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One of the live oaks that bless my home

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

There Must Not Be a Peak of Anything

I could start from telling you about my own impressions of human delusions, but I could not possibly introduce the subject better than the ENCYCLICAL LETTER, LAUDATO SI’ OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME.  Here is a short fragment of the Preamble pertinent to what I want to say later:

1. “LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us.
“Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.”
2. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.

Nothing in this world is indifferent to us

3. More than fifty years ago, with the world teetering on the brink of nuclear crisis, Pope Saint John XXIII wrote an Encyclical which not only rejected war but offered a proposal for peace. He addressed his message Pacem in Terris to the entire “Catholic world” and indeed “to all men and women of good will”. Now, faced as we are with global environmental deterioration, I wish to address every person living on this planet. In my Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I wrote to all the members of the Church with the aim of encouraging ongoing missionary renewal. In this Encyclical, I would like to enter into dialogue with all people about our common home.

4. In 1971, eight years after Pacem in Terris, Blessed Pope Paul VI referred to the ecological concern as “a tragic consequence” of unchecked human activity:
“Due to an ill-considered exploitation of nature, humanity runs the risk of destroying it and becoming in turn a victim of this degradation”. 
He spoke in similar terms to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations about the potential for an “ecological catastrophe under the effective explosion of industrial civilization”, and stressed “the urgent need for a radical change in the conduct of humanity”, inasmuch as
“the most extraordinary scientific advances, the most amazing technical abilities, the most astonishing economic growth, unless they are accompanied by authentic social and moral progress, will definitively turn against man”.
When you dry up your eyes, please continue reading this amazing document and don't be ashamed to shed more tears for our very sick Mother.

So what did you get from reading the opening four paragraphs of the preamble to the Pope Francis' Encyclical?
You just learned that everything is a part of the environment and everything is intertwined.  
I spoke and wrote about this very subject many times. Apparently, however, the journalist who wrote the next piece is so indoctrinated by the religion of the supremacy of human economy over the environment that he entitled his reflections as follows: Pope Francis' Call to Action Goes Beyond the Environment. So here is another reminder for you:
All Earthlings exist and thrive by the consent of the Earth's environment.  We wound the environment and we perish.
Among others, the journalist - whom I generally like - says:
For instance, he [the Pope] doesn’t grapple sufficiently with evidence that the global poor have become steadily less poor under precisely the world system he decries — a reality that has complicated implications for environmentalism.
I, for one, have grappled with this "evidence" and was not convinced. The economic progress of the poor is like this: In 2011, four billion people survived on less than $10 per day, and one billion on less than $2 per day.  That's twice as many people as the entire world population when a majority of people was outside of cash economy. Today, those people would be considered "poor," but they were not.  The number of middle-class people - those making between $10 and $20 a day -  increased to 784 million people in 2011.

In general, you will agree with what the Pope says, unless your religion is The Market, and your pet project is carbon credits, a harmful nonsense the Pope decries. An example of this attitude is the next piece, also from the New York Times,  Pope Francis' Climate Error.

Carbon tax credits are usually given to people who really pollute place A, e.g, Europe or China, and get a dispensation by putting, for example, sugarcane plantations or corn fields in place B, e.g., in Zimbabwe or South Africa.  If they also plant a few trees, they can make a handsome profit from their real air pollution in one place and - at the same time - from soil degradation and water pollution in another place.  And they do it by bullshitting the public and lawmakers.  Nice, but not a way to go.

Yes, you might object, but the Pope doesn't really like the holy Free Market:
To understand the pope’s position, remember that, even though he is adopting a progressive stance on the environment, he is not a liberal. Indeed, he rejects one of the central tenets of liberalism, which is a willingness to acknowledge genuine disagreement about the good.
The fundamental problem with markets, in Pope Francis’ view, is that they cater to people’s desires, whatever those desires happen to be. What makes the market a liberal institution is that it does not judge the relative merits of these desires. The customer is always right.
No, the customer is not always right in the absolute moral sense. If you eat the living planet by consuming cheap crappy goods you don't need and by trashing other countries, you are not right, not even close.  And that's the Pope's point, missed it seems by the good philosophy professor from the University of Toronto.

Now on to a more obvious environmental delusion, popular among the public and environmental propagandists, from the New York Times again: Animal farm waste and animal fat will help power a United Airline jet.

From reading articles elsewhere, you can learn that the United Airline (UA) agreed to buy 15 million gallons of biofuels over three years from a California-based biofuels producer, AltAir Fuels, that “makes biofuels out of nonedible natural oils and agricultural waste.”

In a single year, UA uses 3.6 billion gallons of jet fuel and purchases, say, 15/3 = 5 million gallons of fuel. The ratio is 3.9 billion gallons / 5 million gallons = 780. By analogy, if you use 780 kWh per month of electricity in your house, 1 kWh will be generated from a different fuel source. This amount of electricity will power one 100 W bulb for less than 10 hours. In other words, the contribution of biofuels to UA's fuel supply is in the noise, and certainly does not warrant a front page article in the New York Times.

If planes ran on biofuels, there would not be a global airline industry. Thus, I must conclude that our propensity for self-delusion is simply too strong to resist. And to hell with the environment, which is getting hurt by biofuel farming and production.

An apt metaphor for the state of health of the Earth's major ecosystems.  Source: Melody Newcomb, The New York Times, July 7, 2015, "A Knockout Blow to the American Fish Stocks."
No on to the true evil doers: A Knockout Blow to the American Fish Stocks. These people, who apparently have no conscience and imagination, want to negate the small improvements in fish stocks along the northeastern American coast.  They work for the New England Fishery Management Council and their bullshit motto is splattered on their webpage as follows:
Conserving and managing fishery resources by relying on sound science, promoting public participation, and balancing competing interests.
They balance competing interests along these lines: Forget the fish and the healthy ocean, and food for us, our children and grandchildren.  Instead, lets' allow people who give us money to make a quick buck from destroying the environment for all:
..., the council is preparing to drastically reduce the amount of protected habitat in New England waters, including by nearly 80 percent around the Georges Bank. The plan would allow for expansion of bottom trawling and dredging, two of the most destructive fishing methods, into protected habitats.

In addition to gutting habitat protections, the council wants to suspend a program that places observers on fishing vessels to monitor compliance....
On a lighter, but related note, Tom Selleck, a popular American actor was accused of stealing many truck loads of water from a public hydrant to quench thirst of his 60-acre ranch; the rest of the drought-stricken neighborhood be damned. What did the Pope say about "the harm we have inflicted on our Mother by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her?  Have we come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will?

"And so it goes...", as my soulmate, the late Kurt Vonnegut, would say.

P.S. 7/11/2015. Here is another sad commentary on the Pope's statement that "[t]he violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life."  The very people who swore not to harm others, helped instead in justifying torture: Psychologists Who Greenlighted Torture. This evil originated at the very top of the otherwise respectable medical organizations, among people who were trained by the top U.S. universities. Their behavior makes Monsanto, which foreswore to harm the environment in every conceivable way, a part of the same big family of evil doers. Just as the Pope said.

10 comments:

  1. I'm wary of peakers who are also environmentalists. I wonder if it is wish fulfillment in their predictions. IOW, they don't like FF for various reasons (environment, anti growth, left wing, anti American, etc.), which are reasonable views in and of themselves. But then this affects their analysis. And we end up with things like David Hughes predicting 1.5 BCF/day drop in North American natural gas (in 2006) and that LNG imports (!) would not keep up.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. @Nony. Since you remain anonymous, I have no way of judging if you are a scientist, engineer, or yet another American, who grew up on an excessive diet of robust technological propaganda, superiority of humans over the earth, American exceptionalism, and other nonsense. Over the years, I have read and heard hundreds of comments just like yours, albeit most had shorter lists of slogans. Some of these comments pop up in my old blog posts.

      Therefore, please stop putting multiple labels on people you don’t know and start thinking independently (I admit that this is a novel concept for most Americans).

      You are conflating the here and now with the longer term outlook on resource production. Longer term means 10, 20, 50, and 100 years. Do you think that our children and their children will not need natural gas and oil?

      David Hughes is a very experienced reservoir engineer. His analysis is simpler that that performed by a team of about 20 geoscientists and engineers at UT Austin, including me. If you can read scientific papers, please go ahead and find our PNAS paper and the AAPG Bulletin papers on my website by typing “Patzek publications” into Google search. You can also find there several Oil & Gas Journal articles and other papers.

      Here, suffices it to say that we have used the best, physics-based model of well production decline and individually analyzed tens of thousands of wells in the Barnett, Fayetteville, Haynesville, Marcellus and Eagle Ford shales. Using Google Earth and GIS, we have then analyzed all physically possible future well locations and estimated formation geology at these locations using the surrounding wells. We have added the estimated future well production to our forecasts. We have made assumptions about progress of technology and gas price increases.

      The outcome of this most detailed and sophisticated study of shale gas production in the U.S. is higher than that by David, but not all that much different. Now you have two choices: You can call me “a leftist faculty lunatic and environmentalist,” and safely go back to where you were before reading my reply, or adjust your views based on scientific facts, not the misplaced faith in technology as the savior of all human ills.

      Then please read the Pope’s Encyclical and try to digest it. The Encyclical has no math equations.

      Delete
  2. I read the Hughes recent work. But I am talking about his 2006 ASPO speech on natural gas. It is a fact that he totally missed the massive production increase and saw a decrease instead. It's OK to make a mistake, but even this he basically owes it to face his old predictions very openly. I think it makes sense to take his old predictions (failed) and then the failure to address them (an issue of possible lack of scientific objectivity) to bear in his current remarks.

    His drilling down stuff is interesting and I have commented on it elsewhere. The few insights that I had on it were:

    *Nationally, he posits a faster near term ramp up than EIA and faster decline, with less total resource recovered. This could be a scenario, but then leads to some issues with how we judge it. Like if production does go up slow, does that mean that the total resource available should be judged higher? Also, it is pretty heavily market dependent (demand driven) which is hard to predict and is not a geological factor. Furthermore, the decades out ultimate yield of shale gas is difficult to predict because we are still learning about the geology and how to exploit it (so % recovery may change). Recall that Hughes said in 2006 ASPO that he had considered nonconventional resources and they would not stop the immediate peak he saw along with a decline rate too fast for LNG imports (IMPORTS) to keep up with. And fwiw, it seems like shale production is moderating a bit since Hughes DD report, albeit at HH prices below 3.

    *While he agrees with EIA on ultimate Marcellus recovery, he predicted a faster up/down. This does not seem to be happening lately (we are flat recently). And he ignores, never discusses, the issues of price and takeaway...which certainly argue for a slower draining of the resource.

    *He also spends very little time on the Utica. As I recall, he has one or two mentions if you do a pdf search of the document and those are dismissive, not analysis. Given the Utica has already passed the Fayetteville, this part of the report already looks stale. (And even at the time was questionable, given the high growth rate we were seeing and the reports of high IP wells.)

    -----------

    I'm nobody special. Just an Internet commenter. You are so right. I would caution you to not put too much credence in authority or credentials though. Yes, in the absence of anything, they are a useful filter. A quick stereotype. But be wary of using credentials to try to back a poor position or the converse once we are past the initial "screening" moment. That moves from the useful filter to non-objective thinking. After all, Good Will Hunting was a janitor at MIT, right? ;)

    -------------------------

    I respect your faith. It must be a great thing as one faces eventual death to truly believe in an afterlife and salvation. Unfortunately, I can not take religious arguments as backing for positions.

    -------------------------------

    Here is a reference on wishcasting:

    http://legalinsurrection.com/2012/11/wishcasting-the-2012-presidential-election/

    ---------------

    P.s. Good luck with your students and don't be too tough on the conservative ones. I learned a lot from a very liberal chemistry teacher. A Bessel function is a Bessel function whoever you vote for on Tuesday, right?

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    1. OK. Good points, Nony.

      I was referring to David Hughs' work with Post Carbon Institute that includes 2011 papers on the challenges of natural gas being a “bridge fuel” from coal to renewables; and "Drill, Baby, Drill" (2013), a comprehensive publicly available analysis of the prospects for shale gas and tight oil in the United States.

      Hughes' "Drilling California" (2013), examined the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) estimates of technically recoverable tight oil in the Monterey Shale, which the EIA claimed constituted two-thirds of U.S. tight oil (the EIA subsequently wrote down its resource estimate for the Monterey by 96%).

      "Drilling Deeper" (2014), debunked the U.S. Department of Energy’s expectation of long-term domestic oil and natural gas abundance with an in-depth assessment of all drilling and production data from the major shale plays.

      In my opinion, these later works by Hughes are not that dissimilar to the UT Austin team's findings. There will be others on the UT team who might disagree with my assessment.

      Delete
  3. As of late, the "Market" is beginning to recognize certain weaknesses of the current development of shale properties. For example, in the last year, compared to the peak stock value, Pioneer lost 50% of value, Kinder Morgan 25%, Whiting Petroleum 70%, Chesapeake 74%, Oxy and EOG 34%, Hess 43%, etc.

    In my December, 2014, interview with Nature's Mason Inman, I stated the obvious about the U.S. shale projects. My comments earned me the "leftist faculty lunatic" and "irrelevant minor coauthor" invectives from the various experts.

    If you want to entertain yourself with the ruminations of that perennial clown, Mr. Kramer, watch him at

    http://www.cnbc.com/2015/07/21/cramer-why-i-was-so-wrong-about-oil.html

    Who could ever foresee this coming?

    ReplyDelete
  4. (I was going to stop bothering you, cause like you're a real professor and all and I'm just a civilian...but leaving another comment makes it look like you want to "fraternize with the "enemy". ;-) So...)

    Kramer is entertaining and actually slightly better than the breathy reporters on CNBC talking about technical or momentum or similar horserace anaogy silliness (EMH holds no truck with technical analysis). But Kramer and popular finance shows are still bunk.

    If you want a good journalist on oil try John Kemp. He is top notch and has a background as an analyst. His twitter feed sometimes has stuff that is not on his columns. In all seriousness, I trust the man more than James Hamilton. Degrees and tenure are great, but they don't 100% equate to brain cells or good logic.

    For instance, DEC2016 WTI prices are lower than any point in history (started trading in 2008). IOW, they are lower than they were during our recent JAN-MAR lows. Even lower than in 2009. So that is the market saying that they think medium term prices will stay low. That is "betting Bayesian" insight into the view of future supply and demand. And every time a few more rigs in the US pick up, the markets have a cow and drop price. Interesting...

    Oil is interesting, but getting back to gas, I wonder how the UT group is doing on the Marcellus examination, how they handle things like the last few years of tripling of rig productivity. Or the very low prices that the resource is currently being sold into, even the takeaway constraints which will affect rate of draining of even an agreed on resource.

    Also, the Utica playbook study by WVU. Even if you don't like it, criticize it--and I wait to hear that--you have to agree it was at least a serious try and worthy of serious criticism. It's not some hype from an investor presentation. David Hughes really disappoints me with a very surface response to it and somehow saying that a 2012 (!) study by USGS when there was insignificant production and they used Barnett, etc. insights should be preferred to a study that looked at all the recent Ohio and other well data and that considered the geological differences of the Point Pleasant reservoir rock (maybe a little like how the Middle Bakken is different from the Eagle Ford).

    Oh...and yes one swallow does not make a summer...but darn...that recent record setting EQT gas well in the Utica is eerie. Read up on it.

    You gotta take the Utica seriously. Even to decide it is worthy of criticism. It is already producing more than the Fayetteville. It's not just Republican econ dreaming. It's a production reality.

    And I thought it was just cornie dreaming, but now am hearing more and more about Upper Devonian (EQT is drilling it seriously) and even the Rogersville. And realize that Appalachian gas is selling into $1.50 pricing, sometimes even under a dollar. If we could get the pipelines approved and built and had the infrastructure to equalize to HH pricing, that area could really rock. It is looking more and more like a Qatar-sized resource.

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    1. Hi Nony,

      I'll reply your Utica and Marcellus questions soon. Right now I am struggling to keep my cat alive.

      Nevertheless, I smiled when I read your comments. I may be, like, a professor, but I still have problems with communication. This is what I wrote about my problems almost 5 years ago. They have not gone away.

      When I talk or write, people often tell me they are depressed with what I tell them. These people crave for a more palatable approach that belongs to Bokonon:

      I wanted all things
      To seem to make sense,
      So we all could be happy, yes,
      Instead of tense.
      And I made up lies
      So that they all fit nice,
      And I made this sad world
      A par-a-dise

      Bokonon's Calypso, Kurt Vonnegut, "Cat's Cradle," p. 127.

      Bokonon's true power is in imagining other people's dreams before they realize what it is that makes them happy.

      Bokonon's approach is commonly applied in all mass media, including advertising and some of the major science journals. It has also been the standard operating procedure in all religions since times immemorial, and in politics.

      In short, Bokonon's Calypso reflects human nature and my creations do not. Therein lies my problem in communicating with the public.

      Delete
  5. I love my kitty. Good luck with yours.

    Have been travelling for work a lot and have some time off and am able to hang with her for a while. She is a calico and super feminine. She's enjoying some time with daddy now.

    I bet your cat got a lot of enjoyment from hanging with you.

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  6. Yes, I love my kitty too. Be both love her dearly. We've been struggling to keep her alive for over two weeks now. We inject her with saline water solution under the skin, 22 cc at a time, probably 30+ injections, to flush her kidneys in this hot climate and dry cold house. We feed her with a dropper and spoon, and she is hanging on quietly, tearing our hearts apart.

    We spent with her over 16 years. The big problems of this world seem much more remote when see them through her tired green eyes.

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  7. Engineering stuff and techniques that you mentioned on your blog are awesome. Being a electrical Engineer I really enjoy your all posts and learn a lot not only Electrical engineering knowledge but others technologies and tools as well.
    Love from EDesk

    ReplyDelete