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Rebuttals to common arguments against peak oil

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Peak Oil refers to the moment in time where the world produces oil at its maximum rate. After that, it starts to dwindle off, where lots or problems can occur. You can always check out Oil's Wellfor a little more information on what this means. I've seen some counterarguments that we're not really going to face any big problems regarding our usage of oil and I wanted to post some rebuttals to that:

 

 

Argument: Human ingenuity and technology advancements will find a solution.

 

This is a faith-based argument and I think people who make this argument are either extreme optimists or else are somewhat ignorant as to the scale of the problem. While it's true we have made tremendous technological advances in virtually all fields and overcome many barriers, the scope of this is gargantuan. There's currently no technology or infrastructure plan or combination that can replace our current oil use needs. It would take something out of science-fiction to solve this problem via technology without a massive reduction in population and consumption. I consider this comparable to having faith that human ingenuity will solve cancer, AIDS, and aging by a certain date.

 

If this was really a problem, we would hear about it in the media more.

 

The media generally reports on the most interesting topics that are happening in the present. There are many examples of problems that were predictable and forseeable by a small niche of people researching the matter, but weren't known to the general public until after the fact. Some recent examples of this are the real estate bubble, the Enron scandal, the dot.com bubble, and the threat of Al-Qaeda.

 

 

In 2008 oil prices hit an all-time high, but then they came back down. If we were starting to run out of oil, the prices wouldn't have come back down.

 

Right now (2011) we're currently plateauing as far as our production. What happened in 2008 is demand outstripped supply, causing the price to go up. Our production did not change substantially afterwards, we essentially hit a ceiling. What did happen is that the high prices caused many people to cut back on their usage, thus lowering the demand. Combine that with the economic recession and that's the main reason oil prices haven't stayed high or kept increasing. We're likely to see a repeat of this cycle a couple times.

 

People have been saying we're running out of oil ever since the 70s, but we keep discovering more and we still have plenty of oil today.

 

The people in the 70s were right actually, from an American perspective. U.S. Production peaked in the early 70s and has been declining since. Since then we've imported most of oil to make up the gap. If we had to rely only on US oil, we would have been in trouble a long time ago. World discovery of oil peaked in the 60s and has been declining since. This time we can't just import more oil because it applies to the whole earth and not just the U.S. Here are some dates to help explain it better:

 

U.S. Discovery peak: 1934

U.S. Production peak: 1970

Global oil discovery peak: 1964

Global oil production peak: (debatable, it's been plateauing since about 2005)

 

 

We have at least 1.3 trillion barrel reserves of oil, enough for at least 40 more years at our current rate of consumption.

 

Yes, we do have that much in potential reserves. However it's not as simple as that. In the past century, we've already drilled the majority of the easiest-to-extract oil in the best locations. A good portion of the oil we still have left is heavier or sour crude instead of sweet light crude, or is in costly areas to extract, such deepwater offshore drilling. This means that it takes more energy (and money) to extract the same amount of oil. This causes prices to increase and makes it more difficult to keep up with our current demand. We're not going to suddenly run out of oil one day. What is likely to happen though, is that prices keep rising and rising for oil, which in turn has a direct impact on all kinds of things. Modern food production is very dependent on petroleum products for fertilizer and pesticides. Anything that needs to be shipped across the country or from China will be affected. It's likely to cause a real economic meltdown first, which could really turn our society upside-down LONG before 40 years from now. I can't predict how we will react in that situation.

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I merely skimmed your post, as I am feeling a little lazy, and oil is not my key "subject" in the boiling cauldron we call Earth. However, I read in detail around your first 2 paragraphs, and agree that a reduction in population is very important if we are to move anywhere. Not a "mass-murder", but perhaps following the lead of China, because the one-child policy has done arguably well for them over the years. I don't see how any problems will ever fade if we keep on multiplying the population.

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I don't see how any problems will ever fade if we keep on multiplying the population.

I do, we will be forced to either start colonizing other planets/heavenly bodies, or improve our tech to Star Trek levels.

Don't insult me. I have trained professionals to do that.

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I merely skimmed your post, as I am feeling a little lazy, and oil is not my key "subject" in the boiling cauldron we call Earth. However, I read in detail around your first 2 paragraphs, and agree that a reduction in population is very important if we are to move anywhere. Not a "mass-murder", but perhaps following the lead of China, because the one-child policy has done arguably well for them over the years. I don't see how any problems will ever fade if we keep on multiplying the population.

 

Except all this led to was infantacide, mothers were killing their children if they were females because females can't support a family. Would you look forward to that in our future?

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I merely skimmed your post, as I am feeling a little lazy, and oil is not my key "subject" in the boiling cauldron we call Earth. However, I read in detail around your first 2 paragraphs, and agree that a reduction in population is very important if we are to move anywhere. Not a "mass-murder", but perhaps following the lead of China, because the one-child policy has done arguably well for them over the years. I don't see how any problems will ever fade if we keep on multiplying the population.

 

Except all this led to was infantacide, mothers were killing their children if they were females because females can't support a family. Would you look forward to that in our future?

 

My mom is single and supports a family of three boys by driving a bus. And look at me. I have access to a computer.

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Wow, Ross, I can see this is bothering you quite a bit. I'm not an expert in this, but all I can say is that there have been many oil scares in the past.

 

Also, oil and the lack thereof is perpetuated by the environmental movement which has its roots in anti-capitalism. It's just no one would take them seriously if they marched around with the hammer and sickle.

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The thing that turns a lot of people off alternate fuels is that they're expensive. But that's only the case because the technology hasn't received the boatloads of cash in R&D that Oil has gotten. Give it time and some serious effort and alternate fuels could be a viable solution. On the other hand, electric is not a viable solution, as apparently there isn't even enough lithium on the entire planet to replace the current number of running cars in the world, let alone for when India and China really start to take off. Maybe if we didn't use Lithium Ion batteries.

 

The other problem is that oil isn't just important for vehicles, without it, we would have a difficult time creating plastics. Or so I'm told. Not to mention a lot of other materials that we likely take for granted.

 

Realistically, nothing is going to be done. People will wake up in some decades or less and realize that there is no food at the supermarkets, the transport never arrived. And then these cities with millions of people will turn into a chaos the likes of which has never been seen before. Of course, the people that decided to get out early and grow their own food at farms will have to deal with the locust like gangs. And like Ross said, revert to civilization like the Amish but with guns. If we're lucky, people will try to stay civilized, but keeping order in a state like that would be brutally difficult. Especially since getting around would be no picnic.

 

As far as colonizing other planets go, well we don't have the tech, the oil or the time to do that. We use up what we have now, and even if we survive and our descendants get through this, they will have no oil, and no means to get to outer space since we used up so many resources.

Oil isn't the only one we will have used up by the end of this century, Helium apparently is also looking at the end of it's time. the largest reserve is apparently at it's last 8 years worth of supply or something like that. Why is this a problem? because it's priceless as a coolant, and needed for super conductors, and in industry.

 

I gotta ask, is driving through a traffic jam for hours everyday, and buying products that have low life expectancies really worth our resource supplies?

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As far as colonizing other planets go, well we don't have the tech, the oil or the time to do that. We use up what we have now, and even if we survive and our descendants get through this, they will have no oil, and no means to get to outer space since we used up so many resources.

Oil isn't the only one we will have used up by the end of this century, Helium apparently is also looking at the end of it's time. the largest reserve is apparently at it's last 8 years worth of supply or something like that. Why is this a problem? because it's priceless as a coolant, and needed for super conductors, and in industry.

We have the tech, but the government just won't support it. Rocket fuel actually doesn't contain any petroleum products, despite what the environmentalists will lead you to believe. (I have lots of first-hand experience with various types of rocket propellants, including the liquid and solid types used by NASA)

 

The moon has massive amounts of He3, we just have to start mining it "en mase" like was portrayed in the movie "Moon". (without the clone problem though)

 

 

And from the other thread about the oil shortage:

 

My sister worked for El Paso Natural Gas Company for about a year, and this is something interesting that she noticed in their files...

 

There is an inexpensive way (less than $1000) to convert your normal gasoline powered car over to Natural Gas. There are many benefits to doing it too. You could easily have a gas line in your garage so you can fill up at home... Natural Gas is one of the few "unlimited" resources we have... It burns much cleaner than gasoline... It is much cheaper per gallon than gasoline... The US is second only to Russia in Natural Gas extraction...

 

I could say more, but it's early, and I need my sleep...

Think of it, a gas pump in your garage, fuel less than $3.00/gal, less than $1000 total conversion price per household average...

Don't insult me. I have trained professionals to do that.

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As far as colonizing other planets go, well we don't have the tech, the oil or the time to do that. We use up what we have now, and even if we survive and our descendants get through this, they will have no oil, and no means to get to outer space since we used up so many resources.

Oil isn't the only one we will have used up by the end of this century, Helium apparently is also looking at the end of it's time. the largest reserve is apparently at it's last 8 years worth of supply or something like that. Why is this a problem? because it's priceless as a coolant, and needed for super conductors, and in industry.

We have the tech, but the government just won't support it. Rocket fuel actually doesn't contain any petroleum products, despite what the environmentalists will lead you to believe. (I have lots of first-hand experience with various types of rocket propellants, including the liquid and solid types used by NASA)

 

The moon has massive amounts of He3, we just have to start mining it "en mase" like was portrayed in the movie "Moon". (without the clone problem though)

I thought some rocket fuels included Kerosene. Anyway, wasn't my intention at all. By lack of oil I was referring to it's applications in certain materials like plastics. Which are kind of a requirement, imo, for space travel. I don't think we have the tech to colonize other planets. I certainly haven't heard or read any article or release on it. Specifically I haven't heard anything on how a living organism like say a human being, would survive leaving the safety of the Earth's magnetic field. The cosmic radiation won't kill a person outright, but it makes a long journey pretty much suicide. And this is just for interplanetary spaceflight, not interstellar spaceflight.

I think Space being an actual place for humans to go beyond research and curiosity, is still science fiction. Sooner or later a person has to come back, unless a safe environment can be created. Besides, if we can't even find some way to exist long-term on our planet, what chance do we have on another? Or are we going to be like some sci-fi space amoeba and go to a planet, use up everything usable then move on to the next?

 

Also, I think it would be incredibly expensive to mine the moon. It's not like we can just freight train it back.

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I thought some rocket fuels included Kerosene. Anyway, wasn't my intention at all. By lack of oil I was referring to it's applications in certain materials like plastics. Which are kind of a requirement, imo, for space travel. I don't think we have the tech to colonize other planets. I certainly haven't heard or read any article or release on it. Specifically I haven't heard anything on how a living organism like say a human being, would survive leaving the safety of the Earth's magnetic field. The cosmic radiation won't kill a person outright, but it makes a long journey pretty much suicide. And this is just for interplanetary spaceflight, not interstellar spaceflight.

I think Space being an actual place for humans to go beyond research and curiosity, is still science fiction. Sooner or later a person has to come back, unless a safe environment can be created. Besides, if we can't even find some way to exist long-term on our planet, what chance do we have on another? Or are we going to be like some sci-fi space amoeba and go to a planet, use up everything usable then move on to the next?

 

Also, I think it would be incredibly expensive to mine the moon. It's not like we can just freight train it back.

Rocket fuels don't use kerosene, jet fuels do. (it's a common mixup)

 

Plastics can easily be made without the use of petroleum products, but they don't because it costs 1-2% more to make it.

 

We have the tech to produce a portable electromagnetic shield for spacecraft use, it's just cost prohibitive, and there is no need for further research into the field when the government says no to private space travel.

 

The moon would be easy and cost effective if the government would allow it.

Don't insult me. I have trained professionals to do that.

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Ross, peak oil sounds scary, and there might be some truth in it.

 

But keep in mind, oil scares has always had its roots in green energy, green energy has always had its roots in environmentalism, environmentalism has its roots in anti-industrialism.

 

And anti-industrialism is anti-capitalism.

 

The way I see it: people that don't want us to use oil are environmentalists who hate human progress (i.e. capitalism) and who want to revert humans back to the dark ages; any reasonable and probably legitimate evidence that we're peaking oil is obscured by this fact.

 

Not a "mass-murder", but perhaps following the lead of China, because the one-child policy has done arguably well for them over the years. I don't see how any problems will ever fade if we keep on multiplying the population.

 

NONONONONONONO. That is totalitarianism at its worst. The government doesn't own me or my ability to make more humans. I've got an idea: get rid of your social programs and then you'll be able to afford everything that matters: military, police and the courts. That's another thing I hate about statism: more people=threat.

 

Also, do you really want to follow China's example? China is one of the worst offenders of human rights.

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I'm not sure Oil scares really have their roots in green energy. Yes, Green energy likes to jump on the bandwagon but it's a fact that oil is finite. And there's not exactly all that much of it left. The same goes for coal, natural gas, and Earth metals. There's no renewal process for coal, because the world can never go back to the carboniferous state. Even if we ignored deforestation, none of the plant life we currently have would end up being a significant deposit in a few million years anyway.

 

Anyone who thinks we can just use it up and then shift to something else afterwords is going to be in for a rude wake up call. Personally, I'm not as concerned about what we won't be able to do in the future that we're doing now as much as much as I'm concerned for what we won't be able to do that we could have. That is, new technology-wise. (hypothetical) Like hey, we could finally develop a new completely safe energy source but it would require the refinement of this and this resource. Oh darn, we don't have enough left because we've been using it all up over the last hundred years to transport food that can be grown locally from half way across the world to save half a million on production costs. Was it worth it? I suppose it helped a few dozen people with their quality of life for 3 or 4 decades. Surely that's more important....

 

It doesn't matter whether one takes your idea of the environmentalist route or the use everything up route, the destination is the dark ages either way.

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the destination is the dark ages either way.

I certainly hope so... Be more fun...

Don't insult me. I have trained professionals to do that.

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I merely skimmed your post, as I am feeling a little lazy, and oil is not my key "subject" in the boiling cauldron we call Earth. However, I read in detail around your first 2 paragraphs, and agree that a reduction in population is very important if we are to move anywhere. Not a "mass-murder", but perhaps following the lead of China, because the one-child policy has done arguably well for them over the years. I don't see how any problems will ever fade if we keep on multiplying the population.

 

Except all this led to was infantacide, mothers were killing their children if they were females because females can't support a family. Would you look forward to that in our future?

 

To be fair this is because of cultural reasons since in China it is preferred to have a son as they can take care of you when you are older (which is BS but hey its a product of the culture what do you expect).

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Chinese culture is bad; I'm speaking from experience; my dad has chinese parents. Luckily for me, he was always considered the rebel in his family and I was raised in the almost infinitely superior western culture...that's not related. All I'm saying is that we shouldn't follow China's example. Moving on:

 

You know, I look at the oil "problem" this way: Mike the Cop said the most logical approach would have been a massive switch to green energy. If green energy was so great and so much better than oil, the market would have demanded it. The fact is that oil is superior to all forms of energy.

 

Until green energy becomes profitable and as efficient as oil, we're stuck with oil. If the oil supplies do in fact dwindle (which I believe to me an exaggeration perpetuated by the environmentalists) then the market will demand a new form of energy.

 

The average person wasn't even aware there was a problem because maybe there wasn't actually a problem? If we run out of oil, some genius will find a new, better solution. Humans are smart; we'll figure it out.

 

I don't share Ross' pessimistic view on the bleak future; I think the future is bright. I can't wait!

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I merely skimmed your post, as I am feeling a little lazy, and oil is not my key "subject" in the boiling cauldron we call Earth. However, I read in detail around your first 2 paragraphs, and agree that a reduction in population is very important if we are to move anywhere. Not a "mass-murder", but perhaps following the lead of China, because the one-child policy has done arguably well for them over the years. I don't see how any problems will ever fade if we keep on multiplying the population.

 

Except all this led to was infantacide, mothers were killing their children if they were females because females can't support a family. Would you look forward to that in our future?

 

My mom is single and supports a family of three boys by driving a bus. And look at me. I have access to a computer.

 

No uh... You don't get it. Sorry for this late reply to your post but I didn't see it.

 

The traditional Chinese belief that, “you do not count as a human being unless you have a son” to carry on the family line was severely intensified by the Communist government’s one-child policy, created in 1979 in an effort to control the country’s population growth. Since having more than one child became illegal in many areas, families choose to get rid of girl after girl until the desired male child is born. That's why the one-child policy didn't seem like a good idea...

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Argument: Human ingenuity and technology advancements will find a solution.

 

This is a faith-based argument and I think people who make this argument are either extreme optimists or else are somewhat ignorant as to the scale of the problem. While it's true we have made tremendous technological advances in virtually all fields and overcome many barriers, the scope of this is gargantuan. There's currently no technology or infrastructure plan or combination that can replace our current oil use needs. It would take something out of science-fiction to solve this problem via technology without a massive reduction in population and consumption. I consider this comparable to having faith that human ingenuity will solve cancer, AIDS, and aging by a certain date.

 

I disagree. I am one of those "human ingenuity and technological advancements will find a solution" type people.

 

Yes, the scope of this is gargantuan, but it's not insurmountable. Remember, just 125 years ago, we had absolutely NO infrastructure for gasoline-powered vehicles anywhere on the planet. The first gasoline filling station was in Germany in 1888 as a side business for a pharmacy and it wasn't until 1907 that the first gas station was built in the United States. As gasoline-powered vehicles became more popular, more gas stations popped up until they dotted the globe.

 

Once an alternative power source (or cocktail of sources) becomes popular, we'll see these kinds of filling stations popping up...or even buying a solar panel (for example) from your local Wal-Mart. I'm waiting for something like Mr. Fusion, personally, to turn garbage into energy. It can be done!

 

The infrastructure is not there currently for alternative sources of power because the problems of peak oil have not quite hit the local pocketbooks... yet. Once this does, you'll see clamoring for these new power sources and then gas stations will give way to hydrogen stations or solar panel battery drop-off stations or Mr. Fusions popping up in the local Target or whatever.

 

Humans have an incredible ability to adapt. It's not faith; it's knowledge of the past and applications of lessons learned from the past for the future.

 

Also, oil and the lack thereof is perpetuated by the environmental movement which has its roots in anti-capitalism.

 

Hogwash. Where did you come up with something like that?

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Hogwash. Where did you come up with something like that?

 

Come up with what? The roots of the environmentalism movement, or that they perpetuate it?

 

If it's the former, the environmentalists say that nature's value is intrinsic, as opposed to nature's value is only what humans can make of it. Humans have to exploit the earth to survive (capitalism), environmentalism says they shouldn't (anti-capitalism).

 

If it's the latter, all I said was that I think that any hint of evidence that we're running out of oil is greatly exaggerated by the environmentalists and the real evidence is obscured by the fact that the environmentalists are anti-capitalists.

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"Humans have to exploit the earth to survive (capitalism)"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Man, You have to get it into Your head that the former has nothing to do with the latter.

"When a son is born, the father will go up to the newborn baby, sword in hand; throwing it down, he says, "I shall not leave you with any property: You have only what you can provide with this weapon."

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There's currently no technology or infrastructure plan or combination that can replace our current oil use needs

 

Ethanol for Oil's general use.

 

Glass instead of plastic

 

-_________-

"When a son is born, the father will go up to the newborn baby, sword in hand; throwing it down, he says, "I shall not leave you with any property: You have only what you can provide with this weapon."

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