Palast Debunks "Peak Oil": Dave McGowan Was First, How About Some Credit.
Palast's analysis of the peak oil scam decimates the claims of those who say black gold is on its way out of existence and it should be regulated by oil companies who in their own documents have been caught creating artificial scarcity. The role of Venezuela and Hugo Chavez in oil politics is also covered.
Taken from Prison Planet.tv AJ interview blurb. Palast took his time. McGowan was writing extensively about this 2 years ago while PAlast was still pushing "war for oil" crapola. I have my doubts about Palast sometimes.
Sorry that ALL these articles are so long but it is worth having a backup of them as they are so good and so well referenced.
Dave McGowan is funny and inciteful. He has done some of the earliest and best work on the Peak Oil Scam and the sell out Ruppert as well as great and detailed work on 9-11...especially the Pentagon "lack of plane" crash.
"Peak Oil" is not just concocted for pure profit. It is the "understandable excuse" for the U.S acting as the iron fist in the velvet glove of the Globalist agenda. That is...destroying traditional Islam and making the world safe for Israel.
Here is his complete set on the scam that is peak oil.
P.S Oil industry mags here in West Oz are admitting that the ENTIRE West Coast of Oz is one great big oil and gas field. How lucky for them! $80 a barrel and growing. It is also interesting that Oz's Prime minister (John Howard) let it be known at an industry meeting that Australia has the potential to be a..."global energy supplier". ;-)
March 13, 2004
Cop v CIA (Center for an Informed America)
The Most Important Center for an Informed America Story in Two Years...
On February 29, 2004, I received the following e-mail message from Michael Ruppert of From the Wilderness:
I challenge you to an open, public debate on the subject of Peak Oil; any time, any place after March 13th 2004. I challenge you to bring scientific material, production data and academic references and citations for your conclusions like I have. I suggest a mutually acceptable panel of judges and I will put up $1,000 towards a purse to go to the winner of that debate. I expect you to do the same. And you made a dishonest and borderline libelous statement when you suggested that I am somehow pleased that these wars of aggression have taken place to secure oil. My message all along has been, “Not in my name!”
Put your money where your mouth is. But first I suggest you do some homework. Ad hominem attacks using the word “bullshit”, unsupported by scientific data are a sign of intellectual weakness (at best). I will throw more than 500 footnoted citations at you from unimpeachable sources. Be prepared to eat them or rebut them with something more than you have offered.
Wow! How does high noon sound?
Before I get started here, Mike, I need to ask you just one quick question: are you sure it was only a "borderline libelous statement"? Because I was really going for something more unambiguously libelous. I'll see if I can do better on this outing. Let me know how I do.
Several readers have written to me, incidentally, with a variation of the following question: "How can you say that Peak Oil is being promoted to sell war when all of the websites promoting the notion of Peak Oil are stridently anti-war?"
But of course they are. That, you see, is precisely the point. What I was trying to say is that the notion of 'Peak Oil' is being specifically marketed to the anti-war crowd -- because, as we all know, the pro-war crowd doesn't need to be fed any additional justifications for going to war; any of the old lies will do just fine. And I never said that the necessity of war was being overtly sold. What I said, if I remember correctly, is that it is being sold with a wink and a nudge.
The point that I was trying to make is that it would be difficult to imagine a better way to implicitly sell the necessity of war, even while appearing to stake out a position against war, than through the promotion of the concept of 'Peak Oil.' After September 11, 2001, someone famously said that if Osama bin Laden didn't exist, the US would have had to invent him. I think the same could be said for 'Peak Oil.'
I also need to mention here that those who are selling 'Peak Oil' hysteria aren't offering much in the way of alternatives, or solutions. Ruppert, for example, has stated flatly that "there is no effective replacement for what hydrocarbon energy provides today." (http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/052703_9_questions.html) The message is quite clear: "we're running out of oil soon; there is no alternative; we're all screwed." And this isn't, mind you, just an energy problem; as Ruppert has correctly noted, "Almost every current human endeavor from transportation, to manufacturing, to plastics, and especially food production is inextricably intertwined with oil and natural gas supplies." (http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/102302_campbell.html) If we run out of oil, in other words, our entire way of life will come crashing down. One of Ruppert's "unimpeachable sources," Colin Campbell, describes an apocalyptic future, just around the corner, that will be characterized by "war, starvation, economic recession, possibly even the extinction of homo sapiens." (http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/102302_campbell.html)
My question is: if Ruppert is not selling the necessity of war, then exactly what is the message that he is sending to readers with such doomsday forecasts? At the end of a recent posting, Ruppert quotes dialogue from the 1975 Sidney Pollack film, Three Days of the Condor: (http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/013004_in_your_face.html)
Higgins: ...It's simple economics. Today it's oil, right? In 10 or 15 years - food, Plutonium. And maybe even sooner. Now what do you think the people are gonna want us to do then?
Turner: Ask them.
Higgins: Not now - then. Ask them when they're running out. Ask them when there's no heat in their homes and they're cold. Ask them when their engines stop. Ask them when people who've never known hunger start going hungry. Do you want to know something? They won't want us to ask them. They'll just want us to get it for them.
The message there seems pretty clear: once the people understand what is at stake, they will support whatever is deemed necessary to secure the world's oil supplies. And what is it that Ruppert is accomplishing with his persistent 'Peak Oil' postings? He is helping his readers to understand what is allegedly at stake.
Elsewhere on his site, Ruppert warns that "Different regions of the world peak in oil production at different times ... the OPEC nations of the Middle East peak last. Within a few years, they -- or whoever controls them -- will be in effective control of the world economy, and, in essence, of human civilization as a whole." (http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/102302_campbell.html)
Within a few years, the Middle East will be in control of all of human civilization?! Try as I might, I can't imagine any claim that would more effectively rally support for a U.S. takeover of the Middle East. The effect of such outlandish claims is to cast the present war as a war of necessity. Indeed, a BBC report posted on Ruppert's site explicitly endorses that notion: "It's not greed that's driving big oil companies - it's survival." (http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/040403_oil_war_bbc.html)
On the very day that Ruppert's challenge arrived, I received another e-mail, from someone I previously identified - erroneously, it would appear - as a "prominent critic" of Michael Ruppert. In further correspondence, the writer, Jeff Strahl, explained that he is (a) not a critic of Ruppert in general, but rather a critic only of Ruppert's stance on certain aspects of the 9-11 story, and (b) not all that prominent. This is what Mr. Strahl had to say:
I'm a participant in a relatively new website, http://911research.wtc7.net, which has done lots of work regarding the WTC and Pentagon side of the 9/11 events, especially the physical evidence which reveals the official story as a complete hoax. Under "talks" you'll find a slide show I've done (and will do again) in public on the Pentagon aspects. This is all simply to let you know I'm far from an apologist for the status quo. Nor am I an apologist for Mike Ruppert, with whom in fact I got into a donnybrook of a fight on public email lists over his denial of the relevancy of physical evidence and the fact that an article full of disinformation about the WTC collapse, written 9/13/01, was still on his website, unedited or corrected, two years later. He finally gave in and printed a (sort of) retraction.
That said, I have to take issue with your stance re Peak Oil, something you say you wish were true, but deny, not on the basis of any information, but on the basis that you seem to think it's too good to be true, and that it's all info presented by Ruppert, which you thus suspect since you suspect Ruppert. Matter of fact, Peak Oil was predicted by an oil geologist, King Hubbert, way back in the mid '60s, before Ruppert was even in college. It's been pursued since then by lots of people in the science know-how, including Dale Allen Pfeiffer, Richard Heinberg, Colin Campbell and Kenneth Deffeyes. The information is quite clear, global oil production has either peaked in the last couple of years or will do so in the next couple, as Hubbert predicted decades ago (He predicted Peak Oil in the US as happening in the early '70s, was laughed at, but his prediction came true right on schedule). The science here is quite hard, facts are available from lots of sources. Perhaps Hubbert was part of a long-planned disinfo campaign that was planned way back in the '60s, and all the others are part of that plot. I find it hard to believe that, and I am quite a skeptic.
As for the relevancy of physical evidence, it would appear that that is another bone that I have to pick with Mr. Ruppert. But I will save that for another time. For now, the issue is 'Peak Oil' (which, as you can see, I am continuing to enclose in quotation marks, which is, as regular readers know, how I identify things that don't actually exist).
For the record, I never said that Michael Ruppert was the only one presenting information about 'Peak Oil.' I said that he was the most prominent of those promoting the idea. I also never implied that Ruppert came up with the idea on his own. I am aware that the theory has a history. The issue here, however, is the sudden prominence that 'Peak Oil' has attained.
Lastly, let me say that, unlike you, Jeff, I am enough of a skeptic to believe that an ambitious, well-orchestrated disinformation campaign, possibly spanning generations, should never arbitrarily be ruled out. I am also enough of a skeptic to suspect that when a topic I have covered generates the volume of e-mail that my 'Peak Oil' musings have generated, then I must have managed to step into a pretty big pile of shit. What I did not realize, until I decided to take Mr. Ruppert's advice and "do some homework," was that it was a much bigger pile than I could have imagined.
I read through some, but certainly not all, of the alleged evidence that Ruppert has brought to the table concerning 'Peak Oil.' Since I have no interest in financially supporting his cause, I am not a paid subscriber and can therefore not access the 'members only' postings. But I doubt that I am missing much. The postings that I did read tended to be extremely redundant and, therefore, a little on the boring side.
Ruppert's arguments range from the vaguely compelling to the downright bizarre. One argument that pops up repeatedly is exemplified by this Ruppert-penned line: "One of the biggest signs of the reality of Peak Oil over the last two decades has been a continual pattern of merger-acquisition-downsizing throughout the industry."
Really? And is that pattern somehow unique to the petroleum industry? Or is it a pattern that has been followed by just about every major industry? Is the consolidation of the supermarket industry a sign of the reality of Peak Groceries? And with consolidation of the media industry, should we be concerned about Peak News? Or should we, perhaps, recognize that a pattern of monopoly control - characterized by mergers, acquisitions, and downsizing - represents nothing more than business as usual throughout the corporate world?
Another telling sign of 'Peak Oil,' according to Ruppert and Co., is sudden price hikes on gas and oil. Of course, that would be a somewhat more compelling argument if the oil cartels did not have a decades-long history of constantly feigning shortages to foist sudden price increases on consumers (usually just before peak travel periods). Contrary to the argument that appears on Ruppert's site, it is not need that is driving the oil industry, it is greed.
In what is undoubtedly the most bizarre posting that Ruppert offers in support of his theory, he ponders whether dialogue from an obscure 1965 television series indicates that the CIA knew as far back as the 1960s about the coming onset of 'Peak Oil.' (http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/042003_secret_agent_man.html) Even if that little factoid came from a more, uhmm, credible source, what would the significance be? Hasn't the conventional wisdom been, for many decades, that oil is a 'fossil fuel,' and therefore a finite, non-renewable resource? Since when has it been an intelligence community secret that a finite resource will someday run out?
A few readers raised that very issue in questioning my recent 'Peak Oil' rants. "Even if we are not now in the era of Peak Oil," the argument generally goes, "then surely we will be soon. After all, it is inevitable." And conventional wisdom dictates that it is, indeed, inevitable. But if this website has one overriding purpose, it is to question conventional wisdom whenever possible.
There is no shortage of authoritatively stated figures on the From the Wilderness website: billions of barrels of oil discovered to date; billions of barrels of oil produced to date; billions of barrels of oil in known reserves; billions of barrels of oil consumed annually. Yadda, yadda, yadda. My favorite figure is the one labeled, in one posting, "Yet-to-Find." That figure, 150 billion barrels (a relative pittance), is supposed to represent the precise volume of conventional oil in all the unknown number of oil fields of unknown size that haven't been discovered yet. Ruppert himself has written, with a cocksure swagger, that "there are no more significant quantities of oil to be discovered anywhere ..." (http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/013004_in_your_face.html) A rather bold statement, to say the least, considering that it would seem to be impossible for a mere mortal to know such a thing.
Ruppert's figures certainly paint a scary picture: rapid oil consumption + diminishing oil reserves + no new discoveries = no more oil. And sooner, rather than later. But is the 'Peak Oil' argument really valid? It seems logical -- a non-renewable resource consumed with a vengeance obviously can't last for long. The only flaw in the argument, I suppose, would be if oil wasn't really a 'fossil fuel,' and if it wasn't really a non-renewable resource.
"Conventional wisdom says the world's supply of oil is finite, and that it was deposited in horizontal reservoirs near the surface in a process that took millions of years." So said the Wall Street Journal in April 1999 (Christopher Cooper "Odd Reservoir Off Louisiana Prods Oil Experts to Seek a Deeper Meaning," Wall Street Journal, April 16, 1999). It therefore logically follows that conventional wisdom also says that oil will reach a production peak, and then ultimately run out.
As I said a few paragraphs ago, the purpose of this website is to question conventional wisdom -- by acquainting readers with stories that the media overlook, and with viewpoints that are not allowed in the mainstream. It was my understanding that From the Wilderness, and other 'alternative' websites, had a similar goal.
But is 'Peak Oil' really some suppressed, taboo topic? If it is, then why, as I sit here typing this, with today's (March 7, 2004) edition of the Los Angeles Times atop my desk, are the words "Running Out of Oil -- and Time" staring me in the face from the front page of the widely read Sunday Opinion section? The lengthy piece, penned by Paul Roberts, is replete with dire warnings of the coming crisis. Save for the fact that the words 'Peak Oil' are not routinely capitalized, it could easily pass for a From the Wilderness posting.
The Times also informed readers that Roberts has a new book due out in May, entitled The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World. Scary stuff. Beating Robert's book to the stores will be Colin Campbell's The Coming Oil Crisis, due in April. Both titles will have to compete for shelf space with titles such as Richard Heinberg's The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies, published April of last year; David Goodstein's Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil, which just hit the shelves last month; and Kenneth Deffeyes' Hubbert's Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage, published October 2001. The field is getting a bit crowded, but sales over at Amazon.com remain strong for most of the contenders.
The wholesale promotion of 'Peak Oil' seems to have taken off immediately after the September 11, 2001 'terrorist' attacks, and it is now really starting to pick up some steam. The BBC covered the big story last April (http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/040403_oil_war_bbc.html). CNN covered it in October (http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/100203_cnn_peak_oil.html). The Guardian covered it in December (http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/120303_bottom_barrel.html). Now the Los Angeles Times has joined the chorus.
I guess the cat is pretty much out of the bag on this one. Everyone can cancel their subscriptions to From the Wilderness and pocket the $35 a year, since you can read the very same bullshit for free in the pages of the Los Angeles Times.
Interestingly enough, there is another story about oil that, unlike the 'Peak Oil' story, actually has been suppressed. It is a story that very few, if any, of my readers, or of Michael Ruppert's readers, are likely aware of. But before we get to that story, let's first briefly review what we all 'know' about oil.
As anyone who stayed awake during elementary school science class knows, oil comes from dinosaurs. I remember as a kid (calm down, folks; there will be no Brady Bunch references this week) seeing some kind of 'public service' spot explaining how dinosaurs "gave their all" so that we could one day have oil. It seemed a reasonable enough idea at the time -- from the perspective of an eight-year-old. But if, as an adult, you really stop to give it some thought, doesn't the idea seem a little, uhmm ... what's the word I'm looking for here? ... oh yeah, I remember now ... preposterous?
How could dinosaurs have possibly created the planet's vast oil fields? Did millions, or even billions, of them die at the very same time and at the very same place? Were there dinosaur Jonestowns on a grand scale occurring at locations all across the planet? And how did they all get buried so quickly? Because if they weren't buried right away, wouldn't they have just decomposed and/or been consumed by scavengers? And how much oil can you really squeeze from a pile of parched dinosaur skeletons?
Maybe there was some type of cataclysmic event that caused the sudden extinction of the dinosaurs and also buried them -- like the impact of an asteroid or a comet. But even so, you wouldn't think that all the dinosaurs would have been huddled together waiting to become oil fields. And besides, scientists are now backing away from the mass extinction theory.
The Wall Street Journal article previously cited noted that it "would take a pretty big pile of dead dinosaurs to account for the estimated 660 billion barrels of oil in the [Middle East]." I don't know what the precise dinosaur-carcass-to-barrel-of-oil conversion rate is, but it does seem like it would take a hell of a lot of dead dinosaurs. Even if we generously allow that a single dinosaur could yield 5 barrels of oil (an absurd notion, but let's play along for now), more than 130 billion dinosaurs would have had to be simultaneously entombed in just one small region of the world. But were there really hundreds of billions of dinosaurs roaming the earth? If so, then one wonders why there is all this talk now of overpopulation and scarce resources, when all we are currently dealing with is a few billion humans populating the same earth.
And why the Middle East? Was that region some kind of Mecca for dinosaurs? Was it the climate, or the lack of water and vegetation, that drew them there? Of course, the region could have been much different in prehistoric times. Maybe it was like the Great Valley in the Land Before Time movies. Or maybe the dinosaurs had to cross the Middle East to get to the Great Valley, but they never made it, because they got bogged down in the desert and ultimately became (through, I'm guessing here, some alchemical process) cans of 10W-40 motor oil.
Another version of the 'fossil fuel' story holds that microscopic animal carcasses and other biological matter gathered on the world's sea floors, with that organic matter then being covered over with sediment over the course of millions of years. You would think, however, that any biological matter would decompose long before being covered over by sediment. But I guess not. And I guess there were no bottom-feeders in those days to clear the ocean floors of organic debris. Fair enough. But I still don't understand how those massive piles of biological debris, some consisting of hundreds of billions of tons of matter, could have just suddenly appeared, so that they could then sit, undisturbed, for millions of years as they were covered over with sediment. I can understand how biological detritus could accumulate over time, mixed in with the sediment, but that wouldn't really create the conditions for the generation of vast reservoirs of crude oil. So I guess I must be missing something here.
The notion that oil is a 'fossil fuel' was first proposed by Russian scholar Mikhailo Lomonosov in 1757. Lomonosov's rudimentary hypothesis, based on the limited base of scientific knowledge that existed at the time, and on his own simple observations, was that "Rock oil originates as tiny bodies of animals buried in the sediments which, under the influence of increased temperature and pressure acting during an unimaginably long period of time, transform into rock oil."
Two and a half centuries later, Lomonosov's theory remains as it was in 1757 -- an unproved, and almost entirely speculative, hypothesis. Returning once again to the Wall Street Journal, we find that, "Although the world has been drilling for oil for generations, little is known about the nature of the resource or the underground activities that led to its creation." A paragraph in the Encyclopedia Britannica concerning the origins of oil ends thusly: "In spite of the great amount of scientific research ... there remain many unresolved questions regarding its origins."
Does that not seem a little odd? We are talking here, after all, about a resource that, by all accounts, plays a crucial role in a vast array of human endeavors (by one published account, petroleum is a raw ingredient in some 70,000 manufactured products, including medicines, synthetic fabrics, fertilizers, paints and varnishes, acrylics, plastics, and cosmetics). By many accounts, the very survival of the human race is entirely dependent on the availability of petroleum. And yet we know almost nothing about this most life-sustaining of the earth's resources. And even though, by some shrill accounts, the well is about to run dry, no one seems to be overly concerned with understanding the nature and origins of so-called 'fossil fuels.' We are, rather, content with continuing to embrace an unproved 18th century theory that, if subjected to any sort of logical analysis, seems ludicrous.
On September 26, 1995, the New York Times ran an article headlined "Geochemist Says Oil Fields May Be Refilled Naturally." Penned by Malcolm W. Browne, the piece appeared on page C1.
Could it be that many of the world's oil fields are refilling themselves at nearly the same rate they are being drained by an energy hungry world? A geochemist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts ... Dr. Jean K. Whelan ... infers that oil is moving in quite rapid spurts from great depths to reservoirs closer to the surface. Skeptics of Dr. Whelan's hypothesis ... say her explanation remains to be proved ...
Discovered in 1972, an oil reservoir some 6,000 feet beneath Eugene Island 330 [not actually an island, but a patch of sea floor in the Gulf of Mexico] is one of the world's most productive oil sources ... Eugene Island 330 is remarkable for another reason: it's estimated reserves have declined much less than experts had predicted on the basis of its production rate.
"It could be," Dr. Whelan said, "that at some sites, particularly where there is a lot of faulting in the rock, a reservoir from which oil is being pumped might be a steady-state system -- one that is replenished by deeper reserves as fast as oil is pumped out" ...
The discovery that oil seepage is continuous and extensive from many ocean vents lying above fault zones has convinced many scientists that oil is making its way up through the faults from much deeper deposits ...
A recent report from the Department of Energy Task Force on Strategic Energy Research and Development concluded from the Woods Hole project that "there new data and interpretations strongly suggest that the oil and gas in the Eugene Island field could be treated as a steady-state rather than a fixed resource."
The report added, "Preliminary analysis also suggest that similar phenomena may be taking place in other producing areas, including the deep-water Gulf of Mexico and the Alaskan North Slope" ...
There is much evidence that deep reserves of hydrocarbon fuels remain to be tapped.
This compelling article raised a number of questions, including: how did all those piles of dinosaur carcasses end up thousands of feet beneath the earth's surface? How do finite reservoirs of dinosaur goo become "steady-state" resources? And how does the fossil fuel theory explain the continuous, spontaneous venting of gas and oil?
The Eugene Island story was revisited by the media three-and-a-half years later, by the Wall Street Journal (Christopher Cooper "Odd Reservoir Off Louisiana Prods Oil Experts to Seek a Deeper Meaning," Wall Street Journal, April 16, 1999).
Something mysterious is going on at Eugene Island 330.
Production at the oil field, deep in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, was supposed to have declined years ago. And for a while. it behaved like any normal field: Following its 1973 discovery, Eugene Island 330's output peaked at about 15,000 barrels a day. By 1989, production had slowed to about 4,000 barrels a day.
Then suddenly -- some say almost inexplicably -- Eugene Island's fortunes reversed. The field, operated by PennzEnergy Co., is now producing 13,000 barrels a day, and probable reserves have rocketed to more than 400 million barrels from 60 million. Stranger still, scientists studying the field say the crude coming out of the pipe is of a geological age quite different from the oil that gushed 10 years ago.
All of which has led some scientists to a radical theory: Eugene Island is rapidly refilling itself, perhaps from some continuous source miles below the Earth's surface. That, they say, raises the tantalizing possibility that oil may not be the limited resource it is assumed to be.
... Jean Whelan, a geochemist and senior researcher from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts ... says, "I believe there is a huge system of oil just migrating" deep underground.
... About 80 miles off the Louisiana coast, the underwater landscape surrounding Eugene Island is otherworldly, cut with deep fissures and faults that spontaneously belch gas and oil.
So now we are talking about a huge system of migrating dinosaur goo that is miles beneath the Earth's surface! Those dinosaurs were rather crafty, weren't they? Exactly three years later (to the day), the media once again paid a visit to the Gulf of Mexico. This time, it was Newsday that filed the report (Robert Cooke "Oil Field's Free Refill," Newsday, April 19, 2002).
Deep underwater, and deeper underground, scientists see surprising hints that gas and oil deposits can be replenished, filling up again, sometimes rapidly.
Although it sounds too good to be true, increasing evidence from the Gulf of Mexico suggests that some old oil fields are being refilled by petroleum surging up from deep below, scientists report. That may mean that current estimates of oil and gas abundance are far too low.
... chemical oceanographer Mahlon "Chuck" Kennicutt [said] "They are refilling as we speak. But whether this is a worldwide phenomenon, we don't know" ...
Kennicutt, a faculty member at Texas A&M University, said it is now clear that gas and oil are coming into the known reservoirs very rapidly in terms of geologic time. The inflow of new gas, and some oil, has been detectable in as little as three to 10 years. In the past, it was not suspected that oil fields can refill because it was assumed that oil was formed in place, or nearby, rather than far below.
According to marine geologist Harry Roberts, at Louisiana State University ... "You have a very leaky fault system that does allow it (petroleum) to migrate in. It's directly connected to an oil and gas generating system at great depth."
... "There already appears to be a large body of evidence consistent with ... oil and gas generation and migration on very short time scales in many areas globally" [Jean Whelan] wrote in the journal Sea Technology ...
Analysis of the ancient oil that seems to be coming up from deep below in the Gulf of Mexico suggests that the flow of new oil "is coming from deeper, hotter [sediment] formations" and is not simply a lateral inflow from the old deposits that surround existing oil fields, [Whelan] said.
Now I'm really starting to get confused. Can someone please walk me through this? What exactly is an "oil and gas generating system"? And how does such a system generate oil "on very short time scales"? Is someone down there right now, even as I type these words, forklifting dinosaur carcasses into some gigantic cauldron to cook up a fresh batch of oil?
Desperate for answers to such perplexing questions, I turned for advice to Mr. Peak Oil himself, Michael Ruppert, and this is what I found: "oil ... is the result of climactic conditions that have existed at only one time in the earth's 4.5 billion year history." I'm guessing that that "one time" - that one golden window of opportunity to get just the right mix of dinosaur stew - isn't the present time, so it doesn't seem quite right, to me at least, that oil is being generated right now.
In June 2003, Geotimes paid a visit to the Gulf of Mexico ("Raining Hydrocarbons in the Gulf"), and the story grew yet more compelling.
Below the Gulf of Mexico, hydrocarbons flow upward through an intricate network of conduits and reservoirs ... and this is all happening now, not millions and millions of years ago, says Larry Cathles, a chemical geologist at Cornell University.
"We're dealing with this giant flow-through system where the hydrocarbons are generating now, moving through the overlying strata now, building the reservoirs now and spilling out into the ocean now," Cathles says.
... Cathles and his team estimate that in a study area of about 9,600 square miles off the coast of Louisiana [including Eugene Island 330], source rocks a dozen kilometers [roughly seven miles] down have generated as much as 184 billion tons of oil and gas -- about 1,000 billion barrels of oil and gas equivalent. "That's 30 percent more than we humans have consumed over the entire petroleum era," Cathles say. "And that's just this one little postage stamp area; if this is going on worldwide, then there's a lot of hydrocarbons venting out."
Dry oil wells spontaneously refilling? Oil generation and migration systems? Massive oil reserves miles beneath the earth's surface? Spontaneous venting of enormous volumes of gas and oil? (Roberts noted that - and this isn't really going to please the environmentalists, but I'm just reporting the facts, ma'am - "natural seepage" in areas like the Gulf of Mexico "far exceeds anything that gets spilled" by the oil industry. And those natural emissions have been pumped into our oceans since long before there was an oil industry.)
The all too obvious question here is: how is any of that explained by a theory that holds that oil and gas are 'fossil fuels' created in finite quantities through a unique geological process that occurred millions of years ago?
Why do we insist on retaining an antiquated theory that is so obviously contradicted by readily observable phenomena? Is the advancement of the sciences not based on formulating a hypothesis, and then testing that hypothesis? And if the hypothesis fails to account for the available data, is it not customary to either modify that hypothesis or formulate a new hypothesis -- rather than, say, clinging to the same discredited hypothesis for 250 years?
In August 2002, the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a study authored by J.F. Kenney, V.A. Kutchenov, N.A. Bendeliani and V.A. Alekseev. The authors argued, quite compellingly, that oil is not created from organic compounds at the temperatures and pressures found close to the surface of the earth, but rather is created from inorganic compounds at the extreme temperatures and pressures present only near the core of the earth.
As Geotimes noted ("Inorganic Origin of Oil: Much Ado About Nothing?," Geotimes, November 2002), the journal "published the paper at the request of Academy member Howard Reiss, a chemical physicist at the University of California at Los Angeles. As per the PNAS guidelines for members communicating papers, Reiss obtained reviews of the paper from at least two referees from different institutions (not affiliated with the authors) and shepherded the report through revisions."
I mention that because I happened to read something that Michael Ruppert wrote recently that seems pertinent: "In real life, it is called 'the proof is in the pudding.' In scientific circles, it is called peer review, and it usually involves having your research published in a peer-reviewed journal. It is an often-frustrating process, but peer-reviewed articles ensure the validity of science."
It would seem then that we can safely conclude that what Kenney, et. al. have presented is valid science, since it definitely was published in a peer-reviewed journal. And what that valid science says, quite clearly, is that petroleum is not by any stretch of the imagination a finite resource, or a 'fossil fuel,' but is in fact a resource that is continuously generated by natural processes deep within the planet.
Geotimes also noted that the research paper "examined thermodynamic arguments that say methane is the only organic hydrocarbon to exist within Earth's crust." Indeed, utilizing the laws of modern thermodynamics, the authors constructed a mathematical model that proves that oil can not form under the conditions dictated by the 'fossil fuel' theory.
I mention that because of something else I read on Ruppert's site. Listed as #5 of "Nine Critical Questions to Ask About Alternative Energy" is: "Most of the other questions in this list can be tied up into this one question: does the invention defy the Laws of Thermodynamics? If the answer is yes, then something is wrong."
Well then, Mr. Ruppert, I have some very bad news for you, because something definitely is wrong -- with your 'Peak Oil' theory. Because here we have a published study, subjected to peer review (thus assuring the "validity" of the study), that demonstrates, with mathematical certainty, that it is actually the 'fossil fuel' theory that defies the laws of thermodynamics. It appears then that if we follow Ruppert's Laws, we have to rule out fossil fuels as a viable alternative to petroleum.
Reaction to the publication of the Kenney study was swift. First to weigh in was Nature (Tom Clarke "Fossil Fuels Without the Fossils: Petroleum: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral?," Nature News Service, August 14, 2002).
Petroleum - the archetypal fossil fuel - couldn't have formed from the remains of dead animals and plants, claim US and Russian researchers. They argue that petroleum originated from minerals at extreme temperatures and pressures.
Other geochemists say that the work resurrects a scientific debate that is almost a fossil itself, and criticize the team's conclusions.
The team, led by J.F. Kenney of the Gas Resources Corporation in Houston, Texas, mimicked conditions more than 100 kilometres below the earth's surface by heating marble, iron oxide and water to around 1500° C and 50,000 times atmospheric pressure.
They produced traces of methane, the main constituent of natural gas, and octane, the hydrocarbon molecule that makes petrol. A mathematical model of the process suggests that, apart from methane, none of the ingredients of petroleum could form at depths less than 100 kilometres.
The geochemist community, and the petroleum industry, were both suitably outraged by the publication of the study. The usual parade of experts was trotted out, of course, but a funny thing happened: as much as they obviously wanted to, those experts were unable to deny the validity of the research. So they resorted to a very unusual tactic: they reluctantly acknowledged that oil can indeed be created from minerals, but they insisted that that inconvenient fact really has nothing to do with the oil that we use.
Showing that oil can also form without a biological origin does not disprove [the 'fossil fuel'] hypothesis. "It doesn't discredit anything," said a geochemist who asked not to be named.
... "No one disputes that hydrocarbons can form this way," says Mark McCaffrey, a geochemist with Oil Tracers LLC, a petroleum-prospecting consultancy in Dallas, Texas. A tiny percentage of natural oil deposits are known to be non-biological, but this doesn't mean that petrol isn't a fossil fuel, he says.
"I don't know anyone in the petroleum community who really takes this prospect seriously," says Walter Michaelis, a geochemist at the University of Hamburg in Germany.
So I guess the geochemist community is a petulant lot. They did "concede," however, that oil "that forms inorganically at the high temperatures and massive pressures close to the Earth's mantle layer could be forced upwards towards the surface by water, which is denser than oil. It can then be trapped by sedimentary rocks that are impermeable to oil."
What they were acknowledging, lest anyone misunderstand, is that the oil that we pump out of reservoirs near the surface of the earth, and the oil that is spontaneously and continuously generated deep within the earth, could very well be the same oil. But even so, they insist, that is certainly no reason to abandon, or even question, our perfectly ridiculous 'fossil fuel' theory.
Coverage by New Scientist of the 'controversial' journal publication largely mirrored the coverage by Nature (Jeff Hecht "You Can Squeeze Oil Out of a Stone," New Scientist, August 17, 2002).
Oil doesn't come from dead plants and animals, but from plain old rock, a controversial new study claims.
The heat and pressure a hundred kilometres underground produces hydrocarbons from inorganic carbon and water, says J.F. Kenney, who runs the Gas Resources Corporation, an oil exploration firm in Houston. He and three Russian colleagues believe all our oil is made this way, and untapped supplies are there for the taking.
Petroleum geologists already accept that some oil forms like this. "Nobody ever argued that there are no inorganic sources," says Mike Lewan of the US Geological Survey. But they take strong issue with Kenney's claim that petroleum can't form from organic matter in shallow rocks.
Geotimes chimed in as well, quoting Scott Imbus, an organic geochemist for Chevron Texaco Corp., who explained that the Kenney research is "an excellent and rigorous treatment of the theoretical and experimental aspects for abiotic hydrocarbon formation deep in the Earth. Unfortunately, it has little or nothing to do with the origins of commercial fossil fuel deposits."
What we have here, quite clearly, is a situation wherein the West's leading geochemists (read: shills for the petroleum industry) cannot impugn the validity of Kenney's unassailable mathematical model, and so they have, remarkably enough, adopted the unusual strategy of claiming that there is actually more than one way to produce oil. It can be created under extremely high temperatures and pressures, or it can be created under relatively low temperatures and pressures. It can be created organically, or it can be created inorganically. It can be created deep within the Earth, or it can be created near the surface of the Earth. You can make it with some rocks. Or you can make it in a box. You can make it here or there. You can make it anywhere.
While obviously an absurdly desperate attempt to salvage the 'fossil fuel' theory, the arguments being offered by the geochemist community actually serve to further undermine the notion that oil is an irreplaceable 'fossil fuel.' For if we are now to believe that petroleum can be created under a wide range of conditions (a temperature range, for example, of 75° C to 1500° C), does that not cast serious doubt on the claim that conditions favored the creation of oil just "one time in the earth's 4.5 billion year history"?
A more accurate review of Kenney's work appeared in The Economist ("The Argument Needs Oiling," The Economist, August 15, 2002).
Millions of years ago, tiny animals and plants died. They settled at the bottom of the oceans. Over time, they were crushed beneath layers of sediment that built up above them and eventually turned into rock. The organic matter, now trapped hundreds of metres below the surface, started to change. Under the action of gentle heat and pressure, and in the absence of air, the biological debris turned into oil and gas. Or so the story goes.
In 1951, however, a group of Soviet scientists led by Nikolai Kudryavtsev claimed that this theory of oil production was fiction. They suggested that hydrocarbons, the principal molecular constituents of oil, are generated deep within the earth from inorganic materials. Few people outside Russia listened. But one who did was J. F. Kenney, an American who today works for the Russian Academy of Sciences and is also chief executive of Gas Resources Corporation in Houston, Texas. He says it is nonsense to believe that oil derives from “squashed fish and putrefied cabbages.” This is a brave claim to make when the overwhelming majority of petroleum geologists subscribe to the biological theory of origin. But Dr Kenney has evidence to support his argument.
In this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, he claims to establish that it is energetically impossible for alkanes, one of the main types of hydrocarbon molecule in crude oil, to evolve from biological precursors at the depths where reservoirs have typically been found and plundered. He has developed a mathematical model incorporating quantum mechanics, statistics and thermodynamics which predicts the behaviour of a hydrocarbon system. The complex mixture of straight-chain and branched alkane molecules found in crude oil could, according to his calculations, have come into existence only at extremely high temperatures and pressures—far higher than those found in the earth's crust, where the orthodox theory claims they are formed.
To back up this idea, he has shown that a cocktail of alkanes (methane, hexane, octane and so on) similar to that in natural oil is produced when a mixture of calcium carbonate, water and iron oxide is heated to 1,500° C and crushed with the weight of 50,000 atmospheres. This experiment reproduces the conditions in the earth's upper mantle, 100 km below the surface, and so suggests that oil could be produced there from completely inorganic sources.
Kenney's theories, when discussed at all, are universally described as "new," "radical," and "controversial." In truth, however, Kenney's ideas are not new, nor original, nor radical. Though no one other than Kenney himself seems to want to talk about it, the arguments that he presented in the PNAS study are really just the tip of a very large iceberg of suppressed scientific research.
This story really begins in 1946, just after the close of World War II, which had illustrated quite effectively that oil was integral to waging modern, mechanized warfare. Stalin, recognizing the importance of oil, and recognizing also that the Soviet Union would have to be self sufficient, launched a massive scientific undertaking that has been compared, in its scale, to the Manhattan Project. The goal of the Soviet project was to study every aspect of petroleum, including how it is created, how reserves are generated, and how to best pursue petroleum exploration and extraction.
The challenge was taken up by a wide range of scientific disciplines, with hundreds of the top professionals in their fields contributing to the body of scientific research. By 1951, what has been called the Modern Russian-Ukrainian Theory of Deep, Abiotic Petroleum Origins was born. A healthy amount of scientific debate followed for the next couple of decades, during which time the theory, initially formulated by geologists, based on observational data, was validated through the rigorous quantitative work of chemists, physicists and thermodynamicists. For the last couple of decades, the theory has been accepted as established fact by virtually the entire scientific community of the (former) Soviet Union. It is backed up by literally thousands of published studies in prestigious, peer-reviewed scientific journals.
For over fifty years, Russian and Ukrainian scientists have added to this body of research and refined the Russian-Ukrainian theories. And for over fifty years, not a word of it has been published in the English language (except for a fairly recent, bastardized version published by astronomer Thomas Gold, who somehow forgot to credit the hundreds of scientists whose research he stole and then misrepresented).
This is not, by the way, just a theoretical model that the Russians and Ukrainians have established; the theories were put to practical use, resulting in the transformation of the Soviet Union - once regarded as having limited prospects, at best, for successful petroleum exploration - into a world-class petroleum producing, and exporting, nation.
J.F. Kenney spent some 15 years studying under some of the Russian and Ukrainian scientists who were key contributors to the modern petroleum theory. When Kenney speaks about petroleum origins, he is not speaking as some renegade scientist with a radical new theory; he is speaking to give voice to an entire community of scientists whose work has never been acknowledged in the West. Kenney writes passionately about that neglected body of research:
The modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins is not new or recent. This theory was first enunciated by Professor Nikolai Kudryavtsev in 1951, almost a half century ago, (Kudryavtsev 1951) and has undergone extensive development, refinement, and application since its introduction. There have been more than four thousand articles published in the Soviet scientific journals, and many books, dealing with the modern theory. This writer is presently co-authoring a book upon the subject of the development and applications of the modern theory of petroleum for which the bibliography requires more than thirty pages.
The modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins is not the work of any one single man -- nor of a few men. The modern theory was developed by hundreds of scientists in the (now former) U.S.S.R., including many of the finest geologists, geochemists, geophysicists, and thermodynamicists of that country. There have now been more than two generations of geologists, geophysicists, chemists, and other scientists in the U.S.S.R. who have worked upon and contributed to the development of the modern theory. (Kropotkin 1956; Anisimov, Vasilyev et al. 1959; Kudryavtsev 1959; Porfir'yev 1959; Kudryavtsev 1963; Raznitsyn 1963; Krayushkin 1965; Markevich 1966; Dolenko 1968; Dolenko 1971; Linetskii 1974; Letnikov, Karpov et al. 1977; Porfir'yev and Klochko 1981; Krayushkin 1984)
The modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins is not untested or speculative. On the contrary, the modern theory was severely challenged by many traditionally-minded geologists at the time of its introduction; and during the first decade thenafter, the modern theory was thoroughly examined, extensively reviewed, powerfully debated, and rigorously tested. Every year following 1951, there were important scientific conferences organized in the U.S.S.R. to debate and evaluate the modern theory, its development, and its predictions. The All-Union conferences in petroleum and petroleum geology in the years 1952-1964/5 dealt particularly with this subject. (During the period when the modern theory was being subjected to extensive critical challenge and testing, a number of the men pointed out that there had never been any similar critical review or testing of the traditional hypothesis that petroleum might somehow have evolved spontaneously from biological detritus.)
The modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins is not a vague, qualitative hypothesis, but stands as a rigorous analytic theory within the mainstream of the modern physical sciences. In this respect, the modern theory differs fundamentally not only from the previous hypothesis of a biological origin of petroleum but also from all traditional geological hypotheses. Since the nineteenth century, knowledgeable physicists, chemists, thermodynamicists, and chemical engineers have regarded with grave reservations (if not outright disdain) the suggestion that highly reduced hydrocarbon molecules of high free enthalpy (the constituents of crude oil) might somehow evolve spontaneously from highly oxidized biogenic molecules of low free enthalpy. Beginning in 1964, Soviet scientists carried out extensive theoretical statistical thermodynamic analysis which established explicitly that the hypothesis of evolution of hydrocarbon molecules (except methane) from biogenic ones in the temperature and pressure regime of the Earth’s near-surface crust was glaringly in violation of the second law of thermodynamics. They also determined that the evolution of reduced hydrocarbon molecules requires pressures of magnitudes encountered at depths equal to such of the mantle of the Earth. During the second phase of its development, the modern theory of petroleum was entirely recast from a qualitative argument based upon a synthesis of many qualitative facts into a quantitative argument based upon the analytical arguments of quantum statistical mechanics and thermodynamic stability theory. (Chekaliuk 1967; Boiko 1968; Chekaliuk 1971; Chekaliuk and Kenney 1991; Kenney 1995) With the transformation of the modern theory from a synthetic geology theory arguing by persuasion into an analytical physical theory arguing by compulsion, petroleum geology entered the mainstream of modern science.
The modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins is not controversial nor presently a matter of academic debate. The period of debate about this extensive body of knowledge has been over for approximately two decades (Simakov 1986). The modern theory is presently applied extensively throughout the former U.S.S.R. as the guiding perspective for petroleum exploration and development projects. There are presently more than 80 oil and gas fields in the Caspian district alone which were explored and developed by applying the perspective of the modern theory and which produce from the crystalline basement rock. (Krayushkin, Chebanenko et al. 1994) Similarly, such exploration in the western Siberia cratonic-rift sedimentary basin has developed 90 petroleum fields of which 80 produce either partly or entirely from the crystalline basement. The exploration and discoveries of the 11 major and 1 giant fields on the northern flank of the Dneiper-Donets basin have already been noted. There are presently deep drilling exploration projects under way in Azerbaijan, Tatarstan, and Asian Siberia directed to testing potential oil and gas reservoirs in the crystalline basement.
It appears that, unbeknownst to Westerners, there have actually been, for quite some time now, two competing theories concerning the origins of petroleum. One theory claims that oil is an organic 'fossil fuel' deposited in finite quantities near the planet's surface. The other theory claims that oil is continuously generated by natural processes in the Earth's magma. One theory is backed by a massive body of research representing fifty years of intense scientific inquiry. The other theory is an unproven relic of the eighteenth century. One theory anticipates deep oil reserves, refillable oil fields, migratory oil systems, deep sources of generation, and the spontaneous venting of gas and oil. The other theory has a difficult time explaining any such documented phenomena.
So which theory have we in the West, in our infinite wisdom, chosen to embrace? Why, the fundamentally absurd 'Fossil Fuel' theory, of course -- the same theory that the 'Peak Oil' doomsday warnings are based on.
I am sorry to report here, by the way, that in doing my homework, I never did come across any of that "hard science" documenting 'Peak Oil' that Mr. Strahl referred to. All the 'Peak Oil' literature that I found, on Ruppert's site and elsewhere, took for granted that petroleum is a non-renewable 'fossil fuel.' That theory is never questioned, nor is any effort made to validate it. It is simply taken to be an established scientific fact, which it quite obviously is not.
So what do Ruppert and his resident experts have to say about all of this? Dale Allen Pfeiffer, identified as the "FTW Contributing Editor for Energy," has written: "There is some speculation that oil is abiotic in origin -- generally asserting that oil is formed from magma instead of an organic origin. These ideas are really groundless."
Here is a question that I have for both Mr. Ruppert and Mr. Pfeiffer: Do you consider it honest, responsible journalism to dismiss a fifty year body of multi-disciplinary scientific research, conducted by hundreds of the world's most gifted scientists, as "some speculation"?
Another of FTW's prognosticators, Colin Campbell, is described by Ruppert as "perhaps the world's foremost expert on oil." He was asked by Ruppert, in an interview, "what would you say to the people who insist that oil is created from magma ...?" Before we get to Campbell's answer, we should first take note of the tone of Ruppert's question. It is not really meant as a question at all, but rather as a statement, as in "there is really nothing you can say that will satisfy these nutcases who insist on bringing up these loony theories."
Campbell's response to the question was an interesting one: "No one in the industry gives the slightest credence to these theories." Why, one wonders, did Mr. Campbell choose to answer the question on behalf of the petroleum industry? And does it come as a surprise to anyone that the petroleum industry doesn't want to acknowledge abiotic theories of petroleum origins? Should we have instead expected something along these lines?:
"Hey, everybody ... uhhh ... you know how we always talked about oil being a fossil fuel? And ... uhmm ... you know how the entire profit structure of our little industry here is built upon the presumption that oil is a non-renewable, and therefore very valuable, resource*? And remember all those times we talked about shortages so that we could gouge you at the pumps? Well ... guess what, America? You've been Punk'd!"
For the sake of accuracy, I think we need to modify Mr. Campbell's response, because it should probably read: no one in the petroleum industry will publicly admit giving any credence to abiotic theories. But is there really any doubt that those who own and control the oil industry are well aware of the true origins of oil? How could they not be?
Surely there must be a reason why there appears to be so little interest in understanding the nature and origins of such a valuable, and allegedly vanishing, resource. And that reason can only be that the answers are already known. The objective, of course, is to ensure that the rest of us don't find those answers. Why else would we be encouraged, for decades, to cling tenaciously to a scientific theory that can't begin to explain the available scientific evidence? And why else would a half-century of research never see the light of day in Western scientific and academic circles?
Maintaining the myth of scarcity, you see, is all important. Without it, the house of cards comes tumbling down. And yet, even while striving to preserve that myth, the petroleum industry will continue to provide the oil and gas needed to maintain a modern industrial infrastructure, long past the time when we should have run out of oil. And needless to say, the petroleum industry will also continue to reap the enormous profits that come with the myth of scarcity.
How will that difficult balancing act be performed? That is where, it appears, the 'limited hangout' concerning abiotic oil will come into play.
Perhaps the most telling quote to emerge from all of this came from Roger Sassen, identified as the deputy director of Resource Geosciences, a research group out of Texas A&M University: "The potential that inorganic hydrocarbons, especially methane and a few other gasses, might exist at enormous depth in the crust is an idea that could use a little more discussion. However, not from people who take theories to the point of absurdity. This is an idea that needs to be looked into at some point as we start running out of energy. But no one who is objective discusses the issue at this time."
The key point there (aside from Sassen's malicious characterization of Kenney) is his assertion that no one is discussing abiotic oil at this time. And why is that? Because, you see, we first have to go through the charade of pretending that the world has just about run out of 'conventional' oil reserves, thus justifying massive price hikes, which will further pad the already obscenely high profits of the oil industry. Only then will it be fully acknowledged that there is, you know, that 'other' oil.
"We seem to have plum run out of that fossil fuel that y'all liked so much, but if you want us to, we could probably find you some mighty fine inorganic stuff. You probably won't even notice the difference. The only reason that we didn't mention it before is that - and may God strike me dead if I'm lying - it is a lot more work for us to get to it. So after we charged you up the wazoo for the 'last' of the 'conventional' oil, we're now gonna have to charge you even more for this really 'special' oil. And with any luck at all, none of you will catch on that it's really the same oil."
And that, dear readers, is how I see this little game playing out. Will you be playing along?
A few final comments are in order here about 'Peak Oil' and the attacks of September 11, 2001, which Ruppert has repeatedly claimed are closely linked. In a recent posting, he bemoaned the fact that activists are willing to "Do anything but accept the obvious reality that for the US government to have facilitated and orchestrated the attacks of 9/11, something really, really bad must be going on." That something really, really bad, of course, is 'Peak Oil.'
To demonstrate the dubious nature of that statement, all one need do is make a couple of quick substitutions, so that it reads: "for the German government to have facilitated and orchestrated the attack on the Reichstag, something really, really bad must have been going on." Or, if you are the type that bristles at comparisons of Bush to Hitler, try this one: "for the US government to have facilitated and orchestrated the attack on the USS Maine, something really, really bad must have been going on."
The reality is that the attacks of September 11, and the post-September 11 military ventures, cannot possibly be manifestations of 'Peak Oil' because the entire concept of "Peak Oil' is meaningless if oil is not a finite resource. I am not saying, however, that oil and gas were not key factors behind the military occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. The distinction that I am making is that it is not about need (case in point: there is certainly nothing in Haiti that we need). It is, as always, about greed. Greed and control -- control of the output of oil fields that will continue to yield oil long after reserves should have run dry.
One final note, this one directed at Michael Ruppert: I of course accept your challenge to participate in a public debate. However, I fail to see any benefit in limiting the audience of that debate to a "mutually acceptable panel of judges." I suggest we make this a truly public debate, available to anyone who wants to follow along. The debate, in other words, has already begun. Consider this my opening argument.
By the way, this isn't about 'winning,' and it isn't about a 'purse.' It's about the free and open exchange of ideas and information. It's about the pursuit of the truth, wherever that path may lead. And it's about presenting all the available information to readers, so that each of them can determine, for themselves, where that truth lies. To demonstrate my commitment to those goals, I will gladly post, exactly as it is received, any response/rebuttal to this missive that you should feel inclined to send my way. I will le
__________________ [size=medium]\"The Office\" is the greatest comedy...ever. [/size]
Re: Palast Debunks "Peak Oil": Dave McGowan Was First, How About Some Credit.
March 16, 2004
The 'Peak Oil' Team Sends in a Second Stringer!
[I have to apologize to my readers in advance for the level to which this 'debate' seems to have suddenly sunk. Unfortunately, the tone of the debate is largely set by the tone of the 'rebuttals' that I receive from Team 'Peak Oil.' And I did pledge that I would post, and respond to, any rebuttals/responses that I received, so I am duty bound to post this one. Sadly, it looks as though the tone isn't likely to improve; even as I prepare to send this posting out, I have a pompous, bombastic, arrogant, bullying, accusatory response sitting in my in-box from Michael Ruppert himself. It's probably best to put the kids to bed, because this could get ugly.]
I was a little worried that those in the Ruppert camp would be smart enough to not respond to my last newsletter. Those worries were quickly put to rest, however, as it took less than 24 hours for me to receive an ill considered, vitriolic response -- although not from Ruppert, but from his friend, colleague and defender, Larry Chin.
I don't really know much about Larry Chin. I know that he writes for Online Journal, but I can't recall reading anything in particular that he has written. So I have little on which to base my opinion of Chin, other than his insult-laden response. And based on that, I have to wonder if Larry might be a little unstable. I also have to wonder why it is that these people get so pissed off when someone questions their beloved 'Peak Oil' theory.
Tell me, Larry, if what you are selling is good coin, then why do you get so defensive when someone questions it? I mean, did I get my panties in a wad and fire off hostile e-mails when your good buddy, Mike Ruppert, declared much of my work (and the work of many other writers/researchers) to be tantamount to "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic"?
Of course I didn't. But you, Larry, just couldn't stop yourself from hitting that 'Send' button, could you? It's okay, you know, if you compose an angry, childish attack. That can be very therapeutic. But the thing is, Larry, you don't want to actually send it. Because then, you see, it could end up in one of these newsletters, and you could very well end up looking like a complete ass. And nobody really wants to see that happen.
I realize that that advice comes a little too late to help you out of your current predicament, but it might be something to think about in the future.
And now, without further ado, let's get to Mr. Chin's letter, which is a rather lengthy affair. It is reproduced here in its entirety, exactly as it was received, except that it will be presented piece by piece, so that I can respond to all the inaccuracies, lies, evasions, misrepresentations, and personal attacks. Chin's words will appear in blue.
While I have found some of your editorials over the years interesting, your long-winded attacks against Peak Oil researchers and advocates (of which Mike Ruppert, whom I consider a respected colleague and friend, is merely one) are, so far, quite unconvincing.
You have neither killed the messenger nor the message, while avoiding the substance.
I've got to say, Larry, that we're not off to a very good start here. First of all, I have only written one long-winded attack (not attacks) on the 'Peak Oil' theory. And if you think about it, it kind of had to be a little long-winded, because when you are questioning decades of conventional wisdom, you have to be as thorough as possible. If I had just written "Peak Oil is bullshit because oil is not a fossil fuel. The end," then people might not have found that to be a compelling argument.
I am not really sure how you have drawn the conclusion that I avoided "the substance." What exactly do you consider to be "the substance"? Since you didn't get it the first time around, let me briefly review my argument: 'Peak Oil' theories are based on the underlying premise that oil is a non-renewable 'fossil fuel,' and yet those same 'Peak Oil' theories do not bother to establish that that premise is true. Therefore, any conclusions drawn from that premise are meaningless. That, my friend, is the substance.
I think your confusion arises from the fact that you are not used to challenges of this nature. You were probably expecting some kind of false debate about 'known reserves' and 'recoverable reserves,' and all that stuff you guys like to talk about. But this is a much more fundamental challenge. This is a challenge to the validity of the underlying 'fossil fuel' hypothesis. So what you have to do in response, Larry, is demonstrate that the theory that provides the foundation of your 'Peak Oil' theory is valid.
Sorry, but that is how it works. I don't make the rules. By the way, did you happen to read the part of my "long-winded attack" where I explained that I had never said that Ruppert was the only one promoting 'Peak Oil'? I was just wondering, since you seem to have felt it important to point that out to me, as though I had misrepresented that fact.
You and others on the same bandwagon have strained to deny the fact of energy depletion, while insisting on a conspiracy theory that it is a long-planned psy-op that the Peak Oil researchers and advocates are either ignorantly, intentionally or unwittingly using to facilitate imperial war. You continue to insult the intelligence of a great number of individuals who possess far more expertise on energy and covert operations than I believe you have.
I have to tell you, Larry, that as bandwagons go, this one really sucks. I'm looking around and all I see are a lot of empty seats. The truth is that if you really are a regular reader of these newsletters, then you know that I am not really a bandwagon kind of guy. I do not toe any party line and I do not pander to any audience demographics. I call things exactly as I see them.
I have noticed that whenever anyone questions what you folks are selling, you try to cast them as part of some organized conspiracy to discredit virtuous people such as yourself. Is that the standard first line of defense for your people, employed to avoid discussion of the actual issues? Here is the problem, in this case, with that strategy: I am not affiliated in any way with any other researchers, writers, websites, discussion groups, activist groups, or any other groups with which you would like to lump me. I am just a guy with opinions, and a website that allows me to voice those opinions. And I happen to have, much to your consternation, independently drawn the conclusion that you are peddling bullshit. So here is my suggestion to you: try actually dealing with the substance of my critique, rather than trying to cast me as something that I am not.
As for "insult[ing] the intelligence of a great number of individuals" by challenging a theory, I guess by your rules there would never be any advancement of the sciences, since no one would want to insult anyone's intelligence by challenging the prevailing orthodoxy. By the way, while we are on this subject, I should mention that you have thoughtfully included in your little rant a number of examples of how to insult someone's intelligence. We will keep a tally of those as we go along.
You are right about one thing though, Larry: there are a lot of people, many of them in your camp, with far more expertise in covert operations than I -- if you catch my drift.
Nowhere have you directly addressed the actual facts, nor have you delved directly into the key sources cited in From The Wilderness by Ruppert, and Dale Allen Pfeiffer, who is a geologist.
Oh, wow. You say he's a real geologist? With, like, a degree and everything? I had no idea. My bad. You win, I guess. But for the record, I did address "the actual facts," Larry. The actual fact that needs to be addressed, or rather the question that needs to be answered, is: what are the true origins of petroleum? That is the key question upon which everything else hinges, despite the best efforts of you and your compadres to shift the debate to other questions.
Peak Oil, and all that it involves, is a vast body of work that has been built over many decades. I dare say, that body of work is a mountain next to your cloud of dust.
Dare I say, once again, that that "vast body of work" means absolutely nothing if the core premise is invalid.
Have you actually studied enough of that work before doing your strut? Have you actually read and studied Richard Heinberg's book? Colin Campbell's work? Do you really know what you're talking about?
Well, I naturally have to balance my time between studying the literature and practicing my strut. It does take time to get it just right, you know, so I necessarily have to limit my reading time. Therefore, I generally stick to the non-fiction stuff.
By the way, did you just ask if I really know what I'm talking about? I think I'm going to have to count that as your first insult to my intelligence. It is not a clear cut case, I'll admit, but if we combine it with your earlier comment about my lack of "expertise," then I think we can count the two together as a first violation.
Your key premise questions the nature of oil itself. Unlike you, I am humble enough to admit that I am no scientist, and will defer to scientists who can argue more effectively.
You can correct me if I'm wrong, Larry, but what you appear to be saying is that you cannot defend the underlying premise that your theory is based on, so you simply duck the issue by deferring to some unnamed "scientists." And yet, strangely enough, you feel fully qualified to discuss theories that are directly derived from the theory that you are not qualified to discuss. I don't know, to be honest with you, if "humble" is really the right word to describe that. And by the way, I don't remember ever implying that I was a scientist.
But it's clear that you dismiss geology itself as fraud, work that has been subjected to decades of study and verification. You provide no proof of this conspiracy, no specifics, only a speculation, and what appears to be a very poor presentation of the geology that you are attacking.
Actually, Larry, I dismiss Western petroleum geology as a fraud, not the entire field of geology. There is a subtle difference there that you may not have picked up on. And since I provided a "very poor presentation of the geology" that I am attacking, here is a novel idea: why don't you, or one of your colleagues, prepare a proper presentation of the science? Since your theories are based on it, that might be a good thing to have posted on the website. It's called building an argument. You first establish your premise, and then you draw conclusions from it. You might want to look into that.
The only weapon in your pocket is an alternative geological theory that has been raised many times over the past few decade by others, and disproven just as many times. Again, I will leave it people with the scientific knowledge to show you how far off the mark you are.
Okay, I'll wait right here while you go get them .... .... .... still waiting, Larry .... .... .... are they coming or what? .... .... what's that? You say you don't actually have any specific scientists to refer me to? Oh. Okay. Well, thanks just the same.
For the record, the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins has not, contrary to your claim, been either raised or disproven. You see, Larry, we are not talking here about a large body of scientific research that has been reviewed and rejected. We are talking about a body of scientific research that has never been acknowledged. Did you miss that part the first time around?
What I can tell you with more certainty is that your characterizations of Ruppert and From The Wilderness are laughably ignorant, wildly wrong and quoted completely out of context. So far out of context that your characterizations are, as Ruppert says, borderline libelous. Clearly, you have a very poor grasp of the publication and Ruppert's work.
If you think my comments are libelous, then sue me. In the immortal words of George Kerry (or was it John Bush?), "bring it on"! And that "laughably ignorant" comment? That's number 2, Larry.
In response to your statements:
If Ruppert is not selling the necessity of war, then exactly what is the message that he is sending to readers with such doomsday forecasts? I am not a paid subscriber and can therefore not access the 'members only' postings. But I doubt that I am missing much.
If you had any inkling about Ruppert, his life and his views, you would not even ask this profoundly ignorant question.
Sorry to interrupt you, Larry, but that is number 3. Which is worse, by the way, "laughably ignorant" or "profoundly ignorant"? I'm just trying to settle a bet with the wife. Anyway, back to you ...
It does not help that you are not a subscriber who has not read many years of key material (the most exhaustive reports, the most important editorials). The message that FTW has published for years has been the most consistently and powerfully clarion call against war, imperialism and elite crime I have ever seen. This is explicit on the pages of FTW, and further reinforced emphatically in Ruppert's lectures, interviews and presentations. That you deny this speaks to your myopia.
I had no idea that FTW had all the "key material" locked away in the 'members only' vaults. Good thinking there, guys. You don't want that sort of information to get out to very many people. It's much better to keep that kind of stuff under lock and key. I don't know why I didn't think of that. By the way, what is a "consistently and powerfully clarion call"?
And nowhere is this more obvious than in his treatment of Peak Oil. FTW has issued a warning about the crisis itself, exposed and tracked the war architects, war beneficiaries, and their machinations, and repeatedly offered advice on preparation and alternatives. FTW has done no less than call for people to change the way they think and live, so that they are no longer the victims and facilitators of tyranny, oppression and elite crime.
Wow! What do you guys do with your afternoons?
In "The Background is Oil" by Dale Allen Pfeiffer (December 27, 2001), a critically important first piece that laid out the Peak case, and the geostrategy driving the unfolding war and global crisis, FTW's stance is clear:
"There are solutions, however, that do not necessitate the global dictatorship that is rapidly falling upon us all."
"People are being diverted from seeing that we have just enough energy resources left that we could build a true ectopian democracy where all of us could lead freer, healthier lives. We need bottom-up democracy. We need small-scale economies and small-scale technologies powered by renewable energy. We need smaller communities, structured to be self-sufficient, all tied together by high speed monorails. We need gardens and park in our cities instead of cars. We need social halls, not shopping malls. And we have enough energy remaining to do this, if we act now.
The oil elites, however, want to use our remaining energy resources to establish a security state where they can enjoy the remaining riches while the rest of us suffer, starve and slave for them. Yet they are not the ones pulling the triggers and enforcing the rules. We are. And that's what they fear the most. So tell me, what do you think we should let happen now?"
I'm sorry, could you repeat that? I wasn't really listening. I got distracted early on, when you noted that the "critically important first piece that laid out the Peak case" was posted just three-and-a-half months after September 11, 2001. After that, all I heard was some mumbo-jumbo about a completely unrealistic future society.
In fact, FTW is selling the necessity of opposing war and all of its pretexts. And this is just one passage from one article. The many, many articles on Peak that followed repeat the same themes. Coupled with the rest of FTW's work, one would have a extremely dim bulb to accuse Ruppert of being a warmonger, an agent, or any friend of the Bush administration, the oil companies, etc.
An "extremely dim bulb"? I hate to do it to you, Lar, but I'm going to have to ding you on that one. That's number 4. By the way, if you are going to accuse someone of being a "dim bulb," don't you think you should do it in a grammatically correct way? Just something to think about.
The message there seems pretty clear: once the people understand what is at stake, they will support whatever is deemed necessary to secure the world's oil supplies.
Dave, your understanding of the message is utterly idiotic, nonexistent. In fact, FTW has done nothing but call for people to explicitly oppose the war, and fight against its proponents. FTW has documented and blown open the lies and the pretexts. That is what the publication is about.
"Utterly idiotic"? That's number 5, Larry. And for what it's worth, I personally think that if you are going to continue to resort to name calling, you really should just come right out and say what you want to say. No beating around the bush. If I were going to go that route (though of course I wouldn't), I might say something like: boy, that Larry Chin is a real fucking moron. Or maybe: Larry, you are one stupid son of a bitch. Or even: Larry Chin? Now that's one dumb motherfucker right there. Try it out on your own. You'll probably get the hang of it after a while.
By the way, you seem to have snipped and pasted my comment without including the quote from the FTW posting that I was commenting on. I am surprised, frankly, that you would do that, given your obvious concern for not taking things out of context. For the record, Larry, my interpretation of the quote appears to be accurate.
I also never implied that Ruppert came up with the idea on his own. I am aware that the theory has a history. The issue here, however, is the sudden prominence that 'Peak Oil' has attained. The wholesale promotion of 'Peak Oil' seems to have taken off immediately after the September 11, 2001 'terrorist' attacks, and it is now really starting to pick up some steam.
Peak Oil has not attained "sudden" prominence by any stretch, nor any "wholesale promotion" immediately following 9/11. In fact, there was a great deal of silence on the subject, save for a few courageous voices (Heinberg, Ruppert). The gradual acknowledgment of what I believe is an unavoidable reality, has been grudging at best. What has gradually seeped into the mainstream media, primarily in the past year, is merely vindication and corroboration; the culmination of years of hard work and advocacy done by courageous individuals of diverse backgrounds, and at times opposing political beliefs, to warn the public at large of a looming crisis that is, should be, larger than politics.
Wow! You guys are like real American heroes! I had no idea. I'm not sure though that I am buying your claim that the "Peak Oil' theory hasn't been thrust center stage since 9-11. Didn't we just establish that FTW first took up the issue just a few months after the attacks? And haven't we also established that a glut of books has hit the market in the last two years (mostly from decidedly mainstream publishers, by the way), the first one appearing just a few weeks post-September 11?
And is that pattern somehow unique to the petroleum industry? Or is it a pattern that has been followed by just about every major industry?
No. FTW has continuously documented specific energy company activities, particularly as they have related directly to the geostrategic (war) policies of governments to which they are tied at the hip. FTW's team has shown very clear and convincing proof that recent troubles faced by energy companies is directly attributable to depletion, and they have the sources to support their case.
If that is a "no" to the first question, then I guess we agree on something. If it is a "no" to the second question, could you kindly explain how the pattern of mergers and acquisitions in the petroleum industry differs significantly from the pattern of mergers and acquisitions in any other industry? I need a little clarification on that.
Another telling sign of 'Peak Oil,' according to Ruppert and Co., is sudden price hikes on gas and oil. Of course, that would be a somewhat more compelling argument if the oil cartels did not have a decades-long history of constantly feigning shortages to foist sudden price increases on consumers (usually just before peak travel periods).
If you believe that current price hikes are not driven by shortage and depletion, prove it. Also, prove which shortages in the past were "feigned" or manufactured.
It sounds as if you are handing out a homework assignment, Larry. Do I have to show all my work, or can I just write down the answers?
You people are very good at issuing confrontational challenges, but you aren't so good at sticking to the issue at hand. As a reminder, the thing that primarily needs to be proven is the 'fossil fuel' theory. Because without that, you got nothing. I hate to beat a dead horse here, but that proof has to be the first plank of your argument. You can try to argue around it all you want, but we're really not going to make much progress here if you insist on doing that.
Contrary to the argument that appears on Ruppert's site, it is not need that is driving the oil industry, it is greed. I am not saying, however, that oil and gas were not key factors behind the military occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. The distinction that I am making is that it is not about need. It is, as always, about greed.
The argument that FTW makes, in the most simplistic terms,
Thanks for keeping it simple for me, because, as we both know, I'm kind of a dim bulb.
is that Peak is an ultimately avoidable fact,
It is? How can we ultimately avoid what is, according to the 'fossil fuel' theory, inevitable? And haven't you guys been saying that "Peak" (I guess that is how you hipsters refer to it) is already here? Can you please make up your mind? It's hard to debate a moving target.
and that the oil industry is driven by both need and greed, among easily hundreds of other specific agendas, including the structural maintenance of the existing world economic system, and the very root of how business is conducted---kickbacks, favors, deals, blackmail, influence, etc.. These agendas are not mutually exclusive, except in the limited minds of some.
"Limited minds"? There you go again, Larry. That's number 6.
This crisis is an end result of societies and systems that are fueled by both need (supply and demand) and greed, and this will be the case, to the bitter end. It is this dynamic that FTW emphatically denounces.
Damn, Larry, you seem to have completely missed the point. "Need" in this case refers to that which is absolutely necessary for the survival of the human species (have you forgotten that your experts have claimed that the end of petroleum means the possible extinction of man?). The distinction here has nothing to do with supply and demand. The question is whether the oil companies are acting to secure the oil supplies without which life as we know it will cease to exist, or whether this is just business as usual.
In what is undoubtedly the most bizarre posting that Ruppert offers in support of his theory, he ponders whether dialogue from an obscure 1965 television series indicates that the CIA knew as far back as the 1960s about the coming onset of 'Peak Oil.' Even if that little factoid came from a more, uhmm, credible source, what would the significance be?
Here is where your ignorance, inaccuracy, and bias spill over.
That's number 7.
The piece itself is subheaded explicitly with the following: Was it just a writer's fantasy? Or did they know something... FTW takes a fun peek into a time when TV shows actually had plots.
Nowhere does Ruppert purport this "fun peek" as major proof of his case. Nowhere does Ruppert claim that the "Secret Agent" TV series proves that the CIA had knowledge of the onset of Peak Oil.
One question, Big Lar: do you actually bother to read my comments before you cut and paste them? Because, to be honest with you, it doesn't appear that you do. For example, did I say that Ruppert presents it as "major proof of his case," or did I merely say that it is "the most bizarre posting that Ruppert offers in support of his theory"? And did I say that Ruppert claims that it "proves" something, or did I say that he "ponders" whether it indicates something? In the future, you might look less deceitful if you don't reprint my words and then misrepresent them when they are right there on the page for everyone to see.
(In another article, Richard Heinberg documents that fact, based on declassified documents, that the CIA did have an interest in Peak Oil as far back as 1977. This piece is at www.museletter.com/archive/cia-oil.html and was reprinted in FTW.)
Thanks for that.
Ruppert himself has written, with a cocksure swagger, that "there are no more significant quantities of oil to be discovered anywhere." A rather bold statement, to say the least, considering that it would seem to be impossible for a mere mortal to know such a thing.
Once again, ignorance and a quote out of context. Ruppert's statement is supported by a wealth of documentation, based on region-by-region and country-by-country studies of oil supplies.
"Ignorance," Larry? What are we up to now -- number 8?
Can you explain to me, Larry, how exactly the quote is taken out of context? The claim that the quantity of oil yet to be discovered can be precisely quantified is repeated throughout FTW's 'Peak Oil' postings. I read it several times and I didn't even get to the really good stuff that you guys keep locked in the vault. Each time, the claim was presented as an absolute, unassailable fact. The figure given is either 149 or 150 billion barrels. That is what Ruppert has repeatedly claimed.
Tell us, Dave, if you believe Ruppert is mistaken, where there any more untapped supplies that years of exploration have not found. (In fact, tell ExxonMobil, and make millions for yourself.)
I would respond to that, but I can't really be sure that it is even a question. It kind of starts out as a question, but then it sort of drifts off into semi-incoherence.
The Times also informed readers that Roberts has a new book due out in May, entitled The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World. Scary stuff. Beating Robert's book to the stores will be Colin Campbell's The Coming Oil Crisis, due in April. Both titles will have to compete for shelf space with titles such as Richard Heinberg's The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies, published April of last year; David Goodstein's Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil, which just hit the shelves last month; and Kenneth Deffeyes' Hubbert's Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage, published October 2001. The field is getting a bit crowded, but sales over at Amazon.com remain strong for most of the contenders. I guess the cat is pretty much out of the bag on this one. Everyone can cancel their subscriptions to From the Wilderness and pocket the $35 a year, since you can read the very same bullshit for free in the pages of the Los Angeles Times.
Has it occurred to you that this is further corroboration that Peak Oil is real, and that you are wrong? And that maybe, just maybe, it is important enough a crisis that not even your insidious corporate media psy-ops and sinister secret societies can continue denying it?
First of all, I notice that you have taken two or more passages from my missive and spliced them together without giving any indication that you have done so. And this isn't the first time that you have done that; it's just the first time that I am calling you on it. Did you notice that when I quoted from other sources in my piece, I did not change up the order of the comments, and if I left something out, I indicated that through the use of ellipses ( ... )? That's really pretty standard stuff, Larry. Maybe you should check into it, especially if you are going to run around accusing other people of misusing quotes.
As for whether it occurred to me that the Times piece was further corroboration that 'Peak Oil' is real -- that was the very first thought that crossed my mind. In fact, I almost trashed the whole piece I was writing. Here I was sitting there thinking that I had put together a pretty good argument, and then the damn Times had to come along and screw everything up. Because I knew right then, the minute that I read it in the Times, that it had to be true. I even thought briefly about trying to hide the article from you guys, but I wasn't sure if I could pull that off.
As for my "insidious corporate media psy-ops and sinister secret societies" -- I have to honest with you here, Larry: I didn't even know that I had those things. Do you know where I keep them, by the way, because I've been looking all over and I can't seem to find them? I even looked under all the sofa cushions.
I really need to ask here, Larry, if you even know who you are talking to? Because it really doesn't seem as though you do. You aren't really familiar with my writings at all, are you, Larry? I don't think that you even know my full name, which is why you keep addressing me as "Dave," as if we were good buds.
And what that valid science says, quite clearly, is that petroleum is not by any stretch of the imagination a finite resource, or a 'fossil fuel,' but is in fact a resource that is continuously generated by natural processes deep within the planet. I am sorry to report here, by the way, that in doing my homework, I never did come across any of that "hard science" documenting 'Peak Oil' that Mr. Strahl referred to. All the 'Peak Oil' literature that I found, on Ruppert's site and elsewhere, took for granted that petroleum is a non-renewable 'fossil fuel.' That theory is never questioned, nor is any effort made to validate it. It is simply taken to be an established scientific fact, which it quite obviously is not.
I am quite sure that your "valid 'scientific' fact", which is a disputed theory, can be reduced to vapor, along with your poor representation of the other side. I will defer to a geologist.
Damnit, Larry, you're really starting to piss me off here! First of all, why are you putting quotation marks around a phrase that I didn't actually use? I have to be honest here, Larry: you really suck at this. And you have, once again, snipped out the context in which my comment was made. As we both know, I declared it to be "valid science" based on the explicit assertion of your mentor, Michael Ruppert, that peer review guarantees the validity of science, and based on the fact that the study was, as you also know, subjected to peer review. I know that it stings a little bit when someone is able to take your own words and turn them against you (actually Ruppert, in this case), but you're just going to have to grow up a little bit and learn to deal with it.
Worse yet, after misquoting me and taking my comments out of context, you then want to once again take the coward's way out by 'deferring' to your phantom geologist. How are we supposed to have any kind of a substantive debate when you refuse to defend the key points of your theory?
Here is a question that I have for both Mr. Ruppert and Mr. Pfeiffer: Do you consider it honest, responsible journalism to dismiss a fifty year body of multi-disciplinary scientific research, conducted by hundreds of the world's most gifted scientists, as "some speculation"?
My question for you, Dave, is this: do you consider it honest, responsible journalism to dismiss a much larger body of scientific research, supported by and corroborated by even more scientists, as "speculation"?
You really seem to be having trouble understanding how this works, Larry. In order for you to be able to throw my words back in my face, I have to have actually uttered those words first. Mr. Pfeiffer, you see, actually used the words "some speculation" to dismiss a fifty year body of research. I did not. And did you miss where it was acknowledged that there are many unanswered questions in the West concerning petroleum and its origins? That means, Larry, that there are a lot of things that we do not know. And if there are a lot of things that we do not know, then the 'fossil fuel' theory is, by definition, speculative. Also, the fact that there are many unanswered questions should be kind of a tip-off to you that that large body of scientific research validating the 'fossil fuel' theory that you referred to probably doesn't actually exist.
Ruppert, Pfeiffer, Campbell, Heinberg, etc. have sourced their case. Where is your proof?
I thought that I mentioned that there were 4,000 studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Did you miss that part of the argument? You're really going to have to start paying attention, because I hate having to repeat myself.
Campbell's response to the question was an interesting one: "No one in the industry gives the slightest credence to these theories." Why, one wonders, did Mr. Campbell choose to answer the question on behalf of the petroleum industry?
Dave, you really have stumbled off the wharf here,
Uh oh. That's not good. Why wasn't there a guardrail or something?
grasping at vapor,
More vapor? What is with all the vapor, Larry? I probably wouldn't have stumbled off the wharf if I could have seen where I was going.
straining to parse a simple couple of words into some sort of conspiracy theory.
Is that what I was doing? It didn't really feel like much of a strain. All I did was note that Campbell, when asked his personal opinion about abiotic petroleum origins, chose to frame his answer in terms of what the oil industry thinks of the theory. Isn't that, after all, what he did? And really, Larry, do you think it wise to toss the "conspiracy theory" label around as a pejorative term? I have noticed that you like to do that, and it seems to me as though you are skating on pretty thin ice. I mean, don't you guys promote, for example, the idea that the CIA runs the global drug trade? And haven't you questioned whether Paul Wellstone was assassinated? I'm not saying that such claims are not valid, but can you really be unaware of the fact that the vast majority of people consider those to be "conspiracy theories"? Is this a "my conspiracy theory is better than your conspiracy theory" kind of thing?
Campbell meant what he said: people in the oil industry, who have spent their lives with oil, do not support the theory.
And I meant what I said: people in the oil industry have a very obvious vested interest in pretending that they don't support the theory.
And does it come as a surprise to anyone that the petroleum industry doesn't want to acknowledge abiotic theories of petroleum origins? Should we have instead expected something along these lines?:
If there is a conspiracy, prove it.
You people are really big on issuing confrontational challenges. You also seem to have an obsession with questioning my intelligence. So I have devised a little challenge for you, if you think that you are up to it: supervised IQ tests for you and me. I will match any amount of money that you want to put up for a purse. Winner take all. And just to show you that I am willing to be a sport about this, I will even spot you 10 or 20 IQ points.
For the sake of accuracy, I think we need to modify Mr. Campbell's response, because it should probably read: no one in the petroleum industry will publicly admit giving any credence to abiotic theories.
That is "Dave's version". Nothing more.
This is perhaps your most brilliant insight yet, Larry! Let me clue you in to a couple of other things that you may not have noticed: it is Dave's website (the www.davesweb thing is kind of a giveaway) and Dave's newsletter, in which Dave expresses Dave's opinions. See how that works, Larry?
But is there really any doubt that those who own and control the oil industry are well aware of the true origins of oil? How could they not be? Surely there must be a reason why there appears to be so little interest in understanding the nature and origins of such a valuable, and allegedly vanishing, resource. And that reason can only be that the answers are already known. The objective, of course, is to ensure that the rest of us don't find those answers.
Please tell us, Dave. You seem to have all the answers, on all the conspiracy theories.
What I have, Larry, is a comprehensive view of the world -- one that serves me rather well. You can agree with it or disagree with it. Either is fine with me.
The reality is that the attacks of September 11, and the post-September 11 military ventures, cannot possibly be manifestations of 'Peak Oil' because the entire concept of "Peak Oil' is meaningless if oil is not a finite resource.
And if you fail to disprove this, Dave, you have no leg to stand on.
Let's see now ... if I "fail to disprove" ... that's one of those double negatives, isn't it? I hate those things, Larry. But fortunately for me, I don't have to try to figure out what this one means, because, as it turns out, it isn't really up to me to disprove anything. You are the one that wants to use the 'fossil fuel' theory to build an argument. It is up to you, therefore, to establish that foundation before you build upon it. But what your team wants to do is to just declare that foundation to be solid, without supplying any verification, and then aggressively shout down anyone who challenges your argument. That, you see, is the problem here.
On the other hand, what if oil is finite. Then what?
Come on, Larry, did you really read my posting? Is there a literacy problem here we should know about? Why are you wasting my time asking questions that I already answered in the rant that you are responding to?
Greed and control -- control of the output of oil fields that will continue to yield oil long after reserves should have run dry.
Virtually every article published by FTW emphasizes this exact point.
Well, I can see that you guys have everything under control. My work is done.
(case in point: there is certainly nothing in Haiti that we need)
A spectacular crash and burn on your part, Dave. Do you have no inkling about the oil and gas reserves of Latin America, the importance of narcotics to the world economy, and Haiti's critical geostrategic value (proven repeatedly throughout history) to both of the above?
A spectacular failure to understand the point I was making, Larry. A "need" is very different from a "want." I repeat: there is nothing that we need (to sustain human life) in Haiti. I am well aware that there is much that we want.
By the way, Larry, when you're done lecturing me about history, you might want to spend a little time over at my website. Try clicking on the link labeled "Books by the Host." Then you can not only find out my full name, you can have a peek at the books I have written. One of them covers twentieth century American history. There is even stuff in there about Haiti.
The problem here seems to be that you have a tendency to shoot from the hip, firing off accusations and drawing conclusions without really knowing what you are talking about. I cannot emphasize enough that doing that will dramatically increase the likelihood that you are going to come off looking like a real asshole. I am trying to look out for you, Larry, but you are making it rather difficult.
Do you know nothing about Venezuela?
Didn't he used to pitch for the Dodgers?
Have you been so asleep at the wheel that you have not kept up with the specifics of the Aristide kidnapping, the Bush administration's direct involvement in the coup, the CIA backgrounds of the death squad members who have taken the country? Take some time and go to www.flashpoints.net or www.narconews.com
Holy cow! When did all that happen? Thanks for the tip, Larry. I had no idea. Luckily, one of us is really smart and really knowledgeable about such things.
It's kind of hard for me to believe, quite frankly, that you completely missed the point of my mention of Haiti. But that appears to be the case, so let me spell it out for you: my point was that not all U.S. military ventures are driven solely by oil concerns. Implicit is the acknowledgment that the coup in Haiti was U.S. engineered; otherwise, why would I have even brought it up?
By the way, Larry, while you are visiting my site, you might try actually reading some of my past newsletters. You might find that I have covered the events in Venezuela a number of times in the past couple of years. Sometimes I even provide links to postings on narconews.com. In fact, the last time I checked, there was a permanent link to narconews.com on my Links page.
Did you notice that I actually read through some of the postings on From the Wilderness, so that I could quote from them and critique them? That's kind of what you have to do if you want to critique my opinions on other topics. Because if you just start firing away without even bothering to read a single word that I have written on any given issue, then, to repeat once again, there is a very real possibility that you will end up looking like an enormous asshole.
Then tell us how unimportant Haiti is.
It is amazing how much mileage you are trying to get out of one little parenthetical comment that you obviously didn't even begin to understand. One final time: I never said that Haiti was unimportant in terms of what U.S. elites want. I don't know why you can't seem to grasp the distinction.
To sum up, over and above your obvious bias, your case is extremely flimsy. I suggest you do even more homework, instead of issuing sweeping pronouncements and misusing the Internet to smear the reputations of well-intentioned and courageous advocates.
That's it? You're done? And you're calling my case flimsy? You haven't even presented a case, Larry. Nor have you rebutted a single compelling element of my case. You did not mention nor respond to a single one of the sources that are quoted at length in my posting. Not one, Larry. You did not mention, nor attempt to explain, any of the recurring phenomena that contradict the foundation of your theory. And you have admitted several times that you cannot defend the underlying premise of your theory (although you claim that mysterious, unnamed scientists can).
Frankly, Larry, I was hoping for a little something more from you. This isn't really the level of debate that I had in mind.
One last thing, Larry: I have let you slide on a number of comments in your rant, but you have stepped way over the line by accusing me of "misusing the Internet to smear the reputations of well-intentioned and courageous advocates." Who are you to accuse me of "misusing the Internet"? As a matter of fact, who are you to accuse anyone of "misusing the Internet"? Where do you get the idea that you have a right to police the Internet? And what exactly is "misusing the Internet," Larry? Is it using the Internet to post opinions that challenge your own? Is that what it is, Larry? Are you a closet fascist, Larry? And who are you to claim that my purpose is to "smear the reputations of well-intentioned and courageous advocates," as if I am not a well intentioned advocate myself? You don't have a clue who I am or what work I have done. And frankly, you are not worth any more of my time.
Re: Palast Debunks "Peak Oil": Dave McGowan Was First, How About Some Credit.
March 18, 2004
The official response is now in from Michael Ruppert, and it is a doozy. Although Ruppert's missive is filled, as was Chin's, with juvenile insults, misrepresentations, and completely unfounded accusations, I will, out of respect for my readers (though certainly not for Ruppert, who has earned no measure of respect from me), make every effort to take the high road here (several of you have written to caution me not to let these people provoke me into losing my cool, and that seems to be sound advice).
I will first present Ruppert's formal reply in its entirety (another suggestion from some of you), so that readers can get the full flavor of how this man operates. In many ways, his missive requires no commentary from me, for he has done a fairly respectable job on his own of revealing what he is, how he operates, and what his agenda is. Nevertheless, there is much here that I cannot let pass without comment.
Here then, exactly as it was received, is Ruppert's formal response to my counter-proposal for a public debate. I have added only a bit of subtle emphasis, because I felt certain that Ruppert would want to ensure that one point in particular gets across loud and clear:
How interesting and how revealing that in posting your onerous rebuttal and pseudo-acceptance of my debate challenge, you sent it out to everyone but me. This is quite revealing as I sent my challenge directly to you personally. I guess you were assuming that either: a), I am an avid reader of your web site, or; b) that I would be unaware of your postings so that you could then misinterpret my non-response as some kind of evasive behavior. The psychology of your move is quite revealing. It shows that you have no faith in your own arguments and that you are interested only in holding a public stage and my time for as long as you possibly can or until your apparently insatiable ego is gratified. You know what my email address is.
In the two-plus years since 9/11 an increasingly sophisticated body of researchers has become aware of tactics intended to stall and distract, rather than educate. Your recent postings seem to indicate that this argument is to be won by the sheer number of words that can be thrown at the subject as opposed to arguments addressing an issue of the utmost importance to mankind. Not only have I, but a great many others, become wise to such tactics, we have learned to counter them. The debate you have assumptively proposed (as opposed to the one I challenged you with) is one which will allow you to occupy center stage for endless hours while engaging in the most insidious and duplicitous kinds of sophistry which would never be permitted in a courtroom or in a properly moderated debate, governed by rules of critical thinking and analysis.
You have employed dishonesty, straw arguments, and libelous character assassinations instead of addressing the only question that matters to anybody.
That question – Is abiotic petroleum and natural gas readily available and making its way into commercial use in sufficient quantities to establish that there is no imminent energy shortage? – is rightly the only question any of us should give a damn about. That is the question for debate.
Instead you are dancing around the issue with falsehoods which are typified (as only one example) by your statement that I and a number of petroleum scientists argue that oil is derived from dinosaurs. Neither I nor any reputable scientist – especially those who are warning of Peak Oil -- has ever made such a claim. We all gagged as you put these words in our mouths. Yet it suits your purpose to falsify our statements and then defeat words which we never uttered to prove a point and thus boost your ego. You remind me of Norman Solomon. I don’t participate in these kinds of debates. The Arabs have a saying that one should never argue with a fool or a liar because people might not be able to tell the difference.
You have also attacked me and others as being part of some kind of covert operation intended to promote infinite war yet you ignore several facts:
1. Instead of advocating war I oppose it. Anyone who has attended any of my more than 35 lectures in eight countries (more than 15,000 live audience members) will know, of a certainty, that my position on solutions is absolutely clear. I advocate an immediate cessation of all military conquest and imperialism by the US government and industrialized powers; an end to the war on terror. I advocate an immediate convening of political, economic, spiritual and scientific leaders from all nations to address the issue of Peak Oil (and Gas) and its immediate implications for economic collapse, massive famine and climate destruction (partially as a result of reversion to coal plants which accelerate global warming). This would, scientifically speaking, include immediate steps to arrive at a crash program – agreed to by all nations and in accordance with the highest spiritual and ethical principles – to stop global population growth and to arrive at the best possible and most ethical program of population reduction as a painful choice made by all of humanity. It would also include arrival at a painful, but absolutely necessary, plan to implement a global program of “contraction and convergence” whereby consumption, rampant economic growth based on globalization, and corrupt economic practices is reversed in favor of a planned and executed program intended to reduce the size of a world economy which is inherently linked to the consumption of hydrocarbon energy. In stating this position I have made it clear that nothing of any real significance will be changed at all until a complete revision is made in the way money works -- on a global and local scale -- because it is financial activity and monetary policy which will dictate how any contingency plans are implemented and paid for.
You have attacked those who have warned of the dangers of Peak Oil as being employees of oil companies. Yet you ignore the fact that Heinberg, Darley, Deffeyes, Aleklett, Klare and Goodstein – to name only a few – are academics. Yes, Deffeyes once worked for Shell but he got out when he saw what was coming many, many years ago and his long tenure at Princeton and the fact that his income is derived from there speaks volumes. Neither Heinberg, Darley, Klare, Goodstein (Vice Chancellor of the California Institute of Technology), Dale Allen Pfeiffer or I have ever worked for the petroleum industry in any way, shape or form.
You also ignore the fact that peer review is only one of nine critical questions FTW has posed. If one paper has received peer reviews supporting it that does not, in fact, prove that the subject matter is true. It only states that the science is theoretically sound and that it may or may not be accurate when applied. Another peer reviewed paper was published in the late 1890s by Professor Langley who proved mathematically that man could never fly in heavier-than-air craft. That was a fine example of peer reviewed science, wasn’t it?
The fact is that the advocates of abiogenic oil and gas keep refusing to appear in public to defend their work. No one has produced verifiable production data (even in the papers you cite) proving the theory. Nothing has been produced anywhere showing that any significant quantities of abiogenic hydrocarbons have ever entered productions streams. Thomas Gold’s fabled Eugene Island is today a dry hole. (See below) In fact, the best scientific data available has just confirmed that for more than twenty years, mankind has consumed more oil than has been discovered and that last year – for the first time since the 1920s – there was not a single discovery of a field over 500 million barrels. The supposed increases in Mid East reserves which occurred in the 1980s were the result of pencils and erasers rather than any actual change in oil in the ground. Those restatements came as the US sought a way to bypass OPEC production quotas (based on reserves) so as to flood the markets with cheap oil and destroy the Soviet economy. What the reserve figures show is that all Mid East nations revised their reserve estimates upward except Abu Dhabi which remained constant (because they were already selling all they could produce). Argue this point and then you will have to prove that God and science somehow partially refilled everyone else’s tank but that the laws of your science were somehow suspended in the case of poor Abu Dhabi.
As for “Peak Groceries” you again distort because groceries can be located by a mere phone call or internet order. Oil must be found at great cost and developed at even greater cost. Why then is the oil industry laying off its exploration geologists and why are these curricula being phased out of academic instruction?
I am certain that you will find some point in your last diatribe that I did not respond to and state that this is proof that I am defeated. Not true. I never agreed to debate you on your terms. I never said that I was handing you an open microphone and unlimited amounts of my time. You are not worth it. I handed you a challenge which is clearly spelled out below. Either accept it or reject it.
TERMS OF DEBATE
I am more than willing and happy to engage in a face-to-face debate. It should take no longer than 90 minutes in a public forum to settle the question. I do not have time for the months and endless hours you intend to suck out of me and the poor readers to keep us from focusing on important work. I am willing to put my money and my reputation on it. However, in order to avoid your unethical argumentative protocols, distortions, and sophistry I will insist upon several conditions. They include:
1. You and I will both put into escrow the sum of $1,000 before the debate. Your refusal to do this indicates that you do not believe you can win by ethical means. I want you to put a personal piece of you into this, as I am willing to do, immediately if you agree to the other terms set forth below.
2. The live debate will be judged and moderated by a panel of three. This panel will also determine the winner of the debate according to standard debating procedure and rules and award the prize. They will also enforce penalty points for ad hominem attacks, obfuscation, evasion of the issues and straw-man arguments. This panel of three can be selected from high school or college debate coaches or lawyers in the area. I am also willing to pay half of the expense for their compensation.
3. I am assuming that you live in the Bay Area. I will come to the Bay Area at my own expense for the debate, which will be well publicized and open to the public.
4. The panel of judges mutually agreed to by you and me, can be selected from the Bay area. There is a large pool from which to choose and this should not be a difficult prospect.
5. The sole question to be debated will be: “Is abiotic petroleum and natural gas readily available and making its way into commercial use in sufficient quantities to establish that there is no imminent energy shortage?”
I have too much respect for my readers’ time – apparently more so than you for yours – to believe that they would be interested in reading hundreds of pages of back and forth, especially when you resort to such childish and uncritical tactics. I also refuse to let you invade and occupy my productive hours when this is a question that can be settled in ninety minutes of direct, face-to-face, ethical and well-policed discussion.
I have attached below a response I posted earlier today to another kindred spirit of yours on the subject of abiotic oil. As far as I am concerned this ends my participation with you until such time as you show the integrity to accept the challenge as I have laid it out for you.
Michael C. Ruppert
There is quite a bit of ground to cover here, so it is difficult to know where to begin. One thing, however, really seemed to jump out at me, so I suppose we should begin there. Obviously, I was mistaken when I said that you offered little in the way of solutions. I stand corrected. Thank you very much for clarifying that. And thanks for removing any doubt about what your true agenda is. I am sure that many readers will appreciate that.
I believe very strongly that you need to get that message out there more prominently. It appears that some of your readers aren’t getting it. I believe that to be the case because one of them just wrote to me with the following comments: “Thank you so much for the 'peak oil' rant. I subscribed to FTW for one year and never could get a line on what he's saying.” The reader (thanks, Joan!) explained that she got the ‘we're running out of oil’ concept, and she understood the ‘there are no alternatives’ part, but she didn't really understand what comes next. The problem, clearly, is that she did not pick up on the program of “ethical” population reduction.
You really need to pound away at that one. Why do you limit such critical information to just the 15,000 people in eight countries that have attended the lectures that you never tire of mentioning? Why not splash it across your home page in bold print? Or better yet, you might consider renaming your website The Center for the Study of Ethical Population Reduction – or something along those lines.
Before we move on, I have a few quick questions that maybe you can answer for me, when you can find the time: do you have a specific eugenics program in mind at this time, or are you still working out the details? Do you think we should start with all the non-white people? Will getting rid of the non-white people be enough, or will some of 'us' have to go as well? What exactly is your target population level? What do you think the criteria will be? My driver’s license says that I have blond hair and blue eyes, but I am still wondering: is there anything more that I can do to increase the chances that I will be a 'keeper'? And one last question: have you considered showing true leadership in these troubled times by becoming the first person to volunteer for euthanasia? If we have to thin the herd here, Mike, I think you are missing a golden opportunity to set an example for your flock.
I think that covers all my questions on that topic (I realize that you are not going to answer any of these questions, but I am going to ask them anyway), so let's move on to other things. One of the most remarkable aspects of your missive is that you have repeatedly accused me of making libelous statements about you, even while you, at the very same time, shamelessly libel me by accusing me of: employing “tactics intended to stall and distract, rather than educate”; “engaging in the most insidious and duplicitous kinds of sophistry”; employing “dishonesty, straw arguments, and libelous character assassinations”; “dancing around the issue with falsehoods”; employing “childish and uncritical tactics”; and utilizing “unethical argumentative protocols, distortions, and sophistry.” You have also strongly implied that I am partial to the use of “ad hominem attacks, obfuscation, evasion of the issues and straw-man arguments.”
That is a remarkable list of charges to levy against someone, especially considering that you do not offer a single concrete example to support any of the charges that you have made. Not one example of “sophistry.” Not one example of “dishonesty.” Not one example of employing a “straw argument.” Not one example of a “libelous character assassination.” Not one example of an “unethical argumentative protocol.” Not one example of a “distortion.” And not one example of an “ad hominem attack,” an “obfuscation,” a "childish and uncritical tactic," or even an “evasion of the issues.”
You did attempt to provide an example of a “falsehood,” and that pathetic attempt of yours is quite revealing. Your one shining example of my use of falsehoods is my supposed “statement that [you] and a number of petroleum scientists argue that oil is derived from dinosaurs.” There is only one problem with your example, but it is kind of a big problem: I never said that. And since you obviously read my posting, then you know full well that I never said that. In other words, your one example of a supposed “falsehood” on my part is, in reality, an outright lie on your part -- because we both know that what I really said was that I was raised to believe that oil came from dinosaurs. For the record, let's take a look at the actual excerpt:
As anyone who stayed awake during elementary school science class knows, oil comes from dinosaurs. I remember as a kid (calm down, folks; there will be no Brady Bunch references this week) seeing some kind of 'public service' spot explaining how dinosaurs "gave their all" so that we could one day have oil.
It is quite clear that I never said - in any way, shape or form - that you, Michael Ruppert, or any "petroleum scientists," claim that oil comes from dinosaurs. To the contrary, the origins of oil seems to be a subject that you prefer not to talk about at all.
Early on in your missive, you comment on the "psychology of [my] move." I found it rather odd that you would purport to be able to analyze my moves when you don't actually have, as far as I am aware, any training in that area. I found it odder still that you would do so when condescendingly addressing someone who actually does have a degree in psychology. Why don't we then take a fun look at the psychology of one of your moves? When you told the lie about what I supposedly said, you actually embellished that lie with a completely fictitious story about an alleged physical reaction that you supposedly had to something that never even happened. That is not simply a lie; it is a sign of a pathological condition. For that reason, I am not expecting an apology anytime soon for what was clearly a lie on your part -- and a lie that was intended, ironically enough, to paint me as a liar.
As for your overall attempt to paint me as a disreputable charlatan, here is the situation as I see it: you pored over a 10,000-word essay that I composed, desperately seeking any example of a lie, distortion or misrepresentation, but you came up empty handed. That much we can safely infer from the fact that you resorted to making something up (as did your inept attack dog, Larry Chin). And then, armed with nothing but a lie, you proceeded to falsely accuse me of committing a number of egregious sins – and all the while, you actually had the gall to claim that it is your character that is being assassinated. You have also used your false and completely unsupported allegations to cast me as a lying egomaniac unworthy of the time required for a real public debate, thus enabling you to slip away even while claiming to take the high road. That would be a very clever maneuver -- except that you haven't even come close to pulling it off.
Let’s turn now to some other accusations that you have leveled at me. You claim that I have attempted to “invade and occupy [your] productive hours.” You have also accused me of showing a lack of integrity by not accepting your "challenge" as you have “laid it out,” as though I am under some kind of obligation to debate you only under the strictly defined conditions that you have unilaterally imposed. At the same time, you dismiss my counter proposal as some kind of ego-driven publicity stunt, referring to it dismissively as “the debate that [i] assumptively proposed.”
I think it would probably be instructive here to briefly review the chronology of recent events. As you know, I have a small, non-commercial website - otherwise known as a vanity website - just like millions of other people across the country, and around the world. On that site, I post my thoughts and opinions on a wide range of topics. I also send out mailings to a small, private mailing list composed of people who have expressed an interest in receiving my writings. That is the extent of my Internet activities (and what your acolyte has disturbingly described as “misusing the Internet”). I do not post to, nor participate in, any news or discussion groups. I post only to my own private website. Despite the accusations of both you and Chen, I have never conspired with anyone, in any way, to smear your character. As I said before, I am not affiliated in any way with any groups or movements, and certainly not with any other individuals or groups who have served as critics of yours (your apparent attempt to connect me with the Solomon/Corn crowd, I must say, is particularly pathetic, given my frequently voiced, and well documented, opinion of that bunch).
As you recall, this all began when you took offense at an opinion that I had expressed on my own website. At that time, you invaded my space, issuing a belligerent and uninvited challenge. Prior to that, I had little interest in you or your website. I had never, by any stretch of the imagination, come close to invading your “productive time.” I had never so much as sent you a single e-mail. I rarely even visit your site. So it seems that it was not I who invaded your space, but rather you who invaded my space. And you did so by issuing a boorish challenge that you feel I was somehow instantly obligated to either accept, or reject and quietly slink away. Instead, I did what I always do, which was to air my argument in the only public venue available: my website. And at that time, as we both know, your people became completely unhinged.
I did not bring this fight to you as some attempt to bask in your reflected glory (and I'm the one looking to "boost [my] ego"?); I did not bring this fight to you at all. You bullied your way into my space, attempting to force me into playing the game by your rules, as though you have some kind of divine right to do so (and I'm the one with the "insatiable ego"?). There is a very clear pattern of intimidation here.
One of the most telling aspects of your response is that it is actually a cut-and-paste form letter. I know that because, for reasons known only to you, you chose to attach a response that you sent to someone else who challenged your theories, and that response was a different version of the same form letter. There are other indications as well, such as the redundant passages, and the numbered paragraphs that never get past the number 1. The fact that it is a form letter is very significant, for a number of reasons.
Based on my experiences of the last couple of weeks, I have concluded that this is how your machine operates: whenever anyone is presumptuous enough to question your almighty wisdom, you immediately swoop in and try to intimidate them into backing off by issuing a demand (you can't really call it a request) for a formal debate. If they take you up on it, then they get the form letter imposing the restrictions and strictly limiting the scope of the debate to a false argument. When they, quite naturally, refuse your 'offer,' you then cast them as cowards and charlatans for 'ducking' the debate.
What this means, of course, is that anyone who you feel threatened by, and who you send the form letter to, is routinely accused of being a lying, disreputable glory-seeker whose behavior must be policed -- regardless of their personal standing or the validity of their challenge. My guess is that the "example" is a fill-in-the-blank kind of thing, and in my case, you didn't have anything legitimate to fill in the blank. Nevertheless, you left all the unsupported accusations in the form letter and simply filled in the blank with a figment of your imagination.
You have accused me of attacking you "as being part of some kind of covert operation intended to promote infinite war." Your associate has implied that I have attacked you as being a shill for the Bush administration. I have never said, explicitly, that you are any such thing. But I will say that there is no question but that your tactics closely mirror those of the Bush administration (or pretty much any other U.S. presidential administration).
First and foremost is what we might call the "pot-calling-the-kettle-black syndrome." You engage in reprehensible character assassinations, even while claiming to be a victim yourself. You accuse your critics of employing tactics to stifle you, even as you employ those very tactics to stifle them. You accuse your critics of libel, even as you viciously libel them. You accuse your opponents of dodging a real debate, even as it is you who are dodging the real debate. You accuse your critics of being unable to stick to the issues and construct an ethical argument, even as you dodge the real issues through the use of unethical arguments.
Then there is your habit of unilaterally issuing uninvited, bullying, unreasonable, take-it-or-leave-it ultimatums, and then claiming that it is the other party's fault when the 'offer' is refused. I am thinking of Rambouillet here, but there are also numerous other examples that could be cited. So while I obviously cannot definitively say if there is someone pulling your strings, I can say that Karl Rove himself couldn't run a more well-oiled machine.
Let us turn now to the inherent fraudulence of your debate "challenge." The biggest problem, and the most telling aspect of the 'offer,' is with the framing of the question. You have chosen (and this isn't the original topic of debate, by the way, but one that you came up with after you read my critique): "Is abiotic petroleum and natural gas readily available and making its way into commercial use in sufficient quantities to establish that there is no imminent energy shortage?”
The interesting thing about that question is that it presupposes that your side of the argument has already been proven, even though we both know that that isn't true. It is interesting to note here that whenever people such as you and Mr. Chin mention abiotic petroleum, you are usually quick to claim that it is a "disputed" theory. However, you never attach such qualifiers to mentions of 'fossil fuels.' Don't you find that odd, considering that it is actually the reverse that is true?
You have admitted that petroleum can be produced abiotically (in your response to my "kindred spirit"). In fact, no one with any credibility can deny that fact. It has been demonstrated in the laboratory and verified with unchallenged mathematical models. It is a fact. The 'fossil fuel' theory, on the other hand, cannot be verified and is disputed by, at the very least, a large community of Soviet and Ukrainian scientists. Since abiotic petroleum is not disputed and is verifiable, the logical presumption, until proven otherwise, is that all the natural gas and petroleum in commercial use, and in the ground, and in storage tanks, and anywhere else, is abiotic oil and gas.
Your chosen question then is an entirely fraudulent one, selected so as to protect you from having to establish the basic foundation of your argument. Just as with Mr. Chin, you want to skip right over that and start building your 'Peak Oil' theory. It doesn't work that way, and all of your sophistry cannot change that fact.
A few other aspects of the debate 'challenge' seem problematic as well. You claim that you assume that I live in the Bay Area, when you know very well that I live in the Los Angeles area, just like you. You may pretend otherwise, but you have met me. We were introduced after an event in Santa Monica in 2002. You tried to engage me in conversation, but I wasn't interested and wandered off (or is that perhaps something that I have conjured up in my imagination to feed my ego?).
Why then the Bay Area? Perhaps the answer lies in condition number 4, and the "large pool" of judges that you seem to be familiar with. I don't happen to know anyone in the Bay Area, except for my cousin, and I doubt that he is part of that pool of judges. Your obsession with a purse is another problem, and an obvious attempt to discourage acceptance of your proposal (and judging by your response to my "kindred spirit," you don't pay up when you lose anyway). All I am going to say about this issue is that, unlike you, I am not in this for the money.
How much have you made, by the way, off the September 11 attacks? I know you claim to have doubled your subscribers, to 10,000. That's 5,000 new subscribers at $35.00 per year (more for the hard copy), or a minimum of $175,000 per year. Then there are the speaking fees and the reimbursed travel and living expenses. Then there are, of course, all the 9-11 related books and videos that you hawk. Then there are the donations that you solicit. So how much is it, in total, over the last two-and-a-half years? Around a half mil? More? Why don't we do this: each of us will contribute to the purse all the money that we have made off the 9-11 attacks. You will put up your proceeds, and I will put up mine. Does that sound fair?
Before wrapping this up, I need to address several more brazen misrepresentations and specious allegations that you have made. You have claimed that I have attempted to win this argument "by the sheer number of words that can be thrown at the subject." The truth though is that I have written exactly one article that challenges what you are selling. You, on the other hand, have littered the Internet with dozens of hysterical, and sometimes quite lengthy, missives on the subject. Again I would have to say that the 'pot-calling-the-kettle-black syndrome' clearly applies here.
You have claimed that I must be "assuming" that you are a reader of this site (my ego again, I presume). But we both know that you are a reader of this site. Why else would you have responded with warp speed not only to my abiotic oil posting, but to the posting that first caused your testes to draw up tighter than a newborn baby's? And I noticed, in reading through some of your material, that you have written things that appear to be direct responses to things that I have written (oops, there goes my ego again!). I will be commenting on that, and providing a clear example, in a future newsletter. As for your claim that I was hoping that you would somehow be unaware of my posting, we both know that that is absurd.
You claim that I have "attacked those who have warned of the dangers of Peak Oil as being employees of oil companies," but I said no such thing. I did identify the various geochemists quoted in news reports that I cited as "shills for the petroleum industry," but they were, in fact, identified in those reports as employees of various oil companies. It was nice of you though to volunteer the information that one of your experts once worked for Shell. And I would tend to agree that Deffeyes "long tenure at Princeton and the fact that his income is derived from there speaks volumes."
You are now claiming that, "If one paper has received peer reviews supporting it that does not, in fact, prove that the subject matter is true." But when you previously wrote that "peer-reviewed articles ensure the validity of science," you gave no hint that that statement was conditional. For the sake of accuracy, should you not go back and change the posting to read "peer-reviewed articles ensure the validity of science, unless the conclusions reached contradict the theories that I am selling"?
You also claim that I "ignore the fact that peer review is only one of nine critical questions FTW has posed," but it is you who ignores the fact that your theory is inconsistent with the laws of thermodynamics, which you identify as the most critical of the nine questions (the one that "Most of the other questions in this list can be tied up into").
You claim that "advocates of abiogenic oil and gas keep refusing to appear in public to defend their work" (not unlike the way that you claim that your critics refuse to appear in public to debate you). But Dr. Kenney and some of his Soviet colleagues have said that that is an egregious lie, and I am more prone to believe them than you. They have also complained about news reports claiming that they were "unavailable for comment," when no one had made the slightest attempt to contact them.
You have written: "As for 'Peak Groceries,' you again distort because groceries can be located by a mere phone call or internet order." To say that this is a bizarre rebuttal would be quite an understatement. It has nothing to do with my argument, which concerned the consolidation of various industries. And for the record, I can buy a can of oil with a phone call or an internet order as well. So what? Is this one of those "straw arguments" you were so concerned about?
Finally, you have written that you are "certain" that I will find "something" in my argument that you "did not respond to and state that this is proof" that you are defeated. "Not true. I never agreed to debate you on your terms." As you are well aware (and as anyone reading this will be well aware), you responded to almost nothing in my "diatribe." Instead, you sent me a bullying, childish form letter filled with entirely unfounded allegations and pompous self-importance. And for the record, it is I who never agreed to, and was never obligated to, 'debate' you on your terms.
You have declared that you are through with me. And that is fine. No one ever invited you to this party to begin with. And you obviously have nothing of substance to contribute anyway.
Re: Palast Debunks "Peak Oil": Dave McGowan Was First, How About Some Credit.
March 19, 2004
Who Is Really Behind the 'Peak Oil' Scare?
Well, well, well. What have we here? This story just keeps getting better and better. And as it does, it becomes increasingly clear why the Ruppert crowd doesn't want anyone taking too close a look at the 'Peak Oil' story. It appears that Ruppert may have given a less than full accounting of the ties between the 'Peak Oil' experts and the oil industry. And guess who is really behind the 'Peak Oil' scare? I would tell you, but I hate to spoil the surprise.
The Coming Panic over the End of Oil - Coming to a Ballot Box Near You
By scoop, Section News
Posted on Thu Dec 4th, 2003 at 12:17:58 PM EST
By Walt Contreras Sheasby
Psst! Hey, there. You believe that we are facing a crisis, an Imminent Peak of World Oil Production, right? Well, the insiders in the President's Energy Strategy Team would like you to join with them in solving this new sudden crisis.
In fact, you may already have been inducted. You panic at the idea of Western civilization collapsing as the engines and machines grind to a halt, uh-huh? You agree with Ron Swenson of Ecosystems that "The world is about to experience a real energy crisis, likely to be a calamity unparalleled in human history" (Swenson, 1996).
You think, as oil geologist Colin J. Campbell says, that "the very future of our subspecies 'Hydrocarbon Man' is at stake," right? You agree with Virginia Abernathy that there are too many immigrants using up our resources, I'm sure.
You probably realize, as many do not, that the Era of Cheap Oil and Gas is over. As Matthew E. Simmons, the CEO of the energy investment bankers of Simmons and Co. International, recently said: "I think basically that now, that peaking of oil will never be accurately predicted until after the fact. But the event will occur, and my analysis is leaning me more by the month, the worry that peaking is at hand; not years away. If it turns out I'm wrong, then I'm wrong. But if I'm right, the unforeseen consequences are devastating "
Well, guess what? Simmons is not only an oilionaire himself, but he has been a key advisor to the Bush Administration and to Vice President Cheney's 2001 Energy Task Force, as well as sitting on the Council on Foreign Relations. Simmons is a board member of Kerr-McGee Corp., a major oil and gas producer. He insists that the US government is very worried about oil depletion. However, Cheney's secretive National Energy Policy Development Group (NEPDG) refused to make its records of closed-door meetings with industry executives public. The Industry has taken a beating in public opinion since the Kyoto summit put the spotlight on global warming. And now Simmons apparently wants to make the public's fear of The End of Cheap Oil the drum beat of the 2004 Re-elect Bush and Cheney Campaign, although a more enlightened energy policy, he worries, "is going to take a while."
On July 3, 2003, the same day that the World Meteorological Organization warned that global warming was creating an unprecedented pattern of extreme weather, Congress was considering a bill that would create a controversial new national energy policy (Independent, 2003). The bill allows new oil exploration all along the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) using invasive technologies that will damage sea life and ocean habitat in environmentally sensitive areas. In addition, the bill would open our public lands to further destructive drilling and mining operations. Two years ago President Bush demanded that Congress pass an energy policy centered around more drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but that red flag has been dropped from the new energy bill, S. 14, the Energy Policy Act of 2003
Given the immediate concern with natural gas supplies, little strategic planning is likely to come out of Congress this July, so attention is focused on reviving the ideas of 2001 in 2004 to have a mandate for change in the second term. Simmons said last year that "The  plan devoted almost as many pages to the need to increase alternative energy sources like wind and fuel cells as it did for the need to protect the supply of oil and gas. It called for a giant amount of new power plants.... The plan called for America to begin addressing the need for a return to more nuclear energy and clean coal. ...none of these new energy sources [wind and fuel cells, etc.] can grow fast enough to be a real alternative to oil OR natural gas even by 2020" (Simmons, 2002).
These days Simmons is getting a lot of help from folks all over the political spectrum, from some of the global moguls themselves, like Schlumberger and Halliburton, to the environmentalist-lite Republicans of REP America (Green Elephant, 2001), to some of the anarcho-primitivists and Luddites who admire Ted Kaczynski (Xsilent, 2003), and from plenty of middle-of-the-road enviros in between.
On May 27th, 2003 Simmons addressed the second international conference of ASPO, the Association for the Study of Peak Oil [and Gas] which was meeting at the French Petroleum Institute (IFP) via a satellite teleconference video link from his Houston offices. His remarks were transcribed by Michael Ruppert, the ex-cop who challenged the CIA for its role in the drug trade. Since 9-11-01, according to his webpage (www.copvcia.com), Ruppert has pioneered the effort to educate the world about the consequences of Peak Oil, the fact that the world is running out of energy, and what this might mean for human civilization (Ruppert, 2003).
Simmons gained a powerful ally this spring when the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported for the first time that the peak of world oil production is in sight.
Spencer Abraham, the US Energy Secretary, called an emergency meeting of the National Petroleum Council's Natural Gas Summit on June 26, 2003, amid calls for the administration to deal urgently with the acute shortage of natural gas this year: "It is a national concern that will touch virtually every American," Abraham told the Summit of experts and industry execs. "It is our hope that the energy bill will contain provisions that help spur domestic production of natural gas and enhance our importation facilities to boost supplies, while reducing our nation's growing over-reliance on this one source of energy." Daniel Yergin, author of the 1991 book about the oil industry, The Prize, and founder of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, counseled that the fault was not with markets: "Rather it is the result of disappointing geological experience over the last few years plus restrictions on exploration, combined with a shift to new uses of gas that will certainly grow consumption" (Picerno, 2003). Spurring domestic production of gas will also subsidize oil drilling, and diversifying sources will entail more use of coal, so this energy bill does not quite entail the immediate end of Hydrocarbon Man.
Without a doubt, despite the talk of alternative fuels, the use of government to stimulate the exploration and discovery of new oil and gas fields is at the top of the agenda. Simmons believes that the reason oil reserves have fallen so far behind oil and gas consumption is that "we drill far less wells. We also stopped doing most genuine exploration." Higher oil prices are essential, since "The higher the cost, the more you can extend, recovering more and more of the harder and harder to get resources." Simmons funds the remaining wildcatters, handling an investment portfolio of approximately $56 billion, so he should know (Simmons, 2003a).
In fact the coalition that is pushing for a radical new energy policy is largely composed of those who stand to benefit from a revival, not a phase out, of oil and gas development. The intellectual and activist core of the coalition is made up of those veteran oil geologists and engineers who use the method of modeling the ratio of reserves to production developed by the maverick research geophysicist Marion King Hubbert, who died in 1989. He believed that the peak of production is reached when half of the estimated ultimately recoverable resource, determined by what has been discovered and logged cumulatively as actual reserves, has been pumped. In 1956 at the Shell Oil Lab in Houston, Hubbert startled his colleagues by predicting that the fossil fuel era would be over very quickly. He correctly predicted that US oil production would peak in the early 1970's.
In the 1970s Hubbert embraced solar power, saying "I'm convinced we have the technology to handle it right now. We could make the transition in a matter of decades if we begin now" (Hickerson, 1995). Although his thinking was definitely in the ecotopian tradition, he has often been mistaken for a cynical dystopian by those who swear by Hubbert as the prophet of the Great Malthusian Die Off (Hanson, 2003).
The dean of the older Hubbertians is Kenneth Deffeyes, Professor Emeritus at Princeton and author of Hubbert's Peak: the Impending World Oil Shortage (2001). Deffeyes, who worked with Hubbert in Houston for Shell Oil, says _I never came to identify with management." Convinced of Hubbert's theory, "I realized that a contracting oil industry was not a good career prospect," he says, "so I decided to get out and go into academia" (Guterl, 2002). Besides, he thinks that "crude oil is much too valuable to be burned as a fuel." (Dunn, 2002).
Support for a remedial program of oil exploration and development versus switching to research and development of alternative energy sources tends to be found among oil experts who are consultants to the industry. While accepting some of the values of the New Age, they largely remain loyal to their calling as oil geologists and wildcatters. The leading trio of Jean H. Laherrere, Colin J. Campbell, and L.F. (Buz) Ivanhoe have worked for, or with, the leading firm modeling oil fields, Petroconsultants of Geneva. Since the 1950s, they have been fed data on oil exploration and production by just about all the major oil companies, as well as by a network of about 2000 oil industry consultants around the world. They use this data to produce reports on various matters pertinent to the oil industry, which they sell back to the industry. "This much is known, Kenneth Deffeyes writes, "the loudest warnings about the predicted peak of world oil production came from Petroconsultants" (Deffeyes, 2001: p. 7).
In a late 1998 merger Petroconsultants became IHS Energy Group, a subsidiary of Information Handling Services Group (IHS Group), a diversified conglomerate owned by Holland America Investment Corp., IHS Group's immediate parent company, for the Thyssen-Bornemisza Group (TBG, Inc.). In the 1920s George Herbert Walker and his son-in- law, Prescott Bush, had helped the Thyssen dynasty finance its acquisitions through Union Banking Corp. and Holland-American Trading Corp. (Wikipedia, 2003). Until his death last year, Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, the nephew of the Nazi steel and coal magnate, was one of the world's richest men. Some of the old Hubbertians would probably flinch at such an association.
In 1995 a report by Campbell and Laherre on world oil resources, World Oil Supply 1930-2050 (Petroconsultants Pty. Ltd., 1995), written for oil industry insiders and priced at $32,000 per copy, concluded that world oil production and supply probably would peak as soon as the year 2000 and decline to half the peak level by 2025. Large and permanent increases in oil prices were predicted after the year 2000.
Alternatives to fossil fuels got a mixed review from the petroleum consultants gathered at the ASPO Meeting in Paris May 26-27, 2003, who maintained that hydrogen, solar, wind, and other alternative energy sources will not be able to fill the looming demand-supply gap that faces the planet (Baker, 2003).
Colin J. Campbell, the leader of the Neo-Hubbertians, is a petroleum geologist from Ballydehob, Ireland, and author of The Coming Oil Crisis (1997). He worked for Texaco as an exploration geologist and then at Amoco as chief geologist for Ecuador. He is a Trustee of the Oil Depletion Analysis Centre (ODAC) and the founder of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO), originally a network of 24 oil scientists. ASPO has Associate members like Halliburton and financial sponsors like Schlumberger, but Campbell is critical of the Bush-Cheney Administration for "collectively having personal investments of as much as $150 M in oil companies" (ASPO, 2002).
Campbell has laid out his prescription for various consumer governments, for example: "Germany should resist Green pressure to give up nuclear power at precisely the moment it needs more energy, as oil peaks and declines.
Germany has coal and possibilities for coalbed methane. This industry needs to be rediscovered. It may become economic again. Germany should encourage its motor manufacturers to move to more efficient engines and hydrogen fuels, especially those made by solar means. It should provide whatever fiscal incentives are needed." (Campbell, 2000).
Jean H. Laherrere is a petroleum consultant residing in Paris, France. Laherrere's early work on seismic refraction surveys contributed to the discovery of Africa's largest oil field. He retired in 1992 after 37 years with Total CFI and its subsidiaries in exploration activities in the Sahara, Australia, Canada and Paris. Since retiring from TOTAL, Laherrere has consulted worldwide on oil and gas potential and production as a Petroconsultants Associate, and he serves on boards of the Society of Petroleum Engineers/World Petroleum Congress.
Like Campbell, Laherrere sees a key role for nuclear energy in the coming transition, but he also envisions a new role for the petrol pump: "If new nuclear plants with high temperature reactors are widely used in the long-term future to supply electricity, they can also provide hydrogen in their off-peak time, which could be carbonised to supply synthetic oil. It could easily replace declining oil supply for transport without any change in the distribution" (Laherrere, 2003). The Big Five could thus survive the end of oil.
L. F. (Buz) Ivanhoe discovered oil for Occidental for 12 of his 50 years in oil exploration, and he continues to consult as president of Novum Corp., Ojai, California. He founded the M. King Hubbert Center for Petroleum Supply Studies at the Colorado School of Mines to study supply data. Ivanhoe is pessimistic about alternative energy sources: "Natural gas/methanol ... should not be counted on to quickly replace all or most of crude oil. Building gas pipelines takes decades. The other alternative fuels (solar, wind, geothermal, wood, waste) combined produce less than 1% of US electricity!" (Ivanhoe, 1997).
Walter Lewellyn Youngquist is a retired field geologist, and now a geological consultant who teaches at the University of Oregon in Eugene, and author of GeoDestinies: The Inevitable Control of Earth Resources over Nations and Individuals (1997). He concludes that "...coal and uranium are the only two alternative sources of energy which can be developed in large amounts, and provide a dependable base load in the reasonably near future" (Youngquist, 2000).
Matt Simmons has to sell whatever Bush-Cheney Energy Policy is projected in 2004, but he personally believes "There really aren't any good energy solutions for bridges, to buy some time, from oil and gas to the alternatives." Neither the ASPO geologists nor the USGS geologists will ever admit to the indeterminacy principle that Matthew Simmons shyly confessed: "It turns out that total energy resources, uh, is still a mystery" (Simmons, 2003b).
Over 200 organizations around the world launched a campaign against new oil exploration in December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan. As documented in the Rainforest Action Network and Project Underground report Drilling to the Ends of the Earth, ongoing exploration threatens old growth frontier forests in 22 countries, coral reefs in 38 countries, and mangroves in 46 countries. A Greenpeace technical analysis, based on the conclusions of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has found that only a quarter of global economic reserves of fossil fuels - coal, oil and gas - can be burned before dangerous rates of temperature increase and climate change occurs, to which many species of plants and animals will not be able to adapt (Greenpeace, 1998).
If the question becomes which cataclysm is the gravest threat, global warming or oil and gas shortages, the greens will go in one direction while most voters choose the path most traveled. In Milton's words, "Why is the greatest of free communities reduced to Hobson's choice?"
There is no reason for radical ecologists to join debates over the esoteric timetables for the decline of world oil production, which should be bracketed as irrelevant to the socio-political imperative of democratizing the economy and creating a new energy infrastructure that is based on post-capitalist norms of sustainability, sharing and community democracy. We must find ways of making the urgency of that transformation a motivation in people's lives and in their self-conscious anti-ideological politics. The dangers posed by global capitalism to human life and nature itself are all too real. We need to reject the posing of imminent danger as panic, as Chicken Little's alarm over the Falling Sky.
Association for the Study Of Peak Oil, Newsletter No 24 _ Dec. 2002. http://www.asponews.org/ASPO.newsletter.024.php
Baker, Roger (2003), Democracy and Social Scale. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/greensUSA/message/597
Campbell, Colin J. (1997), The Coming Oil Crisis, Petroconsultants, in association with Multi-Science Publishing Co. Ltd.
Campbell, Colin J. (2000), Peak Oil: Presentation at the Technical University of Clausthal, December 2000. http://www.hubbertpeak.com/de/lecture.html
Deffeyes, Kenneth (2001), Hubbert's Peak: The Impending World Oil
Shortage, Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.
Dunn, Seth (2002), Energy in an insecure world, World Watch, Mar/Apr 2002; Vol. 15, Iss. 2; pg. 33, 2 pgs.
Green Elephant of America (2001), America, it's time for a New Manhattan Project!, Fall 2001 http://www.rep.org/news/GEvol5/ge5.2_NewManhattanProject.html
Greenpeace (1998) Greenpeace Challenges New Oil Exploration to Prevent Dangerous Climate Change: Three Quarters of Fossil Fuel Reserves Must Stay in the Ground: Study 19 May 1998. http://archive.greenpeace.org/pressreleases/climate/1998may19.html
Guterl, Fred (2002), When wells go dry, Newsweek, Apr 15, 2002; Vol. 139, Iss. 15; pg. 32B, 3 pgs.
Hanson, Jay (2003), Die Off: A Population Crash Resource Page. http://www.peakoil.net/iwood2003/MatSim.html
Hickerson, Robert L. (1995), Hubbert's Prescription for Survival, A Steady State Economy, March 1, 1995. http://www.technocracyinc.org/webtv/articles/hubbert-econ.htm
Independent (2003), Reaping the whirlwind: Extreme weather prompts unprecedented global warming alert, Independent, 03 July 2003. http://news.independent.co.uk/world/environment/story.jsp?story=3D421166
Ivanhoe, L. F. (1997), Get Ready for Another Oil Shock! The Futurist, January/February, 1997. http://dieoff.org/page90.htm
Laherrère, Jean (2003), Future of oil supplies, Seminar Center of Energy Conversion, Zurich May 7 2003. http://www.oilcrisis.com/laherrere/zurich.pdf
Picerno, James (2003), A New Energy Crisis?, The Capital Spectator! Friday, June 27, 2003. http://www.caps.blogspot.com/
Ruppert, Michael (2003), From the Wilderness. http://www.fromthewilderness.com/about.html
Simmons, Matthew (2002) Depletion and U.S. Energy Policy, ASPO International Workshop on Oil Depletion; Uppsala, Swede, May 23, 2002. http://www.ietepa.org/opinions/simmons_po02.html
Simmons, Matthew E. (2003a), Revealing Statements from a Bush Insider about Peak Oil and Natural Gas Depletion http://www.peakoil.net/iwood2003/MatSim.html
Simmons, Matthew E. (2003b), Finding the Peak, EV World. http://www.evworld.com/databases/storybuilder.cfm?storyid=3D540
Swenson, Ron (1996), Sustainable Transportation for a World Beyond Oil. http://www.ecotopia.com/webpress/wre4/
Wikipedia Encyclopedia (2003), Prescott Bush. http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prescott_Sheldon_Bush
Youngquist, Walter Lewellyn (2000), Alternative Energy Sources. http://www.hubbertpeak.com/youngquist/altenergy.htm
Xsilent, XSilent's Collection of Philosophical Digressions http://www3.telus.net/arktos/xsilent/
Re: Palast Debunks "Peak Oil": Dave McGowan Was First, How About Some Credit.
March 24, 2004
The Debate Continues (by proxy)
I will say one thing for a lot of the Ruppertians out there: they have an amazing capacity to stand by their man. Many have written to defend Michael Ruppert's comments concerning population reduction. These respondents feel that I have "deliberately and despicably" misrepresented Ruppert's words and positions. In the process, I have "completely discredited" myself by displaying a "willingness to say anything to destroy the man."
Mr. Ruppert, these respondents insist, wasn't talking about anything more nefarious than a birth control program. One reader, for example, wrote that: "For all we know Ruppert simply envisions a condom vending machine in every public restroom." Another noted that there are no real solutions other than "pursuing a more aggressive birth control policy." Still another expressed hope that, "over time, a birth control policy could help solve this and other problems."
I fail to see, however, how Ruppert's comments can be interpreted in such a charitable manner. I think perhaps we need to go back and review the actual quote: "This would, scientifically speaking, include immediate steps to arrive at a crash program – agreed to by all nations and in accordance with the highest spiritual and ethical principles – to stop global population growth and to arrive at the best possible and most ethical program of population reduction as a painful choice made by all of humanity."
I would readily agree that Ruppert is advocating some form of birth control program, possibly a very aggressive one, when he speaks of the need to "stop global population growth." And if he had stopped there, then I would readily agree with my new critics. But Ruppert clearly did not stop there. To the contrary, he added that we also need to "arrive at the best possible and most ethical program of population reduction." These are clearly two separate ideas. Or am I to believe that what Ruppert is saying here is, "we need a birth control program, and we also need a birth control program"?
Ruppert also states that his proposed solution will require "a painful choice made by all of humanity." But since when has a birth control program represented such a painful choice? And Ruppert is not calling for a reduction of the population over time, as would be the best case scenario with a birth control program. No, he is advocating "immediate steps to arrive at a crash program." Again, I fail to see how that could possibly be interpreted as referring to a birth control program.
It is important to remember that Ruppert is proposing solutions to what he has presented as a deadly serious problem. On his website, he openly promotes the idea that 'Peak Oil' will mean the end of civilization as we know it, and could mean the extinction of the human race altogether. The message seems pretty clear to me: the situation that we find ourselves in is a dire one indeed, and dire situations require extreme solutions. A birth control program, needless to say, is not an extreme solution.
Luckily, there is an easy way to clear this up. There is only one person who can definitively interpret Ruppert's proposed solution, and that is Ruppert himself. He has claimed that he regularly shares this information with his lecture audiences. As fate would have it, Mr. Ruppert will be speaking to an audience this coming weekend, at the San Francisco 9-11 conference. He will, undoubtedly, be speaking primarily about 'Peak Oil.' Mr. Ruppert owes it to the audience to clarify exactly what solutions he is advocating.
It seems to me that, in the final analysis, what the 'Peak Oil' crowd is selling looks very much like what the Bush administration is selling: control of popular opinion through fear. The methodology and the goals (justifying endless war and openly fascistic domestic policies) appear to be the same. The only difference that I can see is that Team Bush sells the agenda through fear of phantom terrorists, while Team 'Peak Oil' sells it through fear of a phantom apocalypse just over the horizon.
Now it is time once again to let some 'Peak Oil' enthusiasts weigh in. Why? Because some of them are, if nothing else, rather amusing. And also because it is interesting to see how their arguments seem to be growing increasingly desperate. First up is researcher/writer Arlene Tyner, from Probe magazine, who sent in this charming missive:
Your diatribe against Mike Ruppert is a waste of my valuable time. I can't understand your .vitriol It appears infantile at times - an example of what V. Lenin once wrote about left sectarianism being a form of infantilism. We need unity today to defeat neofascism, not leftists attacking other leftists with diarrhea of the pen. People have enough trouble keeping up with our in-box to wade through piles and piles of demeaning rhetoric. I've read postings on From the Wilderness about Peak Oil and they make sense to me. Predictions that our oil-dependent society is in trouble can now be found on the front pages of the NY Times with the story about Shell Oil misrepresenting oil and gas stocks to its stockholders. This is the tip of the iceberg and Mike Ruppert et al are to be congratulated for being the first journalists to scoop this important story.
So please remove me from your newsletter list - don't have time to waste reading it.
Well, gee whiz Arlene, your valuable input will sure be missed around here. I have to say though that it seems odd that a researcher who has logged years in the trenches warning people not to trust what they read in the paper is now citing the front page of the New York Times as the definitive authority on the legitimacy of 'Peak Oil,' but - what the hell? - to each his (or her) own, I suppose.
Next up is this rather surreal exchange with journalist Kellia Ramares, who write in following the posting of Newsletter #55.
Ramares: I do not understand your comment about it becomes increasingly clear why the Ruppert crowd doesn't want anyone taking too close a look at the 'Peak Oil' story. I have read many of the articles written by Dale Allen Pfeiffer, FTW's contributing editor for energy. They have graphs and footnotes. I think that if anyone reads them they can get a close look at the Peak Oil story.
I think you confuse two questions that ought to be separate. A) Is Peak Oil real? B) How do we respond to it? Possible answers to B have to factor in Global Warming, War and Peace, The Dangers of Nuclear Power, The Ecological Problems Inherent in Drilling in Certain Places (e.g. Outer Continental Shelf), The Length of Time It will Take to Install Renewable Alternatives e.g. Solar and Wind, and Their Limitations.
You seem to have a problem with the idea of Peak Oil being announced to us by people who are or have been in the oil industry. While such people should be questioned as to how they get their data, such information not being transparent to the lay person, one must also ask whom you would prefer to give us information on an issue like Peak? Your favorite actor? A folksinger? Your barber? One would figure that if Peak is real, the petrogeologists would know and would be the ones to tell us..
You, with the help of Walt Contreras Sheasby, whose article you reposted, seem to be making a political argument that Peak Oil is a scare perpetrated by friends of the oil industry to get us to go along with bad suggestions such as drilling in ecologically sensitive areas, or worse yet, going to war to conquer the world's remaining oil.
But what is your basis IN SCIENCE for an argument that Peak Oil isn't real?
Me: If you hadn't dropped in in the middle of this, you would already know the answer to "what is your basis IN SCIENCE for an argument that Peak Oil isn't real?" Why don't you go back and read what I have written?
Ramares: Your newsletters are rather lengthy. Can you state in a paragraph or cite as references what scientifically disprove Peak without all the political editorializing you do? People need to know the science of this first; the politics come later.
Me: If you don't have the time to read one essay from an opposing point of view, then I can't help you. Funny though that you have endless hours to slog through all the "Peak" literature.
[The exchange at this point broke up into several threads.]
Ramares: I have read some of your work, and I see more politics than science. What jumps out at me is your contention that Peak is a scare tactic that is supposed to get people behind oil wars, nuclear power plants and other such noxious things. I see you attacking Ruppert, but that is just a "kill the messenger" tactic that doesn't explain the scientific basis for saying Peak isn't coming. I have heard about the Brou-ha-has that you and Ruppert have been having lately, and I certainly have no time for that.
Me: Seeing as how you have already read and commented on one of my 'Peak' postings, and have now sent me several e-mails, it seems to me that you have already made time for the "Brou-ha-has."
Ramares: I have received via several other parties a portion of the exchanges between you and Ruppert and what the two of you say to each other is what I call the Brou-ha-ha.
Me: Well, I guess that's one word for it. Ruppert set the tone, not me.
Ramares: I don't spend endless hours slogging through all the Peak literature. It doesn't take hours to read Pfeiffer's work. I did read Heinberg's book and Rifkin's on hydrogen because I had the opportunity to interview each of them for a KPFA book show called Cover to Cover. I've seen a few things on the Die-Off website, which is too cluttered to hold my interest. So I doubt I have read more than a very small fraction of it.
But this is really not about whether I have the time to read one essay, it's whether the people you hope to dissuade from Peak will have the time to read it. Can you briefly summarize or reference the science that disproves the coming peak, for the sake of those whom you think will be scared into supporting war and nuclear power because of the energy shortages Peak is supposed to bring us? Peak will not induce me to support such things.
Me: I will tell you, once again, that if you want to know what my arguments are against the 'Peak Oil' scare, then you know where my essay is posted. After you read it, I will be happy to do my best to answer any questions you may have. If you are as concerned about this issue as you claim, I think you can spare twenty minutes or so to read an opposing viewpoint.
Me: In one of your previous mailings, you asked why it makes a difference if the 'Peak' proponents have oil industry connections. Could you please explain to me why, if it makes no difference, Ruppert makes a point of stressing that the idea comes from academia, rather than the oil industry? If it isn't important, why lie about it?
Ramares: The Peak Oil proponents have both academic and industry connections. And what points Ruppert is making about where the idea comes from is irrelevant. What IS relevant is whether or not Peak Oil is real.
Me: I disagree. It is definitely relevant that he misrepresents where the idea is coming from. Why lie about something unimportant? I think the deception speaks directly to the issue of whether 'Peak Oil' is real. Why all the deception about the true origins of oil, and about who is behind the concept [of Peak Oil], and about the viability of alternative energy sources? There has to be a reason why the idea is being sold with so much deception.
[No further responses]
These 'Peak Oil' enthusiasts seem to be so damn busy preparing for armageddon that they don't have any time to spare to review any opposing points of view. So now I am supposed to debunk decades of conventional wisdom in one paragraph? And do it without coming off sounding like a complete loon? I'm not really sure I could pull that one off. Next up is a lengthy missive from Nicholas Levis, webmaster of the 9-11 skeptics site Osama's Kidneys, and one of the organizers, along with Ruppert, of the San Francisco event.
Hi, Dave, remember me?
I find your latest piece very interesting but I hate seeing this as a struggle between you and Ruppert (I have promoted your work and his, happily) or between the "real" critics of 9/11 and capitalism as opposed to the "false" ones.
In the hope of keeping this on a higher plane, I wish to point out that at least three separate questions are in play here. Perhaps this will clarify:
1. What is the origin of oil? For the same reasons you list, I always found fossil fuel theory suspicious, because it does not seem to account for the vast volume and intense concentration of oil deposits as compared to organic remains (only a tiny fraction of which would become oil), even over millions of years. Note, however, that an abiotic or mantle origin of oil, even if geologically recent, does not yet tell us anything about the rate at which oil is created (compared to the rate at which we consume it), or the accessibility of deep oil deposits (i.e., how much energy it would take to find such deposits and bring them up to the ground).
2. Regardless of origin, does oil deplete? You give an example of one curious field that obviously merits investigation to figure out where the "new" oil is coming from. However, there is no doubt that in nearly all known cases, oil fields and oil regions deplete. Without arguing over exact figures, the Hubbert curve describes what has actually happened in fields and regions over time: first there's easy oil, then it gets harder to get, finally it dries out (i.e., the remainder is too deep or locked into stone to be worth extracting in energetic terms).
Even if oil has an abiotic origin and is plentiful far below the surface, this does not mean that it replenishes what we can actually access (at a net energy gain) quickly enough to compensate for our consumption. Far as I can tell those arguing the abiotic origin side have not shown that the replenishment rate can compensate for the evident depletion of what we can actually access. There may be tech fixes in store, but you don't know that.
Recall that we have burned up more than half of all oil discovered to date within just 140 years, most of that just since the 50s. What good does it do us if the earth can replace that again even within such a short time as, oh, a few thousand years? (And more likely this would be a matter of millions of years).
3. Are we reaching the peak oil point (i.e. when extraction can no longer meet demand)?
3a. Do the oil companies themselves believe their stated scenario?
On #3, the current ratio of 9 barrels consumed for every 1 new barrel discovered, with consumption continuing to rise, and with the net energy gain lower (extraction now requires 10% of the oil energy extracted, whereas in the 1940s that was just 1%) implies indeed that we are approaching the peak oil point. As you know, this does not mean the oil runs out, just that it becomes an increasingly impractical and inefficient energy source.
On #3a, you assume automatically that the industry is going to lie about this, as they have lied about shortages in the past to create crises. However, they can still be evil murderous cartel bastards and yet actually believe their current scenario. Yes, shockingly, their scenario can still be true, even if they are the ones propagating it in the media! You don't seem to take that possibility into account. Furthermore, if they DO believe it (and the way these things work is that the majority of people pushing a given lie do convince themselves of it by way of group think) then this would be sufficient motive for them to act to physically seize the oil now. The motive is still there, even if it is based on false facts. (They always find a motive for the next war, as you know.)
I don't see the oil question as separate from the dollar question. The U.S. power, confronted with the crisis of its air-driven home economy and currency, looking ahead to the prospect of future global challengers, and seeing the immediate threat of an OPEC switch to the Euro, feels a need to seize the physical asset of ME oil and demonstrate its military power and will, as the last-resort means for backing the dollar and reminding the other powers who the boss is. The immediate point is more about demonstrating power than gaining fuel. (I call it putting the dollar on the Megaton Standard.)
I basically agree that a 9/11-type event to transform American society and the world would have been in the cards regardless of the oil situation. Ruppert overstates his case there. But there is no doubt that oil reserves are a guiding principle in determining the countries "we" most want to invade and dominate. Oil wealth is the key territorially-based source of economic and military power, and naturally offers itself as the theater of the wars that the capitalist/imperial/mil-industrial system is going to inevitably generate (for all the reasons that I expect we both agree on).
So while what you present is a powerful blow to fossil-fuel theory, it does not yet disprove the idea of oil depletion, or of perceived oil depletion as the motive for the present set of wars.
Might "they" be suppressing new technologies that make the oil question fairly irrelevant? Sure, but this still has to be established by demonstration of said technologies.
Given the importance of this moment (you may think it's hopeless but things can get much worse and we still have chances to actually shift how reality is perceived), can't you and Mike have your debate without the acrimony, the personal bile, the ego, or the not-so hidden insinuation (on your part more than his) that someone here must be acting out of suspicious motives?
You being so smart and all, you seem to forget that people often come to the wrong conclusions for reasons other than cunning or malevolence; some are simply wrong, but still honorable. You have an acrobatic ability to dance around the arguments of others, and that means it is all the more important that you also remember that you, yes you, can still be wrong. (I saw you use a couple of cheap rhetorical flourishes in an otherwise good piece; you have trouble avoiding argumentative overkill.) Please show a bit more humility, not necessarily in your writing style or in the humor which I very much appreciate.
Any chance you'll be in San Francisco for the conference?
Such correspondence seems to suggest a disturbing willingness by some to go to remarkable lengths to cling to the 'Peak Oil' theory. Taken together, what Ms. Ramares' and Mr. Levis' arguments reduce to, essentially, is: "Well, okay, we quite likely have been lied to for decades about oil being a non-renewable resource. And, sure, we have been deliberately misled about who is really promoting this whole notion of Peak Oil. And, yes, the story did largely originate with the same folks who told some real whoppers about 9-11, and Iraq, and lots of other things. And no, us peasants don't really have any way of independently verifying any of the oil industry's figures, so we really have no idea how much oil is out there. And, okay, I guess the notion of 'Peak Oil' could be seen as playing into the Bush administration's hands. But even so, shouldn't we assume that 'Peak Oil' is real? And even if it isn't real, isn't it possible that the oil industry has hypnotized itself into thinking that it is real, so shouldn't we therefore act as though it is real, even if it isn't? And even if the whole thing turns out to be a load of manure, isn't it likely that the people selling it were doing so with good intent?"
I guess I just view the world a little differently, because the first question that comes to my mind is: why in the world would anyone conclude that we are not being lied to? Clearly there is a reason for the deception. Why have we long been taught that oil is a 'fossil fuel' if it is not? That is not some random lie dreamed up by a couple Skull & Bones brothers after one too many hits off the opium pipe: "Dude, I bet you I can get everyone in the country to believe that oil came from dinosaurs." "No fucking way, bro! You're on."
By the way, if I may briefly digress here, I got this note from 'across the pond,' as it were, courtesy of reader Nick: "How strange. What a difference a Pacific Ocean makes. Diagonally opposite we were told not that oil was made from disintegrated dinosaurs but that it trapped and preserved them, particularly at open seepage areas like La Brea, whenever they ambled west to view the Hollywood sign en route to visit cousinlet Mickey in Orange County. Nobody told us where the oil came from, except there were occasional rumours of amoeba rotting down in a kind of mass compost heap here and there."
So in England, if I understand this correctly, they believe that the oil actually came before the dinosaurs, and was just kind of sitting there waiting to trap them. Say what?! What the hell is the matter with you people over there?! You're actually buying that story? Get with the program, guys! At least over here in America we have a theory that actually makes sen .... uhhh, anyway, what was I saying?
Oh yes, I remember now. The deception surrounding the origins of oil is not random; rather, it serves a very specific purpose -- creating the impression that oil is a non-renewable, and therefore inherently scarce, resource. So if we are to acknowledge that we have been misled about oil being a non-renewable resource, why would we automatically assume that it is nevertheless still scarce?
Many have suggested that to prove 'Peak Oil' isn't real, it must be proven that replenishment rates exceed consumption rates. But how could this possibly be proven? How is it possible to ascertain the rate at which oil is generated and replenished when the only hard data comes from an industry that doesn't acknowledge that oil is generated at all?
All of the figures thrown around in the debate over 'Peak Oil' come from the petroleum industry. And all of those figures are based on the notion of oil as a static resource. Why is that? How do those figures have any credibility? How, for that matter, does the oil industry itself have any credibility? Aren't these the same folks, after all, who have worked hand-in-hand with the CIA for decades to destabilize foreign governments, commit egregious human rights violations, and brutally rape the environment? Or is that a different oil industry?
The one I am thinking of was created by a guy by the name of Rockefeller, I believe. A pretty powerful fellow, from what I hear, with a little bit of money to throw around and some friends in high places. He basically created the petroleum industry, and he held monopoly control of it for a pretty fair amount of time, according to legend. I mention that because it occurs to me that if you were to compose a list of people who might be powerful enough to create an entire global industry based on a fiction, the name Rockefeller would probably be very near the top of that list.
The petroleum industry is now, as it has always been, essentially an enormous, global criminal enterprise. Mr. Levis has acknowledged that that industry of "evil murderous cartel bastards" has "lied about shortages in the past to create crises." And yet now, when the stakes are considerably higher, he seems to suggest that we should accept the industry's pronouncements as the truth. I find such a stance difficult to understand.
How do we know that oil fields always, or usually, follow Hubbert's depletion curves? Don't we really only 'know' that in the same sense that we 'know' that oil was produced only during the Jurassic period by mysterious piles of compressed organic matter? And how do we know that known reserves are running as dangerously low as the industry claims?
Some readers have written to ask, "but what about all the dry oil wells capped off all across this country?" A couple of other readers, however, have written to say that those wells aren't necessarily dry. Many of those wells, a reader claimed, were active wells that were capped off to deliberately assist in the creation of the illusion of shortage, especially in the 1960s and 1970s.
I have no idea, at this time, whether such claims have any validity. But even if such claims are not valid, there is still the question of the possible replenishment of abandoned fields. The question then becomes: do we, in fact, have oil reserves sitting dormant right here at home?
I cannot answer that question, but I did find very interesting some comments made by Dr. K.K. Bissada, a geochemist for Texaco. Returning to the 1995 New York Times article, Bissada was quoted as follows: "It's impossible to put a number on the rate at which this goes on, but I could imagine that this kind of stacked reservoir system, with favorable geographic plumbing between the reservoirs, might refill the upper reservoirs in, say, 10 or 20 years. If we were to go back to some oil field that had been abandoned 50 years ago, we might drill a test well, and we might find fresh oil. The trouble is that that kind of experiment is too expensive in the present economic climate."
(Malcolm W. Browne "Geochemist Says Oil Fields May Be Refilled Naturally," New York Times, September 26, 1995)
It seems to me that it would not be necessary, in many cases, to drill new wells, but merely to uncap existing wells. And how could that not be a more cost-effective strategy than exploring for new sources of oil? Isn't that kind of like saying that it would be easier for me to dig a new hole in my backyard to toss the dogshit in than it is to simply lift the lid on the one that is already there? How does that make any sense?
Bissada said, in 1995, that it was "too expensive in the present economic climate." But how about now, in a climate of "Holy shit! We're all going to die!"? Is it still too expensive? Is it really conceivable that, if the situation were as dire as it has been presented as being, we wouldn't have taken such rudimentary measures as checking for the replenishment of abandoned wells?
But if there is considerably more available oil than we have been led to believe, then why, as many respondents have asked, do so many U.S. military ventures seem to revolve around oil? Reader Richard, as it happens, has a compelling answer to that question: "I think you should know about 'Resource Denial Theory.' It's a sub-section of Geopolitical Theory, so beloved of the Bushite and Zbigniew Brzezinski crowds, and states you must take control of areas where strategic resources are located - like oil - and prevent rivals from entering. Your power derives from the control of these resources."
In other words, it's not about seizing the resources that we need to survive; it's about denying our 'enemies' the resources that they need to survive. And that, to me, seems a more reasonable explanation for what we are witnessing than the one being marketed by the 'Peak Oil' crowd..
Finally, we have reader Jim, who observed that: "This also explains the obvious inconsistency that petroleum corporations are investing so little into alternative energy, even as the 'peak oil' story hits the mainstream press." There are, to be sure, a number of questions raised by that seeming contradiction, as there are by Mr. Ruppert's contention that the oil industry is cutting back on exploration and new drilling.
We are hearing doomsday predictions of the demise of man. Human civilization as we know it is in its final hours. And we have, apparently, simply thrown up our hands in despair. Why bother looking for new sources of petroleum? Why bother double checking old sources of petroleum? Why bother giving any consideration to any alternative sources of energy? Why bother doing anything at all?
Clearly, there is something very, very wrong with this picture.
[Check here for details about an AAPG sponsored conference on the origins of petroleum to be held this July in Vienna, Austria: http://www.aapg.org/education/hedberg/vienna/index.html]
Re: Palast Debunks "Peak Oil": Dave McGowan Was First, How About Some Credit.
April 13, 2004
Oil News Briefs
From "The Global Energy Outlook for the 21st Century," a lecture delivered on May 21, 2003 by Peter R. Odell, Professor Emeritus at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, where he was the Director of the Center for International Energy Studies:
Finally, a word of caution on the essential fragility of a study on the very long-term future for the world's energy supply which accepts without question the validity of the original 18th century hypothesis that all oil and gas resources have been generated from biological matter in the chemical and thermodynamic environments of the earth's crust. There is an alternative theory - already 50 years old - which suggests an inorganic origin for additional oil and gas. This alternative view is widely accepted in the countries of the former Soviet Union where, it is claimed, "large volumes of hydrocarbons are being produced from the pre-Cambrian crystalline basement". Recent applications of the inorganic theory have, however, also led to claims for the possibility of the Middle East fields being able to produce oil "forever" and to the concept of repleting oil and gas fields in the gulf of Mexico. More generally, it is argued, "all giant fields are most logically explained by inorganic theory because simple calculations of potential hydrocarbon contents in sediments shows that organic materials are too few to supply the volumes of petroleum involved."
The significance of the alternative theory of the origin of additional oil and gas potential is self evident for the issue of the longevity of hydrocarbons' production potential and production costs in the 21st century. Instead of having to consider a stock reserve already accumulated in a finite number of so-called oil and gas plays, the possibility emerges of evaluating hydrocarbons as essentially renewable resources in the context of whatever demand developments may emerge. If fields do replete because the oil and gas extracted from them is abyssal and abiotic (based on chemical reactions under specific thermodynamic conditions deep in the earth's mantle), then extraction costs should not rise as production from such fields continues for an indefinite period. Neither do estimates of reserves, reserves-to-production ratios and annual rates of discovery and additions to reserves have any of the importance correctly attributed to them in evaluating the future supply prospects under the organic theory of oil and gas' derivation. In essence, the "ball park" in which consideration of the issues relating to the future of oil and gas has hitherto been made would no longer remain relevant.
From "The New Pessimism about Petroleum Resources: Debunking the Hubbert Model (and Hubbert Modelers)," by Michael C. Lynch, president of Strategic Energy and Economic Research, Inc. and research affiliate at the Center for International Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology:
Recently, numerous publications have appeared warning that oil production is near an unavoidable, geologically-determined peak that could have consequences up to and including "war, starvation, economic recession, possibly even the extinction of homo sapiens" (Campbell in Ruppert). The current series of alarmist articles could be said to be merely reincarnations of earlier work which proved fallacious, but the authors insist that they have made significant advances in their analyses, overcoming earlier errors. For a number of reasons, this work has been nearly impenetrable to many observers, which seems to have lent it an added cachet. However, careful examination of the data and methods, as well as extensive perusal of the writings, suggests that the opacity of the work is - at best - obscuring the inconclusive nature of their research.
Some of the arguments about resource scarcity resemble those made in the 1970s. They have noted that discoveries are low (as did Wilson (1977) and that estimates of ultimately recoverable resources (URR) are in the range of 2 trillion barrels, approximately twice production to date. But beyond that, Campbell and Leherrere in particular claim that they have developed accurate estimates of URR, and thus, this time the wolf is really here. But careful examination of their work reveals instead a pattern of errors and mistaken assumptions presented as conclusive research results.
The Hubbert Curve
The initial theory behind what is now known as the Hubbert curve was very simplistic. Hubbert was simply trying to estimate approximate resource levels, and for the lower-48 US, he thought a bell-curve would be the most appropriate form. It was only later that the Hubbert curve came to be seen as explanatory in and of itself, that is, geology requires that production should follow such a curve [editor's note: if, that is, petroleum is organic in origin]. Indeed, for many years, Hubbert himself published no equations for deriving the curve, and it appears that he only used a rough estimation initially. In his 1956 paper, in fact, he noted that production often did not follow a bell curve. In later years, however, he seems to have accepted the curve as explanatory.
Revival of the Hubbert Method
The recent authors, notably Campbell and Leherrere have apparently rediscovered the Hubbert curve, but without understanding it, at least initially. Campbell and Leherrere initially argued that production should follow a bell curve, at least in an unconstrained province. But this is demonstrably not the case in practice: most nations' production does not follow a Hubbert curve. In fact, Campbell (2003) shows production curves (historical and forecast) for 51 non-OPEC countries, and only 8 of them could be said to resemble a Hubbert curve even approximately.
The authors initially responded to this weakness by arguing the Hubbert curve could have multiple peaks, which of course means it would not follow a bell curve at all, and destroys the explanatory value of the bell curve. As the alleged value of the Hubbert curve lies partly in demonstrating the production decline post-peak, not knowing whether any given peak is the final one renders this useless, nor would the peak imply that midpoint production had been reached (indicating URR).
Recognizing this, the theory has been modified again, to "The important message from Hubbert's work, which is often forgotten by economists, is that oil has to be found before it can be produced." (Laherrere 2001b, p.4) In other words, the Hubbert curve, originally held as scientific and inviolable, is of no particular value. Yet the authors have not only mistakenly believed in its properties, they have not been forthcoming about their own errors.
Opaque Work, Unproven Assertions
The lack of rigor in many of the Hubbert modelers' arguments makes them hard to refute. The huge amount of writing, along with undocumented quotes and vague remarks, necessitates exhaustive review and response ...
Perhaps because they are not academics, the primary authors have a tendency to publish results but not research. In fact, by relying heavily on a proprietary database, Campbell and Leherrere have generated a strong shield against criticism of their work, making it nearly impossible to reproduce or check. Similarly, there is little or no research published, merely the assertion that the results are good.
[much more at: http://www.energyseer.com/NewPessimism.pdf]
From James Bernstein's "Oil Giants Taking Heat," Newsday, March 31, 2004:
Worried about a downward slide in oil prices later this year, OPEC is expected today to announce a cut in production, which will likely result in higher pump prices. But consumer groups are charging that big oil companies are largely responsible for the current upward spiral in gasoline costs, saying they have deliberately withheld supplies and reduced storage capacity.
But in the United States, consumer groups say the blame for higher pump prices lies not so much with OPEC as with the huge oil companies. Public Citizen, a Washington, D.C.-based watchdog organization, is preparing to release a report later this week charging that the oil industry deliberately consolidated in the 1990s so that it could withhold supplies and reduce storage capacity.
The Consumer Federation of America said in a recent report that in the past 15 years, more than 70 refineries in the United States were closed. Additionally, its report said, the nation's storage facilities were reduced by nearly 15 percent. Mark Cooper, the organization's research director, said an updated report is expected soon.
"The problem is not crude oil," Cooper said. "It's inadequate refinery capacity and inadequate stockpiles, all of which are the result of decisions made by the oil companies to tighten the market."
From "Mergers, Manipulation and Mirages: How Oil Companies Keep Gasoline Prices High, and Why the Energy Bill Doesn't Help" (March 2004), the Public Citizen report referenced in the Newsday article:
The United States has allowed multiple large, vertically integrated oil companies to merge over the last five years, placing control of the market in too few hands. The result: uncompetitive domestic gasoline markets. Large oil companies can more easily control domestic gasoline prices by exploiting their ever-greater market share, keeping prices artificially high long enough to rake in easy profits but not so long that consumers reduce their dependence on oil ...
The largest five companies operating in the United States (ExxonMobil, Chevron Texaco, ConocoPhillips, BP and Royal Dutch Shell) now control:
* 14.2% of global oil production (nearly as much as the entire Middle East members of the OPEC cartel).
* 48% of domestic oil production (which is significant given the fact that the U.S. is the 3rd largest oil producer in the world).
* 50.3% of domestic refinery capacity.
* 61.8% of the retail gas market.
* These same five companies also control 21.3% of domestic natural gas production.
It is therefore little wonder why these top companies enjoyed after-tax profits of $60 billion in 2003 alone.
These figures are in stark contrast to just a decade ago, when the top five oil companies controlled only:
* 7.7% of global crude oil production.
* 33.7% of domestic crude production
* 33.4% of domestic refinery capacity.
* 27% of the retail market.
* In addition, in 1993, the top five U.S. companies controlled only 12.7% of domestic natural gas production.
The major difference between 1993 and 2003 is that the largest oil companies have merged with one another, creating just a handful of oil monopolies that control significant chunks of the American oil and gas markets. Armed with significant market share, companies can more easily pursue uncompetitive activities that result in price-gouging ...
Gasoline prices are rising because of uncompetitive actions by this handful of new mega-companies, not because of environmental regulations ...
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) concluded in March 2001 that oil companies had intentionally withheld supplies of gasoline from the market as a tactic to drive up prices -- all as a "profit-maximizing strategy." These actions, while costing consumers billions of dollars in overcharges, have not been investigated by the U.S. government.
... Since 2001, President Bush has been removing more than 100,000 barrels of oil a day from the market to stock the SPR [Strategic Petroleum Reserve], filling it by more than 100 million barrels since he's been in office to over 640 million barrels -- well more than 90% capacity. President Bush's actions, while providing more than enough protection against external supply shocks, severely strains domestic supplies for the market.
Companies have exploited [their] strong market position to intentionally restrict refining capacity by driving smaller, independent refiners out of business. A congressional investigation uncovered internal memos written by the major oil companies operating in the U.S. discussing their successful strategies to maximize profits by forcing independent refiners out of business, resulting in tighter refinery capacity. From 1995-2002, 97% of the more than 920,000 barrels of oil per day capacity that have been shut down were owned and operated by smaller, independent refiners.
If these allegations of price gouging sound too conspiratorial for some to accept, examples in related industries demonstrate that price-fixing, collusion and price-gouging are regular occurrences in today's economy, as large corporations routinely abuse their market power to engage in anti-competitive behavior.
Contracts representing hundreds of millions of barrels of oil are traded every day on the London, New York and other energy trading exchanges. An increased share of this trading, however, has been moved off regulated exchanges such as the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) and into unregulated Over-the-Counter (OTC) exchanges. Traders operating on exchanges like NYMEX are required to disclose significant detail of their trades to federal regulators. But traders in OTC exchanges are not required to disclose such information allowing companies like Enron, ExxonMobil, and Goldman Sachs to escape federal oversight and more easily engage in manipulation strategies.
The growth of these OTC exchanges exploded in 2000 when Congress passed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act. The Act, among other things, punched a large loophole in government of energy trading by greatly expanding the ability of traders to operate in unregulated over-the-counter exchanges. These OTC markets do not feature the tighter regulation that typically applies to traders engaged in regulated exchanges, such as the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). Since this deregulation law took effect, the industry - led by Enron - has been plagued by dozens of high-profile scandals attributed to the lack of adequate regulatory oversight over traders' operations. Free from government transparency regulations, energy traders have demonstrated an ability to manipulate prices more easily.
The fuel economy average for passenger vehicles in the U.S. peaked in 1988. Due to the changing mix of vehicles on the road and the absence of meaningful government action, the average is currently lower today than it was a decade ago. This fuel economy is stagnating because no new significant car or truck fuel economy standards have taken effect for 15 years, and SUVs and pickups are subject to lower standards than regular autos.
[full report: http://www.citizen.org/documents/oilmergers.pdf]
From a press release for the Consumer Federation of America report (July 2001) referenced in the Newsday Article:
Gas price increases are not mainly the result of any change in crude oil prices. Instead, they have been caused principally by growing industry concentration that has allowed refiners and marketers to reduce refining and storage capacity and withhold supplies in individual markets. Between 1994 and 1999:
* Over ten percent of the nation's refineries and branded gasoline stations were closed. In the past 15 years, more than 70 refineries were closed.
* The nation's petroleum storage facilities were reduced by nearly fifteen percent.
* The industry systematically lowered stocks on hand to the point where only a one or two-day supply above minimum levels was available to keep the country's gasoline distribution running (compared to a supply of a bout a week in the 1980s)
This consolidation and concentration has been permitted by mergers that allowed the industry to manipulate prices. By standards of the Reagan Administration's Justice Department, four-fifths of the national refinery and gasoline markets now are considered to be dangerously concentrated.
"A concentrated, vertically integrated industry has responded slowly to price shocks and has even acted to keep supplies off the market," noted Cooper. "While the industry complains that clean air standards requiring different additives in different markets restrict region-to-region flows of gasoline, these requirements actually give individual suppliers greater market power, aggravating the concentration problem," added Cooper.
Over the past two years, the refiner/marketer share of the pump price has more than doubled, escalating industry profits. Compared to 1999, in 2000 net income from refining and marketing doubled. In the first quarter of 2001, profits increased by nearly 75 percent.
[full report: http://www.consumerfed.org/gaspricespiral.pdf]
Lastly, these interesting comments from some correspondence by the late Colonel L. Fletcher Prouty:
Oil is often called a 'fossil' fuel; the idea being that it comes from formerly living organisms. This may have been plausible back when oil wells were drilled into the fossil layers of the earth's crust; but today, great quantities of oil are found in deeper wells that are found below the level of any fossils. How could then oil have come from fossils, or decomposed former living matter, if it exists in rock formations far below layers of fossils - the evidence of formerly living organisms? It must not come from living matter at all!
This response is for Daniel E. Reynolds, 29 July 1996 on the subject of "Oil - A renewable and abiotic Fuel?"
Dan, your use of the word "abiotic" is good. As a non-fossil fuel, petroleum has no living antecedent. It contains chemical elements found in living matter; but it is not "formerly living matter." There has not been enough true "formerly living matter" through all of creation to account for the volume of petroleum that has been consumed to date.
My background in this subject goes back to 1943. I was the pilot who flew a U.S. Geological Survey Team from Casablanca to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. We met the Cal. Standard Oil team holding down that lease. Then we went back to Cairo to meet President Roosevelt during the Nov. 1943 "Cairo Conference" with Churchill and Chiang Kai Shek. FDR ordered the immediate construction of an oil refinery there for WW II use. This led to ARAMCO.
During the "Energy Crisis" of the 1970's I was detailed to represent the U.S. Railroad industry as a member of the "Federal Staff Energy Seminar" program started by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, sponsored by Georgetown University. That began in Jan 1974 and continued for four years. It was designed to discuss "the working of the United States national energy system, and new horizons of energy research." Among the regular attendees were such men as Henry Kissinger and James Schlesinger...most valuable meetings.
During one meeting we took a "Buffet Break" and I was seated with Arthur Kantrowitz of the AVCO Company..."Kantrowitz Labs" near Boston. At the table with us were four young geologists busily talking about Petroleum. At one point one of them made reference to "Petroleum as organic matter, and a fossil fuel." Right out of the Rockefeller bible.
Kantrowitz turned to the geologist beside him and asked, "Do you really believe that petroleum is a fossil fuel?" The man said, "Certainly" and all four of them joined in. Kantrowitz listened quietly and then said, "The deepest fossil ever found has been at about 16,000 feet below sea level; yet we are getting oil from wells drilled to 30,000 and more. How could fossil fuel get down there? If it was once living matter, it had to be on the surface. If it did turn into petroleum, at or near the surface, how could it ever get to such depths? What is heavier Oil or Water?" Water: so it would go down, not oil. Oil would be on top, if it were "organic" and "lighter."
"Oil is neither."
They all agreed water was heavier, and therefore if there was some crack or other open area for this "Organic matter" to go deep into the magma of Earth, water would have to go first and oil would be left nearer the surface. This is reasonable. Even if we do agree that "magma" is a "crude mixture of minerals or organic matters, in a thin pasty state" this does not make it petroleum, and if it were petroleum it would have stayed near the surface as heavier items, i.e. water seeped below.
My D. Van Nostrand "Scientific Encyclopedia" says "Magma is the term for molten material. A natural, complex, liquid, high temperature, silicate solution ancestral to all igneous rocks, both intrusive and effusive. The origin of Magma is not known." My "Oxford English Dictionary" does not even have the word "Magma."
Some years ago I wrote two or three pages that appeared in the McGraw Hill Yearbook of Science and Technology, i.e. "Railroad Engineering." Even that source is a bit uncertain about the "origin of petroleum" to wit:
"Less than 1% of the organic matter that originates in or is transported to the marine environment is eventually incorporated into ocean sediment," and
"Most petroleum is formed during catagenesis (undefined anywhere). If sufficient organic matter is present oceanic sediments that undergo this process are potential petroleum sources. Deeply buried marine organic matter yields mainly oil, whereas land plant material yields mainly gas." (Their idea of "deeply buried" is the "out.")
All this leaves us no where. I still go with Kantrowitz. Since oil is lighter than water, everywhere on Earth, there is no way that petroleum could be an organic, fossil fuel that is created on or near the surface, and penetrate Earth ahead of water. Oil must originate far below and gradually work its way up into well-depth areas accessable to surface drilling. It comes from far below. Therefore, petroleum is not a "Fossil" fuel with a surface or near surface origin.
It was made to be thought a "Fossil" fuel by the Nineteenth [sic] oil producers to create the concept that it was of limited supply and therefore extremely valuable. This fits with the "Depletion" allowance philosophical scam.
During one of our C.S.I.S. "International Nights" (1978) the Common Market Energy boss, M. Montibrial of France, told us that while petroleum was being marketed then for $20.00 per barrel or more, it cost no more than 25 cents per barrel at the well-head. There is our petroleum problem! We were paying more than $1.50-$1.60 per gallon, one 42nd of a barrel, at that time. Interested folks need to learn more about the Chartered Institute of Transport, and not waste their time with OPEC, the "Cover" story.
Those who pumped the Pennsylvania wells "dry" during the late eighteen hundreds saved what they had for those better days.
L. Fletcher Prouty