peak oil

Retired BP Geologist Warns Global Oil Production Declining Over 4 Percent Annually

It’s been a long time since I last talked about peak oil production. Peak what? Yeah, the mainstream media would rather run stories about alternative energy and “unconventional” oil production, as if it will somehow make up for declining “conventional” oil production before we’re hit with another energy crunch.

I’ve been following this topic for close to a decade now. And some pretty informed individuals have deduced not only is the era of “cheap” crude oil gone, but global oil production is in the midst of a steady decline. Dr. Nafeez Ahmed wrote on The Guardian (UK) website on December 23:

A former British Petroleum (BP) geologist has warned that the age of cheap oil is long gone, bringing with it the danger of “continuous recession” and increased risk of conflict and hunger.

At a lecture on ‘Geohazards’ earlier this month as part of the postgraduate Natural Hazards for Insurers course at University College London (UCL), Dr. Richard G. Miller, who worked for BP from 1985 before retiring in 2008, said that official data from the International Energy Agency (IEA), US Energy Information Administration (EIA), International Monetary Fund (IMF), among other sources, showed that conventional oil had most likely peaked around 2008.

Dr. Miller critiqued the official industry line that global reserves will last 53 years at current rates of consumption, pointing out that “peaking is the result of declining production rates, not declining reserves.” Despite new discoveries and increasing reliance on unconventional oil and gas, 37 countries are already post-peak, and global oil production is declining at about 4.1% per year, or 3.5 million barrels a day (b/d) per year

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Dr. Miller, who used to prepare the annual BP in-house projections of future oil supply, not only agrees with the conservative conclusions of an earlier study by the government-funded UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) which predicted “a sustained decline in global conventional production appears probable before 2030 and there is significant risk of this beginning before 2020,” but is dismissive of shale oil and gas preventing a decline in global oil production.

Dr. Ahmed wrote an incredibly insightful piece, which you should read in its entirety over at The Guardian website here, since this really isn’t on the radar of the American press despite EIA data showing it should be a concern.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Post Number 1,000

Well here we are.

Post number 1,000 on Survival And Prosperity, “Protecting and Growing Self and Wealth in These Uncertain Times.”

It feels like it was only yesterday when I launched this successor to Boom2Bust.com, “The Most Hated Blog On Wall Street.” In fact, it’s been almost 22 months since its debut. My how time flies. Especially when bad economic news keeps piling on. The Pollyanna gang might argue that Keynesian strategies pursued by Washington and the Fed successfully ended the “Great Recession” and have put the United States on a sustainable path to recovery. I’m of the approach that when a lot of money is poured into the financial system you’re bound to see some sort of pick-up in activity. At least initially. And, as we’ve witnessed, only temporarily, as more “stimulus” is required to keep the whole thing afloat.

But where has that left the country? As of last week, over $16 trillion in debt. And on the verge of yet another “quantitative easing.” And anyone who really believes debt doesn’t matter is in for a rude awakening when the nation’s “financial reckoning day” finally does arrives.

Since the launch of Boom2Bust.com back in May 2007, I’ve been warning about a coming U.S. financial crash. As much as some might credit me for calling it, the maelstrom that blew through the U.S. and global economies back in the fall of 2008 was only a part of the collapse that I still see heading our way. Somewhat surprisingly, Washington and the Fed have managed to “kick the can down the road” for the time being. But the road only goes so far. Will the crash happen all it once, or will it be drawn out over several years? I don’t know. I just know that my interpretation of the available data leads me to believe its coming.

To complicate matters, these days Americans must take into account other threats besides an economic crash. Depending on what one believes, these could include:

• Global warming
• Nuclear terrorism
• Overpopulation
• Pandemic
• Peak oil production
• Resource shortages
• Solar flares

There are others. Nevertheless, a lot of threats exist these days which endanger our survival and prosperity.

So in 2012, are we looking at the end of the world? Probably not. But most likely the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI), particularly as it relates to the U.S. economy and larger financial system. Accordingly, life in America is about to get a whole lot tougher for most (if it already hasn’t). A number of really smart individuals who predicted the 2008 global economic crisis and “Great Recession” suggest we could see:

• Civil strife, including rioting and looting
• Currency controls
• Hyperinflation
• Martial law
• Much higher taxes and fees
• Rampant crime
• “Second Great Depression”

There’s more, but I think you get the picture.

Despite all this, I must remind you that I’m not talking about the end of the world here. Remember, even at its worst unemployment during the Great Depression ran somewhere around 25 percent. While that really sucked for those without a job, not everyone found themselves in a soup kitchen line. The economy and society, though hobbled, still functioned.

I’m a big believer that, despite the coming crash, things will turn out okay for America in the long-run.

I also believe that focusing on one’s personal and financial safety and growth right now will go a long way in helping you and your loved ones come out on the other side of the approaching storm in reasonably good shape.

Wishing you all the best now, and down the rocky road I see in store for us,

Christopher E. Hill
Editor

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On TV: Doomsday Preppers, Episode 8

I finally got the chance to watch episode number 8 of the National Geographic Channel TV series Doomsday Preppers.

The show focused on three groups of preppers Tuesday night, March 27. In order of appearance:

Bruce Beach, rural Ontario, Canada
Bruce and his family have built a massive underground shelter in anticipation of an inevitable nuclear war. “We are not about survival. We are about reconstruction.”

Jeremy and Kelly, outside Salt Lake City, Utah
“I’m preparing for the collapse of society due to peak oil”

Bradford Frank, San Diego, California
“I’m preparing for a worldwide pandemic that will end life as we know it”

Here are my thoughts about episode 8 of Doomsday Preppers, broken down by prepper group:

Bruce Beach

Bruce Beach is a retired scientist who thinks the world as we know it will end by nuclear destruction. According to Bruce:

This is going to be a universal catastrophe. It’s that sudden. I don’t think there’s going to be a two-minute warning. There’s a distinct possibility that mankind can destroy itself. I think nuclear war is inevitable. In a catastrophe this size, 80 percent of the population will die during the first 2 years. The things that will kill them are social disruption, plagues, lack of food, lack of heat, exposure. It’s a random sort of thing as to who’s going to be saved and who isn’t.

Thinking this will be our fate, Bruce has been preparing for decades now to rescue humanity. From the show:

To save mankind from apocalyptic destruction, Bruce has taken it upon himself to build a haven for humanity. A unique place to sit out the end of the world.

Bruce and his wife Jean have constructed a 10,000 square-foot shelter that’s been designed to survive a nuclear war. Built in 1985, it’s intended to be an “underground orphanage.” Bruce explained:

Save the children. That’s a basic human characteristic. They’re our hope for the continuation of life for building a new and better world.

According to the show:

Bruce’s protected safe house is constructed from building blocks that many kids would consider familiar surroundings: 42 recycled school buses, linked together and buried under 18 inches of concrete and 14 feet of earth…

School buses can support over one-and-a-half times their weight, and can cost as little as $300 second-hand, making them a prepper favorite for bug-out vehicles, and even safe mobile homes…

It’s been estimated that if a global nuclear war occurred, up to a billion lives would be at risk in the months and years following.

Bruce revealed:

We can have 500 people in here, but have to have a number of people to watch over the children.

The underground shelter complex is named Ark 2- in honor of Noah’s Ark.

The extended Beach family contributes to the upgrade and maintenance of the facility.

Although Ark 2 is located in southern Ontario, Canada, Bruce pointed out that an attack on missile bases in the central U.S. could bring significant fallout to their area. Should this or a nearby nuclear blast be reported, the Beach family plans to head to the underground bunker, and start taking in young refugees.

And what about the children’s parents/guardians or any others who come to the shelter but are turned away? Ark 2 staffers plan on giving them “Go Away Kits,” packs that will help people live outside of the bunker. These kits includes radiation detectors.

According to the episode:

Bruce expects refugees would have to stay inside the Ark for weeks, maybe months, to avoid the worst of the radiation outside.

As such, his family has spent 30 years stockpiling “tons of food” to feed the inhabitants.

Now the show pointed out:

One of the hazards of living underground for an extended period, is making sure you have enough air to breathe. At full capacity, and without proper air circulation, Bruce’s 10,000 foot shelter would run out of oxygen in approximately half a day. So Bruce has devised a rather unusual, and cost effective, air circulation system. This strong line of garbage bags can distribute 300 cubic feet of air from the outside vents to different locations in the shelter.

They didn’t say if Ark 2 has nuclear/biological/chemical (NBC) filters for these vents. I would hope so, in order to prevent radioactive fallout from entering and contaminating the facility’s air supply.

It’s not just the Beach family who are involved with the complex. It was revealed that a network of Ark 2 preppers exists all around the United States.

These days, Bruce is busy working on an off-grid communication system, which he hopes to distribute to key members in the local community so that Ark 2 can have a link to the outside world, especially as it concerns information about supplies, radiation levels, and security when TSHTF. From the episode:

The secondary effect of a nuclear detonation is an EMP, a wave of electromagnetic energy powerful enough to bring down the grid. So they are building a ham radio system, widely used by preppers, because it relies only on naturally-existing radio waves to transmit messages, and can work independently from the electrical grid.

According to the show, a 1.4 megaton bomb detonated 250 miles above Kansas would destroy most of the electronics in the United States.

As the segment drew to a close, Bruce Beach left viewers with this:

The Ark is about our service to humanity. And whether or not I pass the Ark on to the grandchildren is irrelevant. What is important is that I pass on to my grandchildren is a dedication of service to humanity. So that’s what my life is about. What my legacy will be, I have no idea.

Jeremy and Kelly

Jeremy (no last name given) is the owner of a digital media company. He and his wife Kelly have a 1-year-old son, Zander. The young family are preparing for peak oil- and what it could mean for our society. From the show:

The term peak oil refers to the eventual decline in the supply of oil reserves. If oil becomes harder to get, the price will increase past the point where people can afford to buy it. The U.S. alone consumes 20 million barrels of oil every day, and global demand is projected to grow by a quarter by 2030.

Jeremy talked about his concerns with peak oil:

I think drastic changes could happen literally in a matter of a couple of years from now. All it takes is for the demand for oil to outstrip the supply, and we’ve been on the razor’s edge of that for a really long time. My worst case scenario is that oil exporting countries stop exporting, and gas pumps start running dry around America. Then that just has a cascading effect across our entire society. People won’t be able to go to work. And if you can’t go to work, then infrastructure starts to fail…

Once infrastructure starts to fail, we could eventually even see the grid go down. And if the grid goes down, society as we know it will be very, very changed.

Kelly recalled something that might sound familiar to a number of preppers:

My first reaction to my husband’s desire to start prepping was a little scared. I actually walked away, and was like, trying to ignore him, because I didn’t want to admit it. It took me about a year to finally come to terms with the idea of prepping.

Jeremy said this about his prepping:

I like to think of myself as a fairly-balanced person. And I don’t think this is an obsession. It’s just a precaution.

To deal with potential water shortages, Jeremy and Kelly look to their 450 gallon hot tub. From the show:

Jeremy and Kelly are able to ration their hot tub water by using the drainage tube. This allows them to preserve a precious resource. Having clean water is essential to survival. So in a grid-down situation, it is imperative to have a water purification system. The 450 gallons in the hot tub could hydrate Jeremy, Kelly, and Zander for about 8 months.

Jeremy is also concerned about infections and disease. He noted:

One of the concerns in the post-collapse world is the lack of access to medical facilities, antibiotics, things like that.

According to the episode:

80 percent of the active ingredients used in American drugs are made overseas. And without the fuel to ship them, emergency treatment would be in short supply. So Jeremy is leaving nothing to chance.

The Utah prepper revealed:

It turns out that the antibiotics used for fish tanks is actually the same antibiotics as are prescribed for humans, so you can actually get human antibiotics at a pet store.

The show added:

Common antibiotics like amoxicillin are marketed under different names for aquatic use. Fish antibiotics are a favorite among preppers to stockpile, because they are widely available without a prescription or pharmacist.

I’ve come across material on the web for and against the substitution of fish antibiotics for human antibiotics. Since you’re only talking about your health here, it would probably be wise to research this very carefully before heading down to the local pet store to pick up some fish antibiotics.

The show returned to the topic of peak oil. From the episode:

Experts disagree as to when we will reach the peak of oil production. Some estimate it will peak as soon as 2035. Jeremy believes it already has.

Remember, “peak oil” doesn’t necessarily mean the Earth is running out of crude oil. Rather, it refers to the maximum rate of the production of crude oil.

Speaking of oil, Jeremy and Kelly have in their possession a bug-out vehicle known as “The Beast.” It’s a military surplus M35 2 1/2 ton cargo truck that Jeremy bought for $3,500. Due to the size of the vehicle, it serves as the family’s transportation and shelter in a SHTF situation. Best of all, it’s has multi-fuel capability, meaning it can be run on regular gas, diesel, kerosene, jet fuel, and used motor oil.

Jeremy is shown collecting used motor oil for “The Beast.” His goal is to stockpile 1,000-1,500 gallons of it.

Near the end of the segment, the family practiced a bug-out drill. During the exercise, Jeremy taught Kelly how to drive the “deuce-and-a-half.” Telling her to “man-handle” it on rough terrain, she “woman-handles” the truck instead, and lets out a priceless roar.

Bradford Frank

Bradford Frank is a psychiatrist who lives in sunny San Diego, California, with his wife Narin and daughter Alexandria. He’s concerned a pandemic will bring about TEOTWAWKI . Bradford said:

Sometimes people refer to me as Doctor Doom. I think that most people would look at me and say, “He’s a nut case. He a psychiatrist, he’s obviously crazy.” And that’s the reason I don’t talk to a lot of people about prepping. I went to Yale and studied infectious diseases. And, that’s where I started to get interested in influenza, and in particular, bird flu.

Bradford added:

Super influenza- a super bug- is not a completely new event.

From the episode:

He believes a new, extremely-contagious form of bird flu will transmit to humans, then spread through the population like wildfire.

The World Health Organization considers 100 million infections a conservative estimates for a global pandemic.

Bradford predicted:

People would become hysterical, there would be chaos throughout the world. It’s not a question if it’s going to occur again. It’s only a question of when.

As a physician, the California prepper has easier access to medicine than most others. He explained:

I am able to obtain antibiotics and other medications because I am a physician. I actually buy these in large quantities. So we have all these medicines. It’s a little bit hard to know what to do with the antibiotics if you’re not a doctor.

The show added:

After a pandemic, Bradford believes hospitals will become hot zones for infection. So he’s stockpiling antibiotics to ensure his family never needs to leave the house for medical care.

Bradford’s wife, Narin, is concerned her spouse is wasting money on preparedness gear and supplies. She revealed:

I told him you like to think all negative things. And scary things. And nothing’s going to happen.

Despite her objections, Bradford stockpiles food, including 1,000 lbs. of rice. From the episode:

Bradford considers rice the perfect prepper food, because it’s inexpensive, contains protein, and has a long shelf-life.

The Franks’ daughter, Alexandria, seems a bit more understanding of her father’s efforts. She said:

I don’t really know how I feel about my dad being so concerned about bird flu. He lets it go to his head too much sometimes, and I feel he can be a little neurotic. But, it’s good that we have a little back up plan.

The show revealed the family has enough food stashed away to last a year.

Viewers were provided some insight into Narin’s stance on preparedness. Narin is from Cambodia, and all her primary relatives were killed by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. At 19, she escaped from one of their prison camps, and did whatever was required to survive.

Could talk of prepping be bringing back bad memories? She said:

I don’t need a lot of food. And I don’t need a lot of medicine. I know how to survive in a different way.

Maybe so. But not needing a lot of food or medicine doesn’t mean squat should an easily-communicable and lethal strain of influenza arrive at your door. And should its appearance result in societal collapse, Narin must remember she’s no longer 19 as well.

Bradford is concerned that the infected will target doctors’ homes in search of medicine. Subsequently, he replaced his home’s sliding doors with quarter-inch thick sheets of ballistic glass, which repels projectiles and bullets. And according to the show:

Some glass manufacturers are making “one-way” bullet proof glass, allowing for return fire at the exterior threat

Interesting. Will have to look into that one.

Because the potential exists for infection via his neighbors, Bradford secured an isolated bug-out location- a gem mine 2.5 hours from San Diego. He pointed out:

The number one protection in a global pandemic is being away from other people who may be infectious.

The prepper also revealed just how driven he is to survive this and other life-threatening scenarios. Bradford said:

I have just a very powerful survival instinct that would propel me to continue to scratch and claw my way forward.

Getting back to the cave, the underground shelter brought back bad memories for Narin. During her flight from the Khmer Rouge, she was forced to hide in one for 2 months.

As such, it might not work for the Frank family.

Plus, in the “Expert Assessment” portion of segment, Practical Preppers LLC offered up the following:

However, if you ultimately choose to bug-out to an isolated location, we do not suggest a cave. A cave is susceptible to moisture, which would destroy your food stores.

In the “Doomsday Preppers Update,” viewers were informed that Bradford was carjacked at gunpoint while on vacation. He said:

Things turned out well, and the perpetrators are behind bars. But I actually hope that this experience is a positive one for my family in helping them understand that bad things can happen even when you least expect them.

Overall, another good episode of Doomsday Preppers. More interesting ideas to explore. Plus, I liked the additional focus on spouses and family members in this installment. I have a feeling there’s a lot more Narins out there than Jeans or Kellys when it comes to embracing prepping and the advantages it gives the individual/family should a SHTF event take place. But that’s not meant to take away anything from Mrs. Frank, who, as a survivor of the Cambodian “killing fields,” is obviously one tough, resilient woman. However, based on her experience “living” in “Democratic” Kampuchea, one might think she’d be more open to being prepared for those unexpected life-threatening situations that come along every once in a while, like a murderous regime seizing power or global pandemic, for example.

Anyway, I wish these preppers success in their endeavors.

New episodes of Doomsday Preppers air on the National Geographic Channel Tuesday nights at 9 PM Eastern/Pacific Time. For more information, go to the Nat Geo Channel website here.

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On TV: Earth 2100

One of our political leaders said not too long ago that the American way of life is non-negotiable. And we’re going to discover the hard way that when you don’t negotiate the circumstances that are sent to you by the universe, you automatically get assigned a new negotiating partner- named reality. And then they will negotiate for you- you don’t even have to be in the room.

-James Howard Kunstler (American author and leading proponent of “New Urbanism” movement), in ABC’s Earth 2100

Back on June 2, 2009, ABC ran a two-hour television program called Earth 2100. Hosted by ABC journalist Bob Woodruff, the show depicted a worst-case scenario for the United States in the next hundred years from a “perfect storm” of unsustainable population growth, disappearing resources, and harmful climate change coming together. From ABC News’ Alexa Danner back on May 29, 2009:

It’s an idea that most of us would rather not face — that within the next century, life as we know it could come to an end. Our civilization could crumble, leaving only traces of modern human existence behind.

It seems outlandish, extreme — even impossible. But according to cutting edge scientific research, it is a very real possibility. And unless we make drastic changes now, it could very well happen.

Experts have a stark warning: that unless we change course, the “perfect storm” of population growth, dwindling resources and climate change has the potential to converge in the next century with catastrophic results.

In order to plan for the worst, we must anticipate it. In that spirit, guided by some of the world’s experts, ABC News’ “Earth 2100,” hosted by Bob Woodruff, will journey through the next century and explore what might be our worst-case scenario.

But no one can predict the future, so how do we address the possibilities that lie ahead? Our solution is Lucy, a fictional character devised by the producers at ABC to guide us through the twists and turns of what the next 100 years could look like. It is through her eyes and experiences that we can truly imagine the experts’ worst-case scenario — and be inspired to make changes for the better…

And the worst case scenario dreamed up by some of the world’s foremost scientists and thinkers? Danner added:

If we remain on the current course, it’s estimated that by 2050, the world’s population may have increased by at least half and many parts of the world may be facing grave shortages of resources. The Southwest U.S. could face an extended drought, while pests threaten crops. As global sea levels rise, much of the world map could be redrawn. People will begin to migrate back to urban areas in search of better lives…

But just how bad could things get? In one scenario, scientists imagine that by the year 2100, immense storms irreparably damage major metropolises. Streets, subway tunnels, and buildings would flood and begin to rot. The stagnant water would breed filth and displace residents, forcing them into homelessness. Poverty levels and death rates could skyrocket. A new and virulent strain of disease might develop — then mutate and spread around the globe, potentially claiming tens of thousands of lives.

In this scenario, as the crisis explodes, looting grows rampant, major world powers go to war over water, and millions of people die from famine. Civilization literally collapses under its own weight.

Earth 2100 is divided into a number of chapters that correspond with events in Lucy’s life:

• June 2, 2009, “Born”- Lucy is born in Miami suburbs
• April 4, 2012, “The Good Old Days”
• August 27, 2014, “Summer Of The Dragonfly”- Species start migrating
• February 18, 2015, “Moving Day”- Americans leaving suburbs for the city
• July 14, 2015, “Running On Empty”- Lines form at gas stations, U.S. turns to coal for energy
• October 21, 2015, “Wakeup Call”- Major hurricane devastates Miami
• October 23, 2015, “After The Storm”- Lucy’s home destroyed, family moves to San Diego
• January 6, 2030, “The New Normal”- U.S. plagued by shortages and higher prices
• February 14, 2030, “In Deep Water”- Southwest becomes a desert by 2030s
• November 25, 2040, “On The Brink”- Environmental refugees on southern border
• March 28, 2050, “From Sea To Shining Sea”- Lucy leaves San Diego, witnesses Lake Mead dry, Las Vegas dead, refugees leaving dangerous Southwest, pests migrating north, Midwest still green and fertile
• September 18, 2060, “The Big “Green” Apple- Lucy moves to New York City, which is threatened by rising sea levels. Husband works on barrier.
• September 15, 2070, “Big Fixes”- Sea level up three feet, and island nations, California beaches, Everglades gone. Methane gas released from thawing Arctic tundra causing global temps to soar.
• March 15, 2074, “Plan B”- Ice sheets melt rapidly. Sulfur dioxide is released into atmosphere around the world to cool the Earth’s temperature. Halted because gas eroding ozone layer.
• January 5, 2075, “The Ice Storm”- Big nor’easter hits New York City. Barrier gate gets stuck and flooding ensues.
• January 5, 2075, “After The Storm”- Spouse killed in storm. NYC in shambles. Pandemic strikes. Civilization collapses. Famine strikes. Population dies off. World plunged into new “Dark Age.”

Lucy’s tale ends on June 2, 2100, at which point she is living with her daughter and grandson in the countryside. At the end of the program, contributors discuss what can be done to prevent such a scenario.

Overall, Earth 2100 was interesting to watch- despite, once again, the depressing subject material. Keep in mind that the show relies heavily on the theory of global warming- the belief that increases in the average temperature of the Earth’s near-surface air and oceans since the middle of the last century can be attributed to increased concentrations of greenhouse gases from human activities such as deforestation and the burning of fossil fuel. For believers in global warming, the show could serve as a guide as to where America might be heading- and what to prepare for. For global warming skeptics, keep in mind that Earth 2100 isn’t just about climate change. The show also discusses what could result from unsustainable population growth and dwindling resources, so ideas for surviving and thriving in such a world can be taken away from the ABC special.

Earth 2100 shows up on the History Channel from time to time. If you’d like to view it now, the program has been uploaded to YouTube in nine parts, which you can access in a playlist on SPTV here.

(Editor’s note: Links placed on “Resources” page and SPTV)

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Quote For The Week

Recently, money manager Jim Puplava of the Financial Sense® Newshour and Chris Martenson of “Crash Course” fame discussed the topic of “peak oil.” In case you haven’t heard, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported in its last edition of the annual World Energy Outlook that, according to their forecasts, peak oil production became a reality back in 2006. Anyway, the show’s host challenged the notion that crude oil production levels could be increased and questioned the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) about their reserves. From the February 8th FSN broadcast:

Anytime that you see, for example, remember when oil prices spiked from Katrina and Rita, and we went from $50 to $70? Well, what did Congress do? They had a, you know, an investigation. They dragged the CEOs of the oil companies- never mind that they only produce about 15% of the world’s energy– they dragged them before Congress. And they did the same thing in the summer of 2008 when we had $147 oil.

And what nobody has asked, this is the thing that just- I don’t care if you’re reading the IEA, the EIA, CERA reports- why is it, with a seven-fold increase in the price of oil, this decade, that worldwide oil production has been flat since 2005?

I mean, if you can get triple-digits, as light sweet crude is selling- and brent- is selling right now- why wouldn’t you produce as much as you can?

And the other thing, Chris, that always surprises me, is every year the BP statistical review comes out, OPEC produces 40% of the world’s energy and their reserves never change- they haven’t changed in twenty-something years.

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On TV: Prophets Of Doom

Last month, a show aired on the History Channel called Prophets of Doom. From the History Channel website:

Today’s world has troubles unique to its time in history, from the global financial crisis to technological meltdowns to full scale, computerized global war.

Observing the convergence of such events, contemporary prophets have begun to emerge from obscurity to suggest that these conditions might be signs of the demise of the modern world. These men are historians as well, using all manner of information and patterns from the past to provide context for where we are going. Their predictions interpret the current state of affairs in our world as evidence that the America we know may come to an end. The men proposing these ideas are not crackpots living on the streets of New York; they are intelligent, learned men who come armed with the evidence to back up their claims.

In the 94 minute show, investigative journalist Michael Ruppert, economist Dr. Nathan Hagens, author John Cronin, investigative journalist/author James Howard Kuntsler, computer scientist Dr. Hugo De Garis, and executive editor Robert Gleason came together to discuss some of the greatest threats to the future of the United States, including economic collapse, water shortages/contamination, peak oil, species dominance by self-aware robots, and nuclear terrorism. The following are some of the points argued during the program:

Michael Ruppert

• Unsustainable population growth coincided with the discovery of oil
• Despite finite resources, the U.S. population continues to increase
• The population will crash with the arrival of peak oil

Dr. Nathan Hagens

• The United States is insolvent and its debts will come home to roost
• The global economy is one giant Ponzi scheme and can no longer continue to grow
• The economy will crash as natural resources run out and alternatives fail to come online in time
• Americans suffer from cognitive dissonance, “when our brains don’t want to acknowledge the gravity or seriousness of a situation”
• The greatest threat to the United States today is the coming financial reckoning

John Cronin

• The United States is a “water economy”
• The quantity and quality of fresh water is in danger here and around the globe
• Waste dumped by sewage treatment plants into bodies of water not only contaminate drinking water with bacteria and viruses but also with exotic chemicals that the plants weren’t designed to remove, like pharmaceuticals
• Technology is needed to measure what’s in our water at any moment
• A shortage of fresh water is the most pressing threat to the United States

James Howard Kuntsler

• Peak oil has arrived
• America will experience a devastating energy crisis in the 21st century
• A 2005 energy study, known as the Hirsch Report, concluded that the United States is facing an imminent energy crunch, and was subsequently buried
• Major complex systems essential to daily life will unravel in such a scenario

Dr. Hugo De Garis

• Develops artificial intelligence- a “professional brain builder”
• His field predicts robots, which could soon be widely-available to consumers, will develop self-awareness by the 2040s
• When this happens, robots will achieve “the singularity,” where they can begin to think and act separate from human control
• However, this could lead to species dominance, where the robots might see humans as nothing more than pests- and seek to exterminate them

Robert Gleason

• Nuclear terrorism directed against the United States is a credible threat
• Terrorists might unleash an “American Hiroshima,” where nuclear devices are detonated in several U.S. cities to incapacitate the nation

After each “prophet” made their points, they discussed which threats to the United States seemed to be most pressing. Cronin, De Garis, and Gleason decided that water shortages/contamination was the greatest danger. Hagens chose a financial reckoning day. Ruppert also indicated an economic collapse- due to resource shortages. Kunstler argued that the major threats couldn’t be ranked as they comprised “several competing fiascos.” The narrator announced that the group had highlighted a debt-based society and water issues as the biggest problems America faces down the road.

While noting that America is not psychologically-prepared for the problems it faces, each “prophet” went on to offer their prescriptions for dealing with the threats. A common theme was the focus on re-localization. They also realized that time would be a precious commodity. While no one claimed the end of the world was at hand, they did recognize that we had reached the end of a particular phase in American history. Americans, they decided, would have to become more self-sufficient in order to successfully weather the challenges ahead.

Interesting show, smart bunch of guys- highly-recommended. Don’t worry if you don’t have the History Channel, as the entire program has been uploaded on YouTube here.

(Editor’s note: Link placed on “Resources” page and SPTV)

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IEA Chief Economist Says Age Of Cheap Oil Is Over

When I was putting together the “About” section of Survival And Prosperity, I mentioned that resource scarcity, such as peak oil production, is “no longer confined to the realm of conspiracy theory” as it becomes a growing threat to the U.S. economy. International Energy Agency Chief Economist Fatih Birol shared his thoughts on the subject with MarketWatch’s Steve Goldstein in an interview posted on the MarketWatch website today:

But when we get to the supply side, most of the fields outside the OPEC countries, in the United States, in Europe, are in decline. They are mature and they are declining. It will be more and more difficult to bring oil to the markets, and it will be more and more political to bring oil to the markets, and it will be more and more costly to bring oil to the markets. My conclusion is that the age of cheap oil is over. We have to prepare ourselves as governments, as industry, as individuals driving cars, to live with the higher oil prices than we saw in the past.

“Age of Cheap Oil Is Over: IEA’s Chief Economist”
MarketWatch Video Link

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Friday, December 3rd, 2010 Energy, Natural Resources No Comments
Survival And Prosperity
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