Shakti I'll have to ask you to clarify your views on a couple of things: I just dont get why the oil companies- who AFAIK have been denying oil shortages mostly- would start ASPO in order to support their interests of more drilling.
Firstly, I dont see any sign that anything ASPO says does encourage more drilling, even indirectly; they appear to me to be merely warning of near-peak.
Obviously, going full-guns to drill every last drop from ANWR etc would be a very irrational response.
Secondly, I dont see any reason why the oil companies would need ASPO to do this anyway: if they want to tell the world we are running out of oil, they can simply proclaim this loudly and forcefully; they are already far far more powerful than ASPO itself;
thirdly, I dont see that ASPO has any real influence beyond the PO fraternity;
fourthly, I dont see any real connection between ASPO and Transition; it really seems another very big stretch to suggest that the emergence of Transition is in some way a favorable outcome ("useful idiots") for the oil companies, since they are not in any way calling for more drilling and instead are predicting the end of the oil industry.
I dont have the references to hand, but one of Campbell's arguments is that the oil industry is rapidly contracting and failing to attract new investments;
peakers claim that this is an indication of impending peak;
a movement that says the oil is running out is not going to help attract investments (bare in mind there is a 30-40 year delay from discovery to supply).
Finally, I dont see anything suspicious or strange that ASPO would ask funding from their industry contacts; the contributions are likely very small- I do not see ASPO as some mega-corporative organisation. Why wouldnt the oil companies throw a few quid there way? It might be useful for them to get some data on, you know, when the oil might be running out by.
Nor is it surprising that the politics of oil geologists might be towards the right (we dont really have the homophobic Christian Right over here...).
Our distaste for some of their politics does not in itself discredit their data.
I agree that Transition should broaden its reference base, see below. (Rob's site is far more eclectic than the Handbook).
"Drill baby drill" in the US seems to be motivated more by a concern over dependence on foreign oil; unfortunately for the US ANWR will not provide much oil for very long anyway;
peakers claim the Gulf catastrophe is a result of over-extension, cutting corners, drilling in much more difficult conditions; again, if there is still plenty of oil, we wont need to go into ANWR or deep oceans etc.. Peakers have always said, the easy oil is gone.
Similarly, your argument about the Saudis can also be seen as an indication that we are close to Peak: they are still the swing producers, and we are very vulnerable to their whims, and possible their internal conflicts; so, again the message is move away from oil
From PO Debunked:
"First, doomers tacitly assume that anything short of our current energy consumption level would be catastrophic"
It could be, but the message of Transition is that it could be more like a party, and a welcome return to a simpler life. A more substantive criticism of this would be that it will be much harder to grow your own veg without oil than people think.
Campbell has always maintained it is not the timing of peak but the rate of decline. This is till unknown, but there is a danger it could be steep. The time we have to adjust is the crucial thing.
Much peaker thinking includes not just the sums that MacKay gives, but the political and social dimension as well, which is percieved as the real stumbling blocks to change: the last generation has grown up to a sense of entitlement to unending growth, the dominant cultural message is still "progress! onwards!" Five years on from the start of Transition, this has not changed- doesnt mean transition shouldnt keep trying , and it may be having some effect in shaping the cultural debate.
"Doomers are dead wrong about conservation..."
The point is that you can only make conservation efforts once; you cant turn off all the engines in an aeroplane. And again, because the warnings have been ignored, a country like the US for example will find it incredibly painful to start weaning itself off the exceptional state of oil dependency it has achie. We cannot just snap our fingers and change, it takes years and decades and no amount of time will be sufficient if we are still in denial.
I dont see that the peakers or even the doomers say there is nothing that we can do- of course there is lots of low-hanging fruit in energy savings, but then what? The Long Descent will continue, and there will only be fruit on the top branches left.
"The second flaw is in assuming that because we use oil to do something now, we have no other way to do it."
No-one assumes this. The analysis goes, it will be very difficult, very expensive, take a long lead-in time, and result in a dramatic change in society.
What peakers argue, which JD brushes over, is that changes like in WW2 took place rapidly because there was plenty of oil; if we are close to peak, changes and adjustments will be much more difficult and painful, because there will be far less suplus resources to draw from to actually make the change.
Again, the PO argument is to stress just how difficult it is to switch from liquid oil to any other energy source. It will take a long time, few people have considered these issues, there is an assumption in policy that "we will think of something" etc..
"Another example: we are today using energy to expand the infrastructure associated with oil consumption, things like roads, airports, and shopping malls. If things get as bad as LATOC says, we won't need those things anymore. That energy and construction equipment could be used to build power plants instead."
But all JD is doing here is agreeing with the doomers: "not needing" infrastructure such as roads an airports looks to me like a return to pre-industrial times. He is just brushing over the seismic changes this will entail, without providing any figures on where the energy will be available for, how much would be needed etc.. All he is saying is, "sure, we'll just cut back, walk to work, use less and make do" which sounds a lot like Transition to me.
"I've come to believe that no single energy source will take oil's place, but rather that by combining all the ones we know about, we can put together a workable solution that will be good enough to last 200 years or more - enough time for our descendants to come up with something else, or, if they can't, to gradually reduce their numbers without letting anyone starve."
But most doomer analysis claims the opposite, that no COMBINATION of alternatives can make up for the loss of oil. Everything we do will take time; we will be robbing Peter to play Paul; to keep one part of the system going we will have to lose another; all these are symptoms of incipient collapse.
I think JD is right to question the dogma of inevitable collapse, but in essence he is just saying, sure it wont be too bad, and that very much depends on who you are and what resources you have available. I dont find his anlyses very thorough or convincing. Bare in mind for many in the poor world the collapse has already happened, and even small price rises can lead to severe hardship.
Some other PO resources:
The Final Energy Crisis by McKillop and Newman (2005)