At times, I have had very sharp differences of opinion with Kenneth Deffeyes, author of Hubbert’s Peak and Beyond Oil. Deffeyes, a Professor Emeritus from Princeton University, is one of the more vocal proponents of the “peak is past” camp. In 2005, he (in)famously declared that peak occurred on Thanksgiving Day, 2005, and then later updated that peak date to December 16, 2005. He was also quoted at that time as saying that by 2025, we would be back in the Stone Age.
Needless to say, I have a big problem with these sorts of reckless claims. They invite ridicule, and end up causing a lot of perfectly rational people to be painted with a broad brush. It is claims like this that associate peak oil with “crackpots.” Not to say that I think Professor Deffeyes is a crackpot, but some of his reckless claims help build that impression.
It seems that the good professor has done it again:
While Professor Deffeyes opens up with a caveat:
Warning: I am not convinced that the following event actually happened, but it is an important possibility to explore.
The fact that he thinks this is “an important possibility to explore” will just invite more ridicule and further erode credibility. The premise of his argument is that the financial crisis was actually engineered, and the cause was peak oil. Some of this is real tinfoil hat stuff. He starts off by maintaining that we are past peak:
Timing: World oil production stopped growing (on schedule) in 2005. The first big news in the financial crisis was the collapse of Bear Stearns in March 2008.
Size: A $100 per barrel increase on 30 billion barrels of oil per year is a $3 trillion annual drain on the world economy.
Of course the “size” premise is just wrong. The drain isn’t on the world economy. The drain is on the economy of oil importers. That $3 trillion drain went right into the economies of the oil exporters. From there, it gets worse:
In a fascinating piece in the October 16, 2008 Denver Post, W. Jackson Davis points out that peak oil probably triggered the present crisis, but he says that economists were blindsided as if “a ‘secret signal’ sent out in 2007 slammed the economy with soaring energy and food costs, and the free-fall of housing prices.” Could it have been an actual signal message?
Was the signal actually sent?
Who would have wanted to do it?
How could it have been engineered?
The motivated parties would have to have been nations; this one is too big for Osama bin Laden. Here is a list of the usual suspects; I have no direct evidence that any of them were actually involved:
Russia, the #2 oil producer in the world, reverting to its Cold War tendencies
Nigeria, involved in violent controversy with the major international oil companies
Venezuela, with the agenda of Hugo Chavez
Any or all of the Arab oil exporters, because of the US automatic support of Israel.
You have to read the whole thing to believe it. And while he closes with the warning that has no direct evidence, he concludes with:
However, as so often happens, I cannot disprove the hypothesis.
Likewise, I cannot disprove the hypothesis that I am surrounded by invisible unicorns. Thus, I think it is “an important possibility to explore.”
For more essays from Deffeyes, see his site Beyond Oil. If you want to see some critical response to Deffeyes, see Kenneth Deffeyes Starts Backpedaling and The Many Wrong Predictions of Ken Deffeyes at Peak Oil Debunked.