Do you remember the “peak oil” scare? That was the claim, heard everywhere in the early 2000s, that nearly all the world’s discoverable oil had already been found, and we would shortly enter a time of inexorably declining production and rapidly escalating prices. This 2018 article in Forbes by Michael Lynch traces the “modern” version of the “peak oil” scare to a 1997 piece in the Oil & Gas Journal by a guy named Colin Campbell. Campbell argued that oil reserves were “rapidly depleting,” that there was “comparatively little left to find,” and that “the world’s economic and political stability, which relies on an abundant supply of cheap oil, is in serious jeopardy.”
Campbell was joined in ensuing years by a chorus of assenting voices. Among many others quoted by Lynch are Joe Romm of the Center for American Progress in 2009 (“I have blogged endlessly on the painfully obvious reality that we are at or near the peak”) and Rex Wehler of Greenpeace in 2012 (“Oil company cheerleaders proclaiming huge supplies of oil are dead wrong. Peak oil is as real as rain, and it is here now. Not 2050. Not 2020. Now.”)
And, of course, the usual: “[T]hose who disagreed were treated with derision.”
Then came the fracking revolution. By 2014 prices for oil (and gas as well) were plummeting. The “peak oil” scare quietly faded away, never to be mentioned again — although I haven’t noticed any of the promoters of the scare publicly admitting that they were wrong.
Oil production isn’t at a peak, and never was. But here’s something closely related that really is at or near a peak from which rapid decline should be expected: Oil-Hysteria. Oil-Hysteria is the delirium that holds that the production and use of oil (and for that matter other fossil fuels) for the benefit and happiness of humanity are grave sins and are destroying the planet. Lately that hysteria and delirium have reached a fevered pitch, untethered to reality and reminiscent of great stock market bubbles and tulip manias.
And thus today, after reviewing the evidence, the Manhattan Contrarian has announced the arrival of “Peak Oil-Hysteria.” It is here. Not 2050. Not 2030. Now.
The evidence is far too profuse to cover all of it in one blog post. But consider if you will a few data points:
- President Joe Biden came into office on a crusade against against the fossil fuel industry. Executive Orders issued in his first few days in office essentially did everything within the President’s power, absent new legislation, to restrict and hinder fossil fuel production. This included blocking new pipeline construction, ending fracking and drilling on federal lands, and ordering up various other regulations to make production more difficult and expensive. By August, with retail gas prices up about 30% since inauguration, Biden began urging OPEC members to increase production. On Saturday, at the G20 meeting in Rome — with retail gas prices up yet another 10% or so since August — Biden again urged major producing countries to ramp up supply. From Reuters, October 30: “U.S. President Joe Biden on Saturday urged major G20 energy producing countries [including Russia and Saudi Arabia] with spare capacity to boost production to ensure a stronger global economic recovery as part of a broad effort to pressure OPEC and its partners to increase oil supply.”
- While in Rome, Biden ridiculously conjured himself up a motorcade of some 85 of the biggest armored gas guzzlers ever known to man. Here is a picture of the extravaganza from the New York Post:
Do you think that Joe’s people rented all those specialized armored vehicles from Hertz? I haven’t been able to find confirmation, but I think it’s a completely safe bet that all of the vehicles got flown over from the U.S. on giant military transport planes. This has to be a Guinness Book of World Records occasion for carbon footprint for one guy’s trip to anywhere. On November 2 Senator John Barrasso sent a letter to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm demanding details on Biden’s expenses and carbon impact for this trip to Rome and Glasgow. The letter notes the “tone of insincerity” on carbon emissions set by Biden’s ridiculously extravagant travel entourage. That’s an extremely gentle way of putting it.
- The opening of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow was accompanied, as these things always are, by enormous backups of private jets trying to fly into the local airports. The Daily Mail noted a “huge traffic jam” of some 400 private aircraft.
- President Biden was photographed having fallen asleep at the conference listening to some functionary drone on.
- Lots of heads of state showed up, but not the most important ones. Xi Jinping of China — the largest consumer of fossil fuel energy — was a no show. So were Vladimir Putin of Russia and Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia — the two largest producers of fossil fuel energy other than the U.S. China made no new pledges about cutting emissions, and instead reiterated its supposed pledge to reach “net zero” emissions by 2060. The year 2060 is obviously calculated to be well after the demise of every current world leader, and thus sufficiently far away that China will never be held to account for its completely phony non-commitment. But India (third largest emitter of GHGs after China and the U.S.) whose leader Narendra Modi did at least show up, went even one better: India said it would reach “net zero” by 2070! Oh, but India did say that it would build a slew of solar and wind facilities, but only if Western countries chipped in $1 trillion to pay for them!
- According to today’s Wall Street Journal, Biden remarked that Russia and China had made a mistake by not showing up, and they would “cede influence” in climate discussions. OK, we already knew this guy was dumb. Russia and China may have their problems, but clearly their leaders are smart enough to realize that the right strategy is to sit back and let the West commit suicide.
- Biden himself was of course empty-handed at the conference, having failed to move his multi-trillion dollar spendapalooza in Congress. Even if it all gets passed it would never make a noticeable difference in world emissions. As an example, completely missing from Biden’s multi-trillions is anything towards India’s latest trillion dollar demand. And don’t even ask about Africa.
- So in the absence of anything even remotely meaningful, the Wall Street Journal reports today that the delegates turned their attention to something still more peripheral — methane emissions: “Global leaders at the Glasgow climate summit pledged Tuesday to sharply curtail methane emissions, with President Biden saying the U.S. would tighten regulations on oil and natural-gas production to reduce leaks of the potent greenhouse gas. The effort spotlighted growing concerns about the environmental harms of methane, a byproduct of drilling. . . .” Once more, it’s the attack of the journalist English majors, who have no idea that methane, which is the main component of natural gas, is not a “byproduct” of drilling, but rather the whole point.
- On October 24 Iran’s Fars new agency reported that China is buying on the order of 1 million barrels of oil per day from Iran.
- And suddenly, some members of Congress are finding it politically advantageous to get on the sane side of the climate craziness. If you haven’t watched it, check out Representative Byron Donalds of Florida at the Congressional hearing on October 28 called by Representative Carolyn Maloney (of Manhattan) to try to embarrass the CEOs of the oil majors. Excerpt: “Somebody needs to go and call Merrick Garland, tell him to get in here and watch the intimidation that came from this very panel today,” Donalds said. “Because this is not about defending big oil, or defending big anything. It’s about defending the ability of people in our country to be free: say what they want, think what they want, spend their money how they choose. And if we are not going to be any better than the Chinese, how do we ever expect to beat them on the world stage when we’re cutting our neck when it comes to energy production while they are burning more coal, burning more oil, they’re increasing their emissions and they’re not showing up in Scotland. . . . [T]hey’re interested in building an economy.”
Note that I’m not saying that the whole climate scam is going to collapse tomorrow. Just that the hysteria has reached a peak beyond which it has nowhere to go. From here it will have to be a long decline.