The American West at Risk: Science, Myths and Politics of Land Abuse and Recovery
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Though Janette Sadik-Khan, New York's transportation chief, would never put it this way, a "Robin Hood strategy" of robbing roadspace and investment from the transport-rich (ie, motorists) to pay the transport-poor (ie, public transport users, cyclists and pedestrians) - has been brilliantly marketed as "what's best for business." Congestion - sclerotic city arteries clogged with traffic - is economically inefficient, ergo making mass transit work serves the city's economy. Since 96% of Wall Street's workforce goes to the office by subway, bus, boat, bike or on foot, keeping the city moving and making it prosperous are of a piece. As Sadik-Khan has been known to tell top executives, "Biking is the new golf."
- Matt Seaton, The Guardian, 6 January 2011

Politicians don't seem willing to face a difficult reality: There is no solution, if by "solution" we mean producing enough energy to maintain our current levels of consumption indefinitely.
- Robert Jensen, Energy Bulletin, October 2010

Mention that industrial society is in deep trouble as a result of its total dependence on rapidly depleting fossil fuels, in particular, and you can count on a flurry of claims that Bussard reactors, or algal biodiesel, or fourth generation fission plants, or whatever the currently popular deus ex machina happens to be, will inevitably show up in time and save the day.
- John Michael Greer, July 2010

The legacy of the coal economy in the Kentucky mountains will be immense and lasting damage to the land and to the people.
- Wendell Berry, July 2010

It's fundamentally impossible to improve on jet fuel because it would break the laws of physics. You can't have airplanes unless you make hydrocarbon fuel.
- Robert P. Laughlin

Oil shale is the petroleum equivalent of fool's gold. Oil shale [is] a mental illness more than an energy source. It has been almost a statewide [Colorado] delusion for a century.
- Randy Udall, July 2010

The term Peak Oil refers to the maximum rate of the production of oil in any area under consideration, recognising that it is a finite natural resource, subject to depletion.
- Colin Campbell

About 60 percent of the energy that currently flows into the U.S. economy is lost, generally as waste heat. All across the landscape -- power plants, cars, planes, big-screen TVs, buildings, light bulbs, air conditioners -- there's massive room for improvement.
- Randy Udall, December 2009

A world oil study of mine in 1990 attracted the interest of Petroconsultants, a company based in Geneva that was used by the international oil companies to assemble a valid database on oil activities around the world, including the size of discoveries and drilling statistics. They invited me to redo the study but this time using their comprehensive database of virtually all the world's fields. I was joined in this project by Jean Laherrère, formerly Exploration Manager of the French oil company TOTAL, who had developed various analytical techniques. The resulting study was published at $50,000 a copy, but was later suppressed under pressure from a major US oil company.
- Colin Campbell, retired oil industry professional, founder of ASPO

In the popular media, the concept of peak oil has been all but forgotten. We have stopped talking about the most powerful limit to growth humanity has ever faced just at the precise historical moment that it sinks its teeth deeply into the global economy.
- Alexis Ziegler, Dancing at the Edge of the Precipice - Peak Oil, 2009

If the energy pie is shrinking and we intend to continue to eat the same or more, then everyone else must eat less.
- Alexis Ziegler, Dancing at the Edge of the Precipice - Peak Oil, 2009

The 18th-century breakthroughs that allowed coal to be turned into steam power, and gave human beings command over amounts of highly concentrated energy never before wielded by our species, convinced most people in the western world that energy was basically free for the taking. In the halcyon days of industrialism, it was all too easy to forget that this vast abundance of energy was a cosmic rarity, a minor and finite backwash in the flow of energies on a scale almost too great for human beings to comprehend.
- John Michael Greer, 2009

We estimate that EROI [Energy Returned on energy Invested] at the wellhead was roughly 26:1 in 1992, increased to 35:1 in 1999, and then decreased to 18:1 in 2006. These trends imply that global supplies of petroleum available to do economic work are considerably less than estimates of gross reserves and that EROI is declining over time and with increased annual drilling levels.
- Nate Gagnon, Charles Hall and Lysle Brinker, 2009

Let's assume that you are sitting in a commercial airliner, about to take off on a New York to London flight, and you get three different evaluations of fuel on board, from the pilot, co-pilot and from a relief pilot.

The pilot says that he calculates that we have plenty of fuel for not only London, but a grand tour flying over European capitals, returning to London at our leisure--with plenty of fuel on board for a non-stop round the world trip if we wanted to try it. The co-pilot says that he estimates that we have enough fuel to get to London and for a controlled descent for landing. The relief pilot says that he calculates that the plane will run out of fuel about half way across the Atlantic, and he wants off the airplane.

The three pilots respectively represent the conventional wisdom view of virtually infinite fossil fuel resources, the Peak Oil view and the Export Land Model.
- Jeffrey Brown (westexas), The Oil Drum, 7/21/09

Oil shale, the thermodynamically doomed effort to turn chicken manure into chicken salad.
- Randy Udall, High Country News, 2009

The probabilistic distribution of in-place gas-hydrate resources for the GOM [Gulf of Mexico] is obviously the result of a Monte Carlo run (usually tens of thousands) which transforms a very simple guess into something looking like a real data plot!
- Jean Laherrére, The Oil Drum, 2009

Responding to Vaclave Smil's contemplation of the future, "I am always trying to imagine what would be the verdict of a sapient extraterrestrial informed about the behavior of affluent Earthlings," Randy Udall responds: "Unless saving energy quickly becomes the nation's focus, we already have the answer, beam me up, Scotty, there's no intelligent life down here."
- Randy Udall, High Country News, 2009

We have a lot of PowerPoints floating around that I don't think will turn into power plants.
- V. John White, Director, Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technology

The amount of sunlight reaching the earth's surface is 6,000 times the amount of energy used by all human beings worldwide. The total amount of fossil fuel used by humans since the start of civilization is equivalent to less than 30 days of sunshine.
- Albert Einstein, Quoted by Scott Gardner, Building Energy

The IFR [Integral Fast Reactor] looks good on paper. So good, in fact, that we should leave it on paper. For it only gets ugly in moving from blueprint to backyard.
- Dave Lochbaum, Nuclear engineer, May 2009

Exploiting Alberta's tar sands would require such staggering quantities of water, natural gas and boreal forestland as to leave Alberta "resembling a third-rate golf course in the Sudan" before the bulk of the sands' 175 billion barrels had ever been produced.
- Frank Kaminski, review of Tar Sands by Andrew Nikiforuk 2009

The biggest obstacle to getting our petro-dependent society to change its wasteful ways is a collective insanity, found in the "worship of unearned riches, which is based on a very stark idea, the idea that you can get something for nothing."
- Jan Frel, summing up speech by James Howard Kunstler to conference on Local Energy Solutions, New York, April 2006

There is an irony to depleting a finite resource: namely, that the better you do the job, the sooner it ends.
- Association for Study of Peak Oil, Newsletter 68, August 2006

Yes, it causes hardship for some people as the price goes up, but I think we've been cursed with cheap oil.
- Richard Heinberg, October 2007

Left unfettered, Alberta's energy sector will, by the end of this century, transform the southern part of the province into a desert and its north into a treeless, toxic swamp. Driven both by global warming and oil and gas developments, temperatures in Alberta will soar by as much as eight degrees. The Athabasca River will slow to a trickle, parching the remainder of the province's forests and encouraging them to burst into flame, generating vast quantities of CO2. They're going to be the architects of their own destruction.
- William Marsden, Stupid to the Last Drop, 2007

Many of the plants being promoted as biofuel "miracle plants" were weeds that would create ecological devastation.
- Tim Low, National Invasive Species Council, October 4, 2007

Our generation faces a sobering choice: Take serious steps to reduce our fossil fuel usage now - and this will undoubtedly entail some amount of hardship - or leave it to our children to face a great deal of hardship.
- Robert Rapier, The Oil Drum, October 2007

The only difference [between the "greenies" and the giant corporations] is that "green yuppies" think they'll have to pull up to the filling station and put something other than gasoline in their fuel tanks.
- James Howard Kunstler, 2007

Trying to get Americans to turn down their thermostats and kick the oil habit was like gnawing on a rock.
- Jimmy Carter, in advice to President-elect Obama, 2008

America has dug itself into the deepest hole it has been in since 1860 when the dispute over slavery reached its zenith. That hole took five years of war and 150 years of social discord before we could start climbing out. The current hole, reliance on fossil fuels for nearly everything, will also take many decades of hardships to work itself out. For now however, digging our hole deeper continues everywhere. Oversized gas-guzzling automobiles continue to be built and sold by the millions. New generations of kerosene-guzzling airliners are being readied for the market. Houses and all sorts of buildings requiring excessive amounts of energy to be habitable continue to be built. Roads are being widened and lengthened. Our great national hole deepens every day.
- Tom Whipple, November 2008

Where the United States is in regard to oil: most of the untapped reserves we have left are smaller, deeper, farther offshore, less permeable, increasingly sour, and generally more expensive to bring to market. And the more we drill, the more this will be the case...The faster we use up the little oil we have left, the quicker OPEC will be the only one at the table with any chips left. Strategically, this is a loser's strategy.
- Timothy Kailing, September 2008

How much renewable energy is needed if it were to replace fossil fuels in the same pattern as coal replaced wood? The United States first consumed as much coal as wood in about 1885. Total energy use then was about 5.6 quadrillion BTU (1 quadrillion = 1015), equal to about 0.19 TW (Terawatts or 1012 watts). Consider what it would take today to replace even just one-half of U.S. fossil fuel use with renewable energy: we would need to displace coal and petroleum energy flows of 2.9 TW, or 32 times the amount of coal used in 1885. Current global fossil fuel use is about 13 TW, so we need more than 6 TW of renewable energies to replace 50% of all fossil fuels. This is a staggering shift.
- Cutler Cleveland, August 9, 2007

The world is no longer able to produce petroleum in sufficient volume to satisfy its demand. Soon it will not be able to produce petroleum in sufficient volume to satisfy its needs.
- Charles Cresson Wood, August 11, 2008

The U.S. military is the single largest consumer of energy in the world. The American GI is the most energy-consuming soldier ever seen on the field of war. In 2005, The U.S. Navy was the largest diesel fuel user in the world.
- Sohbet Karbuz, The Energy Bulletin, May 2007

In 2005 the U.S. Department of Energy claimed the nation could wring 200,000 barrels a day from oil shale by 2011, 2 million barrels a day by 2020, and ultimately 10 million barrels a day. Although these predictions are preposterous, as some industry experts admit, they illustrate our hunger for a panacea, a quick fix.
- Ken Salazar, July 2008

To harvest the oil in oil shale you have to do what Mother Nature didn't do: heat the rocks to 700 degrees. For a century, men have periodically mined and crushed shale, then shaked and baked it in giant kilns. But the rocks have proved stubborn, promising much, delivering little.
- Ken Salazar, July 2008

Arguing endlessly over the precise date of the [oil] peak also rather misses the point, when what matters is the vision of the long slope that comes into sight on the other side of it.
- Colin Campbell, July 2008

For years, our slowly sinking energy story has begged for a balanced, science-based energy policy. If drilling our brains out offshore - aka burning the furniture - is really part of the plan, for my kids' sakes I would like to know what the hell we plan to do after that.
- Steve Andrews, ASPO-USA, June 23, 2008

Desperate people do desperate things. As Americans become more desperate for oil, I expect that ANWR and offshore areas will be opened for oil development. It will be like burning the furniture to keep the house warm in mid-January. It will be a desperate move that won't result in much.
- Roger Blanchard, May 2008

On the first production of a Honda hydrogen fuel-cell car: "This is a must-have technology for the future of the earth."
- Takeo Fukui, President, Honda Corporation, June 2008

We are entering a new world energy order. Today, demand for oil is dominated by China, India, and even by the Middle East countries themselves. The main actors of the recent past - namely the OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] countries, rich countries, the United States, Europe, Japan - their time is passé. It's over.
- Fatih Birol, International Energy Agency, June 2008

Shell has spent $200 million to produce 1,700 barrels total of shale oil in the last decade [~$118,000/barrel]. At this rate, the oil shale we have here in Colorado will last 6 million years. This is an incredible reserves-to-production ratio. It is something that gives me great optimism for the future.
- Randy Udall, interview moderated by Jack Riggs, May 20, 2008

The principal reason for current high oil price is the proximity of a peak in global oil production. Politicians must understand this and then grasp that natural gas and coal supplies will follow oil down by mid century.
- Euan Mearns, The Oil Drum, May 2008

The world now consumes 31.8 billion barrels of oil per year. 1978 was the last year that this volume of oil was discovered and more recently discovery has been running at less than 10 billion barrels per year. It is an utterly forlorn hope that exploration and new discoveries may alleviate the current supply crisis.
- Euan Mearns, The Oil Drum, May 2008

No combination of solar, wind and nuclear power, ethanol, biodiesel, tar sands and used French-fry oil will allow us to power Wal-Mart, Disney World and the interstate highway system - or even a fraction of these things - in the future. We have to make other arrangements.
- James Howard Kunstler, The Washington Post, May 25, 2008

The electrical grid goes everywhere. It's the largest and most complex machine ever made. Yet the system is built in such a way that the bigger it gets, the more inevitable its collapse.
- Phillip F. Schewe, A Journey Through the Heart of Our Electrified World, 2007

They say we can't make up for lack of oil by drilling more. That's as crazy as saying we can't make up a shortage of food by growing more crops.
- Jim Quinn, talk show host, May 2008

Talking about energy solutions without talking about the population problems is just like mopping the floor with the faucets running on.
- Tad Patzek, interview May 28, 2006

We can't drill our way to self-sufficiency because you can't pump what's not there.
- Lisa Wright, May 2008

Energy is the key which unlocks all other natural resources.
- Ayres and Scarlott, Energy Sources - the Wealth of the World, 1952

Our decision about energy will test the character of the American people and the ability of the President and the Congress to govern. This difficult effort will be the "moral equivalent of war."
- President Jimmy Carter, April 18, 1977

All green plants in the U.S. - including all crops, forests, and grasslands, combined - collect about 32 quads (32 x 1015 BTU) of sunlight energy per year. Meanwhile, the American population currently burns more than 3 times that amount of energy annually as fossil fuels! There isn't even close to enough biomass in America to supply our biofuel needs.... But consider that 20 percent of the U.S. corn crop was converted into 5 billion gallons of ethanol in 2006, but that amount replaced only 1 percent of U.S. oil consumption. If the entire national corn crop were used to make ethanol, it would replace a mere 7% of U.S. oil consumption - far from making the U.S. independent of foreign oil.
- David Pimentel, "Corn Can't Save Us: Debunking the Biofuel Myth," Kennebec Journal, February 2008

For those who have the courage to look, the end of the era of finite fuels is in sight. The end always was inevitable, of course. That's what finite is all about.
- Joseph Romm, Grist, February 6, 2008

Energy - not the yen, euro or dollar - is the original currency, the source of all wealth.
- Randy Udall, interview, November 26, 2007

When you are at the peak of the biggest party ever thrown in history, the fossil-fuel party, who worries about the hangover?
- Kurt Cobb, Resource Insights, November 18, 2007

Prepare yourself for the fact that oil prices are cheap at the moment, they just sound expensive. It's not a conspiracy. There isn't anything cheap left.
- Matthew Simmons, November 2007

Economics [is] a science that considers human behavior and so is a better tool for analyzing scarcity than is geology.
- Professor Morris Adelman, MIT, October 2007

If all the tillable acres in the world were planted to corn to make ethanol, the amount of fuel produced would equal about 17% of what we burn, say the experts, and then we'd starve to death and wouldn't need any fuel.
- Gene Logsdon, Big Tractor, Green Hypocrisy, October 2007

All the numbers are wrong - The question is: by how much?
- Colin Campbell, Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas, 10th Commandment

On a per capita basis, the US uses about 26 barrels [oil] per person per year; Europe and Japan about 16 barrels per person per year, while China uses about 2.5 and India less than 1 bbl per person per year.
- Herman Franssen, International Energy Associates, August 2007

All the canaries have stopped singing.
- Matthew Simmons, August 2007

As we look toward our energy horizon today, energy analysts don't see those multi-colored rainbows our political leaders are depicting. The only color out there is coal dust black.
- Rolf E. Westgard, St. Cloud Times, Minnesota, August 10, 2007

A growing number of people are cooking with an abundant, clean power source: nuclear fusion - or, in other words, the sun.
- Scott Carlson, Baltimore Sun, August 1, 2007

The efficiency of converting sunlight into plants such as corn and switch grass and then into ethanol or biodiesel is one-tenth of 1%, or less. Algae looks like it will perform slightly better, but at these rates, why bother? The best way to convert plants to energy, frankly, is to eat them.
- Greg Blonder, Business Week, July 31, 2007

The terrifying prospect of a post-oil future: no more ready meals, traffic jams or lonely nights in front of television.
- Jonathan Dawson, New Statesman, July 2, 2007

You can't go very wrong with wind and solar power. You CAN go very wrong with nuclear power.
- Auntiegrav, posted on The Oil Drum, July 31, 2007

On whether a gasoline tax is regressive (i.e., it hurts the poor more than the rich): Consumption taxes are a lot less regressive than a dead planet.
- Auntiegrav, posted on The Oil Drum, July 31, 2007

What makes the United States singularly incapable of producing a coherent energy policy aimed at cutting energy consumption and using low-carbon alternatives to fossil fuels? I believe there are three factors explaining this lamentable state of affairs. The first is that your average American citizen has the energy IQ of beach sand, and, in this regard, your average Member of Congress is the mirror image of his or her constituents.
- Michael Vickerman, Renew Wisconsin, July 27, 2007

My own notion is that capital will dry up quicker than rain on a Scottsdale patio as our energy predicament becomes apparent, since expectations of future growth (of economies and the capital representing them) are keyed to an assumption of unlimited energy resources.
- James Howard Kunstler, Atlantic Free Press, July 23, 2007

A worldwide oil shortage is due in four years - not 40 years. It's quite a simple theory and one that any beer drinker understands. The glass starts full and ends empty and the faster you drink it the quicker it's gone.
- Colin Campbell, Oil Depletion Analysis Centre, July 4, 2007

There's more energy in a ton of Cap'n Crunch than in a ton of oil shale. Oil shale provides just one ten-thousandth of world energy, far less than animal dung, and prospects for expansion are poor.
- Randy Udall, ASPO-USA, July 2, 2007

Petroleum IS a bio-fuel; it just took millions of years to cook in the great subterranean crock-pot. Then civilization tapped it to launch humanity to greatest heights. Problem is we didn't bother to calculate the required thrust that would take us into sustainable orbit. Now [it's] dropping to earth. Let's hope the chutes deploy.
- Souperman2, The Oil Drum, May 11, 2007

There has been a paradigm shift in the energy world whereby oil producers are no longer inclined to rapidly exhaust their resource for the sake of accelerating the misuse of a precious and finite commodity. This sentiment prevails inside and outside of OPEC countries but has yet to be appreciated among the major energy consuming countries of the world.
- Sadad Al-Husseini (Saudi Arabia's Exploration and Production Chief), From The Energy Bulletin, June 20, 2007

This longing for "solutions," strikes me as a free-floating wish for magical rescue remedies, for techno-fixes that will allow us to make a hassle-free switch from fossil hydrocarbon power to something less likely to destroy the Earth's ecosystems (and human civilization with it). And I think such a wish is, in itself, at the root of our problem - certainly at the bottom of our incapacity to think clearly about these things.
- James Howard Kunstler, in a speech to the Telluride Mountain Film Festival, May 2007

There are over 100 billion plastic checkout bags distributed through U.S. retailers each year, and the production of these bags burns up more than 12 million barrels of oil.
- Jan Lundberg, "The Teeming Plasticized Masses' Awakening," Culture Change, May 7, 2007

Here's the reality, We have a 100-year infrastructure of oil and gas. We have to continue to feed that infrastructure to sustain our economic growth model, to sustain our lifestyle.
- John Hofmeister, Shell Oil Co., May 2007

I suffer from "car brain" every time I am handed car keys. I lose all sense of logic. Somewhere deep in the reptilian core of my brain, lizard-thinking takes over. When car brain rules, any vague feeling of goodwill I have towards the environment evaporates. I enter a persistent vegetative state where I avoid walking and public transport at all costs.
- Lisa Pryor, Sydney Morning Herald, May 2007

If every person on the planet consumed oil at the rate of the average American, the world would have to produce not 86 million barrels a day - as at present - but 450 million.
- David Strahan, The Last Oil Shock, 2007

A hydrogen economy? That's a good discussion over a Scotch.
- Paul Anderson, quoted by Marilyn Berlin Snell, Sierra Magazine, May 8, 2007

Renewable is not a synonym for sustainable.
- Dale Shires, DesMoines Register, May 6, 2007

Even if 2007 [world oil production] averages out to 83.5 million barrels a day instead of 84 million, it will still seem like a lot. Markets may be dumber than we think. All they see is a vast amount of cheap energy for manufacturing plastic salad shooters, for powering tourist jet charters to Cancun, for running WalMart, Walt Disney World and Taco Bell. All that energy is here right now. Among the many tragic elements in the human condition is this tendency toward short-term thinking, the inability to imagine how our arrangements will work in a time that is not right now.
- James Howard Kunstler, May 8, 2007

The use of coal to replace gasoline would only "enhance the energy security of the United States."
- Senator Craig Thomas, Wyoming, May 2007

Worry now. The problem is enormous. There will be massive shortages unless we act in time. But mitigation takes a long time. Peak oil is not a theory; 33 out of 48 of the largest oil producing countries have hit peak. There is no warning for peak, as production goes up until the peak. After peak, the drop-off is sudden.
- Robert Hirsch, SAIC National energy conversation getting louder by Jan Lundberg, April 26, 2006

What I find interesting is that cars can run at 70 mph until the last second till they run out of gas. And the moral of that story is that energy shortages can happen instantaneously.
- Matthew Simmons, May 2006

If you have an attitude that a [nuclear] reactor is inherently safe, that you can stomp on it, you can kick it, you can do the worst and most stupid thing possible and nothing could ever happen that would hurt anybody, you have precisely the attitude that makes such a serious accident possible.
- Daniel Hirsch, Committee to Bridge the Gap review of Proposed Lucas Heights Reactor, Sydney Australia October 30, 2000

A nuclear power plant is infinitely safer than eating because three hundred people choke to death on food each year.
- Dixy Lee Ray, former chair of the Atomic Energy Commission

We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial, about to face cold turkey. And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we're hooked on.
- Kurt Vonnegut, "Cold Turkey", In These Times May 2004

[We] cannot conserve our way to energy independence.
- President George W. Bush, May 2001

Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy.
- Vice President Dick Cheney, May 2001

For too long we have had no energy policy. And like you, I am deeply concerned about consumer prices. They are going up.
- President George W. Bush, May 2001 [This comment came amid announcements of broad budget-cutting in energy conservation programs begun under the previous administration]

Even if we drill in every wildlife refuge and put oil rigs off all our coasts, we will still have no more than 4% of the world's reserves. Yet we consume 25% of the world's production. We delude ourselves if we think we can drill our way to energy independence.
- Jim Scarantino and Gerald Leigh, The Green Elephant, Spring 2001

The oil industry promotes "environmentally friendly oil drilling," but that's like selling finger-friendly blenders.
- Carl Pope, Sierra Club re: Aug. 1 House vote on ANWR

We do not have an energy crisis. We have an energy shortage. The energy shortage has produced a cultural crisis.
- M. King Hubbert quoted by A.A. Bartlett, The Forgotten Fundamentals of the Energy Crisis

What greater message to send to the future than a message, for once, of thoughtfulness and prudence, and of pushing one's self away from the trough, rather than going into the last chapel to rob or gorge upon nothing less than the spirit of the place.
- Rick Bass, former petroleum geologist, in an essay on drilling ANWR, High Country News 33 (2001): 20

Published geological and political estimates of undiscovered oil resources have no set time limits stated or implied for the postulated discoveries. Such open-ended estimates effectively imply that the volume of resources yet to be discovered will lie somewhere between zero and infinity and will be found sometime between now and eternity.
- L.F. Ivanhoe, from "Future World Oil Supplies - There is a Finite Limit," World Oil, October 1995: 77-78, 80, 82, 86, 88

One has to be very cautious in estimating guesses.
- Roger Herrera, 2006 interview

As the saying goes, oil shale is "the fuel of the future and always will be."
- From: Youngquist, Alternative Energy Sources

Shale oil is like a mirage that retreats as it is approached.
- From: B. Fleay, The Decline of the Age of Oil (Annandale, NSW, Australia, Pluto Press 1995), p. 152

The Saudis have a saying, "My father rode a camel, I drive a car, my son rides in a jet airplane - his son will ride a camel."
- Quoted by Walter Youngquist, "The Post-Petroleum Paradigm - and Population," Population and the Environment 20 (1999): 301 [297-315]

Modern agriculture is the use of land to convert petroleum into food.
- A. A. Bartlett, "The Forgotten Fundamentals of the Energy Crisis," American Journal of Physics 46 (1978): 876-888

Living on only what solar energy comes in each day, and surviving the cloudy days, will be a vastly different situation from doing as we are today - drawing upon the stored sunlight of millions and millions of years deposited in an energy bank account in the Earth by geological processes. We now draw upon this very much concentrated high grade solar energy inheritance in the form of coal, oil, and gas, and are using it in a geological instant. The challenge of living on current income rather than our fortunate energy inheritance is very large, and not simple.
- Walter Youngquist, GeoDestinies, p 252

It has been said that solar energy does have one advantage over other energy sources - you can simply look up and see how much is left.
- Walter Youngquist, GeoDestinies, p 253

The evolution from fire to fossil fuels to nuclear energy is a path of improved human health and welfare arising from efficient and effective access to energy.
- Sallie Baliunas, The Kyoto Protocol and Global Warming, abridged from speech given at Hillsdale College, February 5, 2002

For the next several decades, fossil fuels are key to maintaining Americans' way of life and improving the human condition. According to the scientific facts as we know them today, there is no environmental reason we should not continue using them.
- Sallie Baliunas, The Kyoto Protocol and Global Warming, abridged from speech given at Hillsdale College, February 5, 2002

What's happening is the administration is opening vast amounts of public land to oil and gas development that have never been opened before. I've never seen such an assult on public lands in more than 30 years of public service.
- Jim Baca Former Director of BLM, 2002, quoted in PEEReview, Spring 2002, p. 2

There is an irony about depletion: the more efficient the extraction, the shorter the life-span. Technology is a two-edged sword.
- Colin A. Campbell, "Changing Oil Power." 2003, from the Environmental Analysis Letter, Pomona College v. 1, no. 4, February/March 2003

For the first time in human history, we have within our grasp a ubiquitous form of energy, what proponents call "forever fuel." Hydrogen will eventually be as cheap as personal computers, cell phones, and palm pilots. When that happens, the possibility opens up to truly democratize energy, making it available to every human being on Earth.
- Jeremy Rifkin, The Hydrogen Economy, p. 215

The streets will be quiet. Only the sound of tires and rushing wind will accompany passing vehicles instead of the roar from exhaust pipes. The city will be clean, since emissions will be practically zero. Pedestrians strolling on the sidewalks won't be turning up their noses, guests won't be fleeing from the streets' stench into the cafes because now they can enjoy the sundowners in the open air.
- Ortwin Runde Mayor, Hamburg, quoted by Jeremy Rifkin, The Hydrogen Economy, p. 211

Even if human life does go on, civilization as we know it will not survive, unless we can find a way to live without fossil fuels.
- David Goodstein, Out of Gas - The End of the Age of Oil, W.W. Norton & Company 2004, p. 15

A gallon of gasoline has the same energy content as one ton of conventional electric storage batteries.
- Walter Youngquist, from: Youngquist, W., "The Post-Petroleum Paradigm," Population and Environment (1999), v.20, No. 4

We live in what historians may some day call the Fossil Fuel Age. Today coal, oil, and natural gas supply 93% of the world's energy; water power accounts for only 1%; and the labor of men and domestic animals the remaining 6%. This is a startling reversal of corresponding figures for 1850 - only a century ago. Then fossil fuels supplied 5% of the world's energy, and men and animals 94%. Five sixths of all the coal, oil, and gas consumed since the beginning of the Fossil Fuel Age has been burned up in the last 55 years.
- Rear Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, U.S. Navy, Energy Resources of Our Future, speech given to the Minnesota State Medical Association, May 14, 1957

We could also be in deep trouble as a social system. How do we achieve fairness [in rationing scarce energy supplies] when the gridlock between rich and poor already stops us from having an energy policy in this country? We could see democracy entering its death throes.
- Charley Maxwell, "Dean of Energy Analysts," December 2006

The 51st state is the state of denial. It's as though a huge comet were heading for us and nobody wants to talk about it. We're just about to run out of petroleum and there's nothing to replace it.
- Kurt Vonnegut, 2005

Losing one Mb/d [million barrels of oil per day] is losing 2 quads, equivalent to about 80 nuclear power plants worth of energy, or two trillion cubic feet of gas.
- Randy Udall, The Energy Bulletin, 3/19/07, commenting on the effect of declining oil production after peak is reached.

We are not going to reach energy independence in this nation and have better control over our national security as long as we remain dependent on the internal combustion engine and air traffic to move people and goods.
- James Schlesinger, March 22, 2007

(1) During George Bush's first term, the world used about 10% of all crude oil that has ever been consumed; (2) Based on our mathematical modeling, at our current rate of consumption, during the second Bush term the world will use about 10% of all remaining conventional crude oil reserves and (3) Net oil exports are falling much faster than overall world crude oil production is declining.
- Jeffrey J. Brown, Energy Bulletin, March 26, 2007

Only lunatics tell a society addicted to cocaine that it's the government's job to make cocaine affordable. Our automobile-based transportation monoculture and the unprecedented energy gluttony it inspired is doomed.
- Michael Abraham, The Roanoke Times, July 2006

The ethanol craze means that we're going to burn up the Midwest's last six inches of topsoil in our gas tanks.
- Farmer attending annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, reported by James Howard Kunstler, 2007

We've got a $12 trillion capital investment in the world energy economy and a turnover time of 30 to 40 years. If you want it to look different in 30 or 40 years, you'd better start now.
- John P. Holdren, President, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2006

What is happening here is a vision that many in rural America see as their salvation: high-performance moonshine from amber fields of grain, and a "grass station" in every town.
- Timothy Egan, New York Times, February 11, 2007

The enormity of peak oil is an assault on our metaphysic of national identity, our belief in:
The American Dream
Our ability to accomplish anything we choose
Inexorable social and technological progress
An abundant perpetual supply of natural resources, and
Our "non-negotiable" lifestyle

- Dan Bednarz, Energy & Healthcare Consultants, November 2006

The public is convinced that we will enter a nirvana of "energy independence" just-in-time - the same way that WalMart miraculously restocks its shelves.
- James Howard Kunstler, February 19, 2007

Even the alarmingly large crowd of people who would rather show off than conserve will change their habits when energy consumption becomes an instant indicator of stupidity and social indifference.
- Scott Burns, Dallas Morning News, September 2006

The costs of preparing 'too soon' are tiny compared to the costs of preparing too late [re oil depletion].
- Robert Hirsch (and others), 2006

The gates are down. The lights are flashing. Does anyone see the train coming?
- David Nelson, Agribusiness analyst for Credit Suisse Group, 2007, re. expected increase in demand for biodiesel resulting in clearing of tens of millions of acres of rain forest in Brazil

The important thing to understand is that there is a stochastic component to oil production. In the modern geopolitical world, it just happens to be the case that most of the world's remaining reserves are currently in unfriendly or dangerous places. The geographical distribution of the world's largest oil-bearing basins is an artifact of events (for example, plate tectonics) that occurred in geological time, as well as the inherent randomness in human history that drew those country boundaries and the populations that live within them. That's just the way it is. This observation must be qualified by a more recent historical fact - the West has already used up most of its easy oil.
- Dave Cohen, The Oil Drum, February 2007

I worry about renewable energy being implemented to sustain a growth pattern that non-renewables can no longer sustain.
- Michael Kane, The Wilderness Society, ASPO Conference 2006

Water flooding [is the] Viagra of aging wells.
- Don Coxe, comment on water injection to enhance oil production, October 2006

The debate over the exact timing of peak oil really comes down to this: How much running room do we have before we go off a cliff?
- Kurt Cobb, April 9, 2007

My great grandparents lived in a world of stuff PLUS stuff, whereas I have known nothing but stuff TIMES stuff. There is no other stuff which is as supercalifragilistic as oil. Why? Because oil is the only stuff capable of exerting the magical multiplier effect upon other stuff.
- Chris Shaw, March 2007

Oil companies should fire all of their geologists and geophysicists and hire economists to replace them since economists are SO much better at finding oil.
- Old Saying in the oil patch

EXTRA: Oil Discovery Saves Civilization!
For 35 days.
In 2013.
Except for decline in other fields.

- Jeff Vail, Theory of Power, 9/5/06, re. Gulf of Mexico Jack #2 discovery

It's difficult to oppose a technology that's helping to save the planet.
- Nature, 2006 editorial re. genetically engineered energy crops

You could turn Oklahoma into an OPEC member by converting all of farmland to switchgrass.
- Richard Hamilton, CEO of Ceres, plant genetics company

Maybe the end-of-oil hypothesis will prove false, maybe the technology genie will invent a nontoxic, cheap oil substitute, thus enabling every man, woman and adolescent in America to drive around in a Hummer.
- Nicholas von Hoffman, The Nation, August 2006

Oil fouls everything in southern Nigeria. It spills from the pipelines, poisoning soil and water. It stains the hands of politicians and generals, who siphon off its profits. It taints the ambitions of the young, who will try anything to scoop up a share of the liquid riches - fire a gun, sabotage a pipeline, kidnap a foreigner.
- Tom O'Neill, National Geographic, February 2007

The greatest challenge we, as a species, face right now is to create a way of life based on the energy flow of sunlight, not fossil or nuclear energy, [and] to do so without destroying our soils.
- Jason Bradford, September 2006, interview with Kelpie Wilson

Injecting natural gas into the oil sands to produce oil is turning gold into lead.
- Matthew Simmons, 2006 interview

The primary impact of technological achievement [by the oil industry] was to accelerate depletion.
- Colin Campbell, The Availability of Nonconventional Oil and Gas, 2006

So the fact that Chevron has drilled, tested, and completed Jack #2 does not nullify Peak Oil. Jack #2, in fact, demonstrates a key element of the Peak Oil thesis. That is, that the "easy" oil is gone. Mankind has been drilling it up, lifting it out of the ground, and burning it into heat and vapor for the past 147 years. The oil that mankind will lift from the earth in the future, on the far side of Peak Oil, will be in faraway places, in harsh climates, under excruciatingly difficult conditions, deep down, heavy, sour, and overall expensive.
- Byron W. King, September 2006

Production and historical production are facts.
Reserves are an opinion.
Undiscovered resources are a fantasy.

- Greg Croft


Col. Edwin L. Drake...Founder of the Petroleum Industry, the Friend of Man.

Called by Circumstances to the Solution of a Great Mining Problem.... He laid the Foundations of an Industry that has Enriched the State, Benefited Mankind, Stimulated the Mechanical Arts...and has Attained Worldwide Proportions.

His highest Ambition was the Successful Accomplishment of his Task. His Noble Victory the Conquest of the Rock, Bequeathing to Posterity the Fruits of his Labor and of his Industry.

- Portion of Memorial to Drake, drilled one of the first commercial oil wells, Pennsylvania What we need in this country is a conservative policy on energy. We need to save the world's oil for future generations. But instead, we've had a profoundly liberal policy of unrestrained consumption. The same irresponsible approach has been applied to managing water resources, land and natural gas.
- A.A. Bartlett, interview, October 16, 2006

The cheapest and cleanest power plant in the world is the one you never have to build.
- Eliot Spitzer, Governor of New York, commenting on conservation as an element of his energy policy, April 2007


The American West at Risk: Science, Myths and Politics of Land Abuse and Recovery

The American West At Risk summarizes the dominant human-generated environmental challenges in the 11 contiguous arid western United States - America's legendary, even mythical, frontier.

It now faces depletion of many of these resources, and potentially serious threats to its few "renewable" resources.

Purchase Here at Oxford Press



Dr. Howard G. Wilshire, Geologist; Dr. Jane E. Nielson, Geologist; Richard W. Hazlett, Geologist

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