrum.  There are idiots and delusions on both sides, so I don't think we can declare one side the winner.  Bartlett is making noise on the right and Schweitzer is making noise on the left, but Cheney and Pelosi are still fighting the old battles.  We can't cut off input from one side or the other if we are trying to 'solve' things instead of just finding political high ground.
Excuse me, but I am not a democrat.

I'm also even less of a republican. I know that it's often surprising, but there are more than two parties. But of course since almost everything dealing with elections is bipartisian, this isn't too much of a surprise. The democrats are also beholden to corporate interests, and if they have the good of the people at heart, it's a best an afterthought.

coffee17, For better or for worse, we live in a first-past-the-post electoral system, meaning there's no prize for anyone who comes in second place. This system is subject to Duverger's Law, which means that we're always bound to gravitate to two parties. The history of the United States since its founding bears this out. The options for us peak oilers are to

1) Start a new party, perhaps the "Peak Oil Awareness Party." As a single-issue party, history suggests that such a party would not meet with long-term success.

2) Work within one of the two viable national parties to promote our preferred solutions to the problem.

3) Join one of the pre-existing third parties, perhaps most logically the Green Party. Because we live in a two-party system that results from the language in the Constitution (though not the intent of the Founders), the results of significant numbers of people following this strategy would be to hand over more power to those who remain in the other two parties.

Federalists and Anti-Federalists, Republicans and Democrats, Whigs, Know-Nothings, etc. There's been a lot of different parties over the course of U.S. history, but except for individual presidential elections with three of four strong candidates (i.e., 1992, 1948), there have always been two of 'em within striking distance of electoral victory. So I'm for option 2, above.

It might be worth trying again on RedState. It would require factual, informative diaries, with a patient presence to rebut misleading comments.

The two recent diaries blaming environmentalists for energy supply issues weren't very good, but they weren't very well-informed.  The RedState crew may respond to information and education, if it is couched in terms compatible with conservatism.

They don't seem tolerate dissent from the official party line - dissenters are automatically labelled 'trolls'.  If you aren't careful, you get banned.

It is possible to introduce new ideas - you just need to do it in a non-confrontational way.

The right-wing party line that I've heard (from my mother) is that:

Environmentalists and gov't. environmental regulations prevented oil companies from building new refineries.

Arctic melting is caused by unusual solar activity, proven by the concurrent melting of the Martian ice cap (which recessed about ten feet in a year), not any indication of global warming.

Katrina and Rita represent the cyclical return of strong hurricanes like Hazel, not any indication of global warming.

Natural gas and oil prices will come down - they always do.

We have omitted the economic blogs, very important players both on the left and the right.   By and large, both sides tend to ignore the issue, focusing instead on short-term fluctuations and ignoring long-term implications.  By and large each side looks at the issue as simple supply-demand.  Economists reflexively think that "price" is issue, and are not willing to look far beyond that.  To give you an example:

"How much oil is demanded at any given time depends, among other things, on the price. A very, very large quantity would be demanded if the price were $1 a barrel and practically none would be demanded if the price were $10,000 a barrel. The quantity that is profitable to bring to the market also depends on the price. The reason economists want to pay so much attention to the price is because it is the one variable that is guaranteed to adjust and adapt to any and all unforeseen circumstances that may develop so as to ensure that demand always equals supply. Supply equals demand today, supply will equal demand in 2025, and supply will equal demand in 2050. Whatever Hirsch means by "peaking of world conventional oil production," it certainly isn't the condition that "production will no longer satisfy demand." -Professor James Hamiliton

Economists, on both sides, believe that market forces will shove new technologies into any breach that occurs.  Greenspan once remarked that the frozen offshore methane deposits would certainly fill the bill.

Economists are major players in how we adjust or do not adjust intelligently.  I strongly suggest that TOD bring on board some economists so that we can have a serious hashing out of their issues.

I'm a transportation engineer, not an economist, so bear with me here.

I agree that supply will equal demand for products, because the price will vary to equalize the two. However, as I understand it, this is for the totally free market and nothing is really in the totally free market. Government and other expenditures, policies, regulations, etc. disrupt the free market. To a large extent many of these government expenditures are for the betterment of civilization (i.e. fire protection does not follow the supply/demand model). So to say that supply will always meet demand is not totally true, because government and other externalities manipulate the free market. Because of this government manipulation of the free market we can not expect the free market to find the fixes for oil supply reductions and thus more government manipulation will need to occur. By the way I don't mean government manipulation in a bad way, I'm being neutral on the governments manipulation.

For example...All forms of government have manipulated the free market through subsidies, zoning laws, tax breaks, street design guidelines, etc., etc., to create the automobile dependent society we live in now. Because the free market did not get us here we also can't expect it to get us out alone.

Is my thinking correct here? I'm just trying to figure this economics stuff out.

I think the economists are right in a sense, that as the price of gas goes up, the demand will go down (to a point). But do you know if any economist thinks this decrease in demand will also equal a slow down in our economy, leading to either stagflation or depression style deflation? If not, what do they think will be the result of the decrease in demand? That alternative energy markets will completely fill the gap providing increased jobs and opportunities?
I'm so left wing I believe Bill Clinton is a conservative due to NAFTA, welfare reform, and his health care proposal which would have kept the insurance companies profitable. I also believe that the free market can provide solutions when a customer with deep pockets demands it. Swift technological changes can happen quickly if the government will pay for it. For instance the Air Force went from almost total piston power to almost total jet power in less than a decade. They didn't wait for the 'perfect' jet engine or for jet engines to cost less than pistons before starting the conversion process. I want a government that will make conversion to non fossil fuels THE NATIONAL SECURITY PRIORITY because it is. When it comes to national security price doesn't matter because the cost of not doing it is much, much more.
Right on, Tom.   It happens that I was one of the first  guys  to go to NASA with actual training in jet engines, and we went and did it.  But with a lot of big mistakes.  Remember the non-supersonic first generation of supersonic fighters?  Boo-Boo big time.

But government is us.  Will we pay for a conversion to renewables?  Sure, if we  hear a certain trumpet instead of all the waffle-wobble we now get from politicians.

My favorite is always the funded contest.  Just think of the fantastic array of widgets that would come forth if we (us, the government) put up a big prize for a solar power converter (totally unspecified as to detail), best one wins, at such and such a time and place.  Just like the late great robot car race, most of them would be flops, but some of them would be great, and we go from there to live happily ever after.We can do it!  

(I am a disgustingly extreme liberal)

"But government is us."

I beg to differ. Government is the interests of corporations and criminals.

The Myth of the Rule of Law: or How the Money Works

"It may not be profitable to slow decline" --Economist Maarten Van Mourik, Lisbon ASPO conference

Oh, I love it when you talk dirty like that. All us inventors are that way.
We would have had ten percent of our electricity from solar power twenty five years ago if my potential customers hadn't been central power generation monopolies.
"Conspiracy" theory is a soothing excuse when compared to the brutal reality that we humans are a bunch of witless insects rolling our dung ball (a.k.a. Planet Earth) towards the edge of the cliff.

IMAGE: p;tc=&usp=0&_spb=0&_spe=0&_spw=0&mw=2&se=&_collection=&_filterori=&a mp;searchtext=00012295

I am so disgusted with politicians, i was hoping we would see some real leadership with a republican majority. But thats not the case. Instead we get a bunch of sanctimonius, arrogant, you can't touch me, i know better than you, BUMS! They (both parties) are all the same (to me), worthless!
so i say we need NEW BLOOD, i vow to everyone, i will not vote for an incumbent in state or national. I am voting for new members. new people, new ideas. currently they are self serving, arrogant, out of touch with their constituents. 2 hurricanes with a month of each other, gas prices soar, oil prices soar, and all they can do is pass a refinery act? which will not help the greiving public. they seem to be more concerned with staying in office than serving the people. the same career BUMS that sang "God Bless America" on TV after 9/11. made me wanna puke!
we need someone to take the bull by the horns, get on TV and explain to us why is has to be that way. (Reagan did that), we need our leadership to be more like William Wallace (braveheart), just get the damn job done! quit the political correctness, which is just killing us. take the gloves off and start kicking ass. don't take names, just kick ass!

Geez, they tick me off! Don't even get me started!

Thanks for the Agonist link.

This is my bunch:
seeing the forest -- lots of stuff in the past on Enron
the sideshow -- lady Avedon keeps up with the news
corrente -- the gang tackles all subjects
political animal -- you know this one
blogging of the president -- Stirling and company -- brilliant!
james wolcott -- somebody else mentioned James, catch him on the radio if you can
culture of life -- lots of stuff by Elaine
ezra klein -- friend of The Oil Drum
atrios -- the big guy adds economic insight, he knows his stuff
unscrewing the inscrutable -- DarkSyde adds the occasional rant
billmon -- he used to do a lot more on energy

Besides Jerome the other guys at DailyKos
~ds~ -- Everyone loves DarkSyde's rants
meteor blades -- has lots of insight, buried in his political posts
red dan -- more of a commenter, but worth checking out as he is an petroleum engineer
plutonium page -- environmental perspective

All from the Left Wing of the blogosphere; I have to add in the Air America Radio site too, as all of the hosts have knowledge of what's going on. Marc Maron talks about it, Mike Malloy talks about it, Thom Hartmann talks about, RFK Jr., etc.

And here is my list from the Right Wing:

It's a pity that this thread is now in a state of advanced decline (like the oil fields in Texas), because a very significant item directly pertinent to the topic of the thread just appeared today on the CounterPunch website.  This is one of the leading outlets on the web for the perspective of the traditional American New Left.  Alex Cockburn, one of the editors and a leftie with a public prominence just short of that of Noam Chomsky, wrote the following:

"Since I don't believe in "peak oil" (the notion that world production is peaking and will soon slide, plunging the world into economic chaos) and regard oil "shortages" as contrivances by the oil companies and allied brokers and middlemen to run up the price, I fill my aging fleet of 50s and 60s era Chryslers with a light heart, although for longer trips these days I fill an 82 Mercedes 240D with diesel. True, diesel these days costs more than high-octane gasoline but the Mercedes gets 35 miles to the gallon, whereas the 59 Imperial ragtop and the 62 Belevedere wagon get around 18 mpg, which is still way ahead of the SUVs."

The full link is
Can anybody write to Cockburn and tell him he needs to read PARTY'S OVER, for crying out loud?

Chomsky, by the way, recognized the validity of the Peak Oil idea in a blog entry some months back on  But I do not find that it constitutes a major component of the analytical framework that he applies to his political writings.

Cockburn believes in all sorts of nutty things.  Many people on the left ignore him or often verbally attack him, see Eric Alterman's blog for instance.

It seems that a few others on the conspiratorial side of the left have started to believe in abiotic oil. See this one: