Rough notes for a Monday morning

So, there is no wireless within the hall, so this will be delayed a bit (not that I was ever a good note-taker). And yes, they spent a few minutes at the beginning making sure the sound worked.

I will admit that I am a great fan of Representative Bartlett, as was noted, he has gone out ahead of the crowd on this and brought the topic of Peak Oil some attention. (He is surrounded by the press at the break). But, as he noted, there is a concern that here, he is largely speaking to the choir. Actually I don't think so, I was surprised, looking at the attendee list, and listening in on conversations, at the number of oil industry folk that are here, and taking note. He gave his usual broad intro to the subject, sad that time constrained both him and Ken Deffeyes. I was struck by how energetically he gave his talk (he was born in 1926) and thought it a pity that the topic was so grim.

Dr Deffeyes gave more comment on King Hubbert and Hubbert Linearization, (its in his second book) and these were two informative, and very entertaining talks. And while the Powerpoints are on the website these are the sort of talks that are much better heard. Both speakers are convinced and knowledgeable of their subjects, and have a wealth of info on which to draw. (Dr Deffeyes analogy was that of trying to fit his book into a coffee mug).

There were a couple of new things not that widely known, I thought to the two talks, Representative Bartlett's fourth slide, as one - and his comment that he did not get elected so that his grandkids would come and spit on his grave. He does feel that we can get through this if we make a determined effort, but recognized that we are not, noting that both the Hirsch Report and the Corps of Engineers report have been bottled up, and not got much recognition (outside our small community).

The other thing to note and follow-up on is the emphasis, at the end of Dr Deffeyes talk, on Methanol (Beyond Oil and Gas - The Methanol Economy by George Olah etc and the transition to Dimethyl Ether (DME) of which he spoke quite favorably).

Hmm! Time to get back to my seat!

And I was right! Because, after Michael Klare gave a talk on how we got to where we are today, at peak within a few feet, proposed that Peak Oil will be a more immediate problem than Global Warming, even though that is coming, and concluded that we are living in increasingly dangerous times, we got down to the panel discussion, where the above were joined by Art Smith of J.S. Herold joined the panel and Roger Bezdek joined them. The questions were good and I apologize that I could not write fast enough (plus I had to get my own question in - the last for those there).

This is actually doing a disservice to Michael's talk, which covered some of the problems that oil brings to nations, and the fact that, because of our needs and addiction, that we are intensifying national struggles, which may lead to less oil security, than the converse. Also we are currently squandering the money needed for investment, at the cost of the energy security development that our kids and grandkids will need.

The panelists seemed to agree that the 2% increase in demand and decline in supply are optimistic numbers. (Which led Roger to suggest that the Hirsch Report is the rosy view of the future). Art commented that the investments needed to sustain oil supply and find more oil are not being made, except for the "gold rush" in Alberta in the oil sands. Though he cautioned that it has taken them 38 years to get to where they are now, so growth projections may be optimistic up there. Roger pointed out that, though SASOL developed CTL they only produce 150 kbd that way, and import 450 kbd - suggesting that the economics of change are not yet there. (Roger pointed out last night that the US future may well include 5 new CTL stations a year to provide 100 kbd apiece toward meeting our needs). Representative Bartlett then noted that our 250 years of coal would thus likely last less than 50.

Ken pointed out why the current Oil and Gas Journal articles that dispute Hubbert Linearization are wrong (too small a sample size - which is a critical issue in statistics - in which I would concur having had my own problems in that area in the past).

And then Daniel Yergin's name and CERA came up. Given the strength of the opinions, I thought they were all remarkably polite, since all thought them, politely, wrong. Ken pointed out that the CERA report cited only internal CERA documents, and so could not be checked, and that no-one in their survey appeared capable of drilling dry holes. It was pointed out that there is increasing question about the integrity of the data, and that IHS (who own CERA) are now having internal debates over the reality of the report. The term "cornucopeans" seems to have been selected to describe that group and their followers. Though it was pointed out (as I have noted that Daniel does repeatedly) there was enough caveats in the fine print to get them out of trouble (though perhaps not yet off the TV).

In regard to the arrival of new tech to save us - Ken pointed out that what is now new was in the lab 20 - 30 years ago, and neither the Government nor the oil companies are now funding much if anything in the way of new technical development (it is the lowest investment of any major industry) - which in itself should send us a message.

Congressman Bartlett (CB) then noted that this country is good at responding to crises, but bad a t avoiding them, and laid a lot of our problems at the door of lack of leadership. (Told you he was a great guy).

The role of Berkeley Colleg, Yale in using local produce was praised as a good example (though I have to confess to eating melon and strawberries at the breakfast this morning).

Roger explained that one of the reasons that biofuels did not get more of a section in the Hirsch Report was that they currently are not significant enough. Though CB pointed out that we are mining our top soil with this and that this cannot last. Right now the direction is that fuel feeds agriculture, to try and reverse that process is not a sustainable reality, since the energy cost of the fertilizer gets in the way. (Eat corn not pigs - we feed dry corn to get wet pig, so the actual energy cost is around 10:1 not the 3:1 that the industry would have us believe).

Art hit on a concern that you often see here, that the natural gas problem and the LNG shortage that is coming are being neglected. He pointed out that the regasification plant in Nova Scotia has closed since it could not get a secure supply (and we are still building new ones).

And finally Michael got my question and agreed that the East China Sea is becoming a real area of concern, while in the South China Sea the Chinese seem to have been able to work the problems out.

Sorry this is so rushed, and it is this is the second time I have gone to write a post rather than see Megan Quinn's movies, and the guilt level is rising. Hmm, now I have to decide if its is going to be lunch or Dr Catton on human ecology. Hope you all don't mind but I may just miss the first bit of that.

P.S. Obviously I am not hiding as well as I thought, Nate thelastsasquatch found me at breakfast, and despite my best attempts to appear the bumbling whatever, saw through the façade, but was kind enough to keep quiet - thanks!

Gotta go eat!

could you please check the hyperlink to the website you give above the fold, its showing "not found"
He pointed out that the regasification plant in Nova Scotia has closed since it could not get a secure supply (and we are still building new ones).

It's hard for me to figure out why someone would build a regasifier if they didn't have signed contracts coming and going.

As an aside, it's hard to see why you're not in the toaster group yet.

I wonder if they will have text posted on the web?
Great post, Heading Out. Thanks!

I asked Megan if there would be transcripts available, and she said no, but they would make audio available for download.  Just as well - the humor of Deffeyes and even Schweitzer would seem rather sterile in transcript form.
The entire conference will be put up on Global Publoc Media site. We also will put all the speakers powerpoints (except for those who didnt use them, Like Mckibben, Klare, Brown, etc) up on in the next few days.
very cool, i look forward to listening.
I'm not sure I could call myself a fan of Roscoe Bartlett.  I don't have enough details to form an intelligent opinion, but I've read enough about him to raise the hair on the back of my neck.  He's apparently enthralled with the idea that the US is a christian nation and can legislate christian morality and law because of that.  He's against many forms of birth control.

Is this another case of consorting with those who hold your views in a narrow area irrespective of all other considerations?

I'm not condemning him nor questioning his good faith efforts on many issues.  But I would like to know:  is Mr Bartlett a strong representative of the cause, or just another quirky fellow who happens to embrace peak oil for sustainability reasons that grow out of his own nationalistic and religious beliefs?

He gives me the heebie jeebies as much as he stirs feelings of admiration.

Well, yes, single issue politics has its risks.  I am glad to have found refuge in a secular democracy where both the head of government and the head of the opposition are not religious people.  One of the reasons that the US will do particularly badly (compared to the developed economies of Europe and Asia) during the decline of the oil age is the extreme religiosity and hostility to science in the US.  Many people are looking forward to another medieval period, which was the high point of church power.  And the US now has 5 co-religionists on the Supreme Court to make it so.
The anti-science stance of the Republicans may have more to do with the short term profits of corporations than their narrow branch of christianity. There are many christians who are realizing that war and neglect of the poor are not pro-life values. I've noticed the change in my own pastor.
I know exactly how you feel. But it goes further. No-one seems to share my exact opinions. I am all alone. Worse still, my opinions are not what they were a few years ago, or even last week. So not only am I alone, I am confused. :)

A bit more seriously, it seems to be a characteristic of the times. Back in the 60s, we leftists would argue among ourselves, not nicely very often. But there was the presumption that we were somehow on the same side. Now I work on anti-war and 9-11 truth stuff. Left to right, veggie to Christian fundamentalist, peak oil to it's an oil company conspiracy. I think the same thing is true on TOD to some extent -- get away from peak oil and it's a thousand different opinions. Well, don't even leave out peak.

My opinions and directions for what I regard as good politics, cultural development and infrastructure investment have hardly changed due to peak oil but I am unfocused. Too many new ideas at the same time and most of them relate to each other. I am trying to package a few subsets of them and post them in different directions where they might do some good to see if they have some effect and if some reaction comes back to me. I am 36 so I hope I will get a number of decades of these intresting times, provided I dont get unfocused enough to forget to live in the here and now.

I do not care if people share my exact opinions, it is enough if their actions are compatible with the actions my opinions should lead to and preferably those given by a very large set of other opinions. I do not have the perfect answer for everything and its most likely that nobody has it.

That a peak oil leader is a christian is good news to me.  We aren't all secular, you know.  A healthy church community may be one of the forms of sustainability.  
I agree.  I'm certainly not selling myself as anti-Christian.  There are too many secular atheists such as myself who devote far too much energy to bashing religion.

I raised the point on Bartlett, not because he is a Christian, but for a different reason:  I am greatly concerned by anyone who tries to argue that the US was created as a Christian nation.  The founders were deists at best by and large.  The argument that this is a Christian nation can then become a slipper slope towards theocracy and demogoguery.

But as stated above, given that I've not done enough research no this, it's largely inappropriate to raise concerns that may be fictious and paranoia on my part.

I've seen Jon Meacham, author of "American Gospel," making the rounds promoting his book.  He makes the argument that the founders had an idea of a non-specific, non-denominational, public religion when they drafted the Constituion & etc.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights ..."

He contrasts that with more recent attempts to inject religiosity into government, along more specific, denominational, and doctrinal lines.

... as a result, I think people are sensitive to which God people are talking about - the old general public religion - or an effort to "move the ball futher down the field" as it were.

Re: China Seas

Recall my report A Glimpse of our Geopolitical Future -- The East and South China Seas for some background.

As I think back over the talks today, the most entertaining was probably Schweitzer.  I would have given it a tie with Deffeyes, but I have seen him speak before, so the Governor gets it.

Most interesting was James Hansen mainly because he was modelling climate change and peak oil together, and trying to predict outcomes based upon several sets of assumptions.

The short answer is that Hansen says that if we burn through all of the oil, but that we don't try and use oil sands or oil shale, and that we don't go whole hog into coal, that we would  probably be OK (doing this from memory - I find that if I take notes during talks that I miss more stuff, so my strategy is generally to listen and then refer to transcripts or whatnot after the fact).  Hopefully the audio will be available soon.

This contrasts a bit with the talk that Schweitzer gave.  His proposal for energy independence has us start with conservation and biofuels - that only gets us part of the way.  The remainder would be supplied by CTL.  Some of the carbon is sequestered, but obviously the liquid fuel has carbon in it, so when burned in vehicles you end up with CO2 in the air.

Give us a few days to load powerpoints. Here is a link to the first quadrant video:
 Peak Oil and Environment - Quadrant I
This is a panel with Art Smith, Roscoe Bartlett, Ken Deffeyes, Michael Klare moderated by Richard Heinberg