|From the where are they now column for error content, lets elevate this contribution|
|From: ChanceIs ||12/8/2005 3:51:20 PM|
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|"World oil production doom scientist decries editors|
By Gary Scott, Staff Writer
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
PASADENA - There it was, laid out in a simple linear graph for everyone to see: the end of the age of oil.
For anyone who fears oil companies run the White House, fumes at the thought of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or deems global warming doubters deranged, there had to be something perversely gratifying about the picture of doom on display Thursday at Caltech's Beckman Auditorium.
"The peak of world oil production is happening right now," Ken Deffeyes, professor emeritus at Princeton University, confidently declared. "Here is the most important story since the Industrial Revolution."
And when Deffeyes said "right now," he meant it.
According to his calculations, world oil production reached its peak on Thanksgiving Day 2005, and now starts on a steady decline until it reaches zero near the end of the century. Deffeyes, a geologist, bases his conclusions on a production chart developed by M. King Hubbert, a Shell Oil Co. geophysicist who, in the 1950s, accurately predicted the rise and fall of U.S. oil production.
Despite the assuredness with which Deffeyes delivered the news, he is not without his critics.
The U.S. Geological Survey, for one, says Deffeyes has underestimated the world oil supply by roughly one trillion barrels -- roughly equal to the supply of oil that has been pumped so far.
Even among the scientists who accept the Hubbert system, there is disagreement about exactly when the production peak will hit. And there are others who dismiss the entire method as unscientific, unreliable hogwash.
"When you assume changes are due simply to geology, you're going to get it wrong," said University of Texas politics professor Michael Lynch at a conference last year.
One man who attended the lecture Thursday panned Deffeyes' use of a linear graph to chart the production peaks, saying a logarithmic scale is much more accurate.
"Your charts are factually misleading," the man charged.
But Deffeyes remained steadfast. He went so far as to attack news articles for including critical voices, saying attempts at being fair have obscured the truth.
"Editors are one of the great enemies of the people right now," he said.
David Goodstein, Caltech provost and professor of physics, defended the Hubbert method, calling it scientific and devastating in its implications.
"The halfway point is going to be very soon," Goodstein said. "So very soon we are going to start running out of oil."
Goodstein is the author of "Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil," a book that challenges the notion that markets will drive the transition to alternative fuels. He has proposed a new Manhattan Project to find a suitable substitute for fossil fuels.
Deffeyes agrees that the world must prepare for the change-over to avoid mass shortages and possible armed conflict. He said the world cannot rely on so-called "blue sky" technologies, such as hydrogen-powered cars, biodiesel or a Manhattan Project.
"How about some old technology?" he asked.
To the dismay of some alternative-energy acolytes, Deffeyes endorsed nuclear power, coal gasification and high-efficiency diesel as intermediate options to wean the world off oil dependence.
"We are going to have to reconfigure things and reprioritize things," Deffeyes said, although he noted he has personally invested in PetroChina Co. in case some new oil deposits are found in the South China Sea.
"That is the last major place on Earth that has not been explored," he said.