Are Peak Oil Advocates 'Cultists'?

Friday, January 20, 2006

EV (electric vehicle) World carrries this commentary by EV founder Bill Moore:

"Proponents of the imminent peak of global oil extraction -- led by Colin Campbell, Jean Laherrere, L.F. Ivanhoe, Richard Duncan, and Kenneth Deffeyes -- resort to deliberately alarmist arguments as they mix incontestable facts with caricatures of complex realities and as they ignore anything that does not fit their preconceived conclusions in order to issue their obituaries of modern civilization".

So begins the opening sentence of Vaclav Smil's equally polemic paper, Peak Oil: A Catastrophist Cult and Complex Realities castigating the "cultists" of peak oil, which I suspect he'd also consider EV World.

The thrust of his argument is that advocates of peak oil, the point at which global demand exceeds global supply, erroneously assume that mankind will not find a way to adapt; and as a result, the world will descend into a destructive spiral of economic and geopolitical crises that could result in a new dark age. . . .

Is mankind likely to adapt to a changing energy world? Certainly, but I doubt it will be painless or without disruption. My guess is that somewhere between the "sect" of free-market optimism espoused by Professor Smil and the "cult" of peak oil pessimism personified by Professor Heinberg, lies the future in motion.