3/21/2005

Daily Kos :: Brain Dead? Molybdenum and Whale Oil tell our sorry tale.

Kossak LondonYank tells us like it is:

Put simply: the uncertainty is so great, and the impact likely to be so big on our economies (if only from the wild oscillations of the price) that it is criminal not to plan for this, and not to be actively seeking alternatives.

Terri Schiavo is not the only one to be Brain-Dead.

Daily Kos :: Brain Dead? Molybdenum and Whale Oil tell our sorry tale.:


whale oil, the only commodity to have gone through a full Hubbert's peak cycle:

The 'bell-shaped' production curve of a non-recyclable mineral resource was described first by M. King Hubbert in 1956, and was used to correctly predict that the production of crude oil in the United States (Lower-48) would peak in 1970. It is reasonable to suppose that the worldwide production of crude oil will also follow a similar bell-curve, with much of the present debate focusing on when the peak will occur. It is anticipated that it will generate an epochal change deriving from a steep rise in prices.

The rise in prices at the peak is expected because of the switch from a market driven by production to one driven by supply. The Hubbert model, however, does not itself provide quantitative information on prices, and it is not possile to draw conclusions from individual country peaks because oil prices are set globally.

In order to obtain historical evidence for price trends, one needs to examine a case where a non-recyclable resource went through a complete Hubbert cycle worldwide. There are no previous examples of a mineral resource that has done so. In fact, crude oil may turn out to be the first, which incidentally may be one of the reasons why the concept of 'peak oil' is so difficult for many people to grasp.

A resource does not need to be a mineral one to show a Hubbert curve. A biological resource which is produced (or 'extracted') much faster than it is replaced may also follow a bell-curve. Historically, there have been several cases of terminally depleted biological resources. The whaling industry of the 19th Century is a good example, as already noted by Coleman (Non Renewable Resources, Oxford University Press, 4(1995) 273).

(...)

From the figure [above], it is evident that the production of whale oil followed a bell-curve according to Hubbert's theory, modelled with a simple Gaussian curve, albeit showing strong oscillations. These data are in excellent agreement with the report on Right Whale abundance by Baker and Clapham (Trends in Ecology and Evolution Vol.19 No.7 July 2004), indicating that the fall in production after the peak was caused by depletion and not by the switching to different fuels.

(...)

we can derive insight into crude oil price trends from the figure. Whale oil prices started to increase approximately at the inflection point of the curve well and before the production peak,. An upward spike in prices took place a few years after the peak, being also detectable in the non-inflation corrected price data (see Coleman, ibid.)."

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