Tertzakian: A Review by Dave

Peter Tertzakian has a book entitled A Thousand Barrels A Second: The Coming Oil Break Point and the Challenges Facing an Energy Dependent World.  Tertzakian attempts to stake out a position in the middle ground between "peak oil being an imminent threat and we're all going to die" and "peak oil is not going to be a problem, leave me alone."

Dave has written a really solid review of the book for Matt Savinar's blog that you should go read.  The review contains all the relevant links for the book.  Anyone else read this yet?  

I agree with Dave's review. Peter Tertakian loses touch with reality only when gets to the future of energy. Here I'm referring to future of Natural Gas. Peter never really goes into the decline of natural gas in America or for that matter North America. How will America get its fix of LNG when NIMBYism blocks attempts to create re-gasification facilities? Here in the northwest, we have no LNG ports. Piping it from Mexican border-California is unrealistic and the pipeline from Alaska will go to Chicago and the midwest, not here. I would have also liked him to go into more detail on why bio-fuel will not ramp up without massive inputs of natural gas. How will we allocate resources to building nuke power plants when every driver with a car will be competing for the gas and oil products left on the market? There wasn't much talk about the politics of oil and natural gas either.
I think his argument is that people will change course on all those "choices" regarding imporatation, as prices for domestic natural gas rise.

There is a global supply chain for LNG, the advantage of building LNG terminals is that we can take advantage of that, in the short term, while it lasts.

And just how long would a LGN terminal take to build?? How many would the US need to avoid or replace the NG we will be losing in the future?? COST per terminal??

I'm sure if the NG becomes a crisis, the NIMBY crowd will be quieted!

The cost, compared to letting the California power plants (in my area 33% natural gas) go idle?
I have read it and The Coming Economic Collapse by Stephen Leeb, both within the last 2 weeks. Tertzakian's book is excellent. Dave's review is also excellent and provides a concise outline. If you find anything of interest at all in Dave's review you should buy the book. As someone new to the Peak Oil discussion this book (along with this website) gave me a wonderful lesson in the subject. Although as Dave points out Tertzakian is not in the "Imminent Threat" camp it is not because of an unrealistic assessment of the current situation. He is optimistic that IF a large number of things happen we can muddle through but its hard to imagine anyone not seeing those IFs as huge. I wonder if Tertkazian himself may be closer to Dave's view and is trying to find acceptance of the book by a public that would write it off as another alarmist warning. If so, his book might be read by lots of people who might otherwise be inclined to continue to ignore this issue.

There is nothing wrong with Leeb's book but it is not nearly as strong as Tertkazian's. However everyone should read chapter 5 about "groupthink" in markets and society in general. That chapter is worth the price of the book. Groupthink is what causes so many to avoid the Peak Oil issue. It is also what causes so many that recognize the PO issue to demand that the government do something for us.

Groupthink does happen in markets and in society, but it arguably happens to an even greater degree in groups like this one. People come here and to other Peak Oil sites every day and fill their minds with information that confirms their existing beliefs. Listening only to like-minded people they become even more convinced that they are right. It is a classic example of groupthink.

(I should note, this doesn't necessarily mean they're wrong, but rather that this is not the best methodology to figure out if they're right. And even when they are right, it will often lead to over-confidence, a universal human failing which groupthink makes even worse.)

Everyone here should read JD's Peak Oil Debunked web site. It provides a good counterweight to the constant stream of reinforcing messages you get on the Peak Oil sites. Another couple of good sites: Lou Grinzo's The Cost of Energy; Lou is an economist who accepts the basic Peak Oil model but provides good, rational analysis of the situation; and of course James Hamilton's Econbrowser, which is often referenced around here.

The best defense against groupthink is exposing yourself regularly to people with different opinions. The truth is, that's why I'm here... ;-)

Very good point about the "Groupthink" thing.
It's a pity that economists do not expose themselves to thought process outside the framework of "the markets will provide". The real question is, what will Mother Nature provide?
Econbrowser is okay. i read it regularly.

JD is a total moron who argues sloppily and distorts data to fit his view. Not worth anyone's time really.

Lou is...well, lou is an economist...and a technophile...

What other sources do you have for us Halfin? I'd love to expose my self to other views, but most of them are idiots.

More from my worthless pile:

I regularly read the Wall Street Journal op-ed pages and the Forbes columnists.  With the exception of some of the financial columnists in Forbes, both publications editorially reject peak oil.  Individuals I pay attention to are Peter Huber, Daniel Yergin, and Michael Lynch.    Freddy Hutter has been a peak oil critic and occasionally pops in at The Oil Drum.  A conservative economist I like to read is Irwin M. Stelzer, whose writings are at http://www.theweeklystandard.com and http://www.hudson.org/learn/index.cfm?fuseaction=staff_bio&eid=StelIrwi.

What I find most interesting is that a growing number of investment managers are starting to talk about peak oil in their communications with their clients.  For example, Bill Miller of Legg Mason brought it up in his 2005 year-end letter to shareholders.  For the most part I think the top buy-side analysts and investment managers are relatively unbiased in their assessment of peak oil.

Although, as with pretty much any prominent commentator, it helps to be aware of where these people are coming from.  Stelzer, for instance, is considered to be Rupert Murdoch's right hand man, at least in Britain.
I recently read Stephen Leeb's book "The Coming Economic Collapse" regarding how to invest for survival (and profit) in the forthcoming peak oil environment and thought his investment advise was excellent.  I agree that the chapter on "group think" is higly enlightening but I was searching for an investment perspective and I thought he provided a very sound analysis.  It's the first peak oil book that I'm aware of that focused on the investment side of the peak oil problem and I believe it is well worth the cover price.
I've read it, and left a few comments in the stream of text that is TOD ... agreeing with the author.

The heart of the book is a realistic discussion of the history that put us in this place (with vast systems delivering and consuming oil resources), the limited options available (a "race to efficiency" being the only broad and powerful option available), and the forces that will make us change our lives.

We peak oilers want to get the message out there that the status quo is not an option.  This book does that.

I think it is kind of a cheap shot to come back at his end notes, in which he looks back upon a successful "break point" and paint him as a Pollyanna.  I think what he's really doing there is spinning the arc of his story for the populace.

I mean, if you are a real doomer you may revel in the possible destruction, but most folks kind of connect problems with actions and solutions.

Or ... what's the friggin' point of an action if it doesn't lead to solution?  If you think the die-off is guaranteed, you might as well drive that Hummer ... for now.

Re: "I think it is kind of a cheap shot to come back at his end notes, in which he looks back upon a successful "break point" and paint him as a Pollyanna."

I'm a bit confused by this remark. Would that be me that took the "cheap shot"? I didn't label Tertzakian a Pollyanna, I was trying to say that he simply didn't seem to follow his own realistic observations about Peak Oil to their logical conclusions. Hence he didn't appear (at least to me) to fully acknowledge the seriousness of our situation. Does the past predict the future? He seems to think it does but I respectfully disagree. I believe the crisis we're looking at is historically unique.

And my view is certainly different than being a real doomer who would revel in future destruction. I'll admit that a major restructuring of American culture would be a good thing IMHO. I dislike intensely the sprawl/car culture we live in, the war in Iraq, the inequity in the distribution of wealth, the increasing poverty, the unaffordable health car, outsourcing jobs, the destruction of the middle class and many other things. But that's a far cry from reveling in the collapse of modern societies which, believe me, I am not looking forward to at all. I wish we were preparing for Peak Oil now and had been since Carter warned us all in the 1970's. But we're not and the longer we do nothing, the worse it will be.

There's a vibe here I don't get, and yeah, your comments are part of it.  To say "he didn't appear (at least to me) to fully acknowledge the seriousness of our situation" seems off the wall to me.

It is certainly not a message of the book that this will be a slam dunk, or that "the longer we do nothing, the [better] it will be."

Dave, who is the "we" that are not preparing for PO? I'm assuming you are. I am. Lots of others here are. Richard Rainwater is. If your point is that the US government is not preparing, I'm not sure I agree with you. I suspect that is why we are in Iraq and don't have a reasonable exit plan - we don't want to leave. If your point is that the American people is not preparing, I agree. That may be why the government is not doing more, all they can do is use excuses (WMD, nuclear capability in Iran) to get troops in the Middle East to protect supplies. I don't like a government that lies and takes away my civil liberties even if they are doing it as their way of preparing for PO. I also don't need the government mandating things that we can do on our own if we recognize the problem.
Governments around the world are preparing, with varying degrees of success.  Our own state and federal governments have their (half-broken) programs.

As an example, the Governors' Ethanol Coalition is 15 years old.  CAFE is about 30 years old.  And so on.

Posted this link previously, but it is appropriate enough here too - http://www.wpherald.com/storyview.php?StoryID=20060322-020039-9503r

Not only does it do a surprisingly good job covering a number of points which are often not found in a single article, it also provide a stark contrast to today's America. And notice the interplay between jobs, industries, and politics, so unlike what the Bush League seem capable of.

An America-centric bias remains one of my real problems when dealing with peak oil, even here, where a number of posters aren't American.

Essentially, the rest of the world has been quietly working at cutting itself away from America, in no small part because there seems no alternative, since the world's number 1 greatest debtor/superpower seems to feel no need for partners, junior or otherwise. Essentially, looked at from the outside, American society seems utterly incapable of changing itself. Even worse, America seems determined to block others that think and act differently.

But the world is a bigger place, and simply because America is showing signs of truly historic stupidity doesn't mean everyone else will follow its ever more evident downward spiral. That bit about lemmings was staged by Disney - at best, it is a very American metaphor, though sadly appropriate in the Hollywood world most Americans seem to believe in.

One of Tertzakian's key points, for which I praised him, was that the free markets will not solve the problems we face. He believes serious government intervention is necessary to create policies that change the energy mix, promote conservation & efficiency and hence alter lifestyles. If you recall the energy bill from last summer, and if that is somebody's idea of preparing for Peak Oil, then I'm afraid it is sadly mistaken.

I believe the current yahoos running our government do know about the oil crisis and I also believe that invading Iraq was their idea of fixing it. Whoops!

Dave, This (PO) is a case where I think there are things the government could do that would be good. My problem is that if you give the govt the power to do these things where do you draw the line. I'm willing to let the free market (such as it is and would argue for freer markets) deal with the problem in order to not give up my freedom to govt power. Note I did not say solve the problem. Dealing with the problem by the govt or the market alone will not be without a great deal of pain. As a society we have little appreciation for pain being a normal part of human existence. We will eventually learn differently.
I think we will be losing freedoms.  Heck, we already are.  This is typical as societies approach collapse.  The government starts clamping down.  

And it might even be for the best in the long run.  Not because it spares us pain, but because it might save the environment...which the free market cannot do.  Free market capitalism is a great way to exploit natural resources as quickly as possible, but it does a lousy job of avoiding the Tragedy of the Commons.  

you bet your cloths we are.
i am posting the whole article because it's a short three paragraphs but i will post a source link.
Bush signed the bill with fanfare at a White House ceremony March 9. But after the reporters and guests had left, the White House quietly issued a "signing statement," an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law.

In the statement, Bush said he did not consider himself bound to tell Congress how the Patriot Act powers were being used and that, despite the law's requirements, he could withhold the information if he decided that disclosure would "impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties."
Thursday, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., said Bush's statement represented "nothing short of a radical effort to manipulate the constitutional separation of powers and evade accountability and responsibility for following the law."

here is the link.

basicly all that he needs to do to make this place a dictatorship is desolve congrass and the senate.

You were aware, of course, that the Senate is part of Congress. Right? We should probably get that part right before we start talking about dictatorships.
Do not assume i am a idiot.
No where in my post do i say the senate is a separate branch of government. I only state that they both need to be dissolved.
The judiciary branch is more easily controlled, and because of that does not need to be removed.
My point was since the Senate is part of the Congress, you only need to dissolve Congress(contrary to what you say in your second post).

Are you really serious? Do you really believe that a dictatorship is something that we as Americans should be worrying about right now? That 200 years of stability and precedent might not have just a wee bit of influence in stopping something like that from happening.

Neither age or type of government can make a country immune to becoming a dictatorship.
Granted. But now let's compare the US with, oh let's say every other country on the face of the planet. How do we rank as far as immunity? I'm just trying to get a better picture of how concerned I should actually be about this. Because when I got up this morning I had a bunch of concerns, a bunch of problems, and a bunch of other stuff. But nowhere on that list was George Bush possibly deciding to dissolve congress, declare martial law, and throw dissenters in Halliburton concentration camps(as was mentioned last week, I know not by you). But since this topic keeps coming up, I thought I would give it more thought. So help me out. Do you really think this  should be an important new addition to the list of crap that I should be uptight about?
currently yes it is a possibility. it's a short hop from quietly ignoring the normal procedure(doing what i linked to above, signing laws unconstitutionally (look here:http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/20060320_bush_bill_congress ) to out right seizing control.
as for the population, i don't really think the majority will care that much anyway. as long as they can continue to do more or less what they are doing now they won't stop him. even less will care if he times it right to some world event.
I tend to see the Bush administration in the same light as the Blair government here in the UK.  They're not fascists, but they're putting in some damn fine groundwork for a fascist state.  Bush seems to be worse than Blair, but the US is starting from a "worse" (from the POV of fascism) position than the UK which in having an imperfect separation of powers and a non-codified constitution has always been rather tolerant of executive power.  

I'm doubtful that the Bush/Blair moves towards authoritarianism are due to PO, rather I see it as the natural tendency of government to grab more power for itself whenever possible, and The War Against Terror is providing legitimation for the current moves.  Of course, if/when the effects of PO start to hit then this provides another excuse for the erosion of liberty ("what is more important, the freedom to be a traitor to our country or the freedom to have food on the table?", that kind of thing).

We'll I think I've already said this here before:  the US is already functioning under a subtle state of martial law. Not even follwing the rules of the powerful Patriot Act is just one example.  The administration didn't even bother to follow its own rules while starting a war against Iraq (i.e. it never proved that Iraq was threat to the US, which was required per the Congressional authorization given), it conducts searches of anyone it choses and doesn't bother to notify anyone about it, it hold prisoners without due process and condons torture, etc..

There is really no need to abolish Congress, the public stays under better control with it.  The last fair presidential election may have already been in our nation's past.  

See my reply to Will and Oil CEO further below. Please don't be so quick to sacrifice freedom.
I saw your reply, and don't agree.  Corporations have all the rights of individuals - but none of the responsibilities.  Indeed, the whole point of corporations is to shield individuals from responsibility.
The problem with expecting the freee market to find a solution is the dominance of corporations.

Corporations are driven by profit and growth. They scour the world for resources to deplete. You cannot name a corporation which promotes sustainable practices or has sustainable objectives.

Without conservation or sustainable objectives we are back to square one. So how is the free market going to work?

"You cannot name a corporation which promotes sustainable practices or has sustainable objectives."

I could probably name one every minute for the next 10 or twelve hours. What industry did you want to start in? Maybe we should narrow it down. How about you pick a minimum market cap?

At one a minute for the next 10-12 hours, you've got 600 plus in mind. I'd be happy with just four or five. I thought of Whole Foods as a potential exception to my opinion and I tried out a few paper companies you know... "take a tree, plant a tree" but I dunno, I've seen plenty of really damaged land from 25,000 feet. If Habitat for Humanities is a corporation, I'd agree. But then I think of ADM, Monsanto, DuPont, Dow  Chem, the Oil businesses, the Auto businesses, the construction businesses, the computer businesses, the businesses that have moved offshore... and so the very great majority of corporate existence doesn't seem sustainable.

By sustainable I mean capable of recycling their production, both product and waste, capable of no-growth scenarios, capable of improving capital assets without subsidies...  

See, I got youto name one. Or more. Look hard at things from different perspectives. I understand your point. But we must be careful. And don't try to redefine sustainable, it's already in the dictionary. Cheers, CEO.
I agree with both of you.

My cynical side is dismissive of "Green" coroporate claims.

And yet individual leaders and corporations do actually make some changes.

The book "The Corporation" (and movie of the same title) features at least one executive of a major corporation who had an "epiphany" about the environmment and went on to begin a program at his company to make very big changes to stop pollution and waste.  I've loaned the book out, and so do not have the name of CEO and Company at hand, but it is one of the largest carpet manufacturers in the world.

(The company is not "there yet" but has made great strides.)

The tough part is that there is just so far to go in making changes.

I suspect that the system will disintegrate given the ecological pressures we exert on the planet, but I do hold out some hope that we can make changes to let another generation or two live and have whack at making it possible for the next generation or two to live, and so on.

The generational relay may go for awhile yet.

It is tough to face any issues on the macro level because the complexities of issues and possibilities tend to isolate us from those we already feel suspicious of -- whether we are CEO's or "beggars."

Our current models of business may have to change very fast to adapt to the changing energy and environmental context.  I wonder if we can navigate the tremendous changes we'll need to make.

Will and Oil CEO,

Corporations are nothing more than a contractually organized legal entity to create standing as a "person" under the law. As a form of organization it is owned by shareholders who elect a board of directors to oversee their interests. The board in turn selects officers to run the business. The corporation is a powerful way to combine capital from many shareholders to undertake major captial investments. These investments may be such things as cutting down rainforests with all the environmental devastation that may entail or it may be building an agricultural infrastructure that feeds millions that would otherwise starve. Corporations are not good or evil.

Corporations may become evil when mangement begins acting in their personal self interest at the expense of the shareholders. As the number and diversity of shareholders grow this becomes more likely. It is the Board's responsibility to see that this does not happen. Some boards have done a very poor job of this but it cannot be blamed on the corporate form of organization.

Corporations may become evil when they take something that is part of the "commonwealth" as their own. By "commonwealth" I mean resources whose use or extraction impacts others besides the owners. For example clean air, water, mineral extraction that results in downstream pollution, etc. As one who believes in a very limited role for government, I do consider protection of the commonwealth an important governmental role. When a corporation "robs" from the commonwealth the government is not doing its job. But again it cannot be blamed on the corporate form of organization.

My point is that it is a mistake to talk about good and bad corporations - there are plenty of each (Patagonia and Clif Bar being a couple of good ones that Will might recognize).

I expect Oil CEO will find much to agree with here, I am particularly interested in your thoughts on the "commonwealth" concept. I expect I share some of Will's concerns for the environment but certainly not his dislike of free markets. The earth has some characteristics of a self-healing system. As the free market drives the price of scarcer oil up we will see solar, wind and other alternative energy sources become attractive to the free market. Not because they are environmentally responsible but because they make economic sense. Long live the free market so long as the commonwealth is respected and protected.


I think the free market is an interesting concept that is mostly theoretical. No one would suggest that agriculture in the U.S. represents a free market. There are billions of dollars of subsidies that skew it. No one would suggest the oil services businesses represent free marketing either. We see billions in no bid/cost plus contracts for military work now. The industries that supply the military: shipyards, aircraft manufacturers and so forth appear to be highly dependent on political lobbying activities. I would not call the playing field for the pharmacuetical and insurance industries a free market.

Consumer retailing apppear to be a free market. Walmart, the department store chains, the grocery chains prosper or fail with management talent and efficiency.  


I agree that even the US leaves a lot to be desired in achieveing truly free markets. I would like to see us move to freer markets not less free markets.
I'm part way through and it is a good read so far. His background gives him an interesting perspective, particularly on oil consumption and GDP:

From his firm's website:  
    Tertzakian, Peter

"Peter began his career as a geophysicist with the Chevron Corporation in 1982 where he spent eight years working in field operations, seismic data processing and geophysical software development. In 1990, Peter left the oil and gas business and entered the financial services industry.

Peter has an undergraduate degree in Geophysics from the University of Alberta, and a graduate degree in Econometrics from the University of Southampton, U.K. He also holds a Master of Science in Management of Technology from the Sloan School of Management at MIT."

Tertzakian has all his facts and data straight and is not delusional about the challenges we all face in the coming decade or so except in so far as the problems I point out above.

Phew!  Man I was so glad to reach the critique section, because the book sounded pretty delusional to me, since it didn't really considering exponential population growth, the fact that oil is not the whole problem, but just one part of an insurmountable prob: finite resources being sucked up by an ever expanding human footprint.  And stopping the analysis at the "breaking point" is ridiculous.  Laughable even.

Whether there will be a serious energy crunch is a different question than whether there will be a perceived emergency. Really dreadful things can happen and yet remain largely invisible to the population if the media doesn't want to report them or if the disaster isn't dramatic enough. The Fall of the Soviet Union has been an enormous biological catastrophe for the people of Russia, for example; but the millions of extra deaths resulting from the collapse of a society aren't filmable and the end of Communism was supposed to have been a good thing in every way. For these reasons, a great event has occured without being noticed by most people.I mention this example because I suspect that the oil disaster will mostly be like the Russian case, very real, very painful, and yet very slow. It doesn't match up with the master story line of inevitable progress, and it can't compete with airplanes flying into skyscrapers.
That is a very important point.  Already many of the poor around the world are suffering signifcantly, in some instances even severely, because of energy-availability limitations; yet not only is this easy to ignore if you yourself are relatively well-off and relatively unaffected (so far) by energy availability limitations, it is actually rather difficult and takes some active effort to factor this into one's thinking about the whole issue.  "Out of sight, out of mind" is all-too-easy when it comes to things like that, even for those with otherwise powerful capacities for abstract thought.
Curiously, it's the likely to be the poorest people on the planet who are least affected by any energy crisis.  If you're still using traditional methods to engage in subsistence farming then you're unlikely to see things change that much, at least directly.  Of course, this is not to say that such people are having a great time of it at the moment (to say the least), plus they'll be indirectly affected by any crisis through the actions of those who are (seizure of land/commons. deforestation, etc.)
Many of the poorest people on earth now use cheap kerosene for cooking fuel. For them, the rise in the price of oil is a far greater disaster than it is for relatively rich or well-off people (such as the very poorest of Americans), because the only current feasible alternative to kerosene in many cases is further deforestation for firewood or charcoal.

Also, many of the poorest people on earth do indeed depend on cheap food from "green revolution" crops that require big fossil fuel inputs.

The most severe costs of change almost always fall disproportionately on the poor.

True, I should have said "some of the poorest people", although of course subsistence farmers are probably rated at a  lower level than their actual lifestyle because they're outside of the monetary system.
According to the Hirsch report, underdeveloped countries actually have a higher petroleum to GNP ratio than the developed countries.   I don't understand why that is and it surprised me greatly.  

Maybe it is simply that the GNP is so low that the necessary transportation requirements make the ratio of oil to GNP higher.

In any event, it seems likely, if Hirsch is correct, that Don Sailorman is also correct in his response to your post.

Thanks for the review, Dave.  It reminds me of something a fiction author once told me.  She said she never wrote happy endings; what people mistook for happy endings were just books that ended prematurely.

Sounds like Tertzakian is a fairly typical financial peak oiler.  They seem to believe there will be ten bad years - possibly really, really bad years - but then everything will be all right.  I suspect the problem is that they don't fully grasp the thermodynamics of the situation.  Switching from oil to coal will be a very different beast than switching from coal to oil was.  Even so, he may be underestimating the difficulty.  As Stirling Newberry pointed out, that switch could be viewed as the underlying cause of both World Wars and several other conflicts as well.  It took a lot longer than ten years to settle out.

Oh, I think he gets that the overall changes will echo for decades.  On the other hand, I think he argues well that his "break point" will be faster than that.

Remember, no one (sane) thinks there will be no (zero, none) oil in 20 years.  What we all think (with varying degrees of pessimism) is that there will be a contraction of production.

Now, what do you really need to change in society to deal with that?

It depends on your projected depletions and contractions.  But you know, these threads that assume that oil will just be "gone" in short order (people starving because they can't make it to Wal-Mart) are just silly.

But you know, these threads that assume that oil will just be "gone" in short order (people starving because they can't make it to Wal-Mart) are just silly.

I don't think anyone here ever said that.  And I doubt anyone here thinks that oil will be geologically gone.  But gone from the market?  Possible.  We've seen what happens when there's a shortage.  Or even if there's a sudden rise in price.  People start hoarding.  What happens if not only invididuals are hoarding, but countries and large corporations start hoarding as well?  There could be plenty of oil, while the gas stations are dry.

As Aaron likes to say over at PeakOil.com, it's not so much oil depletion I'm concerned about; it's our fellow monkeys' reaction to it.

I notice a little bit of a slide here, from "gone" to talk about "a shortage" and "hoarding" and "the gas stations" being dry.

It's important to categorize our thoughts.  The 70's style gas lines constituted a stortage, there was hoarding, and some of the gas stations were dry ... but (by itself) it was a mere blip in American history.

I think the "no oil" imagery has been a bit ripe of late, and I think that is because people are having trouble visualizing a society that faces merely expensive oil.

I think expensive oil is much more likely than long-term shortage, long-term hoarding, and the gas stations being dry ... for a long time.

I notice a little bit of a slide here, from "gone" to talk about "a shortage" and "hoarding" and "the gas stations" being dry.

So far as I know, you're the only one talking about oil actually being gone.

The 70's style gas lines constituted a stortage, there was hoarding, and some of the gas stations were dry ... but (by itself) it was a mere blip in American history.

Yes, but there was no physical shortage (worldwide) then.  Just an embargo by countries that had plenty of oil (much of which still made it to the U.S., one way or another).  What happens when it's a real shortage, and it's not just a "blip"?

No, I don't think all the oil will ever be gone.  But not available for the use of ordinary people?  It's possible.  I could foresee a future where oil is reserved for miliary use only (or farm use, in less militant countries).  

I think expensive oil is much more likely than long-term shortage, long-term hoarding, and the gas stations being dry ... for a long time.

I could go either way on that one.  In this country, I think shortages are probably more likely.  Look at how we reacted to the Katrina shortages.  Gas stations that raised their prices were fined huge amounts for "gouging," with more anti-gouging laws passed.  Big Oil is being threatened with a windfall profits tax.  

If energy prices are allowed to rise as high as the market will bear, there won't be shortages, just expensive gas.  But how likely is that, with our political system?  Even the most libertarian of fiscal conservatives quailed in the face of $3/gallon gas, and I don't see them getting any more backbone any time soon.

Anyone in europe want to share today's gasoline prices?

I think too many of us assume that America will shatter before we get to those prices.

(FWIW I was responding to "But gone from the market?  Possible.")

Near one of Germany's major oil ports/refining centers? About 1.25 euro a liter, which which works out to more or less $5.50 a gallon.

And I drive a fairly remarkably inefficient Toyota transporter thing, which only gets around 22 mpg. I put maybe 50 euros in every week or 10 days. The kids have free tickets to use the regional transit system, and my wife and I share one, which costs about 650 euro a year. This 'year ticket' is roughly 100 euro less than the tax on the Toyota.

What has been strange is that the price trend in general has been lower, though the price of crude oil is fairly high and the euro exchange rate stable. But in America, the price seems to rise - sounds like another chance for European refiners to again take advantage of windfall profits by shipping gasoline to America.

Surprisingly, one way to tell that Germany and Europe is different from the U.S. is the fact that high prices are considered a reason to use less and improve efficiency. In other words, socialist Old Europe seems to believe much more in price as a motivator of human behavior and ingenuity than free-market America.

But then, that has been true since Reagan replaced Carter. Lucky America has been so dynamic and innovative, otherwise, it would look a lot more like Europe, with its functioning electric rail system, canal systems, and high efficiency machinery, along with farmer's markets, local farmland, and still functional city planning.

Peak oil looks a lot different from here.

About 1.25 euro a liter, which which works out to more or less $5.50 a gallon.

I thought it would be higher.  Some gas stations here were charging more than that, in the aftermath of Katrina.  

UK average for normal petrol (gas) around £0.91 / Litre  @ $1.75 / £ and 0.2642 US Galls / L  that is 6.03 US$ / Gallon.

Scottish Highlands £0.95 / £1  = 6.29 / 6.62 US$

Price has actually dropped back 5% or so in the last few months.

For years now, the right-wing spin machine has been claiming that gasoline (petrol) costs $10/gallon in Europe.  (Because of all the evil taxes over there.)  Is that true?  Is there anywhere in Europe where gas is $10/gallon?  
I don't think so, Leanan. UK has generally been a bit more expensive than other EU countries for gasoline / petrol. The last few years the UK petrol tax 'escalator' has been turned off due to the rise in oil and oil product prices (it was used to artificially increase price above inflation and, incidentally, raise a lot of govt revenue), so the discrepancy between UK and other EU petrol prices has probably narrowed. I'd be surprised if any EU country has petrol prices above $7 per US gallon at present.

Because US transport is more dependent on gasoline and generally less efficient in its use due to poor vehicle efficiency, and because the public transport system in Europe is generally significantly better than in US, my gut feeling is that a European petrol price of about double that of US gasoline would have approximately equal economic / social effect.

However, since European prices are more tax / duty than raw price dependent, European prices are somewhat cushioned against oil price rises compared with US. So, a $6 EU / $3 US price may be approximate 'effective parity' ATM; should the price of oil rise sufficiently to cause $5 US gasoline the top EU price might rise to only $7 to $7.50, should there be $10 US gasoline the EU price would probably be about $10 also. This one reason why the US would be harder hit by higher oil prices.

UK petrol prices went up about 15% last year and have dropped back about 5% from those highs. US gasoline prices went up about 40% and have dropped back about 15%.


Interesting stuff, though I don't know that it's possible to compare the effect of gas prices in Europe vs. the U.S.  We are so dependent on cars it's not even funny.  And we really cannot switch to a more Europe-like model without a lot of pain, unpleasantness, and expense.  

Nothing like getting your information from American right wing sources - sometimes, reading things like how Germany should be boycotted because of a certain lack of support for invading Iraq (Germans feel an offensive war leads to hangings of the criminals which started them - you know,  living memory is so hard to banish with a few sound bites) makes me wonder if any of them actually have any contact with the reality of what it means to call for the boycott companies like Chrysler or Westinghouse.

The fact is, Europe is quite distant from any concept any American right wing believer is likely to comprehend. To give a tiny sample - Germany has essentially universal health care, but it is all private except for one backstop health insurance company, called AOK (works out, more or less, to 'general local health insurance.') In other words, Germany's health care is about as far from 'socialized' as America's, but it is universal. And free for children. And with doctors in every town - essentially, everyone in this entire region of Germany lives within walking distance of a doctor. And the occasional doctor strike, as the doctors protest their working conditions/insurance caps. See? Not imaginable.

It is very fair to point out that today's America is hard to compare to Europe - but the America of 1980 could have become much more like today's Europe. This fact is one reason I believe America will have earned much of what is likely to happen to it over the next several years.

What a waste.

I may also point out that anyone who thinks Europe is in for a painless transition to a bright future is very uninformed. Not only do I live near one of Germany's major oil harbors/refining centers, I also live near where a significant percentage of the only successful 'American' car company (DaimlerChrysler) manufactures cars, trucks, and busses. The amount of pain this industry sector will undergo is not exactly trivial.

On the other hand, I have read that a full third of Germany's diesel is currently non-mineral oil based - quote from a Mercedes vice president. Combined with high efficiency diesel motors, and several solid advances in pollution control (particulate matter filters - a French breakthrough - and urea tanks), maybe Mercedes isn't facing such a completely bleak future. Of course, I wish GM all that it deserves for building all the Hummers and other idiocies they thought profitable. And yes, I do think GM's seemingly pre-ordained bankruptcy actually will take a surprising chunk of the entire world's financial system with it.

As I have been pointing out to boredom, the differences between the world's largest exporter and the world's largest debtor are fascinating to look at in detail. And Germany, at least, plans to not only stay industrialized, but to make money from selling its technology and products dealing with a world where oil is expensive and clearly a dead end, and  where sustainability will simply be a basic requirement to even be considered in the marketplace. Somehow, I can't see any right wing believer in the magic of the free market  understanding why the world market won't buy American, and instead of learning engineering, will spend all their time frothing at the mouth about how the world is rigged against their pure vision of America No. 1, right or wrong.

The fact that Germany, like Japan, has no real oil industry just might explain another reason why these two industrial economies seem so much better prepared for a world with less oil.

I remember that some time back (roughly 2003) there was a poll asking Americans a few questions.  One was how they felt about multilateralism, working with other nations.  Another was if they had ever traveled overseas.  The sad, obvious, correlation was that stay-at-home Americans didn't trust those foreigners.

Now a cynic might suggest that the Europeans have a headstart on multilateralism, because if you miss your highway off-ramp, you are visiting another country ;-) ... but the sad truth is that our isolation reinforces our isolation.

BTW, on Germany and peak oil, great graphic here:


And yes, I do think GM's seemingly pre-ordained bankruptcy actually will take a surprising chunk of the entire world's financial system with it.

Here's a link I posted a couple of days ago regarding GM and the derivatives market:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2006/03/18/cngm18.xml&menuId=242&sShe et=/money/2006/03/18/ixcitytop.html

From the article:

Global investors are already jittery after the crash of the Icelandic krona, which sparked flight from hot assets as far afield as Hungary, Turkey and New Zealand.

There is concern that monetary tightening in Europe, Japan, and America in unison might drain much of the excess liquidity fuelling the global asset boom.

Timothy Geithner, president of the New York Federal Reserve, warned in a recent speech that the $300,000bn derivatives market had raced ahead of the infrastructure needed to support it.

About GM: I always thought they were a bankruptcy waiting to happen, but just recently I've started thinking the opposite.  After all, the more oil prices rise, the more pressure there will be for people to replace their gas guzzler with an efficient car, so car sales should do OK (absent a depression).  Also, as oil gets more expensive, there will be a tendency away from Globalization toward locating production closer to the market, which will benefit GM and Ford.  Finally, GM is finallyfocussing on one of their two real problem, high medical costs from incumbent workers who are unaffordable - so it strikes me that with Kerkorian pushing, GM is likely to develop a solution to that over the next few years.   Of course, the other major problem is product line-up, and again I suspect Kerkorian will have a positive impact.   So now I'm starting to think GM could have a turnaround in the next few years that will surprise a lot of people.
Toyota, Honda, etc., have plants in the U.S.  And even "American" cars often are not built in the U.S. these days.
GM (and Ford) are getting smarter but Toyota is so far ahead it is unreal. I would put my money into Toyota for the very reasons that are pointed out. Toyota might very well do GM some favors just to keep the US govt from stepping in and bailing them out.
Just for the record...I don't get my news from right-wing sources.  I just deal with a lot of people who do.  

 Canada is .69 Euro a litre. Three weeks ago it was .51 Euro a litre.


"Big Oil is being threatened with a windfall profits tax. "

That's a dog and pony show if I've ever seen one.  They made sure NOT to swear the CEOs in when they "testified", which is simply an admission that it was just a mollification of the public anger, and nothing else.

Agreed.  But the price rise is only just beginning.  

And I really am taken aback at the level of anger out there over gas prices.  Left, right, and center, people are furious.  I have a feeling this is going to be a huge issue during the next election.

And quite a few of those furious people(*) don't notice that they are paying more in auto insurance each year than they pay for gas.  They are paying more for auto repairs each year than they pay for gas.  They are losing more to auto depreciation each year than they pay for gas.

We could hope for a little remedial "personal finance" in the press as costs change ... but people generally figure it out on their own, sooner or later.

* - not sure how many are furious:

Meanwhile, 57 percent in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll say $2-plus gas is hurting their family's finances, and 29 percent say it's hurting seriously. But that's down from 64 percent last May (37 percent seriously), when gas was 5 cents cheaper than it is now.


Interesting that the degree of hurt is less now, with higher prices.  It seems that people are adjusting, either financially or mentally.

I'm anticipating another hurricane-driven spike before the election.  My feeling is that the anger is already upticking again, because of the recent jump in gas prices.

And if this had been a normal winter...it would be really ugly now, I think.  

Of course, thanks to climate change, this may be the new normal.  :-/

Interesting. I wonder how often they conduct this poll. It would be nice if they did it regularly like the consumer confidence index.
Remember, $200/bbl oil is "merely" $8.50/gal gas.
But gas stations depend on volume. The markup is marginal. Once the volume drops, and it would drop substantially at $200/barrel levels, the margin relationship that got you to $8.50 changes a lot too... or a lot of stations decide to leave the business.

I think a lot of stations will leave the business.  

The $8.50 price is something to add a little market-adjustment on.  Certainly by the time we reach that consumer patterns would have changed, and a lot of current uses for gasoline would be reduced or eliminated.

My moderate position rests on all the little things that will happen, given a stepped increase in energy prices.  Will there be some "bad weeks" or "bad months" along thw way, with long lines and temparary shortages?  That's quite possible.  It's happened before.

But ... there is so much low hanging fruit for an efficiency drive.  We are a society that buys frozen, cooked, white rice for goodness sake.  Heck, how much gasoline is just used to ship premium waters around, bypassing the nice pipes down in the ground?

I suspect he knows how much trouble we're in - far more then he is describing in the book - but what would happen to his career and social standing if he spoke the truth? He's probably making preps for P.O. and if he spoke the truth, he would have a lot less social and financial capital to dedicate towards saving his own ass.


I have not read the book yet - however, it is in the queue.

After reading Dave's review (excellent), I have one question: Are most people really that polarized in their opinions about peak oil?

This website - www.oilscenarios.info (sorry I do not know how to include a link) - offers 5 scenarios to align with:

Head for the hills

Each scenario is outlined with details and links to articles.

It would be interesting to see a poll on this.

You can make a link just by pasting it in.


(Yours didn't linkify because you left off the part before www.)

Interesting site.  I guess I'm somewhere between "pessimistic" and "head for the hills."

Thanks for the link. However, I will say that the "middle" scenario plateau is accompanied by a reference to Vaclav Smil's book Energy at the Crossroads as being an adherent of this position.

He has called the Peak Oil community a Catastrophist Cult (pdf) as he did recently in the January/February 2006 issue of World Watch Magazine.

So, if that's the "centrist" position, I'd say that there is indeed considerable polarization in views of the subject.

The categories seem very short-sighted, when most of the difference, IMO, is in the very long term.  

For example, is "catabolic collapse" pessimistic or not?  In the short term, it suggests that we will adapt to poorers energy source, so that none of us alive now will suffer too much.  Pretty optimistic.

In the long run, though, it's the most pessimistic.  It suggests that eventually, with all capital and resources converted to waste, we will crash to a level of complexity below the Native Americans', and perhaps never achieve any degree of complexity again, because the environment is too trashed to support it.


I've called parts of the peak oil community a "Catastrophist Cult". It is fairly clear from this thread that a large vocal portion of this, and all peak oil websites, started out obsessed with doom, then have reworked peak oil to be as fatalistic as they already were.

Any post that contains the theme "it may not be as bad as some think" is instantly met by some one calling the writer an idiot, ignorant or a neocon. Vaclav Smil has been a very astute commenter on the energy scene for a long time and Energy at the Crossroads is a fine book, although no a peak oil tome. It is hardly apologist. I agree more closely with Stuart Staniford than with Smil on one side or Svinar on the other - but I don't dismiss any of them.

In any event, as I have said before, none of us are religious prophets. Just because Smil and I have called you a "Castastrophic Cultist" doesn't mean we can't be friends.

Unusual Request to readers on this thread - Please read this post

Well, Jack, my comment was made to point out that Smil calling us a catastrophic cult is not exactly what I would call a fair characterization of those of us concerned about Peak Oil--especially here at TOD. Now, why would I do a detailed analysis of Russian Oil Production or the potential of Unconventional Natural Gas Production to maintain North American supply--and other posts besides by me, Stuart, HO, Bubba, Yankee, PG, guest posters, good commenters, and the rest if we are merely a catastrophic cult?

Would you say that phrase is a "fair" characterization of the work we do here? I could be rude here and say that Smil can kiss my ass but I won't do that. I just think the in-depth, intelligent, insightful analysis we do at this website should not be labelled as Smil has done. Does he think we're stupid? That would be way, way off the mark. The level of education & research on this site is so high that most people are intimidated and don't even comment.

Yeah, we can still be friends but I resent the hell out of being called part of a catastrophic cult after spending hours researching the issues I report about. And I try to do that in an unbiased manner to the best of my ability. For example, there are recent reports that Russian production will peak in 2008. That was one possible scenario in my post on the subject. I actually mentioned more optimistic assessments to be fair to the expert opinions I reviewed. Westexas thinks I'm way off that happier assessments are right. We'll see.

So if Smil wants to argue the case, he can do so here on TOD with people like Stuart, me, HO and all the others as to why that somehow we have drunk the kool-aid and are waiting for the Peak Oil Rapture.

Are you getting my point? I certainly hope so. I didn't call Vaclav any names but I can disagree with him. The full title to his World Watch paper I reference above is "Peak Oil: A Catastrophist Cult and Complex Realities". Do you mean to tell me that we here at TOD have not tried to deal with complex realities? Screw it. I'm so pissed off, I give up. So I'll just leave it with Vaclav's own words.

Proponents of the imminent peak of global oil extraction--led by Colin Campbell, Jean Laherrère, L.F. Ivanhoe, Richard Duncan, and Kenneth Deffeyes--resort to deliberately alarmist arguments as they mix incontestable facts with caricatures of complex realities and as they ignore anything that does not fit their preconceived conclusions in order to issue their obituaries of modern civilization. Ivanhoe sees an early end of the oil era as "the inevitable doomsday" followed by "economic implosion" that will make "many of the world's developed societies look more like today's Russia than the U.S." Duncan's future brings massive unemployment, breadlines, homelessness, and a catastrophic end of industrial civilization.

These conclusions are based on interpretations that lack any nuanced understanding of the human quest for energy, disregard the role of prices, ignore any historical perspectives, and presuppose the end of human inventiveness and adaptability.

This is unmitigated crap. Perhaps he'd like to educate HO and me about CO2 injection for EOR or other subjects that I'm sure he thinks he knows more about than we do.
There is a saying "you can lead a horse to the water, but you can't make him drink". despite the raw hard data you have presented, if someone wants to bury their head in the sand (so to speak) and ignore or disbelieve the truth, there is nothing more you can do! Until they can definatively disprove your information, their comments means nothing. The reality is eventually some will live and some will die. You have done your part. Whether someone likes it or not is their problem, not yours.
Clearly, to label or imply that TOD is a "catastrophic cult" is bilge--unmitigated twaddle, and an unambiguous example of the straw man fallacy.

The strength of TOD and its posters is the diversity of expertise and varieties of opinion.

Snide and slanted sources, such as JD, should be taken and evaluated for what they are worth.

Let us have more light, less heat:-)

A partial explanation of Vaclav Smil's behavior is "cognitive dissonance":

Aka: once you have made up your mind you seek out data and opinion to substantiate it, and dismiss conflicting data.

At one end of the scale there are the total 'doomers' (we're going to have a huge die-off, civilisation will end soon, it's too late to do anything), at the other end are the total 'pollyannas' (us monkeys are smart we'll think of something, the market will adjust, we don't need to do anything; or: oil is virtually unlimited).

We don't know if either extreme will be proven right but the probable outcome almost certainly lies somewhere in between.

I think there is room for extreme views of either persuasion, but I have a BIG BUT: while the pollyannas keep getting their voice heard as loudly as at present the mostly uninformed masses will choose to ignore other voices and label them as 'doomsters', because that is what they would PREFER to believe.

Unfortunately anything much short of the total pollyannadom result is likely to be somewhat unpleasant for current systems and the humans that depend on them - unless we are smart enough to begin adapting ahead of the possible problem. A good deal of discussion here is about gathering data and knowledge, disseminating it, pondering the probabilities the data seems to suggest, suggesting potential actions - both societal and personal. But I  doubt Vaclav would read here, it would threaten his current (and probably lucrative) belief set.

It will take a significant shock to wake people up and force enough people to pay attention and really look into the possible dangers. Best hope that shock comes soon enough to give us enough time to seriously begin mitigation before the peak hits. Any rational risk analysis would probably indicate we are well past the time that should have started.

The level of education & research on this site is so high that most people are intimidated and don't even comment.

How true Dave. I mostly come here to get an education on PO so I can share it with others. While most people have not heard of PO or may be slightly aware of the situation, I feel more comfortable explaining it because of TOD..

Today I see we have some heavy hitters, if I may use the term, and again I will go away with a better understanding of PO..

Yeah right.  As Dave suggests, many of us are not group thinkers who mindlessly accept the latest internet drivel that predicts the end of humanity and the coming resurgence of the [insert favorite idotic internet drivel here] ...Nor are we in the other camp of mindless idiots who assume that human history is nothing but an uninterrupted reign of unending material development and progress.  That free markets magically produce the best outcome for all (that is if such a thing ever existed...)

Many of us encountered this problem, grew concerned, and since we are trained to be able to understand both the RHETORIC used by various proponents of different positions and also the EVIDENCE put forth by these same proponents, we have been examining both and are working on an undderstanding of where things seem to be going.  

As for rhetoric: Appealing to "human ingenuity" "the magic of markets" "alternative theories of the origin of oil" and any other of the many claims that run through the bull shit that passes for the optimists arguments really does no more than appeal to our collective fetishism of magical things we believe in as opposed to anything that actually transpires in the world.  

As for evidence...Over the past year, we have looked into the USGS 2000 analysis that mathematically invents nearly a trillion barrels of oil that we are supposed to be finding.  We then look at the evidence to date regarding actual finds and see that math cannot produce reality.  The oil ain't there.  So, for now, we are less than optimistic in the near term.  As for replacements for oil, well...only so much energy can be obtained from different sources.  You cannot invent the stuff (energy), nor can you reasonably continue to build a massive human population and human technological infrustructure on ever declining energy inputs see this.

In general, the optimists claim that this or that MIGHT happen, relying almost entirely on this or that pet belief, but I have yet to see one single bit of evidence that shows how we are getting out of this mess (with the current growth rate of human population and the current growth rate in human consumption).  Speculation about how this or that technology might save us is not evidence, it it rhetorical speculation.  Show me a study of how a society has made the transition to said technology and continues to grow at healthy rates, and we can all agree that the evidence is in, and we can be more optimistic about our options.

When and if new evidence comes in, we will do what everyone should do... change our position.  Infinite growth is possible,  affluence can be had by all, the market always provides (when freed of odeous government intrusion), our retirements are secure.  Party at my house...Dude!

Show me a study of how a society has made the transition to said technology and continues to grow at healthy rates, and we can all agree that the evidence is in, and we can be more optimistic about our options.

It must be asked. Have you read the book for which this thread was named?

The book does not even suggest that we would make this transition and continue to grow at healthy rates.
odograph, c'mon, I wasn't even asking you. But now I have to ask you another question altogether. Did you really read the book? Because it doesn't seem that you understood its main point. Break Point - Transition. Hello?

I'm not trying to be snide, but I read the book very carefully and quite some time ago. I was mentioning this book a month ago. Decoupling of GDP from oil use. Sound familiar. UK, Japan. Whale-oil to Kerosene to Coal-Gas to Electricity. Wood to Coal to Oil.

It is not a transition from one to another. It is transition from a mix to a mix. "Rebalancing" - ring a bell?

Email is preferred for private conversations.
I'm not sure the recession/contraction semantics match my dictionary, but pages 106,107 remind us that world GDP has not fallen in a long time:

This is a crucial point, because pressure on the world's oil supply chains will keep building so long as the global economy keeps expanding.  Any global economic growth at all necessitates more and more oil every year.  And from this relationship a very big myth needs to be set straight.  A global economic recession will not cause the world to consume less oil than it already does; it will mearly cause a slowdown in the rate at which our consumption is growing.

One of two things are required for oil consumption to drop below 1,000 barrels a second: a worldwide economic contraction where GDP actually shrinks (something that has not happened since World War II), or a break point that jolts the way energy is produced and consumed (something that has not happened since the 1970's).

As Arnold is rumored to have said, "pay me now or pay me later."

I find this interesting.

1)This is one of two passages I marked in my text as dubious. In fact I specifically cited this as not being a myth, in other words I disagree with the author, but that is an argument for another time.

  1. You completely take his point out of context anyway.

  2. This has even less to do with my original point.

Don't make me bust my text out, I might hit you with it :)

Let's just wait for tedman to respond. It may be that he hasn't read the book and it turns out he has no idea of which he speaks.

What's dubious about it?  It seems straightforward to me.  We face an oil shortfall, and there are two ways to deal with that, a simple fall in global GDP, or a "rebalancing."

And of course the previous rebalancing he mentioned (1970's) did not happen with "robust growth" in the US.

Seeing how I have been jumping around talking about how limited American views of things tend to be, let me add a bit for thought.

Ten years ago, the largest German food discount chains (Aldi and Lidl) didn't offer frozen food - at all. Nada. Since then, these chains have added frozen food sections, leading to an increase in GDP - more refrigerators, electricity, maintenance, etc. And of course, 'value added' food products.

But you know, if they returned to their 1996 practices, I don't think that would actually lead to a 'decrease' in anything measured in human terms, as compared to statistical abstractions. Take it as you wish.

And yes, if the refrigeration sections went away, a few euros less would be spent on electricity from farm to consumer (decreased GDP), a few people would lose jobs in refrigerator manufacturing/maintenance (decreased GDP), and the 'added' value of plastic packed french fries would be lost (decrease in GDP). Somehow, I can't remember the German lifestyle, ca. 1996, as being severely lacking because frozen food was rarer then than now. And regardless of where you stand on peak oil and its impact on economies and societies, losing frozen french fries is not really a sign of a declining civilization.

Fresh ones taste so much better anyways that losing frozen fries could be called a plus in just about every way except global GDP.

It is a big world out there - and we are all so accustomed to the way we live, any change often seems to be seen as the beginning of the end. If peak oil logically means the end of  microwaved frozen food, then it is fair to point out that it also means returning to how I lived at the age of 13, when Carter was elected. And how about milk deliveries to the cooler when I was 7 - less than 35 years ago - from a local diary. Or deposit reusable bottles? Does anyone think people are not capable of going back to things the way they were when I was a kid? What a failure of imagination Americans seem to suffer from these days - and notice, my examples are a return, not a technological leap. But they are likely to be bad for GDP.

I won't go into a discussion about how much energy is wasted in America in terms of military equipment/activities, or the fact that the world population has grown while arable land and fish populations are increasingly strained, possibly beyond collapse.

Discussions of global GDP and oil use seem to run in a fairly narrow rut, in my opinion (energy intensity and infrastructure are something else, of course). In a peak oil world, I think societies which can build efficient load balancing wind/solar/hydro grids with high efficiency appliances will contribute to the sort of GDP growth which today's statistics do such a bad job of grasping, at least seen from a free market American perspective (don't even think which a few carrier battle groups will be thought of, contributors to today's GDP that they are - somehow, I don't Americans will be well loved in a post peak world).

I think I'm on much the same vibe ... but I can also picture layoffs at the frozen food plants to make the nightly news, in roughly that scenario.

I think the moderate view expects some winners and losers, and some "creative destruction" in the economy.

But it did. In the 80's and 90's. Did I miss something? GDP growth typically slows in the long run as a "steady-state" occurs. This has been shown in almost all Western, democratic, advanced environments. At least according to the best economic theory. But growth has certainly been robust since the 70's. I appreciate your input. If I continue to disagree with you it is only that I have an extremely positive view of Tertzakian's.
I think I understand and agree with Terzakian.  Is there a misunderstanding?  I'm not the one marking passages as "dubious."

... and I don't see that growth in the ninties disproves unimployment (etc.) in the seventies.

Yeah, I think there is a misunderstanding. My original question to which most of this sub-thread is devoted wasn't aimed at anything you said. It was for tedman.

I think that the two of us basically agree, although we look at things from slightly different angles.

And it is possible to read an entire book, understand and agree with 99% of an author's views, yet disagree with or find the validity of a couple of passages "dubious." I don't think that is a breach of anything.

I have never stated that growth in the 90's disproved unemployment in the 70's. My point was that growth in the 90s followed the situation in the 70's.

tedman originally used the word "continues" which I interpretted as sequentially. You seem to take the view that  robust growth should be occuring "concurrently" with a rebalancing, which I don't understand, because it would eliminate need for a rebalancing in the first place.

But whatever, this whole thing is starting to get confusing. Let's just say I agree with you.

I have been pessimistic ever since 1973 when I read "Limits to Growth".  Nothing has happened since then to get me to change my opinion.  It now appears like some of the limits predicted there are being reached.It was enlightening that they devoted a whole chapter to the concept that technology will not save us from catastrophe.
Trying to build a coherent set of P.O. future scenarios is maybe the most complicated thing one can undertake because there are so many feedback loops required for so many potential occurances.

For example, suppose that producer-country hoarding becomes a major exacerbating phenomenon (as I suspect it will).  Does that then cause some sort of military action by the developed world?  If so, what implications do you take?

        A. That it ends in a quagmire with lots of oil being destroyed and/or wasted by the various armies involved, thereby making the problem worse, or

        B. That the West gains control of, say, Saudi Arabian oil, and distributes it in a reasonable way among the developed countries, allowing for a peaceful way to increase oil availability.

Or lets say a world depression results, as many expect:  what impact does that have on oil demand and therefore price?   Could falling oil prices motivate the hoarders to step up supplies, causing even further price falls and oil availability increases?

Or could a world depression and stock and housing markets crashing cause Western demand for Chinese goods to evaporate and thus put so much pressure on the Chinese govt. from the peasants that it causes China to attack Taiwan, thereby igniting WW3 and causing greater oil price increases?

And these are only a couple of complex but very possible variables that need to be included in a future scenario model.  

I'd love to know how others go about trying to figure out what their most likely scenarios are.   Do you include these sorts of major complexities in your views?