Monday, March 14, 2005

Peak oil in the House

The Hon. Roscoe Bartlett and the Hon.Wayne Gilchrest, both Republican Members of the U.S. House of Representatives for Maryland, argued on the floor that global oil production has peaked. They called for conservation and a crash program to develop alternative forms of energy. The speech represents a major event because the elected representatives of people are coming to the realization that we are in big trouble. As I watched this speech on C-Span I was stunned. Bartlett and Gilchrest recognized the limits to economic growth given our current energy system. Each said that unless we developed sustainable sources of energy we would experience a profound denigration of our social, political, economic and ecological systems. Furthermore, these gentlemen said that the issue of peak oil could only be dealt with on an international level with all nations working together. It was a call for change dialogue and action.

This event gives me a lot of hope. If two Republican members of the House of Representatives recognize that we need to live within limits and transition to a more sustainable society then all is not lost. There is an issue that we, Republicans and Democrats, can find common ground. As soon as it becomes available I will provide a link to these speeches in the Congressional Record.

2 Comments:

At 10:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps these guys just heard about Hubbard's peak (Hubbard predicted in 1956 that US production would peak in the '70's). While Hubbert was not completely wrong, he narrowly focused on oil and did not foresee the rise in nuclear, gas and other energy sources. There is a "Hubbard's Peak" bell curve that can be drawn for every scarce resource, but what needs to be taken into account is the fact that technology has a tremendous ability to "shift" that curve, extending the longevity of known reserves and allowing for the exploration of "new" reserves that were previously untapped or uneconomical with past technology.
Oil shale and oil sands (extremely abundant in Canada), coal-bed methane (natural gas from coal seams), and LNG (liquified natural gas - which frees the US gas market from its domestic supply)is only now beginning to be come into play. What type of impact these sources will have on overall reserves is as yet unknown.
It's nice that some guys in DC seem to be concerned about this, bit my bigger concern is that they will try to "fix" the problem through subsidies, taxes or price controls that further distort an already somewhat distorted energy market.

For a counterpoint to the "end of energy" gloom and doom see "The Bottomless Well" by Peter Huber & Mark Mills.

-Phelps

 
At 12:38 PM, Anonymous consequential lifestyles said...

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