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November 06, 2007



It is interesting how the view of the pessimists is gradually becoming the mainstream view....

David Grenier

It depends on what you define as the pessimists view. If pessimists think the peak has occured, is occuring now, or will occur in the next four years, perhaps you're right. If you mean the crazy nuts who dream of a Mad Max future, I don't think that's been proven yet.


I've been following TheOilDrum, David's crazy nuts are called doomers "oil production will decline so fast that technological civilization will collapse...". Now that is a good site, and I've learned from reading it, but the pessimism can be a bit contagious.


Does beg the question though.
Should we attempt to make liquid fuels cheap again?

Perhaps it's a good thing that they are getting more expensive, from a global warming perspective.

But then again, that begs the question.
Which is more important. Global Warming or Peak Oil.

Since with Peak Oil, the answer is to increase supply.

With Global Warming, the answer is to reduce consumption.

We certainly can do one or the other.
But attempting to do both is counterproductive at best.


GreyFlcn, that's not what "beg the question" means. Begging the question is a logical fallacy in which an argument is considered true without any evidence except the argument itself. If the Total chief had said, "Oil supplies are low because we don't have much oil," that is "begging the question". You should have written "that makes me wonder..." or "here's an interesting question...". http://begthequestion.info/



Actually the responses to Peak Oil and Global Climate change aren't really that incompatible with each other. You claim that the response to Peak Oil would be to increase supply, but the whole point of Peak Oil is that increasing supply is no longer possible. At least in terms of oil pumped out of the ground.

The incompatabilities are where the responses to Peak Oil would be something like tar sands, oil shale, or CTL, which are merely band-aids that would merely serve to delay the end of the petroleum era by a little bit. But if you look into any one of these "solutions" you will see that there are scalability problems that make it unlikely that these will ever be more than a niche player in all of this.


eric: Most of the public including I must add myself are at best only dimly aware of the nature of the scalability problems for these "alternatives". I'm convinced they are bad for the environment, but a discussion of the technological limits on these technologies could be pretty enlightening. Otherwise as oil becomes scarce the hew and cry for us to jump onto these fuels will become deafening.


Let's take tar sands, as that is the most frequently mentioned in the press these days. As it is produced today, you need lots of two things. Water and natural gas.


The water they currently take from rivers. The natural gas that they use is generally what is called 'stranded' natural gas, meaning that it is too far from a pipeline to bring to a market. And the quantities that they use are huge.

Once the stranded natural gas is gone, they will have to find something else. Some have proposed nuclear reactors to provide the heat that they need. Others have suggested burning off a fraction of the product itself for the heat.

In terms of water, they are limited by how much water is in the rivers at hand.

There are references all over the web that discuss these shortcomings. I looked around and found this link here:


In addition there was a good talk at ASPO last year in Boston about tar sands, oil shale and so forth. You may still be able to order the DVD set from here:



Regarding the relationship between the two problems peak oil and climate change I think David Rutledge (a professor here at Caltech) has done a very enlightning study on total fossil fuel reserves including coal and the corresponding emissions.
There is a web presentation of David's talk at The Oil Drum that is basically the same as the talks he gives on the subject. The comments section after it is also quite an interesting read.


A nice summary of the conclusions is given by one of the post comments here:


The good news is that to a large extent depletion of coal and oil will likely lead to emissions lower than any of the latest IPCC emissions scenarios for the next 100 years. Of course the bad news is that we are running out of energy fast.

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