« Bigelow Announces $50 Million "America's Space Prize" | Main | Q3 GDP Growth 3.7% Annualized »



I think both candidates are very afraid of the issue.

Dan Schmelzer

I don't think that's the case. There doesn't seem to be a sense of crisis in the American public this time around. Please see John Zogby's polling on the issue in May. And it seems even less of an issue right now.

And here's an article on the most important issues facing the country. Gasoline is only rated among the most important issues by 3% of the US public.

Dominic Schmelzer

... and why drum up a bee hive when it's not going to get you any votes anyway?!

Kevin Parkin

I think you're right that the economy is less oil dependent than it used to be, and I think that's why were not in recession right now. Analysts don't expect this situation to last above $60-$70 a barrel though, and at that stage recession could become imminent.

I think the US public isn't yet concerned about oil because gas prices have stayed lower than their previous highs. Once they move beyond previous highs and above $3 a gallon I expect people will become more concerned. Above that, I wonder whether it will be panic, anger, disbelief, or resignation.

Kevin Parkin

Dan, looking through the previous posts it doesn't look like you've heard of the energy multiples yet. Economics may spur technology that can extract oil from the hardest of places, but it hasn't been able to do much about the declining energy return.

I.e. earlier in the last century the energy you got from a given amount of oil was 100 times greater than the energy you invested to extract it. That multiple has declined to 20-30 and is falling, as it is for coal and natural gas. At some point, it will take more energy to harvest the fuel than you produce from it (this is probably the case with biodiesel). The energy return on solar panels is only 2:1, so it will still be several decades before we exhaust the oil, coal, uranium, and thorium to the point where existing solar panel technology becomes attractive, assuming current consumption rates, and that we don't worry about global warming.

Shale oil has exactly this kind of energy return problem. It's not really oil. The people who are trying to make shale oil into real oil are the modern day equivalent of the alchemists who tried to make gold out of lead.

Daniel Schmelzer

As I understand energy yields, they only drive in part the economics of the proposition. For instance, two sources of energy with the same energy yield may have very different economic profiles. Further, these energy yields vary a lot by the assumptions that are made. Lastly, technology has quite a bit of impact on the energy yields of some sources, such as photovoltaics. Already, under some sets of assumptions, there are alternative sources that have superior energy yields to oil (wind, for instance), but are impracticle due to a lack of a good alternative store of energy to oil.

The comments to this entry are closed.