Because I did not specify the oil market, the
answers were more about the free market in general including the stock
market. Congressman Bartletts position is that the free market will not
be able provide more supply when depletion is setting in. He quoted Donald
Rumsfeld regarding peak oil: "The market will fix it." "As if," Bartlett
continued, "there are infinite resources. It will be a bumpy ride to a
transition, including a crash." Hirsch pointed out that in 1973 the Arab
Oil Embargo people panicked. He also said that there have been forecasts
of oil running out long ago, but "this time it is not crying wolf"
although peaking does not mean actually running out, as he said at the
outset. Bartlett pointed out that in the story of the Little Boy Who Cried
Wolf, "in the end the wolf came and ate the people."
Bartletts message is tremendously logical and moral:
Dont try to fulfill rising demand to cope with peak oil via supply
solutions because this would mean "more greenhouse gases" and just
increasing our future vulnerability to a greater supply crunch: "A bigger
fall later. We pigged out. Filling the gap (with supply) is intending to
further pig out."
Bartlett shows how pigging out is not necessary for
happiness. He shows a graph of nations happiness indicators compared to
their energy use, and sure enough, the U.S. is not at the very top in
happiness despite our energy gluttony.
He also hints that bridging the gap is unfeasible:
"For Canadian tar sands, 3 million barrels a day can be achieved in 10
years." Meanwhile, "more natural gas is used in the tar sands process than
(energy extracted)." It was refreshing to hear both Bartlett and Hirsch
call the deposits "tar sands" rather than the new, misleading name "oil
sands." As for oil shale, Bartlett likens it to "cooking the asphalt out
on the roads to get liquid oil," which is technically possible - but not
Bartletts presentations are far from dull. His
one-liners never stop: "Im a conservative but I try not to be an idiot."
The room laughed. "Were not going to satisfy our energy requirements from
agriculture" as the topsoil is depleted. "How are we going to grow food
without natural gas?"
The evening should have been videotaped for the widest
possible audience. C-SPAN was invited, but they feel they have covered the
Congressman quite a bit already. Not enough, in my opinion, but as oil
gets hotter as a subject, he will hopefully be in greater demand. Robert
Hirsch should be covered by the press much more than he (Hirsch) is.
Hirsch and Bartlett are high-powered scientists who
have tracked peak oil for years. These two men are the real leaders of our
country, if oil is our biggest issue. They arent the only leaders, but
the nation cannot do much worse than to ignore Drs. Hirsch and Bartlett. I
compared notes with Hirsch, who said he was "in the oil industry for 10
years and we did not talk about peak oil." I told him I had a similar
experience. The Congressman told Hirsch I was the same Lundberg as
Lundberg Survey, and I told them I learned more about oil after leaving
the industry and read Beyond Oil: The Threat to Food and Fuel in the
Robert Hirsch is Senior Energy Program Advisor at the
military/technology consulting firm SAIC. His presentation was clear,
supported by facts and references, and also frightening. He says, "Worry
now. The problem is enormous. There will be massive shortages unless we
act in time. But mitigation takes a long time. Peak oil is not a theory;
33 out of 48 of the largest oil producing countries have hit peak. There
is no warning for peak, as production goes up until the peak. After peak,
the drop off is sudden." He asks, Why should we not expect the world peak
to be like the examples weve seen for countries?"
"We are eating our seed corn" by using from 2 to 4
barrels of oil for every barrel discovered, he points out. He believes the
coming shortage due to peaking "will be a liquid fuels problem more than
an energy crisis. The Department of Defense will require enormous
investment, and 30-50 years of liquid fuels is essential at present." It
seems that Hirsch is projecting an inability to maintain force into the
future. One of the Dept. of Defense sponsors of the Energy Conversation is
the Office of Force Transformation.
"Nature is going to grab us and not give us an
opportunity to evolve." This is hampered, Hirsch says, by certain people
who "dont give us credible information." "Technology and price will not
save us. He goes on to explain that "oil is very different from minerals"
regarding extraction success in response to economics.
Hirschs "most optimistic case is an assumed crash
program" when people can agree the crisis is finally here. For mitigation,
he sees as the first and best measure "fuel efficiency" across the board.
Less-available measures, but close to implementation, are the maximizing
of tar sands and heavy oil, coal liquifaction, gas to liquids, and
enhanced oil recovery. But "the vehicle fleet is not replaceable fast." On
the subject of what happens to be President Bushs energy solution,
biofuels, Hirsch educated us that "It takes energy to deliver energy
biomass is not economic." He concluded by saying Peak Oil represents an
unprecedented, abrupt energy change or forced transition.
A more radical critique of the present economy and its
sprawling infrastructure suggests that "Any part that is integral to that
particular whole, that is made more efficient, makes the whole more
efficient at the destruction it does so well," according to Richard
"Depaving Guru" Register of Ecocity Builders.
Congressman Roscoe Bartlett quoted Condoleezza Rices
candid statement on energy earlier this month: "
nothing has really taken
me aback more as Secretary of State than the way that the politics of
energy is - I will use the word warping - diplomacy around the world... It
is, of course, an energy supply that is still heavily dependent on
hydrocarbons, which makes more difficult our desire to have growth,
environmental protection and reliable energy supply all in a package....
on the energy side, we have simply got to do something about the warping
now of diplomatic effort by the all-out rush for energy supply." Bartlett
observed that "it would be nice if policy matched words."
He points out that 4.3 years is how long U.S. oil
would last the nation if we only used domestic supplies. "Since 1980 weve
used more oil than weve found." He attacked deceptive projections by the
Energy Information Administration (Dept. of Energy) which represents a 50%
probability of optimistic oil production, as a future mean "its bizarre
to use statistics that way." He quoted a suppressed U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers study on peak oil that concludes "There is no alternative fuel
that can replace oil." He points out, "Why didnt we think that if
(geologist M. King) Hubbert was right about the U.S. peak (1970), why not
about world peak?"
Bartlett appears to be pro-nuclear power, although he
must know that the net energy from uranium mining and the whole process of
nuclear power is not attractive. Yet, if he were anti-nuclear too, there
would be little to distinguish him from a flaming radical
environmentalist. He allows also that if we attain fusion energy "then we
will be home free." Bartlett is very realistic: "In an aggressive program,
first is conservation." The overall approach must be likened to, he says,
"World War IIs effort (victory gardens), along with the effort to put a
man on the moon, and the Manhattan Project
the worst case is World War
III. We face a hard landing, the 1930s will look good. Or it could be The
Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse."
Upcoming Energy Conversation speakers include Jeremy
Rifkin on May 22. The crowd will be "forearmed" to evaluate Rifkins
claims for a potential Hydrogen Economy. On June 20 Matt Simmons, author
of Twilight in the Desert, will hold forth.
* * * * *
Attend the DC Petrocollapse May 6th at the All Souls
Church, Unitarian, from 9 A.M. to 7 P.M. Richard Heinberg, the top peak
oil author, is among the speakers. Film premieres for Washington: "The
Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil" and "Our Synthetic Sea." A
music program by peak oilers tops off the event. Details and registration
are online at http://www.petrocollapse.org
Local Solutions to the Energy Dilemma: Conference
April 27 29 in New York City. Speakers include Jan Lundberg, Jim
Kunstler, Derrick Jensen, Matt Savinar, Mike Ruppert, and too many more to
mention. See http://www.energysolutionsconference.org/
Congressman Roscoe Bartlett: THE PEAKING OF WORLD OIL,
House of Representatives, February 8, 2006 [Great graphs!]: http://www.peakoil.net/Publications/PeakOilSpclOrder%2315TextCharts020806Low.pdf
Robert Hirsch's "Shaping the peak of world oil
production" from World Oil, Oct. 2005: http://www.worldoil.com/magazine/MAGAZINE_DETAIL.asp?ART_ID=2696&MONTH_YEAR=Oct-2005
The San Francisco Peak Oil Resolution is available
online at http://www.sfbayoil.org/sfoa/media/resolution_to_board.pdf
Interviews on this resolution
with members of San Francisco Oil Awareness are available online at
Ecocity Builders, Oakland, California, Richard
Register, founder: http://ecocitybuilders.org/