Home > crisis, energy, financial markets > Political documents vs. scientific ones

Political documents vs. scientific ones

Tuesday the International Energy Agency released its annual “World Energy Outlook” report http://www.iea.org/speech/2009/Tanaka/WEO2009_Press_Conference.pdf, in which it forecast that by 2030 world oil production would increase from the current 85 million barrels per day to 105.  But yesterday the Global Energy unit at Uppsala University in Sweden issued a report “The Peak of the Oil Age” which claims oil production is more likely to be 75 million barrels a day by 2030.  The diagrams below, from the Guardian, illustrate the radical difference between these two views of our next twenty years.    

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Kjell Aleklett, professor of physics and director of the Global Energy, unit has described the IEA’s report as a “political document”.  Scientists who have worked on IEA reports have spoken of “pressure” being applied by the USA to misrepresent reality, the motivation being to keep oil prices low and to prevent a stock market panic.

The juxtaposition of these two “authoritative” reports raises two major quandaries for economists and policy makers: how to forecast and plan for the next twenty years, and, more generally, how to tell a political document from a scientific one.

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  1. November 17, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    Politics can find its way into these sorts of reports, but that’s not the only reason why they might disagree. World macroeconomic projections are inherently uncertain since we can’t say for sure about changes in technology and trade, economic growth, taxation of gasoline, biofuels subsidies, etc. We don’t know about oil discoveries, how fields will play out, OPEC decisions, stability and oil politics in producing countries (e.g. courting foreign investment in oil extraction).

    One report might be more rational than the other, but I wouldn’t so far as to call one scientific and the other political. They probably both have a lot of math and a lot of arbitrary assumptions.

  2. November 19, 2009 at 10:22 am

    With the Transfinancial Paradigm we would have a better chance of getting a more accurate comprehension of the national, and international economy. Through various forms of electronic business accounting/reporting notably at the transaction stage a profile could be built up of resources.

  3. November 25, 2009 at 12:34 am

    Good article, amazing looking blog, added it to my favorites!

  1. November 26, 2009 at 10:38 am
  2. January 3, 2010 at 5:38 pm

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