The WSJ blog reprints an incredibly dumb “You can’t handle the truth!” memo from uber-peaker Robert Hirsch.
Yes, the author of the seminal 2005 study [PDF] funded by the Bush Energy Department on “Peaking of World Oil Production” has written a memo “To The Peak Oil Community,” recommending that group “minimize its effort to awaken the world to the near-term dangers of world oil supply.”
Well, I’m not on that distribution list, so instead of endorsing Hirsch’s inanity, I’ll endorse his original conclusion:
The world has never faced a problem like this. Without massive mitigation more than a decade before the fact, the problem will be pervasive and will not be temporary. Previous energy transitions (wood to coal and coal to oil) were gradual and evolutionary; oil peaking will be abrupt and revolutionary.
So why is a guy with such foresight now urging temporary blindness? Read his dopey memo and see if you can figure it out:
TO THE PEAK OIL COMMUNITY:
The world is in the midst of the most severe financial crisis in most of our lifetimes. The economic damage that has already been wrought is considerable, and we have yet to see the bottom or the turnaround. Against this background, I suggest that the peak oil community minimize its efforts to awaken the world to the near-term dangers of world oil supply. The motivation is simple: By minimizing our efforts in the near term, we may not add fuel to the economic fires that are already burning so fiercely.
We are all aware of how disoriented governments and business are right now. Our leaders, leaders-to-be, and best minds are disoriented and seeking pathways out of the current morass. The public is in a quiet panic mode — those who were reasonably well off are less well of, and their options for action are limited. Those that have lost their jobs and/or homes are desperate. Businesses and the markets are in what might be called a free fall. If the realization of peak oil along with its disastrous financial implications was added to the existing mix of troubles, the added trauma could be unthinkable.
Like many of you, I’ve devoted my recent efforts to trying to wake the public and governments to the impending horrors of peak oil. As much as that awaking is urgently needed, continuing to press forward now is almost certainly not in the broader interest.
Many may be tempted to directly challenge the recent IEA World Energy Outlook. I am among those who were very disappointed. Pressing those concerns at this time might further the peak oil “cause,” but it could well do much more damage than any of us really intend.
Please keep up your studies and thinking, because helping the world realize the dangers of peak oil is an absolute must. In the near term, keeping relatively quiet is likely the better part of valor.
That is both absurd and cowardly, just like the Shakespearean character who first uttered the words “discretion is the better part of valor,” Falstaff.
If Hirsch were a climate expert, would he urge “keeping relatively quiet” about “the impending horrors” of global warming because “the added trauma could be unthinkable”?
Seriously. With apologies to the Bard, here’s a maxim for the Climate Century: “Prevention is the better part of valor.”