Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thursday Links

  • EIA's new projections for US oil production above.  I haven't really taken any strong position on how big the tight oil is going to get, since I don't understand how to assess it accurately; it's tough because it involves multiplying a pretty large number (the oil in place) by a rather small number (the recovery rate) and the result is necessarily quite uncertain.  The EIA's guess above looks as good as any. 
  • Students demanding universities divest in fossil fuel companies.  Harvard tells them where to stuff it: "We always appreciate hearing from students about their viewpoints, but Harvard is not considering divesting from companies related to fossil fuels." This sounds like a winnable battle: I don't see how any university can consistently defend Harvard's position over a long period of time.  The science is irrefutable, and unlike right-wing politicians, no university can ignore science.  Thus they are left saying "we know fossil fuels are terrible for the planet but we propose to continue investing in them because we are making so much money".  It's a morally weak position and every university administrator is going to feel that in their bones (in a way that a for-profit institution wouldn't).  It may take five years, but if the students keep up the pressure, they will win.
  • Driverless tractors coming along well.  Apparently the beta customer is a 1.5 million(!) acre farm in Brazil.  Supposedly, the problem this is solving is that there are no skilled employees available to drive tractors in rural areas.


kjmclark said...

Prof. Hamilton does a nice analysis of the likelihood of the IEA assumption that consumption will decrease in the OECD in the next decade.

Lars-Eric Bjerke said...


The US shale oil production was discussed at the ASPO-USA conference. The presentations can be found on their homepage in a week. The most optimistic estimate by Laura Atkins was 4 Mb/d by 2020. However that requires a lot of drilling.

Michael Cain said...

Well, at least the EIA and IEA are consistent -- both think that by 2020, eight years from now, the US will be pumping between 2.5 and 3.0 million bbl/day in tight oil.

Greg said...

Climate Progress has a piece on the EIA's new estimates which contains this interesting chart:-

comparison of projections

The chart seems to show a continual fall in predicted emissions from one year's prediction to the next.

To me this is good news: the current combination of high oil price and regulation (CAFE, regulation of sulfur and mercury emissions from power stations) is already doing quite a bit of the work needed.

Apropos autonomous machines, readers might be interested in this recent panel discussion at Techonomy:-

Where's My Robot?

One of the participants was Andrew McAfee, a professor at MIT who co-authored a book called Race Against The Machine.

It seems that at least a few economists are coming round to the view that the "lump of labor fallacy" is itself becoming a fallacy, thanks to the growing applicability of machine learning and robotics.

McAfee says: "... I fully believe and accept that there are going to be new industries, new companies, new economic activity. What I don’t think is there’s going to be new human skills discovered, and the current body of human skills is being encroached on quite quickly."

Unknown said...

Dr Patzek's view is here:

Interesting corrective to the EIA picture

sunbeam said...

About that Where's my Robot link.

I was thinking about the company that is making the $25,000 robots.

Are those things leased? Because I was wondering what happens to all the data that the "programming" inputs.

Lately I've had this thought going through my head when it comes to robots. "What one robot knows, all robots know."

I'm not talking about Skynet or something, simply that if anywhere in the world a way is figured out how to get a robot to do something, then it potentially could be done everywhere.

I know people are going to go all proprietary so they can make money, but I don't think it's going to work.

And at that price the Open Source manufacturing people and hobbyists are going to do all sorts of things. Presumably they would share everything freely.

There is always more than one way to do it. And just knowing that a robot has been demonstrated as being able to do something is a lot of the battle.

I just think this is going to run like wildfire.

Also the guy that said:

"Stathis: I’m not going to debate with an economist and four degrees from MIT. I do want to make a point. Many people do not want to work in the factory lines in America and other parts of the world, and they don’t want to work in unskilled labor. So our children and our next generation is going to school and getting masters degrees and Ph.D.s so they don’t have to do those jobs."

Is he insane, myopic, or does he live in some really controlled environment?

buck smith said...

Here is a link on drilling and production plans btNoblr drilling