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23 Apr 2007

Chris Vernon Responds to George Monbiot.

monChris Vernon edits The Oil Drum Europe and is an excellent commentator on peak oil and related issues. He sent me this response to some of the comments George Monbiot made at the Lampeter event.

“It was with disappointment that I read the transcript of George Monbiot’s Lampeter address. I can identify four points relating to peak oil, critical points where I believe Monbiot is mistaken.

On the subject of peak oil specifically Monbiot suggests, to paraphrase, “we’ll find some more

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Jason Cole
23 Apr 5:21pm

” There is clearly strong coloration and therefore reinforcement “

should read “There is clearly strong correlation and therefore reinforcement “

Jason Cole
23 Apr 5:37pm

“Peak oil and peak energy are very likely one and the same thing.”
Isn’t gas going to offset global-peak-energy from global-peak-oil for a few years, as indicated by the ASPO newsletters?

Monbiot also mentioned the Wehrmacht; it would be interesting to estimate how much CTL production would have been done at the time (i.e. is it insignificant compared to 85 MB/d?)

Philip Martin
24 Apr 10:59am

I heard George make the Saudi/Siberian lack of exploration argument last year. Is there any way to get the good people at TOD to take a look at this? With the number of people who post there now, it might be possible to get some provisional idea.

Tess Lowe
24 Apr 1:19pm

Best analysis I’ve seen from you yet, Chris. Good job!

Ken Neal
24 Apr 2:39pm

“Monbiot also mentioned the Wehrmacht; it would be interesting to estimate how much CTL production would have been done at the time (i.e. is it insignificant compared to 85 MB/d?)”

Global oil consumption in the 40s was about a tenth of the present rate so CTL then would be insignificant compared to today’s requirement.

There is a graph at this URL which shows what the Hirsh Report thought CTL could contribute.
If you can find Bartlett’s speech to congress on Peak Oil of February 2006 with slides, I think you will find it the most comprehensive introduction to Peak Oil you will find. It is available at but without the slides.

Eoin O'Callaghan
24 Apr 8:45pm

I think there could be a significant amount of political destabilisation once governments wake up to the reality of peak oil. Even if there is sufficient supplies of gas and/or coal to make up for declining oil reserves, I would think it very unlikely that these alternatives would be distributed in the way they currently are. Surely countries which are lucky enough to have reserves will nationalise what energy resources they have? Peak Oil will not affect all countries equally. Living in Ireland, a country massively dependant on imported oil for its energy needs and wants, I feel that it is likely to draw a very short straw when it comes to the redistribution of global energy resources in the post-peak era.

David price
24 Apr 10:34pm

About the Wehrmacht on one website about synthetic fuel I read that the entire production from the German synthetic fuel plants was equal to about 4 days of present US oil imports.

Donald Coventry
26 Apr 3:11am

I remmeber reading a Monbiot piece where he felt it was of absolute significance. It may be that peak oil just makes his message too complicated. I felt back then his unerstanding of the issue was sound.

27 Apr 9:04am

Hi Eoin

“I think there could be a significant amount of political destabilisation once governments wake up to the reality of peak oil.”

Um, you mean, like… invading major oil producing countries?

Eoin O'Callaghan
27 Apr 1:19pm

Hi Robert,

Invading major oil producing countries… yes this has already happened and is likely to be seen again. But also increased tensions between countries without any reserves of their own that currently enjoy friendly relations.

Jason Cole
30 Apr 3:56pm


By believing “Peak Oil == Peak Energy” do you think the Olduvai Theory carries more weight?

Chris Vernon
30 Apr 5:14pm

From what I remember Olduvai theory is all framed in terms of energy per capita, I do expect peak oil to represent peak energy and as population will continue to grow for a few decades more it certainly represents peak energy per capita.

However I’m not sure how useful peak energy per capita is – firstly energy isn’t really the point but “energy services

Maurice Spurway
28 Dec 9:46pm

Chris says:

“Climate change says we should change whereas peak oil says we will be forced to change. Both are right.”

Can’t argue with this BUT … Peak Oil is unlikely to force us to change quickly enough or deeply enough. It’s likely to “plateau” in about 10 years time. Too late. With Climate Change we need to reduce CO2 emissions by about 9% per year starting next year. I hope that Peak Oil will “kick in” soon, but my gut instinct says that it will happen too late and too little.

George is probably right. Climate Change is the most important driver of the change we need to see. Peak Oil would be nice to give additional forceful back-up, but we can’t rely on it…. Sadly.

Maurice Spurway
Co-ordinator – Exeter FoE

Tony Weddle
31 Dec 5:54pm

From current data, we’ve actually been on an oil production plateau for a couple of years, with stock drawdown as the biggest contributor to the rise in consumption. Unless there are some big new projects that can more than compensate for natural declines in existing fields, we could see shortages very soon, rather than a plateau starting 10 years hence.

Climate change has not been the driver for change that it was hoped to be, despite big talk from some politicians. Unfortunately, it’s likely that some element of force is needed, and I can only see that coming from oil depletion, in particular, and fossil fuel depletion, in general.

Maurice Spurway
2 Jan 2:33pm

I hope you are right, Tony.

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