Debunking The Debunkers.

One of the most frustrating things for an advocate for conservation is that too often, our sources for information are dismissed as “liberal, left-wing entities seeking to profit from a fabricated problem.”

Report issued by the Lefties we know as the U.S. Army. (pdf)

If you don’t want to wade into it, (and I can’t blame you) you can read excellent summaries here and here.

Bookmark those sites. The people that pay attention to this stuff are telling us that the proverbial shit is about to hit the proverbial fan, and that we can’t “invent” our way out of this quickly. There are major shifts about to occur and if you are not at least partially prepared, you will suffer behind them.

As Southern Beale and others have warned, this affects everyone, and damn near everything. It ain’t just about the gas you require for your car. Its about fuel to heat and cool, to run your fancy electronics, and to grow, harvest, deliver, package and transport your food.

Some of you weren’t alive or weren’t driving back in the late Seventies. I remember gas lines, odd/even fill up days, shortages. I remember sleeping in my car in line at a gas station, because I was in the police academy, and not being able to get there wasn’t an excuse. Those inconveniences were just that…inconveniences. Already, people on a strict budget are trying to buy less gas, and AAA is reporting a record number of stranded motorists who have run out of gas.

I liken this to the practice of cooking a lobster by placing it into a pot of cool water, then slowly building up the heat until it falls asleep and never sees it’s impending demise. Folks, we are in the pot, and it has been simmering for years…

The debunkers will claim that it is either not occuring at all, or, that we have alternatives all but awaiting implementation. The report issued by the Army goes through each proposed alternative, and has concluded that none will allow us to continue at our current rate of consumption. Its really that simple, and that bleak.

I don’t want to be thinking about this. I’d love to be able to pretend it will all work out with no effort on my part, and go tune in to “America’s hottest new talented dancer/model/comic/rehabber” or whatever.

I’ll leave you with some chilling quotes from people who ought to know what they are talking about:

“One thing is clear: the age of easy oil is over”

David J. O’Reilly
Chairman and CEO, Chevron Corporation

“World oil production has now ceased to grow. Decline is the next step. The picnic’s over.”

Kenneth S. Deffeyes
Petroleum geologist formerly with Shell Oil, professor, and author

“Alternatives like biofuels, ethanol or biomass can play a marginal supportive role but nowhere near on the scale required. When the oil runs out the economic and social dislocation will be unprecedented.”

Michael Meacher
Former U.K. Environment Minister

My grandfather rode a camel, my father rode a camel, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover, his son will drive a Land Rover, but his son will ride a camel.”

Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum
Former Prime Minister of United Arab Emirates and Emir of Dubai


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24 responses to “Debunking The Debunkers.

  1. There was a story on channel 5 the other night where some gas stations are putting in pawn shops so that people can pawn their possessions off in order to buy a tank of gas.

    I remember the gas lines and odd/even fill-up days very well. What I don’t remember is how we got out of that hole. Can you enlighten me on that? Can we get out of this hole the same way we did back then?

  2. nm

    Well, back then, the Shah of Iran did an interview on U.S. television, and said, “you know, we are exporting more oil to the U.S. than ever before.” And the next day, the Oil Crisis was over. Because that one was caused by politically-controlled access to oil rather than by radically increased demand for oil, as is the case today.

  3. democommie


    The entire energy economy has been run like a “Payday Loan Office” since WWII, at least. I’m pretty sure the neo-cLoWn plan was to make all the mid-east oil producers so grateful (or so fearful) for what happened in Iraq that they would be happy to sell us oil on our terms.


    I don’t have the quote, but the chairman of Dow Chemical said that it was the gubmint’s fault that there was no decent energy policy. He didn’t name names but I’m pretty sure he was talking about Clinton. After all, who’s fault could it be if not Bill’s?

  4. So, are we absolutely positive that the problem is a supply and demand issue or is it still good ‘ol politics?

    I truly have to wonder if we didn’t have a more stable administration in office, if things wouldn’t get significantly better again.

  5. nm

    Demo, I doubt it. The war really wasn’t about oil. Religion, psychodrama, idiocy of all kinds, yes. But if it had been about oil, the pipelines and refineries in Iraq would have been secured first thing. They weren’t. Not that any of that is relevant, since the current energy crunch doesn’t result from political decisions about the allocation of oil. It results from new factories all over China and India, and millions of new cars and drivers there.

  6. nm

    Ginger, even if Mack is wrong about peak oil (and I think he’s right about the fact of it, but wrong about what producers are doing about it in terms of pricing), the huge demand for oil in Asia, which is a new phenomenon of the past decade, would keep the price up. A more stable administration would not have made Iraq’s oil unavailable to anyone at all right now, but that’s just not the biggest factor in the equation. A more stable administration that was willing to invest in investigating alternative fuels (and, in a stable administration, remember that investment has to come from taxes) might have come up with some other options by now, but that’s about it. There’s no way that any other option would be being implemented by this time.

  7. Thanks for explaining that, nm. So…my next question: is there seriously no oil to be had in China for them to drill for themselves??? You’d think there would be some oil-rich areas in a country that huge.

  8. nm

    There is some oil in China; not much, and much of that is the hard-to-get at kind, so their regular oil-wells are starting to show diminishing returns. They will probably find more oil there, and figure out some cost-effective ways to extract what they can’t get at now. But. Remember that China is about the same geographic size as the U.S. We have oil, but not enough to serve the current needs of our 300 million people. If China finds as much oil as we have (having as much space as we do), there’s no way it can fill the needs of more than 4 times as many people. They will only increase their imports in the future. (Or, of course, they may be the ones to come up with the alternative.)

  9. Ginger, the process of locating oil under the earth has been perfected. Everyone knows where the oil is, but unless it brings 200 a barrel, it isn’t worth the cost of going to get it. Even so, it is a finite resource. The Army knows this, and they are planning how to carry out future missions with the minimum amount of energy used.

    NM, I don’t believe I posited any theories about pricing, because i don’t quite understand all of it, but i know some of the factors include scarcity, cost of refinement, explosion of demand in developing countries, and speculation.

    For me, I’d like to see a few elected leaders willing to risk telling us the damn truth, and asking us to pitch in, and prepare for leaner times. Sure, they may suffer at the ballot box for it, but eventually, the voting public may just develop an affinity for a steady diet of the truth…or at least truthiness. 😉

  10. Ginger, it isn’t just China. India and Russia’s demand has increased exponentially.

  11. nm

    Mack, you have seemed to me in this and other posts to see a straight line from lowered future supply to current price increases. If I misunderstood you, I apologize for misrepresenting what you have written.

  12. Too late. You are now banned.

    ok, ban over.

  13. Pingback: I May Have Been a Tad Premature About Feeling Premature About the Paint Picking-Outing « Tiny Cat Pants

  14. democommie


    I don’t think that the war was about getting Iraq’s oil, at least not in what would be seen as a naked grab. Like everything else Cheneybush figured that a few companies would go in and secure the rights to sell Iraqi oil on the world market. They had no idea that the Iraqis would rather see their economy gutted than turn it over, intact, to an invader. I did hear on a piece on NPR over the weekend that Iraq has billions in cash surpluses from the sale of the oil (which, strangely, we never get a dime of) and yet seeks to have all foreign debt erased, so that they can get a “fresh start”

  15. democommie


    Check out Nezua’s blog: He’s got a “gas thing” video he made for MTV.

  16. nm

    Oh, Mack. So inconsistent. How like a man.

  17. I’ve only heard one source mention this, and it makes sense:

    If you want the price of oil to come down, the most direct way is to stop buying crap from China and India. Their oil consumption goes into their factories and their plastics.

    It’s not the whole solution, but it addresses the problem.

  18. Coal

    What about coal, dude? The report specifically states that the U.S. has 250 years of coal at current consumption rates, but I’ve seen other sources that say 300-350 years.

    Supposing that ALL oil had to be replaced, and it could only be replaced by gasified coal, then we’d still have well over ONE HUNDRED years of this type of energy left, and that’s only known coal deposits. This technology wouldn’t have to be invented; it has been around since the 1930s and 1940s. Nazi Germany did not have much of its own oil supplies but it had a lot of coal, just like us. I anticipate someone making a clumsy, hamfisted, and irrelevant comment about this being evil Nazi technology, but the fact remains: this technology is already available.

    Exador, so if we stop buying things from China, who will make these things? The U.S.? Do we have some magical way without using energy to make cars, toys, steel, electronics, etc. that I’m not aware of???

  19. As evil as i find the coal industry, coal may very well play a huge role in our future. We can make damn fine electric cars, for instance, and maybe the electricity generated by coal will buy us time to perfect solar or something else.

    We do need to get away from burning fossil fuel, though, and the sooner, the better.

  20. Of course we can’t eliminate all the plastic crap in our lives; but cutting out the stupid happy-meal-toys crap would make a huge difference.

    I also long for the day when EVERYTHING we buy does not have to be vacuum sealed in plastic. Go to an “international” market if you want to be reminded that we don’t need to package our world this way.

  21. democommie

    Coal gasification is hardly a panacea for our energy woes. We, me included, waste lots of resources, willingly or otherwise. My brother is over in Vietnam with his wife, visiting her family. The last time he came back I asked him how it was and he said that it was green, hot crowded, and poor.

    We hounded other countries to modernize and to free up their economies. We reap what we sow.

  22. Coal

    Alright, democommie and Exador, I agree that we could conserve and recycle more. We could learn from other countries and I’m sure they learn from us on other things.

    However, the post says “…has concluded that none will allow us to continue at our current rate of consumption. Its really that simple, and that bleak.”

    Well, we’ll have to adjust, and it will be difficult, but we’ve adjusted before (decline of whale oil, spread of automobile, rations during WWII, automation of mechanical jobs by robots leading to job losses, Oil Embargo) and we’ll do it again. The picture just doesn’t look that bleak to me, at least not as bleak as the impending Social Security and Health Care crises in the U.S.

  23. Coal,

    The contracting economy that results from using less energy means less resources will be available to solve the (future) Social Security and (current and ongoing) health care crisis. Everything’s inter-related.

  24. democommie


    Oh, yeah, it will be a bitch for those who have just turned old enough to have 40 years of work to look forward to. Me, I’m an older fart, but I hope to be around for another 2o or so.

    What is really required is a slowdown in population growth and some radical new technologies that are safe and effective. I want a pony, too!

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