The late 20th century was a mother lode for prophets of the apocalypse. Of all the apocalyptic faiths of the 1980s and 1990s, none was more strongly held than the one true faith in Peak Oil Armageddon. And why not? Earth is a finite planet. New oil discoveries were falling, oil price supply shocks were becoming more frequent. Oil production was believed to have peaked in North America and Russia, and growing numbers of believers were sure that Saudi Arabia would be next to fall. After that, could the great global collapse of civilisation be far behind?
… in 1980, the United States was thought to have roughly 30 billion barrels of oil reserves. Over the subsequent 30 years, the U.S. produced nearly 80 billion barrels. __ Just Getting Started
Saudi Arabian production did not collapse, but has instead slowly grown over the past 15 years. Russian production has grown and hovers near record levels. And US production is once again moving toward record production levels. A massive quantity of oil that was once inaccessible at economic prices is now being made accessible via new technologies of discovery and production. And discovery of most of that oil has barely begun.
In the video below, energy analyst Michael Lynch looks at the past and present of Peak Oil, and suggests some trends to look for in the near future.
Technology improves economics. Smaller and smaller oil accumulations can be found and economically recovered even in an environment of stable inflation-adjusted prices because technology is continuously improving… And large discoveries continue to be made in plays that weren’t envisioned just a few years ago. __ More Oil Than Foreseen
The science and technology of oil discovery and production are advancing at sufficient rates to keep up with any growing demand for oil & gas by current human societies. If oil & gas prices rise significantly due to another unexpected round of higher demand — such as from India and China in the early 2000s — more money will be put into research and discovery.
The volume of organic carbon-rich sediment in the Earth’s crust is massively large. The Gulf of Mexico has accumulated more than 60,000′ of sedimentary column over the last 200 million years. The Cenozoic section, alone, is more than 40,000′ thick in places. The Quaternary can be more than 30,000′ thick in some locations. Most of the sedimentary column is composed of thick, organic-rich shale.
Oil is still being formed and migrating from source to reservoir rocks in the Gulf of Mexico. The Pleistocene reservoirs are less than 2.5 million years old and many have only been charged over the last 275,000 years. __ Where Did Oil Come From?
An Impossible Claim?
… crude oil today remains a plentiful and high-performance resource with considerable prospects to grow in production and consumption for another century.
Most peak oilers will probably burst their Circle of Willis should they try to read the article linked just above. The cognitive dissonance grows too large too fast when a true believer is confronted with credible evidence that their beliefs are worth less than monkeyshite in the real world.
Here at the Al Fin Institutes, one of our favourite sayings is: Everything you think you know, just ain’t so. Or to put it in a more blunt and less folksy way, “Everything you believe, is a lie.” But that, too, is not quite true. Knowledge and belief exist on a continuum that varies with level of likelihood or probability:
We start with an idea. It may be a sense impression of some sort — something that happened to catch our eye and intrigue our curiosity. Or it may be a speculation in our mind — a daydream or a theory, for example. As the idea or theory passes through the authentication process, it may be verified, refuted, or transformed to accommodate additional and discordant evidence. But if the authentication process is doing its job, whatever conclusion it is reaching about the idea is becoming progressively more certain (even if that means that the original idea itself is becoming progressively more dubious). Therefore, at some point in the authentication process, the probability of a mistaken conclusion is reduced to the point where we can say that we “know” this or that. Where that point is varies from person to person, so that what is “knowledge” to one is merely a plausible belief to another and only a theory to someone else. Each of us has some point — some probability level — beyond which we will say that we “know” something. But all things fall short of absolute certainty: life itself might be a dream and logic a delusion. Still, because we act, we must decide, and how decisively we can act depends on how well we know the consequences.
… Because the arena of decision making almost always exceeds the arena of knowledge, there must be belief — or at least hope — to fill in the gaps where there is no knowledge. This means that the ratio of knowledge to belief may also vary enormously from one aspect of life to another.
__ From Chapt 1 “The Role of Knowledge” in Thomas Sowell’s “Knowledge and Decisions”
Most of us fail to think for ourselves, or are too lazy to go through the different authentication processes which are necessary to actually “know” things in the different aspects of our lives. So we trust in unauthenticated beliefs instead, relying on secondhand claims and the dogmatic beliefs of others who may shout more loudly or cleverly to us, in the public marketplace of ideas.
Given the human weakness for theories of doom, it is not surprising that among the many transitory fashions of quasi-religious belief, are the many cults of doom. From peak oil armageddon to carbon climate apocalypse to Y2K to the perennial lefty-Luddite dieoff.orgy yearnings for a great human dieoff, doomer cults come and go — and are quickly replaced by others as needed.
Gods Demand Pointless Sacrifices on Altars of Smoke and Mirrors
Obama’s attempts to placate the gods by destroying the US energy infrastructure would not have led to any significant improvement in the real world:
By one calculation implementing the Obama administration’s Paris climate pledge fully would reduce the future increase in average global temperature by 0.031 degree Celsius by 2100. Fulfilling all of the Paris pledges together would reduce future temperatures in 2100 by 0.17 degree Celsius. __ Reason
Ultimately pointless goals and sacrifices, destructive cults, self-fulfilling pathways to doom. A portion of the human population has always been attracted to nihilistic and suicidal movements and causes.
If we are honest in our study of history and pay attention, we can see that the gods of apocalypse past faded into silence only to be replaced by more fashionable gods of apocalypse present. These, in turn, will eventually be replaced by gods of apocalypse future. Since we are human and too often believe we must lay claim to certainty and “meaningful beliefs”, we are prone to grasp at mere delusions of certainty — even if the certainty is only one of doom and apocalypse.
But, if somehow by some chance you have become a Dangerous Child, you will be too busy helping bring about an expansive and abundant human future to let yourself dance and wallow in the degenerate cults of doom. Rather than gods of apocalypse, your gods will be of the next level. That is where things begin to get interesting.