The latest from Peter Thiel

He’s impressed by fracking: “What’s very striking is that on some level I think fracking represents a bigger economic form of progress for our society as a whole than the innovation in Silicon Valley.”

Globalization and Trump: The onstage discussion was light on Trump, but Thiel riffed on what he sees as the political forces at play today. “I think the tide on globalization is just going out in a pretty big way,” he said, noting trends on immigration policy, trade, and more. Asked if Trump’s election was partly a rebellion against globalization, Thiel said he’s “definitely inclined to think of it in those terms.”

A “bull market in politics” has arrived: Thiel credited a colleague for having that view, and said he’s come around to the idea.

  • “I am not sure this is a good thing, but it is a fact that maybe politics is becoming more important and more intense, the range of outcomes is becoming greater.”

The link has a bit more content.


Thiel's original business ventures were in the arbitrage of human blood.

It was reported that he is still in that business

Donald Trump erstwhile patron saint of anti-globalism makes his living selling his name to the highest bidder from Dubai to Macau. People are anti globalist. They are anti foreigner.

His climate answer is amusingly, transparently, evasive.

Actually, it's not. His answer is the real issue and quite possibly has more bearing on our lives than any actual climate change.

Is it? Or is it just an evergreen deflection .. "I would like to discuss this important issue reasonably, but I cannot, because there exist extremists on the other side."

What does "evergreen" mean?

Good for all seasons. They use "evergreen" on Twitter to mean a reply, retort, or even a joke, that can always be used.

The people who disagree might use their free speech to point out various fallacies if the "logic" is stated more clearly.

Therefore, the logic must not be stated clearly. For fear of looking like an idiot when free speech comes back at you with the BS mostly removed.


...although "quite possibly" should be "very definitely."

'actual climate change'

Will have much more impact than pretty much anything else. An observation concerning that change which is independent of its undoubtedly multiple causes.

'if I thought there was a more open debate in which both sides were given a full hearing'

Tell that to the North Carolina legislature - 'North Carolina became forever known around the world as the state that outlawed climate change a few minutes after 11:30 p.m. on June 4th, 2012. That’s when satirical newsman Stephen Colbert boiled down the General Assembly’s actions into a tight, easy-to-repeat headline.

“I think this is a brilliant solution,” comedian Stephen Colbert said that night. “If your science gives you a result that you don’t like, pass a law saying the result is illegal. Problem solved.”

Of course, the problem wasn’t solved.

Five years ago, the Science Panel of the North Carolina Coastal Resources Commissioner presented a report that outlined the possibility that sea levels along the coast could rise as much as 39 inches over the next 100 years. Reaction from local land managers and developers was quick and overwhelmingly negative. The General Assembly passed a law forbidding communities from using the report to pass new rules.

And then, Colbert happened.

North Carolina was ridiculed by news aggregators, traditional media, on social media and in op-eds. Now, almost three years later, the scientists have come back with a new report. It still predicts that sea levels will rise, but since it only looks 30 years out, the amount of rise is not anywhere near the levels predicted in the first report.

The changes made it much more palatable to the people who fought against the original.'

One wonders what Thiel thinks about the Dutch, and their apparent lack of willingness to entertain a wide open debate, as instead they plan for what seems to be occurring around us.

"Tell that to the North Carolina legislature ..."

The start of another pointless barb that prior_test likes to throw out with little actual relevance to the topic. It's amazing how utterly tribal prior_test is.

Quite tribal to be sure, but the point is still valid: Thiel complains that climate change skeptics are shouted down when state legislatures actually outlaw listening to reports supporting significant climate change.

Riffing on Stephen Colbert:

“If your [fill in the blank] gives you a result that you don’t like, pass a law saying the result is illegal. Problem solved.”

Like those signs that say "This is a drug free school zone." Problem solved.

It should be possible to be skeptical about the impending doom that will allegedly soon hit the polar bear population without being labelled a "denier". And we all know what "denial" alludes to.

It is a sad history, what "denial" really refers to.

People could also try not stating what they want if it's difficult to achieve with zero effort.

Failing to say what you want for things that do not happen on their own is a highly effective way to make them happen, no?

If Shell, or anyone else, was predicting rapid drastic climate change in 1991, history has proven them wrong.

So far all indications are that the direction of change was correctly predicted, and presumably magnitude estimates (ranges) have improved in time as well.

Of course, statistically speaking, it is impossible to claim 100% certainty about a statement like that.

An alternate reading of exactly the same evidence from the NC legislative debate:

The legislators expressed doubt about the ability of forecasters to forecast correctly 100 years out. Given the quality of the data, and the error bands on the most public forecasts, this seems like a reasonable objection. The legislators did not have quite the same level of concern about forecasting 30 years out, and so this was allowed.

This is a lot more controversial if you deliberately mis-describe it, as Colbert did, but then he's a humorist and not in it for the accuracy.

Politicians are credible on climate, comedians are not, and actual experts ... ?? To be doubted.

I wuld guess, just maybe, the experts know more than the politicians and the comedian. And the comedian knows it.

Experts aren't all that sure either.

True. Only 99+% sure that it's in a range that's basically upwards (ranging as high as "catastrophic" at the opposite end of the estimate range).

So, in the statistical sense, certainly, a scientist must admist the existence of statistical uncertainty even when it satisfies very high levels of confidence.

Judith Curry is a joke in the geophysics world.

I find it appropriate that Prior should mention Colbert. Because Prior is a bit like Colbert (and other late night suppliers of information to millennials). You will observe snark, sarcasm, barbed comments and preaching to the choir.

These are occasionally accomplished with humor in the case of Colbert. Alas, humor is a quality lacking in Prior.

Agreed. Fracking has had more economic impact than just about any technological innovation in the last decade or two.

Before fracking the price of energy was going parabolic, had it gone much further it is likely that the economies of the west wouldn't have recovered from the great recession and that there would be serious talk about wars for resources, there would also be tremendous human suffering due to the unavailability of inexpensive energy. All of that was alleviated due to fracking.

Likely the energy act of 2005 was the most beneficial legislation in generations.

And fracking reduced greenhouse gas emissions in the process. This is greatly underappreciated by environmentalists.

It's not evasive, it's a legit point. Which the article itself accidentally highlights - the author couldn't resist adding the blurb about scientific consensus, in an article that otherwise presents Thiel's opinions without commentary.

Well, lets try it with a different topic .. I can't talk to you about college tuition, because there are people who want to make college free for everyone! I can't talk to you about reasonable tariffs, because there are people who want free trade! I can't talk to you about terrorism, because there are people who think 9/11 was a hoax! I can't talk to you about about progressive taxation, because there are people who think all tax is theft!

Let me quote Thiel for you: "[..] I have my doubts about the extreme way that people try to push it through, and I would say that I would be much more convinced of climate change, of the need to do something, if I thought there was a more open debate in which both sides were given a full hearing."

In case you don't understand his point, he's saying that the issue is presented as one-sided and a non-debate. The only example on your list that applies is 9/11. And I'd guess that the same author wouldn't feel so compelled to add "[By the way, the overwhelming view among scientists is that plane fuel can melt steel beams.]" if he was quoting a twin towers conspiracy. Because it's not necessary. But it seems irresistible to him to remind us what the true and proper opinion of all smart men is on this one.

But that is completely false. It is only "one-sided" if you pretend it is. There are a wide range of positions. Heck, some positions are explicitly ranges of outcomes.

He says he's unsure on climate change because it appears to him that one side isn't being given a fair hearing. You may disagree and think that skeptics get more than their fair share of attention and funding, but that doesn't make the answer evasive.

I have no idea what your statement about the possibility space of positions has to do with any of this.

For an example of of the unheard other side, here's Richard Lindzen of MIT. How much of the following facts make it into the debate over AGW:

- The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) no longer claims a greater likelihood of significant as opposed to negligible future warming,

- It has long been acknowledged by the IPCC that climate change prior to the 1960’s could not have been due to anthropogenic greenhouse gases. Yet, pre-1960 instrumentally observed temperatures show many warming episodes, similar to the one since 1960, for example, from 1915 to 1950, and from 1850 to 1890. None of these could have been caused by an increase in atmospheric CO2,

- Model projections of warming during recent decades have greatly exceeded what has been observed,

- The modelling community has openly acknowledged that the ability of existing models to simulate past climates is due to numerous arbitrary tuning adjustments,
Observations show no statistically valid trends in flooding or drought, and no meaningful acceleration whatsoever of pre-existing long term sea level rise (about 6 inches per century) worldwide,

- Current carbon dioxide levels, around 400 parts per million are still very small compared to the averages over geological history, when thousands of parts per million prevailed, and when life flourished on land and in the oceans.


There are a variety of problems with that analysis.

1. The bulk of the warming occurs in the oceans, not on land. If you're only focusing on land temps you're missing the real story.

2. Just because life flourished under a higher CO2 regime doesn't mean that mankind would flourish under such a regime. The sun is much brighter now than it was hundreds of millions of years ago. Jurassic levels of CO2 would mean higher than Jurassic temperatures. That means the bulk of the world's ice would melt, flooding the homes of hundreds of millions of people.

Cooper, they're finding it harder to find warming in the oceans than on land.

What I find disingenuous about the Right's objections to climate change has been the rapidity between it's switched between "it doesn't exist," to "it does exist but it doesn't matter," to "it exists and matters but it happens all the time."

I suspect the next argument will be: "it exist, it matters, and humans caused it, but there's nothing else we could have done to achieve our growth." We should revisit this comment in 2027.

"Cooper, they’re finding it harder to find warming in the oceans than on land."

have they tried google ?

If the left really cared about climate change they could address it unopposed by legislating the cost on themselves and their industries like hollywood, universities, and government, instead of on hated communities like rural whites.

How about all non-classified government meetings must be over IP? How about all institutional recipients of student aid must not be air conditioned? How about strict annual carbon emissions budgets for college departments not engaged in hard science? A 10 billion dollar annual tax on international airports? A 100 million dollar fee for Burning Man? $1,000 per American flag burned?

Ban coal mining but tax all urban areas to establish a one trillion dollar trust, interest payable to "native rurals" in perpetuity.

AGW is less about AGW than tribal warfare and socialism.

How does future economic production potential get higher by making lower income students suffer in extreme heat while trying to study in the summer?

Or, does this serve some other objective, such as shitting on people that you don't like? (In my opinion, this is not a very useful objective for much of any reason.)

Why bother responding to a crazy person?

... have you seen his name? It's like he was created to respond to Thomas and Sam Haysom (the same person, I'm guessing).

If the left cared about AGW, they would address it at their own expense. Revealed preference is beating up Republicans as we all cook. Moo cow can't address this point, nor can you apparently.

The phrasing of Thiel's comment made me focus more on whether he thinks there's a need to do something. I would like to see the conversation move that direction. It's very possible that even though the world is getting warmer, there may be little realistically in short run we can do to change it. But the debate on range of solutions seems stunted because we're arguing about whether it's even happening.

There are people who want nothing more than efficient homes and appliances, of that type that save consumers money while they reduce GHG emissions.

They too are short-circuited by "we must have the big argument and I must win."

Thiel's comment is the opposite of carving out smaller truths and pragmatic answers.

The banshees demand an end to capitalism, global redistribution, and global governance. Anyone who proposes anything less is a denier.

With "bull market in politics" I think he means that with the election of Trump and rise of populism, business success will increasingly depend on connections with corrupt politicians. He is positioning himself to take advantage of this.

Too bad we couldn't have notoriously honest Hilary Clinton as president. Honest Hilary, just rolls off the tounge.

Too bad we don't have the slightly sneaky, but fundamentally decent, Marco Rubio as president.

RubioBot 9000

Rubio is being waxed, polished and cleaned and his butt is being cleaned with hot suddsy water! Prepare him for his new masters!

ding ding ding

what he means, precisely, is that political donations will yield good RoI compared to his other possible investments. Some libertarian Thiel is turning out to be.

"I am not sure this is a good thing, but it is a fact that maybe politics is becoming more important and more intense, the range of outcomes is becoming greater.”

America has become a Weimar Republic asking for a Hitler. Make no mistake. Last year, History happened as farse. Soon, it will repeat itself as tragedy. A desperate populace won't be soothed forever by promises and platitudes, whether they are left-wing or right-wing promises and platitudes. Soon, it will demand blood! Rivers of it!

America is nothing like the Wiemar Republic.

Are you sure about that? Hitler wrote about how the Jews were to blame for everything. Trump talks about how he loves Jews, but Vox has shown this is a dog-whistle and that what he really means is Jews are to blame.

Silly jokes aside, the America+Trump=Germany+Hitler argument is mainly floated by people who don't know much political history outside of WWII. I bet something like 80-95% of Americans know more about Nazi Germany than any other historical regime, absent the US herself. So when it comes time for them to do their comparative political analysis, well, there are two options: The modern Western progressive society, and Nazi Germany. The ever so slightly more educated ones will add the Soviet Union to that mix.

So there it is. History either moves forward, with transgender bathrooms, open borders, and progressive ideals. It moves backwards, to segregated bathrooms and racial hate crimes. It moves to the far right, Nazi Germany. Or it is co-opted by a Commy/Socialist revolution, the Soviet Union.

There, now no one ever has to read any shitty comparative political analysis comments or articles ever again. That's the only space of political comparison.

Of course, the truly truly (darkly) enlightened of us, know the real future is in a techno-monarch neo-cameralist neoreactionary future where Peter Thiel runs a joint-stock corporation called America, and a series of city-states run by the tech elite sovereigns dictate our existence.

"Of course, the truly truly (darkly) enlightened of us, know the real future is in a techno-monarch neo-cameralist neoreactionary future where Peter Thiel runs a joint-stock corporation called America, and a series of city-states run by the tech elite sovereigns dictate our existence."

Wait, I know what you are referring to. The new Matt Damon and Ben Affleck mood affiliation vanity project.

Pfft. The real future is Seasteading.

Seasteading on Mars.

After the AIs take over, we'll be kept around as beloved pets. Sort of like factory-farmed chickens.

Yeah, listen to the BDS Hamas Democrats on the topic of Jew hate...

Do you need some help cleaning the spittle?

Not wanting to buy from people who actively engage in colonization under military occupation is not the same as wanting to abolish the state of Israel.

The Muslim Brotherhood that funds campus BDS advocates Jewish genocide, much like Keith Ellison, and the Hadiths. Are you daft?

Solid comment.

People run down the comments here, and there is a lot of dross, but there's still a variety of good and interesting perspectives too.

Perhaps but a 'wider range of outcomes' sounds like putting a good spin on going down that road.

If I was getting on a plane from NY to LA, I'd like there to be one outcome...a few hours later I get off the plane in LA. 'Wider range of outcomes' would include crashing into the ground at any point in between. yay progress!

If we really wanted blood we could go get some more from Brazil like we did in 1891

It is lie. There was no such war. In 1891, Brazil crushed the Navy Rebellion. In 1870, Brazil crushed the Praguayn invader and killed the tyrant Lopez, who tried to annex Brazil.

Is it clean? I tend to prefer clean blood. Paraguayan blood is exemplary in this regard and I won't easily accept something derivative.

"Paraguayan blood is exemplary in this regard and I won’t easily accept something derivative."
No, it is not. We had to shed rivers of Paraguayan blood to defeat the foreign merciless aggressor. The Tyrant Lopez dorced his enslaved people to fight until the bitter end (95 % of the male population died, scores of children were crushed in the Costa Ñu affair and the tyrant himself died uttering the words "I die with my fatherland"). Warring is antithetical to the Brazilian character and only with great sorrow Brazil fought against the barbarian invader that was our ally and betrayed us.

I really, really wish Thiago Ribeiro were a bot. How easy it is to provoke him! One comment about Brazil and the words gush forth.

Thiel should be given co-author credit for The Complacent Class. Go read the transcript of Cowen's conversation with Thiel.

The idea that the tide is going out on globalization is just nuts. Globalization is an inexorable result of technological improvements making it easier and easier to trade and communicate and do business on a global level, and that is a process that isn't going to reverse itself short of a world war, astroid hitting the earth, or zombie apocalypse. The forces opposing it are simple reactionaries. When we're in an environment where you can talk to someone in another country just as easily as the person next door, it stops making as much sense to think in terms of geographic boundaries. The inevitable reorganization of social and economic relationships that will bring about is going to impel political changes to facilitate those relationships.
In other words, the nationalists are essentially the taxi cartels in the era of Uber.

A war is political phenomenon. Are there no other political phenomena - revolutions, elections, strikes that can reverse globalization? I am not so sure.

it would have to destroy and reverse the technological advances of the last 20 years to reverse globalization.
Sure, a revolution or violent civil war might reduce us back to a pre-internet technological state, but I don't think it's very likely.

Do you mean distrupt the internet?

The only thing that's going to disrupt the internet, in a technological sense, is something better than the internet. Like telepathic brain implants. But that will only accelerate globalization further.

What if people, or at least their leaders, just decide they want less trade, less foreign investment, less contact with other cultures? What technology has to do with it?

I want *some* trade, but on my terms. (I mean: terms that are generally beneficial to me, and, if necessary, beneficial to my trading partners.)

And I believe there should be a debate on the merits of allowing large numbers of foreigners to enter this country. I mean to say, why should large scale immigration only confer advantages to everyone involved? I say this as an immigrant married to an even newer immigrant.

Look at the above. It is not a wholesale repudiation of either trade or immigration. I don't think things have changed much under Trump, nor will they, since I see him as a loudmouth, sometimes moronic, defender of what I just said.

Which is already a big break with Democrat rhetoric (on immigration) and Republicn rheroric (on trade). And calling the Bush-Clinton-made NAFTA the worse trade deal is a clear repudation of American past commitment to trade. As a famous Nobel Prize winner famously poi ted out, the times, they are-a changing.

What if people just decide , en masse, to stop using the internet?

Right, like that's going to happen...

The only reversal there will be of globalization will be further restrictions on voluntary exchanges between individuals, making those exchanges crimes. Of course, prohibition of exchange and the punishment involved won't eliminate voluntary exchange. It will simply be another front in the nation/state's "War on Whatever". Smuggling is probably the world's second oldest profession.

Autism speaks.

I agree with parts of this, but I think you are overselling.

1) International trade is huge in large part because some countries have very cheap wages.
2) Centralized production also leads to globalization, but de-centralized production could lead to local production but with some international aspects: the design is from France, but its made on my 3-D printer.
3) Variety of arbitrages will eventually go away, leading to less globalization. For example, if local markets dominate, being educated abroad is far less valuable. Why emigrate to America when India is just as rich?
4) Even travel may be reduced. Imagine VR being perfected...why travel to Thailand when you can ride a yacht to Jupiter in VR?

Especially with international trade, a lot is based on labor arbitrage that will eventually go away. I know a lot of businesses who are relieved when they stop buying from China because the travel and communication issues are not fun. Sure the internet "helps" you connect with low cost suppliers but they are often low cost because they must be to get the business.

Imagine you need a product but cost is not an issue. Would you buy from overseas? Or would you buy locally?

I think we will be surprised what changes. I think people will stay at home more, and globalization will remain but it will be based on actual human interests, not so much economics. Most toy designers are not intrinsically attracted to China.

"1) International trade is huge in large part because some countries have very cheap wages."

True, as long as we put extra emphasis on "in part." The five countries that export the most to the U.S. are (in order) China, Canada, Mexico, Japan and Germany. Canada and Japan together export more to the U.S. than China does. As Paul Krugman pointed out years ago, a lot of international trade actually occurs between countries at similar levels of development.

I agree with this. Hazel isn't completely wrong, but not very much on point either.

Much better communications, along with lower global wage differentials and highly automated production, mean that both international trade and immigration will decline not grow.

What's the point in immigrating to another country if your current country is calm and wealthy. Most immigration is caused by people fleeing extreme poverty or violence.

In the case of global trade, highly automated production and wage differentials shrinking will make local production a more attractive option. This doesn't mean that global trade will disappear, it will probably even keep growing for quite some time, but the factors that have placed upward pressure on it are declining in magnitude.

What’s the point in immigrating to another country if your current country is calm and wealthy.

Lots of reasons. The desire to work in a specific industry, which might not be concentrated where you live.
Maybe you like the climate there better. Maybe you met someone online and want to marry them and move to their country.
Maybe you like their political system better. Maybe you just want a change of pace.

Those are valid points, but the overall numbers are a fraction of those caused by high wage differentials and violence. The future of a high tech world is less immigration, not more.

Granted, you'll probably see a considerable increase in tourism and even short term stays.

"Maybe you met someone online and want to marry then and move to their county. "

Sure you speak from experience. Lol

I'm actually "desire to work in a specific industry".

Again, three of America's closest trading partners are Canada, Germany and Japan. Wage differentials are greatly overrated as an explanation for trade patterns.

This is also nonsense. The wage differential between Mexico and America is much lower than the wage differential between America and Nigeria. Yet why is there more immigration from Mexico?

Occam's razor.


Let's apply a much more reasonable test of Occam's razor. What's the immigration between America's two large bordering neighbors?

Canadian's 0.8 million in US out of a population of 35.5 million (2.3% of the Canadian population lives in the US)

Mexico 11.7 million in US out of a population of 122.3 million (9.6% of the Mexican population lives in the US)

Israel had a problem with proximity. They built a wall. It went away.

The site seems to have eaten my reply.

I was saying that the benefits of specialization and trade mean that some countries will end up specializing in particular industries in a way that makes it cheaper to trade, even if labor costs are equal. Expertise can be concentrated in centers of industry so those places advance faster and get more and more efficient compared to other countries local firms. This is already sort of the case in electronics in Asia. You see things like design work being done in America and chip manufacture being done in South Korea. It's not all due to wage differentials.

So as the wage differentials go away, trade patterns will shift, but we're likely to see increasing concentrations of production in particular areas. We're not going to have tiny local, distributed industries, except maybe in stuff like food production. I don't think anyone is interest in a boutique, locally manufactured cell phone.

Asia specialized in electronics because assembly is labor intensive.

Also, if you are in manufacturing you already see fully automated factories being built:

check out Steam;s controller NY state.

or Adidas shoes factory in....Germany.

or under armor in Baltimore.

These are not areas of "shoe" expertise.

Part of globalization is related to advances in telecommunications and IT. However, the part of globalization that involves people, goods, and financial capital crossing borders is very much a product of policy choices and international agreements and cooperation. Try starting a business in another country that involves producing or selling tangible goods or in-person services and globalization will suddenly feel much less "inevitable."

My point is that the possible drives the political. There is a massive amount of money to be made in international trade. It is more economically efficient, therefore there is, by definition, MORE money to be made with globalization than without it. Those incentives aren't going to go away.

Hazel, you've heard of Brexit right?

Yep. If you are rich enough the marginal value of another $ is less than the value of telling busy bodies to P*** Off.

And eventually the thrill of telling people to piss of wears thin and you take the marginal dollar and move on.

'I think fracking represents a bigger economic form of progress'

Probably bigger than even mountaintop removal - 'In 1984, the mining operation is limited to a relatively small area west of the Coal River. The mine first expands along mountaintops to the southwest, tracing an oak-leaf-shaped outline around the hollows of Big Horse Creek and continuing in an unbroken line across the ridges to the southwest. Between 1991 and 1992, the mine moves north, and the impact of one of the most controversial aspects of mountaintop mining—rock and earth dams called valley fills—becomes evident.

The law requires coal operators to try to restore the land to its approximate original shape, but the rock debris generally can’t be securely piled as high or graded as steeply as the original mountaintop. There is always too much rock left over, and coal companies dispose of it by building valley fills in hollows, gullies, and streams. Between 1991 and 1992, this leveling and filling in of the topography becomes noticeable as the mine expands northward across a stream valley called Stanley Fork (image center).'

And undoubtedly, one can be confident that those companies involved in fracking are at least as environmentally responsible as the coal companies.

With only the occasional earthquake to deal with - 'One of the strongest earthquakes among many in Oklahoma since the introduction of hydraulic fracturing struck early Saturday near a complex of oil-storage facilities, leading state regulators to order the suspension of about 37 wastewater-disposal wells.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which regulates the state’s oil industry, is contacting the operators of the wells in a 500-square-mile area around the town of Pawnee, Governor Mary Fallin said in a Twitter post. Oil storage and pipeline facilities at Cushing, Oklahoma, 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Pawnee, were undamaged, according to the commission and four of the companies that operate there.

The 5.6-magnitude quake matched a November 2011 tremblor as the strongest ever in the state, the U.S. Geological Survey said, and was followed by at least eight others measuring as much as 3.6. The surrounding region of Oklahoma and Kansas, a center of oil exploration using fracking, has had almost 80 quakes of magnitude-4 or higher over the past decade.

Oklahoma, a region not known for seismic activity, began having earthquakes in 2009, the same year area oil companies began using fracking to shatter deep rock layers to extract oil and gas. Fracked wells produce large quantities of wastewater, which drilling companies inject into ultra-deep disposal wells. Critics blame earthquakes on this practice.'

For those unfamiliar with Cushing - 'Not many people are aware of the small Oklahoma town of Cushing, unless they are in the oil business. Cushing Oklahoma, home to only about 2000 residents, is the site of the world's largest oil storage facility. Signs outside town proclaim it the "Pipeline Crossroads of The World", since so many large transmission lines terminate and originate at the Cushing oil storage facility.

Cushing was once an oil town and boasted two refineries at one point. As the oil fields dwindled it became a good point to store oil because of it's centralized location and the number of pipelines already in place.'

Which just might explain why Oklahoma acted so promptly in shutting down a key aspect of that bigger economic form of progress.

Okie that is a fracker here...

I think YOY earthquakes are down 60%. The real cause is produced water that comes up with the oil. This comes out in amounts that are hundreds of times the amount used to Frac in certain plays. 99%+ of the earthquakes are from developing the Miss lime. You can look at the rig count and it has dropped from 80 to 2 or 3. All the disposed water is being shifted from earthquake prone disposal zones to those that aren't susceptible and the market has decided this play isn't viable anyway.

Overall fracking helps the environment a lot since you are displacing burning coal. It also allows our electricity grid here in the SPP to be more flexible so we also have some of the highest wind penetration anywhere outside of Denmark.

Fugitive methane emissions are really the only knock and they aren't that expensive to fix. New wells can have them stopped for an extra quarter to half percent cost tacked onto the CAPEX and old wells aren't very economic and are being plugged whether the EPA over regulates us or not.

If you want to know the real crime look up class VI injection permits that the EPA won't give out. Lots of power plants have wanted to start injectioning their emissions underground, but getting a permit is basically impossible. But if I want to inject CO2 underground into an oil and gas formation, which has been down for years, it takes two weeks and a few hundred bucks to get the permit because states have primacy over that. But again the same sandstone a mile down the road where it doesn't have oil and is full of salt water - no way! At least not without thousands of pages of data submittal and approval timelines in the years with very uncertain outcomes.

Well THAT was a world-class butt-pounding of a true moron. Thank you ABV.

It sure was - why, clearly you cannot trust that radical left wing Bloomberg 'news,' with its quotes from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Though one should note the article concerned itself with earthquake force, not earthquake frequency.

'The real cause is produced water that comes up with the oil.'

Ah, so we have the earthquakes, but really, the reason is fracking, not fracking. OK, sure.

'All the disposed water is being shifted from earthquake prone disposal zones to those that aren’t susceptible and the market has decided this play isn’t viable anyway.'

Might just have something to do with the risk of an earthquake damaging the Cushing facilities - the 'market' is undoubtedly very sensitive about that, and just might have something to with it being 'viable.'

'Overall fracking helps the environment a lot since you are displacing burning coal.'

Substituting natural gas for coal, broadly speaking, is simply playing a shell game where the new fossil fuel remain a fossil fuel, of finite amount that still involves gigatons of carbons being released per year.

'It also allows our electricity grid here in the SPP to be more flexible so we also have some of the highest wind penetration anywhere outside of Denmark.'

It also helps to have lots of wind - the natural gas probably not so much.

'If you want to know the real crime look up class VI injection permits that the EPA won’t give out. '

Well, considering that this 'real crime' would not exist if we did not rely so heavily on burning fossil fuels, regardless of their supposed cleanliness, it seems like we have different perspectives on how to approach the entire subject.

I've been involved in several DOE projects that look at carbon capture. If you move the regulation to the states, it would get very cheap indeed.

If natural gas can have its carbon sequestered for a few percent extra cost, what is wrong with that? But you have to rationalize the regulation for it to work.

You need realistic regulation and a carbon tax then let the market sort things out. But like you have shown, people often can't stand the idea of fossil fuel being used even if it's completely clean. And the funny thing is that we are only using so much gas because the left massacred the nuclear industry in the late 70s. Now it's super expensive to build a plant in America because no one knows how anymore. If we could just build them for the cost the Koreans do, nuclear would be competitive and add lots of carbon free electricity that is base load and doesn't require huge land area like solar and wind.

On globalization, I interpret Thiel's comments to mean that he is fully aware that we are entering a new phase of globalization and trade, one in which China will produce goods for China firms to compete against goods produced for western (American) firms including goods produced in China for American firms. It's taken awhile, but even the NYT has figured this out. Thiel complains about lack of technological advancements and too much emphasis in the world of bits rather than the world of ataoms, but that makes him one of the world's greatest hypocrites: his fortune is built on skimming in the world of atoms, skimming (paypal), skimming (digital) advertising (facebook). While China invests in new technology, Thiel invests in easy money schemes. China is the future, Thiel and his Silicon Valeey friends will soon be the past. Good riddance!

Yeah, this sort of thing is ridiculous and bound to fail. China might be able to use cheap labor as a level to wedge themselves into particular industries such as automobiles, but it makes no sense to try to be good at everything. Jack of all trades, master of none.

Of course, the Chinese can steal technology but can't produce it. If you believe that, you are not only racist but stupid. China will be running circles around Americans in technology, in large part because of China's enormous investment in human and physical capital. While Americans travel in cars on worn out highways, the Chinese travel in state of the art transit. While Americans build walls with their neighbors, the Chinese build high speed rail to connect China with its neighbors. Thiel knows America needs to invest in human and physical capital, but he's complacent, making millions from skimming transactions (paypal) and advertising (facebook). As he opposes investment in human and physical capital in America, he buys property in New Zealand where he will run off and hide, just as Aaron Burr ran off and hid on a southern plantation after killing Alexander Hamilton.

I am not sure this is a good thing, but it is a fact that maybe Thiel knows things hidden since the foundation of the world.

Thiel's originary scene is puckered and waiting to be filled with meaning.

He wanted the mimetic desire of another person, instead he got 140 characters.

Why is this unimportant airbag getting any press?

Fracking, perfected by a Greek who's name escapes me but died a few years go, leaving a fortune, is like adding a little water to an empty shampoo bottle, shaking it, to get a little extra shampoo. It's a loser's game. Google "Lifeboat Ethics" for more information. Shows how short sighted Thiel is, or rather, as TC might say, he's projecting his own internal values to the rest of the world (only I don't do that, most people do, like scratching their nose when displeased, I actually have taught myself not to do that when displeased).

Emergency rooms are often have to remove shampoo bottles that people accidentally "sat on" when slipping in the shower.

Thiel was spotted here:

"Fracking, ... is like adding a little water to an empty shampoo bottle, shaking it, to get a little extra shampoo. It’s a loser’s game."

A surprisingly ignorant comment. I'm disappointed in you Ray. You are usually a much better poster.

"You are usually a much better poster"

A surprisingly ignorant comment. I’m disappointed in you JWatts. You are usually a much better poster.

"You are usually a much better poster."

No, not really.

@JWatts - stop the mystery writing please. And you're in no position to be lecturing me, an authority on everything, on Peak Oil.

Ray, I think there may be a distinction to be drawn between fracking oil vs. natural gas. If you look at where fracking is being used to exploit natural gas, it's in formations like the Marcellus and Utica shale, which are too deep for conventional drilling.

That's not what it is. You're thinking of horizontal drilling.
Fracking breaks up layers of rock to access deposits that were previously inaccessible.

Typically when you frack, you frack in a horizontal well and you frack multiple times in that well.

That analogy doesn't make sense for fracking. Tapping into oilfields that couldn't be economical exploited without fracking is like opening a new bottle of shampoo, not adding water to an empty bottle.

Your analogy makes sense for tertiary recovery methods such as polymer flooding, or water flooding, but not for fracking.

I can't believe you called Thiel short sighted while commenting on a process you don't understand.

Yawn. Bob Barker, a fake oil hand. Bob, read this boy: Hydraulic fracturing (also hydrofracturing, hydrofracking, fracking, or fraccing) is a well-stimulation technique in which rock is fractured by a pressurized liquid. and this boy: and when you're done you can join the big boys table at the Ponderosa ranch.

As I said, fracking is squeezing trapped oil out of the ground. Since something like 2/3rds of the oil (and natural gas, which is capped by the oil) is trapped that way, it's a good way to squeeze extra non-renewable resources out of the ground.

Bonus trivia: the Carboniferous Period (359-299 MYA) is when most coal was formed but surprisingly oil was formed as late as the Miocene Epoch, 23 - 5.3 MYA (Romanian oil fields). See more here, yes, I've memorized it: and that last titbit you won't find on Wikipedia but from my notes. Like Ken Arrow I am a monster infonaut.

No Ray, I spent 8 years drilling horizontal wells in the Canadian oil patch before I lost my job in 2015. I don't think people fake working in the oil patch, as it's not really a glamorous job...

I'm confused as to why you responded, because when you admited that 2/3rds of the oil is still in the ground. This directly contradicts your shampoo analogy.

Drilling deeper and producing from different zones means you are extracting oil from different bottles, not recycling from the same one. Water flooding is recycling from the same bottle.

Reading Wikipedia articles probably won't give you a deep understanding of facking, so you might want to branch out your sources...

If I recall correctly, Schulumberger has videos that explain fracking to the layman you might want to watch

Ok, Ok, I see the problem, you seized my analogy too literally. Sorry to hear about the Canadian oil patch job loss, but maybe you'll be rehired now that oil prices are back above break even, if you like that kind of work (I know some people who work offshore, and it pays well, enough for them to spend six months a year out of work and still make more money than most people at a desk job). Good luck.

Bonus trivia: when we drilled a water well here in Virginia, only down about 100 feet as I recall, we got prehistoric fossils of marine life, clam shells, that were under such pressure that they were actually 'rubberized', meaning they were like spongy pieces of rubber rather than hard as rock. As if they were 'alive' just days ago, as some sort of soft-shelled marine animal, even though they were 100s of millions of years old. Not sure what caused that, and I'm sure it's common (microfossils in oil for example) but it was quite a shock to me and something you don't read about in books, as is often the case in real life.

"Ok, Ok, I see the problem, you seized my analogy too literally. "

The problem was you were incorrect. And now you are refusing to admit that you were wrong.

Ray, a better analogy is that fracking is going after the coffee rather than the froth. The froth is the conventional oil that floated up, now fracking is going after where the froth came from.

"He’s impressed by fracking"

Cheaper ways to pillage and plunder land of its capital assets for sale to be burned are really wonderful. The higher the rate of burning inherited natural capital, the scarcer the capital to be burned, thus driving up the price of buying capital to burn, and thus the higher price minus lower labor costs means bigger and bigger profits from those in control of natural capital to pillage and plunder.

But for someone who wants to live forever, is his objective to contribute to and reach maximum entropy and the death of the universe, living out Asimov's "The Last Question"?

Elon Musk is committed to ending capital burning by building ever increasing amounts of energy producing capital so his children and their children will have a planet to live on. Except I think he fears people like Thiel successfully destroying the Earth requiring a Plan B of another planet for humans, like his children.

But maybe Thiel is looking to profit from his investment in SpaceX by destroying the Earth, creating lots of paying customers fleeing to Mars.

I did not know Thiel even had children, but point well taken. Google also the Jevons Question on Coal, which is surprisingly still relevant today.

Thiel uses children with shared genetics as organ incubators. Read his early work on how the concept of mortality is a major stagnation point for the economy.

He hopes a slave class can be used as body hosts for the transfer of his consciousness.

"Cheaper ways to pillage and plunder land of its capital assets for sale to be burned are really wonderful."

"Plunder the land of its capital assets?" So future generations will have nothing but the 100,000 to 1,000,000 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in methane hydrates?

"I don't know whether I am an extreme skeptic on climate change, but I have my doubts about the extreme way that people try to push it through, and I would say that I would be much more convinced of climate change, of the need to do something, if I thought there was a more open debate in which both sides were given a full hearing."

(By the way, the overwhelming view among scientists is that human activities like burning coal and oil are the primary driver of warming occurring since the mid-20th century.)

I nominate the author of the parenthesis for Humorist of the Day.

No kidding. Sure, the Medieval Warm Period had the atmosphere hotter than it is now, but seriously man, modern coal usage will flood the world.


So, let me get this straight. You are more convinced by science extrapolating from fossils, old books, glaciers, etc., than the science being done today with our instruments and tests tailored to a particular scientific question? Is that right?

Yes, tree rings are better, until they stopped coinciding with actual thermometers, then we ignore them.

The fossils and glaciers have actually occurred, they're reality. The predictions based on models, instruments and tests are hypothetical, they may or may not happen in the future.

'The fossils and glaciers have actually occurred, they’re reality.'

All placed there roughly 6000 years ago by the hand of god, at least according to a significant number of Americans.

'The predictions based on models, instruments and tests are hypothetical, they may or may not happen in the future.'

Well, the current models and their predictions have proven to be completely inadequate in terms of predictions made in 1995 or even 2005 when it comes to what instruments are showing as near real time data. Arctic sea ice coverage, with its inherent relationship to albedo (another extremely well established physical principle), has been shrinking at a rate that essentially none of the previous models, even in their most pessimistic scenarios, forecast.

However, since it is easily provable just how inadequate such models are, one would think that the interest in creating better models, ones that can at least adequately model what is currently happening around us, would be a priority. If only to help the oil and gas industry to more profitably plan activities to extract more resources from Arctic regions, in the sort of synergy that people like Thiel would probably appreciate.

They might have really occurred, but the explanation is still a hypothesis. Your view of science is that since we can't predict the future perfectly, so why do anything. Were you at Pompeii, by any chance? The consequences are too ominous to ignore or downplay in climate change, some of which are based on real chemical reactions we understand pretty well. The arguments against it are really based on the fear of spending money on anything other than current narrow and crony capitalist grounds. For Edmund Burke, spending money on issues that could affect the entire nation was the best use of taxes. For sure we can't know for certain what will happen concerning climate change, so we should be careful. But I know for certain the kind of bullshit companies will use to avoid paying even sensible taxes, and a philosophy of science that doesn't even rise to bullshit. All of a sudden, everyone is Linus Pauling. Not.

Personally, I see advances which are renewable and replicable are more likely to have greater long-term benefits than those which are non-renewable and can only be used once before they are "gone" forever.

This doesn't necessarily mean that Silicon Valley is dong a lot of substantively useful innovation these days, regardless of what quarterly results might show. But at the very least, there are millions of snippets of code and trial projects of every type to work from.

Gas? Burn it and it's gone.

"Personally, I see advances which are renewable and replicable are more likely to have greater long-term benefits than those which are non-renewable and can only be used once before they are 'gone' forever."

The key trend is that photovoltaics get less and less expensive...say 10% per year. Eventually, in sunny areas of the U.S., natural gas has to be essentially free to equal photovoltaics on a levelized-cost-of-energy basis.

And then you have batteries. Natural gas plants can generate electricity, but they can't absorb excess electricity like batteries can. So the long-run outcome is unquestionable...photovoltaics and batteries beat natural gas in sunny areas.

And wind and batteries beats PV, with PV still playing a reasonable role in settings where being connected to an electrical grid is not particularly necessary or practical.

"And wind and batteries beats PV,..."

As Kramer said about rock in rock, paper, scissors: "nothing beats rock." Nothing beats PV. PV is going to blow wind away :-).

Why? Here's a partial list of reasons:

1) PV can be installed anywhere. Wind can't. Just ask yourself, if all your neighbors generated more than half of the electrical power they use, would it be with wind or PV? No way you'd accept a 100-foot-tall windmill in everyone's yard, but photovoltaics on everyone’s roof is a different story. There’s no motion and no sound. The ability to locate PV very close to the demand means that a less robust transmission network is required.

2) The key to wind is larger and larger turbines. That approaches a limit. Photovoltaics suffer no such limit.

3) Photovoltaics costs are coming down much more rapidly than wind…and will continue to do so:

4) Photovoltaics are much better suited to the typical load curve in the U.S….especially in the southern U.S., where summer afternoon demands are the highest of the year.

5) The big improvements in photovoltaics haven't even happened yet. Perovskites will likely be to photovoltaics as OLED is to TVs. Eventually, everyone will have OLED TVs, and it's likely that virtually all PVs will be eventually be perovskites.

Don’t get me wrong…in 2050, wind might supply 10-20 percent of the total electrical energy consumed in the U.S. But photovoltaics will provide more electrical energy than any other source. Maybe even 50+ percent of all electrical energy produced.

"“What’s very striking is that on some level I think fracking represents a bigger economic form of progress for our society as a whole than the innovation in Silicon Valley.”

Wow-fracking is more important than Facebook?

Who would have known?

As you know, Thiel takes the contrariarian view 90% of the time. And this is a guy who knows almost nothing about energy, hence the weird quote.

Thiel is a climate skeptic, then I read once again the New Yorker text on preppers, bunkers and New Zealand..................American clients have also sought strategic advice. “They’re asking, ‘Where in New Zealand is not going to be long-term affected by rising sea levels?’

Thus, the "need to do something" is a question that is approached in two ways: as individual and as society. Mr. Thiel as individual is a prepper, he simply does not give a f*ck about the society approach to the question.

He seems to have no regard for any other human as non-instrumental to himself.

All very well, but I note that there is not strictly necessary that trade deficits ever turn into surplus and indeed conditions would need to adjust to make that likely. Why? Because, as long as US assets have retrun premium there is foreigners can earn risk free profits by holding US assets. Equilbrium will not tolerate such rent and foreigners end up paying on net by a persistent balance of payments surplus.

Now, why does this condition hold? Because at current the US is the largest and safest free market in the world. If you were going to build a large size firm with outsized profits then the US is the ideal home for the firm. This manifest, I believe, as the migration of big-idea entrpenuers to the Untied States generally and to Silicon Valley, New York and indeed Southern California in general. Recasting entertainmant stars as a type of large market entrepenuer I think helps better illustrate the macro-economic importance of SoCal.

Is there a link to either a transcript or a recording of the original conversation? I have very little faith that a journalist is going to do a good job reporting on a conversation that ranges far outside the standard set of talking points he's used to hearing.

I worry about climate change. I think it is real.

Warmer we can adapt to. Cooler? Well it is very difficult to grow crops under a mile of ice.


But let us suppose it is real as posited. China is increasing its CO2 output at a very rapid rate. If plant food emissions are destroying the planet any serious believer in the "currently accepted" theory would want a war with China (at the very least total economic sanctions). I have seen none of that.

Thus I think the UN person who said "climate change is an anti-capitalist measure" is probably correct.

Mark Bahner March 10, 2017 at 11:58 pm

Well, photo voltaic has a problem. Dark energy. There is very little output for between 3/4s and 5/6ths of the day depending on the season.

Have you calculated the size of the battery and the cost to cover dark periods and long stretches of cloudy days?

If power drops out on the grid for more than about a millisecond the whole system crashes.

It is very difficult to integrate randomly intermittent sources to a grid that requires continuous power.

The lack of understanding of all the technologies involved is epidemic in believers in "green" energy.

"Well, photo voltaic has a problem. Dark energy. There is very little output for between 3/4s and 5/6ths of the day depending on the season."

Yes, I'm not saying photovoltaics ever will or should supply 100% of the energy in the U.S. I think it will and should supply more than 50% of the electrical energy in the U.S. by 2050. The remainder of electrical energy in the U.S. will be wind and natural gas. (Both nuclear and coal will supply less than 5% of the electrical energy in the U.S. by 2050.)

Comments for this post are closed