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post #81 of 168
again, this is a self correcting problem. as the price of oil rises, the viability of other, currently more expensive fuels level out.

reminds me of the panic over what the entire would do with all the horse shit from the horse and buggy "problem".

when someone can make a buck selling me and you another fuel source they will. never underestimate the power of greed.
post #82 of 168
It does feel like that ... but ... I can't debunk it.

Oil is the most efficient energy source we've had. Efficiency of fuel (the work it can do per unit, including cost of exploitation) is directly related to the efficiency of our economy.

Anything but oil means a hammering of the economy. If oil gets more expensive, it doesn't make any other energy source cheaper. And if they could sell you something else, you think they wouldn't?
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post #83 of 168
Quote:
Originally posted by shetline
The problem with this kind of technological optimism is that you can only hope, you can't expect, that new technologies and new fuels will come along just in time to save our collective ass. The analogy between the earlier coal-to-oil transition is at best a rough one, with no guaranteed level of applicability to the oil-to-as-yet-unknown-energy-solution that we'll have to go through in the possibly near future.

About the best you can say is that maybe things aren't as grim as the Peak Oil web site at the start of this thread would have you think. Maybe our oil supply will last us a little longer, maybe better technology will bring down the cost of extracting our diminishing oil reserves, maybe we'll get another 10, 20, or even 30 years to get in gear and really implement new energy sources. Maybe.

Of course, even if we do have a bit more time to spare, I suspect the likeliest scenario is that we'll simply squander the extra time and only delay, not avert, disaster.

Our best hope -- and it's only hope, not inevitability -- is that we do have a few more years to spare, and during that time some great new, cheap-and-easy-to-implement energy source comes along, one so attractive that even oil at today's prices would face stiff competition from this new source.

Even in the above scenario, we might go through some rough transition phases. There would be a lot of economic displacement in the oil and transportion industries. If you think the Arab world hates the Western world now, and Americans in particular, think about how they'd be feeling if the price of oil, along with many oil-dependent Arab economies, came crashing down around them.

I disagree with this. You can expect technology to impove and save our asses as you put it. In fact you must expect because the alternative is some lucky person will get ahold of the last drop of energy left on the planet and use it while the rest of us die off. Not gonna happen.

Technology is driven in large part by needs. At the turn of the century people needed a better source of power for person and industrial use. It came in the form of the IC. Now we have a depleating supply of oil (which I might add has been depleating to scary lows for as long as I can remember, but we keep finding more anyway), so technology WILL step in to improve our situation.

What's your (your being anyone who reads this thread) average turnaround when buying a car. Me, I get a new car every five or six years. I still have my 79 bass add TA with the 455 (don't say they didn't make it with a 455, I put it in myself), and my 94 Mustang with its 351, but my daily driver is a 4 banger VW Golf TDI that get 35'ish MPG. In about 3 or 4 years, I'll go out and get a new set of wheels and I dare say it will be a hybrid. Look at the sale of Toyot Prius's this year. People are buying more fuel efficient vehicles because the cost of energy is forcing them to while to production costs are comming down to acceptible levels. Here's a case where technology stepped in to fill a gap. People are sick of paying $25 for 400miles worth of driving, so now they pat $25 for 800 miles of driving.

This is how technology works. Someone sees a need and figures out a wy to fill it. A lot of times this leads to financial gains but not always. In the end though, technology is always driving ahead in some reguard. The Model-T got 25 MPG, but it didn't have that much get-up-and-go. Time and innovation improved our ability to make power, now we are faced with the prospect of deminishing reserves, so people are asking themselves "Do I really need 300Hp?" A lot of people are saying no. No I don't need that much power because my Prius get me there with a combined fuel efficiency of 55MPG.

So, if over the next 5 or 6 years 20% of the population buys into Hybrids, our national fuel needs will diminish substantially thus extending the life of oil reserves.

What about other technologies? Solar cars have been limited by the cost of cells, but a recent development http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/biztech...ar.cells.reut/ may lead to a more widespread use. Also, the type of electric motors used in electric cars are being reexamined. Outrunner AC motors are more efficient than conventional DC so there's a way to use technology available for about 100 years to improve our lives.

Technology will fill the gaps barring any massive population dieoffs because of war or the like.
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post #84 of 168
Quote:
Originally posted by alcimedes
again, this is a self correcting problem. as the price of oil rises, the viability of other, currently more expensive fuels level out.

reminds me of the panic over what the entire would do with all the horse shit from the horse and buggy "problem".

when someone can make a buck selling me and you another fuel source they will. never underestimate the power of greed.

Don't overestimate the power of greed and market forces either.

The only thing history has taught us about capitalism is that it generally works better than other systems, like command economies, not that the capitalism and market economies always responds optimally or in a timely manner.

A major point of the Peak Oil scenario is that market forces won't supply sufficient counterpressure until things are well out of hand, on the downward side of the oil supply bell curve. You can argue whether this is true or not, but you can't dismiss it out of hand as if it weren't a real possibility.

Some situations in life are like being asked to jump off a moving train. You'd rather not jump off at all while the train is moving. If someone tells you "You'd better jump off because the train's brakes are going to fail, we're headed down hill, and we're going to crash", it's easier to dismiss the guy telling you this as a crackpot than it is jump. This guy may well be a crackpot.

But suppose this guy is right. The longer you wait, the longer you hesitate to jump off the train, the faster the train gets, the more it's going to hurt to jump, and the harder it is to actually make yourself jump.

People don't want to jump off the oil train. It's not clear that it's going to crash any time soon, it's a fairly comfortable ride right now, and the pain of jumping off doesn't seem worth it. By time the ride starts getting bumpy and the downhill speed starts to scare people, jumping off might be too hard to do.

As for the power of greed: How long have people wanted to avoid death? The "market" has responded with varying levels of medical care and personal protection, but it hasn't come up with immortality pills yet, has it? The existence of greed is not a sufficient guarantee that viable alternatives to oil can or will be produced at all, or produced and deployed to a sufficient degree to avoid severe economic pain or downright catastrophe.

In fact, the often short-term time horizons that go along with greed are likely to be more of a problem in the Peak Oil scenario than would be offset by the positive motivational aspects of greed. Market economies depend on enlightened self interest. Humans, however, repeatedly demonstrate a great dearth of enlightenment when it comes to balancing present desires with future needs.
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post #85 of 168
Quote:
Originally posted by shetline
Don't overestimate the power of greed and market forces either.

The only thing history has taught us about capitalism is that it generally works better than other systems, like command economies, not that the capitalism and market economies always responds optimally or in a timely manner.

A major point of the Peak Oil scenario is that market forces won't supply sufficient counterpressure until things are well out of hand, on the downward side of the oil supply bell curve. You can argue whether this is true or not, but you can't dismiss it out of hand as if it weren't a real possibility.

Some situations in life are like being asked to jump off a moving train. You'd rather not jump off at all while the train is moving. If someone tells you "You'd better jump off because the train's brakes are going to fail, we're headed down hill, and we're going to crash", it's easier to dismiss the guy telling you this as a crackpot than it is jump. This guy may well be a crackpot.

But suppose this guy is right. The longer you wait, the longer you hesitate to jump off the train, the faster the train gets, the more it's going to hurt to jump, and the harder it is to actually make yourself jump.

People don't want to jump off the oil train. It's not clear that it's going to crash any time soon, it's a fairly comfortable ride right now, and the pain of jumping off doesn't seem worth it. By time the ride starts getting bumpy and the downhill speed starts to scare people, jumping off might be too hard to do.

As for the power of greed: How long have people wanted to avoid death? The "market" has responded with varying levels of medical care and personal protection, but it hasn't come up with immortality pills yet, has it? The existence of greed is not a sufficient guarantee that viable alternatives to oil can or will be produced at all, or produced and deployed to a sufficient degree to avoid severe economic pain or downright catastrophe.

In fact, the often short-term time horizons that go along with greed are likely to be more of a problem in the Peak Oil scenario than would be offset by the positive motivational aspects of greed. Market economies depend on enlightened self interest. Humans, however, repeatedly demonstrate a great dearth of enlightenment when it comes to balancing present desires with future needs.

But we're not on the runaway train twiddeling our thumbs. People are innovating. Hybrids are here to stay. Fuel cells are being developed. New solar cells are being developed and used. More efficient wind turbins are being developed and used. Lower energy appliances are being developed and used. Coal fire plants are being replaced with coal fume gas turbines (AKA coal-gasification gas turbines)which are more efficient and don't use oil. We are not waiting for the train to crash. We saw the train crash in the 70's when OPEC formed. Since that time we have been innovating to improve power, performance, and efficiency. We are not going to wake up tomorrow and find out "Opps, someone turned the oil off."

Also, markets are not driven by enlightened self interest. You need to remove the enlightened part as the late 90's and early 2000 market boom showed. People were buing anything and everthing they could get their greedy paws on not because of enlightened decision but because of greedy self interest. I think the enlightened part was put in by traders an analysts to make themselves look/feel superior.
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post #86 of 168
Quote:
Originally posted by faust9
But we're not on the runaway train twiddeling our thumbs. People are innovating. Hybrids are here to stay. Fuel cells are being developed. New solar cells are being developed and used. More efficient wind turbins are being developed and used. Lower energy appliances are being developed and used. Coal fire plants are being replaced with coal fume gas turbines (AKA coal-gasification gas turbines)which are more efficient and don't use oil. We are not waiting for the train to crash. We saw the train crash in the 70's when OPEC formed. Since that time we have been innovating to improve power, performance, and efficiency. We are not going to wake up tomorrow and find out "Opps, someone turned the oil off."

The argument of the Peak Oil scenario is that none of this is happening fast enough. These efforts might add up to nothing more than a few passengers starting to discuss the best way to jump ("Should we try to roll when we land?"), and maybe an even smaller number making the jump, while most of the passengers are oblivious to or unconvinced about any looming danger.
Quote:
Also, markets are not driven by enlightened self interest. You need to remove the enlightened part as the late 90's and early 2000 market boom showed. People were buing anything and everthing they could get their greedy paws on not because of enlightened decision but because of greedy self interest. I think the enlightened part was put in by traders an analysts to make themselves look/feel superior.

You're making my point for me. When I said "Market economies depend on enlightened self interest", perhaps I should have been clearer: Market economies depend on enlightment in order to function optimally.

When markets don't get that enlightenment, they don't function optimally. The bust that followed the 2000 boom demonstrates that quite well.
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post #87 of 168
Quote:
Originally posted by faust9
But we're not on the runaway train twiddeling our thumbs.

Like Shetline, I'll take issue with this, but somewhat more strongly. It seems to me that the great bulk of the population is doing precisely this, and the engineers up the front of the train are furiously -- and so far vainly -- trying to apply the brakes.

If we continue the metaphor a little longer, I would add that the engineers don't particularly want the passengers to find out what's happening: the passengers can't do anything to help, but a panicked mob would only add to their problems. So, the engineers declare to the passengers that the American way of life is not negotiable, and endeavour to steer the train onto tracks that will allow it to crash a little less catastrophically than it might otherwise have done.

All this is relatively benign so far as it goes, but squabbling over declining yields of finite resources is pretty much the definition of a zero-sum game. One person's win is another person's loss.

So energy resources in foreign lands are secured by military force, and the engineers concoct self-serving fables to paint these actions as noble deeds. And the public remain complacent, ignorant and easily distracted, because that is what they've been trained to be.

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post #88 of 168
Quote:
Originally posted by faust9
I disagree with this. You can expect technology to impove and save our asses as you put it. In fact you must expect because the alternative is some lucky person will get ahold of the last drop of energy left on the planet and use it while the rest of us die off. Not gonna happen.

Technology is driven in large part by needs.

The key phrase here is "in large part". Technology is also driven by available knowledge, which doesn't always come when you call no matter how much you need it, by infrastructure, which takes time and energy to build, and by the laws of physics, which are pretty damned unimpressed by market forces.

It is foolish optimism to not merely hope, but to expect as inevitable, that "we will rise to the occasion". There are no such guarantees, and it indeed takes a curious reading of history to imagine such guarantees exist.

As for what the downside looks like: No, not "some lucky person" getting "the last drop". The chaos would start well before the last drop was reached, as scarcity and cost drove prices unbearably high. Some fraction of the remaining reserves would probably be left over because famine and death by attrition would quite effectively lower demand before the bottom of the last oil well was reached -- not to mention the havoc these bad times would bring to our ability to get at the oil we had left: oil platforms and rigs bombed, scarcity of fuel needed to get at and refine more fuel, loss of expertise due to deaths of key personnel caused by war and famine, inability of a crippled economy to produce spare parts and to fulfill other maintenance needs, etc.
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post #89 of 168
Quote:
Originally posted by boy_analog
Like Shetline, I'll take issue with this, but somewhat more strongly. It seems to me that the great bulk of the population is doing precisely this, and the engineers up the front of the train are furiously -- and so far vainly -- trying to apply the brakes.

If we continue the metaphor a little longer, I would add that the engineers don't particularly want the passengers to find out what's happening: the passengers can't do anything to help, but a panicked mob would only add to their problems. So, the engineers declare to the passengers that the American way of life is not negotiable, and endeavour to steer the train onto tracks that will allow it to crash a little less catastrophically than it might otherwise have done.

All this is relatively benign so far as it goes, but squabbling over declining yields of finite resources is pretty much the definition of a zero-sum game. One person's win is another person's loss.

So energy resources in foreign lands are secured by military force, and the engineers concoct self-serving fables to paint these actions as noble deeds. And the public remain complacent, ignorant and easily distracted, because that is what they've been trained to be.

Oooooh look! A nipple!


But again, technology IS advancing. I gave a couple examples of this advancement. I don't know how much higher math you've had, but there are general theorms, or models, that describe the time required for a technology to spread. Spreading of a technology doesn't happen overnight but it does and will happen. I'll point to the Prius again as an example. Toyota can't keep it in the lots but take a swing by the Hummer lot. Yup still stocked with H2's. Economics, and technology are forcing consumers to searchout more fuel efficient coices. This same thing is happening in the energy markets where Green providers are charging slightly more but providing clean sources of power.

The argumnets I've seen thus far are basically "We can't wait for technology". To that end I say crack a book on engineering history and trace the steps of advancement. Technology advances independent of market forces. People develope new technologies when they see a need that fills an otherwise empty void. This has happened singe the beginning of human existance and will continue to happen.

Most new technologies are not developed by industries nor does the Dow or FTSE play a roll in their development. Technology development is an inane human trait resulting from our creativity. More efficient cars ARE on the market, and gaining popularity. Better sources of energy ARE on the grid and gaining popularity. You can't refute that, so I don't see how you can say "We can't wait for technology." You have to no matter what.

History has shown many technologies developed outside the confines of the markets: The internet, FreeBSD (powers the Macs)-- both were thought up by AT&T thinktank, but the real development happend at UC Berkley with little to no expectation of monetary gain. The Jet engine was developed for the war industry, the automobile was developed as a way to replace horses... Most of these developments, and many others, occured outside the confines of what people thought was possible or probible. Flight happened outside of market influences. I can go on all day, but I know no matter how many examples of current technology or how many glimpses at technology are the corner, Henny Penny will still say the sky is falling. Its not falling. When the cost of fuel A excedds the cost of fuel B we will switch. This switch will drive down the cost of fuel B.

Quote:
The key phrase here is "in large part". Technology is also driven by available knowledge, which doesn't always come when you call no matter how much you need it, by infrastructure, which takes time and energy to build, and by the laws of physics, which are pretty damned unimpressed by market forces.

No, here again I disagree. People in the technology sectors have immediate access to all published research. You might not be a member SAE, but I am, and I read papers, both old and new, regularly. The information is available, and as time has passed information availablity has also advanced.

PS I'm not a foolish optomist, I'm a pragmatist who has worked with new technologies long enough to know it's out there and people will find it when the time comes.

Quote:
As for what the downside looks like: No, not "some lucky person" getting "the last drop". The chaos would start well before the last drop was reached, as scarcity and cost drove prices unbearably high. Some fraction of the remaining reserves would probably be left over because famine and death by attrition would quite effectively lower demand before the bottom of the last oil well was reached -- not to mention the havoc these bad times would bring to our ability to get at the oil we had left: oil platforms and rigs bombed, scarcity of fuel needed to get at and refine more fuel, loss of expertise due to deaths of key personnel caused by war and famine, inability of a crippled economy to produce spare parts and to fulfill other maintenance needs, etc.

A doomsday scenerio more bleak than my glib suggestion. We wont get here because we will develope a new way of making power. We still have nuclear though people don't want it in their backyard. We still have natural sources which will be developed before we peak out in oil production.

You can cry "The sky is falling, The sky is falling" until the cows come home, but in the end the cows will come home, the sky wont fall, and someone will find a new way to do things. That is our history, and the history of technology development.
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post #90 of 168
There's more to oil than just 'energy'. You can make cars run on water, but the gears still need lubrication. You need oil to make the plastics (PLASTICS!) that everything is made out of. Your roads that your cars run on need oil.

Oil is everywhere. The cost of living will increase dramatically.
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post #91 of 168
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by bunge
There's more to oil than just 'energy'. You can make cars run on water, but the gears still need lubrication. You need oil to make the plastics (PLASTICS!) that everything is made out of. Your roads that your cars run on need oil.

Oil is everywhere. The cost of living will increase dramatically.

yeah, but energy consumes so much of it, I'm not saying that we need to cut oil out of our lives entirely, but we need to cut back our dependency on it DRASTICALLY.

that means, only use it for things that can't be made otherwise.
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post #92 of 168
Quote:
Originally posted by Wrong Robot
that means, only use it for things that can't be made otherwise.

Yes, but if we've passed the peak oil stage, getting even smaller amounts will be expensive.

The damn war in Iraq could have paid the cost of converting our current petrol infrastructure to natural gas or hydrogen.
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post #93 of 168
Quote:
Originally posted by bunge

The damn war in Iraq could have paid the cost of converting our current petrol infrastructure to natural gas or hydrogen. [/B]

Well, maybe. But Haliburton doesn't do that kind of work!
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post #94 of 168
First of all, let me clearly state that I don't think that Peak Oil Armageddon is inevitable, merely that it's a real and worrisome possibility that shouldn't be dismissed too lightly. You, however, do seem ready to completely, or nearly so, dismiss this possibility, and it's that casual dismissal with which I can't agree.
Quote:
Originally posted by faust9
I gave a couple examples of this advancement. I don't know how much higher math you've had, but there are general theorms, or models, that describe the time required for a technology to spread. Spreading of a technology doesn't happen overnight but it does and will happen...

...The argumnets I've seen thus far are basically "We can't wait for technology". To that end I say crack a book on engineering history and trace the steps of advancement. Technology advances independent of market forces. People develope new technologies when they see a need that fills an otherwise empty void. This has happened singe the beginning of human existance and will continue to happen.

You can't derive from general trends of technological advance that specific solutions to specific problems will come out of that advance.

Plenty of needs go unfulfilled by technology all of the time. Bubonic plaque rampaged through Europe, all without spurring medical technology beyond leeches and chanting in time to save millions from untimely deaths. In the 1330's, one third of the population of Europe simply died.

In more recent times, the death toll on all sides in World War II was around 50 million. 50 million people needed to be saved, but technology mainly rose to the cause of helping to kill them. Technology was also used in defense, of course, but net balance of technology's assistance was in death's favor.

Even more recently, consider the AIDS epidemic. Medical technology has only helped treat, but not cure, those in the industrialized world, at great economic expense. After a two decades of research and effort, AIDS still spreads in poorer countries, like the nations of Africa, killing millions, yet technology hasn't solved issues of economics and infrastructure needed to help all of these people. They simply die.
Quote:
Most new technologies are not developed by industries nor does the Dow or FTSE play a roll in their development. Technology development is an inane human trait resulting from our creativity. More efficient cars ARE on the market, and gaining popularity. Better sources of energy ARE on the grid and gaining popularity. You can't refute that, so I don't see how you can say "We can't wait for technology." You have to no matter what.

I can't refute the existence of those cars, but there is a lot that I can refute, or at least seriously question:

Are such vehicles gaining popularity fast enough to avert crisis, or does the speed of adoption only seem fast when compared to a very small current supply of those vehicles?

Will enough people adopt such vehicles in time to make a difference in world oil consumption?

Will the energy savings, even if everyone drove such vehicles, be enough to make much of a dent if Peak Oil is just around the corner?

Is simply using less oil, rather than using a different energy source, something that necessarily gives us the time to switch to another energy source in a timely manner? Or again, is this only a hope, not a guarantee?

Quote:
I can go on all day, but I know no matter how many examples of current technology or how many glimpses at technology are the corner, Henny Penny will still say the sky is falling. Its not falling. When the cost of fuel A excedds the cost of fuel B we will switch. This switch will drive down the cost of fuel B.

There's no guarantee, however, how high the cost of fuel A will need to go before it reaches the unknown price of replacement fuel B. If the next energy source costs even twice what oil now costs, that will cause serious painful ramifications to the world economy before the switch-over happens.

Also, existence of technology is not the same as deployment of technology. High levels of technology adoption often take many years after a technology first appears on the market. Technologies often don't hit the market until many years after they've first appeared in laboratories.

You can't compare the transition pains of switching the world from one fuel source to another with, say, moving from VHS to DVD. No one dies if DVD takes a few years to reach 50% market penetration compared to VHS. If, however, oil is skyrocketing in price before a serious effort to switch to a new fuel source is underway, people will die over the years that it could take to switch, and the fighting that could well break out during the attempt to make such a transition could disrupt the transition efforts too much for the transition to succeed before catastrophe becomes inevitable.
Quote:
No, here again I disagree. People in the technology sectors have immediate access to all published research. You might not be a member SAE, but I am, and I read papers, both old and new, regularly. The information is available, and as time has passed information availablity has also advanced.

You're missing what I'm saying. I'm not talking about access to existing information... I'm talking about discovering as-yet unknown, but needed information. Market pressures and profit motives encourage, but do not guarantee, that research will produce desired answers or needed information to solve as-yet unsolved problems.

Quote:
PS I'm not a foolish optomist, I'm a pragmatist who has worked with new technologies long enough to know it's out there and people will find it when the time comes.

No one on this planet has "worked with new technologies long enough" to validly make any sweeping generalizations about the supposed inevitability of technology generating specific answers to specific problems.
Quote:
You can cry "The sky is falling, The sky is falling" until the cows come home, but in the end the cows will come home, the sky wont fall, and someone will find a new way to do things. That is our history, and the history of technology development.

Our known history is very brief, and our technological, especially technological/industrial history, is far briefer. Two hundred years of industrialization is merely enough to outline some basic trends, trends that haven't yet been tested against enough different situations to treat them like laws of physics.

You can't look at the growth of a child between birth and age 12 and validly conclude that the child will be 25 feet tall at age 60. We've reached greater levels of technology than ever before, but also unprecedented levels of dependence on technology. Nothing in the past parallels with our current situation closely enough to predict anything at all using such gross oversimplifications as "technology always finds a way".

Looking beyond our own brief history, and generalizing to other species, extinction is closer to the rule than the exception. Merely surviving repeated and massive population crashes counts as a great success. Human intelligence perhaps offers us a way out that other species haven't had before, but that same intelligence has also helped us get into the very perilous situation that we need to resolve.

One thing that history makes very clear is that, acting as a collective body, human intelligence en masse is a scary, unpredictable, and highly irrational thing. It produces both great good and great evil, great accomplishments and utter stupidity. I can hope, but have no unshakable faith, that our better natures and clearer minds will prevail in what will be an unprecedented crisis.
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post #95 of 168
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by bunge

The damn war in Iraq could have paid the cost of converting our current petrol infrastructure to natural gas or hydrogen.

And bush doesn't give a damn, nor do any of his buddies in high places. This is why I would never support the man, not for any of the crap people are bickering about, this is far more important than all that. Same goes for any president or would be president.
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post #96 of 168
Quote:
Originally posted by bunge
There's more to oil than just 'energy'. You can make cars run on water, but the gears still need lubrication. You need oil to make the plastics (PLASTICS!) that everything is made out of. Your roads that your cars run on need oil.

Oil is everywhere. The cost of living will increase dramatically.

On the optimistic side, at least if we do somehow manage to transition to another energy source before severely depletely existing oil reserves, the remaining reserves, not simply being burned away day after day, could meet other non-fuel needs long enough for us to work on other solutions. Given sufficient clean and dependable energy, nearly anything, if not everything, made from fossil fuels could instead be synthesized using renewable organic resources.

In one sci-fi story I read (Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy), we invented zero-point energy sources -- a great salvation from our energy problems. We then suffered our next environmental catastrophe from global warming -- no longer due to greenhouse gasses, but simply brought about by the collective waste heat of so much technology consuming so much cheap and plentiful energy.
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post #97 of 168
Thread Starter 
anyone have any information regarding synthetic polymers? and synthetic plastics?
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post #98 of 168
Quote:
Originally posted by Wrong Robot
And bush doesn't give a damn, nor do any of his buddies in high places. This is why I would never support the man, not for any of the crap people are bickering about, this is far more important than all that. Same goes for any president or would be president.

OK, I'm going to play Devil's Advocate here. Much as I hate the current administration, I strongly suspect that they regard themselves as tough-minded patriots. Heroes even. Let me sketch a little story here.

Suppose that you're an oil industry insider, and it's quite clear to you that the writing really is on the wall for industrial civilisation as we know it. The Oil Peak has been known about for 30 years, and decades of research have failed to turn up any remotely viable alternatives.

Moreover, you know that the US faces a number of long-term challenges, particularly China, which is able to call upon an almost limitless supply of cheap labour to out-compete US manufacturing. This economic challenge is at the same time a political and military challenge. America's unrivalled position in the world is founded upon her economic strength. Take that foundation away and the rest of the edifice crumbles.

How can you meet these challenges? Well, one approach is to strive for energy sustainability. This doesn't just mean making everyone drive Priuses, it means tempering economic growth and perhaps even population controls.

Now, this option is clearly ideal: spread out the pain and have a soft landing instead of a major crash. But the gotcha is that everyone needs to play the same game.

You may have heard of the Prisoner's dilemma. It's the classic model in game theory. You have two prisoners, each of whom will be rewarded well for ratting out the other prisoner, and only rewarded modestly for not doing so. It may be in their joint interest to not rat each other out, but it is in their individual interest to do so.

And in this case, the country that strives for energy sustainability does so at the cost of her economic growth and therefore, ultimately, her political power. So if the US was to unilaterally strive for energy sustainability, her reward would be to reduce her influence, while enhancing the influence of her opponents.

So much for energy sustainability. But that's not the only alternative before you. Instead, you could strive to grow the US economy and her military strength to such levels as to preclude serious rivalry for many decades. And then you could use this military strength to forcibly control the world's energy supplies.

To be sure, this option only invites a heavier and earlier crash than we would otherwise have. But what this option lacks in charm it makes up in brutal effectiveness. The superiority of the US remains unchallenged internationally, which in turn preserves some semblance of the post WWII world order.

So there you have it. Of course I'm just speculating here, but I think that the above scenario gives you some taste of the mindset of Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle, et al. We've had enough shifting justifications and insider leaks to conclude that the current administration was always going to take military control of Iraq. These men knew that this undertaking was going to be ugly, protracted and painful, but they judged it to be in America's long-term interests, not to mention their own.
post #99 of 168
Thread Starter 
good point, problem is, with nuclear weapons on the table, all that brute strength doesn't mean too much.
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post #100 of 168
Quote:
Originally posted by faust9
I'd like to rewind the hands of time to the turn of the century--1900's style. A time where men could vote but women couldn't, where the meat packing idustry of Chicage was mixing rats and fingers in with the ground beef........

Hot dogs?
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post #101 of 168
Shetline is spot-on with most of his comments. It is of course possible that we *may* get a few more good years out of reserves than Peak Oil estiamates claim, but that doesn't mean the problem is any less severe once it starts manifesting itself. Should we blow it off because it's 15 years away and not 5? Or not already here?

Quote:
The Royal Dutch/Shell Group has kept secret important details of its sharp reduction in oil and gas reserves, particularly in Nigeria, for fear of damaging its business relationship with the government there and the Nigerians' desire to produce more oil, internal company documents show.

While Shell has acknowledged that the biggest adjustments in reserves include those in Nigeria, it continues to conceal the extent of its problems.


What's more, many of the optimists in this thread are making the false assumption that once a dire need for a new fuel starts to be felt, that "necessity is the mother of invention" and thus we will suddenly have a great alternative at our disposal.

You're assuming that once the initial effects start to be felt, that there will be enough time to develop a new fuel and all the technologies across all industries needed to leverage it.

However, once those effects are present, I think it is likely we will have roughly 3 to 5 years before the world is plunged into economic chaos. Look how quickly Bull markets shift to recession markets, how quickly economic bubbles burst when bad news hits. This will be worse, you can be sure of that much. This isn't the internet bubble bursting, this is the entire industrialized world's bubble bursting. This isn't about an aspect of our economy; it's about the way we live and how we achieve it.

If we were to start developing that "miracle fuel" to replace oil right now. We'd be EXTREMELY LUCKY to have working production models and wide-scale infastructure in place by 2019. That's best case (give or take a year). What makes anyone think that suddenly the rules of perfecting a technology, testing it and finding cost-effective ways to distribute it worldwide, will come so easily as to avoid the Peak Oil crisis? What if it takes a more typical 25 years to really ingrain the new fuel technology? What if the very things we use to develop the new fuel, actually requires OIL?

Your faith in people's ingenuity is well-founded, but your faith that they will reach a solution in time (once the problem has begun to manifest itself) ignores both technological reality and human nature.

Our very way of life is in question here.

Not just fuel for your car (gas prices), food. Not just rubber and plastics, clothes. Every - single - thing you own... will become a great deal more expensive in a very short time once the shit hits the fan. And as has been mentioned if we haven't already hit Peak Oil, we are very likely to hit it in the next few years. If this year shows a fourth straight drop in production, you can be pretty well assured we're rolling down the curve already.

Most people are not logical or rational when they sense real trouble. As soon as the price of oil starts to soar and the scary forecasts start to be made public (i.e. on the news hour), you can forget about a cooperative environment where everyone will pitch in to find a new solution. Instead you're going to see an almost complete lack of cooperation on a societal scale. This isn't like everyone pitching in to recycle their tins cans; people will know their very way of life is in danger and they will panic / do all they can to hoard goods, isolate themselves, etc.

Truly, the ONLY people who will not be affected by this (in terms of their way of life being turned upside down), are those who do not live an industrialized lifestyle. Farmers in Tibet, Herders in Africa, Inuit, Aboriginals, etc.

And it isn't IF. It's WHEN. We can either stick our heads in the sand and hope everything will be OK, or we can start living our lives in a less consumer-oriented way and start demanding more hybrid vehicles, and start demanding new textile manufacturing processes, etc. etc.
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post #102 of 168
Quote:
Every - single - thing you own... will become a great deal more expensive in a very short time once the shit hits the fan

every single thing i own WOULD be more expensive, if it continues to be made out of oil.

here's the point. RIGHT NOW there are many alternatives to oil to burn in a car. hell, most cars can run on e85 (an 85% ethanol fuel) with under $1,500 in modifications. Biodiesel works like regular diesel and is in production RIGHT NOW.

there are sources of oil that no one is using, because it would cost too much money to extract it, based on CURRENT oil prices.

fact is, as oil becomes scarce, alternatives will become viable that don't work today.

so my clothes are made out of petrolium products. if the price of one raw material in my clothing quadruples, manufacturers will use something else.

our reliance on oil is in large part to its relative abundance and low price. if the price goes up, people will start using other products that just weren't an option when oil was $30 a barrel.
post #103 of 168
No worries mate, these dudes have it all figured out!
post #104 of 168
Quote:
Originally posted by alcimedes
every single thing i own WOULD be more expensive, if it continues to be made out of oil.
there are sources of oil that no one is using, because it would cost too much money to extract it, based on CURRENT oil prices.

And when oil is expensive enough to cause us to try and exploit post-peak oil, we are already DEEP in shit.

Oil's amazing energy efficiency has been underpinning the industrial economy by making every dollar that goes into looking for it / exploiting it / transferring it / burning it into cheap economic benefits. There's nothing else that does this so efficiently, so the economy has the rug pulled from under it if there's jitters in prices, or if the cost of exploitation goes up. Think 1970's, which was due to POLITICS not fundamental SUPPLY issues.

Now, we've found 90% of the world's oil. Production of existing oil is peaking / has peaked. Cost of exploiting the remaining oil just isn't economically comparable. And when the myth that prices are related to reserves (not exploitation costs) is blown, prices will go nuts.

Now, your shirt: by the time it becomes economically efficient for your clothing manufacturer to use something else, the entire basis of our economies have fundamentally changed. Pretty simple.

Here's one tiny example: the US economy can support its astonishing home and trade deficits because oil is priced in dollars. The US can write IOUs up to the value of all the unexploited oil underground. If oil prices go crazy high, well obviously that doesn't mean the US is rich, it means the US economy is screwed. But if we move to a non-oil economy, the US is ****ed too.

Now oil *is* passing its peak. Prices *are* going to go up.

I finally read something not so depressing about this by this guy ... we go crazy with conservation and research and we miiiight just be OK.

But it's real, and it's here ... I mean, why the hell are we ignoring this issue of global importance and meddling in oil-rich Iraq?
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post #105 of 168
Quote:
Originally posted by alcimedes
fact is, as oil becomes scarce, alternatives will become viable that don't work today.

so my clothes are made out of petrolium products. if the price of one raw material in my clothing quadruples, manufacturers will use something else.

our reliance on oil is in large part to its relative abundance and low price. if the price goes up, people will start using other products that just weren't an option when oil was $30 a barrel.

I think you're missing the importance of the very points you're making.

Suppose the next viable option after oil costs the equivalent of five times as much for the same amount of energy, the equivalent of $150/barrel oil. The world economy would be in really bad shape having to pay those kinds of prices for energy.

Once that point of pain had been reached, that's when switching over to a new energy source would start happening, not when it would be accomplished. It would take years after that point for any significant switch-over to occur. In the mean time, large portions of the world's economy would still depend on ever-more-expensive oil, and sudden demand for the new energy source could drive its price higher, due to greater demand, before any downward price trend due to economies of scale could kick in.

The only hope for such a switchover to be reasonably painless is if a cheap replacement for oil comes along well before oil climbs to crippling prices. If something just a little more expensive than oil, or even cheaper than oil, came along reasonably soon, we'd come out of this mess okay.

But that's a lot to hope for. Nothing so appealing is on the horizon. Unfortunately, in a world where the profit report for the next quarter weighs far more heavily in directing economic resources than 10-20 year long-term thinking, we aren't putting enough effort into finding and developing alternative sources of energy before a crisis strikes.
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Peter came out and gave us medals
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post #106 of 168
Oh dear, oil prices are going through the roof (say the BBC) in part because "specuators are convinced there's going to be a lack of crude."
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post #107 of 168
Nah... couldn't be a fourth straight year of production decline that is on our horizon, could it? Even if it was, these speculators must surely mean a lack of crude in the short term only, right...?

Nothing to worry about here; move along people.

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post #108 of 168
The NYT actually has a story this morning about Peak Oil, but of course oil industry people constitute the the primary information source, so the outlook is rose-colored as ever. "Gosh, it can't possibly happen till 2050 or so, because of all those 'untapped reserves' that we have not verified, but only suspect as being present in the Caspian sea and elsewhere.

No one wants to even believe the possibility that we've already reached Peak Oil or are only a few years away. No one even allows for the possibility seems, most likely because it scares the crap out of them, so it's much easier to do what we've always done.

Gee, if Peak Oil fears proved false after WWI and WWII, they must be false now too. We'll just drill more and with more efficient rigs; everything is A-OK.

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/04/we...541JjL0CLHb+ag
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post #109 of 168
Quote:
From the NYT

The chief financial officer of Royal Dutch/Shell stepped down today in the wake of an investigation into the company's surprise change in oil and gas reserve estimates in January.

The officer, Judy Boynton, who has been at the company since June 2001, is the third top executive to be forced to leave as a result of the investigation.

Her departure comes as the company released a report on an internal probe into why the Anglo-Dutch group had inflated its reserves. It said that some Shell executives had known about the reserves shortfall since 2001, and that the company would be downgrading its reserves once again. The downgrade is its third in three months.

Two other executives the chairman, Sir Philip Watts, and the head of exploration and production, Walter van de Vijver were asked to leave by the company's audit committee in March because of the investigation.

Jeroen van der Veer, the company's new chairman, promised action to address Shell's problems and said in a statement, "Despite the difficulties of recent months, Shell is a sound and profitable business."

Ms. Boynton, who previously served as chief financial officer for Polaroid, will remain an employee of Shell's financial group. The company said Tim Morrison had been appointed as acting Group Chief Financial Officer,

Ms. Boynton has come under increasing scrutiny as the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Justice and European regulators investigate the company. Chief financial officers have added responsibility to ensure their company's reported numbers are correct under the Sarbanes Oxley law passed in response to corporate scandals in the United States.

Even though Shell is headquartered outside of the United States, the company trades on the New York Stock Exchange, so it is subject to the new United States rules.

Shell'saudit committee, made up of non-executive directors, hired the law firm Davis Polk and Wardwell to investigate in January. The firm prepared a report of several hundred pages detailing why the reserve change happened. The report has been reviewed by the board over the past four days.

Shell said in January that its proven oil and gas reserves were 3.9 billion barrels, or 20 percent, lower than previously reported. Proven reserves are one of the most important assets for any oil company, and Shell's stock fell 15 percent in the days following the January announcement.


Nothing to see here citizens, keep moving please.
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post #110 of 168
Quote:
Originally posted by Moogs
Nothing to see here citizens, keep moving please.

This has nothing to do with peak oil. Shell simply lied about an asset to bolster stock prices. They have access to the oil but it was more cost effective to lie about how much they pulled out of the ground than to actually pull it out of the ground. Are we going to hold Enron responsible for your dooms day peak oil scenerio as well? Enron traded in energy market futures, lied about the availability of said futures and manipulated the market to reap profit. There are many companies that have lied about their corporate valuation: Enron, Shell, Health South, MCI, Duke Energy... Read the news from about the end of 01 until now and you'll find a dozen ot so large companies which have played with their stock prices by fibbing on their financial reports. It has nothing to do with the availability of a commodity.

Are we running out of phone lines because MCI lied about its worth? Are we running out of doctors because Health South lied? Are we running out of electricity because Enron lied (we thought we were but lo and behold California DOES have enough energy as long as greed doesn't manipulate the reserve market).

Lets see where can we get alternate sources of fuel? Corn, solar, wind, water... What other sources of oil are out there? Synthetics derived form veggie oil, silicone based lubricants, Polyalphaolefin...

http://www.glossary.oilfield.slb.com...olyalphaolefin

though PAO'S are derived from hydrocarbons their actual structure is more uniform and can be used for longer periods (I do oil changes every 10K in my car because I use AMSOIL).
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post #111 of 168
Quote:
Originally posted by shetline
First of all, let me clearly state that I don't think that Peak Oil Armageddon is inevitable, merely that it's a real and worrisome possibility that shouldn't be dismissed too lightly. You, however, do seem ready to completely, or nearly so, dismiss this possibility, and it's that casual dismissal with which I can't agree.

You can't derive from general trends of technological advance that specific solutions to specific problems will come out of that advance.

Plenty of needs go unfulfilled by technology all of the time. Bubonic plaque rampaged through Europe, all without spurring medical technology beyond leeches and chanting in time to save millions from untimely deaths. In the 1330's, one third of the population of Europe simply died.

In more recent times, the death toll on all sides in World War II was around 50 million. 50 million people needed to be saved, but technology mainly rose to the cause of helping to kill them. Technology was also used in defense, of course, but net balance of technology's assistance was in death's favor.

Even more recently, consider the AIDS epidemic. Medical technology has only helped treat, but not cure, those in the industrialized world, at great economic expense. After a two decades of research and effort, AIDS still spreads in poorer countries, like the nations of Africa, killing millions, yet technology hasn't solved issues of economics and infrastructure needed to help all of these people. They simply die.

I can't refute the existence of those cars, but there is a lot that I can refute, or at least seriously question:

Are such vehicles gaining popularity fast enough to avert crisis, or does the speed of adoption only seem fast when compared to a very small current supply of those vehicles?

Will enough people adopt such vehicles in time to make a difference in world oil consumption?

Will the energy savings, even if everyone drove such vehicles, be enough to make much of a dent if Peak Oil is just around the corner?

Is simply using less oil, rather than using a different energy source, something that necessarily gives us the time to switch to another energy source in a timely manner? Or again, is this only a hope, not a guarantee?


There's no guarantee, however, how high the cost of fuel A will need to go before it reaches the unknown price of replacement fuel B. If the next energy source costs even twice what oil now costs, that will cause serious painful ramifications to the world economy before the switch-over happens.

Also, existence of technology is not the same as deployment of technology. High levels of technology adoption often take many years after a technology first appears on the market. Technologies often don't hit the market until many years after they've first appeared in laboratories.

You can't compare the transition pains of switching the world from one fuel source to another with, say, moving from VHS to DVD. No one dies if DVD takes a few years to reach 50% market penetration compared to VHS. If, however, oil is skyrocketing in price before a serious effort to switch to a new fuel source is underway, people will die over the years that it could take to switch, and the fighting that could well break out during the attempt to make such a transition could disrupt the transition efforts too much for the transition to succeed before catastrophe becomes inevitable.

You're missing what I'm saying. I'm not talking about access to existing information... I'm talking about discovering as-yet unknown, but needed information. Market pressures and profit motives encourage, but do not guarantee, that research will produce desired answers or needed information to solve as-yet unsolved problems.


No one on this planet has "worked with new technologies long enough" to validly make any sweeping generalizations about the supposed inevitability of technology generating specific answers to specific problems.

Our known history is very brief, and our technological, especially technological/industrial history, is far briefer. Two hundred years of industrialization is merely enough to outline some basic trends, trends that haven't yet been tested against enough different situations to treat them like laws of physics.

You can't look at the growth of a child between birth and age 12 and validly conclude that the child will be 25 feet tall at age 60. We've reached greater levels of technology than ever before, but also unprecedented levels of dependence on technology. Nothing in the past parallels with our current situation closely enough to predict anything at all using such gross oversimplifications as "technology always finds a way".

Looking beyond our own brief history, and generalizing to other species, extinction is closer to the rule than the exception. Merely surviving repeated and massive population crashes counts as a great success. Human intelligence perhaps offers us a way out that other species haven't had before, but that same intelligence has also helped us get into the very perilous situation that we need to resolve.

One thing that history makes very clear is that, acting as a collective body, human intelligence en masse is a scary, unpredictable, and highly irrational thing. It produces both great good and great evil, great accomplishments and utter stupidity. I can hope, but have no unshakable faith, that our better natures and clearer minds will prevail in what will be an unprecedented crisis.

I know this is dredging up a long dead argument but shetline you mention AIDS as proof that technology wont prevail. AIDS is a virus and is not in the same catagory as developing a new cost effective source of energy. See, if we beat one virus it can mutate. A virus is a living thing (by some accounts) and as such defeating a virus is more akin to fighting a war than developing a new form of energy. We may never beat AIDS but we will develope a new source to fuel the planet.

Your war analogy is flawed also. A lot of medical and technological advancements are derivatives of the war industry. Sure war=death but saving gun shot victums is a direct result of the war industry. The airline industry is a result of the war industry. OnStar is a direct result of the war industry. War kills a lot of people and its tragic but the war industry also saves many people.

So to recap: AIDS is a virus--an organism-- like to mosquito. We can heal people who get malaria but we can't elliminate mosquitos completly. War kills, but a lot of technological advancements which save people are direct results of the war industry.
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post #112 of 168
Aaaaand thank you, North Sea!

Move along folks. Nothing to see here.
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post #113 of 168
Quote:
Originally posted by faust9
This has nothing to do with peak oil. Shell simply lied about an asset to bolster stock prices. They have access to the oil but it was more cost effective to lie about how much they pulled out of the ground than to actually pull it out of the ground.

BZZZZT! Wrong!

Shell Exploration was under extreme pressure to report 100% replacement rate for exploited oil. When they could not -- that is, when they chose not to reveal that booked resources had peaked and are now in decline -- they chose to pretend they could.

This has EVERYTHING to do with peak oil, and the economic requirement that currently exists to ignore the plain evidence of our own eyes.
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post #114 of 168
Thank you.

It has everything to do with Peak Oil. They grossly exaggerated their known reserves (albeit for financial / insider type reasons), but the implication is the same: they no longer have access to the amount of oil people have come to expect. The real reserve estimates are starting to dwindle.
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post #115 of 168
Quote:
Originally posted by faust9
I know this is dredging up a long dead argument but shetline you mention AIDS as proof that technology wont prevail.

I have demonstrated by example one case where technology has not prevailed soon enough to prevent great loss.

I do not need to, no would even want to, prove that technology won't prevail in all instances. Obviously there are many examples of technology succeeding in solving problems. It is sufficient for my point to demonstrate that wild technological optimism is not always warranted.

Quote:
AIDS is a virus and is not in the same catagory as developing a new cost effective source of energy.

So, in what category is finding and implementing a timely energy alternative to oil? The special category of "don't worry, be happy?"?
Quote:
See, if we beat one virus it can mutate. A virus is a living thing (by some accounts) and as such defeating a virus is more akin to fighting a war than developing a new form of energy. We may never beat AIDS but we will develope a new source to fuel the planet.

Uh, so, um... we will develop an alternative to oil because, uh... oil doesn't mutate! Hmmm... that's not it.

Hmmm... NURGY IS E-Z-AR THEN VIRUS! EN3RGY IS TEH WIN!!11!1!

Well, if I'm not getting this, I hope you will please explain the rule set by which one clearly distinguishes "don't worry" technological problems from the "do worry" ones, and how solving oil dependency so obviously falls into the former category.
Quote:
Your war analogy is flawed also...

...War kills, but a lot of technological advancements which save people are direct results of the war industry.

Ah, so maybe the "Peak Oil" horrors will come true, and billions will die in famine and war. but when the few hundred million left of humanity rise from the ashes, we may have learned a few nifty things that'll save billions of other lives in the future... Wow! What was I thinking, worrying about this stuff?
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We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
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post #116 of 168
Thread Starter 
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post #117 of 168
Oh look. A link.

"Crucially, say analysts, the traditionally close relationship between demand and supply has partially broken down: for technical reasons, a number of the world's biggest producers, particularly outside Opec, have been unable to increase output significantly, leading to higher prices."

... which is exactly what the models predicted would happen.

Move along folks, nothing to see.
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post #118 of 168
Bah, stop being such a tree-hugger. We'll build more wells and drill in ANWR... everything will be O-K.


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post #119 of 168
More and more mainstream media seems to be picking up

Oil price reaches record high:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/3713281.stm

Yahoo:
http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=stor...nergy_iea_dc_4

time to buy a solar panel
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post #120 of 168
How many times in the past has oil hit a "record high"?
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