Thursday, June 17, 2010

Global Warming and probability Distribution

Here is a really sensible post on global warming from someone who is a phd physicist, but only an informed layperson on the specific subject of climate science.  

We live with uncertainty on the total amount of global warming induced by a given increment of greenhouse gases.  The truth is best expressed as a bell curve.  The value with the highest probability is near the center of the curve, but there is some much lower probability that a value close to the left or right sides of the bell curve might end up being the truth.  After studying the matter for some time, the author believes that the center of the bell curve is probably about where the IPCC says it is.  However, his version of the curve is much flatter, because it is human nature to be more sure of a conclusion when you are the one doing the science. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Gull Island Oil Field

Re: Lindsey Williams and the Gull Island oil field.

I was at the library desk today. (It looks like it will not close, but the county Sups will vote 6/22)

Anyway, there was a stack of typed paper stubs there advising us to google "The energy non-crisis," and Lindsey + Williams. When I showed these to Cheryl behind the desk, she was a little embarrassed and decided not to leave them out. It definitely was not something the library endorsed. But I took one and looked it up, just out of curiosity.

Lindsey Williams is a Baptist minister and was a chaplain during construction of the Alaska pipeline in the 1970's. In a video and an out of print book titled "The Energy non-crisis," he claims that a super-giant oil field capable of producing about 2 million barrels per day was discovered on Gull Island, somewhere near Prudhoe Bay, but that this discovery was suppressed by the government.   He says this field would supply the US with 200 years worth of oil.

A writer for the Kalamazoo Gazette tried to get to the bottom of this. . Here is her story
The writer, Joyce Pines, says she and her intern found 106,000 Google hits for Gull Island Oil, but they all traced back to Williams. Some of her information is inaccurate. According to other sources, there is a Gull Island in Prudhoe Bay, and there has been some drilling there.

However, if such a field did exist, it would be one of the biggest fields in the world, but would still be able to supply only 10% of the United States' oil consumption, and 2.5% of the world's consumption.

Here is an article from a petroleum industry magazine that gives actual data on the production from three wells drilled in the Gull Island area. It says the biggest pool in the area is currently being pumped, and has produced 396 million barrels, with an estimated 164 million barrels remaining recoverable. Contrast this with Williams' claim that there are 1.2 trillion barrels in this field.

The very conservative Free Republic website contains most of this same information. This is a site that is generally pro-drilling.

There is nothing about this supposedly suppressed oil discovery on the main urban legend sites, but this would qualify as mostly legend, with a small underlying grain of truth. There were three test wells drilled on Gull Island, which showed some oil there, but the total amount was about 1,000 times less than claimed by preacher and conspiracy theorist Lindsey Williams.

The internet is a fertile ground for spreading conspiracy rumors, but interested researchers can usually find both sides of a story, and ferret out the truth. 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Peak Oil Coming, Says EIA

The graph in this article is similar to others.  The nost noteworthy aspect is that it comes from the EIA, the statistical branch of the Department of Energy.  Of course the demand line is based on a price assumption.  Actual quantity demanded will go down to match the available supply.  . 

However, as the following graph shows, oil discoveries have declined drastically from a peak in the 1960's.