Gingrich’s WTF Quote of the Week

When Newt gets on a roll during an interview or on the stump, he can come out with some real whoppers. But this one, delivered on Janet Mefferd’s radio show, will likely leave you scratching your head. Try to parse this bit of babble:

Liberals have this desire to ration, to regulate, to control and the possibility that we could actually produce enough energy that we did not need the Middle East is something that most liberals just look at with fear because it suddenly means that you and I could be free, we could buy the kind of car that we want, we’d have a job here at home, the government would be less important. It’s a fascinating experience.

The Left has believed for at least forty years now in a concept called Peak Oil that says ‘gee, we’re about to run out.” Well, it turns out that our reserves in the US, because of new technology, which is something that the Left rejects – they don’t believe the Wright Brothers invented flying, they don’t believe Edison invented electric light, and they don’t believe we’re about to invent the next generation of interesting things.

I’ll give it about 850 milli-Palins.

39 comments on this post.
  1. jamessweet:

    Well yeah. Muhammed invented flying. Duh.

  2. The Lorax:

    Sounds about right, Ed.

    Sure, there are a lot of people out there who are paranoid about oil running out, and those people are kind of… paranoid. But oil is, in fact, a non-renewable resource, and it will, in fact, run out eventually. We have some time before that happens, plenty of time to put our heads together and nip the problem in the bud, and that’s what a lot of people are trying to do.

    Also, the Wright brothers didn’t invent flying, they just did it better. Edison didn’t invent electric light, he just dedicated a good portion of his life and career to bringing it down from fringe technology to house-hold technology. And yes, even far Left people are well aware that someone, somewhere, is going to invent the next new thing.

    … but most of them are quite confident that it won’t be a Moon base.

  3. sumdum:

    And they forget oil is a non-fungible resource, so drilling in the USA isn’t gonna help bring prices down.

  4. matty1:

    Wait, the left is backward looking and against new stuff?

  5. Ing: I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream So I Comment Instead:

    The Left has believed for at least forty years now in a concept called Peak Oil that says ‘gee, we’re about to run out.” Well, it turns out that our reserves in the US, because of new technology, which is something that the Left rejects – they don’t believe the Wright Brothers invented flying, they don’t believe Edison invented electric light, and they don’t believe we’re about to invent the next generation of interesting things.

    I’m having Mass Effect flash backs.

    Remember: There are definitely no Reapers. Everyone is safe.

  6. Skip White:

    Liberals don’t believe Edison invented electric light, because they’re all anti-Edison, pro-Tesla Serbian usurpers. Or something.

  7. holytape:

    I’m pretty sure “flying” was around before the wright brothers. It’s not like geese looked at the wright brothers and thought to themselves, “Why look at that. Do you think we could do that? It would sure beat walking back up north.”

  8. Skip White:

    And as I tried to post the first nerd-comment on the thread, Ing out-nerds me. Ing, are you a biotic?

  9. Tualha:

    I like the way he silently converts 40 years of belief that peak oil would arrive one day, to 40 years of belief that peak oil was already here. Does that mean that, if Newt believes he’ll be president a year from now, he’s already president?

    Lorax: the important fact is not that oil will eventually run out, but rather that the ability to extract it will hit a peak and then inescapably decline, and also, diminishing returns will set in: it will cost more and more energy to extract each barrel. So the cost will rise, and rise, and rise, until it’s simply infeasible to use it, long before it would run out.

  10. eric:

    Only in Newt’s head could drill baby drill + slashing scientific research budgets = the next generation of interesting things. To the rest of us, it looks like our great-great-grandfather’s generation of interesting things.

  11. Johnny Vector:

    Also, if you look at the actual, y’know, data (specifically, the production/price curve) for oil, it seems pretty clear we hit peak oil in 2005.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Climate-Policy-Peak-Oil_U-Washington.html

    I also recall someone (Crommunist?) posting a link showing that the official estimated reserves of a lot of stuff (may have been natural gas) dropped by over 50% in the last few years. That’ll take me longer to look up.

    But those are just facts. Facts just twist the truth around.

  12. JT (Generic):

    If we had infinite oil, the entire universe would have long ago collapsed into an infinitely massive black hole.

    We’d basically be de Sitter space, if I understand correctly (and I’m probably not).

  13. eric:

    it will cost more and more energy to extract each barrel. So the cost will rise, and rise, and rise, until it’s simply infeasible to use it, long before it would run out.

    Exactly. The mere fact that oil companies are turning to things like oil sands and fraking is an indication that costs to extract are going up. These methods were never cost effective before. Its like libs are pointing out “our food fish are declining due to overfishing” and the GOP’s reply is “nonsense, there are plenty more stingray.” Oil sands are stingray; they are what you go to when you can’t go to your preferred sources any more.

  14. laurentweppe:

    I’m disappointed: I’d hoped that Newt would at least propose the construction of a Dyson Sphere as his energy policy.

    ***

    I’m having Mass Effect flash backs.
    Remember: There are definitely no Reapers. Everyone is safe.

    Yeah, and Gingritch would probably end up bitching with the rest of the mob about the ending anyway, claiming it is a liberal-elitist-gay-atheist way to end the trilogy.

  15. Pinky:

    “Sin has many tools, but a lie is the handle which fits them all.”
    Oliver Wendell Holmes

    If an all out effort to develop clean alternate fuels, with the priority of a Manhattan Project were started in the ’70s when OPEC first started squeezing our testicles about oil, the US, et al. would have a secure domestic source of energy.

    We would have been free from the political price involved in purchasing a vital commodity from a politically unstable area like the Middle East.

    The only time the public makes any noise about the oil situation is when the price for gas goes up enough to pinch their pocketbook.

    The drive to investigate alternative fuels has been stymied throughout the years.

    Who would have an interest in blocking development of alternative energies? (Channels the Church Lady) “Oh, I don’t know, could it be Satan oil corporations?”

    How much of Gingrich’s wealth has been gained through American soldiers dying on Middle East sand?

  16. bubba707:

    Newt is just another example of the political adage ” Say nothing and say it elequantly and verbosely”

  17. hinschelwood:

    #4

    Wait, the left is backward looking and against new stuff?

    This is true, if not immediately obvious. Opposition to nuclear power, genetically-modified food, mobile phones (“electrosmog” and so on) invariably comes from those on the left. There are often rational, even scientific reasons, for opposing such things, but most arguments (in my opinion at least) are about as convincing as arguments from the Bible that homosexuality is evil.

    It’s generally true that things opposed by the left are technologies, while the right are afraid of basic science (evolution, stem cells, climate, even relativity in extreme cases). This suggests to me a fear of learning from the right, compared with the left’s caution in its application.

    The weird thing is the lack of overlap between the two points. In fact, one side tends to actively support the technology/science that the other opposes.

  18. gingerbaker:

    “If an all out effort to develop clean alternate fuels, with the priority of a Manhattan Project were started in the ’70s when OPEC first started squeezing our testicles about oil, the US, et al. would have a secure domestic source of energy. ”

    If we had merely not gone to Iraq and Afghanistan, and used those extra military appropriations to cover the Mojave Desert in PV panels instead, we could all be enjoying free carbon-free energy for all of our national energy needs forever. A few trillion is all it would take, I read somewhere.

  19. janiceintoronto:

    OK, I’ll bite. What did he say? I can’t come close to parsing it.

  20. abb3w:

    @19, janiceintoronto:

    OK, I’ll bite. What did he say? I can’t come close to parsing it.

    Rough translation….

    First part: Liberals have an inclination to try and address shortages by rationing, and reducing other people’s range of choices. The idea of trying to address shortages by growing the resource base scares them, because it would give people more choices.

    Second part: (Peak oil straw-man opening, due to confusing “about to run out” with “about to run out of the easily obtained”.) We have more accessible reserves than the Left believes, because of new technologies. The Left have forgotten the technological progress of the past, and don’t believe the impending technological progress of the near future will solve this.

    I’d also repeat Johnny Vector’s observation: we seem to have hit peak oil circa 2005. The easy stuff is gone; it gets more difficult, now.

  21. Area Man:

    Also, if you look at the actual, y’know, data (specifically, the production/price curve) for oil, it seems pretty clear we hit peak oil in 2005.

    We appear to have hit peak cheap oil in 2005 (or 2004.) Production has still gone up, but the new sources coming online are increasingly marginal and expensive to extract, have lower energy density, and are more costly to refine. Stuff like shale oil, tar sands, extra heavy oil, etc. Stuff that no one would bother with if there were still lots of cheap stuff out there. It’s said that the cost of extracting shale oil from the Bakken (the source of our current oil “boom”) is $60-80 a barrel. That puts a floor on how cheap oil can be before production slows to constrain supply and sends prices back up again.

    That, combined with increasing demand from places like China, is precisely why oil prices are so high right now, and aren’t likely to ever drop back down to pre-2004 levels. There’s no mystery to it at all. And this is what makes Gingrich’s bloviations so nauseating. Energy experts have been warning about this exact scenario for many years. And here’s Newt, with sky-high oil prices staring him right in the face, sneering at those silly lefties who took those warnings seriously and predicted that… supply constraints would send prices sky-high. He lives in a bizarro universe where he can lower gas to $2.50 a gallon with the power of his hot air.

  22. Area Man:

    This is true, if not immediately obvious. Opposition to nuclear power, genetically-modified food, mobile phones (“electrosmog” and so on) invariably comes from those on the left.

    Opposition to mobile phones is a new one to me. But anyway, the notion of the left being backward and against new things is ironic in this particular instance because, if you spend much time reading mainstream environmental blogs or whatnot, you’ll find an almost utopian faith in the power of technology to save us from dirty energy. Lefty/environmental types have a serious hard-on for solar power, fuel efficient vehicles, smart grids, etc. It’s the right that dismisses these things and insists that we’ll be burning fossil fuels forever and that efficiency upgrades are pointless.

  23. slc1:

    Re area man @ #21

    Actually, as far as US production is concerned, peak oil was hit in 1973. Although there have been a few peaks since then, the trend has been mostly down.

  24. jimvj:

    Second everything “Area Man” said about oil above.

    Two comments: First, Peak Oil is not about “running out” of oil. Instead it is about extraction rates dwindling and energy cost of extraction increasing; easy, fast flowing oil sources are produced first; when the production from these sources falls to very low rates, we look for less easy sources, like deep sea, heavy oil, tar sands, oil shale, etc.

    Second, Newt and many of the drill-baby-drill denizens confuse “oil shale” with shale. The former is actual hydrocarbon oils lodged in some shale rock. It does not flow and is a small fraction by weight of the shale rock. That’s why it takes horizontal drilling and fracking to extract this oil. That’s also why these wells deplete very quickly. An average well in N. Dakota produces only about 50 barrels of crude per day.

    Shale, of the kind that is very extensively found in Utah and neighboring stated, contains “kerogen”, which can be converted to hydrocarbons by long term heat treatment. If one glosses over the time and energy and water needed to convert shale to oil, one could estimate that the mountains of the US West contain trillions of barrels of oil. But that’s just nonsense or a scam.

  25. M Groesbeck:

    This is true, if not immediately obvious. Opposition to nuclear power, genetically-modified food, mobile phones (“electrosmog” and so on) invariably comes from those on the left.

    While a good bit of the technophobic woo comes from people who are generally left-identified, this isn’t the same as saying that the left as a whole is technophobic. There are certainly some knee-jerk anti-tech circles on the left, along with some broad discomfort with some of the destructive, poverty-producing and wealth-concentrating ways that industrial technology tends to be mass-produced. In general, though, the left seems to be rather open to new tech applied well.

  26. exdrone:

    gingerbaker @18:

    If we had merely not gone to Iraq and Afghanistan, and used those extra military appropriations to cover the Mojave Desert in PV panels instead, we could all be enjoying free carbon-free energy for all of our national energy needs forever.

    But then we’d be facing Peak Windex. Forget the green energy. Think oilsands. Canada’s got your candy. Come on, baby; you know you want it. The grit is just fiber for your engine.

  27. exdrone:

    Area Man @22:

    Opposition to mobile phones is a new one to me.

    One of the sects of kookdom is the anti-EMF crowd. They used to just be against high tension power lines but have expanded their alarmism to include cell phone use, wireless in schools, and stray voltage in farm fields. They also claim to suffer from EMF-induced stress and Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS). It has created a gullible market for scam products, like EMF filters and EMF balancers. A good skeptic website that covers the issues is EMF & Health.

  28. Area Man:

    Second, Newt and many of the drill-baby-drill denizens confuse “oil shale” with shale. The former is actual hydrocarbon oils lodged in some shale rock. It does not flow and is a small fraction by weight of the shale rock. That’s why it takes horizontal drilling and fracking to extract this oil.

    A bit of a nit-picky correction. “Shale oil”, also called tight oil, is the stuff they’re drilling out of the Bakken by using horizontal drilling and such. “Oil shale” is rocks that contain kerogen that have to be baked to get the stuff out, and that they might someday squeeze out of the Green River formation (but gawd, I hope not). The way I remember it is that the most important part is last: “shale oil” is oil, “oil shale” is shale.

    I’m pretty sure that the drill-baby-drill crowd, aside from the oil industry hacks who lead them on, don’t know any of this and don’t care. It’s all a pack of lies and delusions to begin with.

  29. Area Man:

    Actually, as far as US production is concerned, peak oil was hit in 1973. Although there have been a few peaks since then, the trend has been mostly down.

    You seem to be the king of the non sequitur.

    I’m aware that US production peaked in the early ’70s. But oil is a global commodity whose price is set by global supply and demand, and we’ve seen extremely low prices at times since then. As long as Saudi Arabia had lots of spare capacity, they could keep prices low by just opening the spigot. Those days appear to be gone.

    The US peak is not especially relevant, except as a demonstration that peak oil is not something invented by the hippies; global peak oil is just larger scale version of an individual country’s peak oil, or an individual field’s peak oil.

  30. The Cat From Outer Space:

    I seem to remember, I’m quite sure when, but I think it was kinda recently, some noise about BP dumping a metric shit-ton of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. I vaguely recall talk about fishermen’s livelihoods ruined, several rig workers getting blown to bits, pelicans getting encased in oil and some people getting so upset that several billion dollars in compensation was offered to placate them.

    I also have a recollection that the rig from which this spill originated might have been operating in really deep water. Something about drilling reservoirs that were so deep that they never would have been economically viable a decade or 2 ago. You know, going after the hard to get stuff, because the easy stuff is all gone? Something like that.

    Maybe, just maybe, someone once wrote something about this non-traditional source of oil having risks that were comparatively larger to traditional sources of oil? No, I’m sure Newt is right, there are no problems with a “drill baby, drill” approach to energy supply security. It’s just us lefties wanting to control people.

  31. StevoR:

    @2.The Lorax says:

    ..yes, even far Left people are well aware that someone, somewhere, is going to invent the next new thing. … but most of them are quite confident that it won’t be a Moon base.

    Actually I’ve always loved the idea of Moon bases and colonies -a farside Luanr radio-telescope fr’ex would be a wonderful idea and we can I think we learn and gain so much by visiting and even settling on other worlds.

    I don’t think it is fair or accurate or at all good to mock this idea just because Gingrich proposed it.

  32. StevoR:

    PS. Guess I’m not “far left” though – just Left~ish in that theat side of politics tends to be right (correct that is) on many issues although not all of them.

    That said, whilst some far leftists I think oppose most science and exploration including that of space and have a deeply one-sidedly pessimistic view of humanity and our future not all far-leftists do. Do they?

  33. KG:

    He [Gingrich] lives in a bizarro universe where he can lower gas to $2.50 a gallon with the power of his hot air.

    Well, when you can talk a moonbase into existence without spending a single tax dollar, reducing the oil price is a cinch.

  34. stuartsmith:

    It’s true that there is a small segment of the left that is anti-technology, but I don’t think that’s generally the case. I don’t oppose the idea of genetically modified foods, for example. What I oppose is allowing corporations that have proven themselves in the past to be untrustworthy to reengineer our foods without our being allowed to know what they’re doing. I am deeply concerned about the implications of patented seed, seeds that are designed not to produce viable seed for replanting, and other such technologies. I am aghast at the idea that genetically modified foods that have only been tested by the businesses that produce them (which once again, are never trustworthy) can be sold to consumers without labelling them so that people can choose to avoid them.

    Similarly, I’d be fine with nuclear power if the primary concerns were always safety and security, but they’re not – they’re cost and profitability. Even if a nuclear power plant is built by a government I trust to ensure it’s done right, the next time conservatives get voted in they’re going to cut back on regulation and maintainance to fund tax cuts. I’d totally support nuclear power if the people who built and maintained the plants were also required to live next door to them.

    On another note, it’s my understanding that Mars is a far more practical target for the first offworld colony than the Moon, due to being much cheaper to reach and much richer in the resources we would need to establish a colony. Building a moon base would be like ignoring America to colonise Antarctica.

  35. kosk11348:

    Pretty much this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hfYJsQAhl0

  36. llewelly:

    It is important to keep in mind there are many different sources of oil, and they have different peaks.

    Conventional oil, averaged globally, probably peaked in about 2005 (see the skeptical science link Johnny Vector posted), but oil can also be produced from the bitumen in tar sands (and that’s where that Canadian oil from Alberta comes from) or even from the kerogen in some shales.

    But there’s a huge difference in how much energy and other resources need to be applied to tar sands and kerogen shale sources in order to produce oil, as compared to traditional crude oil sources. These newer sources of oil we’re shifting to require more energy input to get the same energy output. They require more land. They require more metals. They require more engineering and chemistry knowledge.

    There are also much more serious environmental consequences; much more land is used, a far higher proportion of the extracted material is waste that is difficult to handle or dispose safely, and the CO2 emitted per unit of energy obtained is about four times as high.

    Extracting oil from tar sands or kerogen shale will never have the huge energy return on investment ratios of conventional oil.

    Humanity has exploited and burned up the best and most energy-dense oil. Now we move on to the much more difficult, much more dangerous, and much less advantageous sources of oil.

    These too are in their turn finite, and subject to the principals which result in peak oil – and if use continues to increase exponentially, their peaks will come while some here are still alive.

  37. llewelly:

    stuartsmith | March 17, 2012 at 11:59 am :

    On another note, it’s my understanding that Mars is a far more practical target for the first offworld colony than the Moon, due to being much cheaper to reach and much richer in the resources we would need to establish a colony.

    Mars is /not/ cheaper – not by a long way.

    It is many times farther away – a journey to the moon is 3 days, to Mars is one to three years, depending on the trajectory chosen.

    Longer journey means far more supplies are needed to keep a crew alive during the journey. Those supplies have mass, so you need more fuel to push them. And the fuel has mass too – and thus has an amplifying effect on the cost of the journey. A Mars trip might need 300 times as much food and other supplies, but need 500 times as much fuel – or more.

    Longer journey also means far greater radiation danger. The Apollo astronauts received about 1.3 mSv per day , while most people on earth receive about 2.4 mSv peryear . A journey to Mars, even while shielded, would expose the crew to 500 to 1000 mSv – comparable to the highest radiation doses received by the exposed workers at the recent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_threat_from_cosmic_rays#The_deep-space_radiation_environment

    Mars also has higher gravity, meaning landings require more fuel – and thus more cost.

    As for resources – there’s certainly more water, and with the help of solar power, a lot of time, and some starting chemicals, a significant amount of fuel could be made on the surface of Mars, from its atmosphere.

    But while Mars almost certainly has more mineral resources than the Moon, they won’t be nearly as common as they are on earth, and thus taking advantage of them would be extremely challenging.

    Mars is certainly more interesting, and in many respects a better target, but it’s far more expensive.

    (Of course, it’s a moot issue; nobody wants to spend more than a trickle on space exploration, and the bang-for-buck advantage of robot missions is already huge, and continues to increase. It’s only a matter of time before Soyuz goes the way of the space shuttle, and there is nobody going to space except a few rich tourists and Chinese government stunts in low earth orbit.)

  38. Raging Bee:

    This Republican blither-point isn’t all that new: liebertarians have been pushing the “liberals oppose progress and support stasis” line since 1980, if not earlier. Not to mention the “environmentalists want to eliminate all technololgy and keep Mankind in the Dark Ages” line. Newt Gingrich is just regurgiataing the ideology that was spoon-fed to him by the liebertarians and their corporate clients.

  39. East Lothian:

    East Lothian…

    [...]Gingrich’s WTF Quote of the Week | Dispatches from the Culture Wars[...]…

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