Tuesday, September 22, 2009

mind-sized hubbert

TODEurope | The bell shaped Hubbert curve is commonly observed when a non renewable, or slowly renewable, resource is exploited in a free market. But what is the origin of the curve? Ugo Bardi and Alessandro Lavacchi have recently published a simple "mind sized" model of the Hubbert behavior in "Energies" . Fat cows and lean cows are not included in the equations of the model, but come as a logical consequence of it.

Have you ever tried to tell a politician about peak oil? If you did, you know what happens. Supposing that he/she pays any attention to you, you'll immediately face at least two typical objections: if there is still oil underground, what is the problem? If the price is high enough, why should production decline? It is not easy to answer these questions in the 30 seconds which are the typical attention span of a politician. Failing to do that will make you look like a representative of one of those millenarian sects eagerly waiting for the end of the world. And the problem is not just with politicians; try to explain peak oil to your mother or to an economist. It is not easy.

Possibly, peak oil will always be beyond the intellectual capabilities of the average politician, but it is also true that there are plenty of intelligent people out there who are perfectly able to understand the concept. The problem is how do we explain it to them. And, if we have to explain it, we must understand it first. What is, exactly, that causes production peaks for oil and for other non renewable resources?