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When Oil Peaked by Kenneth S. Deffeyes

When Oil Peaked

by Kenneth S. Deffeyes

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Isn't there a type of sedimentary rock, a conglomerate, where good sized chunks of all sorts of minerals get smashed together in a rather fragile matrix? That's what this book is. Lots of insights pulled out of the author's long experience in geology and mineral extraction. But there is not much cohesiveness to the whole.

The general thrust is: given that petroleum production peaked in 2005, what now? The book was published in 2010. I'm not sure the 2005 peak has held, not that we have surpassed it by much or that there is much prospect of doing so in the future.

Deffeyes takes a grand engineering perspective here. How do we manage the system? There are big problems with this. Planet scale engineering does not permit failure-prone tinkering. Of course, failure-prone tinkering is exactly what we are facing. But Deffeyes doesn't really look at that angle. For him it seems to be like when your car breaks down on the side of the road. Just patch some solution together to get to the next proper garage. Yeah at the very end he mentions that the human population is probably already above the sustainable carrying capacity of the planet. That's a detail! But he just tosses it in at the end.

Well, he's an old guy with lots of bits and pieces. It's a bit like a craftsman retiring and passing along their shop to a new owner. Lots of wisdom and experience packed into all the tools and materials lying about. But the working craftsman created a context where all those pieces made any kind of sense. For the new owner, it's really just that conglomerate rock that crumbles as you pick it up. The pieces are nice bits of mineral, but now it's up to us to fit them together in a way that serves our purposes.

Deffeyes takes some credit for the fracking boom in e.g. Pennsylvania. I don't think he mentioned North Dakota. How quickly these things boom and bust! But he doesn't address the risks and costs of fracking. He is also rather dismissive of the risk of climate change. OK, the geological record is filled with changing climate. It's funny because he proposes geo-engineering - some massive salination-balancing canals across Panama - so we see than humans can intentionally have a significant effect on the climate - doesn't that imply that CO2 emissions could have a significant effect, even if unintentional?

There is a kind of inconsistency here... he never quite says "So what if humans go extinct, species go extinct all the time!" but actually his geological perspective is vaster yet than that. On the other hand, he's got these dramatic proposals for avoiding any real adjustment to our way of life, contra those crazy climate change folks.

It's a fun conglomerate to wander through but I didn't find any coherent message. I don't think that was the intent. Thanks, Professor Deffeyes, for passing along your fine craftsman shop full of mineral delights, for we of the next generation to put to good use! Enjoy your retirement! ( )
  kukulaj | Dec 15, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0809094711, Hardcover)

In two earlier books, Hubbert’s Peak (2001) and Beyond Oil (2005), the geologist Kenneth S. Deffeyes laid out his rationale for concluding that world oil production would continue to follow a bell-shaped curve, with the smoothed-out peak somewhere in the middle of the first decade of this millennium—in keeping with the projections of his former colleague, the pioneering petroleum geologist M. King Hubbert.
Deffeyes sees no reason to deviate from that prediction, despite the ensuing global recession and the extreme volatility in oil prices associated with it. In his view, the continued depletion of existing oil fields, compounded by shortsighted cutbacks in many exploration-and-development projects, virtually assures that the mid-decade peak in global oil production will never be surpassed.
In When Oil Peaked, he revisits his original forecasts, examines the arguments that were made both for and against them, adds some new supporting material to his overall case, and applies the same mode of analysis to a number of other finite gifts from the Earth: mineral resources that may be also in shorter supply than “flat-Earth” prognosticators would have us believe.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:50 -0400)

Suggests that oil production peaked in 2005, that the current global recession is a result, and that other mineral resources are also more limited than people realize and must be conserved.

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