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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-14-2005, 07:13 AM Thread Starter
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Is there really an oil crisis?

I've been running across more and more literature on the subject of our reaching the peak of oil production (called Hubbert's Peak for those who don't know) and it got me wondering if anyone else had run across this information.

Being a cynical person, I'm not to the alarmist stage that many are, but do have a significant concern about it after having read from a few interesting sources.

If you're interested in the subject, both National Geographic and Rolling Stone had some really meaty articles. If you want to check out the National Geographic one, which is by far the best periodical at describing the entire situation, you'll have to visit your local library. National Geographic and some EIA reports have numbers in them, though I don't have those sources any longer.

So, do you consider yourself generally knowledgeable about the overall oil situation (ignoring the dependence angle)?

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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-14-2005, 07:33 AM
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I've seen a variety of things as well and do believe it's an issue that warrants attention, but am also satisfied to look at it in much simpler terms. Terms that even an idiot can grasp.

It's a finite resource and cannot be consumed as if it's infinite. That's easy enough. It's a large vulnerability for us economically and for our security because of our massive importing.

In the past, that was a keynote in a presidential State of the Union speech, identifying a looming supply crisis with immediate financial problems. It included plans for investment and incentives to develop alternate technologies. Not as impressive as steroids in pro sports, but important nonetheless. Any idea which president proposed it? Any idea which president nixed it? Any thoughts on how or why that came down the way it did?

Hint: It was long enough ago that had it been heeded, we would likely be WELL on our way to alternative energy for much of our needs. Might even have altered our need to go to war in our first war of aggression in a century or so. Could have had us on the leading edge of another important technology, as well.

And some people wonder why I have developed the views I have.

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Last edited by Dad; 04-14-2005 at 07:41 AM.
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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-14-2005, 07:58 AM
 
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Ah there goes dad blaming the whole thing on them damn oil loving republicans.
I'm going to try to keep politics out of this for a few posts (untill dad gets to me).

From my best understanding the earth is not running out of oil. The available untapped oil reserves have not changed since the 20's. As we consume more oil, we develop better technology to access more oil.

However our energy needs are increasing on an exponential basis. So we are always energy hungry. I think developing more energy efficient devices (also important) is not the whole solution. Lets say we develop automobiles that are 75% efficient (yeah, right) so we will get somewhere around 75mpg out of SUV's. But in 10 years we will have 3 times as many of them on the roads as we do today. So we are still consuming the same ammount of fuel.
And thats without taking into account all the developing countries, with their billions in population that have to start really consuming energy the way we do. Imagine if every family in india had 2 suv's?

What we really need is a different energy source (nuclear anyone?) and a better way to store energy.



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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-14-2005, 08:25 AM
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Well i heard on the radio a few months ago that 2 of the big oil compaines had more than doubled it's profits from the previous quarter. Take that for what you will

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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-14-2005, 08:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Vash
Ah there goes dad blaming the whole thing on them damn oil loving republicans.
I'm going to try to keep politics out of this for a few posts (untill dad gets to me).
You can't keep politics out of it because, at the scale of those industries, it IS political. The problems are and so are the solutions. Watch the oil for food program indictments now that they're starting to come out if you have any doubts. Oh, and they're NOT "oil loving republicans". They're money grubbing, greedy republicans who lie through their teeth to get the ill informed to support their party so they can then run roughshod on the economic wealth of the country. Get it straight! Oil is just a vehicle that they would scrap tomorrow if they found a better vehicle to ride herd on.

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What we really need is a different energy source (nuclear anyone?) and a better way to store energy.
Now you're talking. BUT, you can't let that be unregulated and overseen only by the industry. Anybody know what happened at three mile island? That story's full of good news and bad, with many lessons as to why, if we persue it, it MUST be overseen by a TRULY independent group of technically competent overseers.

This is an area where I DO have some first hand knowledge and opinions from an immediate family member who was in the industry since Shippingport, the first Nuke. Spent most of his career in the Navy Nuclear program, at times answering directly to Admiral Rickover, but swung between the Navy and commercial sides, and is still actively an engineering consultant. I could argue for it or against it with the exact same set of facts, based ENTIRELY on the willingness of the country to exercise STRONG oversight. I DO NOT trust the republican party to do what's necessary based on their history in EVERYTHING they've ever touched that way.

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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-14-2005, 08:47 AM
 
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Oh for fucks sake dad. Lets see, you are going to accuse the republicans of being lying bitches that steal from the middle class, and I'm going to counter by accusing the democrats of ignoring forign policy badly enough to bring upon todays situation. We've been thru this already.

The problem isnt political. There is nothing political about not having enough energy. I dont care if nader get elected, its not going to change.

The solutions tend to be political, with one side wanting to ask nicely for more oil and the other wanting to take it by force, but the problem remains the same. So lets leave politics out of it for a second.

Just finished reading the article. It provides good information, and its also extremly slanted into the doomsday scenario side. "There is no way we can build enough nuclear plants" why not? We built enough gas plants, we can build enough nuclear ones too. Humanity can do some amazing things, when it's left with no choice.

Or about renewable energy not being worth a damn. Personally, I dont think it will be a solution in itself. But the biggest windfarm in the world is being built less than 20 miles from my house, and that proves to me that its pretty damn possible. It will likely power most of the state before its all over with.

Back to nuclear power. (I have some expirience here, as my 3 best friends went thru the navy nuke program, and I lived close enough to chernobyl during the disaster to make it worth researching) 3 miles island was chiefly coused by bad system design. Not intentionally bad, but lack of expirience bad. There were too many warning lights, a good chunk of which stayed on during normal operation. They were ignored, and when another one went off, no one noticed. It was a mistake, one that can be expected from an industry in its infancy.
Regulating the industry will be somewhat necessary, but it would be too easy to over regulate it at this point. No one knows the best approach yet, since no one has enough expirience. Regulation will confine us to just one approach. Further more it will be difficult to find technically knowledgable independant overwiew commetee, since most of the technical personell will be in the industry. So we are going to have a highly politicized commeete without too much knowledge of the subject. Why not let the industry do most of its own regulating? Its not like its in its best interest to kill everyone on earth.



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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-14-2005, 09:11 AM
 
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Forgot a few points. The ammount of oil that goes to the manufacturing of plastics and pharmacuticals (sp?) is insagnificant, and can be easily replaced by other synthetic sources. So Things wont be quiet as bad as the end of the world the article wants to advertise.

Also, nuclear energy is all well and good but its cant power vehicles. We can hardly start building reactors small enough to go under the hood. The obvoius solution is to generate electricity and than store it in vehicles. Thats where our problem with batteries comes in, they are too damn heavy, and dont store nearly enough. Oh and a real pain to recharge.

The most promising solution to me, is hydrogen. It can be extracted from water using electricity from nuclear energy, than converted to electricity using fuel cells. Now if we could just make this whole thing work...



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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-14-2005, 09:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dad
Hint: It was long enough ago that had it been heeded, we would likely be WELL on our way to alternative energy for much of our needs. Might even have altered our need to go to war in our first war of aggression in a century or so. Could have had us on the leading edge of another important technology, as well.
I've not read up enough on the oil issue to speak with any authority, but I did wonder about this part. You're assuming that all of this progress would have already been made, and I don't think it's accurate to do so. I liken it to drug discovery in the pharmaceutical industry. You can't put a timeline on innovation, you find it when you find it. You very well may be right that other technologies could have been found by now, but it's not an absolute. I realize you threw in the qalifier "likely," but you still present it as though it would definitely have happened, and I don't think that is accurate.

We now continue with our regularly scheduled debate between the Right Wing Nutjobs and the Liberal Weiners.

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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-14-2005, 11:28 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by spicersh
I've not read up enough on the oil issue to speak with any authority, but I did wonder about this part. You're assuming that all of this progress would have already been made, and I don't think it's accurate to do so. I liken it to drug discovery in the pharmaceutical industry. You can't put a timeline on innovation, you find it when you find it. You very well may be right that other technologies could have been found by now, but it's not an absolute. I realize you threw in the qalifier "likely," but you still present it as though it would definitely have happened, and I don't think that is accurate.
sh, this is pretty much where I think I'm at. On two separate occassions and from two different "experts" (?), they've made the use of the term Manhattan-style project to describe what has to be done to deal in any signficant way with the impending oil peak. The namby-pamby grants for research into alternatives have always been paltry to what's going to be required.

As for us continuing, the point of the Hubbert's Peak is that when we've reached that, we've basically pulled all the low-hanging fruit of fossil fuels out. All that's basically left are the exceptionally hard to get at resources. Thus, while its a curve, the suggestion has been made that its really a crash-and-burn type of mode.

DOE reports indicate a 2% growth in US oil consumption, so we're not stagnant in consumption generally. What's more, it has been pointed out that if oil got expensive enough, China could just walk all over a Middle Eastern country and there'd be little anyone could do. That alone is a frightening, but realistic prospect.

Anyway, its a fascinating subject and I just thought I'd throw it out there for reading if you've got some online time to burn.

BTW, I had specifically excluded dependence in hopes of avoiding the politics because no matter how you cut it, neither side of the aisle has done a good job. They both suck

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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-14-2005, 12:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by spicersh
I've not read up enough on the oil issue to speak with any authority, but I did wonder about this part. You're assuming that all of this progress would have already been made, and I don't think it's accurate to do so.
It was Jimmy Carter. Identified the looming problem, proposed a plan to start to deal with it, and it was nixed as soon as Reagan came in. Whether we'd have all of the solutions will never be known but we'd have had a 35 year history by now of working on it. My bet is, with all of the highly lauded talents of this country (talents AND capacity being lost by exporting our industry), we would have made significant progress by now. As it is, we are starting nearly from scratch. Where is Cheney's energy policy? His team was only those vested in the current system, no outsiders. The same creative bunch who brought us to where we are. Carter was an engineer and had a sense of what it would take. He also identified the finite aspect, the financial strain on our economy as an import, and the risk from instability in the oil regions. Hmmm, same things 35 years later, just a little more serious and no real alternatives yet off the ground.

I'll look for a link to State of the Union speeches. I know one exists because I've seen it.

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Last edited by Dad; 04-14-2005 at 12:44 PM.
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