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THE GREAT SCIENTIFIC COVERUP OF THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE IN WESTERN CIVILIZATION A personal odyssey

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Title: THE GREAT SCIENTIFIC COVERUP OF THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE IN WESTERN CIVILIZATION A personal odyssey


1
THE GREAT SCIENTIFIC COVERUP OF THE MOST
IMPORTANT ISSUE IN WESTERN CIVILIZATION A
personal odyssey into the realm of science
Charles A. S. Hall Department of Environmental
and Forest Biology and Graduate Program in
Environmental Science SUNY ESF Adaptive Peaks
Seminar September 22, 2005
2
I. ORIGINS
3
Natureboy
4
My father, whom I admired greatly, instilled in
me a great respect for honesty and truth
5
I grew up in coastal Massachusetts, at that time
a wonderful wild world for the adventurous to
explore
6
  • I was a literature major at Colgate, but one
    lecture on ecology changed my life

7
  • I was an undistinguished masters student at
    Penn State but then met, and studied under, the
    person who changed my life
  • H.T. Odum
  • Mr. Systems and Energy
  • This was at the University of
  • North Carolina

8
What interested me the most was the energetics of
ecosystems and especially fish migration
  • From this I derived EROI,
  • The Energy Return on Investment for a migrating
    fish

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  • I was a hippie who partook in, and loved, all
    that, but who worked 80 hours a week as a
    graduate student

12
I was introduced to, and became obsessed with,
computer modeling
13
But I learned much more
What was astonishing for us was the realization
that the systems and energetic principles that we
were learning and applying to rivers and
estuaries in North Carolina could be equally
applied to human-dominated systems
14
  • I became extremely interested in the work of
    Ecological Anthropologists
  • Lee, Rappaport, Vayda, Thomas
  • And a few special economists Boulding,
    Georgescu-Roegan
  • All focused on the crucial importance of energy
    for human endeavors

15
  • I became convinced that virtually all development
    has been done simply by applying more energy
  • - spear points concentrate
  • physical energy
  • fire is of course liberated energy
  • Agriculture is refocusing solar energy (using
    fossil energy)
  • Today it is all based on fossil fuel
  • Technology is mostly about using more or higher
    quality energy

16
EARLY WARNING SHOTS TO THE WORLD
17
1968
18
Americas greatest scientist??
M. King Hubbert 1903-1989 Our ignorance is
not so vast as our failure to use what we know
19
The Epoch of Fossil Fuel Exploitation (after
Hubbert, 1969)
300
200
Trillion kwh per year
100
-1
1
2
3
4
5
0
-5
-4
-3
-2
Mayan
Steam
culture
Stonehenge Built
Parthenon
Engine
completed
Pyramids
Hubberts pimple
Iron in
constructed
Black
Middle
Death
East
Inquisition
Magellan's
Circumnavigation
20
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Jay Forrester Inventer of RAM, Systems
Dynamics, Limits to growth
23
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The model showed violent oscillations in the
conditions of humanity
25
The only way to stabilize the model was to
stabilize population and reduce investment!
26
  • Then came the oil price shocks of the 1970s
  • The price of oil went up (twice) to 3.50 per
    gallon in todays prices and stayed there
  • There were huge previously unseen economic
    problems stagflation etc.
  • The models seemed to be validated.

27
III. THE NEGATION
  • The mainstream economists did not like any of
    this

28
  • They found three torpedoes
  • 1) Economists arguments
  • 2) Paul Ehrlichs stupid bet
  • 3) The price of oil receded

29
  • The economists HATED the limits to growth study
  • They believed in technology, That spark of
    human ingenuity
  • It is a fundamental issue are humans restrained
    by natures laws and properties?

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A close look by economists has led many
competent independent analysts to conclude that
the underlying assumptions are pure fantasy
did not refer to a single scientific study
There is a clear possibility that the development
of nuclear fusion will open up a vast and perhaps
enormously cheap source of power ..
  • There are no inventions .. Output per unit input
    has been rising between one and one half and
    three percent (Denison)

32
  • Paul Ehrlichs (one of my heroes) stupid bet

33
The price of oil receded (as it may again)
80
34
III. MY OWN EARLIER CONTRIBUTIONS
  • I continued through post doctoral and young
    professor years with a split personality
  • -- Field work in ecology (which was rewarded )
  • -- Additional work on human-dominated ecosystems
    (which was not)

35
Getting a quantitative fish sample
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We used Yield per Effort concepts from fisheries
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  • Andy Warhol said that we all had fifteen minutes
    of fame
  • here was mine!

40
I may be the only person ever to be denied tenure
at an Ivy League University on the week I had the
cover issue of Science!
  • Science Cover

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My former students also did really important work
emphasizing energy investments needed
45
  • The Energy Bible

46
  • We began to believe that the critical problem
    was the disconnect between economics and the
    biophysical world

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49
The biophysical model of the economy
50
As a resource gets scarcer, its price will,
other things being equal, tend to rise. This will
reduce consumption (by substitution, for
example), and increase productionWhat is more,
as prices rise producers will be encouraged to
engage in more exploration, which will increase
the resource base if finds are made.

Hanley, Shogren, and White (2001, 324)
  • Perhaps the major theme in resource economic
    textbooks is that there is no such thing as
    absolute scarcity. The price system, by
    encouraging substitution and exploration, in
    effect creates more resources as prices increase.
    Scarcity is not a physical concept.

51
Where does wealth come from ???
  • Classical economists/Marxists Labor
  • Neoclassical Economists Capital (and labor)
  • Neophysiocrats (Hall, Cleveland,
  • Kaufmann, Gowdy, Krall, Klitgaard)
  • Nature

52
  • Its just bloody obvious and it is not even in
    their models (e.g. Dennisons)

53
  • Neoclassical economics is sold to the world from
    the perspective of efficiency
  • So we tested that
  • Efficiency OUTPUT / INPUT
  • We found NO evidence for 40 countries that that
    efficiency of turning energy, water or forests
    into wealth was increasing (possible partial
    exceptions US and Hong Kong)

54
We have published four such updated papers
showing same for most countries
55
  • We tested that hypothesis many ways
  • The answer no way, if anything the reverse, if
    we use a definition of efficiency that a
    scientist or engineer understands
  • Economics continues based on untested fairy tales

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IV. THE COVERUP
58
  • Discussion of any limits to growth disappeared
    Most who thought about it said the market had
    solved the problem
  • The oil issue has, until the last few
    days/months, disappeared from the media
  • Growth returned as the god
  • Those who raised these issues were alarmists,
  • Casandras
  • Even mpg goals were essentially eliminated
  • There was not even any place to apply for money
    in NSF or DOE (except for technical studies to
    produce more)

59
My personal story
  • I have published more than 200 papers and books
    on energy or energy-related issues, most in
    peer-reviewed journals, 5 in Science or Nature
  • I have received many millions of dollars of
    research dollars

60
  • The total I have received to do energy research?
  • 800.00

61
FUNDING
  • Here are the greatest names in Energy Research in
    my opinion
  • Cutler Cleveland
  • Robert Kaufmann
  • Robert Herendeen
  • Robert Ayres
  • Colin Campbell
  • Jean Leherrere

62
  • NOT ONE OF THEM IS OR HAS BEEN FUNDED BY
    GOVERNMENT OR INDUSTRY TO RESEARCH ENERGY
  • All of them report to me that they do this work
    in their spare time, on the weekend, after
    retirement

63
  • Why have Science/funding agencies ignored these
    questions?
  • I have five hypotheses
  • 1) Predictions were not important
  • 2) The science has been discredited
  • 3) No one wants to hear/fund bad news
  • 4) Economics has trumped science
  • 5) They are just plain stupid

64
  • Hypothesis 1 Predictions were not important
  • Reject
  • Just look at the national disruption caused by a
    temporary loss of 10 percent of oil/gas capacity
  • p.s. This is not what we are talking about
  • But we already knew that
  • remember the 1970s?

65
  • the message to 300 participants at (ASPO) an oil
    depletion conference in Lisbon in May The
    world's economy will falter and collapse as
    global oil production peaks and heads into a
    permanent decline
  • I arrived at ASPO with a reasonably broad
    knowledge of the subject. Despite this, I had
    found the enormity of Peak Oil almost impossible
    to grasp. For Peak Oil means the destruction of
    the entire psychological and mythological
    structures upon which our lives in the west have
    their foundations. 
  • After three days of mathematically powerful
    modeling, surveys of the discrepancies between
    industry and government statistics, histories of
    the political distortions affecting reserve
    reporting, and regional studies of basins and
    traps, nobody could blithely walk out the
    conference doors with much hope for world
    economic growth.
  • Charles Hall gave a spirited demonstration that
    neoclassical economics is one huge tragic
    mistake. Wealth does not come from capital, nor
    does it come from labor it comes from the
    Earth. Interested readers are referred to
    Hall's recent papers on this issue
  • Meghan Quinn -- Energy Bulletin

66
Hypothesis 2 Science was bad
  • Reject because the biophysical predictions have
    been right on
  • Oil production in US has declined by 60 percent
    as predicted by Hubbert
  • Huge price increases in 1980s resulted in less
    OG production then
  • Global oil production is at or near peak
  • Most other resource issues have been bailed out
    with cheap oil (soils, fish, water etc).
  • NO substitutes have emerged
  • Renewables remain less than 1 (except hydro)

67
  • Consequently the world and the U.S. became
    increasingly dependant upon petroleum
  • Today two thirds of U.S. energy comes from oil
    (nearly two thirds imported) and gas, most of
    rest from coal
  • New sources (except nuclear) remain trivial and
    are decreasing as

68
  • And as of 2005 the limits to growth model is
    almost exactly correct!

69
Hypothesis 3 No one wants to hear/fund Bad News
  • Fail to reject
  • Example is New Orleans we all knew it was
    coming, but Louisiana Senators could not get
    emergency preparedness money
  • 9/11 Federal official who put the pieces
    together (pilot training for those who dont want
    to learn to land, previous attacks on WTC etc)
    was shut up
  • If we no longer kill the messenger we at least
    ignore him or her

70
Hypothesis 4 Economics has trumped science
  • Accept Neoclassical economics, including
    especially monetary cost-benefit analysis, has
    become the overwhelming choice to make public
    decisions.
  • These ideas have become conflated with the
    anti-government conservative agenda
  • Let the markets make all decisions

71
  • BUT is this winning by the market economists in
    name only?
  • The United States is even MORE vulnerable to oil
    shortages now than in 1970s (no electricity use
    to change to coal)
  • While there is some increase in efficiency in
    U.S. (but not elsewhere) total energy use
    continues to increase

72
Was Hubbert/Forrester/Odum correct?
  • i.e. Which side is correct?
  • What does the future
    hold??

Depends upon whom you ask
73
  • Neohubbertarians or Technical cornucopians?
  • ASPO Most Economists
  • Geologists, Adelman
  • oil financiers EIA
  • Colin Campbell Julian Simon
  • Jean Leherrere Lynch
  • Matt Simmons (Daniel Yergin)
  • T. Boone Pickens USGS (They have
    been

  • wrong before)
  • etc.
  • We dont know yet Where do YOU
    stand??

74
PETROLEUM GEOLOGY in3 Minutes(Thanks to Colin
Campbell)
75
Extreme Global Warming gave excessive Algal
Growths
90 150 million years ago
Rifts formed as the Continents moved apart
Organic debris
76
And then came the rains
Rifts filled by sediment washed in from
borderlands
Chemical reactions converted organic debris into
oil when buried heated
77
Water well
Critical Temperature 60-120 0C
78
Depletion is Easy to Grasp
  • As every beer drinker knows
  • Glass starts full, and ends empty
  • The quicker you drink it, the sooner it is gone
  • The same principle applies to oil and gas
  • How has this self-evident reality been concealed
    ?
  • It is so obvious yet it is a
  • DEVASTATING REALISATION

79
HOWEVER A few facts to think about
  • The market has NOT found a suitable substitute
    for oil AT ALL
  • Oil is very special for transportation, many
    uses

80
Estimates of Global Ultimate Oil
  • Most estimates 2000 BBO
  • USGS 2000 is most recent and exhaustive estimate
    - world ultimate mean estimate of 3000 BBO
  • considered optimistic by many
  • large estimate of undiscovered oil esp. in FSU
    and middle east.
  • calculates reserve growth for world based on
    experience in U.S.

DOE/EIA Website, 2000
81
The US economy survives by using every one elses
oil
82
  • Probably we have been saved from the peak by the
    depression following the 1970s.

83
  • The market has NOT found more oil

84
  • Campbell. "The whole world has now been
    seismically searched and picked over. Geological
    knowledge has improved enormously in the past 30
    years and it is almost inconceivable now that
    major fields remain to be found."

85
Much of the Middle Eastern reserves were created
by fiat
86
  • New oil technology appears not to have found MORE
    oil, but only existing oil faster
  • (Campbell)
  • And it has often failed
  • Yates Field in Texas
  • Yemen horizontal drilling
  • Prudhoe Bay flooding

87
Prudhoe Bay
1977 Internal Estimate 12.5-15 Gb Reported 9
Gb Technology added nothing
1989
1977
88
  • Moreover, oil supply is increasingly limited to a
    few giant fields, with 10 of all production
    coming from just four fields and 80 from fields
    discovered before 1970.
  • Even finding a field the size of Ghawar in Saudi
    Arabia, by far the world's largest and said to
    have another 125bn barrels, would only meet world
    demand for about 10 years.

89
For the past three years the expenditures to look
for oil have been greater than the dollar
returns!
Hall Cleveland 1981 Science
90
  • According to Chris Skrebowski, editor of
    Petroleum Review, a monthly magazine published by
    the Energy Institute in London, conventional oil
    reserves are now declining about 4-6 a year
    worldwide. He says 18 large oil-producing
    countries, including Britain, and 32 smaller
    ones, have declining production and he expects
    Denmark, Malaysia, Brunei, China, Mexico and
    India all to reach their peak in the next few
    years.

91
  • Natural Gas Crisis Dale Allen Pfeiffer
  • -- Forget about terrorists. The single
    greatest threat to the U.S. right now comes from
    a critical shortage of (domestic) natural gas.

92
  • Yet at a national energy conference in Cleveland
    on June 2, the issue of peak oil and the
    associated economic decline was not discussed.
    Presenters touted the role of technology,
    economic forces, and additional research dollars
    in making hydrogen, "clean coal," nuclear, and
    fuel cells viable in the future and therefore a
    solution to our energy problems.
  • the mood was cheery and congratulatory as the
    public was reassured that these scientists could
    solve all of their energy problems.
  • Paul Portney, President of "Resources for the
    Future," a Washington think tank, also stressed
    that the U.S. was built on cheap energy and that
    everything from our cars and homes to the
    distance we live from our work was based on this
    paradigm.
  • Meghan Quinn -- Energy Bulletin

93
  • Campbell The first half of the oil age now
    closes. It lasted 150 years and saw the rapid
    expansion of industry, transport, trade,
    agriculture and financial capital, allowing the
    population to expand six-fold. The second half
    now dawns, and will be marked by the decline of
    oil and all that depends on it..."

94
  • So I accept also Hypothesis V. Really stupid
    .Really stupid things I think we have done
  • -- not listened to Jay Forrester, M. King Hubbert
    and Howard Odum
  • Not at least undertaking a large research program
    to see to what degree these predictions were
    valid
  • -- stopped building nuclear power plants
  • -- allowed the economists to get away without
    their theories without testing hypotheses
  • -- (ecologists) focused all of our
    energies/funding on biodiversity etc
  • -- not had a program (at ESF or almost anywhere)
    of systems/energy/economic integrated analyses at
    the scale required

95
  • Somehow when people enter the arena too often
    science leaves
  • -- If you do it you are subject to It is not
    real science
  • Your view is no better than anyone else
  • You can find someone on each side
  • We need to apply the scientific method to the
    ecology of Homo sapiens

96
Sometimes we BioPhysical economists are pretty
good predictors
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V. THE FUTURE
99
MORE FACTS
100
A new twist from our group
101
  • The energy cost of getting the next barrel is
    going way up

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  • Robert L. Hirsch
  • focused on the need to implement change
    immediately, because change was slow and
    expensive.
  • Mitigation begun 20 years prior to peak would
    enable a smooth transition without problems BUT 3
    - 8 decline could be the case post peak.

104
  • We are NOT getting less resource dependant

105
  • The last five nobel prizes in economics have gone
    to economists who question the standard model

106
POPULAR IDEAS I THINK ARE BAD
  • Hydrogen economy
  • Efficiency as solution (Jevons paradox)
  • Making ESF less energy intensive
  • Recycling paper

107
  • And we are paying for that imported oil with
  • DEBT
  • A critical determinant of our future together
    with
  • -- Depletion and its energy costs
  • -- degradation of renewable resources
  • -- our loss of productive capacity
  • -- our loss of young people who know how to
    do
  • physical work

108
  • Franklin Roosevelt greatly increased our debt in
    time of need but he knew that we had the
    resources to grow again.
  • Ironically Conservative Presidents Reagan,
    George the first and George the second brought on
    more inflation-corrected debt than FDR
  • Can we grow out of that???
  • Energy cost of that debt

109
  • Who will burn the oil that remains?

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  • And of course environmental impacts increase
    energy costs

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What to do?
  • Of course fund windmills and certain solar
  • Go nuclear big time (but not enough Uranium and
    Chinese have bought it anyway)
  • Understand Jevons paradox
  • Need Federal leadership
  • No more ostriches
  • Train our young people in an economics that is
    real no more fairy tales

134
-
My final professional goal
Neoclassical economics
135
  • What I am doing
  • Writing a new book (With Economist Klitgaard)
  • Biophysical Economics A basic textbook
    in economics for the second half of the age of
    oil
  • Presenting this at the American Association of
    Economics teachers (Oct 7)
  • ASPO-US (November 12)
  • Teach reality
  • Trying to get ESF to focus more on global
    resources
  • Our freshmen know more facts about these issues
    than almost any politician except Representative
    Bartlett of Md.

136
The most important information for an economist
  • In the long run
  • Mother Nature holds the high cards
  • We play by her rules or not at all

137
If you havent seen it do
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THE END
140
  • Bank says Saudi's top field in declineBy Adam
    Porter in Perpignan, France Tuesday 12 April
    2005, 1352 Makka Time, 1052 GMT  
  • Gharwar's decline may spook markets and force
    prices up  Related US Fed chief tries to stem
    oil worries Expert Saudi oil may have peaked
    The beginning of the end for oil Are Saudis
    telling fairy tales about oil?  Tools  Email
    Article   Print Article   Send Your Feedback
  • Speculation over the actual size of Saudi
    Arabia's oil reserves is reaching fever pitch as
    a major bank says the kingdom's - and the
    world's - biggest field, Gharwar, is in
    irreversible decline.

141
All Oil Gas
All boundaries fuzzy
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Estimates of Global Ultimate Oil
  • Most estimates 2000 BBO
  • USGS 2000 is most recent and exhaustive estimate
    - world ultimate mean estimate of 3000 BBO
  • considered optimistic by many
  • large estimate of undiscovered oil esp. in FSU
    and middle east.
  • calculates reserve growth for world based on
    experience in U.S.

DOE/EIA Website, 2000
144
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