Kjell Aleklett Lecture

Yesterday I took a much needed break from Mesh Potato hacking and pedaled into Adelaide University to see a lecture by Kjell Aleklett, who is the president of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas who is visiting Australia this week.

Couple of important points that I took away:

  1. Kjell explained the physical process by which oil percolates through porous stone to oil wells – he then made the point that economists think that oil flows are propelled by money, not physical processes. In other words economists (and therefore governments) think money can overcome physical supply problems. Oops.
  2. The estimates of greenhouse gas emissions and hence global warming are based on continued growth of fossil fuel use. However these estimates do not take into account the actual peaking of oil, gas, and coal supplies. When the limited supply situation of fossil fuels are modeled, greenhouse emissions are constant over the next 50 years. If fossil fuel supply is limited, you limit huge increases in carbon dioxide concentrations.
  3. All current economic models assume unlimited future growth. Growth requires fossil fuels, which are reaching the limits of physical supply. For example if our population increases, we need a new suburb, and new cars to handle commuting. So if fossil fuels are limited, this means that from now on economic growth will be curtailed. No economic growth means the current economic systems break.


My original post on Peak Oil.

Some thoughts on our obsession with economic growth.

5 thoughts on “Kjell Aleklett Lecture”

  1. “he then made the point that economists thing that oil flows are propelled by money”, suspect you mean think rather than thing in this sentence…

    Personally I’m not really sure what I think of “peak oil”, yes one day oil is going to run out and we need to do something about it but … is that time upon us yet?

  2. Thanks for the correction Andy. Peak oil is less about oil running out, more than the effects of oil flows peaking and then declining in a world currently based on economic growth (and hence growth in fossil fuel consumption).

  3. I remember reading somewhere (Economist) that in the west the dependency on oil to produce economic growth is slowly declining, I guess the question we all need to ask is how can we accelerate that trend.

  4. Andy,

    Fresh economic growth in developed countries may not depend on oil, but that doesn’t in any way lessen the dependency of those economies on oil. Fresh economic growth may not depend much on farming, but try living with a shrinking supply of food. These statements are made by people with an agenda, to sound soothing.

    The fundamental problem with anything related to energy strategy is that *everyone* has an agenda. Its so emotive a topic, that nobody gives impartial information.

  5. Oil is not running out and it will peak in about 2000 years from now. To synthesise oil from coal with the Lurgi method cost about 60 d/b. The coal reserve in the world is god for at least 2000 years. The Lurgi method was invented in germany during wwII and was perfected South africa during the 20 year blockade.

    Greeting from Sweden

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