Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Philosophical and Pyschological Underpinnings of Modern Peak Oil

Profile Books

The fear of resource scarcity is a very old fear. Much of the modern fear of resource scarcity centers on "Peak Oil," a philosophy, a psychology, a way of life for many adherents. Author Duncan Clarke has forty years of experience looking at economics, geopolitics, and the oil industry. In the book "Battle for Barrels", Clarke looks at several aspects of the modern peak oil belief system -- including some of its forerunners:
During his term in office in the 1970s, President Jimmy Carter had come to the conclusion that all proven reserves oil would be used up by the end of the next decade. In 1920, the USGS had put world oil reserves at a mere 20 BBLS. In the early 20th century there were regular predic-
tions of oil famine: in 1914, the US Bureau of Mines said that America would run out of oil in ten years. And back in 1855 the rock oil found in Pennsylvania had been predicted to disappear, the victim of reserve depletion. The peaks have been shifting for a long time now.

The gloomy, pessimistic 1970s, in particular, proved fertile soil for the growth of doomsday scenarios, such as the Club of Rome and the Limits to Growth model, impending population bombs and the collapse of capitalism. The publication in 2005
of Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update is a reminder that our era is in some ways comparable. It is unsurprising that in our troubled and uncertain times a theory such as Peak Oil should flourish. Angst feeds on angst. _Excerpted from Chapter 8, _Excerpted from Chapter 8, BattleforBarrels
The first part of Clarke's book deals largely with the philosophical and psychological underpinnings of the peak oil movement. In that sense, it differs from other critiques of peak oil written by economists, environmentalists, geologists, and oil company executives. It is quite useful in that regard, since people who choose to join movements-of-doom such as Peak Oil have an essential psychological need which is being met by their membership in the group. Authors who argue strictly on the level of reserves, technologies, and substitutions will not address this crucial underlying aspect of the mass movement.

Clarke does look at some of the numbers, -- although not until the later chapters -- and his strongest insights into the phenomenon have to do with the psychological aspects.

In this regard, Clarke's book is an essential piece of the total puzzle as revealed by a number of Peak Oil critics and observers.

Here is another look at the book:
The Battle For Barrels provides fresh, comprehensive and seasoned analytical insights, with polemical reflections on the Peak Oil debates (including on its architects, adherents, allies, activists, and even critics), to counterpoint these alarmist ideas..

The book deconstructs the Peak Oil model and its pre-ordained determinism, explaining why its morbid outlook on reserves and discovery potential does not reflect a world terrain still much unexplored and under-exploited. The real circumstances and complexities that shape the present and likely oil future are elaborated, with new insights on the world oil game. Hence the global angst aroused by Peak Oil, the passions evoked, plus the apocalyptic meanings held by its diverse constituencies, can be seen as excessive and built on shallow foundations. There is no “skeleton in the oil kitchen”, such that human ingenuity and imagination cannot resolve future dilemmas. The divergence between Peak Oil Theory and the real oil word is stark. The essential crisis inside Peak Oil reflects a condition alike some Twilight In The Mind. _Petro21

So you see, Battle for Barrels is not a technical numerical or technological argument, so much as it is an insightful look into the thinking of Peak Oil. I will continue to provide excerpts from various books dealing with this issue, and will try not to step on the toes of any authors or publishers in the process.



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