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Dec 2, 2009

Video of the Day: Tony Abbott doesn't know what "peak oil" is

New Opposition Leader Tony Abbott struggles with the "arcane concept" of peak oil at the Sydney Writers' Festival: [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v


New Opposition Leader Tony Abbott struggles with the “arcane concept” of peak oil at the Sydney Writers’ Festival:



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37 thoughts on “Video of the Day: Tony Abbott doesn’t know what “peak oil” is

  1. Phil

    Now that is a worry, and to make it worse he’s is now the opposition leader OMG!

  2. Colin Jacobs

    Oh dear… More competition is the answer to peak oil? God help us.

  3. scottyea

    What a Muppet.
    Yes, God help us.

  4. Dr Strangelove

    The man finds the ‘arcane concept’ of natural resources being finite ‘implausible’.

    I wonder if clean coal will be joined by renewable oil reserves as part of the COALition’s climate policy platform for next year?

  5. Scott

    This myth again? When people mention “Peak Oil”, they forget the rules of supply and demand.
    Oil Supplies are found all the time, but no effort is made to harness them as the cost benefit isn’t there yet. However when oil supplies decrease due to increased demand, the price of oil increases causing the cost benefit analysis to change. Drilling the oil becomes a profitable option.
    Also don’t forget Germany in WW2 introduced technology to turn basic coal into oil (as it didn’t have extensive oil supplies to fuel it’s war machine). It’s expensive to do so, but again if the oil price increases, these things become profitable. Alternatively there are billions of barrels tied up in Oil Sands and Oil Shale in Canada and the US which again can be turned into oil.
    Plenty of environmental things to worry about, but Peak Oil is not one of them

  6. Mr Squid

    The problem with oil sands and shale oil is their monster envronmental impact, making peak oil one of the most important environmental considerations, especially in relation to CPRSs and ETSs. Which is why Abbott’s astonishing ignorance is such a dangerous thing.

  7. David Ingram

    Oh dear. I wish I hadn’t seen this.

  8. S G

    Wow. This is almost 2 years old. Crikey has dug deep into the desperation bag with this one.

    I was at this actual event and it would be helpful if the person who edited this clip to 2 minutes actually let it run the full hour or so that it went for, as it really isn’t fair to both Manne or Abbott’s responses.

    The other thing that was interesting about the event was the amount of hissing and gnashing of teeth that was going on in the crowd before Abbott even got to speak. You lot really are a predictable clique.

  9. Brian Kelly

    About as predictable as you lot S G

  10. Brian Kelly

    Excuse for what? Do you mob think you are the only ones entitled to an opinion

  11. Chris Stewart

    Tony, oh dear. I hear yet again the desperate rationalisations against concrete facts of physical existence. The concept that a higher price makes alternative sources of oil viable is also subject to a very clear limitation: once it takes more energy to extract/produce an energy source, it becomes a redundant, at best, exercise. Shale oil and forms of conversion into oil, each face the “energy J curve.” We may well, in our stupidity, use more energy from other sources (say coal) to produce less energy in the form of oil. But you’ve got to wonder, isn’t there a more economic way to do this? This is even before we get into environmental degradation, public health impacts, climate change etc.

  12. Mr Squid

    He was abusing women two years ago – does that make it any less of a failing?

  13. S G

    This thread is awesome. Go Crikey!

    ECHO.. ECHO.. ECHOOOOOOOO….. Chamber.

  14. Harry Goldsmith

    You just have to go to Lateline in the past week or so and hear Tony’s admission that all he knows about climate change is what he has picked up from talking to others. He gave the impression he has only had casual conversations. For such a mover and a shaker, this was a terrible admission and should be rebroadcast.

  15. Bruce

    Remarkably ill-informed for someone who was a Rhodes Scholar.

  16. phil

    [About as predictable as you lot S G]

    Actually if anything the insane decision (im my opinion) to make Abbott the leader clearly shows that the Liberal Party is now anything but predictable.
    If I was the NSW State Labor party I’d be trying to get on record how the NSW Liberal leader feels about his Party’s new federal leader and that leader’s views on abortion, the pill, RU486, workchoices etc. Drive a wedge.

  17. Roberto Tedesco

    SG – on loan from the Tim Blair gang of fools.

    Tip top stuff from Tony. He’d be better off keeping to the surf.

  18. alan tidwell

    Well, that was clear, now, on to climate change….

  19. Broggly

    Interestingly, Peak Oil has occured before with Whale Oil. Fossil Fuels replaced whale oil, just as something (hopefully renewables, Uranium has its problems and taking the very long view is just putting off the problem of peak fuel)

    I don’t expect “Save the Oil Rigs” to become very important in the late 21st century though.

  20. jmorawa

    How poorly ill-informed can he be. Also for Scott’s interest, peak oil has is about to occur for cheap easily accessibly oil. The forms you mentioned will see oil prices rise significantly higher before they become cost-effective. There is a lot out there but the cost and impact on the market will be significant. Australia will be hit very hard and sadly if our leaders have no idea there is no priority to be pro-active…..

  21. peach1

    I am always bewildered top people, including, here don’t seem to accept that the earth’s resources are finite.
    What will AUS do when the holes in the ground are empty? Of course it will not happen now but that gives those who live in the now and want to consume as much as possible a false sense of security.
    What about future generation? I can envisage a time when the people in this country will be forced to live like the Aborigines, ie. as hunter-gatherers.

    The real problem lays with a generation selfish, greedy and obsessed with consumerism. Future generations will describe them as mongrels who stuffed up the country.

  22. peach1

    Sorry about a typo above “top et all”was meant to be ‘that people , including here, don’t……”

  23. beachcomber

    SG, this may be 2 years old but it is quite important to revisit.

    Peak Oil has been an issue for many years, and it is telling that a Senior Minister in the Howard Government had no idea what the term meant.

    The clip also shows that he is happy to make a case against something that he does not understand. His immediate reaction is to dismiss Peak Oil as wrong, much the same as his reaction to Climate Change.

  24. sean

    No Ones mentioned the fact that Peter Van Oslen the OZ journalist doesn’t know what Peak Oil is either. I went to uni with the guy about 5 years ago (in a master course) and he certainly wasn’t the sharpest pencil in the pack. The gene pool is so shallow for right wing commentators that anyone who makes a noise that way and can hold a pen get ushered into the mainstream commentariate.

  25. Scott

    PEACH1, you forget the role economics plays and the price signals that alter behaviour.
    We will never run out of oil (or any resource for that matter). The reason things have a price is that there is a scarcity value. If things were unlimited, there would be no price (i.e sunshine, air) If the oil reserves reduce and price starts climbing, will our economy be affected? Of course, just look at the recessions of the 1970’s when OPEC raised oil prices on a whim. However these recessions also had major impacts on how we used Oil, especially in regards to Cars. Japan, once ignored by world buyers of automobiles, experienced a boom as their car designs were extremely fuel efficient. Now Toyota is the no 1 car company. When prices go up, we adapt to make do with less, or cheaper alternatives are found. That is the way economics is supposed to work.
    BTW Australia does more than just dig up resources. Check the ABS website year books; mining and resources only account for around 9% of GDP these days…most of our GDP is in services.

  26. J_A.

    Depressing. Obviously, this is a man who understands a little bit about money, and nothing else. The fact that he tried to bluff his way through a question he didn’t understand just goes to show that he wants to be leader, but doesn’t know how to actually lead.

    Read more of my thoughts on this evil man:


    You know what really get’s to me at the moment about the climate change argument…???

  27. MASH


    Scott, Scott, Scott….

    they are called “non-renewable resources” because by definition *they run out and never come back*

    The earth does not care about scarcity value/economics/price signals.

    That “service economy” that you hold in such high esteem completely and absolutely depends on cheap energy to function.


  28. Brian Kelly

    ” If things were unlimited, there would be no price (i.e sunshine, air)”

    Scott, do you have even a passing relationship with logic or reality? There is no monetary cost to sunshine or air because they do not need to be extracted. There is, however, an enormous human cost for these two elements given the amount of air pollution and the hole in the ozone layer. Also, they are not unlimited as the sun will eventually die and air of sufficient quality to sustain life needs to be nurtured not abused. Economics is not the be all and end all of human existence.
    There will always be a monetary cost for any resource, whether finite or infinite, if it needs to be extracted.

  29. Scott

    People, One final comment before I head off for the weekend..Can you think of any resource we have ever run out of? We have been on the earth for quite a few years now, you would think that we would have run out of some resources by now. Yet we still cruise along quite happily. Co-incidence? Or do you think economics may have played a role. (BTW, If you want a more referenced economic argument against the concept of “Peak Oil”, http://www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/regv27n1/v27n1-1.pdf

  30. Brian Kelly

    Sophistry is obviously your strongest point.

  31. Phil

    “Can you think of any resource we have ever run out of?”
    Judging by most of the AGW comments, I would say intelligence is getting scarce.
    Ask the Easter Islanders; check out some of the old mining towns around the world.
    Let’s just wait for your god to come back and sort it out, shall we?

  32. Scott

    Phil – I thought it was the scurge of the 1800’s (old fashioned genocide and smallpox) that wiped out the Easter Islanders. Check this scientific paper http://www.staff.livjm.ac.uk/spsbpeis/EE%2016-34_Peiser.pdf
    As for the old mining towns, read the link in my post above. A lot of these mines would still have resources present, but the cost/benefits are not there to continue mining. Like European Coal.
    As for God, I don’t think he has anything to do with it. Rely on economics before God.

  33. MASH

    Scott, the cato article you linked to does a pretty good job of proving my point.

    By the way, it makes use of IEA data. You might want to look at the recent news about IEA whistleblowers.

  34. jackle

    I thought that price was a function of supply, not vice versa. Forget peak oil; Tony struggles with the most basic of economics, it would appear.

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