Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Peak oil is bullshit - ask George Monbiot

Yes, the poster boy for the green movement, George Monbiot, has come out in today's Guardian admitting he was wrong. 

Oil isn't running out, there isn't an energy crisis.  He's not happy about it, because you see it fits into the broader agenda about fighting climate change...(emphasis added)

For the past 10 years an unlikely coalition of geologists, oil drillers, bankers, military strategists and environmentalists has been warning that peak oil – the decline of global supplies – is just around the corner. We had some strong reasons for doing so: production had slowed, the price had risen sharply, depletion was widespread and appeared to be escalating. The first of the great resource crunches seemed about to strike.

Among environmentalists it was never clear, even to ourselves, whether or not we wanted it to happen. It had the potential both to shock the world into economic transformation, averting future catastrophes, and to generate catastrophes of its own, including a shift into even more damaging technologies, such as biofuels and petrol made from coal. Even so, peak oil was a powerful lever. Governments, businesses and voters who seemed impervious to the moral case for cutting the use of fossil fuels might, we hoped, respond to the economic case.

You see, he made the shocking discovery that the free market and the price mechanism delivers some remarkable results:

A report by the oil executive Leonardo Maugeri, published by Harvard University, provides compelling evidence that a new oil boom has begun. The constraints on oil supply over the past 10 years appear to have had more to do with money than geology. The low prices before 2003 had discouraged investors from developing difficult fields. The high prices of the past few years have changed that.

Yes, the price goes up, so the economics of production change, with more expensive fields and sources becoming economically viable.

Now George is distressed about this because he is convinced climate change is the new armageddon:

The problem we face is not that there is too little oil, but that there is too much.

In other words, the arguments against consumption of fossil fuels on the basis that they are "running out" are absurd.  The claims that aviation is going to collapse, that private motoring is going to evaporate, that export and tourism driven economies dependent on goods and people travelling long distances need to become autarkic "green economies" are nonsense.  

Many years of industrial, energy and transport policies based on "peak oil" scenarios need to be revisited.   All need to be put on a market footing.   Pursuing unprofitable, unviable renewables with taxpayers' money is fraudulent and wasteful.  Building big new railways on the basis that "people wont be able to get about" without it in an age of "peak oil" is bullshit.

Meanwhile, there ARE environmental arguments about the use of fossil fuels, but those are arguments first and foremost about noxious emissions (which a property rights approach can address), and then about climate change.   However, as I have said before, an appropriate response would be for governments to stop subsidising activities that emit CO2, and get out of the way of those using or developing technologies that offer alternatives.  Let's say "first do no harm".

I can't wait to see how quickly or otherwise the rest of the green movement stops using the "peak oil" rhetoric (they can't admit making a mistake collectively), and starts moving back to the armageddon rhetoric he is using.   A big underground rail loop in Auckland will no longer be about "protecting us from peak oil", but rather "saving the planet".  Hmmm.

Meanwhile, Monbiot's children will be saved being lectured about how we are all doomed since he said "right now I’m not sure how I can look my children in the eyes".  With such self-loathing I'm hardly surprised.


one of those bitter, misanthropic, control-freak kill-joys, green on the outside but red on the inside, the true purpose of whose "environmentalism" is not so much to save the planet as to end Western industrial civilisation.

How long before the Moonbat Monbiot followers Green Party in New Zealand either excommunicates Monbiot or starts showing some contrition, or will it persist in its pursuit of the swivel eyed peak oil doom mongers?

4 comments:

jh said...

Not so fast. You've found more fossil fuel but it takes more energy to get.
Forget the noise, listen to the arguments of more informed people who can argue the negative.

libertyscott said...

Have you invested in oil futures on this basis? If not, why not?

Jeremy Harris said...

As I posted on PC's blog. Oil will be left in the ground as it becomes uneconomic, price will dictate the development of new methods. It's nothing to worry about if basic economics is understood.

antred said...

"As I posted on PC's blog. Oil will be left in the ground as it becomes uneconomic, price will dictate the development of new methods. It's nothing to worry about if basic economics is understood. "

That works until you reach a point where extracting the oil takes more energy than you get out of burning it.