Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Six Billion Points of Light

I have been in an ongoing conversation (online) about Global Warming with a friend who has impeccable scientific credentials. He is entirely convinced that CO2 levels are rising. I tend to defer to him regarding the science. He is honest, successful and I have known him most of my life. We agree that facts are facts.  We also agree that:

"No one knows exactly how the climate will change as heat accumulates, or the ocean's food chain evolves as it gets hotter and more acidic." 

Me:   Exactly my point. In geologic time CO2 levels have been much higher in previous epochs. I think it damages science, polity and the ability of humans to dispassionately respond to or examine current conditions when the profiteers demagogue science to enhance their own position, financial or otherwise. Additionally, to claim, as some have said: "We know what needs to be done" in a field that is notoriously inexact (climate) is simply false.

Friend: So, I think we agree on the basics. Although, I'm perhaps more skeptical about how well prepared we are to operate in previous epochs.

Which profiteers do you think demagogue science?

How much more climate science exactness do you want before we assign a price to an assessed risk? Not picking winners. Just letting the free market do its thing.

Previous Epochs:

With regard to previous epochs we know this: We are here (humans) alive and well, the most successful predators in the kingdom, having successfully enslaved all other animals, vegetables, minerals and plants to our (perceived) benefit. We do not operate in previous epochs, we are the result of previous epochs. The debate tends to be about what is to humanity's present and future benefit.

Which Profiteers?.. All of them:

Voltaire & Hayek: Humans are predators who will always work to their own advantage. Humans wish to accumulate power, advantage, wealth, dominance, sex and other worldly goods and services (see Maslow). Humans will always default to the pursuit of their own perceived advantage. The Crisis (any one will do) is always presented as: “We have a “good idea”, give us the power, we know the way, we are the truth and the light, we will fix the problem for you, it may be a little uncomfortable for awhile but trust us.” This inevitably results in the “Dictatorship of the Proletariat,” the revolutionary committees, the Gulag, the Nazi Death Camps, the Death Committees, Purging the Kulaks, exterminating the Jews, killing the apostate Shia, killing the infidel Christians and so on throughout history.

Monday, June 27, 2011

In the Barnett Shale, Technology and Innovation answer Peak Oil Pessimism

A friend queried me about the current discussion that implies that shale gas might not be all it is cracked up to be.  The question is really about “Decline Curves” in gas production and the future of shale gas economics and hence, production.

Here is a link to Arthur Berman's 2009 article, “Lessons from the Barnett Shale imply caution in other shale plays” advising caution in believing the decline curves propounded by investment advisors.

Skepticism is always good practice when dealing with someone who makes money from obtaining yours, so I have no problem with the advice. Investment advisors are salesmen and they will always exaggerate, consciously or unconsciously. It is human nature, one tends to see rosier futures when the future includes themselves. 

Friday, June 10, 2011


Peak Oil has been around a long time and has been consistently in error for a number of reasons, some known and some unknown.

First the unknown: Peak Oil assumes a biogenic origin of hydrocarbons. Here is a link that questions that assumption: 
and another link to a more accessible article on the subject: .
The Russians embraced Thomas Gold's theory of abiotic origins of oil early on and began drilling very deep oil wells greatly increasing reserves and production. It seems possible that there is more than one way that Nature produces hydrocarbons and we are mistaken to look for a single answer.
Data Source: EIA - US Energy Information Administration
Peak Oil, also assumes a zero sum game in terms of known reserves and values reserves based on current production methods. As a result, not so long ago, the Peak Oil theory failed to assign value to shale oils known to reside in formations like the Barnett Shale, the Eagle Ford and Marcellus shales . The application of directional drilling combined with hydraulic fracking promises to reduce domestic imports by a third within 5-10 years with production in these very formations, considered worthless just a few years ago.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Riddle me this: A Global Warming Question

The much discussed hockey stick graph is a graphic depiction of one thousand years of weather data, only a small part of which data is actually observed data. The quality and adjustment of this data has been much debated. 

CONDITIONS: If the Earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old as determined from the oldest minerals so far discovered, and; the earliest life forms, “protists” a complex single cell with nucleus, appeared approximately 1.8 billion years ago, and; we assume that life forms require “Climate” in its broadest definition to exist, and; we establish the average data measurement period as one year of average high/low temperatures, and; we elect to use the total life of the existence of “Climate” as the overall population of data points, and; we have gathered a sample of 1000 years of "Climate" data:

Q1. Is 1000 years a valid sample size to produce a statistically valid prediction of future “Climate”? (1000 years yields a sample of only 5.56E-07 with a multitude of variables, many unknowable from geological records, most of which are inferred rather than observed.)

Q2. Since Chaos Theory posits sensitive dependence on initial conditions in order to accurately forecast future events, what initial conditions as of 1.8 Bn years ago were used in the climate change forecasting models and to what extent can these models cleanly replicate known historical climate records or even general climate conditions during a geological period between -1.8Bn years and -1000 years.  For instance, the Pleistocene Epoch?

Q3. If you start a climate sample at year 1000 and do a linear regression trend line, the first 1.79999 billion years necessary to determine the actual trajectory of the linear regression is missing.  Therefore, of what value is a climate graph depicting the 1000 years between 1000 A.D. and 2000 A.D. in predicting large scale effects of temperature changes on the planet?

It is therefore evident that the trend line from the 1000 year sample would in fact tell us very little about future “Climate”.  In fact, the absence of "initial conditions" and trend lines for the preceding 1.79999 Bn years would skew the scale of change relative to the elapsed time.

In short, predictions of the consequences of Global Warming from any cause, as reflected in the “Hockey Stick Graph” whether accurate or not, are fatally compromised.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Big Oil does Fracking.. Let's Regulate Fracking!

There is a movement afoot to delegitimize and regulate one of the proven techniques for extraction of natural gas and oil from tight formations. Hydraulic Fracturing is the technique currently attracting attention among the more radical Greens. The environmentalists claim that Fracturing contaminates underground drinking water reservoirs. Current opinion among environmentalists is being driven by a recent Duke University study that concludes that dangerous levels of methane are present in water wells in NE Pennsylvania and adjacent counties in New York as a possible result of hydraulic fracturing.
This article "Shale Fracturing - Water,Nitroglycerin or a Nuclear Bomb" by Gene Powell, Publisher of the Powell Shale Digest, describes various attempts throughout the history of the oil industry to improve flow rates in tight strata by fracturing the producing rock formation. The methods varied from the mundane to the extreme and the clear winner was the most mundane, hydraulic fracturing using sand and water.