How Researchers Could Miss the Real Energy Story

Repost from the excellent blog of actuary Gail Tverberg. Gail has an uncanny ability to spot what is happening in the interface between energy and economy. She has an amazing intellectual capability to model it combined with clear and insightful communication.

Our Finite World

I have been telling a fairly different energy story from most energy researchers. How could I possibly be correct? What have other researchers been missing?

The “standard” approach is to start from the amount of resources that we have of a particular type, for example, oil in the ground, and see how far these resources will go. Growing development of technology seems to allow increasing amounts of these resources to be extracted. Thus, limits seem to be farther and farther in the distance, especially if a person starts out with an optimistic bias. It is easy to get this optimistic bias, with all research funds going in the direction of, “What can we do to solve our energy problems?”

Approaches for forecasting future supply problems that start from the amount of resources in the ground suffer from the problem that it is hard to draw a sharp line regarding…

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