Friday, June 10, 2011

There will be no Epilogue

Many of my past 50 posts have made predictions based on scenarios derived from the analysis of data reported by the USA's Energy Information Agency (EIA), the US census bureau, BP's Statistical Energy Review and other free public sources. 

A few recent news releases suggests that these public sources are going away:

EIA must act quickly to realize the necessary spending reductions during the present fiscal year, which is already more than half over. The changes in products and services identified below reflect initial steps to reduce the cost of EIA's program. Additional actions are being evaluated and may result in further adjustments to EIA's data and analysis activities in the near future.
•Curtail efforts to understand linkages between physical energy markets and financial trading.
•Halt preparation of the 2012 edition of EIA's International Energy Outlook.
•Suspend further upgrades to the National Energy Modeling System (NEMS). NEMS is the country's preeminent tool for developing projections of U.S. energy production, consumption, prices, and technologies and its results are widely used by policymakers, industry, and others in making energy-related decisions. A multiyear project to replace aging NEMS components will be halted.

Last month, the Census Bureau released its budget estimates to Congress for FY2012 requesting $1 billion for discretionary spending. Responding to the Administration’s request that all Agencies “curb non-essential administrative spending” and “seek ways to improve the efficiency of programs without reducing their effectiveness,” this is 16% below the annualized FY2011 funding budget authorization under the current Continuing Resolution
It was felt that the popular Statistical Abstract of the United States—the “go to” reference for those who don’t know whether a statistic is available, let alone which agency/department is responsible for it—could be sacrificed. Staff will be moving to “Communications,” digitizing the data set. It is hoped that the private sector—commercial publishers---will see the benefit of publishing some version of the title in the future.
Other publications getting the axe include:...Foreign Research and Analysis
—from U.S. Census Bureau to Eliminate Strategic Publications Including Statistical Abstracts

I am sure that some will cheer at this reduction in government spending as a sign of moving towards reducing the federal budget deficit. 

I agree that there is great merit in living and spending within ones means, from countries to individuals.

However, anyone who cares to look into the problem of federal deficit in the USA, at least, knows that a large part of the deficit is due to the growth of the big three “entitlements:” Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid (Entitlement Spending Must Be Cut, warns Harvard Professor).   

At a time when the public needs to be educated about peak oil and population growth, and how these are root causes of economic decline, it is unfortunate, but perhaps not unexpected, to see these public sources of information disappearing. 

Many of my past series would not have been possible without these information sources.

Some may argue, "you still have the BP statistical Energy Review." 

Yes, this private source publishes annual energy data for many countries, but not all countries.  This private company has had its share of financial problems recently due to its liability for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  If BP were to go bankrupt or even be taken over and merged with another oil company (Shell Considers BP Merger), there is a good chance that the annual Energy Review would be cut altogether, or, at least become a subscription service.   

“You would still have the IEA's World Energy Statistics 2010, right?” 

At €1400 for a CD copy (World Energy Statistics 2010- CD-ROM service ), this is well outside of most private citizen's price range, including mine.  In my opinion, all the information gathered by the IEA should be free anyway, since tax payers have already and paid for this once, in that the IEA's Budget mostly comes from North America and Europe government funding (THE IEA BUDGET). 

Nevertheless, as the economies of North America and Europe contract, and governments cut spending, I expect that funding for international agencies like the IEA will also disappear.  This will at least cause the price for the World Energy Report to rise even higher.  Or, a lack of funding might cause the IEA to shut down altogether.

Often the end of story has an epilogue to present a follow-up comment or conclusion as to what has happened. 

I suspect that the peak oil exports and peak oil story will have no epilogue.

In 2017 when net exports from Africa and South America are likely to end, or, in 2030-35 when global petroleum net exports are likely to end, will there be any way for a private citizen to know if this happened or not? 

We will probably never know, because the information to verify this will either no longer publically available, or, no longer collected.

1 comment:

  1. It is ironic, but not unexpected, that information useful to pinpoint the underlying problem will no longer be available once the problem escalates. At the same time I think that no amount of hard data would persuade people that want to believe in other explanations. And as things get worse, other explanations will pop up like mushrooms after Chernobyl.


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