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« Elsewhere | Main | The Ideal, and What to Make Of It »

May 15, 2008

Peak Oil, Simmons, Kunstler

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Those curious about the Peak Oil theory but perhaps a little tired of James Kunstler may enjoy this interview with investment banker, conservative dude, and Peak Oil believer Matthew Simmons. It would be hard to turn up a clearer, more concise presentation of the thesis than this one.

If you haven't had your fill of Kunstler, here's an interview in which he brings together nearly all his themes.

One especially nice passage:

The ideas issuing from the highest circles of architectural education today are patent absurdities, such as the idea that novelty ought to trump the public interest, or the idea that ‘creativity’ (so-called) is a superior method than the emulation of forms that have already proven successful (meaning problems already solved). Personally, I view some of the leading architects of our time as being among the wickedest people in the world ... The record of their ideology in the cities and towns of America is there for anyone to see: abandonment, ruin, and the dishonour of the public realm.

I know less than nothing about Peak Oil. But where Kunstler's evaluation of the high-end architecture establishment and its work goes, I'm with him all the way.



UPDATE: Thanks to BIOH, who points out a blog that takes quite a different view of Peak Oil.

posted by Michael at May 15, 2008


If the autos of America are seriously threatened with running out of fuel, the good people of this country will start demanding the building of nukes, and any environmentalist or intellectual that stands in the way will probably be thrown into the nearest furnace to generate a little power while the nukes get built.

Seriously, does anybody believe that the world is just going to slip gently into the 18th century without a whimper? The Chinese and the Indians are just getting a taste of the good life, you can be sure they aren't going to let it pass them by, no matter what.

Environmentalism is in essence a luxury. People can live without, until they choke on the fumes anyway.

Posted by: Todd Fletcher on May 15, 2008 11:10 PM

"Environmentalism is in essence a luxury ... "

Hmmm, let's see, how does the human animal (and all the other plants and animals we knowingly or unknowingly depend upon) survive in an environment with a reduced capacity for sustaining life? Is potable water a luxury? How about breathable air? Has the narrow desire for personal automobiles and instant access to consumer goods become the sole definition of what constitutes "the good life"? Have humans become so focused on enjoying ourselves in the now that the future well being of subsequent generations has no place in our thinking?

".... until they choke on their own fumes anyway."

Posted by: Chris White on May 16, 2008 11:09 AM

"Have humans become so focused on enjoying ourselves in the now that the future well being of subsequent generations has no place in our thinking?"

Sure. I'm not saying I don't care about the environment, just that most people will ditch environmentalism if it cuts into their lifestyle.

And having a polluted environment is not a barrier to life, or the third world population would be declining. It makes a life that may not be worth living, but people somehow seem to reproduce under the worst of circumstances.

Posted by: Todd Fletcher on May 16, 2008 12:19 PM

theres some great hour long news documentaries on youtube about the end of oil that are worth a view...

ABC News - The End of Oil (six 10 minute segments)

Discovery - Addicted to Oil (five 9 minute segments)

Posted by: poncho on May 16, 2008 12:47 PM

Here's what the debate over oil peaking is about

the world uses 86 million barrels of oil everyday, or a 1000 barrels per second, or 30+ billion barrels per year. How many olympic sized swimming pools of oil would that fill in a year's time and how long would those pools stretch if layed end to end? 2,044,000 pools per year and at a lenght of 184 feet they'd stretch 63,488 miles long. But were going to replace that with Uncle Jesse's finest corn mass. The modern world demands a heck of a lot of oil to fuel its GDPs

Because gasoline is under $1 in OPEC countries their own consumption, along with China and India's, is growing and canabalizing their own export capacity. Mexico, behind Canada, is the US's second largest importer to the US. But their main field is rapidely declines to the point that within 5 years Mexico could end exports as their own interal consumption is growing.

At 86 million barrels per day the Wall Street Journal reported CERA estimates global decline rates are 4.5% per year. 4.5% is a loss of 4 million barrels per day. Iran produces 4 million barrels per day. So the world oil industry must bring to market a new Iran every year to keep production flat. CERA expects demand to be 112 million per day by 2017 (within 9 year). But to overcome the 4.5% decline and build capacity the oil industry would have to bring to market 9 new Saudi Arabias over the next 9 years.

And BTW at the bottom of the above blog you'll find videos and audios to both Simmons and Kunstler along with others

Posted by: Scott on May 17, 2008 11:24 AM

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