Budget-Arsonists-Wearing-Firechief-Hats Watch: Greg Mankiw vs. Greg Mankiw
Welcome to the Teens

Stupidest Man Alive Nominations for Don Boudreaux, Mark Perry, and John Tierney

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps? Yes, it is the New York Times again.

Nomination made by and smackdown provided by Jim Hamilton:

Econbrowser: Energy cornucopia?: Don Boudreaux and Mark Perry are among those who regard John Tierney's claims of energy cornucopia to be persuasive.

Here are Tierney's strongest arguments:

Giant new oil fields have been discovered off the coasts of Africa and Brazil. The new oil sands projects in Canada now supply more oil to the United States than Saudi Arabia does. Oil production in the United States increased last year, and the Department of Energy projects further increases over the next two decades.

Let me discuss each of these observations in turn:

Africa and Brazil. It is true that these areas are increasing production.... However, consumption from China alone increased 1.5 mb/d between 2005 and 2009, meaning that despite the increased production from Brazil, Africa, and anywhere else in the world, everyone outside of China had to make do with less.

Canadian oil sands.... The appropriate measure is not exports to the U.S. but rather exports to the world as a whole. On a global basis Canada exported 1.5 million barrels of oil per day in 2009.... The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers expects that with aggressive growth their oil sands production could increase an additional 1.6 mb/d by 2025....

U.S. oil production. Here's a graph of U.S. oil production since 1920, in which the recent increase that Tierney mentions is clearly evident, as a modest blip back up in what has been a profound decline going back to 1971....

Tierney goes on to claim that "the really good news is the discovery of vast quantities of natural gas," and here I agree. The discovery of abundant new sources of natural gas is a huge story. Figuring out how to use this resource to replace our reliance on oil ought to be one of our highest priorities.

But the inference that we have nothing to worry about in terms of global oil supplies is not the conclusion that I would draw from the facts that Tierney discusses.

Might I suggest that the New York Times think about an alternative editorial model?

Comments