A saying often attributed to former US Vice President Dan Quayle goes like this:
It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.
He didn't actually say this, but it has entered the vernacular anyway, possibly because it so concisely lampoons the tortured semantics that politicians employ to avoid drawing unpleasant conclusions.
The most recent example of tortured semantics arrives in the latest report by the US National Petroleum Council (which has a mandate to "represent the views of the oil and natural gas industries") to US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman on what the future holds for global oil and natural gas supplies.
Their short answer: peak oil is not going to happen for decades because the oil supply will continue to increase - as long as we find major new sources of oil in the Middle East in areas we've already explored extensively.
In fact, if you subtract their anticipated unknown reserves and what they call "enhanced oil recovery" from the projection in the report, it looks almost exactly like the Hubbert's curve that the peak analysts are projecting.
In other words, it's not peak oil that's driving oil production, it's the lack of new oil discoveries that are doing it.
Stuart Staniford over at The Oil Drum has an excellent, detailed analysis of the report.
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