Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Today in an interesting speech to the NZ hydrological conference Rodney Hide detailed differences from a scientific approach to conservation and inductive reasoning http://www.act.org.nz/news-article.aspx?id=27473 to one of the Greens of conservation and energy resoulution by one of rhectoric and the hypothetico inductive reasoning( a closed set answer with open set quotients,these are not necessarily incorrect but are not always correct)

The Peak oil question was an is always a good example.

"By science I mean the critical testing of our understanding against the real world. That's something the Greens fail to do. They put activism ahead of understanding. It's their political programme that drives them, not science.
Let me explain with just one example. The Greens campaigned on "Peak Oil" last election. "Peak Oil" is another imminent doomsday scenario of an oil-starved post-industrial world of war, famine, and international chaos. Green co-leader Jeannette Fitzsimons says the "terrible tipping point" of "Peak Oil" is less than ten years away. The only way to avoid this apocalypse is to "transform our civilisation". That means de- industrialise, depopulate, and submit ourselves to a command-and-control economy.
The difference between me and the Greens is that I think we should check the facts before we rush to force everyone to live in caves and hoe at the local commune in the hot sun all day.
The "Peak Oil" scare dates from 1956 when M. King Hubbert hypothesised that because fossil fuels were finite their production would follow a bell curve. Production would increase from zero to a peak and then fall back to zero.

It is interesting that Hubbard is used as the model for the structure of resource depletion.The history goes back further then this to 1866 and the COAL question by William Jevons and his essay The Coal Question: An Inquiry Concerning the Progress of the Nation, and the Probable Exhaustion of Our Coal-Mines

Coal in truth stands not beside but entirely above all other commodities. It is the material energy of the country—the universal aid—the factor in everything we do. With coal almost any feat is possible or easy; without it we are thrown back into the laborious poverty of early times.
With such facts familiarly before us, it can be no matter of surprise that year by year we make larger draughts upon a material of such myriad qualities—of such miraculous powers. But it is at the same time impossible that men of foresight should not turn to compare with some anxiety the masses yearly drawn with the quantities known or supposed to lie within these islands.
Geologists of eminence, acquainted with the
contents of our strata, and accustomed, in the study of their great science, to look over long periods of time with judgment and enlightenment, were long ago painfully struck by the essentially limited nature of our main wealth. And though others have been found to reassure the public, roundly asserting that all anticipations of exhaustion are groundless and absurd, and "may be deferred for an indefinite period," yet misgivings have constantly recurred to those really examining the question. Not long since the subject acquired new weight when prominently brought forward by Sir W. Armstrong in his Address to the British Association, at Newcastle, the very birthplace of the coal trade.


Familiar arguments different centuries.

Jevons whoever was an exceptional reasoned thinker and his legacy can be found in statistics and economics.His theory of Political economy with its laissev-faire approach suggested that "Where government policy can increase happiness in one segment of the population without diminishing that of another, it should be pursued -- albeit with caution to ensure that all indirect effects are accounted for. Trade unions, to take his famous example, fail on this criteria as their gains often come at the "expense" of consumers and non-union workers. "

The peak oil question is just that.The drivers being demand supply constraints,environmental restrictions and derivitives.

We are completing a major blog series on oil prices and supply and will be publishing soon,it brings into question of who benefits from the Peak oil scenario,and the 500 billion dollar position of a major player .


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