Wednesday, September 06, 2006

BBC has cake. Eats It.

Monday night at the Grace-and-Favour appartment found us unpacking our bags, sorting out the effects of a burst litre carton on soya milk and listening to a simply dreadful piece of doom-mongering, rabidly anti-US propaganda by the BBC on Radio 4 on Peak Oil .
What I find so extraordinary about the BBC is the manner in which they fail completely to join the dots.
They state the premise that as oil production peaks the price of oil will rise. Yup. This is followed by the relatively mundane inference that as the price rises, it becomes economic to exploit additional sources of oil with higher production costs so the sources of supply will rise as prices rise. So far, so primary schoolbook economics.
I will leave aside the fact that they then disappear into a side alley about the limits of deep drilling, rather than alternative sources e.g. oil shales, increased recovery efficiency etc (I bet you didn't know that usually only 35% of the content of a given field is currently extractable), to focus on the things that are then NOT said.
It is extraordinary that there is simply no attempt to think beyond the fact that we currently use a lot of oil and therefore any restriction of supply will be a total and unmitigated disaster.
Two points in particular are missed entirely:
1. If oil prices rise, it is not just alternative sources of oil that become profitable. Other alternative - and crucially by "alternative" I mean "renewable" - sources of energy become profitable too.
2. If we are going to run out of oil in 30 years time, someone had better start rerunning the CO2 predictions in the climate change models. You can have a peak oil disaster or a climate change disaster, but you can't have both - at least not in the mickey mouse manner that the BBC is foisting the latter upon us.


Anonymous said...

I didn't listen to the program - these things are bad for my blood pressure - but they are surely not still recycling that old chestnut about how there's only 30 years' supply of oil left?

I first heard that when I was at school, and I left school in 1970.

Hasn't anyone else noticed that there is always 30 years's supply of oil left in the world?

The Pedant-General in Ordinary said...


Welcome to Infinitives Unsplit. Go and get a blogger username - they are free and then we will be able to use a pseudonym with which to reply to you.

Welcome anyway.

As to your comment, yes and no.

"Yes", I remember being taught that in the 70s and was going to make a similarly snide aside in the post itself, but which leads me to the "no", which is the obvious rebuttal that it won't always be true.

Either you assume the same rate of consumption as current, in which case there really will be a finite point where the oil runs out or you don't, which gives a more accurate view of life and would tend towards the (paradoxical) result that the number of years' supply of oil will INCREASE - to infinity - beyond the short term "Peak Oil" phenomenon.

Why? because as it becomes progressively more scarse, so alternatives will HAVE to be developed to the point where oil will become entirely redundant.

"xxjdokj": A numerical puzzle for dyslexics.