Subject: Peak Oil Presentation in the US Congress One of the few scientists in Congress (a conservative Republican, whatever that means) apparently made an
Message 1 of 1
, Apr 2, 2005
Subject: Peak Oil Presentation in the US Congress
One of the few scientists in
Congress (a conservative Republican, whatever that means) apparently made an
hour-long presentation on Monday, March 14, on Peak Oil to that body.
The URL leads to the transcript, which is unbelievably candid and
interesting. Here are some excerpts:
In every decade, we used as much oil as had been used
in all of previous history. The reason for that, of course, was that we were on
the upward side of this bell curve. The bell curve for usage, only part of it is
shown on this chart. That is the green one down here, the bell curve for usage.
Notice that we are out here now about 2005. Where is it going? The Energy
Information Agency says that we are going to keep on using more oil. This green
line just going up and up and up is a projection of the Energy Information
Agency. But that cannot be true. That cannot be true for a couple of
What are the
consequences? What are the consequences of this depletion? . Lower profits are
not the only concern......
What is the current U.S. status? We have only 2 percent, between 2 and 3
percent, not really known for certain, but approximately 2 percent of the known
reserves of oil. We use 25 percent of the world's oil. By the way, we have about
8 percent of the world production. What that means is if we have only 2 percent
of the reserves and 8 percent of the production, that means we are real good at
pumping oil, does it not? That means we are pumping our reserves at roughly four
times faster than the rest of the world. That means that this 2 percent will not
stay 2 percent by and by because we are so good at pumping oil, we are going to
be down to 1 percent of the known reserves in the world and we will still be
using about 25 percent of the world's oil.
What now? Where do we go now? One observer, Matt
Savinar, who has thoroughly researched the options, and this is not the most
optimistic assessment, by the way, but may be somewhat realistic, he starts out
by saying, Dear Readers, civilization as we know it is coming to an end soon. I
hope not. This is not the wacky proclamation of a doomsday cult, apocalypse
Bible sect or conspiracy theory society. Rather, it is a scientific conclusion
of the best-paid, most widely respected geologists, physicists and investment
bankers in the world. These are rational, professional, conservative individuals
who are absolutely terrified by the phenomenon known as global peak
Oil, as the
Members may have noticed, is $54 or $55 a barrel. I saw the other day one future
had sold for $100 a barrel, and the experts are saying we are probably going to
see $60 before we see $50. We will wait and see.
Let me give a little
example of what the problem is and why this is almost certainly true. One barrel
of oil, 42 gallons of oil, equals the productivity of 25,000 manhours. That is
the equivalent of having 60 dedicated servants that do nothing but work for
someone.....of the general renewables, there is nothing out there with that kind
only so much wood to cut. Easter Island had that experience. When they cut the
last tree, they totally changed the ecology. The Bible talks about the
large clusters of grapes and the honey and so forth that they found when the
spies went out. That now is a desert. The Cedars of Lebanon, the grand Cedars of
Lebanon that built the temple, that is now largely a desert. Why is it a desert?
Because they cut the trees, they changed the environment, they changed the
gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Gilchrest) mentioned our increasing
efficiency. We have done a great job. Our refrigerators today are probably twice
as efficient as they were 20 or 30 years ago. But instead of a little
refrigerator, we have a big one. Instead of one, we may have two. So I will bet
we are using as much electricity in our refrigeration as we ever
Electrons in a
wire are very different than oil in a pipeline. Put a gallon of oil in a
pipeline up at Prudhoe Bay, and a gallon will come out where it goes on the
ship. If we put electrons in a line which is long enough, nothing will come out
in the other end. It is called line loss. And they knew that in their
small communities, widely distributed, with the enormous line losses they had
from big plants, that they would be better off with distributed
We now are
doing a lot of talking here in the Congress and fortunately across the country
about Social Security, and it is a big problem. But I tell the Members if the
problem of Social Security is equivalent to the tidal wave produced by the
hurricane, then this peak oil problem is equivalent to the tsunami. The impact
and the consequences are going to be enormously greater than the impact and the
consequences of Social Security or Medicare or those two put together.
Is there any reason to remain optimistic or hopeful? Let me go back to
Matt Savinar, that not-too-optimistic journalist. ``If what you mean is there
any way technology or the market or brilliant scientists or comprehensive
government programs are going to hold things together or solve this for me or
allow for business to continue as usual, the answer is no. On the other hand, if
what you really mean is is there any way that I still can have a happy,
fulfilling life, in spite of some clearly grim facts, the answer is yes. But it
is going to require a lot of work, a lot of adjustments, and probably a bit of
good fortune on your part.''
I suspect that our hour is about up, and
this is maybe a good place to end. We are going to come back and spend another
hour looking at agriculture, enormous opportunities from agriculture. But let me
remind the gentleman that we are just barely able to feed the world now. And if
we start taking all of this biomass off the field, what is going to happen to
the tilth of our soil, to the organic matter in our soil, which is essential to
the availability of nutrients in the soil by the plant. So there are lots of
challenges here. There are lots of opportunities here. And we will spend another
hour talking about them. Thank you very much. And I yield back, Mr. Speaker.
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