First- a brief book review: Nontechnical Guide to Petroleum Geology, Exploration, Drilling and Production – Norman J Hyne.
This is a good but dull book - a handbook of upstream oil process – how a drill works, all the processes involved in guiding drills, essentially a technical manual aimed at scientists and engineers who want to get up to speed (and hence useful) in the management of upstream oil and gas. If that is what you want I highly recommend this book.
I do not believe in investing in any industry until you understand it – and this will give you a very good understanding of the oil and gas industry. If your fund manager doesn’t read stuff like this then find a different fund manager. (This book is about widening your circle of competence. I am hardly recommending it for general reading – but we found it useful.)
The real purpose of this post
Norman Hyne is very matter-of-fact. For instance – without reference to whether such a thing should exist – or without reference to the vast scientific revolution that was required even to say such a thing – Hyne talks about 14 thousand feet of sediment. Sometimes he talks about 20 thousand feet of sediment. And it goes without saying that the world must be very old for this sediment to exist. The author won’t even bother entertaining the idea that the world is 6000 years old (and that the sediment was all laid down in some biblical flood). That notion is of no use whatsoever to a field petroleum engineer.
Likewise there is a chapter on analysing drill core samples. This is done by analysing micro-fossils – weeds and seeds. The organising principal of the theory is evolutionary biology. Creation Science is not entertained. Norman Hyne is a practical guy – and he wouldn’t mention such “theories” because they are no use in drilling for oil. Indeed you will find no worthwhile petroleum geologists who view creation science as a useful theory in finding oil.
We have just had a US President whose fortune was built on oil. We had a VP who was CEO of Haliburton – a major upstream oil contractor and technology provider. These people know that Creation Science is useless – that it will not help you find oil or make money.
Yet – admittedly with political considerations at heart – they were active or passive supporters of creation science crap. They knew it would keep the constituents poor or stupid – and yet – for understandable political reasons they backed it.
One of the more famous conservative blogs is called the Conspiracy to Keep you Poor and Stupid – but I have only once found such a conspiracy. And that was on the conservative side of politics.
I have said on this blog that conservatives sometimes have a better grasp of reality than liberals. They tend to have a more realistic view of the human condition than many starry-eyed liberals. However this is another example of conservatives becoming the anti-science reactionaries of American politics. Lots of real reform (eg greenhouse) will not be done well until conservatives engage properly with the reality. This is yet another plea for American conservatism to get back its intellectual strength. It really is time...
I have been criticised in the email and in the comments for a political sermon - the belief that creationism is a straw man to beat the political drum on.
I wish it were true. Over half the US population in some surveys believe this crap. I have seen high profiles conservatives describe evolution as "the liberal creation myth".
These are the same conservatives who have anti-science belief elsewhere. Everytime I mention greenhouse the blog goes wild. The temperatures of over 120 farenheit that my parents in law (rural southern Australia) experienced on the weekend may not be driven at all by the greenhouse effect - but my feeling is that the burden of proof is now totally on the climate-change-deniers. A couple of hundred dead (in the resulting fires) tends to focus the mind - and my mother in law - usually a tough old woman - spent most of Sunday crying...
Once Maggie Thatcher argued (indeed demonstrated) that lots could be achieved if you appealed to individualism. She was right. She had a decent understanding of the human condition. I might not agree with all she aimed for - and ultimately I think there are non-market goals. But the position had strengths and we should keep the good bits of it.
But the Maggie Thatcher view that financial markets could regulate themselves is now a smouldering ruin called the Royal Bank of Scotland.
How we get a facts-and-circumstances driven politics is something that regularly makes me ponder. Its is also the central political question of the next ten years - how we keep the good bits of the Thatcher/Reagan revolution (a general belief in markets and the worth of the individual) whilst tossing the bad bits (lack of environmental responsiveness, failed financial market regulation etc).
If I sound like I am giving a sermon I apologise in advance. But my guess is that the same people who believe in creation science are the people who believe that climate is the realm of god - not the realm of human ingenuity and destructiveness...
Finally - the real issue with greenhouse for this blog is the notion that it is real and it will effect investments. For instance if heat-waves of the kind experienced in southern Australia are common then fruit trees in the Goulburn Valley are not worth what they used to be. (You have a hard time growing peaches when the temperature is 120 farenheit.)
Likewise governemnts will do things and that will change the value of all sorts of assets (coal, nuclear, hybrid cars and lots of things I can't think of). All of that is worthy of consideration.