Tuesday, 28 June 2011 09:46

Predictions About Rapture and the Peak Oil Theory

Remember the pastors throwing fix rapture dates at their flocks? The most recent rapture date was about to tribulate planet Earth on May 21st 2011, a Saturday, at exactly 6pm, worldwide... Other predicted dates of arrival were in: 1844, 1914, 1918, 1925, 1942, 1981, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1994... And the final one, made by Sir Isaac Newton, who "proposed, based upon his calculations using figures from the Book of Daniel, that the Apocalypse could happen no earlier than 2060." [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapture ] No earlier means that it can happen in 2300 or 2400 as well. At least, Sir Isaac Newton pondered wisely, with a considerable margin of error from 2060 to the end of time, whenever that will be. Oh, and Sir Isaac Newton proposed his >2060+ date no later than March 1727, when he died. Not sure if there was a rapture theory on the table during the early 18th century... 
In America, you could read this on a popular poster: "Are you ready for the Rapture? Jesus is coming on October 28th, 1992." Did He? Nope. Will He? For certain. When? Nobody can tell. However, there's a world wide cult of the Rapture and millions truly follow it. In spite of the many missed dates of arrival. What believers fail to consider is the think-with-your-own-mind factor, that Jesus came once, born by Mary, and will Return, as promised, only once, not twice. This simple argument should dismiss the entire rapture theory. But the theory, and the cults, go on, based on false assumptions, on erroneous translations and on missed dates, one after another. In spite of empirical and theoretical evidence of the contrary, people won't learn about the future from past mistakes. Sad but true.  
Same goes with the crude oil reserves predictions. Namely the peak oil theory, threatening industry and
society altogether that we're running out of our economical blood, which is the crude oil. And, unlike the moderate and comfortably distant assumption of Sir Isaac Newton, the peak oil theory will occur no later than 1965, 1970, 1995, 2004, 2007, 2010... and so on. Every such threat is tagged with an "if" so that more analytical minds won't laugh too hard at it. Laugh at it? Why should we laugh at those prestigious experts? They tell us that oil will be gone by ____ (fill in the year and month)... Yes, just like their counterparts in the rapture fields, they calculate dates and emit theories they base on false premises. So you can laugh if you know how to differentiate the particular from the general. 
The false premise occurs at the root of a theory that extrapolates local conditions to global dimensions. Another false premise is when you extrapolate momentary technological status to future discoveries and scientific advances over decades by obliterating the disruptive factor, proven so many times in history. 
Like coal, crude oil deposits will deplete one day. Known crude oil deposits, same as the known coal deposits. Because who can talk about depleting the unknown deposits? Since they are unknown, we have no idea about their location, their depth, their quality, their duration in exploitation, about what new technology will get our pipes deeper to reach them, etc. We simply don't know. But we seem to panic at pastors, err, predictors who base their theories on known deposits, on known technologies and some statistics. Most likely, they are good hard working scientists and analysts, and what they calculate in their models has considerable value. A statistic value that's helping the industry on the long run. Many of them are even paid by the oil industry. The problem appears with the politically induced panic, the case for artificial taxing and, consequently, for the abnormal prices of crude oil and gasoline.   
An example, the Hubbert predicted production peak oil, for 1995, did not happen because the estimates missed the innovative combustion engines of the late seventies and early eighties. More efficient cars consumed less and delivered more. This made crude oil production decrease during the eighties and, further on, displaced the projected peak of production for 1995. 
Another example, according to Hubbert's peak theories, applied this time to other resources than crude oil, the peak of coal production was reached during the 1920s. Following the prediction, coal peak would mean that afterwards coal deposits can only deplete to a final disappearance or zero level. Which is flawed because, if the industry would switch back on coal tomorrow, then the "forgotten" reserves of coal will regain the central stage of interest, currently occupied by crude oil and natural gas. Notice that the deposits of coal were not depleted on a slope of sacrifice after the coal peak point. It was a disruptive technology, the Diesel and Otto engines, which replaced steam engines thus making the coal primacy obsolete. 
Most likely that engines of the future, novel disruptive technologies, circulating water instead of burning hydrocarbons, will kill the primacy of crude oil, in a manner similar to discontinuing the rule of coal over the industrial world. None of these implies end of deposits, emptiness of geological reserves. Not for coal, nor for crude oil. 
This makes us safely speculate that -- within the relativity of industrial development -- the resources of crude oil are not finite. This statement hits no absolute barrier. Of course that practically everything is finite on Earth. But (short of an Apocalyptic event) air, water, coal, crude, will always be in reach, in safe amounts, from generation to generation. 
And we're back to the psychological factor of the Hubbert peak oil theory. This is less of a geological, and global, preoccupation and more of a fear factor, an instrument in the stick-and-carrot game of politicians. Like those preaching the Apocalypse tomorrow, spreading mass panic about disasters and cataclysms with no metrics at hand to predict or estimate. It's a political game of blame. It's not about geology and drilling but about psychology and social engineering. It's not about oil depletion, nor the economy collapse, but rather about few people trying to take advantage of many others. Like spam, it's a proven practice. It works.   
Former U.S. president Bill Clinton has urged newspaper editors to focus more attention on the depletion of the world's oil reserves. In a June 17 speech to the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies convention in Little Rock, Arkansas, Clinton said a "significant number of petroleum geologists" have warned that the world could be nearing the peak in oil production. Clinton suggested that at current consumption rates (now more than 30 billion barrels per year, according to the International Energy Agency), the world could be out of "recoverable oil" in 35 to 50 years, elevating the risk of "And then finally, and I think most important of all, more important than the deficit, more important then healthcare, more important than anything, is we have got to do something about our energy strategy because if we permit the climate to continue to warm at an unsustainable rate, and if we keep on doing what we're doing 'til we're out of oil and we haven't made the transition, then it's inconceivable to me that our children and grandchildren will be able to maintain the American way of life and that the world won't be much fuller of resource-based wars of all kinds."
Yeah, sure. Bill Clinton remained in history with another speech, not about oil, but almost as credible as this one.
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