Wednesday, July 11, 2012

peak denial

postcarbon | There is nothing but “Sad News for Peak Oil Disciples” these days, according to the Financial Post.

The latest example: Leonardo Maugeri, a fellow in the Geopolitics of Energy Project at the Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs—and a long-time critic of Peak Oil analysis—has just published a new report, “Oil: The Next Revolution,” in which he forecasts a sharp increase in world oil production capacity and the risk of an oil price collapse. His report has triggered a spate of press articles with titles like “No Peak Oil In Sight”, “Potential U.S. Oil Boom shakes Up Energy Politics,” and “Peak Oil Is Simply Not a Threat Anymore.”

These follow on the heels of a string of other articles touting increasing production of oil from “tight” shale deposits in the US—pieces with titles like “Has Peak Oil Peaked?” and “Is ‘Peak Oil’ Idea Dead?” And those in turn ride the slipstream of Daniel Yergin’s widely feted book The Quest, which provided last year’s fodder for an anti-Peak Oil media frenzy.

The recent deluge of cornucopian triumphalism has provoked a few thoughtful responses, including, “Has Peak Oil Idea . . . Peaked?” and “Is Peak Oil Dead?”, both of which carefully sift the evidence and conclude that world oil production is better understood when viewed through the depletionist lens than through the rose-colored glasses of the Peak Oil naysayers.

No doubt peakists will continue to produce thoughtful, well-reasoned, and fact-filled articles elucidating the precariousness of global energy supplies. Nevertheless, the sheer number and media prominence of “No Peak Oil” pieces (in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, and even on NPR) is having an effect. Depletionist sites are seeing declining web traffic. And while far more people now have heard of Peak Oil than was the case just a few years ago, many mistakenly believe that its core assertion has somehow been “debunked.”