Taking stock of ‘Peak Oil’

July 26, 2009 - research published in the advance online issue of Nature Geoscience.:

“Now for the first time, scientists have found that ethane and heavier hydrocarbons can be synthesized under the pressure-temperature conditions of the upper mantle – the layer of Earth under the crust and on top of the core.”

Professor Kutcherov, a coauthor, put the finding into context: “The notion that hydrocarbons generated in the mantle migrate into the Earth’s crust and contribute to oil-and-gas reservoirs was promoted in Russia and Ukraine many years ago. The synthesis and stability of the compounds studied here as well as heavier hydrocarbons over the full range of conditions within the Earth’s mantle now need to be explored. In addition, the extent to which this ‘reduced’ carbon survives migration into the crust needs to be established (e.g., without being oxidized to CO2). These and related questions demonstrate the need for a new experimental and theoretical program to study the fate of carbon in the deep Earth.”

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How Michael Ruppert’s ‘Peak Oil’ Pile is Gaining Tonnage

Dave McGowan
Excerpt
March 5, 2005

It appears that, unbeknownst to Westerners, there have actually been, for quite some time now, two competing theories concerning the origins of petroleum. One theory claims that oil is an organic ‘fossil fuel’ deposited in finite quantities near the planet’s surface. The other theory claims that oil is continuously generated by natural processes in the Earth’s magma. One theory is backed by a massive body of research representing fifty years of intense scientific inquiry. The other theory is an unproven relic of the eighteenth century. One theory anticipates deep oil reserves, refillable oil fields, migratory oil systems, deep sources of generation, and the spontaneous venting of gas and oil. The other theory has a difficult time explaining any such documented phenomena.

So which theory have we in the West, in our infinite wisdom, chosen to embrace? Why, the fundamentally absurd ‘Fossil Fuel’ theory, of course — the same theory that the ‘Peak Oil’ doomsday warnings are based on.

I am sorry to report here, by the way, that in doing my homework, I never did come across any of that “hard science” documenting ‘Peak Oil’ that Mr. Strahl referred to. All the ‘Peak Oil’ literature that I found, on Ruppert’s site and elsewhere, took for granted that petroleum is a non-renewable ‘fossil fuel.’ That theory is never questioned, nor is any effort made to validate it. It is simply taken to be an established scientific fact, which it quite obviously is not.

So what do Ruppert and his resident experts have to say about all of this? Dale Allen Pfeiffer, identified as the “FTW Contributing Editor for Energy,” has written: “There is some speculation that oil is abiotic in origin — generally asserting that oil is formed from magma instead of an organic origin. These ideas are really groundless.” (http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/04_04_02_oil_recession.html)

Here is a question that I have for both Mr. Ruppert and Mr. Pfeiffer: Do you consider it honest, responsible journalism to dismiss a fifty year body of multi-disciplinary scientific research, conducted by hundreds of the world’s most gifted scientists, as “some speculation”?

Another of FTW’s prognosticators, Colin Campbell, is described by Ruppert as “perhaps the world’s foremost expert on oil.” He was asked by Ruppert, in an interview, “what would you say to the people who insist that oil is created from magma …?” Before we get to Campbell’s answer, we should first take note of the tone of Ruppert’s question. It is not really meant as a question at all, but rather as a statement, as in “there is really nothing you can say that will satisfy these nutcases who insist on bringing up these loony theories.”

Campbell’s response to the question was an interesting one: “No one in the industry gives the slightest credence to these theories.” Why, one wonders, did Mr. Campbell choose to answer the question on behalf of the petroleum industry? And does it come as a surprise to anyone that the petroleum industry doesn’t want to acknowledge abiotic theories of petroleum origins? Should we have instead expected something along these lines?:

“Hey, everybody … uhhh … you know how we always talked about oil being a fossil fuel? And … uhmm … you know how the entire profit structure of our little industry here is built upon the presumption that oil is a non-renewable, and therefore very valuable, resource?

And remember all those times we talked about shortages so that we could gouge you at the pumps? Well … guess what, America? You’ve been Punk’d!”

For the sake of accuracy, I think we need to modify Mr. Campbell’s response, because it should probably read: no one in the petroleum industry will publicly admit giving any credence to abiotic theories. But is there really any doubt that those who own and control the oil industry are well aware of the true origins of oil? How could they not be?

Surely there must be a reason why there appears to be so little interest in understanding the nature and origins of such a valuable, and allegedly vanishing, resource. And that reason can only be that the answers are already known. The objective, of course, is to ensure that the rest of us don’t find those answers. Why else would we be encouraged, for decades, to cling tenaciously to a scientific theory that can’t begin to explain the available scientific evidence? And why else would a half-century of research never see the light of day in Western scientific and academic circles?

Maintaining the myth of scarcity, you see, is all important. Without it, the house of cards comes tumbling down. And yet, even while striving to preserve that myth, the petroleum industry will continue to provide the oil and gas needed to maintain a modern industrial infrastructure, long past the time when we should have run out of oil. And needless to say, the petroleum industry will also continue to reap the enormous profits that come with the myth of scarcity.

How will that difficult balancing act be performed? That is where, it appears, the ‘limited hangout’ concerning abiotic oil will come into play.

Perhaps the most telling quote to emerge from all of this came from Roger Sassen, identified as the deputy director of Resource Geosciences, a research group out of Texas A&M University:

“The potential that inorganic hydrocarbons, especially methane and a few other gasses, might exist at enormous depth in the crust is an idea that could use a little more discussion. However, not from people who take theories to the point of absurdity. This is an idea that needs to be looked into at some point as we start running out of energy. But no one who is objective discusses the issue at this time.”

The key point there (aside from Sassen’s malicious characterization of Kenney) is his assertion that no one is discussing abiotic oil at this time. And why is that? Because, you see, we first have to go through the charade of pretending that the world has just about run out of ‘conventional’ oil reserves, thus justifying massive price hikes, which will further pad the already obscenely high profits of the oil industry. Only then will it be fully acknowledged that there is, you know, that ‘other’ oil.

“We seem to have plum run out of that fossil fuel that y’all liked so much, but if you want us to, we could probably find you some mighty fine inorganic stuff. You probably won’t even notice the difference. The only reason that we didn’t mention it before is that – and may God strike me dead if I’m lying – it is a lot more work for us to get to it. So after we charged you up the wazoo for the ‘last’ of the ‘conventional’ oil, we’re now gonna have to charge you even more for this really ‘special’ oil. And with any luck at all, none of you will catch on that it’s really the same oil.”

And that, dear readers, is how I see this little game playing out. Will you be playing along?

Several readers have written to me, incidentally, with a variation of the following question: “How can you say that Peak Oil is being promoted to sell war when all of the websites promoting the notion of Peak Oil are stridently anti-war?”

But of course they are. That, you see, is precisely the point. What I was trying to say is that the notion of ‘Peak Oil’ is being specifically marketed to the anti-war crowd — because, as we all know, the pro-war crowd doesn’t need to be fed any additional justifications for going to war; any of the old lies will do just fine. And I never said that the necessity of war was being overtly sold. What I said, if I remember correctly, is that it is being sold with a wink and a nudge.

The point that I was trying to make is that it would be difficult to imagine a better way to implicitly sell the necessity of war, even while appearing to stake out a position against war, than through the promotion of the concept of ‘Peak Oil.’ After September 11, 2001, someone famously said that if Osama bin Laden didn’t exist, the US would have had to invent him. I think the same could be said for ‘Peak Oil.’

I also need to mention here that those who are selling ‘Peak Oil’ hysteria aren’t offering much in the way of alternatives, or solutions. Ruppert, for example, has stated flatly that “there is no effective replacement for what hydrocarbon energy provides today.” )

The message is quite clear: “we’re running out of oil soon; there is no alternative; we’re all screwed.” And this isn’t, mind you, just an energy problem; as Ruppert has correctly noted, “Almost every current human endeavor from transportation, to manufacturing, to plastics, and especially food production is inextricably intertwined with oil and natural gas supplies.” )

If we run out of oil, in other words, our entire way of life will come crashing down. One of Ruppert’s “unimpeachable sources,” Colin Campbell, describes an apocalyptic future, just around the corner, that will be characterized by “war, starvation, economic recession, possibly even the extinction of homo sapiens.”

My question is: if Ruppert is not selling the necessity of war, then exactly what is the message that he is sending to readers with such doomsday forecasts? At the end of a recent posting, Ruppert quotes dialogue from the 1975 Sidney Pollack film, Three Days of the Condor:

Higgins: …It’s simple economics. Today it’s oil, right? In 10 or 15 years – food, Plutonium. And maybe even sooner. Now what do you think the people are gonna want us to do then?

Turner: Ask them.

Higgins: Not now – then. Ask them when they’re running out. Ask them when there’s no heat in their homes and they’re cold. Ask them when their engines stop. Ask them when people who’ve never known hunger start going hungry. Do you want to know something? They won’t want us to ask them. They’ll just want us to get it for them.

The message there seems pretty clear: once the people understand what is at stake, they will support whatever is deemed necessary to secure the world’s oil supplies. And what is it that Ruppert is accomplishing with his persistent ‘Peak Oil’ postings? He is helping his readers to understand what is allegedly at stake.

Elsewhere on his site, Ruppert warns that “Different regions of the world peak in oil production at different times … the OPEC nations of the Middle East peak last. Within a few years, they — or whoever controls them — will be in effective control of the world economy, and, in essence, of human civilization as a whole.”

Within a few years, the Middle East will be in control of all of human civilization?! Try as I might, I can’t imagine any claim that would more effectively rally support for a U.S. takeover of the Middle East. The effect of such outlandish claims is to cast the present war as a war of necessity. Indeed, a BBC report posted on Ruppert’s site explicitly endorses that notion: “It’s not greed that’s driving big oil companies – it’s survival.”

A few final comments are in order here about ‘Peak Oil’ and the attacks of September 11, 2001, which Ruppert has repeatedly claimed are closely linked. In a recent posting, he bemoaned the fact that activists are willing to “Do anything but accept the obvious reality that for the US government to have facilitated and orchestrated the attacks of 9/11, something really, really bad must be going on.” That something really, really bad, of course, is ‘Peak Oil.’

To demonstrate the dubious nature of that statement, all one need do is make a couple of quick substitutions, so that it reads: “for the German government to have facilitated and orchestrated the attack on the Reichstag, something really, really bad must have been going on.” Or, if you are the type that bristles at comparisons of Bush to Hitler, try this one: “for the US government to have facilitated and orchestrated the attack on the USS Maine, something really, really bad must have been going on.”

 

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