Westexas: Rainwater and T. Boone know what they're talking about...

westexas over at graphoilogy has sent a letter to the editors of the papers in the DFW area arguing for increased awareness.  Very much worth the read (go to the link above...or it is reproduced under the fold).
An Open Letter to the Publishers of the
Fort Worth Star Telegram and the
Dallas Morning News

April 2, 2006

Mr. Wesley R. Turner, President & Publisher
Fort Worth Star Telegram

Mr. James H. Moroney , III, Publisher & CEO
The Dallas Morning News

Subject:      What Are Two Texas Billionaires,
                    Richard Rainwater & T. Boone Pickens,
                    Saying About Peak Oil & Why Aren't You Listening?


I realize that I don't have to introduce Richard Rainwater and Boone Pickens to you two gentlemen, but for the benefit of those who may not be familiar with Messrs. Rainwater and Pickens, following are brief introductions.

Richard Rainwater is the Texas based businessman who was chiefly responsible for turning the Bass Family's inheritance of $50 into a $5 billion dollar fortune.   Mr. Rainwater was therefore indirectly responsible for the remarkable urban renaissance of downtown Fort Worth, as a result of the Bass family's massive investments.  Mr. Rainwater also had a material role in George W. Bush's selection as Managing Partner of the Texas Rangers Baseball Team, which launched Mr. Bush on his way to the Governor's Mansion and then to the White House.

Mr. Pickens, now based in Dallas, has had a long and storied career in the oil and gas industry.  Like most Texas oilmen, Mr. Pickens has had his ups and downs.  Most recently he has been on an up cycle, via his investment firm, BP Capital.  

These two gentlemen share an uncanny and proven ability to accurately predict future trends.  The only real mistake that I am aware of is Mr. Pickens' timing regarding natural gas prices some years ago.  He was right about the price move, but he was just a little early.

Mr. Rainwater was profiled in the 12/14/05 issue of Fortune Magazine, "The Rainwater Prophecy."   Mr. Rainwater is deeply concerned about Peak Oil.   In the article, Mr. Rainwater said, "This is the first scenario I've seen where I question the survivability of mankind."   Mr. Rainwater first became concerned about Peak Oil after reading "The Long Emergency" by James Howard Kunstler.

According to Bill McKenzie, with the Dallas Morning News, the primary reason that President Bush used the "Addicted to OIl" phrase in his state of the Union Speech was the Fortune article about Richard Rainwater, and again Mr. Rainwater became concerned about Peak Oil after reading Mr. Kunstler's book.

On November 1, 2005 the Greater Dallas Planning Council and the Southern Methodist University Environmental Sciences Department cosponsored a symposium featuring Mr. Kunstler and Matthew R. Simmons entitled "The Unfolding Energy Crisis and its Impact on Development Patterns."
Mr. Pickens, via BP Capital, was one of the lead underwriters of the event.  

Mr. Pickens, several of his associates, and several other notable Dallas businessmen  such as Herbert Hunt were at the Simmons/Kunstler symposium, but no one from your respective editorial and news departments were able to make the event--despite multiple notices of the event.

In any case, Mr. Pickens has publicly stated that he believes that the world is at peak oil production.   Mr. Pickens has publicly suggested increasing the gasoline tax, in an attempt to reduce oil consumption, with offsetting tax cuts elsewhere.

I certainly don't speak for either Richard Rainwater or Boone Pickens, but my impression of these two gentlemen--along with Matt Simmons and Jim Kunstler--is that they are American patriots, in the truest sense of the word, who are trying to warn their fellow Americans about the dangers posed by Peak Oil.

In the Fortune interview, Mr. Rainwater was quoted as follows, "I believe in Hubbert's Peak.  I came out of Texas.  I watched oil fields reach peak and go over, and I've watched how people would do all they could, put whatever amount of money into the field, and they couldn't do anything about it."

Much of the Peak Oil debate is based on pioneering work done by a famous Texas born geoscientist, M. King Hubbert.  My coauthor, "Khebab," and I wrote an article that was published on the Energy Bulletin website,  "M. King Hubbert's Lower 48 Prediction Revisited:  What can 1970 and Earlier Lower 48 Oil Production Data Tell Us About Post-1970 Lower 48 Oil Production?"  Following is an excerpt from that article.  (See link below.)

"Fifty years ago this week, on March 8, 1956, at a meeting of the American Petroleum Institute in San Antonio, Texas, M. King Hubbert, in the preprinted version of his prepared remarks, had the following statement,  "According to the best currently available information, the production of petroleum and natural gas on a world scale will probably pass its climax within the order of a half century (i.e., by 2006), while for both the United States and for Texas, the peaks of production may be expected to occur with the next 10 or 15 years (i.e., 1966 to 1971)."  As more and more people are learning, Lower 48 oil production, as predicted by Dr. Hubbert, peaked in 1970, and it has fallen fairly steadily since 1970.  

Kenneth Deffeyes, in Chapter Three of his recent book, "Beyond Oil:  The View From Hubbert's Peak," described a simplified way of predicting the production peaks for various regions and for their subsequent declines.  One simply plots annual production (P) divided by cumulative production to date (Q) on the vertical axis, or P/Q, versus Q on the horizontal axis.   Stuart Staniford, on The Oil Drum Blog, has described this technique as "Hubbert Linearization" or HL.  

With time, a HL data set starts to show a linear progression, and one can extrapolate the data down to where P is effectively zero, which gives one Qt, or ultimate recoverable reserves for the region. Based on the assumption that production tends to peak at about 50% of Qt, one can generate a predicted production profile for the region.  The Lower 48 peaked at 48.5% of Qt.

Using the HL technique, Dr. Deffeyes, an associate of Dr. Hubbert, predicted that the world crossed the mathematical 50% of Qt mark on December 16, 2005.  In other words, Dr. Deffeyes believes that the world is now where the Lower 48 was at in the early Seventies."

We used the HL method to predict post-1970 Lower 48 cumulative  oil production, using only 1970 and earlier production data.  Our work indicated that the HL method was 98.7% accurate in predicting post-1970 Lower 48 cumulative oil production.  

We need to differentiate between conventional and nonconventional oil.   Perhaps the best way to differentiate the two types of oil is to classify it the following way.  Conventional--the oil will move to a wellbore on its own.  Nonconventional--the oil and oil-like solids have to be surface mined or heated in order to move to a wellbore.

Dr. Deffeyes estimates that we that we have two trillion barrels of recoverable conventional oil reserves worldwide and that we have used half of this amount.

Fossil fuels can be viewed as a continuum, from natural gas, to natural gas liquids, to condensate, to light sweet crude oil to heavy sour crude oil to bitumen to coal.  (Kerogen, a precursor to bitumen, can also be processed to yield oil.)   This list is a progression from gas, to liquid to solid.  It is also a progression from cleanest, natural gas, to dirtiest, coal.

The world wants Liquid Transportation Fuels (LTF's)--gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.  LTF's can be obtained for the least expenditures of energy and capital from light sweet crude.  It only makes sense that light sweet crude will peak before heavy sour, and based on the current historically high spreads between light sweet crude and heavy sour crude, that appears to be the case.

The world is increasingly turning toward the endpoints--natural gas/natural gas liquids on the light end and bitumen/coal on the heavy end--in an attempt to maintain and increase our supply of LTF's.   There are several problems.  These are hugely capital intensive programs that tend to produce liquids at very low rates compared to conventional oil sources, and on the heavy end there are some fairly severe environmental consequences.  Another point that is often overlooked is that every fossil fuel resource, except for kerogen, is currently being commercially exploited.  In other words, we are simply talking about increasing our rate of extraction of our finite fossil fuel resource base in a desperate attempt to maintain the current American way of life of driving $50,000 SUV's on 50 mile roundtrips to and from $500,000 mortgages.

Currently, the most significant source of nonconventional oil is the tar sands play in Alberta, Canada, where bitumen is being extracted via surface mining or via the injection of steam into deeper beds.

From fossil fuel and nuclear sources, the world currently uses the energy equivalent of a billion barrels of oil (Gb) every five days.  The mighty East Texas Oil Field, the foundation of so many Dallas fortunes, the largest oil field in the Lower 48, and the field that was largely responsible for providing the oil to power the Allies victory over the Axis powers in World War II, made about 5.5 Gb.   The field is currently producing 1.2 million barrels of water per day, with a 1% oil cut.   It took about 75 years to pretty much fully deplete the East Texas Field.    In terms of oil equivalent, the Barnett Shale Gas Play in North Texas should ultimately produce, over several decades, on the order of 4-5 Gbe.  

The world uses, from nuclear and fossil fuel sources, the energy equivalent of the recoverable reserves in the East Texas oil Field or the Barnett Shale Play in less than 30 days.

In the 4/2/06 Star Telegram, Automotive Journalist Ed Wallace, in the classified advertising section,  wrote a rebuttal to the Peak Oil theories.   Mr. Wallace's two basic points:  (1)  improved technology will increase recoverable conventional reserves by 50% to 3,000 Gb and (2)  nonconventional oil sources will add another 3,000 Gb.   Therefore, based on Mr. Wallace's estimates, we have used 1,000 Gb out of a 6,000 Gb resource base.  (See link below.)

In the Viewpoints (Op-Ed) section of the Dallas Morning News, similar "cornucopian" energy abundance articles were published last year making basically the same points that Mr. Wallace made.

In regard to the technology issue, this assertion is directly contradicted by our experience in Texas (peaked at 54% of Qt), the overall Lower 48 (peaked at 49% of Qt)  and the North Sea (peaked at 52% of Qt).    Nothing the industry has tried in these regions has reversed the production declines once about half of the oil reserves were consumed.  The reason is best illustrated by the East Texas field, now producing water with a 1% oil cut.  What can better technology do to help a field that has watered out?

In regard to the nonconventional sources of oil, Mr. Wallace is primarily focused on the Canadian tar sands and shale oil (kerogen).   The tar sands play is a proven commercial success, that is however hugely energy intensive and that is also yielding vast amounts of contaminated waste water.   Mr. Wallace cites the most widely used estimate of 175 Gb in recoverable reserves (note that this should be discounted by about 35% to 50% to get net energy equivalent).  He also cited a vague estimate by a Shell executive of 2,000 Gb, that can't be currently recovered.    There is one interesting research program testing some new shale oil technologies, but there is nothing commercial yet.

In any case, let's look at past and current estimates of Canadian tar sands production.  In 2003, the US Energy Information Agency (EIA) estimated that total Canadian oil production--driven by increasing tar sands production--would increase by 700,000 BOPD from 2003 to 2005.  The reality?  Total Canadian oil production fell from 2003 to 2005.   The tar sands production fell short of estimates, and the increasing tar sands production the Canadians had could not make up for the decline in conventional Canadian oil production.  

The Canadians themselves are estimating that tar sands production will only increase to about three million BOPD (mbpd) in 2016 from one mbpd today.   Note that we will probably start losing a net two mbpd to four mbpd in conventional oil production per year, starting this year.  Again, note that you have to discount the tar sands production by 35% to 50% to get net energy.

In effect, Mr. Wallace, and the other energy cornucopians see no problem with the $50,000 Hummer, $500,000 mortgage way of life.

Messrs. Rainwater and Pickens disagree.  I can't speak for them, but I assume that they believe that while nonconventional oil will help, it will only serve to slow the rate of decline of total oil production.

Some types of ethanol production (not from corn sources) appear have some possibilities, but there are a number of problems.   Among the problems is a basic conflict between land devoted to food production and land devoted to fuel production.   By the way, the US is probably now a net food importer.  Currently, the US uses up to 10 calories of fossil fuels to produce one calorie of food.  Ponder the impact on our food supply of a declining oil supply.

I realize that US media companies are facing severe economic pressures, and I realize that you are heavily dependent on advertising revenues from the housing/auto industries and from related companies.   However, in my opinion we have hit the iceberg.   The US media can lash themselves to the sinking ship, by failing to face reality, or you can face the reality of finite energy resources and start heading for the lifeboats.

I am supporting a proposal to abolish the Payroll (Social Security + Medicare) Tax and to replace it with an energy tax, principally a tax on liquid transportation fuels.    This would unleash powerful economic forces against profligate energy use.  Since it is in effect a consumption tax, it would tax those who currently don't pay the Payroll Tax, by using cash.    Instead of taxing payrolls to fund the Social Security and Medicare systems, we would instead tax energy consumption.

Alan Drake, a consulting engineer, has written a compelling article advocating a crash program of electrifying our transportation system, with special emphasis on Urban Rail.  (See link below.)

I am working with a small group regarding the possibility of a Fall symposium on the Energy Tax and Urban Rail proposals, and we would be delighted to have support from The Fort Worth Star Telegram and/or The Dallas Morning News.  

Note that these two proposals would address:  the Social Security/Medicare crisis; the Peak Oil crisis; the loss of farmland due to suburban sprawl and Global Warming issues.   We would replace "dumb growth" with "smart growth," New Urbanism projects along mass transit lines.

In addition, I would at least ask you to give your readers a balanced report on the Peak Oil issue.  Two leading citizens of your respective cities--Richard Rainwater and T. Boone Pickens--are deeply concerned about Peak Oil.  The stated mission of the Fort Worth Star Telegram is:  "Earning the People's Trust Daily."  I assume that the Dallas Morning New concurs with this mission statement.

In my opinion, the US media have two choices regarding the Peak Oil issue.  To paraphrase Winston Churchill, you can now have either your honor or the status quo.  If you do nothing regarding Peak Oil, you will soon have neither the status quo nor your honor.


Jeffrey J. Brown

Fortune:  The Rainwater Prophecy

Brown & Khebab:  M. King Hubbert's Lower 48 Prediction Revisited

Wallace:  A Theory Like Y2K, But For Cars...

Drake:  Electrification of transportation as a response to peaking of world oil production

Also posted at:  


Feel free to borrow liberally in composing similar letters to your local media organizations.  Pickens & Rainwater are a powerful combo.  

It's a good essay and covers a lot of material. It would be improved by formatting it with sub-headings, to add some organization. As it is there are a lot of ideas that somewhat run together.

As far as the energy tax, the problem is that it does not devote its revenues to development of alternative sources of energy. It doesn't make sense to tax energy and use it for Medicare. There's no connection between the two.

A better solution IMO is to convince people that Peak Oil is real. They will then drive up the cost of energy because they expect it to become extremely valuable in the future, which makes prices go up today since these are storable commodities.

Raising worldwide energy prices will have many beneficial effects. It will induce conservation exactly as you hope your gas tax to do. And it also will motivate people to work hard on alternative sources of energy, which will then become cost-effective. It also rewards people who were foresightful enough to have anticipated this development, by increasing the value of their energy holdings. And it provides these benefits worldwide, whereas taxation can only be applied on a local basis. Europe has taxed energy for decades, and the U.S. has gobbled up their oil. If we join the taxation party, China and other countries will simply increase their share. Only the market can provide worldwide economic discipline.

Furthermore, it can be shown that economically, prices that recognize the value of a diminishing resource will lead to an optimal allocation of social resources to deal with the problem. How much should be spent on remediation? How much on fossil fuel development? How much on conservation? How much on alternative energy? The market will balance all of these goals by focusing efforts towards those efforts that have the largest economic payoff. You can try to approximate this by using a gas tax and then providing various subsidies for this or that kind of alternative energy or conservation program. But nothing is as simple and straightforward as the effects of high prices on an entire world of creative individuals who will seek ways to maximize their profits and minimize their costs.

Of course, there are some negatives to this proposal. One is that holders of energy resources will profit as the market begins to realize their increased importance and value. Most of those holders are politically unpopular in the West: oil companies and Arabs. Nevertheless we should aim to free ourselves from the spiteful jealousy that drives us to avoid measures that improve our situation if they happen to improve someone else's even more.

The biggest problem is that fundamentally, this proposal is based on reality. If people don't believe that Peak Oil is real, they won't bid up energy prices and we won't see energy conservation and other salutory effects. On the other hand, if we accept the (almost unthinkable!) possibility that the whole rest of the world might know more about things than the relatively few Peak Oil fanatics, perhaps there's something to be said for not embarking on a crash program to deal with a problem that may not exist.

In that case, the significant increases in price we have already seen, despite ample short-term supply, may well represent a gradual and gentle transition to an era of higher energy prices based on possible future shortages. In that case, the signs we are seeing today of conservation and alternative energy development are in fact exactly the optimal response to a problem whose true dimensions are still unclear. It's not as drastic as what the fanatics and true believers would like to see, but it is far from business as usual. I would suggest that, given the uncertainty of our present situation, the world's response could well be characterized as prudent and appropriate.

I am supporting a proposal to abolish the Payroll (Social Security + Medicare) Tax and to replace it with an energy tax, principally a tax on liquid transportation fuels.    This would unleash powerful economic forces against profligate energy use.  Since it is in effect a consumption tax, it would tax those who currently don't pay the Payroll Tax, by using cash.    Instead of taxing payrolls to fund the Social Security and Medicare systems, we would instead tax energy consumption.

I cannot reasonably see people voting to tax energy.  Most people would consider this unfair - since poor people need energy to get to work or heat their houses, etc.  So, a better way would be to simply tax consumption!!!  This could easily be done with a national sales tax, and would seem to do the samething indirectly as taxing energy.  Since consumption is driven by energy.  If you belive consumption is currently too high and savings too low - Tax it...  The Fair Tax proposal, does just that; and rebates the tax up to the federal poverty level, so the poor pay NO taxes.  Simple/No exceptions...  This is the most studied tax system ever, and even a best seller book.  See www.fairtax.org for additional information.

"I cannot reasonably see people voting to tax energy.  Most people would consider this unfair - since poor people need energy to get to work or heat their houses, etc.  So, a better way would be to simply tax consumption!"

IMO, higher energy prices are coming, with or without higher taxes.  

If we take that as a given, then if we help speed the inevitable changes along with a shift in tax policy, it will be to the long term benefit of the country.  The advantage of focusing on the Payroll Tax is that it is the most regressive federal tax on income--levied on the first dollar of income.  

I agree that the change would makes sense in the context of a shift to an overall consumption tax.  

Boone Pickens' take on this issue is that we need a world price for gasoline of at least $5 per gallon, in order to curtail consumption, and he is proposing a higher gas tax with offsetting tax cuts elsewhere.  

As was noted on Iran thread, even the Saudis are beginning to plead with us to start conserving, and they have started asking pointed questions about gas taxes.  What does it tell you when Texas oilmen and Saudi oilmen are trying to talk the US media into supporting higher gas taxes.

If the American people are told the truth about the finite nature of our energy supplies, I think that we actually have a fighting chance of implementing some kind of energy tax plan.  But the longer we delay, the more likely it is that the US will be hit with both higher energy prices and our existing tax structure.

>Most people would consider this unfair - since poor people need energy to get to work or heat their houses, etc.

Good Argument!

>So, a better way would be to simply tax consumption!!!  

No. Any tax levied on consumption does not necessary result in reduced consumption! When costs for good or services rise on a national scale, the result is inflation. It doesn't matter whether the tax is levied against income or consumption, the result is always the same.

For instance, during the 1970s and early 1980, taxes were much higher (as a percentage of income) and new gasoline consumption tax was levied, but these increases did not significantly affect demand and consumption for fossil fuels. When consumers and business face rising costs they in turn demanded higher rates and wages for goods and services provided. Increased taxes generates higher revenues for the gov't which is almost always results in more wasteful spending. These are the leading causes of inflation and does not sigificantly impact consumption. In another words, the economic burden of higher taxes is evaporated by loss of buying power, and the forces of inflation diminish the desire to save money.

Second, increasing taxes in one country will do little to curb demand on a global scale. For a conservation effort to work it must be a true global effort. I doubt that an global consensus would ever include China and India, which are the two fastest growing consumers of fossil fuels. Any reduction by our part would likely lower the price of oil on the global markets causing an increased demand outside of the US. What we don't consume, someone else will!

The best way to reduce global consumption would be for the US to increase interest rates which has several advantages over other conservation strategies. First, higher rates force consumers and business to become more efficient by making better use of capital and resources. It also incourages both consumers and businesses to save money and consume less. Third, it can impact globally since the US is still the world's reserve currency. By driving up interest rates in the US, other industrialized nations must follow in order to prevent the flow of international capital to other markets. If the cost of capital rises globally, industrial growth slows and efficient increases globally.

> If you belive consumption is currently too high and savings too low - Tax it...  

Sorry, but this doesn't work. Taxes drive inflation and do not regulation consumption. Controlling the interest rates is the key to limiting growth and consumption. It always has and always will be. Giving more money to the gov't is a bad idea. Generally, politicians used the increase revenue to buy votes with increased entitlements, or other forms of benefits. Do you really think Washington will spend your taxes wisely?

At this point in the game, any conservation effort probably isn't going to matter. If we are indeed at the peak then conservation is irreventant. Consumption will be forced to decline because of declining supply. Conservation only makes a difference before peak production is reached. Our best option would be to focus efforts on preparing critical systems for fossil fuel production collapses. Such as food, electricity, water, and healthcare, and other basics that are absolutely required. The remaining demands for energy, can be regulated by market forces.

Thanks for writing that, Westexas!

You've inspired me to pen something like it for my Locals!  

Despite the legendary links between Maine and Texas (at least in Maine legends), I'll have to find a few more local names and concerns to tie into mine, since I don't know if Boone and Rainwater will carry the same heft up here.

I just heard a State rep speak at our church yesterday about the LIHEAP underfunding (Low-Income Heating Energy Assistance Pgm), and how much Mainers pitched in to help Poorer Mainers get through this winter, as mild as it was. (With the "Keep ME Warm" program).. but it frustrated him that the 5-10 million that was raised (depending on how you count the Chavez donation of $5M in heating oil) basically did nothing to gird us against future winters, and just sent all those Nickel Jars and Bean Supper Proceeds overseas.

Too few of our dollars are going into Solar Water Heating and better Insulation, which will save lives up here.  Everybody just racks their brains to figure out how to buy next month's tankful, without shutting off the cable. (In a cold winter, it's next WEEK's tankful)

Anyway, I'll get to work!

Here's one of the Texas/Maine Tales that gives me a sense of kinship with you guys down there..    'So a Texan is telling a Mainer about his Ranch. "Boy, I can git in my Pickup and drive ALL day, never get to the end of my land!".. and the Mainer, chewing his tobacco nods, looking at his boots and agrees  "Hyuh.. I hed a truck just like that, once."


I should mention that some 80% of Mainers heat with oil, which I see as a highly replacable source of heat.  We still have our forests, too, but that can change pretty quick when there's a steady run on the bank.

A friend of ours has Solar heat up in Bethel, in the White Mountains, and during the big Ice Storm a few years back, (1998?) he was giving his neighbors hot showers THAT same afternoon, when thousands were out of Elec. for a couple weeks. (And Elec Tank Water heat is, often the norm)

If I get too cold, I can start by burning this soapbox of mine, I guess.

Great job! Let us know if they publish, or if they choose to perish 'by lashing themselves to the deck of the sinking ship'.  Maybe some other newsmedia outlets will pick this article up to publish in their local news.

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

We actually had a "triple play" yesterday.  The "Open Letter" was on the Energy Bulletin; Financial Sense and The Oil Drum.  "There is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come."  Of course, I'm not proposing anything new here.  
Beautiful, westexas,

Can you trim this down to 85 words or less so my local paper will publish it?

I'll see what I can do.  The printed version of my letter is eight pages long.  
Impressive Westexas.

Very intelligently written, were I a newspaper editor I'd be really uncomfortable with those last words.

This also a simple thing that anyone aware can do. If letters like this start appearing on papers, media folk can finally understand that something's wrong.

I've already had some fairly tense e-mail exchanges with some Dallas Morning News journalists.  I previously suggested to them that I didn't see a fundamental difference between the Enron guys and the MSM.  The common connection being a willingness to withhold the truth from the American people because telling the truth would have financial repercussions.  

Journalists don't tend to appreciate being compared to Enron executives.

Kudos for your hard work,and sensable approach. No one initially appreciates a wake-up call.NBC did a segment on high gas prices today; the only mention of cause was an ending statement/camera shot on Exxon's riches. They are paving the way for nationalizing oil whether they realise it or not. Pathetic reporting!Thanks again!
In the event that neither newspaper publishes or makes reference to the letter, could we - as a Plan B - consider publishing it as a paid ad in the newspapers funded by those of us who have a few dollars to spare.  I would certainly be good for a couple of hundred dollars.  It is such a good letter!
I'd chip in a few bucks.
I had the unique experience of meeting Rainwater in person back in late 2004 at a speaker series by him and his wife, Darla Moore, at my business school, The Darla Moore School of Business. His entire speech basically hinged around the topic of limited resources and I and one of my advisers brought up peak oil questions, which Rainwater seemed to be expecting more of. I also had the chance to talk to him at the end for about five minutes and the man is bloody brilliant.

The saddening thing though, was the refusal by the majority of the audience (200+ International MBA students) to accept what he was saying about hitting a limit to raw materials in the coming years. In my discussion after the event, the most common responses were along the lines of "What a whackjob." I suppose students forking out hard earned cash don't want to be told the sky is falling and that that fancy degree won't be worth much when we don't need all their overpaid financial service positions when skyrocket oil kills the markets.

I also find it funny that T. Boone Pickens is mentioned along with Rainwater, when it was Rainwater that bought Mesa out from under him. He casually referred to him as Boone during the speech, but I imagine there's still some enmity there.

I also had the good luck of hearing from Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan/Renault about the future of the automotive industry and he seemed more tempered on the subject, but obvious about the fact that hybrids and alternate energy sources would be the future of the auto industry.

It's good to know that some of the most powerful men in the world realize what is going on, even if some of our leaders do not.

Nick, from greenr - energy, environment, global warming

It must be admitted that while there seem now to be teams of Billionaires who accept immediate (if not yesterday) PeaK Oil, and while yes, the contribute their "voice" to the cause, any real attempt to reduce energy consumption starves to death for cash before it ever has to face "peak".

When I was a child, my dad used to listen to all manner of right wing radio broadcasts and recieve all manner of propaganda from the oil barons of that day  (anybody remember H.L. Hunt's funded "Freedom Talks"?)...billionaires were willing to spend millions to educate as to why the Red Commie menace was coming for our kids NOW, and why tricky Dick Nixon had was manning the turrets to provide salvation for America....kinda sad they don't see the "Peak" threat as nearly that important, or they would lay some spare change on the line.  Do they need a guide as to what would have the most bang for the buck?

This group is virtually building a transportation revolution out of junk parts and begged up money, underfunded and with only the satisfaction of helping America.  Too bad, no billionaires to help. :-(

What about the rail issue?  Would it be that hard, if these men believe (as I know Matthew Simmons does) that rail is a factor of 5 or more times more effective on a fuel consumption basis in moving goods compared to trucks...would they ever be interested in investing in that?

Ground coupled or "Geo-thermal" heat pumps.  Even before we "electrify" transportation, there is already a well known and efficient way to "electrify" heating and cooling of homes, office parks, retail malls, etc.  Would anybody be willing to invest in this in an effort to conserve our natural gas resource, and even begin to apply wind and solar to the grid on a bigger scale in an effort to incorporate renewables....any billionaires interested?

The list goes on....low speed wind turbines, improved solar hot water,
for transportation, research and prototyping of hydraulic hybrid truck and bus drives, THE BIGGIE, ADVANCED BATTERY DEVELOPMENT....

The billionaires seem to have bought into the Peak Oil idea....."it's coming, it's bad, we'll talk...."