June 02, 2004
Chicken Little and the Oil Crisis

Welcome to The Peak Oil Theory, the latest in a very, very long line of predictions that the world is in imminent danger of running out of oil. It all reads as very rational and very, very worrying:

Peak Oil marks the transition to the downward curve, where oil and gas become much more expensive to produce and demand hugely outstrips production. When energy supply falls beneath demand in around 2006 we will encounter an unavoidable crisis [...] The result? The economy will collapse.

Of course, the only real problem with this theory is that it's crap. Complete and utter crap. It's not that oil isn't abundant, it's just easier to get at it in some places compared to others. They're mistaking a momentary and artificial market spike for Ragnarok. When the oil finally does run out, it won't rush out in a whoosh that sucks the world down with it. It'll instead simper out in a trickle we'll barely notice at all.

First, regarding supply, let's take a moment to examine the Canadian oil sands:

Estimates of Canadaís oil reserves jumped from 4.9 billion barrels to 180 billion [in 2003], making the country the second-largest oil reserve in the world, according to an annual survey conducted by the Oil and Gas Journal.

Furthermore, pumping oil isn't like draining a bathtub. The taps won't all suddenly go dry, and certainly not all at once all over the world. Instead, world supplies will gradually decrease, gradually increasing prices. While there will certainly be some wailing and gnashing of teeth, in free market societies there will also be a great deal of innovation taking place.

There's no impetus to get serious about alternative fuels right now because there's no money in it; petroleum-based fuels are simply too good and too cheap. But when oil prices hit $55 a barrel, it'll send the alternative fuel industry into a growth spurt that'll make the tech boom of the 90s look like a baby fart in a bathtub.

And then something amazing will happen. Once things like this start attracting real money and real innovation, economies of scale will start to kick in. It will get cheaper, and then cheaper still. And it won't be an economic disaster, because the high price of oil will have finally made exploring alternative energy sources profitable. People will be making money off this new stuff, eventually more than was ever made from oil.

Except for the oil producing states, of course. For them very high oil prices are a short term boon that courts long term apocalypse.

This has already happened once to OPEC, in the 1970s. Then, an artificial shortage was created by Arabs who were pissed off because they thought it was the West that was keeping them from squishing Israel like a bug in a yarmulke*. Oil prices skyrocketed, and there were even outright shortages. Arabs got rich, and economies went into a tailspin. Pseudo-academics made millions on the talking-head-circuit telling us all now the taps will run dry.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Armageddon. Oil got really expensive, so consumers stopped using it. The money you'd save buying a little fuel-efficient Japanese car was suddenly large enough (in a short enough time) to make up for the difference in comfort you got from a big hulking American sedan. High utility costs meant you made up the difference between an expensive efficient air conditioner and a cheap wasteful one in a matter of months instead of years. Recycling became a profitable practice because it was a lot cheaper to wash a bottle and reuse it than to throw it away and buy a new one. In short, people just sorted it out and got used to it.

This was a complete disaster for OPEC. Demand started to fall, and so the price of oil did as well. Further cuts just made it worse. In 1979 oil prices were so high (the real record, once adjusted for inflation) that oil wells in Arkansas started making money again. Plucky Scandinavians finally had a reason to brave the shittiest weather in the world and started tapping gigantic oil deposits of their own. Not only was the West not using oil like it did before, it was buying it from the wrong people.

OPEC imploded, collapsing in a crisis of leadership that took twenty years to sort out. The taps gushed oil into a market that simply didn't need all that much anymore, and prices went into free fall. The pundits who predicted we'd never ever ever see gasoline prices under $1.00 per gallon in the US were suddenly filling their tanks up with stuff costing .69 cents per gallon.

Of course, the pendulum then began to swing in the other direction, but it took two decades to even come close to equilibrium. In the meantime oil-producing countries suffered an entire generation of instability and revolution, and the West, now with booming, efficient, cheaply-fueled economies, decided to let them.

Finally they got it all back under control, around 1999. This time there would be no politics. Prices would be set at $28 per barrel come hell or high water. Western governments would squeak as prices increased 30% or so, but at that point OPEC countries were desperate and didn't really care.

The problem, of course, was there really was no way to completely exclude politics. Western countries, the US in particular, are insufferably arrogant (being rich, powerful, and right most of the time will do that to you), and there's nothing quite like the thrill of jiggering with their economies by twiddling with the taps.

The first real bumps in the road came from South America, when Venezuela's attempts to sustain old-fashioned cronyism while simultaneously trying to build a free market economy came unglued in 2000. Nothing will win you elections faster than slapping around the gringos from "el Norte", and sometimes if you don't do it your unions will do it for you. Up went the prices.

But the wheels didn't really fall off until 2003. At that point the Saudis, who'd had enough of being called the Wal Mart Supercenter of terrorism (the truth hurts when you don't want to hear it) decided taking the US down a peg or two might be good for it. Don't want them thinking they can build a liberal democracy on our doorstep without consequences, you see. So they allowed OPEC to close the taps just a bit, right when demand would be at its highest.

What everyone seems to have ignored is that the US isn't the only 800-pound oil swilling gorilla in the world anymore. China and India have gigantic oil requirements of their own, and their consumption is going up, not down. Mix in Osama and his Merry Band of Detonating Dervishes and suddenly it's 1979 all over again.

OPEC seems to understand they've badly miscalculated, and are taking steps to correct the problem. Who knows, if they do it fast enough it might actually work. They better hope it does, because the sad truth is OPEC needs the West a lot more than the West needs OPEC.

But to use short-term market miscalculations to support a theory predicting economic Armageddon is like using a burned out light bulb as evidence that you're going blind. Thinking we're all going to drive our SUVs until the taps run flat dry ignores the fact that people will change if they have the proper motivation.

Of course, tenured professors the world over have been trying to reason away human nature for five thousand years. Why should they stop now?

* Because you know it simply could not be that a free and democratic society full of Jews could defeat the flower of Islamic military culture. The horror!

Posted by scott at June 02, 2004 03:47 PM

eMail this entry!

I certainly hope you are right. In the meantime I just paid $25.00 to fill up my little Chrysler and it is not a big ole honker gas guzzler.It is six years old and only has 47,000 miles on it so I am not part of the problem am I?

Posted by: Pat on June 2, 2004 04:55 PM

I'm just walking more. It's good for me. And bad for OPEC. :)

Posted by: Kathy K on June 2, 2004 09:20 PM

I think you make a number of errors your post that undermine your thesis that the idea of peak oil is crap.

First peak oil was accurately predicted in the US almost to the month in the 50ís to occur in late 1970 by M. King Hubert and they all said essentially the same things about him at the time that you said in your post, I happened in February of 1971. So to call this a crack pot theory is disingenuous. It was this event that gave pricing power to the Saudiís.

Second, while there are people predicting Armageddon the fact is that forces will easily combine to severe economic dislocation. You state that oil supplies will be reduced gradually, and most petroleum geologists would disagree with you, but the big mistake you make is that the danger is in running out of oil, which is not the issue; the issue is running out of the cheap oil that our economy depends on. It is also an issue of bandwidth, the ability to produce the oil, while the oil will not run out, older wells productivity declines at an accelerated rate, so a field that could produce 1 million barrels per day at with 50 % of itís reserves left, can only produce 800K barrels at 40% and only 500k at 35%.

That is what is missing from the ďeconomistís perspectiveĒ. Right now oil companies re not investing in the face of rising oil prices because they have to wait until prices stabilize at the higher rates, and there could well be another oil glut before peak oil hits because production will be at historical highs at the peak 50% mark. Then supply and demand will start going on opposite directions but it will be too late. The investment that will be made will not be enough to keep up with demand and the alternatives will not be developed fast enough. The lead time for developing a new field is 5 years and longer if the oil source in underwater or of a low grad like sand tars.

You make the assertion that higher energy prices will simply spur development of alternatives, and they will but you are simply guessing, because you donít really know, that this will all take place in a smooth progression and offer no real evidence that sufficient replacements are even on the drawing board. Oil fuels 95% of our transportation needs and effects the cost of everything we do and also is a huge part of GDP productivity gains. Sure we could used trains to move goods but we lose the ďjust in timeí productivity increases we gained using trucks which took years to develop.

Your opinion on this subject is as common throughout the Blogosphere as it is dead wrong. If you would line some information I would be happy to send it to you but Iím tired of posting things that no one bothers to read because it runs counter to their basis.
If your serious send an e-Mail (remove the (nospam)).

Posted by: Rick DeMent on June 3, 2004 09:16 AM

Ah. Difficult when pet theories are attacked, isn't it? Ok, been awhile... let's play...

  • What, exactly was predicted? What, exactly were the consequences Mr. Hubert posited should his predictions prove correct?
  • "Most petroleum geologists". Fallacies of anonymous authority are not acceptable methods of supporting a counter-argument. Please cite your sources.
  • "That our economy depends on..." While certainly not a record, fuel prices are rather high at the moment, and no significant social dislocation (i.e. riots) has ocurred. Adjusted for inflation, price levels in 1979 were much higher, something like 45% higher (source), at a time when both industry and automobiles were orders of magnitude less efficient than they are today. The country survived.

While our country may enjoy and benefit from low fuel prices, evidence seems to strongly indicate it does not in fact depend on them.

  • "oil companies are not reinvesting...", "matter of bandwidth...", "developing a new field...", sources, please?
  • "you are simply guessing..." No more or less accurate than this theory's predictions. Even you admit here that it will happen. I believe it will happen rapidly, you don't. However, since previous predictions of dire consequences (as apposed to simple events) do not seem to have come true, I believe the weight of proof is on my side.

  • And then we have this:

    The peaking of world oil extraction will not mean the end of civilization. But world extraction will decline gradually over several decades, giving us time to make the necessary changes. As oil gets scarce, increasing prices will stimulate investment in non-conventional oil resources. Rising prices will also reduce consumption and drive new efficiency enhancements. There are substitutes for nearly every use of oil today, but they aren't cheap or plentiful. There will be painful economic dislocations ... Civilization will make it.

    Now, I wonder who could have written that? Perhaps, I don't know... you?!?

    Posted by: Scott on June 3, 2004 09:50 AM


    While you make good points about how reserves will run out and note that many of the assertions that Scott makes about the future are guesses, you'll note that they are backed by historical events - and therefore not implausible. And he is certainly right about one thing - economies of scale. Right now, it just isn't economically viable to produce alternative fuel vehicles. They end up being more expensive than their counterparts (based on a size/performance gradient - Prius compares well with a Ford Focus or a Honda Civic, which both start at about $13K whereas the Prius starts at $20K) - completely due to economies of scale. The same comparison can be made across all sorts of products. Right now, we spend a huge amount on disposable products full of hydrocarbons (all of those little wipey things - toilet bowl cleaners, pledge wipes, swiffers, etc.). If raw material prices get too expensive, these get replaced by the old stand-bys - a toilet-bowl brush; soap, water, and a washcloth; a mop and broom; etc. And while this will certainly make a huge dent in the economy, it certainly won't be Armageddon/Ragnorak. The market will adapt and start producing items to meet the new demand - as it has throughout the last few centuries.

    Posted by: Ron on June 3, 2004 09:51 AM

    Scott et all.

    Yes civilization will make it. That does not mean that it will not be without sever economic dislocation, nor does it mean that sever economic dislocation is inevitable. The article you refer was not written by me, but by a close friend and it was written a rebuttal to those people who are predicting (www.dieoff.com) nothing less then the end of industrialized society. So no, I do not think that Armageddon is at hand, but that does not mean that sever economic dislocation is not very likely if we simply do nothing. That seems to be the straw man buy the flat-earth economists.

    As for what was predicted it was the peak of oil production in the US (February of 1971), specifically in the lower 48 but it turned out to be true even with the addition of North Slope oil. The prediction was made in the 50ís and to be fair Hubert was off, he predicted the peak production to come in late 1970. Frankly if you have to ask that question then it would seem youíre not all that familiar with the work of M. King Hubert whoís research is what a lot of this is all based on so it is difficult to understand how you feel informed enough to rebut the notion.

    Also your analysis of historical events is puzzling, of course it was a political event, but it was a political event made possible by the US production peak. Before the peak, US oil production was regulated by quotas. If the Middle East producers cut production, then we could increase our production to cover the difference. After 1971, we could no longer do this and production quotas were scrapped. This gave pricing power to the Saudiís. When they cut production, the oil crisis ensued. Now the 70ís were not the great depression, but there were not a walk in the park either. Sure we survived, but the actual cut in production was very small hardly a Gb/ per year. The US went though some bad economic times but not depression levels, the rest of the world was not as lucky as the embargo had a much bigger impact on the third world as they were unable to cope with higher fuel prices.

    Now I can provide you with a number of sources, but frankly I donít really thing youíre serious in understanding the issue and itís a lot of work. So I an going to put together a post that ties it all together but the problem is it will, by necessity be a long essay and not of particular interest to most in our bumper sticker world. Did I make a number of assertions in my comment? Sure, you made a boatload in your post, should I not ask you to prove your assertions before I prove mine?

    Right out of the gate you said;

    Welcome to The Peak Oil Theory, the latest in a very, very long line of predictions that the world is in imminent danger of running out of oil. It all reads as very rational and very, very worrying:

    This is incorrect as it dates back to before you were born. So right off the bat you have a credibility issue, you also fail to mention that peak discovery has also occurred, it is fact, and this follows the Hubert model well. But there are really two issues here, one is whether or not we are very close to end of the era of cheap oil. And what I mean by that is the era of oil being produced in ever increasing quantities. Iím guessing youíre not really disputing that, but I could be wrong, you will have to let me know.

    We know, and there is nobody that I am aware of, that is saying we are ďRunning out of oilĒ that is a pure straw man so you will have to clarify what it is about peak oil that you feel is utter crap for me to address your argument.

    The next issue is the impact of oil on our economy, clearly you donít feel this is an issue, and I gave a few examples of why it is, but again you seem to be clinging to your own pet theories as well. But that is the issue, what is the impact and I asset that you simply haven't thought this through. I could be wrong and I may be misinformed, but the challenge has been issued. But this is the question that needs to be answered.

    But look, it would take pages to address all of those things that I consider misconceptions in you pretty short post, so here is that deal I make to everyone which whom I engage on this topic, I will provide the details if you are willing to have a real discussion and not an internet dick slamming contest. Letís focus on a very narrow issue so I donít have to write a five volume set and go from there. Iíll post the answers on my blog and you can refute them from yours. Iím completely serious about this and if you want to discuss the issue intelligently without the normal Blogosphere bravado I would be happy to comply, but you have to be willing to consider for just the briefest moment that there is a possibility that you are wrong, I do every day.

    Posted by: Rick DeMent on June 3, 2004 12:31 PM

    What I found most interesting of all was the assertion in your first comment:

    'That is what is missing from the ďeconomistís perspectiveĒ.'

    Which, as someone well-versed in textual analisys, very strongly implied to me that not only were my own arguments not particularly original, they were quite well known and represented by a body of evidence.

    Further research immediately revealed what must be the root of your comment, The New Pessimism about Petroleum Resources: Debunking the Hubbert Model, which a cursory reading reveals to be a quite devastating point-by-point dissection of the current Hubbert revival. I found it very unsurprising that the author was, in fact, an economist.

    Notwithstanding whatever weaknesses there may be in his rebuttal (and I am sure you are quite prepared with extensive and dense refutations), what I found most telling about his criticisim of the current crop of "Hubbertists'" is their seeming lack of an holistic approach. The pro-"peak" side seems to rely exclusively on geophysical materials to make their arguments, to the exclusion of cultural, economic, political, demographic, and even (with Hubbert himself especially) anthropological data.

    What I also find weakens the "peak" theories is what I find weakens most self-proclaimed Cassandras... their theories rely, almost without exception, on an extrapolation of current trends with the basic assumptions that (if people do not immediately do what they demand) a) behavior will never change, b) all consequences will happen quickly and catastrophically, and c) that people will be incapable of adjusting to them, deepening the catastrophe. This quite simply is not true. Admitting that people can and will adapt, and quickly if they're allowed, sucks the wind out of arguments like this, which is why they are so seldom remarked apon.

    Your analisys of the 70s actually seems to track quite well with mine... Western countries, possesing market-driven economies, eventually adapted to the new economic realities of that era. Non-western countries with free markets (in the 70s limited mostly to Japan, Korea, and Taiwan) also weathered the storm, in Japan's case profiting mightily from it. Other countries, those without free markets (in the 70s it could be argued this included even Europe), were unable to adapt and suffered the consequences.

    I am also not the only one erecting monuments to Dorothy's grassy friend. Under no circumstances do I discount the economic impact of the end of "cheap oil". In fact I feel my accounting of this is quite central to the essay, and I have thought it through quite a bit. What I disagree with is the position that this economic impact will be uniformly and profoundly negative, trigger a massive worldwide social crisis, and be utterly unrecoverable.

    Finally, it would seem that if, as you claim, you have had to fight with "dick slammers" time and again, you would have already gone to the trouble of, say, creating a nice readable FAQ that goes into every detail and every aspect of how everyone is incorrect and mislead. If nothing else a nice list of links would seem in order. It would seem then quite simple to put this on your site and say "disagree? Please see these resources."

    Posted by: Scott on June 3, 2004 02:43 PM

    You are correct that the ďeconomists perspectiveĒ is in fact common and a fairly well thrashed out set of arguments. You may in fact have some original spin to add to the discussion that I had not heard before, but I didnít really detect any in your post. You are quite correct that many of the Hubbert disciples have overplayed their hand, but there are a number of things you seem to forget in your analysis.

    Fist of all the amount of oil that it took to cause the oil shocks of the 70ís was not all that significant it was less then 5%. You are correct that the market responded by flexing the demand side of the curve, but there wasnít that much to overcome. But what is interesting is your assertion that demand will respond to price. Of course this is true but it is with the rather inexact science of price elasticity that we seem to be at logger heads. Between 1972 and 1981 the price of oil rose 283% while the reduction in demand in the transportation sector decreased a whopping 8.2%. And this is where the problem becomes apparent.

    While there is a lot of misinformation and sloppy science going around on both sides of the discussion, there are some facts that are just not in dispute. Oil production will peak; there is no one that I know of in the oil industry that disputes this claim. The date is fuzzy with predictions ranging from 2004 to 2030. The consensus date seems to be 2015, but recently market and oil company behavior suggests that it might be sooner rather then later.

    But again we come to the central question of what effect this will have on the economy, in the US and the world. I would argue that your analysis completely discounts some of the unique properties that oil brings to the economic table; its cost per BTU (currently) is remarkable, unique for an easily transportable fuel, and it is central to some of the biggest efficiency gains over the last 30 years. Replacing it will involve one of the most sweeping overhauls of our energy delivery infrastructure since the grid was built, an infrastructure that is already showing signs of age and will take a huge investment that no one seems to be willing to make. Yes, in the long run the market will sort it all out, even if it means that our lifestyle will be unrecognizable from that of today. But in the long run we are all dead. (and as someone well-versed in textual analysis Iím sure you will have a field day with that line.)

    Your assertion that people are willing and capable of adapting is true in some cases and not true in other cases. Tragedy of the commons type arguments bare this out and historical examples exist hunted, fished, burned wood and themselves out of existence.

    I have posted a number of things on the site but nothing that really brings it all together. I do have a monograph with the requisite links, but itís in a PDF and not posted on the site. Itís long and dry and boring but I will summarize it with a little panache to tart it up a bit and post the links where appropriate. Iíll let you know, Iím sure you will be the first to give me a link if only to set my Chicken Little notions to rest once and for all

    Posted by: Rick DeMent on June 4, 2004 02:25 AM

    I think what we are working toward is a fundamental disagreement on human nature itself. I think humanity, specifically the human beings who inhabit nations with free markets and elected governments, will rapidly adapt to the drying up of "cheap oil" without major social disintegration or disruption. You do not seem to agree. I doubt either of us will be able to convince the other to the contrary.

    Peak oil warnings have failed, and will continue to fail, because they are not able to convince the markets of the validity of their arguments. You might take the angle this is because in aggregate people and markets are dumb. My own opinion is they are very shrewd indeed, and will continue to discount these shrill Cassandras until more and better science arrives to back them up.

    People will be willing to invest in a new energy infrastructure when it becomes profitable for them to do so, and not a single moment sooner. You might posit that it will be too late by then, we won't be able to build it fast enough, and it will all come crashing down.

    To that I can only point to the countless examples of the west's, the US's in particular, miraculous abilities with logistics, mobilization, and innovation. Fascism was defeated by two completely unprepared nations in less than six years (in the US less than four). A nation that could barely launch a satellite had men walking on the moon in less than ten. The Hoover dam was built in five years, the transcontinental railroad in four, the Golden Gate Bridge in three, and the Pentagon in eighteen months, all but one in the heart of the most traumatic economic crisis the nation has ever undergone. I think we will quite handily overcome whatever obstacles we may find in replacing our energy infrastructure should the necessity of its replacement ever become self-evident.

    I'll agree with you that lifestyles in the west, in the world, will be unrecognizably different should petroleum economies ever be replaced.

    They'll be better.

    Posted by: Scott on June 4, 2004 10:46 AM


    No I have a lot of faith in the ability of people to overcome adversity with the proper leadership and motivation.

    But your wrong about the markets as it relates to peak oil and the signs are there, all one need do is read the WSJ and the trades, in fact Iím trying to complete a short monograph on peak oil using nothing but market data which you might find more convincing. But it is a lot of work and alas I have another job so it will be at least a week or so before I can get all of the data and cobble it together into a whole.

    But your belief that the free market is what lead to all of the achievements you mentioned is rather humorous when you stop to consider that;

    Hoover Dam
    Golden Gate Bridge
    The Apollo program
    Transcontinental railroad
    The Pentagon
    The internet
    The Interstate Highway system

    Were all government projects (or required massive assistance from the government for essential legal clearance), so if your argument is that with the proper government intervention we can do all of this stuff, I guess I would agree but that is not what you were arguing, you were saying let the free market do itís work.

    Hell, even during WWII the government nationalized US industry in order to best direct the manufacturing and logistics in order to bring about the efficiencies you seem to be so enamored with. So really if you were honest about it, you would have to say that Socialism won the war. During WW I the government suspended patent regulation as it related to radio because the ďmarketĒ was taking too long in sorting out the legal issues related to patens and we desperately needed the radio technology for the war effort. And in the end if a heroic effort is needed to do the required infrastructure change over it will be the government stepping in to sort out what would take the market far to long to shake out on its own.

    Posted by: Rick DeMent on June 4, 2004 04:50 PM

    from Rick:
    "First peak oil was accurately predicted in the US almost to the month in the 50ís to occur in late 1970 by M. King Hubert and they all said essentially the same things about him at the time that you said in your post, I happened in February of 1971. So to call this a crack pot theory is disingenuous. It was this event that gave pricing power to the Saudiís."

    Later, expanding -
    "After 1971, we could no longer do this and production quotas were scrapped. This gave pricing power to the Saudiís."

    But then, buried in your comments (and presumably not accounted for by M. King Hubert) you off-handedly mention politics as cause. Actually, politics was a major, possibly THE major cause. Yes, US production/refining could not, in 1970, immediately ramp up - because production languished for years over political problems, and refineries had to (still have to) constantly re-structure to mini-produce politically-required different mixes for the states, at the cost of new facilities.

    Yes, oil is (probably) limited, and cheap oil - depending on the definition of "cheap" - less available. And yes, I'd like to see less going up in smoke from cars, electrical plants, etc. because it is too valuable for other things like medicine and plastic.

    That's why I want more nuclear electricity, and more funding of fusion research with its promise of fewer by-products and less mining. What are you proposing? Fewer cars?

    Posted by: John Anderson on June 4, 2004 04:53 PM

    Your mis-informed, after 1971 there was no way to produce more oil, we had hit the geological reality of Hubbert's peak. No amount of cash at the window was going to suck more oil out of the ground. There were no political barriers to oil production in the US until 73 or 74 and by then it didnít matter. The Texas Railroad commission lifted all quotas under which US oil production had been regulated since the turn of the century in February of í71. They did this because there was no excess capacity, so your assertion that politics in the US stifled production is just wrong. Politics had nothing, zero, zip, nada to do with the peak of US domestic production. Even with the addition of north slop oil the peak of US domestic production didnít budge.

    As for Nuclear I'm all for it to a certain extent but that is electricity and 95% of all transportation fuel is oil and replacing that will take a long time and as oil prices go up the cost to switch will increase as well.

    Posted by: Rick DeMent on June 5, 2004 10:42 PM

    There are a few new energy technologies. For example, newly developed Thermo-Depolymerization Technology (which converts carbon-rich garbage into crude oil). The conversion process doesn't create any harmful pollutants and use of the new form of oil actually releases less greenhouse gases than would be released by the natural decay process if the material had been stored in a landfill - in the case of naturally decaying material. The process can also be used to convert plastics and other non-decaying material.

    'Turkey waste turned into oil' - New York Newsday - New TDP plant generating a positive cash flow while selling crude oil converted from garbage at a price 10% less than equivalent oil produced at a conventional refinery.

    'Missouri plant begins making oil from farm wasteí Ė Waste News - Crude oil No. 4, produced from agricultural waste products, put on the market.

    'Turkey Fuel? Factory to Turn Guts into Crude Oil' - National Geographic - Details how a Carthage plant is converting turkey waste into crude oil and its potential to solve many of America's waste disposal problems while making us less dependant on foreign oil.

    'Researchers turn manure into crude oil' - MSNBC News - Researcher Yanhui Zhang of the University of Illinois has successfully converted pig manure into oil in small batches. He uses a similar process to the one already being used by a plant in Carthage, Mo., that converts tons of waste material, such as feathers and entrails, from a nearby Butterball Turkey plant into light crude oil.

    Successful Result of a California Pilot Thermo-Depolymerization Plant in the Philadelphia Navy Yard on the California Energy Commission's government website

    And on the hydrogen frontier, there was a recent breakthrough in an ethanol-to-hydrogen reactor that will make hydrogen much more competitive as an energy source. The new reactor eliminates the need for large expensive facilities to produce hydrogen - being small and cheap enough for home and car use.

    Mark Harm
    Candidate for State Representative - Michigan

    Posted by: Mark Harm on June 21, 2004 12:38 PM

    I enjoyed the back and forth on peak oil. Thanks.
    The key issue is whether or not "business as
    usual" will handle the transition away from
    fossil fuel in a satisfactory manner. The only
    quantitative analysis of this question I am
    aware of is presented in "Limits to Growth:
    the 30 Year Update", Meadows et al, which
    considers the larger issue of population
    overshoot. The book does provide an answer to
    the question. But I won't spoil the suspense --
    read the book.

    -- Rick Cook

    Posted by: Rick Cook on November 29, 2004 02:55 PM
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