Friday, January 13, 2006

Ruppert v. Corsi

Last night Michael Ruppert debated Jerry Corsi on Coast to Coast. The topic was whether oil was formed through biological processes, which means that it is finite; or abiotically, which means it is a renewable resource. At the end of the debate the poll showed that 62% of the listeners bought the abiotic argument, leaving 32% potentially concerned about peak oil. I was not surprised by the numbers.

It was not, as folks on the Oil Drum open thread surmised, because Ruppert brought his conspiracy theory doom and gloom perspective and Corsi promised Americans a brighter future. It was the quality of the debate itself, and it boiled down to science. Corsi came across authoritatively, and offered logical scientific-sounding explanations for how oil is created deep within the earth and seeps up to be drilled. Ruppert could not explain how oil is made from biological processes.

After 2 hours of debate, the first caller's question summed up the problem in a nutshell. He asked how did the dinosaurs turn into oil? And how many of them did there have to be to make all the oil? He explained he was a hunter, and saw decomposing bodies, and they weren't turning into oil.

Ruppert got a bit defensive and said nobody ever said oil came from dinosaurs. (Well the oil companies did. I remember the advertisement well. "Some dinosaur gave his or her all to give you gas" with a cartoon of a dinosaur peeking out of the tank). The caller admitted he had missed 20 mins of the show. Ruppert said that it was plankton covered over with sediment. He did not talk about pressure or temperature of chemical reactions.

Then it was Corsi's turn. He said that the dinosaur belief was part of the cultural imagination and agreed with the man that bodies do not decompose into oil, the decompose into constituent chemicals. (Earlier he made the point that you can't create higher energy carbons from carbons except abiotically.) He basically validated the caller while Ruppert seemed to be impatient with him.

Corsi kept repeating his message clearly and forcefully. His claims are that all oil is abiotic, we will never run out of oil, and peak oil is a hoax supported by the oil companies who just want to jack up the prices. He added that none of predictions ever made about the end of oil were true, and could never be true.

Ruppert clearly was expecting to debate different issues. He was prepared to prove that the rate of abiotic oil, if it existed, would have to be keeping up with demand, which it wasn't. He was waiting to talk about the three oil fields that are used as evidence by other abiotic proponents and show that they were abject failures.

He did not expect to be told that we have abundant oil, that there were billions in reserves that the oil companies were just sitting on, that they weren't exploring or building refineries on purpose--just to keep the price high. In other words, all they had to do was look a little deeper (8 to 10 miles down instead of 6) and we would find all the oil we needed. Technology would save the day by making this possible.

And Corsi had the very compelling evidence of corporate greed with the record breaking profits garnered by the oil companies last year.

Ruppert tried to counter this by saying (and I am paraphrasing loosely here) "the would never let the economy go to hell in a handbasket--it would ultimately hurt them." But the listeners were not persuaded. One caller pointed to the CEO of Enron milking every last dime while he could.

The argued over depletion (North Sea, Indonesia, Cantarell) vs. increasing reserves (Iran, Khazakistan) and Corsi made the point that Simmons was wrong when he predicted that the Saudis could not produce over 10 million barrels a day--he says they are at 11-point-something with plans for 15.

Corsi blindsided Ruppert by claiming that the Tiger fields in Vietnam are not on sedimentary rock. He said the Russians and Petrol Vietnam are drilling to 8 miles and producing 100 million barrels a day. Ruppert countered that the crust could be folded there but Corsi was adamant that it was on bedrock.

The one scientific appeal that Ruppert made was that if oil was abiotic it would have to "crack" at 275 degrees into natural gas as it was rising through the mantel where pressure would be decreased. He said it would all be natural gas. (I don't understand how biotic oil wouldn't have the same problem.)

In short, he failed to make his case. And with their audience, it showed. (Gawd what if Corsi wants to run for President someday. Ick!)

So this is what we have to deal with. We need to be able to counter Corsi's argument. I have my homework set out for me. Any suggestions?

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