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Peak Everything

From a conversation with the Claverton Energy Research Group over the leak of a German military study into Peak Oil :-,1518,715138,00.html

“09/01/2010 : ‘Peak Oil’ and the German Government : Military Study Warns of a Potentially Drastic Oil Crisis : By Stefan Schultz…”

Hi Clavertonians,

My view on Peak Oil is that it is the tip of the iceberg – and I know that’s a totally inappropriate metaphor.

The art of petrogeology dictates that right on the heels of Peak Oil is Peak Natural Gas, and there is strong evidence for Peak Coal. In the US for example, I understand there is very little good hard anthracite left.

My position is that – since the “conventional” Fossil Fuels are depleting, there are strong moves towards the “unconventionals”, the shale gas, the deepwater oil, the smoky “half peat”, the Lake Baikal hydrates, the frozen subsea wastes of the Arctic [don’t forget the Tar Sands !] and so on. People argue for “stop-gap” energy resources, but they carry with them huge risks not only to the Climate, but also the the Economy with the step-change in EROI/EROEI [Energy Return on Energy Invested – that is – how much energy do you need as input to get energy as output] and the “clean-up” costs.

My take on this is that pretending that Peak Conventionals doesn’t exist leaves a veil in front of most peoples’ minds – they believe in the Power of Technology to supply all their Fossil Fuel needs, now and into the future – it’s just that the actual location and form and dirtiness of these new resources will be different than in the past.

And here’s the rub – we need to encourage people to think about the “alternatives”, or rather, the “solutions”.

The only way forward is Renewable, Sustainable Energy resources, because of Peak Oil, Peak Natural Gas and so on, and if people do not learn about that, they will not understand the privation for most people that will surely come with Peak Conventionals.

You can almost, but not quite, bypass the Climate Change problem (crisis, predicament, catastrophe) in arguing for the new energies based on a set of simple arguments about conventional Fossil Fuels. The risks of Peak Conventionals surely have to be linked in with the risks of abrupt Climate Chaos, in my mind, when finding ways to communicate and discuss policy options.

Do the energy companies have the right to expand into unconventionals, when this risks the general economic health of the industrialised countries (and the Climate) ? There are limits to what private enterprise should be permitted to innovate, we all accept that.

If the only way forward for Big Energy is yet more risk-prone marine options and very dirty, energy-wasting mixed sedimentary deposits, then people might need to know this in order to understand they need to politically ask for it to stop.

Just a thought (stream),


reply from Andrew Smith

“…You can almost, but not quite, bypass the Climate Change problem (crisis, predicament, catastrophe) in arguing for the new energies based on a set of simple arguments about conventional Fossil Fuels…”

Except that the peak conventional argument is also the argument used for unlocking EOR, shale, tar sands: all dirty, energy-inefficient, environmentally destructive, climate-disastrous …

So a peak of production in conventional fossil fuels cannot fix the climate on its own: it may make things worse, if it allows the expansion of unconventional fossil fuels.


The whole thread of the conversation can be found here :-

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