Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fred Singer's Lousy Prediction on Oil

Here's an article from the January 7, 1981 Calgary Herald where Fred Singer predicts a sharp decline in world oil usage:

Needless to say this was completely wrong -- world oil consumption is now over 80 million barrels a day.

Singer is giving a seminar on climate change this Monday at Portland State University. Perhaps this will come up.


charlesH said...


The last paragraph:

"Conversion from fuel oil.... many countries ..... France .... nuclear energy instead of fuel oil to produce electricity."

This of course happened in France (nuclear instead of fuel oil) and partially in the US (coal instead of fuel oil ). In the US nuclear was blocked by the environmental left so coal was substituted for fuel oil.

So he got it wrong on transportation (I have no idea what he was thinking) but got it right (partially ) on electricity.

David Appell said...

>> So he got it wrong on transportation (I have no idea what he was thinking) but got it right (partially ) on electricity. <<

Partially right on one small point doesn't make up for being completely wrong on the big picture.

charlesH said...

He got it completely right on electricity which is not a small point.

The environmental left blocked nuclear so the US went with coal. This will not be repeated in China. China will go nuclear/LFTR. They are not hindered with anti nuclear politics.

What will the US do? Probably use more nat gas for electricity and transportation. It seems likely the trucking industry is going to go LNG/CNG. This will be a positive step forward in reducing foreign oil dependence.

How about PHEV for me (and thee)? I'm hopeful, but right now it costs way too much for me to make the switch. I'm looking for my next car to be 40mpg gas/cng.

cbp said...

CharlesH: What are talking about? The only prediction Singer made about electricity he got spectacularly wrong. The only thing he got right was an observation of the current state of affairs in 1981 - that's not a prediction nor a great feat of science - that's just reading the newspaper.

And another thing, opposition to nuclear power was already strong across the world, and not just from the 'environmental left', but from all walks of life. Ironically nuclear flourished in the one country where popular opposition was most intense. Besides, popular opposition to nuclear power has by no means been the primary reason nuclear power hasn't flourished. Nuclear power has always been expensive and difficult, and with cheap coal, existing infrastructure and existing government subsidies, nuclear has never been an attractive option, commercially-speaking.

Gavin said...

He made the same predictions in the WSJ - for instance, "The Coming Revolution in World Oil Markets", Wall Street Journal, Feb 4, 1981.

This and other cornucopian musings gets a mention in Oreskes and Conway's Merchants of Doubt.

Brian said...

Singer and The Breakthrough Institute were clearly made for each other.