There used to be a website driven by a completely non-transparent metric that would rank the “importance” of various Twitter feeds similar in their areas of interest. It’s defunct now, and the name of it is forgotten.
It would look not only at the number of followers, but other things like how many followers your Twitter feed’s followers had, how often your Tweets were re-Tweeted, and so on.
The @PlattsOil feed consistently ranked second in the oil category, for whatever that was worth. It was always a harmless time-waster to check and see how we were doing. And how we were doing was that from our #2 perch we were always looking up at the Twitter feed of The Oil Drum, which was the primary website for a dialogue on Peak Oil.
And now The Oil Drum is closing up shop.
Those people in the industry who have long believed that the devotees of the peak oil movement were completely wrong have been rejoicing the last few years as North America’s output keeps rising. They see the Peak Oil movement as another bunch of failed neo-Malthusians. The demise of The Oil Drum is sure to add to that feeling of glee.
In the announcement that the site was shutting to new content, to be kept online only as an archive of old posts, The Oil Drum’s owners said nothing about any shift in beliefs regarding the world’s ability to produce more oil. The possibility of shutting the site was “a discussion we have had several times in the last year, due to scarcity of new content caused by a dwindling number of contributors. Despite our best efforts to fill this gap we have not been able to significantly improve the flow of high quality articles.” The monetary requirements of maintaining the site also were cited.
The mission statement of The Oil Drum said it “seeks to facilitate civil, evidence-based discussions about energy and its impacts on the future of humanity, as well as serve as a leading online knowledge-base for energy-related topics.” Despite that lofty inclusive language, it still was pretty much an intellectual hangout for the Peak Oil crowd.
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If you go through the 700-plus comments on the post announcing the demise of the site (it will publish new material through the month), it’s hard to find any that acknowledge maybe the world changed and the Peak Oil movement is back on its heels.
And the reasons cited for the site’s shutdown are believable: it is tough to run an active, engaging website, and maybe the regular contributors slowed their output to the site because they moved on to other things.
Or maybe US production rising 2 million b/d in the last few years made a few of them question their beliefs, particularly given that the technology revolution that made that possible hasn’t been exported to anywhere else yet.
But there’s no sign of that in the comments.”(T)he void must be filled. Especially these days, when peak energy is more important than ever,” wrote a commenter identified as Stadt. Other comments: “Now the forces of fear, uncertainty and disinformation will be free to pollute the web,” one of them wrote another. Another wrote: “Right now it looks as if The Oil Drum has surrendered to the Maugeris and ExxonMobil,” a reference to the bullish output projections of Leonardo Maugerie[remove the e], a research fellow at the Geopolitics of Energy Project at the Belfer Center for Scientific and International Affairs at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Maugeri previously held top management positions at Italy’s Eni.
If you ever attended a Peak Oil meeting, you could see the division in the group that one wag described as “the suits vs. the sandals.” The “suits” might be geologists or geophysicists who could cite significant research to buttress their claims about peak oil, claims that before 2009 were looking prescient. The “sandals” were more of an anti-fossil fuel lot in general, whose knowledge of oil seemed to be based mostly on the idea that the apocalypse was coming unless we slashed our consumption of it immediately.
Either way, one of their key cyberspace meeting grounds has shut its doors.