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Oily Peaks and Slippery North Slopes

Snippet from: Rense

There are arguments from both sides of the oil issue: either we are quickly running out of oil or we have adequate oil to meet our requirements for generations. Both sides offer evidence, witnesses, experts and documentation to validate their assertions. Some peak-oil projects, funded by oil companies, are highly suspect. The very credible Lindsey Williams maintains that the North Slope in Alaska has as much crude oil as Saudi Arabia. Governor Frank H. Murkowski said in 2005 that there is enough oil on the North Slope to supply the entire United States for 200 years.* Antony Sutton, author of Energy, the Created Crisis, is adamant that we have sufficient oil. Conversely, I have read reports which support the peak oil theory. I personally believe, after research, that "there is enough and to spare." Doom and gloom, Chicken Little oil scarcity claims have been propagated from the beginning. A scarcity, authentic or manufactured, of any crucial commodity accomplishes the following:

1. Increases profits to those who manipulate that commodity.
2. Allows the controllers to determine availability to the "right" people.
3. In the case of energy - severely impacts lifestyle, progress and prosperity.
4. Extracts more money from an often overburdened consumer.

*At what rate of consumption? The current rate projected as a constant 200 years into the future? Without an explicit rate of consumption, Governor Murkowski's statement comes to nothing more than meaningless "Rah! Rah!" boosterism for the oil industry which pumps so much money into his state's economy.

And his statement is that there's enough there to supply the United States with oil to continue our highly mobile petroleum-based lifestyle for another two centuries. Is he describing a scenario in which the rest of the world is living through Peak Oil crises while we continue undaunted with business as usual. Can you imagine?

Remember Albert Bartlet's example of the bacteria reproducing in a jar with a doubling time of one minute? They start doubling and consuming the available resources at 11 am. They fill the bottle and exhaust their resources at 12 noon. At what time have they expended half their resources?


Suppose they find a whole other bottle/earth to consume. At what time will they exhaust this vast new resource if they continue to increase their rate of consumption?


Given the current rate of growth in global oil consumption, how much oil would have to be under Alaska's North Slope to fuel this process for another 200 years?

I don't know. My guess: A lot.

If we intend to keep it all to ourselves. What percentage of it will have to be devoted to military use?

I don't know. My guess: A lot.



( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 7th, 2007 04:34 am (UTC)
11:59 is a very rough approximation because of the oversimplistic model you are using.
You want to state that regardless of the quantity bacteria will always have equal access to the rest of the resources, this is never going to be true.

Oct. 13th, 2007 07:42 pm (UTC)
Limited Metaphors
Yes, the bacteria in a bottle metaphor has some serious limitations. It's mainly meant to serve to enhance the intuitive understanding of exponential processes in people whose intuition and imagination are primarily calibrated for thinking about linear and arithmetic progressions.
Oct. 7th, 2007 05:58 am (UTC)
Talking about energy consumption on a timescale beyond 15-20 years seems outright lunacy.

The Peak Oil twits overlook the availability of options already near viable wide-scale implementation. And, given another 10 years (just to be generous), those alternatives should be so blazingly obvious most everyone should realize the folly in continuing the dialogue over petrol.

Oct. 9th, 2007 04:29 pm (UTC)
Do you think that these alternative technologies you mention will stand in for natural gas as the source of the NPK fertilizers that currently enable large-scale mechanized food production and allow our petroleum-based system of agriculture to continue uninterrupted? If so, I'd very interested in the details.
Oct. 10th, 2007 12:49 am (UTC)
Re: Alternatives
I said nothing of interruptions.

For everything that we use petrol for, we could use something else.

Oct. 14th, 2007 08:47 am (UTC)
Re: Alternatives
It seems to me like the main thing to consider in the future of farming is automation. The huge energy inputs into farming are mostly to make it easy. Spread a bunch of fertilizer, spray away any weeds, and maybe you can harvest enough to break even. You'll have entirely different strategies emerging once the labor is essentially free, tireless, and (gradually) infallible.
Oct. 14th, 2007 03:29 pm (UTC)
Re: Alternatives
And by the time the cyber-angels are raising our food for us, there will a lot fewer human mouths to feed. That will make things easier for people who are determined to live their entire lives believing that food comes from "the store."

Or, everyone could live if they took an interest in where their food comes from and took an active role in fostering "redundancy and resiliency" thru the re-localization of food production.
Oct. 15th, 2007 08:11 pm (UTC)
Re: Alternatives
I agree that it would be a good idea to re-localize food production, and there are plenty of other ways that I'd like to see our architecture redesigned, but I am gradually resigning myself to the fact that the time scales involved in the singularity are so short that most things which would be a good idea aren't going to happen while they're relevant.
Oct. 15th, 2007 08:47 pm (UTC)
Re: Alternatives
While I don't "believe" one way or the other, the possibilities surrounding this whole singularity business is seeming increasingly remote to me.

Apropos of nothing, have you seen 28 Weeks Later, and if so, what did you think of it?
Oct. 15th, 2007 08:48 pm (UTC)
Possibilities ARE.
Oct. 19th, 2007 05:51 am (UTC)
Re: Alternatives
I think the Singularity is absurd, but I'm convinced by the evidence of my senses that it's underway. I just write it off as God being a madman, which is obvious anyway.

I haven't. I don't know where to steal movies lately either (other than bittorrent, which doesn't seem to work with my LAN), so I haven't seen Sicko or The Simpsons Movie, both of which I meant to. Is 28 Weeks Later any good?
Oct. 19th, 2007 12:27 pm (UTC)
Re: Alternatives
I liked it a lot. I talk about it at length in the most recent episode of the C-Realm Podcast:

Oct. 13th, 2007 07:12 pm (UTC)
This looks like a credible source of info>> Long-Term World Oil Supply Scenarios. The expected peak is 30 years from now, and I would be very surprised if oil sands reserves didn't push that out another 10-30 years with improved technology.
Oct. 13th, 2007 07:23 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the info
I'll give it a read.

Eric Boyd has been on the C-Realm Podcast twice. Did you hear our most recent conversation? He links to it on his blog, but if you haven't heard it already there's no point in trying now. The C-Realm Podcast archive has been taken out by a massive hardware catastrophe at Podomatic. They may be able to recover the data in time, but for now there's all of one show in the archive.

Anyway, Eric suggested that the sooner the peak comes the better in terms of ease of transition. I can imagine the dedicated Singularitarian position being that if we don't peak in the next twenty years then it will never be a problem as superlative technologies will have rendered all current energy discussions moot by then.

We'll see.
Oct. 13th, 2007 07:51 pm (UTC)
I haven't read it yet, but
I notice that this seemingly credible source of information is the US Federal Government; specifically the Department of Engergy's Energy Information Administration. Do you consider this source credible because they're sufficiently removed from the executive branch that they can provide "objective" reporting and analysis in a way that people working in the Department of Justice or in the various intelligence agencies cannot?

Oct. 13th, 2007 09:27 pm (UTC)
Re: I haven't read it yet, but
I consider the source credible because I discovered it today and the results agree with the ones I calculated myself last week using numbers from wikipedia and corroborated elsewhere.
Nov. 3rd, 2007 08:11 pm (UTC)
Re: I haven't read it yet, but
Now I've read the report, talked about it on the podcast, and received listener responses which include the following:


...the Energy Information Administration report which you reference is based on data that is at least 7 years old. Things have changed since the report was first issued. IMHO, the EIA report from 2004 is no longer reliable or relevant.

The International Energy Agency chief economist Fatih Birolof stated on October 31, 2007 that the USGS is overly optimistic. "the agency [IEA] will review its use of resource estimates from the United States Geological Survey, in a move that seems certain to prompt a major downward revision of its long term oil production forecast...resource estimates from the USGS World Petroleum Assessment, published in 2000, which are now demonstrably over-optimistic. For the USGS numbers to come good the world would need to discover 22 billion barrels of oil per year between 1995 and 2025. But as the USGS has now acknowledged, so far the world has only discovered 9bn bbls per year - a massive 60% less than forecast. Even if the rate of oil discovery were now to plateau at that level for the next two decades, the USGS resource numbers would still be 500 billion barrels too high. But since oil discovery has been in long term decline since 1965, despite rising oil prices and advancing technology, it is rather more likely that discovery will continue to fall and the USGS numbers prove yet more astray."
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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