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Peak Oil in Congress

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  • jclem412@aol.com
    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 reasons.....

      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....

      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 of density....

      There is 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 climate.

      And 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 used....

      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 production.....

      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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