Friday, August 26

Annoyed with kottke, spinning off into debunking the 'peak oil' myth

kottke has been digging on intelligent design a lot lately. It's his prerogative, but I may end up removing him from my blogroll. No big whoop for him, but that's my prerogative.

He also linked an article about peak oil which is a total myth and just plain bad economics. Tom writes about it a lot, including this post where he links Steven 'Freakonomics' Levitt. Peak oil seems to make sense, so we accept it uncritically (similar to Malthus). But when you start to peel it back, you see it's fraught with poor assumptions.

Something Levitt doesn't address that Tom does other places: we keep discovering more 'reserves'. Places, like Russia, that are national-controlled, then let in higher-tech companies, like Exxon, 'magically' discover much more oil than they thought they had. Then you have better technology for the eventual use of natural gas. Then you have better technology for extracting oil from shale. Then China will make the conversion to hydrogen as their car market explodes  and their new, pebble-bed nuclear reactors produce hydrogen cheaply. India and the rest of East Asia will be majorly affected by China's revolution, especially auto markets that are still immature like India and North Korea.  East Asia's need to cut pollution will also be a major factor. It starts to sound pie-in-the-sky, but this is a realistic projection.

America's route, with oil deeply entrenched in a mature auto market, will be much less drastic. We haven't even really begun to let the market work on this thing. We're still subsidizing gas. We're still buying big cars. Have you cut down on your trips? We'll likely 'manage' our oil situation and pollution and miss out on the front end of the hydrogen revolution. You'll buy your hydrogen-fueled car in America in 2040 from a Chinese-owned company (if we're not totally post-national by then ;-)

Don't believe the prophets of doom. If you've accepted that the oil production 'peak' is coming, I encourage you to check out some of these links.
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