8 September 2010

Abiogenesis Oil Myth Still Inexplicably Hanging Around

One of the issues I dealt with in my new book, A User's Guide to the Crisis of Civilization, was the abiogenesis oil theory, which has often been used by critics of 'peak oil' arguments to suggest (I'm oversimplifying now) that oil is mineral in origin, and is continuously self-replenishing.

The truth is that the way self-styled 'peak oil' sceptics use abiogenesis theory is actually quite far apart from the way its main proponents, such as Thomas Gold, did so - who implicitly acknowledged that even if the theory were true, it wouldn't really avert peak oil in practicality. Putting it simply, we would all be swimming in oil if the 'strong' proponents of abiogenesis were right - that oil self-replenished on such a massive continuous scale, it would be enough to avert peak oil. As that's not the case, the theory is simply irrelevant.

I just came across this ridiculous, hysterical article at the misnamed "Climate Realists" regurgitating much of the same absurdities about abiogenesis oil theory. There are many decent websites which show how the peer-reviewed scientific literature refutes the claims made on sites like these. One I'd recommend is Skeptical Science, which is basically an excellent resource, and came in handy when tracking down some of the most prominent 'sceptic' arguments that I systematically refuted in my book.

The article's stale argument is that Russia is experiencing a massive oil bonanza because they're the only ones that recognize the deep 'truth' of abiogenesis oil generation and therefore have been able to exploit this special knowledge that our own Western oil industries "sinisterly" deny.

This is the comment I posted in response:

"Yes, the Russians have thousands of so-called peer-reviewed papers all proving that peak oil is a myth.

That's why Russian oil production peaked in 2008 according to Leonid Fedun, vice-president of LUKOIL, Russia's largest independent oil company.

That's also why Viktor Khristenko, Russia's energy minister admits that the future of Russian production looks like "plateau, stagnation."

The idea of "realism" on this website clearly equates to neurotic naval-gazing."

I really don't have time for this sort of thing, but I just couldn't help myself. If you want to have a more detailed analysis, do check out the book.


  1. Peak oil is exacerbated by policy realities in resource wars that are waged at least partially to create artificial scarcity. (See: Iraq, and, coming soon, Iran)

  2. Denial is one of the strongest responses to crises that threaten business as usual, life as usual. People are simply not made to engage with change let alone preempt it. We are going to see a lot more climate change, peak oil, systems collapse denial in the coming decades. But over the past decade i have come to the realisation that although it is wasted effort doing what you just did, we do have to engage with it at some level. War over peaked resources could only be one of the human issues to manage, the other could be the damaging effects of discord and overall failure to get the political consensus required to effect real solutions to the problems. If we faced the issues and got political agreement we might stand a chance but if we are faced with 3 billion deniers what hope is there?


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