Saturday, June 23, 2012

More Evidence We're Past Peak Oil: The Desperation of Energy Pursuit

Most astute energy observers, see e.g.  and Matt Savinar in his 'Life After the Oil Crash'

have indicated Peak Oil occurred in 2005, or seven years ago. This despite a certain hardcore enclave of disputers who assert there is no such thing, nor ever will be. We "have more than enough energy sources" - thank you very much, "and we only need to have the will to develop them".  Well what would you expect these elitist interests, many in the corporate media, to say?

Let's be clear that a large component of what I call "implicit governance" occurs via the shaping of public opinion and mass mind manipulation via PR. The classic examples of this were described at length in the book, 'Toxic Sludge is Good For You'. wherein the PR (public relations) industry actually attempted to promote a nasty, crap-laden toxic sludge as being beneficial for agriculture.  The reason? To provide an additional profit outlet for chemical manufacturers, so they didn't have to worry about locating a place to dump their pesticide-laden toxic sludge - they could get stupid farmers or government to subsidize its use for crops!

This is how PR works: either (a) getting people to ignore a significant threat to their economic or political well being , or (b) getting them to believe a publicized threat (say by environmentalists) is merely a bunch of "Cassandras" subjecting citizens to idle "doomsaying".  In either case, the dual modus operandi fulfills the basic reason for PR as first enunciated by Edward Bernays, its founder:

"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government, which is the true ruling power of our country."

And here we see for the first time the term 'invisible government'. This is key because it is the invisibility that confers power! Don't let citizens see what's really going on behind the curtain! Deny any evidence for Peak Oil, shut up or dismiss all claims for such. Deny that environmental toxins are the true cause of mounting cancers in our midst, and keep pumping dietary choice as the primo source - to put the blame on individuals instead of chemical corporations.Deny that there are any political ramifications from the (1963) Kennedy assassination. Keep citizens in the dark on how the most liberal administration in a half century was overthrown from within, and blame it all on a lone nut. Reinforce this myth by concealing all the most relevant files until most people living at the time are dead or dying so no one else is interested. THEN release them!
Deny over and over that GMOs (genetically modified organisms) used to engineer GMO-foods have any ill effects on human health. Further, deprive people -citizens of the choice to purchase them or not by refusing to label GMO foods. No wonder then that the market for these aberrations is 70% of all consumer food purchases in the U.S. vs. only 10% in Europe (where strict GMO labelling applies).
Lastly, keep quiet that the worst effects of climate change are barely a decade away. Keep muddling press-media pieces going that "there is still time" so as not to alarm the ordinary citizen. Tell those in Duluth who've just seen their town flooded out that it's merely a "meteorological cycle" - nothing more. Keep on moving, nothing to see here - at least nothing out of the normal. The coming 100 -day heat wave that will likely knock down all our power grids....let's not go there.
Meanwhile, the elites themselves are high -tailing it to their own personal redoubts to fortify them and protect themselves when all hell breaks loose. Fuck the ordinary people! Keep them in the dark, so we can establish our special preserves without them knowing or interfering. The longer they're kept guessing the better for us!
And so it goes.
But I want to confine attention in this blog to the energy issue, that of Peak Oil certainly having passed in 2005, and the further evidence being what I call energy pursuit desperation. Evidence? Since 2005, 680,000 waste and injection wells have been drilled, of which nearly 150,000 have injected millions of liters of toxic industrial fluids below the surface to "frack" natural gas. None of this polluted water can then be incorporated back into the hydrological cycle because of the 190 -odd contaminants (most carcinogenic) that the fracked water contains.
In 10 to 100 years we are going to find out that most of our groundwater is polluted,” according to Mario Salazar, an engineer who worked for 25 years as a technical expert with the EPA’s underground injection program in Washington. “A lot of people are going to get sick, and a lot of people may die.”
Another aspect to what I call "energy desperation", in the sense of being willing (now) to put aside concerns for life quality to obtain energy: The 2005 Federal Energy Appropriations Bill which exempts the gas industry from compliance with:
- The Clean Water Act
- The Safe Drinking Water Act
- The Clean Air Act
- The Superfund (CERCLA) Act
The last implying they can dump as much toxic crap as they want and there'll be no "toxic release inventory'" to assay it, and hence, no need to ever clean it up. If this isn't desperation, what is? The willingness to put our future health as a nation in dire risk to satisfy immediate energy demands - mainly to dredge whatever low EROEI (energy returned on energy invested) sources from the ground since the high EROEI oil has peaked.
More signs of desperation in the western states, such as Colorado: According to a Denver Post report on the results of an analysis by the Western Resource Associates (WRA), "Colorado's oil and gas drilling consumes enough water to sustain 79,000 households for a year- enough for a medium sized city."
This despite the fact the state has been in the throes of drought for years (though the severity has waxed and waned) and now is as bad as it was in 2002, with wildfires occupying more land than the whole Florida panhandle. But how is our water being used? On oil drilling and fracking!
According to WRA, between 22,100 and 39,500 acre-feet are pumped into the ground each year for drilling wells and hydraulic fracturing to coax out oil and gas. Tens of thousands of wells now dot the Colorado countryside. Meanwhile, farmers in the state barely have sufficient water to bring one crop to market far less all of them.. (As much as 5 million gallons of water can be injected into a single fracking well, of which 200,000 is laden with carcinogenic toxins such as benzene, so the water can't be re-used.)
Pair this with the earlier use of corn (a food crop) for ethanol, and you have the makings of an energy desperation syndrome of epic proportions. But hardly anyone really learns of the extent of it or the harm done. All of which tells me the energy forecasters were correct, and Peak Oil has already occurred, likely in 2005  - the same year the natural gas industry was freed from compliance with basic environmental regs.
But even before these desperate energy pursuit manifestations, those in the know or who followed the critical press issues, weren't fooled. For instance, as early as 2009, T. Boone Pickens, quoted in The Financial Times May 21, (‘Oil Futures Near $140 Amid fears of Shortage’) page 1A, asserted we’re "now at the point where demand for oil is 87 billion barrels a day, while only 85 billion can be produced". This is acknowledging Peak Oil by any other name. Meanwhile, in The Wall Street Journal of May 22, there appeared the article ‘Energy Watchdog Warns of Oil-Production Crunch’ (p. A1)

The piece noted that the world’s “premier energy monitor” was preparing a sharp downward revision of its oil supply forecasts. The full formal report was to be ready by November, but already word was afoot that it will point to global oil supplies plateauing even as demand continues.

The article also noted (p. A12):

A growing number of people in the industry are endorsing a version of the ‘peak oil’ theory: that oil production will plateau in coming years, as suppliers fail to replace depleted fields with enough fresh ones to boost overall output.”

The ironic tragedy in all this: Peak Oil actually likely transpired four years earlier, in 2005. “Peak Oil’  nevertheless, is a somewhat misleading a term, since it suggests a specific date of peak production.  In more practical terms, what it means is that if 2005 was the year of peak oil production then the worldwide oil production in 2025 will be the SAME as in 1985, demanding that Q(net) > 0. (Where Q(net) is the net energy or the rate of energy production minus the rate of energy consumed for its operation and the energy invested for future production and operation. If Q(net) = 0 we only have break even oil, or energy. This is about where we're at with the energy desperation measures of fracking, deep sea drilling.

The problem in a nutshell is not “running out of oil’ but running out of CHEAP oil.  As the years indexed past Peak Oil increase, it means therefore that oil as a commodity will become much much more expensive, irrespective of oil speculators' manipulations but definitely as cheap, high EROEI supplies dwindle and more energy intense user States (like China and India) develop.

Most of us still expect the first signs of admission and media recognition to hit when the price of gas in the U.S. hits $7 a gallon.

Meanwhile, the rest of us know it's already here!

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