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Peak Oil -- New York Times' Op-ed Gets it Right and Wrong

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On Friday, two weeks after I discussed the issue at length in the Huffington Post ("WikiLeaks Brings Misguided Joy to Preachers of Peak Oil") the New York Times found the wherewithal to present us with Michael Lynch's op-ed, "Drilling For an Oil Crisis." The Times piece covers virtually the same territory, namely that the WikiLeaks revelation of an American diplomat's dispatch about the constraints of Saudi oil reserves gave false credence to the peak oil theorists and rendered unto the peak oil pranksters erroneous and misguided bragging rights which they happily exploited to push their agenda that oil production has "entered a terminal decline."

The Times' op-ed, as did my earlier Huffington Post piece, raises serious doubts about the 'peak oil' theory. Lynch hits the issue squarely on the head when he comments about Saudi Arabia: "Officials there have discovered approximately 70 major oil fields that they've left untapped over concerns that increased Saudi production would cause global oil prices to collapse." Well and good and so much for the timeliness of the New York Times' revelations.

However, then the Times piece goes seriously off track. Ascribing blame on the 'peak oil' crowd's lamentations that oil's production has "entered a terminal decline", bolstered by the WikiLeaks revelations, as the motivating factor in the Obama administration's "throwing federal subsidies -- some $8 billion in the 2012 budget at all sorts of unproven, unrealistic and inefficient energy technologies like wind farms and electric cars." That "we should not let a false panic over disappearing oil reserves lead into rushed government investments."

Wrong, and wrong once again! Concern about disappearing oil, real or imagined plays a role, but the motivating impulse toward alternative energy technologies is far more fundamental. Perhaps, better said it is 'existential' touching on the very existence of life on the planet.

The environmental threat to our existence and that of generations to come grows every day. Seeking non-fossil fuel solutions to our energy needs are not "rushed government investments" as the op-ed piece pontificates. And they are hardly "rushed." They are already several generations overdue.