Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Myth of the Oil Crisis

Ari at Peak Oil Debunked has written a review of a recent book by Robin Mills, "Myth of the Oil Crisis." It looks like a good addition to the library of oil realism along with works by Leonardo Maugeri and Daniel Yergin. Read on:
Mills' book's greatest strength is its ability to deconstruct the most frightening of the peak prophecies and show how they are either incorrect, or at the very least, misguided. He is thorough in demonstrating, through both data, and clear, well-sourced arguments, how the extreme pessimists of the energy commentary community are generally incorrect in their arguments and assumptions. He even demonstrates how Hubbert, commonly hailed as a sort of “peak oil prophet” (words mine), was hardly as accurate as he is shown to be. In fact, Mills scrutinizes Hubbert in the fourth chapter, entitled “Half-Full or Half-Empty?”

...Another strength of Mills' book is the credence he pays toward economic factors. He shows, throughout the book, that economic factors play a significant role in energy production. One of the often ignored (or derided) factors in energy is the capital needed to keep it running smoothly. The Geologists see geography as the ultimate factor in deciding energy availability, but they are far too willing to ignore the fact that even assuming you have a powerful physical limitation in place, you cannot drill oil if you lack rigs and manpower. Unfortunately, we live in a world today where the physical and human capital needed to run the oil industry has become significantly scarcer than in decades past-- this is largely a consequence of the previous decades of incredibly cheap oil. These same low prices drove OPEC to reduce production as well, which allowed oil commentators (Simmons, for example) to say that Saudi Arabia is in a state of decline. Unfortunately for Simmons, KSA was merely responding rationally to low prices by reducing production. The reader will see a lot of this kind of debunking throughout the book. For some, it will be interesting to see the shriller voices of energy commentary dismantled. _POD
Go to POD and read the entire review. It is likely to make you curious enough to pick up the book and look it over, the next time you are in the book store or a good library.

Doom-seekers tend to gravitate around "peak oil" and "climate catastrophe" scenarios, as a matter of nihilist chic. But pretending to believe in a catastrophic fantasy does nothing to help anyone, and solves no problems in the real world. It is a way of getting cheap kicks.

Everything runs down eventually. Wise people learn to bridge between fading technologies and technologies of the future. Scarcity only becomes acute and punishing when not taken into account ahead of time. For all the excitement at TOD and other peak oil sites, there seems precious little planning and preparation for bridging the old and new technologies. Mainly fantasies of doom.

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