Re: Oil potpourri

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Tue Aug 17 2004 - 11:57:15 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "Al Koop" <>
To: <>
Sent: Monday, August 16, 2004 10:46 PM
Subject: Oil potpourri

> After two weeks away, I have a few comments on the oil discussions.
> Before getting to them, let me say that I did manage to read three of
> Dan Brown's books during that vacation time--Angels & Demons, Deception
> Point, and The DaVinci Code. The author sure can weave together fact
> and fiction in a very engaging style. At some points it was difficult to
> tell whether specific events were historical or not, But I don't see
> why anyone would get carried away by thinking his plots represent
> accurate historical accounts. (But I guess that sort of question
> relates to the other major topic being discussed here now.) Anyhow you
> can tell that if I read three of Brown's books, they must be a pretty
> good read in my estimation.

With regard to The DaVinci Code, I don't "get carried away by thinking his
plots represent accurate historical accounts" because I know real history, &
church history in particular, & know that Brown's version is mostly fantasy.
The problem is that most of the people who will read the book know nothing
of church history (& this includes most Christians, especially protestants)
& don't know the difference. The result will be that a lot of people will
think that Constantine had the New Testament written, that nobody thought
that Jesus was divine before A.D. 325, & other lies. This kind of stuff is
not harmless.


> Relating to the More Gloom and Doom thread, it does appear that the oil
> supply is now close to the consumption level of oil. I don't think this
> means that the world is at the brink of any crisis yet. (I suspect that
> there is some manipulation going on with regard to oil prices now.) Now
> the traditional supply/demand economics will take over instead of the
> OPEC decisions of how much oil they feel like exporting. We may well
> move towards a recession and a decrease in consumption along with new
> projects and previously too-expensive oil projects coming on line to
> keep the supply meeting the demand for years to come. The question is:
> When will the depletion of the old major producing oil wells finally
> reach the point when there will never be enough oil supply to satisfy
> the demand for oil, and when and how will the world leaders try to
> educate their people about this problem. At that point will the
> countries with the most military might try to exert their strength and
> control the oil for them and their friends?
> With regard to the hydrogen and ethanol and biofuels threads, I cannot
> find any good evidence that
> would indicate that these alternatives will make any significant
> contribution to our energy needs when petroleum supplies are in decline,
> unless there are some new (not yet foreseen) technologies that make
> these processes much more efficient than they are now. I think that
> Ken's calculations correctly indicate that we cannot significantly
> reduce dependence on Middle East oil by ethanol or biofuel production.
> The new Science issue is devoted to the hydrogen economy, and from the
> small bits I read the Science people are not optimistic that hydrogen
> will be a viable energy source anytime soon. I agree with the writer
> in the review below that we will almost surely go on a crash program of
> nuclear power as well as increase our use of coal. We also know that
> hybrid/electric technology works for transportation today and I see that
> as becoming more significant in the future.
> The September issue of Scientific American has a one page news article
> about peak oil--giving the various arguments on all sides of the issue
> without comment. Not all that informative if you have followed this
> subject at all, but it indicates that the topic is drawing more and more
> attention.
> Since I previously posted an article about Richard Heinberg's new book:
> Powerdown, I feel I owe you some comments about the book. Here are two
> such reviews from the Energy Resources site--one complimentary and one
> not as enthusiastic (plus a comment).
> Review #1
> Well, I'm about three-quarters through Powerdown and quite impressed
> with
> Heinberg's scholarship. He is able to handle arguments and their
> abstractions
> and
> in so doing come to major conclusions. This is a rare quality, sort of
> top-notch intellectual grasp by an ultimate reader. So far, however, I
> find
> myself
> profoundly depressed by the material he presents. Heinberg offers the
> very
> logical conclusion that to make the world work would require that all
> nations,
> ours in particular, work cooperatively with every other nation and also
> work to
> bring the economic level of the underdeveloped nations up to a higher
> level
> where they can survive well; the later point based on the wide gap
> between their
> wealth and the wealth of industrialized nations which has evolved over
> time.
> Ultimately, I guess, the point comes down to the idea that in order to
> have a
> cooperative world, we have to have a just world that functions well and
> includes the perception of equality among us all.
> I don't know if I have summed up what I've read so far or whether or
> not
> I correctly understand Heinberg's major argument and proposal, but I
> did have
> a sizable stop as I was reading to this point. If we have all the
> trouble we
> are having in trying to spread the message that serious problems lie
> ahead and
> that reality is going to be all screwed up in a short while, how can we
> hope
> to persuade the American public (except for you and me, Sam) to go
> along with
> the program and be kind and charitable and accept the slide into a
> thirty year
> depression gracefully and reach out and help all "them foreigners"
> because it
> is the right thing to do and besides it might help us and the rest of
> the
> world, then I think there is a serious misunderstanding here. The
> American
> people as I know them are kind, warm-hearted, public spirited, not too
> smart and
> addicted to television. I don't think one would have much success in
> persuading
> them to stand up and wave a flag in a parade based upon Reason, Help
> for other
> Nations, and Self-sacrifice. I do believe, however, that we -- all of
> us --
> can slide into a dictatorship just as easy as pie on Sunday morning
> when
> conditions and timing are set up that way.
> Marvin, Seattle
> Review #2
> I am all the way through Powerdown, and I have to say I am distinctly
> unimpressed. The Party's Over (TPO) was for an accidental trip down
> the rabbit hole -- I picked it up at random in my local bookseller, and
> it changed my world view entirely. Unlike you, I do not see Heinberg's
> strength as a drawer of conclusions, but as a presenter and synthesizer
> of other peoples conclusions. The combination of citations and
> references in TPO on cultural history, basic thermodynamics, ecology,
> geology and energy packed a terrific punch in a very slim volume. And
> the wealth of secondary references to follow allows the motivated
> reader to go deeper in all directions. I found the weakest parts of TPO
> to be where Heinberg veered from factual presentation and summary to
> weakly supported op-ed on contemporary politics and the media. (Chomsky
> and Herman do Chomsky and Herman much better than Heinberg.)
> Unfortunately, Powerdown offers a much larger helping of op-ed and much
> lighter helping of new references and synthesis. In places it swerves
> completely into cloud cookoo land, with discourse on the Bush
> administration's aiding and abetting of 9/11, mention of ethnically
> targeted bio-weapons, and vast swaths of anti-Bush jeremiad.
> On the energy front, the lack of substantial new information or
> research means that the conclusions are very familiar to readers of
> this list (or simply widely read people with an understanding of the
> coming oil peak). A major disappointment is Heinberg's continued
> blinders on the issue of nuclear power. Even in chapters supposedly
> devoted to the "unpleasant but likely" scenarios, he does not allow
> himself to believe that we are about to see a substantial upswing in
> nuclear power development. Arguments against nuclear present continue
> to be very thin gruel, the usual political shorthand -- nuclear is
> unsafe, too expensive. I realize Heinberg does not like nuclear, but
> he should at least be intellectually honest enough to note that the
> powers-that-be do not share his reservations. When the energy crisis
> leaves the business pages for the front pages, it will not take long
> for opposition to nuclear to be overrun -- above all, the
> powers-that-be have to keep the lights on for as long as possible. (On
> the current events front, watch Ontario as an interesting case study...
> the provincial government has promised decommissioning the current coal
> fired plants, but has no plans for replacing the generating capacity.
> An study commissioned by the government strongly recommends taking a
> fresh look at nuclear.)
> Powerdown also suffers from being a follow-up book. Many pages are
> spent re-summarizing TPO, or referencing various aspects of it. I
> assume that it was editorially impossible to take the intellectually
> appealing course of treating Powerdown as the "lost chapters" of TPO --
> the remaining content would have been too small to be worthy of
> publishing as a complete book.
> Do not let my tone discourage you though -- Powerdown is not a terrible
> book by any means. But on an enlightening-ideas-or-facts-per-page
> basis, it simply cannot come close to competing with its older sibling,
> TPO.
> Paul Ramsey
> Victoria, British Columbia
> Refractions Research
> Response #3
> Paul thanks for your take on Powerdown. I loved "The Party's Over".
> I bought an extra copy just to loan out to friends. I don't know if I
> will get around to reading Powerdown or not, I have so many other
> books on my reading list that this will be difficult.
> I agree with you completely on nuclear power. It simply doesn't
> matter whether we are for it or against it, more nuclear power, and a
> lot of it is coming. When natural gas and oil get very scarce and the
> lights start to flicker, the public will be screaming for nuclear
> power. Those who oppose it will learn to keep quiet or get stoned by
> the panicking public. The same goes for drilling in ANWR and the Gulf
> of Mexico. They will be screaming, "damn the pollution, drill, drill,
> drill". And Yucca Mountain will be completed and another hole drilled
> in the mountain if necessary, screw Nevada and their five electoral
> votes. When people start to panic, and they will panic, all
> environmental considerations will evaporate. One's position on the
> issue will be of little or no importance. Just as one cannot reason
> with a lynch mob, there will be no reasoning with a panicking public
> either. And every elected official in Washington will be marching in
> lock step with them.
> Ron
Received on Tue Aug 17 12:49:22 2004

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