Saturday, January 15, 2005


A few excerpts from a very detailed article:

I am often asked about the "peak oil" theory. I've even had some people send me junk mail predicting when the date would come. Sometime in June, 2006, I recall....

But as demand across the world rises, and the call on the resource increases, the price will likely slowly but inexorably rise. Efficiency and conservation will buy room, but the economic affect of using less and using more efficienctly is equivalent to increased production, and those extra barrels will be used by someone somewhere. And for those wishing for an end to Saudi influence on the oil market, officials with the Bush Administration have said that a 120-million-barrel-pay day world is going to need 20 million barrels each day from Saudi Arabia, making the world more, and not less, dependent on the Gulf kingdom....

Sure, there are alternatives. There are huge bitumen deposits in Venezuela and Alberta, tar sands that combined hold more than twice the current estimated world reserves of liquid crude oil. But bitumen is costly to refine, a potential environmental nightmare to extract, and right now, only a tiny fraction of the crude in either the Athabasca oil sands or the Orinoco Belt can be recovered.

There's a lot of shale in North America, and the process to synthesize crude from shale is fairly old and well known. It is also water intensive, and not terribly economical right now (because most of the shale is buried out West, where there is very little water). The technology is pretty well established to make synthetic crude oil from coal (lots of North American coal too) or natural gas, or even turkey guts or pig manure - if the price is right.....

It isn't that any US oil company would say "no" to Iraq contracts if the situation shaped up there and contracts came their way. But Iraq is a mess right now, and is there is no security - political, legal or physical - to guarantee a return on a multi-billion dollar investment. It's unlikely that any of these companies asked for this invasion because they all prize stability - the stability of contractual arrangements, of a regular return on capital, of not getting their employees killed and their equipment blown up - above nearly anything else. Even the stability guaranteed by very nasty governments. Dealing with the "devil," whatever headgear it wears, is pretty common in the oil business.

But there is an oil component to the invasion and occupation, and I believe it is this: the United States, through invading and occupying a nation with significant oil reserves, would show the world - especially the up-and-coming consuming nations of China and India - that in the event that push comes to shove, and this resource gets scarce, Americans come first. "Everyone else gets in line behind us. If there's any left, we'll make sure you get some."

But we need to remember a few things. First, whatever ends up replacing petroleum will come in its own good time, later than we'd like but probably sooner than we expect. It will come because it stores energy and power better than gasoline does and more cheaply to boot. It will come with some tremendous benefits and some unfortunate drawbacks. Consider as you lament the evils of crude oil: the fairly accidental discovery of kerosene and expansion of the refining process in the second half of the 19th century saved whales from an early mass extinction while at same time making nighttime light and winter heat affordable to even the most impoverished parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Gasoline itself was originally a waste product, largely unused until the invention of the internal combustion engine, and automobiles made for cleaner streets (no more manure) and safer farm equipment, given that farmers no longer had to wrestle with motors that had minds of their own. Kerosene itself languished as an unloved byproduct of refining for several decades until the invention of the jet engine.

Second, that new fuel will probably not come as the result of government-sponsored research. Government efforts to target new development - whether hydrogen fuel cells, hybrid engines, coal gasification, ethanol subsidies - may contribute some, but the kind of thinking and investing needed to find or make that new fuel probably cannot be done by government bureaucrats, scientists or regulators, who can only think incrementally and usually only consider efficiency and conservation, rather than entirely new ways of doing things.

More here:


The generalizations that are really agreed on turn out to be fairly trivial

What do scientists mean when they talk about the "scientific consensus on climate change"? The answer is helpfully provided by the new web log set up by a variety of climate scientists entitled There, British Antarctic Survey scientist William Connolley defines the consensus in these terms:

"The main points that most would agree on as 'the consensus' are:

1. The earth is getting warmer (0.6 +/- 0.2ø C in the past century; 0.1ø C/decade over the last 30 years)

2. People are causing this

3. If GHG emissions continue, the warming will continue and indeed accelerate

4. (This will be a problem and we ought to do something about it)"

Connolley also includes the following important rider: "I've put those four points in rough order of certainty. The last one is in brackets because whilst many would agree, many others (who agree with 1-3) would not, at least without qualification. It's probably not a part of the core consensus in the way 1-3 are. Most.of us here on RealClimate are physical scientists-we can talk sensibly about past, present and future changes in climate, but potential impacts on ecosystems or human society are out of our field."

This is a useful summary, because it enables us to see where the disagreements lie. Point 1 is generally accepted, although the fact remains that satellite temperature measurements show a smaller warming trend and the reasons for that remain a topic of genuine scientific debate. Nevertheless, there is general agreement that the world warmed slightly over the past century.

Point 2 is rather imprecisely worded as everyone agrees that temperature changes over the last century have been affected by a variety of human and natural effects, both warming and cooling. The idea that man has not affected the climate in any way has virtually no supporters. Roger Pielke, Jr.-no skeptic-of the University of Colorado compiled a list where he demonstrates that all the so-called skeptics, including Fred Singer, Pat Michaels and even President Bush, have accepted that there is an anthropogenic influence on climate. The claim that opinion-formers deny this is a classic straw man.

Yet all scientists agree that there is more than just one form of human influence. As well as greenhouse gases, land-use changes, aerosol concentrations and other "forcings" have a role to play. At the time of the last IPCC report, we knew a lot only about the role of greenhouse gases (see figure 9 here), but we have invested a lot of time, money and energy into finding out more about the other forcings. They have enabled scientists to declare that such factors as land-use changes and black carbon (soot) concentrations may account for large portions of the recent warming. Moreover, we now know more about natural forcings such as the oceanic phenomenon known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation which some researchers think may account for half of the recent warming trend. This is an area of genuine ongoing scientific discovery.

Point 3 is more contentious, as it relies on theories that assume that there is a so-called "positive feedback mechanism" in the atmosphere that will accelerate any warming trend. This is where the so-called skeptical scientists part company with the consensus. MIT Professor of Meteorology Richard Lindzen, for instance, is well-known for having advanced a credible, peer-reviewed theory that the Earth has an infrared "iris effect" that will produce negative feedbacks. Recent NASA research indicates that feedback mechanisms are not as pronounced as climate models suggest.

More here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


No comments: