Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Which Science is the most fundamental?

=== And now... many ways of viewing science! ===

FundamentalScienceWhich science is the most basic? Watch my latest Youtube video: Which Science is the Most Fundamental? Physics might be considered the most fundamental of all sciences, for all others derive from basic principles of forces, motion, electromagnetism and thermodynamics. And yet, physical laws are mathematical models of the world; however, mathematics itself is abstract, deriving from theoretical constructs of philosophy. But, philosophy arises out of theories of mind, or psychology. The mind itself depends upon the biology of the brain....which is nothing but chemical reactions of molecules, such as neurotransmitters and proteins. And of course, chemistry depends upon the behavior of atoms and forces, which is constrained by physics. An eternal loop?

Actually, philosophy and logic and "reason" are looser versions of the same madness that is suffered by mathematicians... actually believing that you can prove anything with words or symbols of scribbles on paper.  The pragmatic (anglo-scots-american-yiddish) branch of the enlightenment (as opposed to the franco-germanic-italian wings) emphasizes the "show-me" dominance of objective over subjective reality. Let me stress that I am loyal to the pragmatist wing. Because it is the only system that ever shouted "ALL INCANTATIONS ARE 90+% DELUSION!"

Yes, even (especially!) Plato's so called "reason." Delusion is humanity's greatest talent, source of our great art, source of much of our love! But also nearly all our crimes. It has only, ever, been stymied from harm-doing by enlightenment methods.

And yet... we'd be nothing without our inacntatory arts. (What is sci fi?;-) And reason, in its proper place, serves as an important partner to science. Together, mathematics and logic and reasoning ccomprise be the great HYPOTHESIS GENERATING SYSTEM.  Hypotheses that real science can then test.

Of course, having said that, let me reiterate that all of their practitioners - all of those who actually believe in their metaphors, or that you can prove things on paper, or that "left-versus-right has any real meaning - are... well... completely mad. Almost as mad as sci fi authors! (Except we're honest about it.)

=== SCIENCE

Wrong_FreedmanWhy Scientific Studies are so Often Wrong: The Streetlight Effect, by David H. Freedman, from his new book, Wrong: Why Experts Keep Failing Us -- And How to Know When Not to Trust Them.  The fundamental error cited here is based on an old joke: One night a policeman finds a drunkard crawling around under a streetlight. "What are you doing down there?" the officer asks. The man explains that he lost his wallet -- across the street. "Then why are you looking over here?" asks the officer. "Because the light's better over here," replies the man.

Similarly, scientists may have a tendency to conduct their research where the light is better -- quantifying and measuring what they can, on subjects that are available, on projects that can get funded. Freedman takes on the inaccuracy of economic predictions, the ever-shifting health and medical studies.

=== Might "Culture War" Have a Biological Cause?

"Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite of cats is able to reproduce only inside the gut of a cat. It needs to find a cat. Usually it does so by finding something that cats eat, such as rats. Inside rats, it makes its way to the brain where it causes the rats to be attracted to the smell of cat pee, which they would ordinarily avoid (who wouldn’t). A rat that follows cat pee ends up in the cat’s gut, where the Toxoplasma gondii can finally mate. But T. gondii also makes its way into humans (It is because of this parasite that pregnant women are urged to avoid cat litter). In fact,  sixty million Americans are estimated to be infected at any one moment."  Does T. gondii also affect human behavior? Preliminary research suggests yes. Scientists find it triggers the release of chemicals in our brains that make us more anxiety prone, decrease our reaction time and make us more likely to end up in dangerous situations.  Males and females react differently. 

Which makes me wonder... might a plague such as this one (or one as-yet unknown) be partly responsible for the surge of irrationality one sees in America, today?

=== Is "Peak Oil" A Myth?

Australia has what appears to be a duplicate of the Bakken field with current estimates of 5-11 billion barrels of recoverable oil based on current tech.

Paris basin could have more recoverable oil than the Bakken oil field. (Yes, that is Paris, France, all the way to Belgium.

Iraq oil production now over 2.7 million barrels per day. It increased about 350,000 barrels per day over the last two weeks. Iraq is targeting 12 million barrels per day in about ten years. Some think they may only get to 6 million barrels per day in ten years.

It appears that ancestral critters were very very busy transforming into hydrocarbons. The question is, will the current oil czars let their current power be undermined? And what do we do with the carbon?

=== A SNAPSHOT ON DOCTORATE PROGRAMS

Stunning statistics from the Pew Research Center: Only 6% of U.S. scientists are Republican, while 55% claim to be Democrats, 32% Independent, and 7% uncommitted. As American politics becomes increasingly polarized, science should be a middle ground of reason and rationality. And yet -- the Gingrich Congress erased and banned all scientific advisory panels from Capitol Hill.   Culture War is not about left versus right.  It is about riling up populist, know-nothing rage against all the people in society who actually know stuff.  All the folks who might challenge a return to feudalism.

See my article: Unscientific America: Denying Science at our peril.

Who is earning Science Ph.D.'s these days? For a wealth of data on doctorate degrees, see this NSF Study: Life sciences take the largest share (23%) of science PhDs. For the first time (2009), more women than men earned doctorates. Women earn 67% of doctorates in Education, 58% in Social Sciences, 31% in Engineering. Overall, women earned 42% of doctorates in Sci & Eng, up from 29% in '89. Non U.S. citizens earn 31% of doctorates, with the majority going to students from China & India. Minorities are still under-represented: Blacks 7%, Hispanics 6% of doctorates.

And yet, only 57% of doctoral students complete their PhD within ten years of beginning - due to lack of funding, poor supervision, or overall fatique. Even for those who finish, prospects are poor. Supply overwhelms demand: 100,000 received doctorates in America between 2005-2009, while there were only 16,000 job openings for new professors.

=== SPACE

Scientists find evidence that multiple  universes exist. Four circular patterns in the cosmic microwave background radiation may indicate multiple waves of Big Bangs.

President Obama challenges NASA to come up with a less expensive mode of launch: In response, NASA Engineers propose combining a Rail Gun with a Scramjet -- requires two miles of track, an airplane that can fly at Mach 10.

Voyager 1, launched in 1977, has reached the edge of our solar system - and is no longer receiving a push from the solar wind. After an epic journey passing by Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus & Neptune, Voyager 1 is travelling at a speed of 38,000 mph, escaping the sun's heliosphere, & heading off to interstellar space - where no probe has gone before. V-ger? (In Star Trek, V-ger was actually Voyager 6). Voyager is providing fresh data on the nature of the solar wind.

Smash an asteroid or comet into Earth on your computer - and calculate the resulting damage. Impact: Earth! is an interactive website used by NASA and the Department of Homeland Security. Enter the diameter, density & velocity of the incoming object, its angle of entry and target on Earth - and Bam! Each day, Earth is bombarded by over 100 tons of extraterrestrial debris, with large events occurring every hundred years or so.

=== And finally... the coming decade...

May it be one of ambition, adulthood, negotiation, science, curiosity, adventure, freedom and pragmatic, can-do problem solving. And may the Noughty Oughts serve as the highwater of those troglodytic dopes who actually think that the Enlightenment can be defeated by the old ways.

It will not be.

55 comments:

David Brin said...

Yudkowsky has posted another chapter:

http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5782108/65/Harry_Potter_and_the_Methods_of_Rationality

that's
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5782108/65/
then
Harry_Potter_and_the_Methods_of_Rationality

A worthwhile addiction.

Robert said...

And now? For Science! A 10-year-old girl who's also an amateur astronomer discovered a new supernova in another galaxy. For all the fears and concerns about America falling behind in the sciences, I think that stories like this and a story I posted before about a peer-reviewed paper from 10-year-olds will inspire our children to be more interested in the sciences.

---------

And on the Mad Science front, Abu Dhabi has created a weather creating machine that can encourage cloud formation in desert regions and rainfall. While I am a bit concerned on what this would do to global weather patterns, I also have to admit that cloud formation doesn't often happen in desert regions. So imagine for a moment utilizing this technology in the Sahara... and bring rain to that parched region. If we can start reversing desertification, then the increased greening of the Sahara could eventually result in a chain reaction which would result in the desert being reduced significantly... and larger amounts of carbon capture from the renewal of grasslands and forests in that region, or in the Middle East.

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

Stefan Jones said...

The oil discoveries are good news . . . as long as we commit not to waste the stuff! Petroleum is astonishingly useful stuff. Plastics, fertilizer, all sorts of chemicals . . . even a bit as fuel.

We just need to commit to virtually-carbon-free energy.

David Brin said...

On Kos someone said:

" A fool wandered into a small village, meeting a swordsman sharping his weapon with a whetstone. The fool only shook his head and walked on. Grabbing the first villager he met, he waved his hand in the direction of the swordsman. "Keep the idiot indoors," he admonished, "That fool is trying to cut a rock with his sword."

"This is exactly the problem between the political republicans and science. They have no idea what is going on. And feel smugly that they do."

François Marcadé said...

I live north of Abu Dhabi and I can comment about the weather machine. The Machines are installed in Al-Ain, which he second biggest city in the Abu Dhabi emirates, but is about 120 km east of the City of Abu Dhabi (the picture in the article is taken in the city of Abu Dhabi adding to the confusion). It is located in the foothill of a mountain range at the border between the Sultanate of Oman and the United Emirates. During the summer sometime storm clouds from the Gulf of Oman stray above the mountain and dissipate above the U.A.E. turning those cloud into rainfall is the goal of this program. During the summer there can be no rainfall on the coast where the big cities are (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ras Al Khaima), the sky is always blue without a cloud in site. This technology would probably not be applicable all over the Sahara; it could work on the desert side of the Atlas Mountains though.
On the Coast side the Greening program calls for the protection and extension of the magroves.
I have missed the debates on the last post, but if I remember my Classical education. Cynism is concluding that there is almost nothing good in the world and accepting it. It is not pessimism it is a complete surrender to a malign fate. The cautious pessimism is the Stoicism, acceptance of fate, but working to be a better man nevertheless. Of course of all the classic philosophy I prefer Epicureanism, but I admire Stoicism.

Ian said...

Recoverable =/= economically recoverable.

Central Australia is one of the most hostile environments on the planet.

It's also one of the driest (except for the every-decade-or-so catastrophic floods like the one currently paralyzing coal production over in Central Queensland and sending spot coal prices to record highs.)

So yeah if you're prepared to pay $100-150 a barrel plus the cost of building multiple desalination plants at several billion dollars each along with multiple thousand kilometre pipelines to get the processing water to the area, then yeah we can provide you with as much oil as you like.)

You'll also be completing the cultural genocide of the Pitjantjatjara and various other Aboriginal peoples.

Patricia Mathews said...

Your belief that the right is attacking scientists because they hate intellectuals is actually backwards. They don't even see us as intellectuals, scientists, or people in possession of the facts. *They see us simply and solely as driven by a left-wing ideology* even as they are driven by their ideology.

New Mexico's new Republican governor has just fired our entire Environmental Improvement Board, saying "they are more interested in advancing political ideology than in implementing common-sense [pro-business] policies...." and this is ALL she sees!

I've seen it on the Fourth Turning forums, too - pro-environment people will put forth a fact and the forum's right-wingers will treat those facts as if they were simple political propaganda.

Some of them may be disingenuous about it and some may be carrying out a war on science and smart people, but if you ask me, the vast majority simply have no concept of anything beyond "My side/your side" and all they get out of us proving anything is "Blah-blah-blah-left-wing-ideology-blah-blah-blah."

Like arguing with someone who has a Revelation From God.

Peter said...

Your contempt for Mathematics is misplaced.

The fundamental truths of Mathematics, as rigorously understood today, are all "if X then Y". In other words, given certain definitions and axioms, the following theorems are true.

Modern mathematicians make no claim about whether Euclidean or any other geometry accurately models the universe.

From the perspective of Physics, Mathematics is simply the modeling toolkit with which to theorize about the real world. From the perspective of Mathematics, Physics is a useful application of mathematical knowledge.

Mathematics has no close relationship whatsoever to philosophy. Fields of Mathematics are logical constructs which do not depend on any metaphysical beliefs. It may be that the particular fields we have chosen to develop are caused by the structure of our brains, but that does not mean that our findings are not intrinsically correct.

It is not madness to prove something in mathematics, because such a proof has nothing to do with any claim about physical or metaphysical reality.

It is madness to try to turn a mathematical proof into a certainty about the universe. Science does not prove, it disproves. Science cannot conclusively determine the axioms on which to base such a proof. Science can propose likely conclusions and can amend them to fit new discoveries, and that is the strength of science in describing the messy real world, full of unknowns.

Rob said...

Huh? Math not a philosophy? Science not able to establish by proof?

Too simplistic.

Tyler August said...

Come now, Dr. Brin.
You should know better-- these new discoveries only push back the date of the oil peak.
I don't care if the entire planet is made of hydrocarbon down to the core; it's still a finite resource and if we will run out, eventually, if we exploit it long enough.

Also, I don't think this is all new--the Paris valley was sucked dry of conventional oil decades ago, and nobody can get a decent energy return off this shale crap; it's just too hard to get the hydrocarbons out.

Still, I've always figured that we'd never run out of oil for plastics-- energy-profit oil is one thing, but as a chemical feedstock this will do just fine.

From conversations with those on the other side, I think Patricia Matthews is right. You give facts and offer citations and they simply roll their eyes and say "Oh, you're one of THOSE people. I can't talk to people who think they already know everything."
To which I reply something like:
"... but I do know what I'm talking about, and I'm trying to show HOW I know. Why won't you listen?"
Which turns into an unproductive argument about bias, etc. I really wish political parties were looser things-- do we really have to go on cutting EVERYTHING down the middle and calling one side "right-wing" and the other "left-wing" and dicker endlessly over it?

Trains aren't socialist! Bikes aren't socialist! Nuclear reactors aren't republican! They're just bloody objects, and don't have any political agenda. Temperatures don't have a political agenda. The IR spectrum of CO2 doesn't have a registered political affiliation.
Reality doesn't CARE about our stuipid political distinctions, it simply is. Why can't we as a culture own up to that?
It's enough to make a being want to scream.

David Brin said...

Tyler, your scream for pragmatic problem-solving echoes my own. Were we in normal political times, I would cry "a plague on both your houses!" at dogmatists of both left and right while rallying pragmatists to seek BOTH market-driven and state propelled solutions.

Alas, with the right completely, top to bottom, hijacked by madmen and by shills of an oligarchy determined to re-establish feudalism, there really isn't such luxury, anymore.

Let's be plain. I despise the socialist left. But the neocon-hijacked right is flat out evil-vampiric insane.

Patricia, I am afraid you are the one who has it backwards. The War on Science is only part of a concerted and well-orchestrated War on Expertise of any kind. The Oligarchy cannot permit professionalism in any form, science, the Civil Service, teachers, universities... no elites of the mind... to have any political credibility. They are the one caste that could (and does) challenge the aristocratic putsch.

Hence, all of them are under direct attack in a campaign of hatred toward smartypants. All smartypants.

Except the Officer Corps. They are officially exempt, because the GOP dare not attack them openly. Even though the generals and admirals have defied and thwarted the neocons at every turn.

Carl M. said...

So, Democrats are anxious about guns, global warming, and ozone holes because they have cats? :-þ

Robert said...

No, I'd say Democrats and Independents are worried about Global Warming and ozone holes because they have brains and use them. Democrats are worried about guns because several Democrats have been shot and killed by them, while Republicans seem oddly resistant to death attempts by gun. ;) (Which only goes to show that Reagan was a tough old coot. And I say that with tremendous fondness for the former President.)

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Though no fan of Reagan, I did so want him to live out his term and put to rest for good that "theory" about all presidents elected in years ending in 0 dying in office. So imagine my consternation already when the president elected in 1980 was really old to begin with--and then he gets shot in his first term.

Nonetheless, he did end up busting that myth.

David Brin said...

Carl, you made a connection I hadn't. Cats. Eek. At least the STEREOTYPICAL liberal seems more likely to have a kitty... and thus to be Toxoplasma infected.

But remember, Blue America is richer, more urban and cleaner. Certainly far lower rates of STDs, domestic violence, teen pregnancy, rape, divorce etc than "moral" Red America. Hence, I will stand by a wager that Toxoplasma rates are lower, too.

Ian said...

"But remember, Blue America is richer, more urban and cleaner."

I'm not wholly convinced by the Toxo theory but I think it's true that people who live in less urbanized areas are at greater risk of coming into contact with infected animals.

Robert said...

There's a simple solution. Test a sample of people (both Conservative and Liberal) for the wee little critter, and have them do surveys concerning their beliefs, concerns, and so forth. Then for those people who are infected, treat them (killing the organisms) and test them in the future to ensure they're not reinfected... and once a year or so has gone by that they're infection-free, run the survey again and see if their responses change. If they do? Then the organism may have an effect on human behavior.

Rob H.

Paul said...

David,
"Except the Officer Corps. They are officially exempt, because the GOP dare not attack them openly. Even though the generals and admirals have defied and thwarted the neocons at every turn."

I wonder if the reluctance to attack them will change soon. Particularly since the "don't ask don't tell" testimony. Will there be a growing contempt for the "Elite", "Liberal", "Washington" officers riding roughshod over the "real American" troops. It would also give them someone else to blame for the failings in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tim H. said...

The officer corps is probably safe until the vast right wing conspiracy can't find a better victim, than they'd better watch out.

Carl M. said...

Just to be clear, I don't claim either party is more infected. I was just tossing some water on anyone getting some superiority complex about Republican anxieties. I don't think much of the biology of political affiliation arguments. Strikes me as racist frankly.

As for sanitation, the blue areas include the slums of run down inner cities, old industrial areas, etc. It's not just Berkely and similar areas.

Some years ago I came across a page which played the same red/blue game you play at the county level. The blue counties had ten times the murder rate as I recall. Methinks this red/blue game is quite unproductive and ugly played by either side.

Tyler August said...

I tried to post this before, but it didn't work. Take two:

Toxoplasmosis affects only 10.8% of Americans, and dropping. (source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17827351 )

So even if you wanted to steep to that silly level of rhetoric, it doesn't work. Too many people on either side of the ideological fence (though it might explain some loonies on both sides, if you want.)

Sadly, I could see this tried in the current political environment. I've seen liberalism, along with "leftist ideas" and environmentalism all described as diseases to be stamped out in various contexts, so why not?

I can also see the vindictive right turning on the Officer Corps for resisting their whim one too many times. Worse luck, I can't see much of the American left embracing them with open arms because of the antiwar Vietnam baggage.
An alienated armed forces never turns out well for anyone, in the end.

David Brin said...

Carl, we did not start Culture War. That is a matter of open record, openly avowed by the ones who, in 1995, expressed horror that Newt Gingrich had worked with Bill Clinton to achieve both Welfare Reform and budgetary restraints...

...and they spanked Gingrich, HARD, openly declaring "culture war." and we were off.

Look at Obama, constantly begging for the other side to negotiate. A side whose top pundits have openly declared almost all people with graduate degrees to be enemies.

"As for sanitation, the blue areas include the slums of run down inner cities, old industrial areas, etc. It's not just Berkely and similar areas."

You are right. The dems still represent the poor and dispossessed and immigrants etc...

...and yet, even so, their average education levels are far higher than republicans.In any event, the poor aren't the targets of bilious culture war. It is smartypants. And in the smartypants zones every measure - including manliness in the face of terrorism - comes down in favor of blue.

David Brin said...

PS Carl, I know this sounds kneejerk partisan. But you know that in abstract I am as dubious at dogmatic leftie-PC-flakes as I am at conserva-trogs or oligarch-feudalists... or randroids.

I want to negotiate. That's it. And the situation could not be simpler. The division is now between those who want to negotiate and those who consider negotiation itself to be vile.

Anonymous said...

Tyler August: I don't care if the entire planet is made of hydrocarbon down to the core; it's still a finite resource and if we will run out, eventually, if we exploit it long enough.

So you are admitting that "Peak Oil" is a meaningless shibboleth, equivalent to the trivial observation that all physical resources are finite? If our planet was so stuffed to the gills with hydrocarbons, we we would run out of free oxygen far before we would have more than scratched the surface for hydrocarbons.

If we look at the solar system as a whole, it is free oxygen that is the far scarcer resource, whereas hydrocarbons are common on a wide variety of planets, moons, and comets.

And as David points out, carbon dioxide and methane in our atmosphere will be (or already are) a problem long, long before we significantly deplete the oxygen.

The tar sands, shales, methane clathrates, etc. mean that we can't punt the carbon issue for "Peak Oil" to solve for us. We will have to confront it head on.

As for finite resources, of course we can't indefinitely grow the use of any physical resource at an exponential rate. Duh. But population growth is now not only sub-exponential, it is sub-linear, i.e. it is slowing down and will likely become negative in the decades ahead (already is, in terms of births/couple, in most of the developed world).

Anonymous said...

Instead of robotically blaming Republicans for our ills, we might want to ask why science is now held in such low esteem that the party that just resoundingly won the last election can not only away with, but succeeded in no small part because of their negative attitude towards science.

Could it have anything to do with all the alarmist nonsense we've been hearing in the mass media in the last decade about how nearly every piece of bad weather, hot or cold, rain or drought, is caused by "global warming" (excuse me, "climate change")? Science has allowed a bunch of pseudoscientists, mostly journalists but a disturbing number with burnished scientific credentials, to run roughshod with "boy-who-cried-wolf" claims about how the climate is causing this or that weather problem largely unchallenged. and of course there's the infamous "hide the decline" where professors with credentials in science hid the fact that tree ring data does not in fact correspond to thermometer temperatures when both sets of data are available, rendering their claims about how temperatures are unprecedently warm (compared to e.g. the Middle Ages) phony. And they used peer review as an in-group mechanism to censor criticism that would have uncovered the fraud.

You can't blame the townspeople for now holding the boys who make such claims, or let them pass unchallenged as if they agree with them, in such low esteem.

Instead of admitting there's a problem here, too many so-called friends of science circle the wagons to defend the pseudoscientists. As a result real science, and the prospects of fixing the very real long-term problems of increasing carbon dioxide and methane in our atmosphere, suffers.

(Posting as "Anonymous" because the blog software seems to be broken at least on my browser, sorry).

Paul said...

Tyler, Anon, Re: Peak Oil

Peak Oil (or "peak" any resource) is a mathematical function related to production rates. This needs to be driven into both of your skulls until you can read it on the inside of your eyelids in the dark: Peak Oil has nothing to do with the amount of oil left in the ground, it refers only to the production rate.

Across individual wells (or mines), fields, regions-within-nations, whole nations, and global regions, there has been a consistent pattern for every resource. The highest increases in the rate of production occur at the beginning of exploitation. Then the rate-of-increase falls, fairly linearly, eventually becoming negative (production starts to decline.) When production nears zero, the site is abandoned.

Graph the rate of production and it'll show a classic bell curve. The top of the curve is "Peak". (Or graph the rate-of-increase of production and it'll show a straight line with negative slope. When it hits zero is peak production.)

Global oil production has also shown this pattern of linear declining rate-of-increase, except we haven't reached "Peak" yet. However, the rate-of-increase of production is getting damn close to zero. (Recessions also drop oil demand, so data is ambiguous at the moment, we should see another rise before it truly peaks.)

Again, it has NOTHING to do with the amount of a resource left in the ground. Everyone who says "peak oil means we'll run out of oil!!1!" is just as ignorant as those who say "peak oil is teh lieZ!!!!1one!"

(Australia's peak production occurred around the year 2000, the new discovery won't change that. It will soften our rate of decline, but it won't reverse it.)

jqhart said...

Paul, peak oil is a hopelessly linear theory, whereas the reality of hydrocarbon flow rate is unpredictable future geological discoveries and technological advances. Oil peaked in Pennsylvania, but then grew in Texas and California at an even cheaper price. Then it peaked there and grew in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere at an even cheaper price. Now land oil is peaking and we are going offshore, a bit more expensive now but that may easily change as we automate the process and drill farther offshore We still haven't even yet explored the majority of the earth's surface for oil much less other sources of hydrocarbons. Alongside all this progress in oil extraction continuing growth of methane and coal extraction. And now we have tar sands coming online with methane clathrates and shales on deck, and who knows what new forms we will discover beyond those in the future. We can't predict global hydrocarbon peak because we can't predict how much these activities will be automated or the nature of geological discoveries to be made as we drill deeper into the ground and explore more of the oceans. Currently mining and oil extraction are going through an automation boom that could radically increase the labor productivity, and thus radically decrease the costs and accelerate the rate of extraction. These silly peak oil equations don't take any of these technological or geological uncertainties and potentials into account.

Robert said...

From Wikipedia: Peak oil is the point in time when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline.

This is simplistic as it fails to factor in one other aspect: some oil is easier to extract than others. Thus we can continue to find new oil resources and not reach Peak oil... and yet have it not be economical to recover the oil because it costs too much. The more it costs to extract oil, the more the consumer pays. Oil was real cheap 40 years ago, but that was oil from the low-lying branches. We've almost plucked those branches clean.

There is also something with a bigger effect on our economy than Peak oil. This is the effect Demand is having on oil prices. Increased oil prices results in increased prices for packaging made from oil, transportation of goods (using oil-based fuels), and on down the road. These increased costs are inflicted on the consumer.

Consumer wages are not climbing at the same rate that expenses are climbing. Thus if it costs an extra $100 a month to heat your home, and an extra $20 a month to run your car, and an extra $50 a month to buy groceries that had their own prices increase to compensate for transportation costs, then the consumer suddenly has $170 less a month to buy goods. So he/she doesn't buy the new iPhone or a new computer or new clothes. These industries suffer losses, lay off workers, and these workers are now not contributing to the economy. The end-result? Recession or economic Depression.

This is the reason we need to get off of oil. If oil prices are going up due to increased demand, then we need to find new fuel sources. The only alternative is to force all of the Developing Nations not to use oil or to develop themselves. And that isn't going to work, especially as it is in the oil industries' own best interests to have high oil prices to maximize their own profits.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Paul said:

I wonder if the reluctance to attack [the officer corps] will change soon. Particularly since the "don't ask don't tell" testimony. Will there be a growing contempt for the "Elite", "Liberal", "Washington" officers riding roughshod over the "real American" troops. It would also give them someone else to blame for the failings in Iraq and Afghanistan.


then, Tim H. said:

The officer corps is probably safe until the vast right wing conspiracy can't find a better victim, than they'd better watch out.


I wasn't alive for the McCarthy era, but the way my dad tells it, it was when he took on the Army that McCarthy was finally undone. If today's GOP knows what they're doing politically, they'll avoid making an enemy who can fight back. Othewise, attacking the officer corps might end up being Jim DeMint's Waterloo.

Hypnos said...

jqhart: yes, new oil fields are added when old ones peaks. But they always invariably are smaller and harder to reach. And despite technological progress, the decline rate remains.

After Pennsylvania peaked, the US added Texas. After Texas peaked, it added Alaska, the the Gulf of Mexico.

And what happened? Nothing. The US peak of production remained in 1971. No amount of discoveries changed, or will ever change that peak. And it has been the same for every nation worldwide. There is no coming back from peak production.

And that is the whole matter. There is enough oil in the ground, but there is not enough capital and resources to get it out at a sufficient flow to sustain current demand growth.

Peak oil was 2005. We've been on an undulating plateau ever since. We will enter the decline phase shortly, dependly how quick the recovery is (or how quickly $100 oil derails it) and how quickly Chindia continues to grow.

Brazil won't change that fact. Bakken won't change that fact. Iraq just might - but it is so hopelessly off target that even the IEA doesn't believe it will ever get to 12 million barrels per day.

Oh, and 11 billion barrels is 4 months of current world consumption, give or take a few days. Without factoring in the ongoing exponential growth. India wants to grow oil consumption by 40% in the next ten years. That alone is more than 11 billion barrels.

What we need is not a few billion barrels here and there. What we need is a new Saudi Arabia. Every three years.

LarryHart said...

Anonymous said:

Instead of robotically blaming Republicans for our ills...


at which point my brain shuts down.

WHICH side has been "robotically" blaming their opponents for any and all ills for the last thirty-plus years? Give me an effing break.

Tacitus2 said...

I have been pondering the surprising, but apparently legit stats on political inclinations of US scientists. The most recent Gallup numbers btw on the general population are iirc 29%R 31%D 38%I.
I continue to be surprised that independents are not better represented among our putatitvely independent thinking scientists, but there you have it.

It has given me two thoughts.

1. Chicken v. Egg, is the scientific community self selecting its members? Would I as a R leaning I (or a conservative if you prefer) be at a competitive disadvantage in gaining a grad school slot or a professorship? These are steps in the process of becoming a "scientist" that are not entirely merit based.

2. Is "science" held in less esteem right now as compared to some past times? Subjectively I think yes. We focus on the failures of big science...the space shuttle losses being obvious and public examples. And perhaps, just perhaps we are in an era where the accomplishments of science are either sparse or not of immediate impact on the lives of the average person.

I personally find exoplanets exciting. Someday human genome research might impact my life. But most of the progress I see daily is small conveniences like GPS or just plain frivolity. Wide screen TVs to watch Gilligans Island level programming.

Radical scientific progress is not an even process. There are sudden leaps, often associated with times of conflict. (think WWII where the belligerants stated with biplanes and ended with jets...and with stealth tech on the drawing boards). Maybe crisis does not "create creativity" but it sure does fuel innovative adaptation. The Wehrmacht or the Red Army at your doorstep being a powerful stimulant.

Well, just some random thoughts. Nothing would transform the concept of science from the pejorative "smartypants" to a much more elevated status than the Z.Cochrane Warp Drive.

Get crackin' Zeph.

Tacitus2

Ilithi Dragon said...

Tacitus,

I think you should add a subset to #2.

2a. Does the lack of Republican representation in the scientific community stem from "science" being held in less esteem right now by the Republican Party?

I think you will find that the answer is a resounding YES.

From what I see, there are only a tiny amount of Republican scientists (note Republican, not conservative) because the GOP has not only given little love to scientists and little praise to science and education in general, but also because they have been directly attacking science and knowledge for decades.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

I continue to be surprised that independents are not better represented among our putatitvely independent thinking scientists, but there you have it.


Politically "independent" isn't quite the same thing as independent thinking. Political "independents" are simply those who don't see their interests in line with either major party.

If (just for example :) ) one major party demands rigid ideological conformity, and the other one does not, then perhaps true "independent thinkers" would gravitate to the latter party and away from the former?


1. Chicken v. Egg, is the scientific community self selecting its members? Would I as a R leaning I (or a conservative if you prefer) be at a competitive disadvantage in gaining a grad school slot or a professorship?


Perhaps. But I think it's just as likely the other way around. The Republican Party (at the national level anyway) is self-selecting its members. As a scientific-minded thinker, I wold be at a competitive disadvantage in a Republican primary.


2. Is "science" held in less esteem right now as compared to some past times? Subjectively I think yes. We focus on the failures of big science...the space shuttle losses being obvious and public examples. And perhaps, just perhaps we are in an era where the accomplishments of science are either sparse or not of immediate impact on the lives of the average person.


Here I think you're on to something (although it doesn't seem to affect the relationship between scientists and any one party per se). I grew up as a kid in the 1960s when tv shows (Star Trek) and movies and superhero comics all seemed to glorify science. Often, scientists were heroes and vice versa. Since approximately the 1980s, this has changed. Scientists are now comic relief or tragic victims, and the place in escapist fiction that was once held by science has been given over to magic.

As an armchair psychologist here, I'd say we've gone from a society excited by what we might accomplish just around the corner to a society retreating into wish-fulfillment.

Could it have all started when Luke was told to turn off his targeting computer and "trust your feelings" instead?

Corey said...

Tacitus, that Pew poll that Brin mentions (which is a survey restricted to AAAS members, and so not all-inclusive, even if fairly representative), shows that A LOT of scientists are independents.

http://people-press.org/report/?pageid=1549

If 38 +- a few percent of the public are independent according to your number (mind you, you shouldn't underestimate the force of it simply being "trendy" to call oneself "independent" these days), while 32 percent of scientists +- a few percentage points fit into the same category, then really, independents have about the same representation among scientists as among the general public (very roughly a third of people). Also, Pew's poll says 34 percent for general public, so that's even closer.

Really, it's just that among those scientists are politically polarized in some way, there's very few that polarize towards the Republican side of things, overall.



As for your question about Republicans getting into science, let's say that you're actually in a field that politics has attempted to polarize, like climate science. Let's say you're a Republican by affiliation, but as a climate scientist, someone who's a scientist first and foremost, you accept the conclusion reached by virtually every other climate scientist about anthropogenic effects on climate. In that case, your position on gun rights, or example, should have no bearing at all on your career.


Let's say you are in the tiny minority of scientists in that field who doesn't accept anthropogenic impact on climate, though, and you even want that to be a focus of your work. Would that stop you from becoming a successful researcher?


I don't know the actual political views of most climate scientists, but I can think of a few who have challenged typical models of climate, in ways that question AGW's validity, so how have they fared?

Well Henrik Svensmark and Eigel Friis-Christensen are both scientists at the Danish National Space Center, and have both published multiple papers. They work in a fairly prestigious place, and have certainly been funded for their research. Roy Spencer went from working for NASA to working as the head of the climatology department at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, known as one of the few institutions that processes satellite temperature data for analysis by the scientific community (again, that's rather prestigious). The fact that he believes that humans have a very small impact on climate, and that the entire thing is basically driven by the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is not an idea he's ever been able to really back solidly, and has never gained much traction, but it hasn't stopped him from having good jobs and doing influential work with the UAH temperature data. Richard Lindzen is also a fairly prolofic author of peer-reviewed research. Looking up papers authored by him on EBSCO, I find no less than 26 papers from him from 1994-2009. That's almost two a year!


Clearly, those few climate scientists out there who take the view of their field that could be called "conservative" don't lack for the ability to do their work, and are able to go about doing their work like anyone else, without interference (getting stonewalled on funding, peer review boards shutting them out, etc), so that should indicate that anyone who takes such a view can get into science just fine, so long as one has legitimate science to conduct (I know the religious right likes to point to a lot of bad papers or research that didn't get funding or was tossed out of peer review and pretend it's a giant orchestrated conspiracy to keep anti-AGW or "creation science" research from seeing the light of day, but it's clearly nonsense).

Corey said...

Also, as Larryhart says, the lack of coincidence between one being a Republican and one Being a scientist really probably has more to do with scientists not being welcome in the GOP, and not GOPers not being welcome as scientists.

LarryHart said...

Illithi Dragon says:

From what I see, there are only a tiny amount of Republican scientists (note Republican, not conservative) because the GOP has not only given little love to scientists and little praise to science and education in general, but also because they have been directly attacking science and knowledge for decades.


I've thought the same thing for decades now about journalists. Conservatives love to claim that journalists are biased toward liberalism, but to the extent that there is truth there, I don't think it's because journalists are left-wing commies out to wage class warfare. Rather it is the nature OF journalism (skepticism toward authority and digging to get at the REAL truth) which is biased against the tenets of the Republican Party, which tends to be authoritarian. The GOPpers would have one believe that if you don't take GW Bush at his word, you're "biased" against him, whereas I see "not taking at his word" as simply being the essence of journalism.

Science fits that pattern as well.

Tacitus2 said...

LarryHart

I must admit "It's George Lucas' fault" does have a certain flair...

Tacitus2

Robert said...

Yes, it would have been so amusing if Luke missed, but during Han's attack run he launched a torpedo that managed to strike at a sufficient angle to go in and destroy the Death Star, using revised targeting information that had just been transmitted to his ship from the Rebel Alliance, proving that Science triumphs over meta-mystical forces. ;)

But then, that's probably contrary to what Lucas was trying to say and would have diminished Star Wars' appeal as Luke succeeded because God willed it, instead of from the ability and sciences of mankind.

In fact, in many ways the Death Star itself represents science over mysticism. Everyone on the Death Star died... except Darth Vader, who practices mysticism (if a dark form of it).

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

It was all summed up in the line: "Do not become too proud of this technological terror you have created. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force."

In other words, science is an illusion. Magic is real power.

As to the "God willed it" reference, though, I think that applies to the later movies moreso than the original. Luke didn't destroy the DS because of destiny--he had to work hard at it and could easily have failed. The part I'm criticizing (and tounge-in-cheek at that) is that his victory depended upon his abandonment of science and his embrace of a mystical power that (as a Star Wars parody once had it) he only heard about three hours ago.

Robert said...

Microbes in the Gulf of Mexico have mostly eliminated the methane emissions from the Gulf Oil spill. It seems that there's a breed of microbe in the Gulf that loves to eat methane... and dealt with the methane that escaped the Deepwater spill.

I just have to wonder one thing: why aren't we breeding these little microbes to flourish in subarctic conditions and using them to deal with the methane clathates and methane emissions from melting permafrost? (Or are we?)

Rob H.

Corey said...

Robert, my guess would be that there are limitations to the types of environments in which these organisms can thrive.

There's also only so much value to the attempt. Methane isn't insignificant in its impact on climate (if that's your thinking there), and it's a VERY effective greenhouse gas, but as I understand it, even under the worst scenarios it just isn't emitted in large enough quantities (right now) to be anything but a drop in the bucket, likely making it a poor use of finite funds to attempt to curtail those particular emissions.

Robert said...

That's my point. By taking those organisms and slowly lowering the temperature that they thrive in and the conditions in which they live until it resembles that of the permafrost region (and arctic waters for another breed), you will have some of these microorganisms evolve so that they can exist and even flourish under these conditions. By establishing colonies of these microorganisms in the permafrost once they've been developed they may start eliminating these methane deposits which are in fact quite extensive (if there was a method of effectively harvesting it, we would have enough methane to power the entire world for a number of years - the problem being that these deposits are in a vast region and it's not economical to harvest it... while the harm that will occur if and when they release would be immense).

A year or so ago a young man in Canada "created" a microorganism that eats plastic (the stuff that's littering our seas and causing a bit of grief among environmentalists). He did so through selective breeding of microorganisms that slowly ate plastics until one developed that ate plastics at a much higher rate. And this was something an amateur did, not a scientific team. So it can be done.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Anonymous... if it were only scientists who were being savaged by the neocon populist rant machine, that would be one thing. I would be behooved to list mountains of evidence to show that the rationalizations spewed by Fox, to hate and despise the smartest and by far the most honest people, are wrongheaded propaganda.

But I do not have to do any of that. Because the Murdocks are attacking EVERY possible source of expertise that could question the right's magical incantations.

Scientists? Also civil servants, university professors & academics, journalists, school teachers, lawyers, name a source of independent expertise that isn't maligned. Only the US Officer Corps, because they don't dare. Though I know that the bad blood between the GOP and the generals and Admirals is hot and volcanic.

What astounds me is the pretzel-twist rationalizations that folks are willing to engage in, to claim that this war on science has ANY valid basis, at all, even a scintilla. These are the smartest, most knowledgeable, most COMPETITIVE and diverse people in society. Yes, they are portrayed as moronic drones who connive with each other with hand-rubbing glee in order to foist on us false emergencies and ... and... benefit how?

The best were already getting grants, studying true mysteries. Why would they need to concoct anything?

What is boggling is that american idiots don't turn around ad ask, "what do Rupert Murdoch, Saudi princes and the coal mogul Koch brothers get out of drumming up hatred of the experts who might question the policies that a few dozen billionaires have crammed down our throats?"

Ever asked that? Um. Not.

Corey said "Also, as Larryhart says, the lack of coincidence between one being a Republican and one Being a scientist really probably has more to do with scientists not being welcome in the GOP, and not GOPers not being welcome as scientists."

This didn't used to be true. Before 1995, scientists were at least a quarter goppers. Tearing down EVERY independent advisory board that used to serve congress, that was such a blatant act of Know-Nothing insanity that it drove out thousands of scientists... even those who believe in capitalism and small government.

David Brin said...

onward

Corey said...

I'm not old enough to have had the benefit of being able to see the GOP before the present shifts in their attitudes.

I was only 7 in 1995. I think it's to my loss that most of my formative years, of first becoming old enough to understand things like science and politics, all took place with my only real sampling of the GOP being the Bush White House, and his Congress, and Roberts and Alito.

Nevertheless, they are responsible for their views. What they were doesn't in any way excuse what they've become. I can only hope that on the whole people my age don't come to see the Neoconservative or Tea Party movements as an acceptable norm for conservatism.

jqhart said...

David, what you are seeing on Fox is populism, which I won't defend, mixed with a critique of the supposed lack of bias of experts who derive their living, directly or indirectly, from taxes, and yet pretend to be unbiased about government-related issues. I'm not going to defend the ignorant populism but mixed in with it is legitimate and very important point.

"Public" institutions tend to act in their members' self-interests just as private ones do. When education derives almost all its revenue from taxes it is not going to be neutral on the subject of taxes or related issues. Lawyers bias the law to increase their revenue from regulations and lawsuits. Taxpayer-funded scientists derive their revenues from solving actual or alleged problems that the private sector seems to be or is causing or at least not solving. Since this is how they make their living they aren't going to be unbiased about the existence of these problems -- they are going to hype up the problems in order to get more revenue, just as a marketing department hypes products and lawyers spin creative arguments to attack their client's opponent. Scientists are not, as unscientific worshipers of government science like to pretend, unbiased angels who are above such thing. They are humans like the rest of us, they have mortgages or rents to pay like the rest of us, and the political funding process is very corrupting of the scientific method in scientifically difficult areas such as the climate.

There is no mystery about why most scientists are Democrats: their funding comes quite disproportionately from tax revenues -- and even many in the private sector are supported by regulations, e.g. FDA regulations requiring extensive testing. Like everybody else, they know what side their bread is buttered on. And the viewers of Fox know that they are the ones, directly or indirectly, being taxed to supply the butter. To observe this and still claim that government-funded science is an unbiased source of truth is to engage in a superstitious worship of a morally superior priesthood -- the antithesis of the scientific method and, eventually, the destruction of actual science.

It is very unhealthy to portray "civil servants" (what a euphemism for masters wielding the coercive powers of government!) or taxpayer-funded experts generally as unbiased, as opposed to those greedy bastard capitalists and the supposed massive biases created from the evil profit motive. Yet that is the ludicrous attitude of the left -- government employees and institutions unbiased angels, above human biases, and the private sector full of greedy devils.

To get beyond this medieval leftist ideology and look at institutional reality, the _revenue motive_, the motive to get paid, is far more powerful than the profit motive and is common to private and governmental institutions. Furthermore, the concrete biases that spring from revenue and profit motives are very different in different industries, or even among different competitors in the same industry, and unlike most government biases tend to cancel each other out.

So what you are seeing in the Tea Party and the media outlets that cater to the net taxpayers is a reaction to the hubris of the taxpayer-funded experts that they are unbiased priests whose authority should not be questioned. Of course, there is unfortunately plenty of ignorant populism mixed in with this critique, but that doesn't mean that at bottom they don't have a very good point.

jqhart said...

David, what you are seeing on Fox is populism, which I won't defend, mixed with a critique of the supposed lack of bias of experts who derive their living, directly or indirectly, from taxes, and yet pretend to be unbiased about government-related issues. I'm not going to defend the ignorant populism but mixed in with it is legitimate and very important point.

"Public" institutions tend to act in their members' self-interests just as private ones do. When education derives almost all its revenue from taxes it is not going to be neutral on the subject of taxes or related issues. Lawyers bias the law to increase their revenue from regulations and lawsuits.

Taxpayer-funded scientists derive their revenues from solving actual or alleged problems that the private sector seems to be or is causing or at least not solving. Since this is how they make their living they aren't going to be unbiased about the existence of these problems -- they are going to hype up the problems in order to get more revenue, just as a marketing department hypes products and lawyers spin creative arguments to attack their client's opponent. Scientists are not, as unscientific worshipers of government science like to pretend, unbiased angels who are above such things. They are humans like the rest of us, they have mortgages or rents to pay like the rest of us, and the political funding process is very corrupting of the scientific method in scientifically difficult areas such as the climate.

jqhart said...

There is no mystery about why scientists are so disproportionately Democrats: the funding for a very disproportionate number of them comes from tax revenues -- and even many in the private sector have their jobs created by regulations, e.g. food and drug safety regulations requiring extensive testing and thus a larger staff of scientists. Like everybody else, they know what side their bread is buttered on. And the viewers of Fox know that they are the ones, directly or indirectly, being taxed to supply the butter. To observe this and still claim that government-funded science is an unbiased source of truth is to engage in a superstitious worship of the supposed moral superiority of a priesthood -- the antithesis of the scientific method and, eventually, the destruction of actual science.

It is very unhealthy to portray "civil servants" (what a euphemism for masters wielding the coercive powers of government!) or taxpayer-funded experts generally as unbiased, as opposed to those greedy bastard capitalists and the supposed massive biases created from the evil profit motive. Yet that is the ludicrous attitude of the left -- government employees and institutions unbiased angels, above human biases, and the private sector full of greedy devils.

To get beyond this medieval leftist ideology and look at institutional reality, the _revenue motive_, the motive to get paid, is far more powerful than the profit motive and is common to private and governmental institutions. Furthermore, the concrete biases that spring from revenue and profit motives are very different in different industries, or even among different competitors in the same industry, and unlike most government biases tend to cancel each other out.

So what you are seeing in the Tea Party and the media outlets that cater to the people who have to work in the private sector to pay, directly or indirectly, these taxes is a reaction to the hubris of the taxpayer-funded experts that they are unbiased priests whose authority should not be questioned. Of course, there is unfortunately plenty of ignorant populism mixed in with this critique, but that doesn't mean that at bottom they don't have a very good point.

jqhart said...

yes, new oil fields are added when old ones peaks. But they always invariably are smaller and harder to reach.

Um, no. History clearly shows that they usually are larger and easier to reach, due to technological progress and the vagaries of geological discovery. Oil extracted from Texas and California was cheaper than that from Pennsylvania, and that of Saudi Arabia cheaper than Texas and California. Over almost all of the history of oil extraction it has been getting cheaper.

Of course, oil doesn't invariably get cheaper. It's unpredictable, depending on the vagaries of geological discovery and technological progress. Will we figure out a way to cheaply extract from tar sands? From shales? A cheaper way to synthesize gasoline from coal? Will we discover new sources of oil, coal, or clathrates farther out in the deeper ocean or farther below the surface of the earth? We will see, but history shows that we tend to keep discovering new hydrocarbons and the vast majority of the earth's crust remains to be explored, even ignoring the vast amounts of hydrocarbons available on many other planets, moons, and comets.

It is true is that contrary to most of oil history, in the last decade extraction has gotten a bit more expensive. But not much more expensive. The current high oil prices are almost entirely due to the lower value of the dollar, in reaction to the Federal Reserve "printing money" in response to the 2000-3 dot-com bust and the 2006-present credit market problems, not to a greater difficulty in extracting oil. If we look at the gold-to-oil price ratio, or the ratio of the price of oil to the price of other mineral commodities, these ratios are well within the same range that they have been for many decades. And we've been extracting many of these, such as gold, silver, copper, and iron, for thousands of years. Unless you are preposterously arguing for peak everything, all at the same time, the problem with the price of oil is sinking dollar, not peaking oil.

Robert said...

I see denial is not just a river in Egypt. jqhart, did it ever occur to you that there are people out there who are not selfish greedy bastards? People who do their jobs because they love them? People who want to help other people because they consider it... oh, I don't know, the sort of thing their religious or secular icons (Jesus, some of our Founding Fathers, and so forth) would approve of?

From the way you put it, everyone is a greedy bastard who only looks out for him or herself. Which, when you think of it, must be based on a personal philosophy. No doubt you make your trade in the oil industry or some other field where Republican rule is desirable for you, and you feel threatened by the rules and regulations that responsible government wishes to impose on your free ride.

And if I'm wrong about that? Well, you did a fine job of creating that impression with your blind refusal to consider that maybe climate scientists are right, maybe oil prices are going up for Supply/Demand reasons along with Peak Oil concerns, and maybe the Republicans are wrong.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

I'm guessing someone has recently read "Atlas Shrugged".

:)

Corsa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Corey said...

Well I tried to post a comment on one of the above poster's misconceptions about the scientific community, but go figure, Blogger is fighting me tooth and nail, giving random errors everytime I try to post (and now posting them wrongly even when it decides to cooperate). Oh well.

Paul said...

"Unless you are preposterously arguing for peak everything"

Sigh. This is what people don't seem to get, "Peak" is just the result of production. It isn't magic, or ideology. And it's no more debatable than gravity. It is simply a scale-invariant mathematical function that emerges from empirical observation of the production curve of any resource. Whether you are talking about a single mine (or well), or a region, or the world, a pattern always emerges, a bell curve. The "Peak" is just one moment in that pattern. Each resource has its own bell curve, but they all have them.

(Just as people's heights or IQ scores fall into a bell curve, or earthquakes and eruptions into a power law curve, it doesn't matter if you believe in it, or are even aware of it, it just happens.)

You can argue about the reason behind these curves, or about whether a global post-peak curve might work differently than past regional production curves. Or whether one specific resource is different to others. Etc etc etc. But you cannot have a meaningful discussion if you are still trapped in a "Peak Oil is just a Theory!!!one1" mentality.

As to why a number of global production curves seem to be reaching there peak all within 50 to 100 years, (oil, uranium, coal, lithium, etc) regardless of whether they began production millennia ago or mere decades... Remember, there are 6 billion of us, and until just recently our numbers were increasing exponentially. (Another observational curve.) Our usage rates are enormous. It's no coincidence that everything arrives together.