[ExI] Peak Oil -- Amory Lovins

Dan dan_ust at yahoo.com
Thu May 31 12:26:49 UTC 2012

On Wednesday, May 30, 2012 12:32 PM spike <spike66 at att.net> wrote:
> Kelly I have been toying with this idea for a long time.  My own outlook
> might be colored by a daily commute to work I have been doing for the past
> 17 years.  Check on Google maps to get a picture of the following
> description.  State Road 237 is an eight lane road going along the bottom
> end of the SF Bay which connects a huge amount of residential areas in the
> east bay to a huge amount of office space, business headquarters, internet
> fly-by-nights etc in the west side of the valley.  Google is over there,
> Intel, Lockheed, Moffett Field, Yahoo, Cisco, AMD, IBM, a bunch of other
> alphabet soup companies and software biggies.
> I have noticed over those 17 years that the daily traffic rises and falls,
> but it hasn't really increased over time.  I think it peaked right around
> 1999, when the Bay area seemed collectively convinced we were on the verge
> of the singularity, and therefore all geeks should all be found working in
> an office when the technocalypse happened, all the better to achieve
> techno-salvation. 
> Today there is still plenty of traffic on that corridor, but I think it is
> about 80-ish percent what it was then.  So here's where I would go with that
> argument: peak demand may be reached in the western world, but not in China
> and India.  Those guys each have over a billion people, who are getting
> internet and seeing how the west lives, and they want that too.  So I would
> disagree with Lovins if we take that critical factor into account. 

This has all the markings of problems with anecdotal evidence. Imagine a similar argument about peak coal. A few decades ago, in the US and many Western nations, many people used coal to heat their homes. In my entire lifetime, I've only seen one home that used coal at all and this was an old burner and hopper that were no longer in use. (I've heard coal is still used in some homes, but I've yet to actually see one up close and personal.:) Now, imagine my grandparents or perhaps great grandparents. They probably lived through an age where many if not most people used coal and coal was used regularly to heat homes, schools, and other buildings. And they lived into an age when coal was supplanted by oil, natural gas, and electricity for these same uses. They might opine, as Jevons did, that peak coal had come and gone -- all the while missing the coal use has gone up (well, as estimated by increases in coal production since 1900).

That said, back to driving rates. These actually seemed to have plateaued not in 2000, but in 2004 -- for the US. However, my personal experience, being on the road in both 2000 and 2004 was to experience an increase in construction-related traffic. This, too, is anecdotal, but I recall from about 2003 to 2008 having to replace my windshield every year because of a crack caused by flying pebbles. Granted, this not just anecdotal, but me drawing the conclusion that the excess of pebbles was caused by more dump tucks and such riding the major roads. (It might have actually been something much more sinister.:)

This isn't to completely deny your point, but just to throw a little skepticism into the mix of using anecdotal reports.



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