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Although Nelder takes his usual self-righteous tone, calling everyone else a hype artist, his discussion does raise valuable concerns about IEA's new projection. Back when Peak Oil advocates were arguing more consistently over crude oil production, I performed an expert elicitation using techniques developed for the nuclear waste disposal program in the U. S. I concluded that the uncertainties were such that the Peak of global oil production would most likely occur after 2005 (when I did the analysis) and before 2060. My best estimate at the time was 2018, which is in reasonable accord with Mr. Nelder's 2015, given the very large uncertainties that actually exist. At about the same time, I applied the famous Hubbert curve to U. S. crude production as if I were making a prediction each year since 1879. When the curve gave a real answer (sometimes it did not), the prediction was consistently that the peak was past or would happen in less than ten years. Even after the peak, the peak year continues to slide outward in time as a consequence of the asymmetry of the production history. No other predictive model that I am aware of has been subjected to such an analysis. I would suggest that most predictions of the future I have read do not even consider whether their prediction is uncertain, and the actual future is likely to lie within the range of the hotly defended prognostications of the pundits. Humans are addicted to energy, and they will get the cheapest street fix they can. They will also argue that their preferred energy source is the ultimate answer. Advocates of crash programs to convert to renewables should beware that many crash programs do just that - crash. There is an Arab proverb that goes something like, "If you think the problem will be solved in your lifetime, you have not taken on a big enough challenge." The energy transition we are in does not suffer this flaw. I personally have seen enough progress in the past 40 years that, despite the messy complications of capitalism and global and national politics, I have some faith that we will make that transition without the dire consequences of the Club of Rome predictions, but not without some hardship. We certainly will not arrive there without there being more pious and ardent proclamations from pundits like Mr. Nelder.
Posted by JeremyBoak