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The IEA's new peak

Source: Energy Bulletin (by Tom Whipple)

For two weeks now the peak oil portion of cyberspace has been abuzz with commentary on the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) newly released World Energy Outlook 2010. Without missing a beat and without much explanation, the world’s leading compiler of everything about energy has gone from denying that conventional oil production will peak in our lifetime to saying it happened four years ago. Will wonders never cease! The Agency, of course, did not predict an immediate cataclysm, as it managed to conjure up enough undiscovered, undeveloped, lousy quality, and very-expensive-to produce oil to keep the world sort of growing for another 25 years. Needless to say the conjuring was met with much derision from those who believe they can discern the possible from the impossible.

Before getting into the implications of all this, it is well to remind ourselves that, in the case of this particular publication and set of forecasts, the IEA has a nearly impossible mission. Although in theory independent of the 28 national governments that support the Agency, in reality it has many political masters none of which are as yet ready to grapple with the myriad of problems that will occur when their peoples recognize that significant economic contraction is the only possible course ahead.

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