Peak Oil Doomsters debunked, end of civilization called off

Summary:  this brief analysis of Matt Savinar‘s Life After the Oil Crash.  Are we doomed?  Probably not.  My title is, of course, fun but absurd.  Peak oil is too vast a subject, the range of expert opinion too wide, for any blog post to pose as more than a introduction — showing one perspective of the many possible.  Still, I believe this makes a good case for betting that peak oil will not result in depression and war.   But it could easily mean two decades of severe economic pain.  Please see the conclusion for caveats, and the links at the end of the post for more information.

Peak Oil warning sign
By Viktor Hertz.

 

Ponder this excerpt from the widely cited Matt Savinar‘s Life After the Oil Crash.

“Are We ‘Running Out’? I Thought There Was 40 Years of the Stuff Left”

Oil will not just “run out” because all oil production follows a bell curve. This is true whether we’re talking about an individual field, a country, or on the planet as a whole.

Oil is increasingly plentiful on the upslope of the bell curve, increasingly scarce and expensive on the down slope. The peak of the curve coincides with the point at which the endowment of oil has been 50 percent depleted. Once the peak is passed, oil production begins to go down while cost begins to go up.

In practical and considerably oversimplified terms, this means that if 2005 was the year of global Peak Oil, worldwide oil production in the year 2030 will be the same as it was in 1980. However, the world’s population in 2030 will be both much larger (approximately twice) and much more industrialized (oil-dependent) than it was in 1980. Consequently, worldwide demand for oil will outpace worldwide production of oil by a significant margin. As a result, the price will skyrocket, oil dependant economies will crumble, and resource wars will explode.

The issue is not one of “running out” so much as it is not having enough to keep our economy running. In this regard, the ramifications of Peak Oil for our civilization are similar to the ramifications of dehydration for the human body. … A loss of as little as 10-15 pounds of water may be enough to kill him. In a similar sense, an oil based economy such as ours doesn’t need to deplete its entire reserve of oil before it begins to collapse. A shortfall between demand and supply as little as 10 to 15 percent is enough to wholly shatter an oil-dependent economy and reduce its citizenry to poverty. …

Savinar has great confidence about his vision.  No hedging with “if” or “maybe.”  Before booking flights to New Zealand or Tasmania, let’s consider this carefully.

Contents

  1. These forecasts seem very confident. Are they credible?
  2. Time
  3. The magic of prices
  4. Energy efficiency
  5. The global effect of high oil prices
  6. Update: where is Matt Savinar today?
  7. Conclusion
  8. For more information about peak oil

(1)  These are confident forecasts. Are they credible?

Does Savinar subscribe to the Psychic Hotline? Energy forecasts — esp. those warning of Peak Oil — have been notoriously wrong for many decades. Has the future suddenly become clear as glass? Let us parse the third paragraph on this home page.

“In practical and considerably oversimplified terms, this means that if 2005 was the year of global Peak Oil, worldwide oil production in the year 2030 will be the same as it was in 1980.”

It was an evil day for humanity when Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss “invented” the bell curve. It applies to many phenomena, but not to ALL phenomena. There is a strong basis to believe the global production curve will be asymmetric. Just to mention one, the graph should be of “liquid fuels” not oil, as substitutes for petroleum (e.g., biofuels, coal to liquids) were insignificant on the way up – but might be significant on the way down. Also, 2005 may have been but probably was not the peak year (see section II below).

“However, the world’s population in 2030 will be both much larger (approximately twice) and much more industrialized (oil-dependent) than it was in 1980. Consequently, worldwide demand for oil will outpace worldwide production of oil by a significant margin.”

How wonderful that the author understands so much about the technology and economy of 2030. No doubt he is a billionaire, as his technology and biotech bets made in 1986 must have paid off nicely.

“As a result, the price will skyrocket, oil dependant economies will crumble, and resource wars will explode.”

Sounds ominous. Can we see his forecasts for 2008 written in 1986? Did he predict the USSR’s collapse, the two Gulf Wars, the Rise of China, and the economic growth of the past five years (perhaps the fastest global growth since the invention of agriculture)?

The actual experts that I read tend to be more modest in their predictions. In fact, I suspect an inverse correlation between expertise and over-confident rhetoric. For example, Robert Hirsch’s writing sound nothing like those of Savinar.

(2)  Time

Peaking, political or geological, might have already occurred, or might occur during the next ten or twenty years (almost certainly in the next 40 years). We do not have the data necessary for more accurate forecasts (e.g., data on Saudi reserves).

Short-term fluctuations are common in the record, so the plateau in oil consumption since 2005 tells us little — especially as we do not know the cause. It might result from …

  1. geological — we cannot bring on new production faster than decline of existing fields
  2. transient — new developments have not yet caught up with rising demand), or
  3. political — Middle Eastern producers can produce more, but choose not to. See these posts: definition of political peaking, and its announcement.  It is almost as painful as geological peaking.

As oil prices have risen over the past five years, the adaptation process has already begun. We just need time. Among the three forms of peaking, Savinar assumes the worst case — a “strong form” of peaking in which a peak occurs soon (before the adaption process has run far), with a short plateau, followed by a rapid decline (he calls a global 3% annual decline rate “conservative”, because many fields have declined at faster rates, which does not take into account the difference between “one field” and “all fields”).

That is, of course, possible — but not, as Savinar implies, certain. Even that scenario would not mean the end of civilization, just severe economic pain during the ten or twenty year-long adaption process, for the reasons discussed below.

(3)  The magic of prices

Savinar assumes that rising prices will wreck civilization, with no other effects. Changing prices are information in motion for a free market economy, signaling changes in the environment and forcing people act. The author ignore these mechanisms.

A.  Substitute other things for energy.   Substitute efficiency for convenience (use car pool or buses instead of driving alone to work or play).  Use higher cost goods from local suppliers instead of cheaper but distant goods.  Substitute rail for truck transport.  Take local vacations instead of trips to Disneyland, Las Vegas, or Europe.  Wear light clothing instead of air conditioning; wear sweaters to reduce your heating bill.  Tele-conferencing for meetings.

B.  Make investments (capital expenditures) to increase energy energy efficiency. Insulation. More efficient motors. Hybrid cars.

C.  Make investments to substitute other forms of energy for petroleum. Replace gasoline and diesel vehicles with electric cars, trucks, farm vehicles. Solar panels replace diesel generators. Electricity and water can replace natural gas in the production of fertilizer. Convert coal to liquid fuel.

D.  Innovation: higher prices spark innovation, both new ways to do things and new technology.  Here is just one of a thousand examples (none of these are magic bullets, their collective impact is impossible to foresee).  “Making the World A Billion Times Better“, Ray Kurzweil, Washington Post (13 April 2008) — Read his Wikipedia bio!  Excerpt:

 Take energy. Today, 70% of it comes from fossil fuels, a 19th-century technology. But if we could capture just one ten-thousandth of the sunlight that falls on Earth, we could meet 100% of the world’s energy needs using this renewable and environmentally friendly source. We can’t do that now because solar panels rely on old technology, making them expensive, inefficient, heavy and hard to install. But a new generation of panels based on nanotechnology (which manipulates matter at the level of molecules) is starting to overcome these obstacles. The tipping point at which energy from solar panels will actually be less expensive than fossil fuels is only a few years away. The power we are generating from solar is doubling every two years; at that rate, it will be able to meet all our energy needs within 20 years.

As stated above, all these things take time — but can in aggregate produce large changes in energy use.

(4)  Energy efficiency

Savinar assumes that reduced oil consumption means less economic activity. History shows this is not necessarily true. Oil prices rose from $1.80 in 1970 to $36.83 in 1980 (Arabian Light oil price, as posted at Ras Tanura). Global oil consumption peaked in 1979 at 66,048 million barrels/day,  then the magic of economics did its work:

  • Consumption dropped by 14% through 1983. Four years of declining oil consumption — yet civilization survived!
  • Consumption equaled the 1979 peak again in 1993 (see the BP Statistical Review for details).  During this period the global economy (GDP) increased at roughly 3%/year, slightly below the post-WWII average (using IMF data).  Fourteen years of GDP growth with no increase in oil consumption!

Looking at the current world, at $120 oil prices are up 6x from the 1990’s average. Almost certainly that price shock has created substantial efforts to change energy use, whose results might have not yet appeared in the data. But they will appear, I suspect. Sooner than people expect.

(5)  The global effect of high oil prices

Unlike the author’s implied assumption, money spent to buy oil does not disappear. Oil producers invest or spend it. Hence rising oil prices shifts wealth and income around the globe, not destroy it. To the extent that oil producers save more than oil consumers, this has a net slowing effect on the economy. But nothing like the Armageddon described in doomsters’ forecasts. This reduced growth in GDP slows the growth in demand for oil. If prices rise so that real global GDP slows to 2%/year (very roughly), oil demand no longer increases. If oil prices rocket high enough, global GDP will actually fall (historically a rare event, except during wars).

To put this in perspective, oil prices have risen from their 1990’s average of $20 (West Texas Intermediate) to $120 during a period of record or near-record (depending on whose numbers are used) growth in global GDP.

Why have rising oil prices not wrecked the global economy? The consensus 5 years ago was that every $10 increase in oil prices slashed at least 1/2% off real global GDP growth. Answer: energy consumption per dollar of GDP has declined — a lot. In 1950 the US used almost 20 British Thermal Units (BTU) to produce $1 of GDP. In 1970 it was 17.44 BTU. Today it takes 8.78 BTU. (From The Gartman Letter, 7 May 2008, based on data from the EIA and Dr. Mark Perry of the University of Michigan)

This is not because we “no longer make things.” US manufacturing as a % GDP has been flattish for a generation.

(6)  Update:  where is Matt Savinar today?

Savinar is an attorney (see his bio). At one point one of the best known peak oil doomsters, Matt Savinar has retired from Life After the Oil Crash and now offers astrological consultations.

(7)  Conclusion

Much of this post is over-simplified for brevity and suitability for a general audience. Also, I may have incorrectly represented Matt Savinar’s assumptions. On the whole, however, I hope this post shows the weak and speculative basis of “end of civilization” and “die-off” scenarios about Peak Oil. Given all this, I find this discouraging: (from Savinar’s “about” page)

LifeAftertheOilCrash.net, averages 15,000 visits and 50,000 page view per day. It is assigned reading at multiple university courses around the world.

Unfortunately there is an information shortage about Peak Oil. There is too-little good research (Hirsch and his peers are grossly underfunded), and even less reliable information for the public. Neither is a good indicator of our readiness for peak oil.

The faster we prepare, the easier the transition will be to peak oil. Other nations already have strong programs in motion to prepare for peak oil. We are among the world’s laggards. Civilization will continue even if America falters as a result of peak oil, just as it survived the fall of the Spanish Empire. We have the ability to adapt, but so far lack the will and awareness of the need.

Over-dramatizations like “life after the crash” are part of the problem, in my opinion, not part of the solution. They are too easily dismissed, and unfortunately the awareness of peak oil often gets dismissed with them. Equally unfortunate, their facile certainty about the future discourages the need for research and modeling about our energy resources and consumption — necessary to efficiently marshal and apply resources for rapid mitigation programs.

No matter how well and rapidly we prepare, horrible things still might happen. Civilization, indeed human life itself, depends on Fate. Soon and fast collapse of oil production, super-bug pandemics, larger asteroid or comet impact, massive climate changes, eruption of a super-volcano, or a supernova exploding within 50 light years … the number of high impact – low probability scenarios is legion. But we live our lives in defiance of these things, not in fear of them.

As TE Lawrence said (in the film) “Nothing is written.”

(8)  For more information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about oil and an archive of my articles about Energy & Peak Oil.  Here are other resources about Peak Oil.  Here are some of special interest:

  1. Important: Recovering lost knowledge about exhaustion of the Earth’s resources (such as Peak Oil).
  2. When will global oil production peak? Here is the answer!
  3. The three forms of Peak Oil (let’s hope for the benign form).
  4. Prepare now, for oil prices will rise again.

80 thoughts on “Peak Oil Doomsters debunked, end of civilization called off”

  1. As I said above, algae-based biofuels need major innovations in order to lower costs far enough–at least an order of magnitude–before they can compete with oil. GreenFuel and other companies have pretty much abandoned the rigid bioreactors they’d started with. Instead they’re moving towards either hybrid systems (covered ponds, like PetroSun) or growing algae in plastic bags. There’s a lot of smart people working on this, so I haven’t lost hope yet. But I’m not putting all my eggs in one basket.

  2. Pingback: Mark’s Link Blog » links for 2008-05-09

  3. unconvinced

    How many people are going to go out and buy an expensive new car just because it gets better gas mileage? Maybe some fools will,but not the sane majority. In my case,gas would have to rise to at least nine dollars a gallon and the new car would have to get at least 100mpg to make such a purchase feasible. This doesn’t even take into account any state sales tax.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: This is an important point, one reason why the adaptation process takes so much time. Even if new wonder-tech — a super-efficient car, fusion power, etc — is available NOW, we already have infrastructure (power, transportation). The new technology will replace the old slowly, as it only seldom be feasible to throw away existing capital plant in flavor of the new equipment.

  4. A great thread with some terrific comments.

    A few points though:

    Overall:

    I think some people missed the point (or I explained it badly), production is rising, but consumption in the oil exporting countries themselves is holding down the amount available for export. Their own economies are growing and as such they are consuming more of their own (or traded) oil.

    Plus, demand from other countries is growing like a rocket. So we now have a very tight market. And as I demonstrated in a previous thread, that when systems get to their limit then they can become unstable.

    Tiny events, which even a few years ago would have been ignored, weather, maintenance (or strikes) at refineries, sabotage of pipelines (and the elephant in room, a threat of war with Iran), mean that even tiny disruptions are impacting prices in a magnified way.

    Is that proof of ‘peak oil’ in the geological sense, no. I’m genuinely not sure about the true ‘peak oil’ point. But the fact that the easy stuff has been found is true, new reserves (and later production) is going to be more difficult.

    Petrogeologist:

    Yes there are problems with the BP data, but it is still the best recognised source of overall data. In my comment I noted the obvious fact that world production numbers had exceeded consumption numbers for many years, and theorised that some irregularities, data reliability and that some OPEC countries had been exporting more than their quotas for some years now.

    But I was more interested in the trends. Referring to my overall point, exportable oil is ‘peaking’, with almost no slack in the global system.

    Ref US reserves, now this is (originally) from USGS data, who have been traditionally ‘optimistic’ about oil reserves. The US has a R/P ratio of 11.9 years (that’s the ratio of reserves to the most recent production figures). What that means is that there will be no oil left in the US in 11.9 years and everything will have to be imported. Australia, as another example is 21.3 years and Mexico only 9.6 years. Now the US has never had all that much in the way of oil reserves, at its peak it was only a bit more than double the North Sea. It was a master at production, and as such started running out far earlier than many other countries.

    Are there more reserves in some places than is being officially recognised? Yes. But that has to be counterbalanced by that there are places with less reserves than are recognised.

    Peter:

    Military spending? They have the 2nd biggest navy in the world. Note that military spending is not an indicator of economic strength, look at the old old USSR.

    It is all self correcting, their population, in a tiny country, is massive. So reducing their population is a logical move. The Govt might not like it, but the people in the end follow their own best interests. It will change in time, in some years into the future the population will level off, then, quite possibly expand a little bit. Provided they maintain their education, preserve their technical knowledge they will remain rich, probably even individually richer. They will sub-contract work to other countries .. as they already have done.

    Wealth is knowledge and skills. Yes your population may decline, but if you are smart you can retain and increase your knowledge levels. Yes there is some short term pain as you have the bulge of old people until they die off but it is an easy gain over a longer time horizon.

    I have had arguments (on this blog as well) that the reasons for low birthrates are fundamentally. economic. Young people are so overloaded by debt, with extremely expensive housing, that they cannot even think about breeding until their 30’s, when, for women, their fertility is declining.
    Male salaries have collapsed in many countries, so women have to work through many of their most fertile child bearing years to get established financially enough to have children.

    When the baby-boomers die off (inc me and FM), wages will rise (especially for males), property becomes cheaper (all those empty houses) , then the birth rate will rise again.

    For proof of this hypothesis take a look at Irish History.

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  6. Robert Bryce

    Excellent look at peak oil and the doomsters.

    My response to peak oil is: so what? We don’t know when it will come. And when it does, we’ll transition to something else. But we will only do so when the alternatives become cheaper/cleaner/more convenient than what we’re using now.

    I agree with Fabius re the long transition away from fossil fuels. It’s taken us more than a century to get where we are, it’s going to take decades to move to something else.

    The best analysis of the protracted move away fossil fuels was written by Vaclav Smil, who said ““Energy transitions span generations and not, microprocessor-like, years or even months: there is no Moore’s law for energy systems. Keep this in mind when you read yet another of the casually tossed-off claims about a continent to be electrified by wind or fueled by crop-derived ethanol by 2020 or 2025.”

    Sure, when (if) oil gets to $200 or $300/bbl there’s going to be some painful transition times. But higher prices are the only thing that will force that transition.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: (1) We do know when peak oil will happen. Like everything else, we know within a range: 20005 to 2005, with the highest odds in the 5 – 15 year range. Since the mitigation process will take at least 20 years, we must start now.
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    (2) I do not understand your fatalism with regard to planning and preparation. Fortunately our public health and transportation policies are made with a more activist attitude. We plan for needs, and prepare in advance to meet them. Sometimes we do so well, sometime not so well. But we do not sit back and wait for inevitable pain and suffering.

  7. On a very pragmatic note, I did an analysis of the Australian Govt’s fuel consumption figures, on a car by car basis (comparing identical auto and manual models). Note, of course the US market is diffferent but we do all buy many of the same cars.

    Basically if you personally want to save fuel then buy a manual grearbox. The smaller the engine the greater the saving (all figures in litres and km, do your own conversions, note that engine size are also in litres):

    % Difference in fuel consumption between auto and manual versions:

    Engines up to 1.5 litres in size: +7.2%
    Engines 1.5 to 2.5 litres in size: +7.3%
    Engines 2.5 to 3.5 litres in size: +4.7%
    Engines 3.5 to 4.5 litres in size: -0.4%
    Engines 4.5 to 5.5 litres in size: -3.1%

    Note the change in the larger engines, a lot of this is because of very top end European cars, with sophisticated 6,7 even 8 speed auto gearboxes. They actually exceed manuals, but then again you would hope they would, given that the gearboxes alone probabaly cost as much as many small cars.

    So to cut your own costs, and you are a normal person buying a normal smaller engined car, get a manual. Better still, lobby your Govt to clean up US diesel and get one of the latest, smaller engined diesel engined cars, where 5 or 6 litres per 100km are not uncommon.

  8. The interesting thing is, that in another forum, I got huge arguements about auto/manual gearboxes. All arguing for autos. Then I produced the data and no one commented again.

    My conclusion is that the price of oil has not risen enough to really change behaviour yet. A lot of grumbling but no real change (though US sales are down)

    So dealing with price signals, how expensive does energy have to be before there is real changes in behaviour and investment. I dont see a single dollar yet in the US going into trains, for example. Or, oh yes the the US has just cut its investment in the ITER. As for Fission reactors, a lot of rhetoric .. but new reactors?

    So a lot of fuss over nothing … so far.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: America is not the world. There have been massive investments by governments, just not ours. Just to mention one, the European forced-growth of solar and wind.
    .
    Also, adaptation by private entities, both businesses and households, is done quietly. Then, suddenly it appears in the data. All through the 1970’s experts said we were doomed — DOOMED! — because of the low price elasticity of demand for oil. After a 7-year lag that changed.
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    Prices always work their magic. Experts think that nothing happens unless the government gives them a check and microphone. But folks can do the obvious on their own. It just takes time.

  9. Peak oil is imminent and the reason is very clear. According to both Cera and the IEA the rate at which production from all the oil fields in the world currently in production is declining (the global decline rate) is about 5 percent and this includes the application of advanced technology. It took us 150 years to find those fields and bring them on stream. Because of this fact in the next 10 years we have to bring about 40 million barrels per day of new production on stream to stay at a plateau. There are not projects of anything like that volume that could be brought on stream in that timescale. It is also highly unlikely that vast, quickly and easily producible reserves are going to be found on anywhere like the scale of the 4 Saudi Arabias required in the next ten years and again the ten years after that.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Any comment made without reading the post. Almost every expert agrees that Peak Oil will happen. The range of forecasts runs from 2005 – 2050, clustering very roughly ten years out — and this “median” is coming in fast.

    The question is when peaking occurs and how. Short/long plateau, slow/fast decline? And how the global economy adapts.

  10. Anthony Williams

    Since you implore commentators to read the post, let’s go through some of the your points.

    “Does Savinar subscribe to the Psychic Hotline?” You then go on to imply (by criticising Savinars certainty) that his forecasts cannot possibly be right. Remember that he said “if”. Certainly, the calculation implies an instant decline and a best fit bell curve to mirror the ride up, on the ride down. But you also don’t know that an asymmetric curve will be a better fit, or that an asymmetric curve will be better for our futures, than a symmetric curve. For example, some of the optimistic estimates show a later peak but a rapid decline. I agree that all of the attempted substitutes will distort the curve but that does not mean that these substitutes will be significant. As you’ve said elsewhere, it about the flow rates. Is there any evidence that the flow rates of the unconventionals could make them significant on the way down, or are you as psychic as Savinar?

    “How wonderful that the author understands so much about the technology and economy of 2030.” Are you anticipating some earth shattering technological achievement to alter our dependency on oil? It’s impossible to rubbish Savinar’s extrapolation of trends by saying he can’t know about technological and economic changes over the next 22 years, only to assume that knowledge for yourself. Of course Savinar can’t know the unknown, but neither can you. To assume only beneficial changes is just at bad as assuming that nothing will dent our dependence on oil.

    That the “actual experts” you, personally, read are more modest than Savinar, that doesn’t make them right, nor does the tag “expert” make them expert at reading the future. Hirsch can’t see those stunning technological changes either but assumes existing technologies can mitigate peak oil, if applied soon enough. That may be more modest but it seems less likely.

    Your part II, on time, makes just as certain a prediction as you lambaste Savinar for making. Only you say that civilization need not end and that adaptation processes will be successful (though painful).

    In part III, you say that Savinar ignores the price signal that drives changes in the economy. However, this belief in the markets ignores geological and other natural constraints. So which should be ignored? Your idea that people can make changes is sound but also ignores the likelihood of this happening, or the resistance to changing to habits that are not wanted, and makes no attempt to explain how these actions will do more than delay bigger effects of peak. How do you know that electric cars and farm vehicles will be practical or possible on the same scale and internal combustion engines? Or that fertilizers can be made, using alternative methods, at the same scale as current methods? And the references to the use of coal, by yourself and some commentators, assumes that there are huge coal reserves to exploit, when no evidence is given of this.

    Humans do innovate well, though this, in no way, proves that all problems can be overcome. To think it does is more a belief than sound reasoning.

    In part IV (and part V), you talk about efficiencies and about history showing that there are periods when some economic growth was possible with reduced energy use. This does not prove that economies can grow indefinitely by improving efficiencies. Efficiencies have limits, as you must know. Long term, growing economies need to consume more resources, including energy resources, to grow. Manufacturing, buying and using more stuff takes more resources. Offering and buying more services takes more resources. Efficiencies cannot dent this basic fact, in the long term.

    In your conclusion, you say that much of your post is over-simplified. This is true and, as such, maybe you haven’t been able to make a better case for debunking Savinar’s site. Some of your answers to comments are reasonable but others just bolster the unreasonable optimism of some commentators (loads of coal, unlimited solar). In the end, consuming resources beyond their renewal rates is unsustainable. Whether Savinar is right about oil, or not, the unsustainable behaviour of our societies is bound to result in collapse unless we start to live within the limits of the earth (putting aside, for now, the wishful thinking about unlimited resources beyond the earth).
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    Fabuis Maximus replies: I believe you have missed the primary point of this post. Blindingly, totally missed it.

    “Remember that he said “if”.” No, he does not say “if” regarding his positions. Re-read his article; his outcomes are stated as fact, certain. That is the basis for my opening comments, and the remained in which I show that there are likely alternative outcomes.

    “Of course Savinar can’t know the unknown, but neither can you.”
    Savinar says that doom is the only scenario; my analysis admits that doom is one scenario; . Sentances like this appear throughout the post: “That is, of course, possible — but not, as Savinar implies, certain.”

    “Hirsch assumes existing technologies can mitigate peak oil, if applied soon enough.”
    That seems a reasonable assumption, since they are after all “existing technologies.” Why would not prove able to do so?

    In the rest of your comment you repeat Savinar’s theories as fact. Which was, of course, what I described as the primary flaw of Savinar’s post. Repeating them does not make his theory stronger.

  11. Wow ! of all the peak oil deniers, your message was the most pointless and ridiculous. When you are done arguing about this guy’s “1986 predictions”, maybe you can start getting in on the ACTUAL debate about peak oil ? Until then, you are no better than an angry teenager refusing to admit the truth because you are too scared of it. You are not even worth reading, sir.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: I would be crushed by your comment, except for two details you have wrong.

    (1) I do not “deny” peak oil. Almost nobody does, except for the few believers in “abiogenic oil”. Ignoring this is a weak start to your comment. As I note many many times, the question about peaking is when and how.

    (2) The 13 other posts I have written about Peak Oil — clearly shown at the end of this post. Aprox 10,000 words of analysis and dozens of citations. Perhaps you did not read all the way to the end? Or did not read it at all?

  12. No, in fact, your pretentious mockery at the very beginning made me stop reading very early on. That is what happens when one starts off like that. It gives no incentive to keep reading. No matter whatever credit you’d want to give yourself, the fact is that Matt Savinar, even though his tone is extreme and over-pessimistic, has developed peak oil awareness a gazillion more times than you could even hope to.

    Many the “doomsday” has been called off for you because you don’t yet live in one of the food riots countries. But even as oil is merely plateauing (and not yet in decline), many people have already experienced “the world as THEY knew it” coming to an end.

    At least Savinar enlightened quite a few people. You, on the other hand, prove no worth with your technical gibberish and constant attacks. Oh, by the way, did you even notice the price of petroleum has jumped 10-fold in a decade ? Or the fact that the plateau has already been happening for 4 years? I wouldn’t be surprised if you missed it.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: It is interesting that you can construct such a lengthy commentary on a post you did not read. I believe that you would find substantive rebuttals to your posts should you do so. You raise a few points which I have discussed elsewhere, but will restate them here for other readers.

    (1) My guess (that is all one can do about such things) is that the doomster articles like Savinar — weakly supported, ignoring other likely scenarios, absurdly confident forecasts — have slowed our adaptation to peak oil. Doomsters have come to dominate the peak oil literature, drowning out better researched and supported voices. This makes the warnings of approaching peak oil easier to ignore.

    The world is filled with “true believers” warning about a thousand forms of doom, and most people just ignore them. Rightly so, for the past fifty years shows their forecasts — from nuclear war to Y2K — to have near-zero accuracy.

    I suspect, from your brief comments, that you are not clear about the nature of the food crisis. For more on this see “Food – information about the Global food crisis.” It has links to some excellent reports by some top experts.

    Perhaps the most important thing to know: the increases in food and oil to date are part of an overall rise in commodity prices — and that this is so far a similar to the last cycle, the 1970’s. That is, driven by a combination of inflation and underinvestment (during the past two decades of low commodity prices). That explains why the prices of industrial inputs have all rise more or less the same — unlike what we should see after peak oil.

    The rise in oil prices after peak oil will likely be larger — perhaps much larger, depending on the nature of peaking — than what we have seen since 2001. That is something to think about!

  13. Right, your other page is in my favorites, I’ll take a look at it later when I have some time. I think you have it backward when you say that the increase in oil price follows the increase in commodities. These other commodities are pretty much following the energy needed to get to them (as well as increasing demand, of course).

    But in the context (increased demand, booming economy, expanding population), there is absolutely NO economic basis to support the current plateau of production. Don’t give me lack of investment : if they haven’t invested (and diverted their money to sovereign funds), it’s because there is no more new oil to invest into, except maybe for a few deep water resources like the Carioca hoax (33 billion barrels … NOT). So this proves we are AT peak oil (no sir, there is no geological evidence than a plateau will last for decades), and the current crisis is not a “cycle”.

    I, for one, had difficulties adjusting to the fact that our economic models are clueless and cannot explain anything decently any longer. But I got over it. Maybe you could, too! ;)
    .
    .
    Fabius Maximus replies: (1). Other commodity prices did not follow oil up. Industrial metals rose along with oil, for obvious reasons (copper prices are so accurate an indicator of economic activity it is called “Dr. Copper).

    (2) The role of oil prices in the cost structures of other commodities is well understand, and not nearly so large as to drive the price increases seen since 2001.

    (3) I do not understand what you are saying in the 2nd paragraph by “no economic basis.”

    (4) As Robert Hirsch forecast in the February issue of Energy Policy, we may be expiencing political peaking, not geological peaking. See this explanation: The world changed last week, with no headlines to mark the news. They are different phenomena.

    (5) Do you have the secret data on Russian and Middle Eastern oil reserves? If not, then you are not correct in saying “there is no geological evidence that a plateau will last for decades.” Simmons presented a provocative case in “Twilight in the Desert”, but was careful to avoid this kind of confident guessing — acknowledging that we do not have sufficient data.

    (6) “the fact that our economic models are clueless” — Another big and bold statement? Evidence, analysis? Why is peak oil more than a change in the standard price – supply – demand curves — after peaking, supply of energy increases far more slowly than before. Note that energy is the key variable, not oil, as substutes become available. Much depends on how quickly they do so.

    I doubt you would go to a doctor that guessed with so little basis as you do here. How strange that so many in the peak oil community prescribe radical changes in the global economy with so little hard data — and even less analysis.

    How sad that such voices have largely drowned out the voices of read experts such as Matthew Simmons, Robert Hirsch, Roger Bezdek and Robert Wendling (to name just a few).

  14. George Barwood

    Complacency versus despair. I think it is easy to don an economist’s cloak and end up under-estimating the problems that peak oil will cause.

    Some of the biggest problems I believe lie with the financial system – Hubbert warned that the financial system and the “matter energy” system would become incompatible once resource limits were reached. Finance needs perpetual growth to be stable. He made some radical suggestions.

    Civilisations have collapsed in the past, so we should not be too complacent.
    .
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Complacency vs. Despair? I wonder how many of these comments are by people that, like “me”, did not read the post.

    Mr. Barwood, what complacency are you refering to? This post — and my others about Peak Oil — suggest that despair is possible, but not likely. On the other hand, I say that we are on the clock. Rapid and large scale action is needed, as recommended in Hirsch’s “Mitigations” report.

  15. Your argument that peak oil doesn’t necessarily mean die off is fine–except that we are facing more than just peak oil. World grain production has fallen behind consumption for six out of the last seven years. Just as there have been energy shortages in poorer countries around the world as energy supplies have tightened, there have also been food shortages and price riots as food production fails to keep up with consumption. Water shortages plague many parts of Asia and Africa. As streams and rivers have dried up in China, hundreds of villages have had to move to find new water supplies. Mexico City is steadily sinking as they pump out the aquifer underneath.

    If peak oil were the only problem we faced, I wouldn’t be that worried.
    .
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    Fabius Maximus replies: There is little evidence that we face more a typical commodity cycle, like the 1970’s. With respect to agricultural, as describe by many experts in my reference page “Information about the Global food crisis” it runs as follows: underinvestment, inventories run down, demand slowly erodes excess capacity, bad weather and inflation, food riots. It is an old story.

    What is your standard of comparison, by which you determine that our current problems are more serious than those of the past? At what point in history there were not many serious problems? When were there no doomsters telling us that the end was near?

    I am old enough to have gone through several cycles of this. Hence I need a bit more than these list of problems before moving to New Zealand or the moon.

  16. The plan is electrification & nuclear fission. The fuel supply for nuclear power is virtually limitless using fast reactors. Fast reactors are 100 times as efficient, enabling even seawater uranium to be economically exploitable.
    .
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    Fabius Maximus replies: That is one option. It would take time and considerable planning. Opening schools to train the engineers. Mining programs. Engineering and construction resources. Conversion of transportation infrastructure. All timed to come on line in the proper sequence.

    Of course we are doing none of this today. Even China is not this aggressive.

  17. Again, there is no oil crisis as long as YOU can fill your tank, and no food crisis because YOU do not starve. I can’t blame you though, but cloaking that behind pesky economic reasoning is rediculous. A little joke aside : how do you tell a good economist ? A good economist is the man that can justify tomorrow why what he predicted yesterday never came to pass today ! For your consideration.

    “I do not understand what you are saying in the 2nd paragraph by “no economic basis.”” Well, because with such high prices, is the COULD increase production, they WOULD have. As for this Saudi excuse, they never really considered saving the future in the past, I don’t believe that they suddently made a U-turn. Just trying to hide the fact that they can’t pump more. They are greeding lazy billionnaires, not stewards of the future for God’s sake !
    .
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    Fabius Maximus replies: You do not agree with the conclusions of the major food-related agencies on the planet. You dismiss the entire economics profession with a wave of your hand. You dismiss the literature about “political peaking” without reading it. All of that would be fine, except that you do not present data or logic to support your views. In fact, it appears you do not read other viewpoints (like those about the food crisis and political peaking), and so may be incapable of responding to them.

    There are hundreds or thousands of websites that welcome folks spouting their opinions in such a manner. However, this is not one of them. Your future comments will be held for review; I will post any imo appear worth the attention of this blog’s audience. Note: this is the first time I have taken this step.

  18. Don’t bother, I’m not coming back to this shoot-the-messenger, denial-party, peak-oil-is-millenias-away, the-current-crisis-are-caused-by-market-speculators-and-grey-aliens-and-there-is-no-real-issue sorry excused for a blog. Keep pretending you know something, loser, and keep doing so while you can still purchase food and gas.

    Don’t bother publishing this, at least you know what you are in for.
    .
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    Fabius Maximus replies: This dialog with “me” illustrates the power of dialog on the internet. Under pressure we often see the true metal of participants’ viewpoints. In this case, eventually “me” showed us that his opinions lacked a foundation, as he attacked my views without reading them. To briefly restate them.

    1. Speculation is not a significant factor in pushing up oil prices, except in the short-term.
    2. Peak Oil is coming; expert forecasts range from 2005 to 2050 — clustering near the end of this decade.
    3. Peak Oil presents a great danger to America and the global economy.
    4. Rapid and large-scale efforts must begin now to prepare.

    I have written 23 posts to date on our energy crisis. They can be found here:
    Peak Oil – an archive of resources

  19. Update to section D. Innovation

    Higher prices spark innovation, both new ways to do things and new technology. Here is just one of a thousand examples (none of these are magic bullets, their collective impact is impossible to foresee). “Making the World A Billion Times Better“, Ray Kurzweil, Washington Post (13 April 2008) — Read his Wikipedia bio! Excerpt:

    “Take energy. Today, 70 percent of it comes from fossil fuels, a 19th-century technology. But if we could capture just one ten-thousandth of the sunlight that falls on Earth, we could meet 100 percent of the world’s energy needs using this renewable and environmentally friendly source. We can’t do that now because solar panels rely on old technology, making them expensive, inefficient, heavy and hard to install. But a new generation of panels based on nanotechnology (which manipulates matter at the level of molecules) is starting to overcome these obstacles.

    “The tipping point at which energy from solar panels will actually be less expensive than fossil fuels is only a few years away. The power we are generating from solar is doubling every two years; at that rate, it will be able to meet all our energy needs within 20 years.”

  20. i agree that it is now hard to predict what the state of civilization will be in decades to come. but i don’t understand how you can trivialize what would have to be done to counter at the very least could be a drastic contraction in lifestyle.

    (1) to end section number III with the statement, “As stated above, all these things take time”, is meaningless. i can’t think of a problem that can’t be solved, if you don’t specify a time frame.

    (2) all of the solutions presented sound great, but with the crumbling infrastructure here in the us, i don’t know how you could possibly add any more capacity to transition away from fossil fuels, while keeping the party rolling.

    (3) a bigger issue i see is that if you start implementing those solutions, we will start to run into all kinds of resource depletion issues, in so many different areas. imagine the energy outlay needed to mine all the precious, and base metals, and minerals. it just may be impossible to scale up. here in california, such talk of additional electrical capacity, with the rolling brownouts about to begin, and water so plentiful that it can be used for anything but it’s current uses is laughable.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Thank you for your comments, which raise several interesting points.

    (1) Peak oil is a phenomenon taking place over a few decades, from now until 2 or 3 decades after peaking (by which the adjustment process is largely done, easy or hard). Which means from now thru 2050 at the outside (assume we start preparing now, peaking occurs in 20 years, then 20 more years for adaptation). The next 2 decades or so are critical, as they include the time in which peaking is likely to occur and the next decade (plus or minus) afterwards.

    (2) This goes to the lack of data and relevant analysis. What is the condition of our infrastructure? How quickly can we adapt. I do not know either answer, and I doubt anyone does. These questions are not easily answered by guessing, based on reading the NY Times.

    (3) I doubt there are other resource depletion constraints, other than oil (which by its nature is an unusual case). The major resource is time. Time to tap other sources: coal, nukes, solar, wind, etc. I have read the energy scarcity literature — do we have the energy to run the adaption process — and consider it interesting but highly speculative. As I have said, I want neither my surgeon nor energy planners to rely on inspired guessing.

    The 1970’s oil crisis was our warning, foreshadowing peak oil. We have wasted that time. Now we have no choice but to push ahead. The necessary data collection, analysis, planning, and execution must run together — much as it did in WWI and WWII. Some of the things you describe might be true. Other problems we do not see likely will emerge.

    From a long-term perspective this is just another problem, like the many others humanity has faced and survived.

    Why do you consider this analysis to “trivialize what would have to be done”?

  21. “Economies of scale”, “economies of scale” ….. I repeat it for emphasis. Why do I, on old ex socialist have to lecture people on how the free market works … arrgh.

    Many things that look expensive today will become dramatically cheaper as very large scale production ramps up.

    Take a simple example, Plasma or LCD large TV’s. Remember when they were $10,000, then $9,000 … now you get one for less than a $1,000. And they are a LOT harder to make than a PV. Let alone PCs.

    This would apply to PV, imagine PVs panels being turned out at the same rate as Plasma TVs? Right, you could buy one for the cost of a month’s groceries.

    Similar with solar thermal (basically using solar power to heat water or gas to turn tubines, several main designs, controlled mirrors to focus power or the ‘solar tower’ concept). Put that into mass production and watch the costs drop dramatically, especially since each one now has to be basically ‘hand built’. In mass production it can be assembled by less skilled and cheaper labour as it will come out of the factories in easy to assemble sections. Robots will build the mirrors and drop the costs, the rest is already ‘off the shelf’ technology. Capital investment is put in, increases productivity and lowers costs.

    Ditto wind (dropped in cost dramaticaly already and has still more to go) or geo-thermal, etc.

    Once you get a critical mass and get mass manufacturing is up and going then prices collapse, the free market does this sort of stuff very well. What Govt’s need to do is create the environment (and maybe some seed capital and money and tax breaks to start with) to get the ball rolling, to get over the hump of individual manufacturing (very expensive) to bulk mass manufacturing (very cheap).

    Then we all sit back and win …

  22. Ok, I’m a little confused. Maybe you can clarify things for me, Fabius Maximus.

    (1) You agree with Savinar that peak oil is real, serious and here. You agree that a major mitigation effort is necessary, and should have been well underway by now. He’s pessimistic that mitigation efforts will be made; you’re optimistic. You believe markets and innovation will help civilisation ride this out; he doesn’t. Am I clear on all this so far?

    (2) Furthermore, you seem to think being pessimistic about our options is destructive and limiting, and makes the worst case scenario more likely. Am I right here?

    (3) It seems to me that you agree with him about the severity of the threat peak oil represents. What you don’t like (to be a bit simplistic) is his tone. And you’ve written a whole big blog entry about how dumb he is to be so cynical.

    (4) Right, maybe you’ll attack me for not reading you properly or being stupid or whatever, but I do think the kind of hairsplitting you’re engaging in with this essay is a big waste of time. Surely, for someone aware of peak oil, there are more important things to be attacking than another peaknik’s difference in temperamental outlook. You’re positive, he’s negative. Big freakin’ deal.

    (5) I’d also like to submit that pessimists are necessary, however unpleasant it may be for us to listen to them. This culture has an over-optimistic slant. Scathing cynicism is a balancer, and can wake people up. And I do think Matt Savinar has probably woken more people up than he’s alienated. He’s definitely providing a public service. I lurk on the LATOC forum sometimes, and am pretty impressed with the people who post there. There’s a lot of talk of ‘zombie hordes’ and guns, sure… but there are also a lot of smart people working to mitigate the transition in their own lives and the lives of those close to them, having given up on big centralised solutions. It seems that far from turning people off, Savinar’s cynicism has spurred a great deal of action and enthusiasm. Fear can be a great motivator. Despair, accepted and lived with, can lead to a hard-boiled kind of hope.

    Anyway, I have to go outside and do something useful now. All this blathering is such a diversion, and such a load of crap.
    .
    .
    Fabius Maximus replies: Thanks for your comment, with clear points to discuss!

    (1) Agreed.

    (2) No, athough this is a minor point. I believe, but of course cannot prove, that these “doom is certain” warnings attract a small following (as a fraction of the total population), but are rightly ignored by the larger population — because they are almost always wrong. Structurally they are, I suspect, like cult religions.

    (3) Not so. If you read the post you would see highly specific objections, each with some supporting basis. His tone is fine with me.

    (4) No, imo putting Peak Oil into an accurate perspective is an important step, I believe, to “mainstreaming” it. I believe that the good analytical work in the field may be receive less attention than it deserves as the topic has become associated with folks preachning certain doom, extreme greens, and various extreme leftist ideologies.

    (5) I am not interested in labels, such as pessimistic or optimistic. Just data and analysis.

  23. EY, you raise great points. Yes I’m a pessimist, a sceptic, a cynic, occasionally an optimist, not often and I try to contain myself (the new drugs are helping tremendously).

    All I can pass on are a few words of experience:

    (1) Silly optimism kills. Smart optimism balanced by pessimism is different. This is personal experience. Look for years I was very keen scuba diver, I dove by the book, except when the book was totally ridiculous. I planned every dive, worked out contingency plans, trained and trained and trained. Listened to everyone that was good, basically sat at their feet and asked questions, listened and watched them. In all the years I dived, I had a few, real life threatening issues, but because of my training, because I had learned and listened I got though them (great stories around the campfire of course after a few beers).

    But here was a core, I had already (by others experience or by training) already experienced the worst so I was prepared, especially emotionally (helped me a lot when I nearly drowned the middle of a desert).

    (2) You can be a pessimistic sceptic and have a lot of fun. I have (do) driven real fast. Ridden motorcycles, scuba dived, done extensive 4WDing across the middle of Australia, etc. But you do it carefully.

    (3) Think long term, Example: buy a house. Never buy a house to make money. You need somewhere to live, somewhere you want to live, somewhere you like. But only at the right price, otherwise walk away. You will do ok. You will at least cover your costs, maybe make a couple of dollars.

    (4) Work on your skills – that’s also where you will really make money in the long term, people who are really good at what they do always get by. Be better, understand everything. Understand how to make things. Learn all the time. E.g learn about fusion, you may never be able to work in that area, but you may learn enough to make the right decision 20 years into the future in your company, your district or your State.

    (5) Watch your ass, that means your own mind, both your best asset and your worst enemy, your ‘allies’ (not friends, mates – and there are very few – always stick together). Hubris will kill you. Great success means, if you are not very careful, a huge failure next time .. yep I’ve done it. Or everyone watches you to be so closely that even been hinted at failure. Means your end.

    (6) Find your models to carry you through the rough patches: think Boyd, or Beer, or Feynman or Montgomery or … find your own. They will help you through the tough times.

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  25. It’s been almost a year since you published this piece. I have to ask, has your faith in markets since wavered? Are the free markets still capable of solving the problems of collapsing oil production even while seemingly incapable of saving themselves from collapse?

    And you compared “peak oil” to a religious cult. I tend to see free-market ideologues as a sort of Orthodox religion, or a funky sort of scholasticism.
    .
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Is this a communication from the Gamma Quadrent? Since the New Deal we have had a mixed economy, a public-private system. Esp in the financial services industry, the epicenter of the downturn. This is largely a regulatory failure, resulting from capture of the regulators by the regulated. It would not have happened in a free market system (at least, not on this scale), or in an adequately-run State.

    I agree with ou about the free-market ideologues, who provided much of the cover for the corruption of the financial system during the past 10 or so years. But they were the public face, the window-dressing for the big-money operators.

  26. I am sorry. I have just started to read your site & misread your position. Although it is usually free-market types that discount the possibility of dire consequences to peak oil. And usually they fail to distinguish between the theoretical free market, as you did, and the real economy that will interact with real world problem of peak oil production.

    At this point I don’t think peak oilers are organized or coherent enough to have reached cult status. For example, many Christians may vaguely believe in the Apocalypse during the near future, but I wouldn’t consider them cultist until they start supporting a leadership that ‘knows’ the exact date of doomsday.

  27. Solar power is a nice energy source, however if you want to capture 1/10000 of the sunlight that falls on Earth you will probably need to cover 1/1000 of the earth’ surface with solar panels.
    Ray Kurzweil is a nut job, he thinks in 20 years, human will become immortal cyborgs, and that in 2045 you’ll be able to buys a $1000 computer a billion times more intelligent than every human combined; so i wouldn’t take his predictions too seriously.

  28. I’ve said this in several posts: the real argument about peak oil is when it happpened? 2004, 2005, 2006 2007 or 2008? North Sea down the gurgler, Australia ditto, Indonesia ditto, Mexico very ditto … the list goes on. Production decline rates of 5%+ per year in every case. Look up the numbers. Future World oil production now rests on 3 very fragile towers. Saudi Arabia, with its very old Giant reservoirs … and whther they are telling the truth or not. Bad bet. Iraq kicking up its production in the next 5 years into the 7-10 million barrels a day. Right. Very, very, bad bet.

    Iran. The US is about to cut them off, or attack them very soon now. If that happens pick a number for dollars a barrel (your guess os a good as anyone’s) $250, $500, a thousand $? Get those bicycles out folks.
    .
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    FM reply: More making stuff up. Excess production capacity in place right now allows production to exceed the peak levels of the past 5 years. And production capacity will increase for the next few years based on existing capex plans. Actual production is limited by demand, and most people (except you) have noticed the global recession. Iraq has the ability to greatly increase production; the extent to which it will depends on political factors unknown to us all. The odds that it will do so during the next decade are IMO quite high.

    “Iran. The US is about to cut them off, or attack them very soon now”

    I’ve heard that for 5 years now, from people confidently making stuff up — just like you. During the past few years I have said that these rumors were false. And and still are, IMO.

  29. Nobody really wants it, but they will not be able to stop themselves. And, right back where I was when I first started reading about these things. Doh!

  30. "Oil Shocks in a Global Perspective: Are they Really that Bad?"

    Attached is new research supporting a important point often made but widely ignored: “Oil Shocks in a Global Perspective: Are they Really that Bad?“, Tobias N. Rasmussen and Agustín Roitman, IMF, August 2011.

    Abstract:

    Using a comprehensive global dataset, we outline stylized facts characterizing relationships between crude oil prices and macroeconomic developments across the world. Approaching the data from several angles, we find that the impact of higher oil prices on oil-importing economies is generally small: a 25% increase in oil prices typically causes GDP to fall by about half of one percent or less. While cross-country differences in impact are found to depend mainly on the relative size of oil imports, we also show that oil price shocks are not always costly for oil-importing countries: although higher oil prices increase the import bill, there are partly offsetting increases in external receipts. We provide a small open economy model illustrating the main transmission channels of oil shocks, and show how the recycling of petrodollars may mitigate the impact.

  31. Pingback: A Look at Forecasts for Peak Oil – and the End of Civilization « Föhrenbergkreis Finanzwirtschaft

    1. And the relevance of that is what? Just understanding the drivers of that would require considerable analysis, such as role of changing composition (eg, developed vs emerging world).

      Also, as experts like Hirsch have endlessly pointed out, the relevant measure is liquid fuels. For example, govt policy shifting usage to biofuels does not signal peak oil.

      By far the best indicator of approach to peak oil is change in the average real price of oil. That reflects both the supply/demand balance and price of producing the marginal new barrel. It remains roughly $100 vs 2008 peak above $150.

  32. Pingback: Who Wins and Who Loses in a World of Cheap Oil | Enjeux énergies et environnement

  33. As I sit here in 2017, looking at oil prices per barrel in the mid fifties (having come up a bit from the thirties in 2015), I reflect on the endless inventiveness of human beings. As our friends here said, market prices are a great signal to get going. Governmental mandates, subsidies, and regulations tend to being frozen in time and introduce distortions that are wasteful and ultimately counter-productive. Did the experts cited in this angst filled back and forth from 2007 and 2008 predict the fracking revolution that pulled the plug on $140/barrel oil? We’ll know we’ve reached peak oil when Al Gore and Matt Damon stop flying around in private jets to wail about climate change because jet fuel is too expensive. We’ll know we have a peak petroleum problem when the anti-nuclear power forces are routed in the court of public opinion because carbon-based power generation has become too expensive. Market price signals lead to effective action. Governmental policies and action lead to cronyism, incumbent protection, and stasis.
    Markets in everything.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor

      Amadeus,

      “Did the experts cited in this angst filled back and forth from 2007 and 2008”

      That’s an important point. The “peak oil” enthusiasts were mostly not experts. Such as the guru whose work is discussed in this post, Matt Savinar — an attorney who had no visible expertise in oil or energy, but (as his bio says):

      “has been quoted extensively on the floor of the United States Congress and has been featured prominently in the pages of Fortune Magazine. His website, LifeAftertheOilCrash.net is assigned reading at multiple university courses around the world.”

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