It’s the Statement, Stupid

This morning’s New York Times features some disingenuous reporting about the oil crisis from Peter Maass:

One of the industry’s most prominent consultants, Daniel Yergin, author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning book about petroleum, dismisses the doomsday visions. ”This is not the first time that the world has ‘run out of oil,”’ he wrote in a recent Washington Post opinion essay. ”It’s more like the fifth. Cycles of shortage and surplus characterize the entire history of the oil industry.” Yergin says that a number of oil projects that are under construction will increase the supply by 20 percent in five years and that technological advances will increase the amount of oil that can be recovered from existing reservoirs. (Typically, with today’s technology, only about 40 percent of a reservoir’s oil can be pumped to the surface.)

As Paul Roberts argued in The End of Oil and James Howard Kunstler railed against with jaded fury in The Long Emergency, what technological advances? Where will these come from? What are they? Do we pull these out of the hat and get a crummy raffle prize?

I particularly like the way that Maass not only allows Yergin to get away with this criminally general statement (thus underplaying the oil crisis), but prefaces the statement with “one of the industry’s most prominent consultants” and “author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning book,” failing to point out that Yergin never singled out any tech specifics in his article.

So what was the point of this ridiculousness? To provide “fair and balanced” journalism? To throw in a credentialed naysayer without actually calling up Yergin and ask him to elaborate on his views? That’s lazy journalism — the kind of misleading context that I expect from some priapic warblogger.


  1. Since Maass is wrting abook about oil it appears he doesn’t wantto share much info in this piece.

    For instance. writing about oil reserves and not mentioning Hubbert’s Peak seems like, well, ignorant.

  2. […] In a letter, New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller responds to the Posner media essay that appeared a few weeks ago in the NYTBR. Keller has made a fantastic claim: namely, that the New York Times is in the business of providing something “more elevated and consequential.” If this is the case, how does this explain the continued ridiculousness of the Style Section? Or last week’s amazing devotion of Times resources to Bridget Jones? Or yesterday’s slipshod cover story in the Magazine, where an alternative source was served up by a bogus claim of “technological advances” and, as Mr. Birnbaum noted in the comments section, a wholesale refusal to reference Hubbert’s Peak? […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *