Sunday, May 18, 2008

Intimations of peak on a Sunday afternoon

As we watch our chickens hatch (literally) and stack our supply of wood for this fall, we observe and consider tensions and connections between US and global markets, along with emerging ways of talking and planning about peak.

  • Bush's begging trip to Saudi Arabia, where he was to win more oil from the monarchy, has failed.

  • Meanwhile, Popular Mechanics offers a breakdown of oil supply mechanisms, along with a sketch of new possibilities: extracting more oil from sites, and establishing new power generation networks (the usual mix of wind and solar, along with conservative; nuclear is downplayed, interestingly).

  • Nationalism and hoarding don't seem to be fading. There's even an American variant, namely underextracting local deposits so that some will remain when the rest of the world runs out. That's a weird one, given how we passed our peak a generation ago. Don't start with the western shale deposits - we're not working on them now, and their enormous cost and difficulty whenever we do is classic peak (i.e., we'll have to be that desperate). Not to mention isolationist (at best).

I (Bryan) remain curious about the discourse around peak oil. The term is still being danced around, while its ideas permeate more deeply into media and popular discussions, as far as I can tell. There are some exceptions. There's also the emergence of a middle ground, with things getting bad, but manageable, as per this Popular Mechanics graph:

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