Wednesday, September 21, 2005

show your work, Yergin

The Future of Oil
Oil super-guru Daniel Yergin knows the issues as well as any man alive. He's in the middle of crisis and controversy. Hear a conversation with Yergin on why the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is now pushing America toward an energy disaster.

This is a link to a Daniel Yergin interview on NPR. I had a listen because of my curiousity regarding Yergin and the CERA report which basically is skeptical regarding a near term oil peak and predicts a supply "plateau" some twenty years out.

After a few short minutes, I came to the conclusion that punk energy provocateur Jame Kunstler knows more about oil and energy issues than this puffed up apologist for imaginary analysis.

Here I will paraphrase some of the claims Yergin makes, in the first few minutes (No transcript available but I encourage readers to listen.)

- Because people have predicted we will run out of oil in the past and were wrong, we have no reason to to expect we will run out of oil now.

Yergin stuttered out this claim twice. It is a logical non-sequiter and misdirection; it doesn't speak to the transparent work performed by ASPO and others that we are approaching peak now.

- We landed a man on the moon and cell-phones are amazing. Who woulda thought. Thus, we won't run out of oil.

Technology will save us. I expect a little more from a supposed energy expert: His examples are of technologies which DEPEND on cheap petroleum! This is the weakest argument imaginable against Peak Oil.

- Oil will come from non-traditional sources.

Not in large amounts, it won't. Show your work. Oil sands and Oil shale have huge inputs of energy, water, and infrastructure. Where's the beef?

At one point, Yergin made reference to his "analysis" in arguing for ever greater supplies of oil coming online. What analysis? A string of half baked assumptions does not add up to critical thinking.

But Yergin is a tenured guru -- he recieved a Pulitzer for his historical work "The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power." -- and apparently he feels comfortable standing behind his hallucinated view of non-existant oil reserves.

Americans and the world deserve better than this from our supposed experts. We can't solve the problem of peak oil starting from a foundation of half-truths and rhetorical flourishes.

4 Comments:

At 5:15 PM, September 24, 2005, Blogger WHT said...

I got around to listening to that interview and I agree that he got stumped a few times. Twice he showed bewilderment over the existence of the defense-sponsored report written by SAIC. Jeez, I even read a bit of that report.

The guy has wax in his ears.

 
At 7:40 PM, September 24, 2005, Blogger monkeygrinder said...

Well, I was hard on him.

In general, I have empathy for people who are ignorant about energy issues.

I don't fully think Yergin is "ignorant," but his thinking on Saudi is about 20 years out of date, and his assumptions are unexamined.

Listening to the interview, I got the impression of a man who is pleasantly coasting along in his bubble.

His bubble world is just as real to him as global warming is to an eskimo.

 
At 1:09 AM, September 26, 2005, Blogger Bill said...

Jon
We all know that technology and the financial incentive resulting from scarcity will provide all that we need to replace hydrocarbons. The "experts" know that they must tow that line or they will not be invited to the parties anymore.

 
At 10:18 AM, September 28, 2005, Blogger monkeygrinder said...

Thanks for the comment, Bill. I think there is a lot of truth to that - cultural pressures, peer pressure, affecting the debate.

 

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