23 November 2012

Peak Oil Doomers Must Adapt to New Realities or Go Insane

Something very odd has happened on the way to peak oil doom and societal collapse: Reality happened, and it spoiled all the doomers' fun.

Some doomers have proven themselves able to adapt. They have rolled with the punches and come up singing a new song more closely in tune with real world developments. Andrew McKillop is such an example of a former doomer who started to pay attention to what was happening in the real world:
The Olduvai Gorge theory of Richard Duncan was that human society would be forced back to the anthropoid ape stage of evolution by peak oil and energy scarcity... Duncan's angle, developed in the late 1990s, was that peak oil and energy resource depletion would firstly make inevitable, then speed up this retreat and defeat of Humanity, as human society was forced back to hunting and gathering....

Among the admirers of Richard Duncan and his "back to the jungle" theory, Britain's Prince Charles and the USA's Bill Clinton have surely consumed a lot of jetfuel kerosene as well as motor gasoline in their lives, to date, and kept away from hunter gathering, as shown by their ability to avoid paperazzi and photo opportunity hunters. They also kept Duncan's gory theory of mass human die off and backward evolution to hunting-gathering, due to Peak Oil and fossil energy depletion, out of nearly all of their speeches. As we know, certainly in recent years, the elite fear of peak oil has been replaced by global warming fear - as the best excuse to impose "world government", unelected of course.


Duncan's theory was given significant media attention about 10 years ago, and was heavily cited by supporters of the US Gas Cliff theory, promoted by writers including Julien Darley and Michael Ruppert in 2004-2006, and by promoters of Doomsday energy shortage and oil soaring to $200 a barrel, such as Matt Simmons. The Gas Cliff theory, we can note, argued that gas resource depletion was running so fast, that US gas resources would be "practically exhausted" by about 2015. Today, we know that we face a towering cliff of unconventional gas resources - discovered since only 2007. Discoveries of unconventional gas march on and up, implying that probably 200 years, or more, of current world gas consumption are now available as exploitable resources, worldwide.

...Olduvai Gorge theory may have been exciting, to Prince Charles or Bill Clinton, but other changes have happened and are happening in global energy in a global macroeconomic context that itself is changing very fast. These fundamental changes will continue to build going forward, making for the unsurprising forecast of further decline in oil's role in world energy, geopolitics and the economy. This role will gradually erode and fade as the oil price starts to converge, at a lower level, with prices for all other forms and types of energy. Like Hubbert's theory of the 1950s, and the PO theory of 1998-2008, the Olduvai Gorge theory posited ever declining world consumption of oil - dictated by supply side decline. Demand side decline is also possible, in fact current reality, but the mechanism and process of decline and shift, away from oil, are light years away from Olduvai Gorge._Andrew McKillop
But for some peak oil doomers, the money is just too good to pass up. They struggle to keep the faithful within the flock, so as to keep their cash flow coming in. One of those who continues to make a lucrative living off of doom is James Howard Kuntsler. Although he may take a licking from reality's callous slings and arrows, he keeps ticking along with the same old message of doom & collapse:
Here’s why the shale oil story is not the “game changer” that the wishful claim it is: the price required to get it out of the ground (between $80-90 a barrel) will crush the US economy. Since prices are already in that range, the economy is already being crushed.

The result is an economy in more-or-less permanent contraction. As demand for oil falls with declining economic activity the price of oil falls – below the level that makes it worthwhile to conduct expensive shale oil drilling and fracking operations.

...I have one flat-out prediction, one I have made before but deserves repeating: Japan will be the first society to consciously opt out of being an advanced industrial economy. They have no other apparent choice really, having next-to-zero oil, gas, or coal reserves of their own, and having lost faith in nuclear power. They will be the first country to enter a world made by hand. They were very good at it before about 1850 and had a pre-industrial culture of high artistry and grace – though, granted, all the defects of human psychology.

I don’t think the US can make that transition in an orderly way. We’re too stricken with techno-narcissism and grandiosity...My guess is that being predisposed to superstition and religious fanaticism, the American public will violently reject science and rationality and retreat into a world of shadows.

We’re already well on our way. _JamesHowardKuntsler
Kuntsler was very angry at a recent IEA report that predicted that the US would soon out-produce Saudi Arabia in terms of oil production.

Kuntsler feels threatened by the idea that industrial societies may not be on the brink of collapse after all. And he should feel that way. If his many followers begin to doubt his gospel, he may soon lose the greater portion of his income.

The peak oil doom believers are in a quandry. Who are they to believe? Their prophets of doom, or their lying eyes that tell them that -- year after year -- their societies do not seem to be ready to collapse just yet, despite the decades of doom predictions.

For the quasi-religions of overpopulation doom, environmental doom, and energy scarcity doom there is no scarcity of true believers. There is "a sucker born every minute." In a rapidly ageing western society, there is a senile brain born every minute. And these senile brains are ripe for the picking by the doom prophets.

Not to mention the millions of young and dumbed down brains, courtesy of government factories of indoctrination and perpetual incompetence otherwise known as government schools. Abundant fodder for the prophets of doom indeed.

But as the years pass by without such dooms coming to pass -- despite the best efforts of sensationalist news media, opportunistic politicians, and a well-conditioned academia to drum up deep feelings of crisis, doom, and imminent collapse -- a cognitive dissonance tends to set in. Either the true believer will adapt to real trends that break through the cultural smokescreen, or he will begin to lose his ability to reason independently.

Much money is riding on mass belief. Whoever controls public opinion -- and counts the votes -- will stand to gain power and wealth beyond imagining.

An analysis of predictions that the world will starve for lack of phosphorus and potash

Matt Ridley: Apocalypse Maybe?

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Blogger Bruce Hall said...

Geez, now you tell me after I bought 100 acres of hardwoods full of deer on a lake filled with fish and put a Vermont Castings fireplace and stove in my log cabin stocked with 30-06 rifles and ammo.

Might as well just go back to Manhattan.

Friday, 23 November, 2012  
Blogger Ian Brett Cooper said...

Glad to see we can still count on Al Fin for the best in unintentional humor.

Friday, 23 November, 2012  
Blogger al fin said...

Bruce: No, you can still rent it out to doomers until they finally give up and go back to Manhattan.

Ian: No, it's very much intentional, and the joke's on you chum!


Friday, 23 November, 2012  
Blogger icr said...

You don't believe in peak oil, but you see an "impending economic catastrophe"-aren't many of the doomers motivated by fear of the latter?

Friday, 23 November, 2012  
Blogger al fin said...

icr: If you look at much of the third world today and places like North Korea, many of the people there are living the kind of lives which western doomers would consider TEOTWAWKI.

Economic catastrophe is not difficult for politicians to achieve. Not at all. Even "political peak oil" is not so far-fetched -- where quasi peak oil conditions are brought about by political actions.

But true resource scarcity in free societies with free markets is another matter, and not likely in the absence of utter political stupidity. But ---- just allow and encourage current demographic trends to continue for several more decades, and the resulting general stupidity of populations will make it easier for any number of impending catastrophes to occur. And they will become much harder to emerge from.

Friday, 23 November, 2012  
Blogger MnMark said...

I first began on my path to political conservatism (via libertarianism) when I stumbled across a book by Julian Simon titled "The End of Scarcity." He argued that scarce resources never stay scarce because their rising price spurs people to find news sources, more efficient ways of using them, or alternatives to them. Julian Simon has passed on but he would be enjoying the "Peak Oil" hullabaloo. Just as he would have predicted, the rising oil prices spurred development of new sources and alternatives such as shale oil and gas. Not to mention the possible copper/hydrogen cold fusion in development. We may be on the verge of a new glorious era of incredibly cheap energy, which is going to be quite a disappointment to the oil doomsters like that foul-mouthed left winger Kuntsler.

And probably the enstupidation of the population through higher birthrates of the stupid is a trend that contains within it the seeds of its end as well. I suppose with a dramatic die-off of the stupid and hardening and winnowing of the smart through some economic catastrophe or war.

Friday, 23 November, 2012  
Blogger Matt M said...

Just remember - on any given day - the bureaucrats in DC can make the stupidest decision in the history of mankind.

Saturday, 24 November, 2012  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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