The Swift-Boating of Peak Oil

Update [2005-11-15 14:29:31 by Stuart Staniford]: Rigzone has deleted Dr Corsi's article. A copy of a very similar piece can be found here for historical interest.

Browsing late at night, I came across the following interesting specimen at Rigzone, of all places. Dr Jerome Corsi writes:

A key argument of "Peak-Oil" and "Fossil-Fuel" theorists is no new giant oilfield discoveries have been made in recent years. Oil "experts" such as Matt Simmons and Ken Deffeyes are locked into the belief that oil is a fossil fuel, and pretty soon we are bound to have found and drilled all the oil that ever was. What about Brazil?

The experience of Brazil's offshore drilling is proving that giant new oil fields are out there, waiting to be discovered, just off shore along the continental shelf. Petrobras, Brazil's largest oil company is moving Brazil from being nearly 100 percent dependent on foreign oil imports only some 50 years ago, toward becoming a net oil exporter in the next few years. How? Brazil has realized spectacular results by developing the technology to drill ultra-deep offshore wells in Brazil's Barracuda and Caratingua oil fields, in the Campos Basin some 50 miles into the Atlantic Ocean east of Rio de Janeiro.

Dr Corsi is a fan of the abiotic theory of oil:

While the geology suggests the Campos Basin oil-rich deposits formed when the sea level was lower than today, the deposits suggest that the area was most probably still underwater when the sand and mud deposits flowed into the area.

With the geological description of the rock, "Fossil-Fuel" theorists are going to have a hard time positing that ancient dinosaurs and decaying prehistoric flora were the cause of the oil. The geological description sounds like the area was already well underwater when mud and sand run-off from the shore deposited sediment. The abiotic theory of oil seems more consistent with the geology, arguing that this type of deposit was sufficiently porous for upward-seeping hydrocarbons naturally formed in the Earth's mantle to pool in reservoirs.

Of course he's wildly misrepresenting the fossil-fuel theory. Oil comes from marine or lake algae, (or river algae in the case of deepwater oil) not dinosaurs, and there need not be any close relationship between the age of the source rock and the age of the reservoir rock.

Dr Corsi concludes his thesis with this barb:

Looking at the experience of Petrobras in Brazil, we are led to wonder why the United States is leading in ultra-deep oil operations. Few countries in the world have the extensive offshore territory enjoyed by the United States. Why aren't we resolved to become oil independent by exploring offshore oil with the aggressive resolve demonstrated by Petrobras?

Our problem seems to be that the current coalition of radical environmentalists, "Peak-Oil" and "Fossil-Fuel" pessimists, and the political Left are unwilling to step down their rhetoric long enough to look rationally at some real world empirical results.

If you were wondering which esteemed engineering school Dr Corsi graduated from:
Jerome R. Corsi received a Ph.D. from Harvard University in political science in 1972 and has written many books and articles, including co-authoring with John O'Neill the No. 1 New York Times best-seller, "Unfit for Command - Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry." Dr. Corsi is an expert on political violence and terrorism and founder of the Iran Freedom Foundation.
While the technical achievements of Petrobras are indeed considerable, it doesn't take long to refute the main point: proven reserves in Barracuda are 867 mb, while those in Caratinga are 362 mb. Given that annual global consumption is 30gb, total reserves in these fields represent 11 and 4 days of global consumption, respectively, suggesting we might not want to get too excited about the giant-ness of these fields. Compared to giants of the past, we could consider:
  • Ghawar (60-131gb, depending on who you believe), 70-150 times larger than Barracuda
  • Burgan (66-72gb), 81 times larger than Barracuda
  • Samotlor (20gb), 23 times larger than Barracuda
  • Kirkuk, Iraq (16gb), 18 times larger than Barracuda
  • Prudhoe Bay (13gb), 15 times larger than Barracuda
  • East Texas (6gb), 7 times larger.
  • etc, etc
Barracuda, while certainly useful, is absolutely nowhere in a league-table of the world's largest fields. It wouldn't make the top 10 in the US, in Russia, or in Saudia Arabia. And Caratinga is of course less than half the size of Barracuda. It is striking that Dr Corsi is so quick to accuse others of ignoring empiricism and rationality, when his own connection with empirical reality is so tenuous.

For those wondering, here's the problem of declining field discoveries:

Source: Jean Lahererre.

Several interesting questions arise. Firstly, as a political science major, Dr Corsi can perhaps be forgiven for his inability to judge relative sizes very well, and for his allegiance to the abiotic theory which has roughly zero support amongst working exploration geologists (who need to be good at identifying source rocks, etc, in order to find oil). But what on earth are the editors of Rigzone thinking?

Secondly, given Dr Corsi's recent history of involvement with well-funded extreme right-wing causes, are we seeing the start of a comparable campaign against peak oil? I wonder is he acting alone here? Besides the Swift-boat attacks on Senator Kerry, the Asia Times reports on his work attempting to undermine the Iranian government (not that I'm any fan of that regime), for which he was thanked by both President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

Media Matters for America documents some of Dr Corsi's past public opinions:

On Islam and Arabs

CORSI: Let's see exactly why it isn't the case that Islam is a worthless, dangerous Satanic religion? Where's the proof to the contrary? (04/24/2004)

CORSI: Islam is like a virus -- it affects the mind -- maybe even better as an analogy -- it is a cancer that destroys the body it infects... No doctor would hesitate to eliminate cancer cells from the body. (11/26/02)

On Senator John Kerry:

CORSI: After he married TerRAHsa, didn't John Kerry begin practicing Judiasm? He also has paternal gradparents that were Jewish. What religion is John Kerry? (03/04/2004)

CORSI: Kerry has a long history of Communist supporters. (03/12/2004)

CORSI: Kerry offers a clear choice. Anti-American hatred. (02/08/2004)

CORSI: John F*ing Commie Kerry and Commie Ted [Kennedy] discuss their plan to hand America over to our nation's enemies. (02/04/2004)

On Senator Hillary Clinton

CORSI: HELL-ary loves the Arabs so much (kiss, kiss Mrs. Arab*RAT) -- wonder how she would look in a Burkha? (05/21/2002)

CORSI: Mullah Ali'Gore-ah is very proud of his new Bin Laden beard and he hopes others in the Democratic Party will follow his lead. Hell-ary is disappointed she cannot grow a beard, but her press secretary reminds us she can still enroll in flight school. (01/07/02)

CORSI: Did the Journalist see Chubbie Chelsea among the wives. Little Katie Communist [Katie Couric] on the NBC Today show interviewed Hillary this morning and mom is worried sick about Chelsea. She was last seen in Kandahar at a Starbucks. But now, as Little Katie Communist sighed, "Who Knows?" Even British disinformation planted reports such as this grocery crap will be useful. Anyone with information about Chubbie Chelsea's whereabouts should post it now. Mom wants to know her daughter is out of harms way. Mom also wants to be at the center of the story. (11/29/2001)

(This is just a small selection - there's a lot more of the same flavor, and they extend over several years). Media Matters also has an interesting audio clip of Dr Corsi apologizing for these comments, and claiming they were all jokes, which was covered in the Washington Post, the Associated Press, and elsewhere.

Part of Dr Corsi's agenda seems to be to suggest that Peak Oil is a left wing movement (a point he expanded on last night). This simply is not the case. While there certainly are left wing peak oilers such as Richard Heinberg, believers in peak oil include the conservative republican Roscoe Bartlett, good capitalist economists such as James Hamilton, republican investment banker Matt Simmons, and that's not to even start on the neofascists. Peak Oil totally crosses the political spectrum, and I don't think Dr Corsi is going to make that particular framing of the debate stick, though I think we can expect him and whoever his allies turn out to be to make a vigorous effort.

If indeed the Swiftboating of Peak Oil is beginning, it is striking that the arguments are so very weak, and the champion so lacking in credibility. Is this really the best they can do? If so, it suggests things might be about to get very ugly, as mud is thrown in all directions in a desperate attempt to disguise the paucity of their position.

Dr Corsi's comments will have no effect on whether or when Peak Oil happens, and it should not take many years to find out.  The only thing that will happen if people listen to him is delaying attempts to mitigate the effects on our society.  The closer you get to the peak before acting, the less it matters anyway.  With the present administration in office, there will be no action of consequence, so that's at least 3yrs until we can begin.  I'm betting that by that time, the answer will already be fairly obvious.

So it would be the right thing to keep trying to educate people on the issue, but if we really were fighting a concerted attempt by "the powers that be", including the main stream media, then what would be the right strategy?  

Personally, I am pessimistic that our society will do much of anything in anticipation of this coming crisis, so I'll look at this as just another test of my opinion.  Didn't Matt Simmons participate in Cheney's energy policy?  From this and most of the actions, clearly they know about peak oil.  If letting the public in on the idea was something they wanted, it could have happened long ago. And if that line of reasoning is logical, then clearly these types of tactics should show up as soon as the issue gains any public traction.  

So my conclusion is that is the swift boat stuff is happening, then we know at once that PO is real, that a certain group does not want it to be publicized, and we know who that group is.  

A lot of people know about PO and a lot of different opinions are out there what to do about it. There are also a lot of people who deny PO and blame others.

However, if PO is real (and I am afraid it is, but I hope it is not), then no amount of rhetoric will solve it.

There is a big difference between Swift-Boat-lookalike-talk about policts on one hand, and Swift-boat-lookalike-talk about PO. The biggest one being: The price of Gas and or NG.

Pity is though that talks like this influences people and keep them from taking action. Although even that is not as strong as I would have guessed: SUV sales are down significantly (al-be-it for multiple reasons)

I tend to be someone who refrains from bestowing titles on people unless they deserve it.  As far as I am concerned, having a PhD does not rise to the level of being referred to as Dr. so and so. For Corsi the title he has earned is Crackpot.  I suggest that we use this title in front of his name when referring to him in the future.  Hopefully it will stick.
PhD is the acronym for Piled higher and Deeper...
So perhaps Corsi thinks if someone in denial about PO wants to buy a book to reinforce their opinions, why shouldn't he be there to sell it to them?
Otherwise, just another extremist hatchet man for hire I think.
Please don't refer to this fuckhead as a Dr.
Best comment yet!  Thanks!
Matt Simmons agrees with Dr. Corsi 100% that we should be out there drilling the continental shelf. The important thing (from their perspective) is to neutralize the left-wing greens and NIMBYs. It's about swiftboating people like Heinberg and Darley.

The poll numbers suggest they will succeed. The recent Pew Poll showed that 57% of the public feels that energy is more important than the environment.

I seriously doubt that Matt Simmons agrees with Crackpot Corsi on anything.  However, if you read Stuart's article on his interview with MS you will find that regardless of whether or not we should be drilling all over the oceans, we don't have enough rigs to make a dent in the uncoming train wreck that is Peak Oil.
I seriously doubt that Matt Simmons agrees with Crackpot Corsi on anything.

Corsi: Why aren't we resolved to become oil independent by exploring offshore oil with the aggressive resolve demonstrated by Petrobras? Our problem seems to be that the current coalition of radical environmentalists...

Simmons: While it is politically popular to attack the need to open up a few thousand acres of ANWR, this important area could create several hundred thousand barrels a day of extra oil and natural gas, and possibly even far more. So it is too important to abandon. It is time for ANWR's opponents to stop broadcasting photographs of pristine alpine mountain meadows of areas within the 19 million acre reserve which happen to be hundreds of miles away from where any oil and gas development would ever take place.

While there are significant differences between Corsi and Simmons, they are mostly cosmetic. They have the same underlying political agenda: scapegoating the greens and NIMBYs as the cause of energy shortages in the U.S., and lifting restrictions on drilling within the U.S.

Why don't you folks sponsor a debate between Simmons and Heinberg on the topic "Should we drill ANWR, Lease Area 181, and the continental shelf ASAP?" That would be very educational. Corsi will be sitting in Simmons' corner. How about you guys?

I'm here to tell you: Matt Simmons doesn't "get" peak oil. He's pro-car, and has stated numerous times that SUVs aren't a problem. He's pro-growth. As an investment banker, he fully supports our current growth-based economic system. He doesn't give a crap about global warming, as demonstrated by his calls to drill ANWR ASAP.

The recent Denver conference was very telling. They give an extractionist like Simmons a trophy, and insult Darley on the podium. The suits are co-opting peak oil, and purging the environmental/conservation/powerdown crazies who (they believe) are the real cause of the problem.

At some point, you Oil Drum folks are going to have to get off the fence, and choose which side you are on: the suits, or the greens. I think you're firmly in the suit camp at the moment.

    Right. You're in. Listen. The only people we hate more than the Romans are the fucking Judean People's Front.
    And the Judean Popular People's Front.
    Yeah. Oh, yeah. Splitters. Splitters...
    And the People's Front of Judea.
    Yeah. Splitters. Splitters...
    The People's Front of Judea. Splitters.
    We're the People's Front of Judea!
    Oh. I thought we were the Popular Front.
    People's Front! C-huh.
    Whatever happened to the Popular Front, Reg?
    He's over there.
Very amusing, Donal. Maybe next time you can respond like an adult who actually cares about real-world political issues, like drilling environmentally-protected areas.
If things get bad enough, man will strip mine every scrap of land with any sort of fossil fuel under it.  If we get the message out in a coherent way, soon enough, we may avoid that sort of desperation.  We can't get the message out by excluding someone that recognizes the problem, but sees a different solution.  
Where do you stand on drilling ANWR ASAP? In favor or against?

Sentimentally, I like the pristine pictures.

Environmentally, would it really be drilling?  Wouldn't the extraction method be pit or strip mining?  Drilling doesn't sound so bad, but mining, then years of cooking the kerogen, then refining is a huge environmental concern.  Is the energy worth that sort of damage?

Practically, I wonder if the EROEI is even cost effective.

Rep. Bartlett wants to save ANWR for a rainy day, but I do wonder who will be left on that rainy day.

He's pro-growth. As an investment banker, he fully supports our current growth-based economic system.
You need to read Revisiting the Limits To Growth, where Simmons gives an account of his discovery of that book, and an articulate defense of the basic correctness of the 1972 book, and the dangers of exponential growth in a finite system. He gaves a whole range of scenarios of how bad things can get how quickly. He mentions CO2 as an issue, and says that the "pollution created by this added energy could be overwhelming or even life-threatening" by 2030.

I don't think he knows quite what the hell to do, and I join him in that camp, but he definitely understands the problem.

but he definitely understands the problem.

That's good to know. But then why drill ANWR ASAP? Isn't that exactly the opposite of what you would do if you understood the problem? Why increase pollution and burn through oil ASAP? That is the problem, not the solution to the problem.

It doesn't make any sense.

Weeeelll. I think part of the issue is this: there's a number of potentially pressing pieces of the problem:
  1. Oil supply might decline faster than the economy can tolerate due to high decline rates and we might end up facing depression style economic conditions in the not too distant future.
  2. Large fractions of the oil supply might go offline due to geopolitical problems
  3. We might fail to ever develop substitutes for oil that will allow us to have anything like our current civilization, particularly since we'll leave our grandkids with a world with fewer other undegraded resources left.
  4. The climate might go to hell (eg undergo an abrupt flip to some completely different state, as it has in the past).
  5. Some developing countries might start to fail really badly causing overwhelming human suffering and refugee problems
I think reasonable people can differ about which of these are the greatest risk. I suspect Matt Simmons is mainly worried about 1) and 2), which tend to make drilling ANWR look like a good idea. I suspect you are worried about 4), which argues for leaving everything possible in the ground. I think Roscoe Bartlett is driven a lot by 3), which tends to also argue for leaving ANWR to our grandkids (especially since he has so many of them!). Personally, I can't decide which to worry about the most, hence the fence-sitting behavior that is galling you :-)
No. 5, of course, is already happening, with or without oil depletion.  We won't exploit ANWR for them.
Yes, and the "out of sight, out of mind" principle strongly applies here.  The suffering that is already being occasioned in the "Third World" by high energy prices (in places like Zimbabwe and Zambia, to mention only the two most extreme current examples) is being widely ignored in the "First World" press and in "First World" consciousness more generally.  Look for this myopia to persist and worsen along with the underlying problem in coming years.  It's much easier for the affluent to enjoy their affluence if they avert their gaze than if they look these disturbing realities square in the face.
I can not restrain from objecting such kind of arguments.

With the same success you can claim that G.W.Bush agrees 100% with Adolf Hitler on the point that a country must have strong military. So... what is the conclusion? Are they from the same party or what?

Where do you stand on drilling ANWR ASAP?
I am pro and I think any person that has some better grip with reality would be pro. I am also pro the so-much-hatred nuclear power, as the only scalable replacement of fossil energy known by now.

I am sure that we will be forced to take these two paths anyway and better soon then later. BUT I am perfectly aware that both of them represent some kind of compromises. We are buying time not to face the fact that we are slowly cutting the brach we sit on, and this is the much more important issue in the long run. Indeed there are some extremists that would rather see our whole system collapsing (and the sooner, the better) but I do not tend to join... After Rome the dark ages continued more than 10 centuries; without easily reachable fossil fuels how long will the next dark ages last? Will there be a way out of it? I can not be sure...

I agree with you. Nuclear is currently the only hope we have. Consider this, The United States consumes the equilivant of 15 trillion watt-hours of energy in the form of oil for transportation EVERY DAY. Palo Verde Nuclear (The largest nuclear plant in America currently) is able to produce at a capacity of roughly 2 billion watts. We need to build more power plants... alot more. Even thermo-solar is only 20% efficient, and the biggest thermo-solar plant in America produces at a rate of 80 million watts. Remember, I said 15 trillion.

Sentimentally, I like the pristine pictures.

Environmentally, would it really be drilling?  Wouldn't the extraction method be pit or strip mining?  Drilling doesn't sound so bad, but mining, then years of cooking the kerogen, then refining is a huge environmental concern.  Is the energy worth that sort of damage?

Practically, I wonder if the EROEI is even cost effective.

Rep. Bartlett wants to save ANWR for a rainy day, but I do wonder who will be left on that rainy day.

... you can claim that G.W.Bush agrees 100% with Adolf Hitler on the point that a country must have strong military.

Godwin's Law - even though you're right, you lose, LevinK

I personally think that you could have made the same point with Attila the Hun or Jabba the Hut, or, for that matter, Judy Miller

I like this law, thanks :)
But if you take a deeper look you will see that I did not make a comparison. Just the opposite - I was arguing against frivolous comparisons and associations put outside of their context.
Ah Ha!  The Bentsen Defense:

Not this time.  I know Mike Godwin.  Mike Godwin is a friend of mine.  You're no Mike Godwin.

Honestly, I get your point, and your further point - it's just that this thread is now over 100 comments (on an article pulled off the source site, no less), much of it OT rambling, and surely it proves Godwin's Law as well as Corsi's argument proves abiotic.  (Godwin's Law includes factor n, and I think we're at n+ on this topic.)

we don't have enough rigs to make a dent in the uncoming train wreck that is Peak Oil.

A classic statement of the extractionist/suit approach to peak oil. We need rigs to put a dent in peak oil.

Peak oil (and global warming) require a demand response, not a supply response, and the sooner we realize that, the better off we'll be.

We have more than enough pens in Washington and the statehouses to do the following:

Employer trip reduction
Area-wide ridesharing
Public transit improvements
HOV lanes
Park and ride lots
Bike and walk facilities
Parking pricing at work
Parking pricing: non-work
Congestion pricing
Compressed work weak
Land use planning
Smog/VMT(Vehicle Miles Traveled) tax
Public appeals to reduce consumption without price effects
Public appeals to reduce consumption with price effects
Ban on motor sports events
Ban on driving by car to large scale events
Speed restrictions
Ban on driving every second Sunday
Ban on driving every second Weekend
General ban on Sunday driving
Restriction on use by administrative degree (public authorities set days on which drivers are banned)
Restriction on use by registration number (on each weekday two final registration numbers banned)
Implementation of fuel supply ordinance (rationing)
Saving  Oil In Hurry, P. 27 (IEA)

More than enough pens to pass such laws, but not any will to do it.  I happen to agree with most all of these ideas, but don't believe for an instant that many will happen.  When prices get too high, it will not spur logical responses or reasonable changes in lifestyle, it will cause widespread anger.  This in turn will cause irrational actions by those with the pens.  And I think several hundred billion dollars spent blasting people into the sands of Iraq prove my point pretty well.

Yes, conservation is where the effort should be spent, not futile efforts to extend an ultimately doomed supply (whether it be 2005 or 2012) - especially by damaging the environment to do it.  You claim to be an optimist - if you can maintain that outlook in the face of all that has happened in the last 5 yrs (I would go back farther than that actually), then indeed you are.  I'm not.  I'd jump for joy to see some serious national programs to promote conservation and environmental stewardship, but it ain't gonna happen.  And that is why I am interested in supply - not because I think we should even try to increase it - but because I'm trying to figure out when the delta between supply and demand will be great enough to cause major problems.  And I do not believe significant reductions in demand will happen anywhere near as easily as you do.

BTW, you should not assume that everyone at TOD is a Cheney wannabe or budding neofascist.  It's untrue and insulting.  If you'd can the attitude, I might actually find your posts to be worthwhile, and you might find you have common ground with more people here than you think (wouldn't that be the optimistic perspective?).  

Man, lay off JD.  Personally, I think his comments in this thread have made more sense and been less inflammatory than practically anywhere else on this site.
I'd jump for joy to see some serious national programs to promote conservation and environmental stewardship, but it ain't gonna happen.

The House killed the republican attempt to drill ANWR last week. How did that happen, if 'it ain't gonna happen?'

The idea that "saving the environment is impossible" doesn't sound like a very good starting point for action on the environment. It's similar to silent collusion -- watching a crime, but not calling for help. There's not that much difference between "we should drill protected areas" and "we will drill protected areas".

Drilling in ANWR: are we all Opposed to it/ or For it?

One can step back and view the situation from many different angles:

  1. As a society (or species) should we continue to invest in an energy delivery/ consumption infra-structure that brings us to a dead end?
  2. Given that no Plan B was started 30 years ago (in the 1970's) when Jimmy Carter warned us, should we not try to stretch whatever we have left as we now finally start to understand Peak Oil and we now start doing something about it?
  3. Half the Petri dish is now gone with regard to forests, pristine land, etc. Should we finish it off? Pave over Paradise?

There are pros and cons on both sides of the fence. It is not one of those questions with clear answers. We should respect alternate points of view on this issue. Myself, I'm opposed to ANWR based on items 1) and 3) but I can understand where Matt Simmons might be coming from based on item number 2). We need the oil to build the more sustainable infra-structure. But will "we" use it for that?
"The House killed the republican attempt to drill ANWR last week. How did that happen, if 'it ain't gonna happen?'"

It's hardly over yet.  It will now go to committee; where such unpopular things can get put back in without so much public scrutiny.  And even if it doesn't happen this time, it will only take another dollar or two per gallon to soften people up enough.  We can call it the "Healthy Alaska" initiative.

There's not that much difference between "we should drill protected areas" and "we will drill protected areas".

Bull.  Your assumption is that I would give up fighting against it just because I think it is probably hopeless.  Look around you - environmentalists and conservationists have been crushed on almost every issue for years.  Even the small efforts Clinton took have been largely rolled back.  And as people's lives get more difficult, do you think they'll be more interested in the environment?  Probably what would be most helpful environmentally would be for change to come slowly, and for people not to get spooked, but since we are not doing anything in that regard I am not hopeful.  That does not mean for a moment that I will give up.

And the lousy attitude is still insulting and counterproductive.  You apparently believe you're the only one who cares about conservation, and that knows how best to go about it.  However, pissing everyone off will do as much or more to damage your cause than the "similar to silent collusion" you accuse me of.
Peak Oil makes for strange bed fellows.
But so what?
You don't pick your mates on the Life Boat.
Be glad you're still in the boat.
Tomorrow, after we survive, then we can go back to squabbling over whether the egg is best broken near the big end or the little end.

(As did the Liliputians in Gulliver's Travels)

Let's look at this list, JD.

  1. Employer trip reduction - doable as it will not truly hurt the economy much
  2. Area-wide ridesharing - non-governmental, doable, can be organized without "pens" to make it happen
  3. Public transit improvements - requires capital. Who's paying for this again?
  4. HOV lanes - requires capital. Who's paying for this again?
  5. Park and ride lots - requires capital. Who's paying for this again?
  6. Bike and walk facilities - requires capital. Who's paying for this again?
  7. Parking pricing at work - doable, but revenue is highly likely to go into general funds to be spent on buying votes simply based on past congressional performance. Also taxes or fees like this drain money from an already weak economy, placing it closer to serious recession.
  8. Parking pricing: non-work - same as above
  9. Congestion pricing - same as above
  10. Compressed work weak[sic] - hurts the economy by removing service revenue from those businesses that support workers in other businesses.
  11. Telecommuting - hurts the economy for the same reason, cannot be done for many jobs at all
  12. Land use planning - political death for any politician that attacks suburbia so he can never fully implement such an idea (he'll be gone first)
  13. Smog/VMT(Vehicle Miles Traveled) tax - hurts the economy, and funds go into general revenue to be spent on more useless pork
  14. Public appeals to reduce consumption without price effects - history shows that these actually work to limited degrees
  15. Public appeals to reduce consumption with price effects - same as above but hurts economy
  16. Ban on motor sports events - doable but could create a huge backlash from ignorant voters
  17. Ban on driving by car to large scale events - same as above
  18. Speed restrictions - doable but political backlash again
  19. Ban on driving every second Sunday - doable but politically unpopular
  20. Ban on driving every second Weekend - same as above
  21. General ban on Sunday driving - same as above
  22. Restriction on use by administrative degree (public authorities set days on which drivers are banned) - hurts economy
  23. Restriction on use by registration number (on each weekday two final registration numbers banned) - hurts economy
  24. Implementation of fuel supply ordinance (rationing) - doable but politically impossible

Now, when I say politically risky or impossible, I mean in the current climate. No politician is going to seriously propose your list right now or in the near future. It would be political suicide, and that politician would be out of office unable to do anything about the looming crisis. In fact, it's not until the voters have seen "pro-growth" elected representatives repeatedly fail that they will consider another option. And in some cases they never will consider another option. Because of these social factors, even politicians sympathetic to a position tend to drag their feet on almost any issue in the world that might have even a tiny negative economic effect.

So yeah, JD, all those things could be done but do you really expect them to be done without the nation first experiencing a crisis of major magnitude?

This is the frustrating thing about peak oil and even about global warming - we can solve these problems right now. It does require changes in lifestyles. It does require changes in the economy (like beginning to retire the consumer economy). It's all doable. Yet year after year we drag our feet, greenhouse gases continue to accumulate, and global warming's effects grow larger and more obvious.

The problem is not technically solving the question, JD. The problem is socially solving the question. While you can lead the public to water, you can't make them drink. The larger problem is education. Solve that and we're home free. But if you don't, we'll keep sending troops to die in oil rich locations in a vain effort to prop up the current way of life until it just cannot be propped up anymore. As a culture, industrial civilization is behaving like Jared Diamond's Easter Islanders - determined to cut down that last tree and the future be damned. Let's just hope we are not left with the same choices as the Easter Islanders, namely eating one another until no one is left.

The question is not "Can we solve the problem?" Rather, the real question is "Will we solve the problem?" And I remain pessimistic about the real question.

4. HOV lanes - requires capital. Who's paying for this again?

this doesn't require much in the way of money if you turn existing lanes into HOV lanes.  what this will cost is political capital.  it seems like the political will to get the mentioned list accomplished along with other needed changes is what's lacking.  are you telling me that there is not one person in america with the guts and the knowledge and the character to lead this change?  or maybe we WILL have to wait until the pain sets into the public in a more really way before true leadership stands up.  i think the best we can do is have some answers ready for that day and push for intelligent, responsive leadership- not reactionary dictators.

Be honest with yourself and tell me how many politicians you know, local, state, or federal, would jump on JD's list and run with it without fear of political repercussions?

And that's my point - it's all technically solvable just as we could have been on Mars 20 years ago was a technically solvable problem. The problem almost always boils down to lack of political will to do a thing (regardless of what that thing is).

Look at the simple problems even, such as solving the health care crisis in the US and our inability to address even that. Again, it's not a question of can we but will we? When I see us foundering of the small stuff, I just cannot bring myself to have faith that we'll somehow miraculously manage the big stuff.

I tend to be of the opinion that we won't really get to grips with the issue until we are in deep crisis. Then opportunities to make radical change will arise, and we will either save something worthwhile from the situation, or screw it up beyond all recovery, depending on the quality of the leadership we elect.

Don't blame the politicians - many of the things on the list would be political suicide.  Anyone who tried to implement any of these would be voted out of office so fast it would make your head spin.

There is a sort of chicken and egg problem here.  A politician cannot get too far ahead of the people, but can work behind the scenes to prepare the people so that they are ready for something.  The lazy and less couragous politicians simply wait for the winds of change to start to blow before doing anything, but even that is an oversimplification.  There is plenty of blame to go around without trying to lay blame entirely on the backs of politicians.

By the time we get to the point where we are willing to implement these plans the necessary construction will be carried out by the new millennium equivalent of the WPA since there will be millions of people out of work.  As a video editor of mostly TV commercials, I'll most likely be one of them.

I've been a ditch digger before, I can do it again.

When I read the crap that he writes, it reminds me of the old Soviet style science, where there a politically correct conclusion is the starting point, and everything else is stretched to try and make it fit the conclusion. I don't know how many people will actually pay attention to this loon - certainly some will, but to be honest I see very little press coverage of abiotic oil.
In reality it makes very little difference either way...

So few people even know where oil comes from to make any real difference to western ways of life. I have asked people about Peak Oil and tried to inform them, in almost all cases the average man on the street just doesn't understand either the enormity of the problem OR what part they play in it...! The ONLY thing that will turn their heads is real pain in the form of severe economic problems or worse, I can't see meaningfull change until well after Peak Oil has passed at which time it will be too late to mitigate the fallout to any large extent. That is no excuse not to try but I for one intend making whatever plans I can to reduce the impact on myself and my family.

Politicians cannot help here, they are servants to the public, until the public have realised and acknowledged the problem attempting to make the hard choices required would simply lead to the parties concerned losing control.

I think it does matter. There will come a time when the general public has an "Oh, sh*t" moment, and the time will come to start to act. These idiots serve to muddy the waters, and may cause there to be a collective 'deer in the headlights' moment as people freeze - not sure whom to believe.
I tend to think it matters too. The equivalent PR effort on climate change has succeeded in creating a lot more doubt in the mind of the public than there is in the scientific community.
I have to wonder if you are correct, that the public will ever have that epiphany. Perhaps we will enter a long declining economic depression, punctuated by wars, famines, and epidemics, without the body politic ever making the connection between the end of cheap oil and current events. Will those that run our growth economy ever admit that they have been wrong? Or will they continue to argue that a return to growth is right around the corner? Only everyone who can remember growth economics eventually dies and those who come after us  think of non-growth as the norm?
I tend to agree with you also. As example of lack of epiphany, how much of the U.S. public realizes that our own average annual oil production, notwithstanding the brief 70s Alaska bump, has been dwindling  for 35 years now...despite this situation being historical fact? All we hear about from polititians and popular columnnists is our dependence on foreign oil and that we should reduce that dependence, but little or nothing about our own shrinking production levels.

(btw someone tell me how that is even possible to reduce our foreign oil dependence, absent a great depression? pols like Hillary use this dependence issue as a generic talking point, as if simply passing some piece of legislation could make this actually happen and thus make all well on the energy front).

The public will figure it out all right.  $8 a gallon gas will make it perfectly clear.
Not necessarily. There will be plenty of scapegoats for the high prices - Big Oil profiteering, OPEC, etc. (that is what we see now).

This guy Raymond Learsy poo-poo's peak oil; he blames the evil OPEC cartel for creating false scarcity:

His ideas may become very convenient for politicians; it's always easier for pols to play the blame (someone else) game, and implement 'solutions' like windfall profit taxes, make threats to OPEC, etc. as opposed to facing up to actual unavoidable reality.

I could make a bet that we will never see $8 a gallon, unless we  do not experience a dollar collapse prior to that. $8 (200$/barrel) is simply too unbearable for almost any other nation on earth. I expect that the market will fall apart long before we get there. On the other hand if dollar collapses (something which is pretty likely to my mind) expensive gasoline will look like a minor inconvenience in the whole picture.
Let's see. In the EU (or at least in the northern parts) we have gasoline prices in the range of 1.15 to 1.40 euros per litre. 1.40 euros is about $1.68. $1.68 per litre is about $6.38 per US gallon. Ok, not quite there but not too far. I don't think $8 per gallon (EUR 1.75 per litre) would hurt us that much.

If gasoline prices reach $8 per gallon in the US, however, it would mean prices in the general range of EUR 2.5 per litre here. THAT would certainly cause demand destruction even here.

Yes, the high taxes in EU make the price rise much more bearable than here. In USA a lot of the demand is locked in rather energy wasteful activities and people will feel much more pain.
I was actually thinking about these 4-5 billion people or so, that live with some 5$ a day or less. Obviously if the world-wide price of gasoline (without taxes) reaches 8$ per gallon we will have to somehow persuade them to live without oil... which will not be that easy I guess. I'd expect some kind of revolution to happen long before that.
That's why even the extreme gloom&doomers are more useful than the apathic average.
At least in my geographic area (Northern California)
BP is out there on the airwaves advertising like crazy
that they are the "Beyond Petroleum" company.

I think blogs like TOD do have an effect.

Companies and politicians do not want to face Blog-Barassment (being embarassed by having been scooped by the blog community the way Dan Rather of CBS went down with that obviously forged letter re Bush & National Guard).

To avoid the appearance of having been caught with their pants down, companies like BP and Chevron are out there, sending mixed messages on how they are the good guys, so people won't blame them when the SHTF (sh*t hits the fan)

Like it or not, this abiotic theory is not going to go away. In fact, it is increasingly being used as 'proof' that the people who believe in Peak Oil are a bunch of Chicken Littles. We can expect to see more of the same as the debate heats up.

I myself have become very interested in the question of how and where petroleum formed and have an open enough mind to allow for the possibility that oil may have been formed in a manner different from that described in geology textbooks.  However, and this is the thing that is so hard to explain to people with zero technical background, whether oil was formed from living matter or abiotically has little if any bearing on the issue of declining production and the difficulty in extracting a viscous liquid from a  marginally porous rock formation several miles deep.

A main argument of the abiotic proponents is that established petroleum geologists have been so indoctrinated by the biotic theory that they restrict their explorations to sedimentary formations consistent with that theory and refrain from exploring those formations consistent with the abiotic theory. In short, they are saying that we simply aren't looking in the right places.

While this can easily be refuted by a knowlegable petroleum geologist, the discussion gets very technical and that's where you lose the attention of the general public.

I fear these arguments are going to become less technical and more ideological and political.  The public will be pursuaded by the party that has the best rhetorical skills and the best PR instincts. Unfortunately, petroleum geologists aren't famous for either.

Yes, I suppose it is important to understand how the oil formed, in order to get really good at finding it, but in the end it is mostly about how much oil come out of the well.  As an EE, I don't have a dog in the fight about how it formed.  All I know is that whatever the process, there's plenty of evidence that it is a very slow one.  I don't think Hubbert was factoring the cause of oil formation, just looking at the results.  And I think that reality will soon intrude in a big ugly way.  We have raised too few analytical thinkers, so we will be sitting ducks for this kind of disinformation.  It's bad enough that people don't have the skills to evaluate what they hear for themselves, most don't even feel that they should have to.

The reason I'm now focusing mostly on how I will prepare for my family and myself is that I have no faith that the society at large will prepare at all - in fact it seems there are interests that are actively discouraging any attempt to inform the public.  There are many reasons this could be happening, but I really don't care what they are, the end result will be the same.  I'm just trying to do my best to figure out what the conditions are going to be.  

It's not that I don't care what happens to everyone else - I'm not that callous, or foolish enough to think I can survive without a social network.  But realistically, getting the truth out will be an uphill battle even without active disinformation.

"We have raised too few analytical thinkers, so we will be sitting ducks for this kind of disinformation.  It's bad enough that people don't have the skills to evaluate what they hear for themselves, most don't even feel that they should have to."

This is the heart of the problem.  Try and converse with people on complicated subjects and you've lost them.  Building an argument of data sets supporting hypotheses and then extrapolating to a new conclusion is very difficult with most people.  My experience is that very few people can keep track of the facts from beginning to end, or want to make the effort.  

Logical arguments don't mean anything anymore.  Catch phrases and emotional messages are driving decisions.  Many of these decisions are truely irrational, if looked at closely.  Having a national education program about peak oil in the face of short emotional messages stating the opposite is doomed to fail.  We are a nation ripe for propaganda.

I tend to agree with your hypothesis. With our schools now teaching ID as science, the bar of public education is set pretty low. I imagine that within a generation ideas like a testable hypothesis, and quantitative data will be non-existant. They will be relics from a time of enlightment. Interestingly, some people still understand such concepts, though like you, they are primarily some sort of engineer. This is why I myself have chosen that field. In engineering things are concrete; either a beam will or will not support a load. It does not matter if one wishes the beam would support the load, or truely believes it. Unfortunately, most people currently live in a reality of their own perception.
I think most people will get it eventually. The easy point is that the source does not matter whether it takes 100m, 10m, 1m, 100k, or even 1k years to restock the reservoirs. In all of the above, we don't have time to wait. So, we need to either use less energy, get it somewhere else, or some combination of the two. In both cases the market's hidden hand will helpfully guide the way. If time allows the hand will be relatively gentle, if not we will be brutally grabbed by the neck. Some, the most vulnerable, might not make it.

Of course, the second easy point is that, 100 years ago, wannabe geologists had no idea where oil came from, or what kind of rocks to look for. They looked everywhere. It was only after a few successes, and far more failures, that they began to see a pattern, and this pattern led to what became petroleum geology. Indeed, it was just this kind of trial and error that early hunters utilized as they searched for all underground resources.

Hats off to those spending their time trying to warn others of the interesting times to come. Many don't have the time and/or interest to listen, but many others will. I suspect the two things most common to both teachers and listeners are age and education - my guess is that most are retired and have degrees.

I am wondering if anyone has used an argument based on helium to refute abiotic oil. Helium is more or less produced through the crust (and mantle, and core?) of the Earth by the radioactive decay of uranium and thorium. Helium seeps better than anything else in the universe, so reserves of He should be correlated with accumulations of abiotic oil, which is also hypothesized to seep. To my knowledge, He is only seen with natural gas.

Extending the idea, recharge rates of depleted helium reserves should set some sort of limit on recharge rates of oil reserves through the abiotic mechanism.

I am thinking that this is a good strategy for dealing with this nonsense. The question of the actual origins of oil in some sense is more academic than anything else. The question that *really* matters is how much we can extract from the ground. Production curves for older oilfields indicate that depletion is a reality, and there aren't any counterexamples (oilfields which don't deplete).
I'm waiting for the "intelligent design" folks to link up with the "abiotic oil" guys.  A marriage made in heaven.
Ab-so-lutely! which is why I've taken to calling it "oil creationism."
Abiotic oil is a red herring.  Nobody, and I mean nobody in the industry believes in this crap.  Nobody is investing money searching for abiotic oil.  If abiotic oil is so abundant, let these proponents go find it.  They should make a fortune.

Everytime we start to address the issues these crackpots raise we give them some credibility.  Best to ignore them in my opinion.  As opposed to the "intelligent design" question, Peak Oil is going to prove itself (or not) in a relatively short period of time, and the crackpots will be standing around without clothes in a blizzard.  

Well, but if industry publications like Rigzone give him a platform.... Next thing you know journalists will be citing him as having published all kinds of articles in industry publications. Do you have any insight into why Rigzone would do this? They have to know better...
Not true. I read about a man in Alberta who will be investing in finding abiotic oil (oil from coal deposits) in the Globe and Mail. Time will tell if he has success.
How is oil from coal deposits abiotic?
Besides the swift-boating of PO theorists, the other part of the propaganda campaign is the steady parade of feel-good stories about new energy sources, such as this one:;_ylt=Al0Rbl38937X2CSncDTt_WIhANEA;_ylu =X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl

Regardless of whether this particular one would work, to those paying only casual attention, the message from the constant parade of stories is clear - "don't worry, technology will save us".  As this fits with what most people already believe, it will be hard to counter.

I actually think that's a good and interesting article. It makes sense that oilfield technology like fraccing would help geothermal out (though again with high decline rates as all the heat gets sucked out of the rock faster!). The article is not claiming it's a panacea, but will help out in the spots that have the right geological conditions.
Yeah, it was probably a lousy example, as it is a project that looks to have merit.  The danger though is that for those who do not grasp the magnitue of the energy we get from oil (and NG), it may seem like these things will be the silver bullet, and that there will be no need to reduce the amount of energy we use.  

Hopefully, someday we will have a much more diverse energy system, even if it is smaller.  What makes sense in one region may not work in another.

One advantage of converting everything to a common energy format (i.e. electricity) is that much of the infrastructure can be the same, even if the source is not.  

I thought something was missing from these comments...

The Crackpot

See World Net Daily, news source of the lunatic fringe, for a list of his articles.
At least he's good looking.
more like it:

Fat man wants to blow up Iran real good.


John Kerry bad. He stole my shoe.

In the end, it doesn't matter if oil is abiotic or biogenic in origin. What we look for is accumulations. These are found in structural trapping mechanisms, and discovered using gravimetric surveys, seismic surveys, and other technologies.

Sedimentary rock is far away the best rock type for migrating oil, accumulating it and trapping it. There are some exceptions, but 99.99% of the time, even these igneous traps have their fractures filled with sand (sedimentary) or other rock.

Most igneous rock is incapable of developing sufficient sealing mechanisms to trap large accumulations. Outside of cracks, there is very little permeability to igneous rocks. Volcanic breccia and pumice have porosity, but little permeability unless incorporated into some type of metamorphic. Sedimentary rock, with it's planar nature, is much more effective at generating traps and allowing accumulation of oil or gas.

We WISH that oil and gas were abiotic - that would mean we have only scratched the surface. But the weight of science, in particular respects Shell's success at generating oil in-situ from source rocks, is behind a biogenic origin for both oil and gas.  The inability of igneous rock to retain hydrocarbons or allow migration without loss points to sedimentary basins as the best prospecting zones, regardless of origin.

Well done. So, junior editors at Rigzone (up to now) can't distinguish between faith-based oil creation and the rudiments of petroleum geology?
My wife is a technical editor.  Graduate degree in english.  But she also has a graduate degree in a biological science, which is rare even in technical writing.  Most editors only have the english side.  They are hired for their grammatical skills.  No technical perspective on scientific information generally.
My wife is a technical editor.  ...  Most .. are hired for their grammatical skills.  No technical perspective on scientific information generally.

For TOD reader out there who have technical degrees (physics, chem, engineering, etc.):

You fail to understand.
When you went into tech school, "they" screwed with your brain. You walked out a different person.

You walked out knowing about "conservation of mass and energy".
You walked out knowing about "thermodynamics".

Average man or woman on the street doesn't know, doesn't care.
As far as they are concerned, it would be perfectly fine if the Earth were Flat instead of round.
Why do you think they buy into Intelligent Design?

Talking tech to them does not work.
They respond to FUD (fear, uncertainty & doubt)

"Experts fear energy prices will never return to pre-9/11 norms."

When you went into tech school, "they" screwed with your brain.

Well Duh!  Between 3 semesters of calculus, 2 of physics, chemestry THEN differential equations, thermodynamics and fluid dymanics BEFORE you even start the core classes; who would not be screwed up in the head?

Honestly, I find it troubling how few engineers do not think outside their 'comfort zone' of the day-to-day grind.  We are trained in analysis and problem solving but it is a rare engineer who uses these skills.

Some of us aren't comfortable if we're ignoring the analysis and problem solving.  An un-handled contingency is like an itch to me.
Well Duh!  Between 3 semesters of calculus, 2 of physics, ...

The point was not that we should empathize with each other, that we should sing "The Blues" back to our own choir.

Like you, I have way too many credit hours in all these areas.
I speak to disgruntled engineers every day.

OK, the Brave New World did not pan out. One of the reasons is because the vast majority of the "They" who share this Earth with us have no clue about the usefulness of one Java scripting approach over another. It's all gibberish to "Them". That's why they don't buy it. Ain't no use to Them.

Same thing with "Peak Oil".
Much of what we discuss at TOD is all gibberish to the "Them" that cast most of the votes.

"They" are not buying it.
The reason is because their brains were not scrambled the same way ours were.

If you hope to connect with "Them", it's got to be at their level.

Why do you think politicians operate at this level? They understand.

You got to make the right kind of attention-getting noises:
Bird Flu. You gonna die!!!
Terrorists. (You gonna die!!!)
"Weapons of MASS DESTRUCTION" (You gonna die!!!)
"Mushroom Cloud Monday Morning" (You gonna die!!!)
Ultimate sacrifice. (You gonna die!!!)
9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11

It is these kinds of embedded noise codes that move the herd.

Discussing the tail slope rate of the logistics curve (Hubbert's curve) puts "Them" to sleep. You might as well sing Lullaby Baby to them.

It wouldn't hurt for people to go to amazon and write a review of the book.
Thanks Ericy - I did!
Or just vote on the helpfulness of the reviews - the forces of darkness are winning at the moment.

I know someone who discovered empirically that if you get something like 7 people to click on the "report this" button that says a review is inappropriate, that it would automatically disappear.

I haven't tested this theory myself - while I disagree with the other reviews there for this book, there aren't any that in a strict sense are inappropriate.


Sometimes, there is justice in life. Well done Mike.

I can see why the abiotic theory of oil formation is so seductive to the technically uninformed: it gives them a false sense of comfort that there is an endless supply of oil 'down there', and all we have to do is to start looking for it in the right places and then all our oil problems will be over. Any even more seductive tenant of the abiotic theory, and one on even more shaky ground, is that existing oil formations are constantly being replenished from this deep cornucopia, so we will never run out.

Even if the abiotic theory turns out to be correct, subsurface oil, regardless of whether it is biotic or abiotic, is still subject to some serious very mass transfer constraints in getting from 'way down there' to 'way up here' in anything shorter than a geologic time scale. Those gazillions of barrels of abiotic oil ain't going to do us any good if it finally  migrates up to the surface 10 million years from now.

Based on my experience in the environmental field dealing with shallow subsurface ground water contamination, I am amazed at how many people, some with advance business degrees, are completely ignorant of even the most basic principles of geology and ground water. Some think that ground water comes from underground pools or flowing streams rather than from porous formations. So, it is well not to underestimate the uphill battle one will encounter in trying to answer the popular abiotic argument with real facts.

If people really want to believe something, facts will seldom get in the way.

Stuart, great job debunking oil Creationism.

One of my pet peeves.

My question is :Who will profit from the abiotic theory? Who will be the big losers? For a right wing propagandist to put out this drivel as fact and misrepresent the size of newly developed oil fields means somebody very rich wants to slow the conversion to a renewable fueled economy.
Re: "Who will profit from the abiotic theory?"

This is an interesting question. Certainly, no one will profit from abiotic oil since there isn't any. So what is the motivation? What I see is that conventional oil sources (offshore Vietnam and Brazil) are analyzed as abiotic in origin by Smith and Corsi. Aside from the fact that these claims are just pure fantasy, there is either some financial angle (which I can't yet see) or else they're just crazy and find peak oil theories very threatening. Corsi's background supports the latter view. I don't see how conversion to alternative fuel sources could be going much slower than it is at this point. So, I don't believe that theory. If they are trying to promote further conventional oil production, that's just "carrying coals to Newcastle" as the expression goes.
The better question is: "Who stands to lose from us preparing for Peak Oil"?
My initial guess is that someone might be launching a campaign for offshore drilling on the US coasts - that's very much the flavor the Corsi piece had. They want to direct people in that direction (we can solve our foreign dependence problems by more drilling in the non-Gulf offshore, rather than conserving). Since there's probably some there, but not absolutely huge amounts, that probably means high prices and continued flows for the domestic industry in the short term.

I can think of a few beneficiaries off the top of my head.

  1. Anyone with oil reserves; delaying conversion will mean being able to sell at least part of those reserves at much higher prices.

  2. Anyone with investments in oil refining or services.

  3. Anyone with technology or expertise that does not transfer outside the oil indusry.

Right there you've got all of OPEC, the oil companies, the oil-services companies including Halliburton... which also looks to be the list of people who own the current administration.

It explains too much to be completely wrong.

I spoke to my office today.  Asked to present a report on Bartlett's Energy Conference, I actually cherry-picked the Bartlett, Simmons and Dea slideshows from ASPO to create a very basic explanation of steady growth outstripping finite resources, and the demand destruction that results.

I then described alternatives to oil and NG, particularly tar sands, oil shale and hydrogen, and their comparative EROEI and effectiveness for transportation.  Having kept up with TOD helped me toss around names and facts in a most impressive fashion. I closed by urging us all to pay more attention to our LEED certification and to be prepared for the changing needs of our clients.

There were a few startled faces among the younger folk, but the partners seemed well aware of the issues.  One mentioned a client that had nixed the initial cost of geothermal, but calculated a five-year payback after Katrina and Rita.  Other clients now find LPG too expensive for heating.  In any case, no one jumped on a table to shout about abiotic oil, or denounce me as an environmental wacko, so that is a good sign.

WOW. You are situated among a group of people that are actually willing to listen to a lecture about Peak Oil?

That by itself is amazing.

Even incredibly smart and technical people I know believe in abiotic oil and in the theory of large numbers. The large numbers theory says: there is sooo much oil out there that no way will "we" run out in our lifetimes. Most of the responses I get are noise ones: cluck cluck, you're a chicken little.

In so far as saying Chicken Little was always wrong, we can finally debunk that one:
The proof is here that at least for one week, CL was right:

He's my new hero!

Love it.

Now how do we get a Twilight in the Desert
Oil derrick over his head?

So that the movie-going masses "under-stand-imate" the Peak Oil situation.

Mmmm, with a bigger background and more time the results should be way better, but in the meantime...

Hat tip to EarthFamilyAlpha

Someone is smoking out of their own butt:
Look Here

To place such unquestioning faith in something as poorly understood as abiotic oil beggars reason.  At best, abiotic oil is a hypothesis yet to be proven or disproven; at worst, it is a dangerous self-delusion of the highest order.  The following are just a few of the points that we do not know:  

  1.  The supposed geochemical processes that generate abiotic oil--have they ever been observed?  Does anyone even know what they are?

  2.  The rate of generation.  We consume close to 31GB/year; if consumption grows at an annual average of 2%/year for the next century, that consumption will top 200GB/year at that time.  Can we really count on the earth ramping up production of abiotic oil just because we consume more and more of it?  Do we even know the current rate of generation, assuming that such generation is really taking place?  Unless the earth automatically generates more oil to keep pace with our consumption, we can still find ourselves with a major oil-supply problem even if oil turns out to be abiotic.

  3.  The rhythm of generation.  How do we know that oil generation is constant?  What if it occurs in spurts?  Perhaps every barrel in the planet's crust is indeed of abiogenic origin, and it was all generated in one spurt that ended 1,000 years ago--with the next spurt of generation not to begin for 50, 100, or 500 years, if ever.  Even if all the oil in our "proven" reserves is abiotic, how do we know that the earth will always continue to produce it, just because modern techno-in dustrial-capitalist civilization consumes it in Brobdingnagian quantities?  Where do we get off thinking that nature must generate ever-increasing quantities of resources just because we need them? Such thinking is not the hallmark of a rational, intelligent species but of an immature and selfish one.  

The abiotic oil hypothesis is popular because it says exactly what so many people want to hear.  When presented a choice between a simple, comforting illusion and a complex, disquieting reality, guess which alternative most people will choose.  Abiotic oil is a popular idea not because it is grounded in solid science; it is popular because of its comfort value.  This is what makes it so dangerous.    


Yes, these rate arguments are why "strong" abiotic oil cannot possibly be true. If the steady-state rate of abiotic oil formation was our current consumption of 30gb, in short order, on geological timescales, the crust would be saturated and the oil would have to be flowing out to the surface through seeps at 30gb/yr. In round numbers, that's 5 km^3/yr. Given that the earth has a radius of 6370km, and thus a surface area of 130 million km^2, after only 26 million years, the earth would be covered in a layer of oil (or it's decomposition products) 1km thick. Given that the earth is 4+billion years old, essentially the planet would be covered with many km of oil.
Corsi has an answer to that too, you know, Stuart. He's a young earth creationist so of course the oil products have not had time to cover the earth.
Just to play devil's advocate on the abiotic side of the argument for a bit, what if all the abiotic oil had already been produced may millions of years ago 'way down there' but is no longer being produced due to most of the readily available carbon being used up to make that oil?  (However, if this were the case, it would automatically negate the notion that the supply of abiotic oil is constantly being generated. But the abiotic people might argue that the reserves of abiotic oil are so vast as to be essentially inexhaustable.)

And what if that abiotic oil produced long ago only migrates upward into existing shallow reserves when the oil in those reserves is extracted, thus making new room for the abiotic stuff coming up from below?  Would that not explain why we are not swimming in millions of years' accumulation of abiotic oil?

Mind you, I'm not claiming any of these hypotheses to be the case, but I only throw it out as something an abiotic true believer might argue.

So they would be left to explain how the abiotic oil knows to only migrate into structural traps, and not just up through porous rock generally in response to it's buoyancy over water.
Hey, true believers like 'Dr.'Corsi don't need to explain or prove nothing.....they just KNOW!  Some of these people appear to have made abiotic oil almost a religion, and like most true believers they are virtually impervious to logical argument based on physical data (or the lack of such).

Do you think most of them even know what you're talking about when you speak of 'structural traps' and 'movement due to oil's bouyancy over water'?  The idea is that there is boundless amounts of the stuff way down there, so it's only a matter of getting to. End of problem!

By the way, this is not the first time that I've encountered an intersection of strongly fundamental Christrian neo-conservatives and the abiotic theory.  Coincidence?  I think not.  This may be just another manifestation of their faith that 'God will provide for the righteous.'  But who can say for sure.

In any event, the point I want to make is that bringing the abiotic vs biotic question into a context where the relative merits can be debated in a non-political and non-ideological manner is going to be a long uphill battle.

Captain Corsi has been "swiftbooted!"  How fitting.
"Petrobras, Brazil's largest oil company is moving Brazil from being nearly 100 percent dependent on foreign oil imports only some 50 years ago, toward becoming a net oil exporter in the next few years. How? Brazil has realized spectacular results by developing the technology to drill ultra-deep offshore wells in Brazil's Barracuda and Caratingua oil fields, in the Campos Basin some 50 miles into the Atlantic Ocean east of Rio de Janeiro."

This quote is pretty funny really.
The real reason they are becoming energy independent?
They use plants.

From LA Times

"Today about 40% of all the fuel that Brazilians pump into their vehicles is ethanol, known here as alcohol, compared with about 3% in the United States. No other nation is using ethanol on such a vast scale. The change wasn't easy or cheap. But 30 years later, Brazil is reaping the return on its investment in energy security while the U.S. writes checks for $50-a-barrel foreign oil."


But 30 years later, Brazil is reaping the return on its investment in energy security

The 'return' on investment should include a component for the deforestation effect, which appears to be significant in Brazil (58% of original forests are gone).  

Perhaps the Easter Island Environment Office could provide the parameters for the complete model.

I have been fishing around and finding various things, and testing what different people claim against one another. For the sake that I do not want to be too suggestive, I will simply list factors I currently deem important

PNAC, writings of Strauss, and Bush-Cheney energy plan.
Of important note is said energy plan. Created between people in power, oil execs, and people who knew of peak oil, this document is classified despite the freedom of information act. The administration has fought very hard to prevent the contents of this document from being known.
Also, of critical importance is the Dollar-Euro battle and the role oil plays in this. (I cannot emphasize this enough)
If the U.S. wants to maintain 'Dollar hegemony' then the world must use oil, and it must be traded in terms of Dollars.
Ok, now I'm on a tangent. Basically the way I see it there are two paths. One natural market forces to do what they may, peak oil, economic decline whatever. The world will stop using the Dollar and the U.S. economy will collapse due to tremendous debt.
Two: (This is the path Bush and the neocons are taking) Ensure the world continues to use oil (and subsequently the Dollar). Fight like hell against anyone who wants to move away from the Dollar (Iraq, Iran). Keep the demand for oil strong for as long as possible (If countries can use alternative energy sources they have less need for oil, and subsequently the Dollar). The real fight is to keep the world addicted to oil; peak oil is just a nasty side effect, one which their current policy does not have the foresight to solve.

"And God said let there be light. And, Jesus Christ, you could see for miles."

I would say light299 has summed it all up quite succinctly. Except perhaps for the final thought. Wouldn't it be a logical conclusion that PO isn't a problem to them, but rather a fortuitous gift from Ma Nature. Provided they can keep any and all non-dollar oil bourses from opening, the Almighty Dollar gets more powerful every year. That means them who control the  Almighty Dollar also get more powerful every year. What's not to like?

The problems their policies don't solve are yours and mine, and we already know how much they care about us and our problems.