Oil and Instinct

I’ve received some replies to my blog entry of April 3. Unfortunately, most of them rehash issues I’ve already addressed. I did provide a link to the pre-April 3 debate but I don’t blame people for not going back and reading all that before e-mailing in their criticism, questions, and mockery; it’s quick and easy to send an e-mail, while reading is time-consuming and brain-tiring. In this same spirit I’m going to refrain from replying to the rehashing e-mailers. I find myself unable, however, to refrain from replying briefly to an essay titled “Is Peak Oil a myth? Just so long as we can catch the goddamn monkey,” posted on the (apparently popular) Daily Kos blog by a self-described “Mom of 2, Ex-Yuppie, 3rd Generation Democrat, Engineer, MBA, Silly Goose” calling herself Lawnorder. Her first sentence introduces one of her (long) essay’s main themes:

“AntiWar.com editor Sam Koritz thinks Big Oil and imperialist neocons are fooling us all into believing the world’s supply of oil is ending and that the end of Oil would amount to such a big crisis.”

Nope. I never wrote that anyone was fooling anyone else into believing in peak oil theory (POT). Erroneous economic beliefs — from the lump of labor fallacy to the potty “lump of fuel” fallacy of our current debate — are the norm; no conspiracy required. (My guess is that much of this economic ignorance can be explained by natural selection: we intuit our ancestors’ world of warring tribes and privation.)

The strange thing is that, before writing her piece, Lawnorder actually did bother to go back into the archives and read my “Economics of Oil, Part 2” posting in which I answer a similar mistaken criticism from a reader named Joseph O’Ruandaidh, and in which I explicitly deny having claimed that any oil conspiracy exists. Lawnorder, in her Kos essay, prominently quotes O’Ruandaidh’s criticism but not my reply.

I just want to rebut again this misrepresentation of my argument: I have not claimed that there is a conspiracy of any sort involving oil. I’ll leave the rest of Lawnorder’s essay alone, except to point out that evidence for POT (the theory that oil production has peaked or is about to peak, and that this will cause a major world crisis) does not include ecological disaster on Easter Island, North Korean famine, global warming, or the fact that fuels are not free.

Non-rehasher Tom Lowe writes:

Regarding so-called Peak Oil, I can tell you exactly what’s going on, and you can spread the word. I have a MS degree in petroleum engineering from UT-Austin and top international experience in upstream operations, in particular, well logging for Schlumberger, where profiles of newly-drilled wells are examined for hydrocarbon producibility.

I have not been asked to work for the past 18 years, since the price dipped down to $12/bbl in 1987. That means they have plenty of reserves. “Peak Oil” is nothing but a propaganda slogan designed to shill prices upward.

There is still a lot of relatively unexplored, potentially oil-producing terrain left on the planet. If there were any shortage of oil on this planet, you can rest assured: they would call me immediately.

I spend my days selling postcards on eBay.

Author: Sam Koritz

I like cheese.