Peak Scam

Caveat: In the memory of George Carlin, RIP, and conceived in his eternal spirit of exposing bullshit wherever he found any, and who, in 1999, commenting on the trend among white business men to smoke big fat cigars, opened with, “Haven’t we had enough of this cigar smoking shit in this country?” and closed with: “Sigmund Freud said that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Oh, yeah? Well, sometimes it’s a big brown dick … with a fat arrogant white collar business criminal asshole sucking on the wet end of it.”

There are many problems, of the conceptual and political kind, with the explanations by the proponents of the idea that the current oil prices and the ongoing wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan are the direct results of having reached a peak in the worldwide oil production. In what follows, I will list five fundamental shortcomings of Peak Oil explanations.

1. Racist Thinking

Here is a challenge for all American environmentalists: Find any utterance made by any environmentalist in the U.S. that falls to the left of the following quote from an article by the certified right-winger, Charles Krauthammer: “Forbidding drilling [in the Arctic refuge] does not prevent despoliation. It merely exports it. The crude oil we’re not getting from the Arctic we import instead from places like the Niger Delta, where millions live and where the resulting pollution and oil spillages poison the lives of many of the world’s most abysmally poor” (emphasis added).

A very kind and well-informed person provided me an insight regarding the difference between the ‘profitability of extraction’ as opposed to the ‘required energy needed for extraction’. It was pointed out that profitability of oil extraction should not be the key consideration. Instead, the most important consideration should be how much energy is put into the extraction process v. the amount of usable energy dug up (in the form of oil). Fair and well. And I would add that the amount of energy input required to get the oil must also include the ‘cost’ of basic human life.

Myriad forms of socio-historically necessary labor-hours go into creating the material conditions in which to exploit the energy hidden in a natural resource (say, oil). If we only look at a tiny slice of this huge spectrum of energy-types spent over many decades and even entire centuries — i.e. if, out of a miles-long chain, we only look at a few chain-links pertaining to the drilling/extraction/distribution — then of course we end up with a limited understanding of the larger chain of events.

For example, consider how long (i.e., how many human labor hours) it takes to build a school. If it takes a crew of 100 people one year to finish this school, that’s 200,000 human hours (assuming work week is 40 hours, and work year 50 weeks). Now, consider how many different types of expertise go into building such a school. Now add to that the many millions of human hours spent on raising (feeding, housing, healthcare) and educating this 100-person crew.

Then, enlarge the picture: think building roads, bridges, factories, other needed buildings, stores, farms, sewage systems, houses, universities, hospitals, theaters, concert halls, sports facilities and stadiums. And then what about training and professionally nurturing the teachers, doctors and nurses, carpenters, plumbers, factory workers, shopkeepers, engineers, writers and journalists, trade unionists, film makers, painters, poets? How many billions and billions of human-hours does it take to build a city, a working government?

Now answer this: Do all the billions of hours of materialized human labor that have historically been destroyed by Westerners in the Middle East enter the equations telling us how many energy units are needed, under the current market conditions, to produce the equivalent of one BTU (British Thermal Unit) of energy?

The fact that mainstream publications screaming about peak oil (when talking about the ‘cost’ of oil) never take into account the obliterated billions of human labor-hours spent developing the societies in the Middle East is proof enough of the racist thinking common among the western powers and their media. [That some leftists get starry-eyed by the unscientific numbers presented by Peak Oilers says more about the sorry state of affairs in the so-called American Left, than it says about the persuasive powers of the ‘explanations’ presented.]

We can find it justifiable to exclude human lives and the ‘cost’ of their socio-historical accumulations, and instead concentrate only on technical side of capital’s operational costs exclusively connected to extraction/packaging/distribution, if and only if other peoples’ lives have no value.

When discussing human-created problems — particularly pertaining to exploiting natural resources through socially organized activities — any proposed ‘cost analysis’ that excludes historically accumulated human social labor is not an a scientific explanation. Further, such a perspective is racist since the only human life worth its consideration, implicit in its tenets, is the ethnocentric, western self.

Just the amount spent on the destruction of Iraq and Afghanistan is in the trillions of dollars. How many tens of trillions of dollars worth of human creation has this war actually destroyed? Do these destructions enter American environmentalists’ calculations?

2. Warning sign is all they are; panic is all they breed

In a global social system run by imperialistic capitalism, the key factor is profitability, and nothing else. For those who wish to maximize their profits, panic may be induced regarding the slower rates of discoveries of easy oil; not ‘peak’ oil.

Peak Oil hysteria — and it is hysteria, since it comes with no realistically thought out solution plans — in this context, only feeds the ideological ruling paradigms, which translate the supposed shortages into a need for more severe wars of possession for natural resources. This is so, because in the metropolises of the world capitalist system, it is only the right wing that wields real power, and right wing solutions are the only ones with buyers. (Which incidentally is exactly why the Democrats must remain very right wing if they want to find any buyers for their ideas.)

In the context of the really existing capitalism, Peak Oilers are therefore basically a warning sign, which has been flashing on and off since the 1970s, and still decked in the same 70s accompaniments: intensification of the oppression of the Palestinian Arabs; high oil prices; high inflation; and a rising trend toward higher unemployment rates.

Peak Oil’s flashing sign is old, certain wires hanging loose disconnected, at times zapping itself; consequently, it needs artificially enhanced energy. The current war, like a lovely dose of Viagra, has given its arguments excessive blood and vigor. Just as heart-throbbing the effects are of the elixir of manhood, hold on to your hats boys and girls, for you’ll be hearing the siren songs to the tune of the equivalent of a 6-hour hard-on: very excited and energetic commentary-pronouncements running on feverishly for a long time, warning of how fucked up the situation’s gonna get, then, WAM, heart attack! On the background wall to the stage on which this stupidity performs, the sign flashing: Tank Half Empty! Tank Half Empty! (Brain Half Dead!)

Peak Oilers are very much like the local evening news: A house/office building/mountain burned down; shootings at a high school, in neighborhood X, mostly poor, police say the gunmen are still at large, motive unknown; 53 arrested after police broke up a high school brawl involving 300 students, reasons unclear; man/woman/child killed, police interviewed the neighbors, motive unknown; local convenience store held up, the cashier unharmed/was gunned down, police have no explanations.

Now, we know that even in the worst locations on earth (except war zones) those fires, shootings, school fights due to hanging nooses, teachers and priests having sex with students/believers, and all the millions of miles of footage on this or that celebrity seen locally (or anywhere) were obviously not the only things happening within the local universe in the 24-hour interval between last night and tonight. Some selection has clearly taken place, which is of course what ‘news’ organizations do to prepare their programs. This carefully produced selection, when repeated daily and over the decades, keeps the public on edge on two levels: envious of the rich and the famous and, more so and more importantly, scared and insecure about their own lives. And that, not information sharing, is the rhetorical agenda of ‘news organizations’: Danger creeps around every corner! Put your trust in the authorities! State violence is your only security!

Peak Oil serves exactly the same rhetorical purpose in a more nuanced way, with regard to the ‘energy crisis’: it keeps people revved up and on edge about the coming doom regarding oil and ‘our way of life’. And who to trust to solve the problem? Since Peak Oilers don’t say, the actually existing answer is provided happily by, who else, the western corporations, the global ‘free market’ and the first world governments.

3. Magical disappearance of American oil

Since this has been dealt with to some degree in a previous article, the actual estimates for how much oil (in different forms) is available in the U.S. are presented for the reader in two documents that were prepared for the U.S. Congress (see here, and here). These two documents make it clear that the U.S., including its outer continental shelf, contains, just in terms of crude oil, about 115 billion barrels of crude oil (not 21 billion, as is widely circulated in the mainstream media). Additionally, the U.S. also has a huge reserve of oil shale, from which at least tens of billions more barrels of oil can be had.

Further, as has been thoroughly explained by William Engdahl, 60% of the current price of oil is caused by the futures traders in this commodity, and has nothing to do with supply shortages. In fact, there is too much supply for the actually existing capacity of refineries to refine the available oil fast enough!

So, ‘shortages’ have nothing to do with the oil prices, and there is plenty of American oil still available for American users. So Peak Oilers must be experiencing a severe case of ‘Thou panicketh too much!’

4. Magical disappearance of American culpability

Since Peak Oilers work with capitalist vocabulary, their solutions will never have anything to do with a fundamental re-conceptualization of property rights, and no form of socialization of natural resources will enter their platforms.

Their remedies are limited to suggestions regarding consumption patterns purely. So, let us take them seriously, and consider the consequences of their recommendations for change of consumption patterns.

According to Wikipedia, “Energy demand is distributed amongst four broad sectors: transportation, residential, commercial, and industrial. The sector that generally sees the highest annual growth in petroleum demand is transportation, in the form of new demand for personal-use vehicles powered by internal combustion engines. […] This sector also has the highest consumption rates, accounting for approximately 68.9% of the oil used in the United States in 2006.”

Let us now praise and appraise the big, blue and purple elephant sitting in front of the TVs of all Americans still in their homes: the North American urban planning.

Apart from New York City, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Portland (OR) and Seattle and a few other metropolitan centers, which together comprise a small percentage of the land mass of the country, in all the rest of the U.S. you pretty much must have a car to get around; or else it takes you about three times as much (if at all) to do anything. A large percentage own two cars per family.

This is because of the city planning, which imposes such conditions that you cannot simply walk or take a bus to school, or to work, or to the grocery store; or walk to the drug store, the cobbler (seen any of those around lately?), or to buy a newspaper, a pack of cigarettes, a loaf of bread, some eggs, some cookies. No. You must drive! You must start up an internal combustion engine, and burn up thousands upon thousands of additional calorie-equivalents of energy unnecessarily spent for doing tasks that can be done far more efficiently, in the same amount of time; like they’re done in about all the other countries in the world.

So, what do Peak Oilers suggest we do about this very fundamental, and very large, part of the American demand side of the ‘oil crisis’? Nothing short of a social revolution can solve this specifically American problem. Are the Peak Oilers advocating a new American revolution and preparing for it? That would be the politico-logical thing to do.

5. The real cause of the U.S. direct military attacks

Peak Oil explanations, having done their job of delivering baseless warnings, stop way short of seeing the historical evidence in any meaningful manner. For example, they either do not want to account for since they just cannot, or see no significance in the fact that ever since the beginning of the last century, Middle Eastern societies have been under attack because of their large quantities of oil. This oil had been secured and readily available at handsome profits to western corporations and their governments without any need for direct military interventions, until 1990-91. The Peak Oilers do not draw any conclusions from this fact. Because they have not seen militaries moved into an area, they assume that no attacks had been launched. But, they must understand and draw some political conclusions from the fact that Middle Easterners have for a century been under western attack for their resources.

Only recently, did direct military interventions in our region become necessary for the U.S. Other kinds of attacks have been launched numerous times and periodically. The amount of remaining/existing oil has made no difference in the strategic designs of the western imperialists when it has come to securing their ‘interests’ in our region.

So, it is clear to most people in the Middle East that the supposed peak in the ‘Peak Oil’ has nothing to do with the current U.S. military invasion of the greater Middle East. The invasion has had something tangentially to do with oil per se, as this commodity has for a century had something to do with how westerners have approached us.

The real reason Saddam Hussein had to go has far more to do with the fact that he stopped being a stooge and was acting too independently, and challenging the set-up favored by the U.S. and Israel. The real political-economic causes in this case were more political than purely economic.

Unlike the German and Japanese imperialists, whose post-World War II interventions into Third World countries have been through economic levers, the U.S. is a world imperialist power that historically has as often projected power through ‘civil’ means (corporations and financial institutions) as through state violence (coups, bilateral security agreements previously, and now open military interventions). For this type of imperialism, local or regional powers willing to and capable of acting independently and wielding power are not desirable, unless (as with Israel) such a local power is in a fundamental fashion (existentially?) dependent on Washington’s patronage.

Once Saddam Hussein practiced his right (common among thieves) to claim a larger take, the U.S. had to step in, to teach the uppity Ay-rab (and others by extension) a lesson. A tiny little, ‘backwards’, third world nation that people educated in the U.S. cannot even spot on a map, not only gives the finger to Uncle Sam but slaps him in the face, too! Uncle Sam did not have a choice; but in that very act of showing that Uncle Sam did not have a choice, he also proved his relative (and fast increasing) impotence in the new ‘world order’.

The military invasions of the greater Middle East have everything to do with a quick-you-missed-it’s-dead hegemonic structure that was set up after World War II. In that structure, the U.S. could simply tug at some economic strings here and there, call in an ambassador or minister or two, pull off some custom made precision covert actions, and the local regimes would either dance accordingly or change (their behavior, or physically) as desired. The fact that the U.S. now has to intervene militarily is proof that the old system has vanished, and the U.S. is in a scramble to make something, strategically, out of the chaos of its own making. But, in this scramble, there are far more unknowns than there are known factors! Which is why people in the Middle East can and will defeat the aggressors.

The Arabs, I believe, will free themselves of imperialism in the long run; as will everybody else. The Middle Eastern cultures run thousands of years deep. Nothing can destroy this. I have no doubt that the Americans too, just like the Persians, the Romans, the Mongols, and the Turks, will eventually have to creep back to where they came from, and in their case to face their true selves: neurosis-filled, self-indulged. And maybe, just maybe, when they do face themselves as societies, they can figure out a thing or two about how to enhance the human species not corrupt and destroy it. The only problem is that until then, there will be lots of nastiness going around since the American imperialists, like the Mongols, just can’t create anything other than total destruction.

34 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Andrew said on June 28th, 2008 at 6:45am #

    I haven’t had the opportunity to read your entire article but I would like to comment on your first argument. I’m not sure I would call it racist but it is certainly hypocritical for Americans to claim the envirornmental high ground while the rest of the world is being polluted and resources comsumed to feed American consumption. However you have not given your readers the full truth. Drilling the good ole US of A until it looks like swiss cheese would not significantly address the current oil situation. A report just released last week concluded that opening all restricted areas in and off shore of the US would not make a significant contribution to oil production before 2030 and would have no significant impact on world oil prices. Peak fanatic or Peak debunker, today’s situation is not likely to improve in the near term. The safest route for anyone is to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Debunking Peak Oil isn’t a source of hope and certainly won’t prepare you for the worst that might be coming.

  2. Nick said on June 28th, 2008 at 6:50am #

    I’ve been following the Peak Oil issue for about four years. I regularly visit sites like or and have read most of the key books on it. I read your article thinking it might provide some interesting counter arguments. It didn’t. Nor do I recognise the nasty picture you paint of those who write about it. Contrary to what you state most are NOT environmentalists. In fact many of those I’ve met who might describe themselves as environmentalists think, like you, that PO is a scam.

    The bottom line here is that those who really do know about oil – the geologists – can clearly explain, in terms even someone as blinded by politics as you might understand, that the issue is geological. Sure there may be subtexts – issues of market manipulation and speculation – but at root the numbers just don’t stack up. (Certainly your claims for US reserves are laughable and anyone who knows anything about tar sands and oil shales knows that this is never going to provide anything like the oil required to keep things running).

    I also do not recognise your cynical perception of PO’ers as a-political and disinterested in the deep issues of colonialism, imperialism, et al. In fact PO has given me a clearer insight into these wider issues.

    In around thirty years time there will be approximately half of the current 85million bpd being produced. Neither wars, political argument or prayer for more oil, (as I read some delusional Americans are indulging in), will make a jot of difference to this fact.

  3. John Bunt said on June 28th, 2008 at 6:58am #

    Scenario: You and I meet today. Oil is $140/bbl. I am willing to bet that it will be higher on 12/31/08. I cannot make any money on that bet unless I can find someone who will bet otherwise. You are willing to do so, betting that it will be less than $140/bbl. at year end. So if higher, you pay me the difference from $140, and if lower I pay you the difference. Now explain to me how our transaction has just added 60% to the current price of oil. PS: In order to ensure that each of us will honor the bet, we both agree to keep $8 of equity in escrow with an independent 3rd party. So, if , e.g., the price dips to $135 next month, I have to put up an additional $5 (on top of my original $8) with the escrow agent, and you can withdraw that $5 if you choose to do so, since your equity is now $13 ($8 originally put up, plus you are currently $5 “in the money” on the bet). PPS: At anytime between now and year end, either one of us can get out of the bet if we can find someone else to step into our position (either of us wins or loses what has occured to date, but gives up any further profit or loss) at that point in time.

  4. David said on June 28th, 2008 at 7:48am #

    This article would be greatly improved by a couple things:

    1. Some facts regarding these “Peak Oilers”. Who are we talking about? The author says nothing. They seem to be a blank canvas on which the author can project some thrilling rhetoric. But speaking as a reader willing to give the author the benefit of the doubt, I get no sense of EXACTLY who or what positions the article is being written in opposition to. It makes it hard to take this seriously. Let’s have some names, references, quotations, please.

    2. The author says things like, “And who to trust to solve the problem? Since Peak Oilers don’t say, the actually existing answer is provided happily by, who else, the western corporations, the global ‘free market’ and the first world governments.” Well, some “Peak Oilers” have plenty to say about what we ought to be doing in the face of the very real crisis in availability of fossil fuels — although no one is speaking about “solving the problem”, since all agree that oil supplies are dwindling now and we need to face a future world with much less oil. I suggest that the author look into such writers and thinkers as James Howard Kunstler, Rob Hopkins, Bill Mollison, David Holmgren, Wendell Berry, Richard Heinberg, to name a few of the most prominent. (Sadly, these are all white males, so of course nothing they say can be taken seriously.)

    Please try again. I’d like to see a response targeted directly at some of the more thoughtful and responsible thinkers who are working out sane responses to peak oil. An article pointing out that corporations are not going to get us out of this mess hardly adds to the sum total of human knowledge, now does it?

  5. ruckrover said on June 28th, 2008 at 7:55am #

    The oil shale and tar sands arguments have a big problem – how do you cook the shale and tar sands to make usable oil? You use huge quantities of natural gas til you cause peak natural gas.

    It makes better sense to re-engineer the internal combustion engine to run on natural gas itself than to burn the more environmentally friendly to make the sooty shale oil or tar sands oil.

    Algae may be a better answer and one company – Sapphire energy – has already genetically engineered algae to make crude oil. A problem here that comes to mind (hopefully i’m wrong) is – what if such algae gets out of the tanks and into the environment? Do we end up with oil slicks in rivers, lakes, ponds, puddles, gardens etc?

  6. ruckrover said on June 28th, 2008 at 8:00am #

    I should just add that Nick is correct – most peak oilers are oil engineer types. I met the retired chief engineer of one of the world’s largest off shore oil exploration companies when I was on vacation in April. I asked him about peak oil and when he thought it was, “about now” was his answer. He was very worried about the lack of urgency from govts. to deal with it.

    The new oil finds are not like the old. The big Tupi field off Brazil for instance is under 3,000 metres of ocean, 2,000 metres of rock and then 2,000 metres of salt. The oil is super-boiling hot, under incredibly intense pressure and the pipes will have to also withstand the threat of corrosion from the salt. This is no old style Saudi or Texan oil field under your feet with easy gushers. This is high high expense technology and difficulty – slow expensive oil. Peak oil in other words.

  7. Eddie said on June 28th, 2008 at 9:42am #

    John that is an interesting scenario and I am assuming that you think that is how the commodities’ market works but I don’t think that is a correct representation.

  8. Cherenkov said on June 28th, 2008 at 11:38am #

    Ideology is not a substitute for energy. Well, maybe the hot air, but that really ain’t much.

    This is a physics problem. We live on a sphere–in space. It is finite. It has X oil. At X over two, we reach peak production. This is a fact. It is not subject to diatribes, theory, dialectics, the invisible hand of the market, or any other magical thinking.

    Yes, capitalism sucks. What you fail to understand is that it grew because we developed cheap energy. Now that capitalism’s fuel is reaching its peak, capitalism is in danger. It is dying. Of course, this wildly violent, racist, misogynistic, anti-environment entity will thrash about in its death-throes killing people willy-nilly in an effort to maintain status quo. And, yes, that is bad. But the physics of the problem can’t be denied.

    The problem with your argument is that you ironically seem to be supporting capitalism by asserting that we CAN find more oil and keep it going. Physics is king. You cannot dialectic your way out of that. If you could just see that we are living on a sphere and that the end of capitalism is only a few short decades away, you might find that there is an opportunity for people to sidestep the bastards and re-localize, become their own masters in control their own local environment.

    My guess is that the blather will continue to spew, and physics will continue to win. Too bad. We could use someone with such verbal skills who isn’t afraid of killing off capitalism.

    I am tempted to think that you are afraid that by actually losing capitalism you will lose whatever value you have in this world as a gadfly, and thus you are working to actually keep the beast going by attacking the peak oil people.

    Still, reality rules, and blather is hot air.

  9. Bart said on June 28th, 2008 at 12:22pm #

    Hello Reza,

    The argument in the essay seems unclear and based on a hazy understanding of peak oil.

    Before you stake your reputation attacking peak oil, you might want to do some more research. There’s a wealth of material out there from many different sources.

    I’m not sure it’s a good idea to rely solely on William Engdahl for your information. Engdahl was a proponent of peak oil theory until a year or two ago, when he became convinced of the abiotic origin of petroleum. I think it’s fair to say that Engdahl’s views are not widely shared.

    Peak oil is a broad movement. It would be more convincing to criticize specific statements by specific writers. Attacking the theory of peak oil as a whole, is rather like attacking the theory of gravity.

  10. Mike Bendzela said on June 28th, 2008 at 12:55pm #

    How odd that you wish to show that peak oil is a “scam” without even addressing what peak oil is.

    You cite reserves estimates for the U.S., which is not the point. Flow rates are.

    You cite Engdahl, who believes that oil is a renewable resource, ignoring 150 years of amassed geological knowledge.

    You address these mysterious “Peak Oilers,” even awarding them capital noun status, without even citing the findings of a single geologist, not even geophysicist M. King Hubbert, who first began studying how oilfields decline in the 1940s.

    Your antipathy for capitalism and imperialism is admirable.

    Your lack of knowledge about what the phenomenon of peak oil actually is, is embarrassing.

    If you don’t “believe” in peak oil, why then don’t prepare for it.

  11. Mike Bendzela said on June 28th, 2008 at 1:02pm #

    By the way, George Carlin “believed” in peak oil:

    Also, I meant to write, “proper noun status,” not “capital noun status.”

  12. mpg said on June 28th, 2008 at 2:47pm #

    With regard to Mr Krauthammer’s quote, show me where he proposes to stop drilling for oil in the Niger delta, Sudan or any other foreign land to stop exporting despoilation. Its just an exercise to get drilling rights for the shareholders. Also, you ascribe many views to “peak oilers” without naming a single person. Finally most people who describe them selves as peak oilers actually have a panoply of coping measures from electric rail, electric cars, wind farms, meaningful conservation, locally grown food, french fry oil etc if yo would listen. Don’t shoot the messenger because you’re unhappy.

  13. Eddie said on June 28th, 2008 at 4:13pm #

    I visit a number of sites that are liberal, progressive, or some similar “whatever” to read their thoughts and it seems that the writers are well versed in outlining what is wrong with capitalism, government, etc. but none seem to offer alternative ideas to correct these problems. I don’t require people to tell me over and over that there is an energy crisis, people starving, my vote doesn’t count, the US is imperalistic , there is income inequity and on and on and on. What I need is people to get creative and come up with new systems that will change things for the better. I am inundated with information about the problems but see nothing that represents viable solutions that can enacted.

  14. David said on June 28th, 2008 at 9:03pm #

    Eddie @ 16h13 and anyone else looking for solutions to the problems that peak oil presents (not to capitalism which is toast IMO, but to human society):

    Here are some sites worth looking into:
    Energy Bulletin
    The Oil Drum
    Transition Culture
    Post Carbon Institute
    The Archdruid Report
    Casaubon’s Book

    There are more, but these are some of the savviest.

  15. tochigi said on June 28th, 2008 at 10:36pm #

    this has got to be the ultimate in “straw man” essays.
    what an utter waste of time.
    all sorts of bad things are attributed to our mythical “peak oiler”,
    but we never find out who they are or get any quotations.
    just diatribe.
    it isn’t going to cut it.
    the cheap oil has already been scammed.

  16. Clifford J. Wirth said on June 29th, 2008 at 1:38am #

    Unfortunately, Peak Oil is a catastrophe for all of us and it begins soon. The media, politicians, federal agencies, and several presidents have failed to inform the public about the impending catastrophe. I have summarized the best studies on Peak Oil impacts and alternatives in this free 50 page report that can be downloaded and distributed/emailed:

  17. Lloyd Rowsey said on June 29th, 2008 at 5:39am #

    Part of my loving reapproachment with my sister has been our mutual love of George Carlin. We’re both in our mid-60’s, but by the late-60’s I was joining the Movement in California whereas she was experiencing a disastrous marriage and then living and dating in San Antonio, where we had grown up.

    Over the last year or so, she convinced me to (at least intermittently) get with George on TV, and I did that, loving his old-man, so-what? it’s just-death thingy, and recognizing, again, that absolutely fearless and infectious shitty grin. Recalling Lily One-Ring-a-Dingy and all the crazy late sixties broadcast wonders and some of what they meant and still mean.

    RIP, George. As the saying goes, you found little enuf of it in this world.

    I hope someone has the time and inclination to collate George Carlin’s best lines — like physicists did for Richard Feynman — and some day soon we can just internet to his comments on “Oil.”

  18. Steve said on June 29th, 2008 at 6:47am #

    Your arguments are flawed and you obviously do not understand anything about oil extraction. If Peak Oil is so flawed then why is USA producing less oil than it was in 1970? Surely with such huge profits the US oil industry would be drilling like a mad man – but interestingly they are not.

    Having spoken to quite a few people about this subject – I find people fall into the following categories:

    1) Those who read about the subject, understand the problems and start re-organising their lives to cope.
    2) Those who read about the subject – but hope and pray that peak oil is sometime off.
    3) Those who don’t want to know or understand and simply say it will be fine, or better next year or in ten years etc.

    I think you need to re-read the literature out on the internet and better understand the problem.

  19. evie said on June 29th, 2008 at 7:27am #

    “Peak oil” is a scam, fraud – however, “peak profits” is real.

  20. Nick said on June 29th, 2008 at 9:19am #

    re evie: aren’t some people just amazingly … dumb. What else can you say.

  21. Edwin Pell said on June 29th, 2008 at 10:19am #

    My favorite peak oil site is It is the site of the Association for the study of Peak Oil&Gas. It was starting by a group of Swedish academics. They now have branches in many countries. Being Swedish they do not seem particularly capitalist. Being Swedish they do not spend any time on the American Arctic reserve issue. Their best estimate is that regular oil production peaked in 2005 and that total hydrocarbon production will peak this year (2008).

    Your article conflates three issues capitalism, middle east war, and peak oil. Of course Cheney is in Iraq for the oil and wants the Iranian oil and gas also. The reason he is so desperate is peakoil. The U.S. runs on oil and without it there will be no need for overpaid GM and Exxon executives.

  22. nicholas said on June 29th, 2008 at 12:09pm #

    I’m glad everyone else saw how misled, misleading and poorly written your argument is…

    to recap:
    “The argument in the essay seems unclear and based on a hazy understanding of peak oil.”
    “I think you need to re-read the literature out on the internet and better understand the problem.”
    “Your arguments are flawed…”
    this has got to be the ultimate in “straw man” essays.
    what an utter waste of time.”

  23. Deadbeat said on June 29th, 2008 at 12:56pm #

    I’m in agreement with evie, “Peak Oil” is a scam and the author is correct to articulate the racism endemic in the “environmental” movement.

    He is also correct when he states that the war on Iraq was for political reason — read Zionism — than it was for oil. War for Oil is a canard being “promoted” by the “left”.

    Unfortunately there are too folks on the “left” unwilling to challenge Zionism and unwilling to deal with issues honestly.

    These are interesting times whereby I find more honesty coming from the “right” these days.

    This was an excellent analysis of the Peak Oil canard.

  24. synicab12 said on June 29th, 2008 at 5:19pm #

    Peak oil is in the FUTURE and is not NOW. I think what should be
    emphasized NOW is that the SUDDEN sharp rise in oil prices in such short period of time is a scam and the result of speculation and of gaming of the system and not the result of Peak Oil.
    Any group with a lot of cash at hand can raise the price of any commodities especially if they were assisted by a lot of hype and pundit
    theorizing for example we are running out of oil so every body should
    buy oil because the price will hit the roof. Sound familiar anybody??!!

  25. hp said on June 29th, 2008 at 7:07pm #

    Israel and the Zionist neocons screaming bomb Iran, bomb Iran, sure doesn’t help either. does it?

  26. David said on June 30th, 2008 at 9:36am #

    From today’s post by James Howard Kunstler at Clusterfuck Nation:

    Complicating matters is a global oil predicament that is really not hard to understand, but which the organs of news and opinion have obdurately failed to explicate for an anxious public. Call it Peak Oil. There are only a few elements of it you need to know. 1.) that demand has now permanently outstripped supply; 2.) that new discoveries are too meager to offset consumption; 3.) That under under the circumstances, the systems we rely on for daily life are crumbling. I’ve called this situation The Long Emergency.
    Our chances of mitigating this, and of continuing our current way-of-life is about zero. I’ve tried to promote the idea that rather than waste remaining resources in the futile attempt to sustain the unsustainable (i.e. come up with “solutions” to keep suburbia running), that we should begin immediately making other arrangements for daily life — mainly by downscaling and re-scaling everything from farming to commerce to the way we inhabit the landscape — but my suggestions have proven unpopular even among the “environmental” elites, who are too busy being entranced by new-and-groovy ways to keep all the cars running.

  27. evie said on June 30th, 2008 at 9:51am #

    The long emergency situation? Lol. Downscale. Your oily addictive way-of-life is unsustainable (pssssssssssst also known as shipping economic growth abroad).

    Say hello to third world white folks. Park your cars and welcome to the back of a very crowded bus.

  28. hope for the future said on June 30th, 2008 at 10:03am #

    While the Zionist argument can certainly be made, but true or not, it does not magically refute peak oil. The two issues are entirely unrelated. One is geological, the other is caused by a deficiency in belief & morals.

    The key disconnect in your repudiation of peak oil is that “there is plenty left”. The problem is, easy oil was called that for a reason. The tough oil requires manpower we don’t have, rigs we don’t have and knowledge we haven’t discovered yet. Other than that, it’s a great solution.

    I find some irony in your encouragement of tar sands & shale production. Isn’t it the poor minorities that get stuck living with all the effluent & pollution resulting from nasty industries? Oil sands production is one of the nastiest of all. I’m looking forward to your future blog post railing against minorities unable to find clean water due to pollution from oil sands.

    Corporations are criminal, but so is ignorance.

  29. David said on June 30th, 2008 at 11:04am #

    evie said on June 29th, 2008 at 7:27 am:

    “Peak oil” is a scam, fraud – however, “peak profits” is real.

    evie said on June 30th, 2008 at 9:51 am:

    The long emergency situation? Lol. Downscale. Your oily addictive way-of-life is unsustainable (pssssssssssst also known as shipping economic growth abroad).Say hello to third world white folks. Park your cars and welcome to the back of a very crowded bus.

    Everybody: check your medication!

  30. evie said on June 30th, 2008 at 11:20am #

    David –
    What part of peak profits going to economic growth abroad, not in the downscaled USA, do you not understand?

  31. Reza said on June 30th, 2008 at 5:08pm #

    The main points I was trying to make in the article are three:
    1. Oil has ALWAYS been extremely expensive (in terms of its effects both environmentally and politically), for the people of the Middle East. It has never been ‘easy’ or ‘cheap’ for the people. For the oil companies, yes, it has been cheap. In fact there were whole periods that some companies were getting their oil for extremely cheap.

    Example, BP, which got its start as Anglo-Persian Oil Company, and from 1908 extracted and sold Iranian oil at any price it wanted, and paid the Iranian government just 12% (which got raised in 1930s to 16%) of the accrued profits. This continued until 1951, when Iranian oil was nationalized; which led to the replacement of our democratically elected government in 1953, through a CIA-led coup. This single coup changed the path of the entire subsequent history of Iran, for the worse. Now, that’s some expensive price to pay by the Iranians for supposedly ‘easy’ or ‘cheap’ oil. So, that’s one point.

    2. The U.S. has a lot of oil, and the mainstream media under-report the actual figures of available oil in the U.S. So, dig up your own damned oil and leave us alone!

    There are strategic reasons why the ruling classes in the U.S. understate the actual amount of oil available in the U.S. In my opinion, one way to assure strategic supremacy is to make sure you have strategic reserves of the energy and fuel that keep a highly mechanized society (and, more importantly, mechanized armed forces) running, long after (or at least for some time after) everybody else has run out of theirs. So, leftists in the U.S. need to take account of this in the political activities and advocacies.

    3. I don’t have fundamental issues with the Peak Oil numbers per se (except to point out that there is a lot more American oil than you were led to believe). I know and understand (or at least assume) that we are dealing with a finite resource. I am not saying (since I have no idea) that oil is renewable, or that it is infinite. I don’t know. So, I will assume that it is finite.

    My third point is this: no matter when the stuff runs out (in 30, 50, or a 100 years), we as socialists (progressives, what have you) must have a SOLUTION! Capitalists have their solutions for how to own it, use it and control it NOW, and have their solutions for when this shit runs out. We must also have solutions for its ownership and use NOW! We must demand socialization of all natural resources (yes, BE outrageous, why not! Stop thinking like slaves, accepting whatever terms are handed you)! Why should we wait till this natural resource is all gone? It is OUR resource too.

    Capitalism will not just disappear simply because oil runs out. Capitalism is 600 years old, and only in the last 150 years it has been boosted by the access to oil. With all the resources at their command, and before all the oil is gone, capitalists can develop (and PRIVATIZE) all sorts of alternative sources of energy, and when oil is finished, they’ll be in the absolutely stronger position to impose an even more barbaric and unequal class system on humanity. Don’t assume for a second that the end of oil will bring about the end of capitalism. Not at all!

    The only thing that will end capitalism is an organized working class (i.e., 90% of people in the U.S.); organized with a socialist consciousness. There is no short cut, and the capitalists will not die out automatically. In fact, they can morph into far more barbaric species of humans and impose far more barbaric systems on us.

  32. evie said on June 30th, 2008 at 6:07pm #

    I agree with with you on a couple of points. I believe the US has more domestic oil than reported and needs to drill it. I also do not know if oil is finite or renewable – but judging the behavior of those who would know (ruling class) I lean toward believing it is not going to run out, at least for milleniums.

    I have no problem with nations, including the US, nationalizing all natural resources.

    But for me, capitalism is not the problem nor is socialism the solution. Not only “big oil” but oil exporting countries are making record profits off the US war in the ME. Which is perhaps why we do not see OPEC and Vienna or Russia or others seriously demanding an end to the war after 5 years. Ka-ching ka-ching.

    Greed is the enemy and will corrupt every “ism.” Will greed die out with capitalism? How will socialists whip greed?

  33. synicab12 said on July 1st, 2008 at 7:26am #

    In my humble opinion evie is partially right. Yes the problem is greed
    or to be exact human nature. However, there are situations and
    systems that restrain and amoliorate that nature and others that let it run amock.
    The history of mankind is too long, it went through a lot of systems
    and arrangements. Out of all that there must be a good and yes not
    perfect combinational system for humans to go forward.
    The current situation is not working for most people and not sustainable. For exampls, globaliztaion use huge amount of energy in
    transporting raw material and components to far away manufacturing centers and then transporting finished goods to far away markets.
    I am not a social scientist or political ecomomist so I do not know what the solution should be. I “assign” that to serious and honest experts.

  34. Arraya said on July 27th, 2008 at 4:10pm #

    What I find amazing is peoples unwillingness to even contemplate whether we are at peak oil or not. It is just not in the realm of possibilities and therefore will not consider it or the arguments for it. It is automatically a scam. The mental contortions these people make are tiring.

    When you manage to hold somebody down to make an argument it is either we have a lot more than “they” say. Ot it is abiotic. The funny thing is “they”, being official sources say it is very far off as well. It is only a small group of independent geologists that pushed it since 99 and developed a following that say it is sooner. So in reality people the call it a scam have the same stance as official sources. Which is not in the forseeable future, no need to worry. Funny how that works. It’s like they are battling for the official line which is not to worry. Like tools of the USG.

    The abiotic argument is a boondoggle as well. If oil is abiotic, we would still have a peak when the earth’s mantel reached it’s max flow rate.

    So really the whole debate is haggling over when.

    The “peak now” crowd wants local economy, decentralized control, No globalization, renewable energy and resources. If you really dig down into peak oil you will understand that fractional reserve lending and fiat money can’t be a possibility, so therefore banking has to be changed. Actually M. King Hubbert thought interest on loans was a bad idea and not compatible with nature.

    So what is the “peak scam” crowd really arguing for?