free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 421. OIL DRUM CENSORING ARTICLES

Sunday, September 06, 2009

421. OIL DRUM CENSORING ARTICLES

It seems this article by Lionel Badal was too hot for the Oil Drum to handle. I have to admit it's a little bizarre to see the Oil Drum suddenly so eager to paint the IEA in a good light. Is Gail a traitor to the cause of PO? Has TOD has been co-opted by moles from BAU and Team Yergin? The whispering has begun: "TOD has a hopelessly rose-colored view of OOIP and Alt resources..." Stay tuned...
P.S.

This article was originally submitted to The Oil Drum[27] (one of the leading Peak Oil news webpage). While the editors initially accepted to publish the article, at the very last moment they changed their mind. In other words, an article on Peak Oil was censored by… The Oil Drum (TOD). The reasons why?

“I know there are at least a few people who think we should be putting the IEA in as favorable light as we can. So I have decided not to run it…” (Gail the Actuary, Editor, 2 September 2009).

However, to be fair with TOD, some of their members did not support this action:

“Sorry to hear about what's going on regarding your article and TOD… 1) this is something that TOD should publish, and 2) this kind of censorship, as you point out, isn't something that we should take any part in.” (Jeff Vail, 2 September 2009).

At the end, they wouldn’t accept it. If even TOD starts to censor information on Peak Oil…

To put it in the words of Steve Connor, Science Editor of The Independent, “What an odd thing for Oil Drum to be worried about -- so much for the independent journalism of the internet.”
*****
As you can see, the article was accepted by The Oil Drum, but then (at the very last moment) cancelled…

From: Gail Tverberg [GailTverberg@comcast....
Sent: 01 September 2009 15:52
To: Badal, Lionel
Subject: Re: article on Peak Oil and the IEA

My current plans are to put it up tomorrow. Since it involves a
European issue, I may put it up late tonight, so it is up for your
morning tomorrow.

BUT:

From: Gail Tverberg
Date: September 2, 2009 9:04:27 AM EDT
To: "Badal, Lionel"
Subject: Re: article on Peak Oil and the IEA

Lionel,

I have your post ready, but after thinking about it, I started worrying. The IEA folks are in a terrible position. I worry that we will make things even worse for them. The result could be people losing their jobs, or even suicide.

I know there are at least a few people who think we should be putting the IEA in as favorable light as we can.

So I have decided not to run it, at least not for now. Nate pointed out to me that it is well documented, so from that point of view it is not a problem.

I should have thought this through better before.

Gail

Update 9/8/2009:
The above text criticizing the Oil Drum has now been deleted from Badal's article. A thread on TOD's handling of this article (at TOD) is here.

by JD

33 Comments:

At Sunday, September 6, 2009 at 8:42:00 AM PDT, Blogger Barba Rija said...

While the censorship is ridiculous, I find the article completely over the top. This interview is telling:

Mr. Rech, who was a key contributor to the 2008 WEO, clearly recognised the reality and seriousness of the impending crisis (yes, Peak Oil is real and yes, ASPO is likely to be right). As an example, he declared that:

“What we understand today by mobility, such as spending a weekend at 1000 km, maybe in 20 years, the height of exoticism will be to go on a weekend at 20km of distance”


O RLY?!?

 
At Sunday, September 6, 2009 at 8:44:00 AM PDT, Blogger Barba Rija said...

Ok, forget what I said, the rest of the article is totally doom-porn fest, Mad Max style.

 
At Sunday, September 6, 2009 at 9:12:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Michael Brooker said...

The big question though is: why would The Oil Drum censor bad news?

 
At Sunday, September 6, 2009 at 9:29:00 AM PDT, Anonymous ST said...

Two points:

First, this is editorial bias, not censorship - censorship is authority disallowing publication, not an editor deciding against publication.

Second, the quotes seem to paint the relevant editor as having an enormously inflated view of her own importance. The idea that the head of the IEA will be fired or commit suicide because of a story TheOilDrum.com does or does not run is laughable.

Delusions of personal importance are fun, but they're no substitute for a clear perspective on reality, especially when it comes to credibility on peak oil.

 
At Sunday, September 6, 2009 at 9:33:00 AM PDT, Blogger DB said...

JD,

I love this blog but I think you may have dropped the ball on this one. If the oil drum is in fact censoring this article it doesn't back up our belief that the oil drum is a doomer site.
The reason is this guy badal if you read his articles is an extreme doomer. His position in a nutshell is hard crash between now and 2015 couple with no mitigation strategies work.

To my eyes that's dieoff which is so full of holes it's unbelievable.

Are you suddenly becoming a doomer JD or did you just drop the ball on this one?

DB

 
At Sunday, September 6, 2009 at 11:18:00 AM PDT, Anonymous HalfEmpty said...

This is very difficult, but if you look at it from the viewpoint of a trained, umm, trained actuary it's easy to see that, what must be done will be done and it makes sense for all of us to accept this. I look for graphs to chart the truth of this, it's all probable. Srsly.
-----------------------------------
Pompus semi-Math
Snipped
--------------------------

L
O
L

 
At Sunday, September 6, 2009 at 11:50:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do we know the Oil Drum hasn't been engaging in censorship all along?

-- Anaconda

 
At Sunday, September 6, 2009 at 12:55:00 PM PDT, Blogger popmonkey said...

alright. this is about the weirdest TOD related thing i've seen yet.

i have no idea what it means. anyone?

 
At Sunday, September 6, 2009 at 5:35:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

DB, it's just a human interest story. I like to air dirty laundry.... what can I say? :-)

It surely is weird that TOD is censoring bad news. I've noticed TOD (at least the articles) getting less doomer over time, and that's been a welcome trend. In fact, it saves me a lot of work and aggravation when they tone down the doomer hype.

On the other hand, Gail's actions can't be going down well with the doomer faithful within the POD staff and membership.

 
At Sunday, September 6, 2009 at 8:53:00 PM PDT, Blogger OptimisticDoomer said...

TheOilDrum thinks the IEA gives a shit what they think and would even fire people over what they say AND drive people to suicide... that is comedy gold LOL. Their egos are even more massive than I could have possibly imagined.

 
At Sunday, September 6, 2009 at 9:26:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

maybe in 20 years, the height of exoticism will be to go on a weekend at 20km of distance

The average cruising speed of a bicycle is about 25km/hour. Clearly the guy from the IEA didn't think that comment through at all.

 
At Monday, September 7, 2009 at 2:02:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Dave said...

"How do we know the Oil Drum hasn't been engaging in censorship all along?"

Oh, they certainly have been. Numerous moderate posters, including several posters who show up here from time to time, have been banned from TOD for expressing optimistic views.

 
At Monday, September 7, 2009 at 8:08:00 AM PDT, Blogger DB said...

"Numerous moderate posters, including several posters who show up here from time to time, have been banned from TOD for expressing optimistic views."

This is true. I haven't been threatened with a ban, but I've had my comments described as "unhelpful" by Gail.

DB

 
At Monday, September 7, 2009 at 9:26:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Babun said...

Perhaps the folks at TOD wanted us to believe (heck, i sure did when i read that article in the independent) that IEA's new take on peak oil was 2020. I thought it was for all liquids too when i read it.

But disregarding the whole censorship thing, i think IEA's reports and statements have been something resembling schizophrenia and stupidity lately. Mild comments on all of the speculation business, soothing reports versus worried statements and interviews, and stupid explanations regarding changes in WEO (check links below)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/video/2008/dec/15/fatih-birol-george-monbiot

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/raymond-j-learsy/the-international-energy_b_260633.html

All in all, I think monbiot is right in pressing Birol in that interview, you'd really expect more from such a prestigeous and vitally important organization.

 
At Monday, September 7, 2009 at 2:34:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Brother Cadfan said...

Hi all,

Quite a few others have rightly pointed out that the rather large decline rates referred to in the IEA report are due to various deep sea projects that have quite high decline rates, and represent quite a small fraction of total production.

Considering how important the IEA it seems they seem paralysed and unable to agree or offer advice on anything. There are a few other points that must be raised. It would not surprise me in the least that the Independent newspaper misquoted Birol. The Indy is a left wing newspaper with environmentalist sympathies (anti-aviation etc etc) - not that there is anything necessarily wrong with that. Also, it should be so noted that Birol worked for OPEC for many years.

 
At Monday, September 7, 2009 at 2:58:00 PM PDT, Blogger bc said...

Haven't been to TOD for a while, but the editors seemed to diverge from the readership a long time ago, and more or less abandoned the site to the doomeristic punters. The "Drumbeats" probably ruined TOD.

Some of the editors developed a less doomy outlook but are now afraid to comment lest get flamed by the readers. Tighter editorial control would help the site a lot. All that "imminent disaster" stuff must surely lead to some sort of burn out. Perhaps they are trying to avoid "doing a Ruppert".

 
At Monday, September 7, 2009 at 5:34:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

The text criticizing the Oil Drum has now been deleted from Badal's article. A thread on TOD's handling of this article (at TOD) is here

 
At Monday, September 7, 2009 at 5:37:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

Some at TOD are now wondering out loud if Gail is an industry plant. Meanwhile, she's now claiming that FF are going to literally "vanish".

******
You say it isn't logical FF are going to vanish. I would argue with that. We have a highly networked system that we are using now--including finance, international trade, and manufacturing of high tech equipment from around the world. If this networked system fails, then it seems to me we will see basically three levels.

1. Where we are now.

2. Huge step down, to what can be done without finance, international trade, and manufacturing of high tech equipment, except with what equipment has already been manufactured, and what oil can be obtained from local sources, or through barter in the international market. There will be a little oil, gas and coal. I wouldn't count on Hawaii getting any of this.

3. As equipment degrades and cannot be replaced with new (because international manufacturing requires systems that can no longer be supported, we will fall back to what fossil fuels can be obtained through low tech methods--coal that can be knocked down with a pick, and carried out by hand, for example. Heavy oil that is near the surface, perhaps for tarring the outside of a ship.
*****

 
At Monday, September 7, 2009 at 11:44:00 PM PDT, Anonymous SL said...

This is far more complex than even you suspect. My friend at NrCan claims that a faction at IEA supports TOD under the table (with data etc) and over time wants to use various media to cushion disparity between their public documents and the current reality. A forthright updated WEO right now would put OECD in tough spot, and wouldn't pass internal consensus anyways. Or so she says.

 
At Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 4:16:00 AM PDT, Blogger bc said...

I get the impression that the IEA is one of those organisations with a pretty cushy job, who can just turn the handle and generate reports every year, which comprise of what their customers want to hear. Governments can then lay off responsibility to IEA.

But with scientists and the IPCC raising a stir over AGW (rightly or wrongly), and the recent financial mess making financial regulators look like fools, maybe they are realising their integrity is worth more than their cushy job?

The first step to solving problems is recognising the problem. I believe there are solutions, but ignoring the problem and relying on luck is not a good idea.

 
At Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 4:48:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

JD, Thanks for pointing out those Gail post. She really has become a frantic nut as of late, one day we're saved, one day we're doomed. C'mon gail take a side and stick to it!.


-TheAntiDoomer

 
At Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 6:11:00 AM PDT, Blogger bc said...

Well, TOD seem to have pulled the email exchange showing that Gail rejected the article based on content.

Gail now claims on TOD that the author was asked to make some technical/style changes, but refused and therefore "withdrew" the article. This would seem to be a bit of a porky-pie, but if the evidence has been pulled, who can say otherwise...

I admit I never really understood the etiquette over not publishing emails, I don't think the same applies to letters? For some legal aspects writing a private email is still regarded as "publishing" (e.g. for libel, depending on jurisdiction). I don't like the idea that people could write offensive or incriminating email and feel protected.

Although, having read the article, it wasn't worth printing. The author is a Savinar-style "doomer-kid" - a student with degrees in geography and "international relations", but is self-taught in doomerology. With people like him claiming "millions of people will die", perhaps the reluctance of IEA to engage doomers is understandable.

 
At Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 9:54:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Some at TOD are now wondering out loud if Gail is an industry plant. Meanwhile, she's now claiming that FF are going to literally "vanish"."

I no longer waste my time reading any of Gail's posts. She seems to have cracked about two years ago and her posts just seem unbalanced and with large gaps.

I'm not surprised though. It seems the most virulent doomers have no engineering knowledge and thus miss the clues that things are moving in a positive direction.

DB

 
At Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 12:07:00 PM PDT, Blogger DB said...

And on another anti-doom note, the Chinese have contracted first solar to build the first mass-scale solar plant in the world: Producing up to 2 gigawatts.
Yes you read it right, GIGA watts.

I'd say that's the first nail in the coffin for the fossil fuel age and proves the lie about dieoff.

DB

 
At Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 5:32:00 PM PDT, Blogger p35flash said...

If you can actually make 2 gigawatts from solar economically then oil is finished. Finished as in it will not hold the place it holds now.

If that is actually true the folks in the Middle East will lose the stranglehold they have on the rest of the world.

 
At Wednesday, September 9, 2009 at 10:21:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of solar panels:
Apparently some teenager in India has invented a solar panel that uses human hair in place of the far more expensive silicon. It turns out to be cheaper than a mass manufactured panel.

Anybody know if this is bullshit or not?

DB

 
At Thursday, September 10, 2009 at 6:53:00 AM PDT, Blogger bc said...

Anybody know if this is bullshit or not?

Yeah, it's a hoax. To create a solar panel, you need two layers of semiconductor doped positive and negative (a PN junction). Photons liberate electrons in the negative layer which travel to the positive layer, creating a current.

Melanin is actually just a pigment, it blocks UV but is not "light sensitive". Melanin is produced in response to cell damage. Obviously melanin is only produced in living cells; hair is dead.

Neither hair nor melanin is a semi-conductor AFAIK, plus nature does not conveniently create PN junctions ;) Hair does some practical applications, but solar panels are not one of them.

One sure way to get a hoax published, is to invest lots of pun potential. Journalists seem to adhere to the lowest standard possible, and humour is no exception.

 
At Thursday, September 10, 2009 at 10:07:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Benny "Boom, No Doom" Cole said...

Who funds the TOD? Follow the money.
They may have "censored" the story as it so obviously lacked credibility that it damaged TOD's mission--to spook oil markets higher.
Follow the money.

 
At Thursday, September 10, 2009 at 2:23:00 PM PDT, Blogger Ari said...

bc,

I like to think that some of us aren't that bad. ;-)

 
At Friday, September 11, 2009 at 1:57:00 PM PDT, Blogger bc said...

I like to think that some of us aren't that bad.

Ok, there are exceptions. Thinking about this, I realised Sturgeon's Law applies in any industry. The difference is that journalists do their job in public, so any failings are noticeable.

Unfortunately, just about every article on subjects I know something about has an error in almost every paragraph, so I assume the article on other subjects are equally suspect.

So the decent articles become a rare treat - I enjoyed reading David Grann in the New Yorker, on Cameron Todd Willingham. It was no surprise to me that the judicial process is botched and innocent men get executed, but the piece was well written.

 
At Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 6:56:00 PM PDT, Blogger wchfilms said...

>>maybe in 20 years, the height of exoticism will be to go on a weekend at 20km of distance

>The average cruising speed of a bicycle is about 25km/hour. Clearly the guy from the IEA didn't think that comment through at all.

Omg, you cornucopia-todds never cease to amaze me. How, pray tell, will people oil their bicycle chains if there is no oil or oil is $500 a drop?? Rotfl.

 
At Monday, September 14, 2009 at 9:17:00 AM PDT, Blogger OptimisticDoomer said...

Omg, you cornucopia-todds never cease to amaze me. How, pray tell, will people oil their bicycle chains if there is no oil or oil is $500 a drop?? Rotfl.

doomtard, you do realize there are literally dozens of non-petroleum based lubricants for bikes right? Yeah, didn't think so!

 
At Monday, September 14, 2009 at 3:34:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Michael Brooker said...

Wchfilms is trying too hard.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home