Sunday, May 17, 2009

T. Boone Pickens...

Peak Oil folks love this guy: T. Boone Pickens. Perhaps you've seen his commercials on TV for the "Pickens Plan"? Since I'm at work, which means I stay at the hospital in the old Nurses Dorm, I have time to read. I picked up this tome, part autobiography, part energy tract, at the library to peruse in my free time.

First the good parts of the book: I like the style of the writing. It is quite populist. Country Oklahoman in style. I also liked it when he admitted that he got depressed during his divorce in the later 90's. He fully admits that anti-depressant medications helped him. Even billionaires get the blues.

Unfortunately, that is about all I have to say that I liked about the book.

Reading this book was way outside my normal reading material. I have never, ever read a book written by a billionaire. I have never, ever read a book by a man who calls Ronald Reagan our "greatest President". Reading this book made me feel like I was wearing a Parka to a sun drenched, Beach Volleyball game. Out of place.

And repugnant. In the biography section, it is quite apparent that for oil executives, morality and environmentalism just isn't a part of their experience. Not on their radar. It is a good ole boy network. He calls this frat friend and that golf buddy to gather his capital. The only morality he embraces is dedicated to investors. He saw that stockholders were being ripped off by executives who kept their stocks valued too low. For Pickens, his best moral behavior was to lift corporate stock prices.

As for his energy plan for America? Here you can see how the populist, American, entrepreneurial, corporate class (as opposed to the multi-national corporate class) wants to deal with Peak Oil. Change transportation to natural gas (an industry that Pickens has huge investments in). Embrace wind energy (as long as they are on huge, ugly, wind farms). Keep everything centralized and Mega in scale. Develop clean coal. Go Nuclear!

He writes nothing of conservation; very little about solar. He writes nothing about redesigning cities, nor mass public transit. He writes nothing about greening agriculture. He ignores geothermal and tidal power. He ignores small scale community local investments in clean energy.

Just because he thinks that Oil has Peaked in production, doesn't mean that he should be a hero to the Lefty Peak Oil crowd. In fact, I think he has done us a favor by revealing which way the corporatists want to go. Be afraid. Be very afraid.


Ian Woofenden said...

Hi Allan,

The ONLY part I like of what I've heard about TBP's plan is utility-scale wind. We need lots and lots of this, for many reasons, including that it's much LESS ugly than the alternatives.

Beyond that, I'm with you on decentralized renewable energy, but we need to be aware of how much more expensive the small-scale stuff is. The best plan in my opinion is more RE on all scales.

I'm not much for "god talk" -- I don't think any centrally planned energy scheme is going to work well.

But if I were an energy god, I'd move toward the electrification of our transportation systems.



Allan Stellar said...

Hi Ian,

Thanks for responding.. :)

At the risk of looking foolish (in front of a wind expert)--don't you think that some places where they have chosen to put in some large scale wind farms, such as the development outside of Palm Springs in southern California--solar panels on all those ugly houses on those suburban roofs might make more sense? Spare the raptors in those canyons? Decrease the eyesore?

But you are right--we do need all the wind power we can get.



Ruahines said...

Kia ora Allen,
Though I agree wind power is a part of any sane solution to sustainability witht the Earth, I agree that solar power is a much more efficient and reliable way to go. Here in New Zealand we have power companies bullying local councils into erecting more and more wind farms, and intruding closer and closer into wild and pristine areas. This I am against and we are fighting hard to prevent it happening. Today it was announced that NZ power companies have over charged its customers by some 4 billion dollars over the past 6 years, simply because they could. So the "clean and green" stance put up behind wind farms is more about profits and green house tax credits for them, than any real concern about the environment, in my humble view. As I wrote above, I am not against wind power as part of the solution, but we must look carefully at what is behind them. Have a great day.