We see the changing of the world around us. Always there is some new gadget
to buy, and computers are taking over everything. Technological progress is
what it is called, and the faith in this power of humankind to create whatever
we might have in our imagination has grown to truly be the "bread" of
our new religion.
Taylor's Curve to the Rescue
There is only so much dinosaur blood in the earth. When we are exhausting
it faster and faster, it is getting harder to find with every passing year,
and we have been finding less for the last twenty years than we are using,
it simply has to start running out. But no one wants it to happen now, because
that would stop everyone from getting more money. So, the new religion is called
upon to save us. Here is how the U.S. Government pretends our salvation will
Originally from http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/ieo99/boxtext.html
This graph, casually thrown together by its creator, shows with the black curve the exhaustion of dinosaur blood found within the United States, excluding Alaska. It is named the Hubbert Curve because a man named M. King Hubbert predicted in 1956 that there would be a peak in the speed of exhaustion in 1969 with a margin of error of one year. Not many believed him because everyone thought that for some reason the amount buried deep in the Earth was not fixed, as if the dinosaurs were invisible and somehow still dying. History, however, shows him to have been right on the mark, the peak occurring in 1970, even if this graph shows it to have been earlier. His method of prediction is most useful for large areas where the effort has forever been to get as much dinosaur blood as quickly as possible.
The Taylor Curve is a faith that technological progress, presumably combined with the economic incentive of higher prices, will suddenly reverse the current trend and once again allow an increase in the speed of dinosaur blood exhaustion. ¿What happens to the green curve after 2025? ¿Does it level off, go straight down to zero, or keep on going up? The below graph shows the first Taylor Curve and the change in prices that were necessary to bring it about.
The thin black bell curve that reaches from one side of the graph to the other is the Hubbert Curve. The thick pink line shows how dinosaur blood exhaustion has gone in the U.S. lower 48 states.
Technological progress is not something that suddenly people turn on or off. When something has been practiced for more than a century like drilling for dinosaur blood, the likelihood of suddenly doubling or tripling the efficiency with which someone does something is very slim. It is like suddenly running the mile in 20 seconds. The greatest rise in the price of the blood can be seen on this graph happening between 1973 and 1986, indicated by the thin blue line that reaches $70 a barrel in 1980, in terms of 1999 dollars. Lagging behind the price change there was a little upswing in the speed of exhaustion, but it quickly turned back into a nosedive. Compare that first Taylor Curve with the size of the one being bet on by the Government, and wonder what kind of prices it would take to encourage drilling again as in the first Taylor Curve, remembering that the big worldwide drive to find it all has already happened.
Below are the precise predictions made by the Department of Energy in their 1998 Annual Energy Outlook. This is not quite as optimistic as the Taylor Curve, the miraculous upswing not being predicted by 2020. But even this slight improvement is not turning out as predicted.
The black line on top is exhaustion from both Alaska and the Lower 48. The thick part of that line is the actual, and the thin part is the prediction made by Uncle Sam. The red line is the lower 48, and the blue-green at the bottom is Alaska, each with their thin predicted line. One can see that the nosedive is steeper than they thought it would be, and we're still waiting for the upswing to begin.
We can wait forever for that upswing to begin if we have infinite faith in the cleverness of man, or if we somehow believe that the Earth grows, and what is contained within also grows in volume.
The Peak of Exhaustion
The above graph shows the peak as predicted by Colin J. Campbell in the pink lower curve and as by the United States Geological Survey in the high reaching dark line. It is a more complete replica of a graph shown in the US News & World Report, Sep 17, 2001.
One interesting thing to see is that the rate of exhaustion, shown by the
top point of the thick blue line, is predicted to continually increase up to
53.209 billion barrels a year. Now there's a funny thing about pumping dinosaur
blood out of the ground. When you are talking about one well, you can pump
at the fastest speed of exhaustion possible which still has its limit or at
the one which will give you the most over the long term, but in either case
the well eventually pulls up less and less as it goes dry. When you are talking
about large geographical areas where new discoveries are constantly being looked
for to replace the wells which are becoming exhausted, the whole area changes
from one of easy times to hard times when about half what you will finally
get, has been gotten. This is another idea that is very hard for people to
¡They think that they are going to take more and more from the Earth every day until it suddenly runs out, one day pumping more than ever and the next nothing! It doesn't work that way. The big discoveries are the ones generally made first, because they are the easiest to find, then they tend to become smaller and smaller with time, until what is being found every year is less than what is being pumped out. If you know about how much you have found, when you found it, how fast you are pumping it out, and when the discoveries no longer replace what you're taking, you can kind of figure out in the future when the rate of exhaustion will have to slow down, simply because there'll not be enough to pump from even if you pump the wells as fast as they will go, faster than they should go.
The Tattletale Point of Inflection
The speed of dinosar blood exhaustion over a large area of eventual discoveries starts out slow but becomes faster as time goes. Then, there comes a moment when it is still increasing but begins to do so less quickly; that is, it begins to turn from rising more quickly to rising more slowly; the upward curving straightens out then begins to bend toward becoming a flat line: this is called the point of inflection. Such a point can be seen in the above Hubbert Curve for the Continental US about 1956 and it occurs when about half the amount has been exhausted that it will take to get to the peak, which we remember from above as being itself at about half the total amount that will be ultimately recovered. That means that the inflection point occurs when about one quarter of the total amount has been used. The Department of Energy numbers never even show a point of inflection. Technology is going to step in there and push back the day of reckoning once again by exhausting much more than half the total resource before beginning to decline, 75%.
Supposedly we don't have to worry right now about running out of dinosaur blood because the peak as declared by the USGS is not to occur until 2037, after we have exhausted some 2280 billion barrels out of a ultimate world total of 3003 billion. That predicted amount is more than all other estimates. Supposedly this would be better than running into the peak when and as Campbell predicts it, because we will have more time to develop alternative energies. But the steepness of the decline is much greater with the USGS scenario, and the fall is further down from the higher peak. Even if this highest estimate is a genuine possibility, it is precisely what we must avoid. We cannot allow civilization to pass in one year to the next from a 2% annual rate of increase to a 7% rate of decline that continues year after year without end the chaos would be too great.
The fact that they are proposing a continual increase in the rate of exhaustion, until the peak is reached with severe decline thereafter, is indication of deliberately wanting to falsely project the moment of decline beyond the need to worry about it now, or, of criminal irresponsibility it means that market forces are going to be called upon to resolve the problem of running short precisely when the global level of dependence is at its highest point in history. ¡That is what you call a blind faith! It is the "wine" of today's religion.
This is not the graph of a global society that turns to alternative energies in time. This is the graph of recklessly pursuing growth regardless of what it might mean to the future, of a society that has no more imagination than that the unregulated market will solve everything a hundred years of infrastructure designed around the use of cheap energy to start changing when the supply crashes!
The only way to be sure civilization avoids such a knockout blow is to force ourselves to use less dinosaur blood: by taxation, by the elimination of subsidies, by rebuilding our cities about bicycles, by building community kitchens, by whatever great change it takes all now, before we speed at maximum velocity into a wall of infinite dimension. We do not know when the peak will arrive, we only know that we shall not avoid it unless our rate of exhaustion begins to decrease and then continues to decrease evermore. In fact, the peak may be behind us.
With sailing warships and cries for Jihad, man moves from a level of being deeper than his surface awareness toward this greatest challenge to his sustained existence, the moment when he must turn away from the sanctuary of growth to look upon his fellow human and see what he has not seen before, his Self.
Uncle Sam Admits Number Juggling
The Government isn't really worried about the truthfulness of what they say. They are more worried about saying what they must to keep the ball rolling for now. They cannot be the ones that pull the rug out from under the stock market, no matter what truth they might know. Politics will not allow that.
The initially recoverable oil and gas resource volumes in both known and undiscovered fields are projected to increase through 2020 in all cases. Ultimate recovery from the initial stock of inferred reserves in all cases except the moderate resource case is assumed to expand over the period of the forecast, exceeding the published estimates from the USGS and MMS. [They are going to find even more than their own high end predictors now predict.]
Economically recoverable resources for currently undiscovered fields are assumed, with one exception, to expand by 2020 to the level of current technically recoverable volume estimates released by the USGS and MMS. [The total amount recovered will equal in quantity current projections which include those fields which have only a 5% chance of being found.]
Recoverable resources in shallow waters in the Gulf of Mexico are assumed in all cases except the slow and rapid technology cases and the moderate resource case to achieve a level of about 40 percent greater than the volume estimated by the MMS to be technically recoverable.[The Gulf of Mexico is going to turn out to truly be a sea of dinosaur blood with 40% more than their own doubtful projections based upon including fields with that 5% chance of existing.]
These adjustments to the USGS and MMS estimates are based on non-technical considerations that support domestic supply growth to the levels necessary to meet projected demand levels. [In other words, the figures are juggled to say that we will always have enough. ] US Department of Energy: Annual Energy Outlook, 1998 (.pdf) key 221 into page number box. ;
Well, as they say in Arkansas, If wishes came true from wanting 'em to, frogs would have wings.