Two Letters Re: Peak Oil Meets Yuppie Marketing

I agree with Mr. Williamson’s comments.  To use a Tennessee expression I would opine that Heinberg does not know “diddly-squat” about farming.
First, my bona fides: I grew up on a farm.  Both sets of grandparents farmed with teams of mules in west Tennessee.   Some 30% of our farming acreage was used to grow food for the team of mules.  We now operate a mini farm to be self sufficient in food and to grow and save heirloom seeds for barter after “The Crunch.”  We have a Kubota B7510 tractor and all the implements.  This year we’ve some 20,000 sq ft in veggies, 48 fruit trees, oodles of grape vines.  We are professionals at this.
Some comments about returning to farming with mules follow.  Before the advent of fossil fuel powered tractors huge steam tractors were used to harvest wheat with huge combines.  There is a museum in Montana with examples of this equipment.   One issue I see with mule farming is the equipment.  I cannot fathom how to convert a 3 point hitch PTO-powered Bush Hog to be operated by a team of mules.  Around here (Tennessee’s 2nd Congressional District) one often sees mule drawn equipment, much of it rusting in the open.  One idea I’ve considered is buying a large metal shed and filling it with mule drawn sickle mowers, corn planters, cultivators, single bottom turning plows, hay rakes and so forth.  These implements at some point will become extremely valuable.   As will horse collars and single trees.  Horses are self replicating, but mules are not.  A valuable business in years to come will be raising and selling mules and fabricating horse collars.
In the South in the 1930s field peas were termed “life savers.”  These require a moderately long growing season and warm weather.  Rabbits do not eat them.  This is important.   This year we have four cultivars of field peas, three of them new to us.  One gets more mass of peas from field peas as beans from any cultivar of shelly bush beans.  Moreover the peas are much more digestible. This year we have five cultivars of shelly bush beans and four cultivars of pole beans. We’ve several raised beds of Egyptian walking onions.  These keep in the ground over the winter and are often called winter onions. – Tennessean

Hi Jim,
I met Heinberg, and all the other Peak Oil heavyweights at the ASPO (Association for the Study of Peak Oil) Conference in Sacramento, back in 2008.
It’s not “if the Hubbert’s Peak predictions are right,” but the fact that they have been proven right every time a field, individual well, or an entire countries’ oil production peaks, then goes into decline (we’re talking the rate of production, not the amount of oil remaining).
More specifically, when M. King Hubbert, as a Shell Oil geologist first presented his theories in 1956, he was ridiculed. He stated that US oil production would peak, then go into irreversible decline, sometime between 1968 and 1972. He nailed it, when US oil production peaked in December, 1970 at roughly 9.5 mbl/day (million barrels per day) production (Alaska created a secondary peak several years later, on the way down the curve – Prudhoe Bay is far past peak, incidentally) .
There is too much to discuss here regarding Peak Oil theory, as it is such a huge “forest through the trees” issue. Let’s put it this way: The global economy’s growth depends on an ever-increasing consumption of oil. The only problem is, global oil production has been flat since 2006 (and where has the price gone since, not to mention the global economy?), with actual production declines beginning any day now (the drop in global demand has created a fairly long top to this peak, aka demand destruction).
Egypt’s ousting of Mubarak was directly tied to the peaking, and decline of Egypt’s oil production, which was used for paying for the Egyptian people’s food subsidies (they really didn’t care who was running the country, after all). When Egypt went from net exporter to net importer of oil, Mubarak had to tell his people, “Look…no more cheap food…”
Having spent time in Alexandria on my way to Libya in 2011. I can vouch for the fact that Egypt is an overpopulated country, that resembles the movie Soylent Green.
Therefore, it’s not that we’ll ever completely run out of oil: It’ll just get more expensive, drive governments into debt, creating a global debt crisis, etc. In the meantime, more printed fiat currency will represent even less underlying real wealth, in the form of the Earth’s natural resources.
Granted, Heinberg represents the hippie-environmentalist side of the Doomer spectrum, along with most other Peak Oilers. (His buddy, Julian Darly, a real, ahem, eccentric guy , wrote a book called High Noon for Natural Gas, saying that we would run out of natural gas by now). However, after seeing the data myself, and doing my own research, regarding crude oil, I finally went into Sarah Connor-mode, back around 2006. And the rest is history…
Cheers, – Joe Snuffy