12 Aug 2009

Another Peak Oil warning

I have only just got to read that last week The Independent reported that the world is heading for a catastrophic energy crunch that could cripple a global economic recovery because most of the major oil fields in the world have passed their peak production.

Photo: from Russ - he says himself he's not sure about this one - however I like it - the pristine mountain and can of oil......

Dr Fatih Birol, the chief economist at the respected International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris says that higher oil prices brought on by a rapid increase in demand and a stagnation, or even decline, in supply could blow any recovery off course. See Independent 3rd Aug 2009.

None of this is new news to those of us following the research into Peak Oil - but it is good to see it getting more coverage - in the same paper Jeremy Leggett writes that there is one major similarity between the energy crisis and the financial crisis and one main difference. He says these two things tell us a lot about the role of cultures in how our modern version of capitalism plays out. The similarity is that we are dealing with two massive global industries who have their asset assessment systemically, and roundly, wrong. The difference is that few people and organisations warned about the credit crunch as it approached, where as with the oil crunch, a host of people – many in and around the oil industry – are shouting a warning, and so to are a few good organisations concerned companies span British industry. See Independent 3rd Aug 2009.


James said...

Yup, this is the flip side of climate change. It mystifies me that people don't understand it's finite, and that we're using four barrels for every one we discover.

Some of the more fanciful ones in the "don't worry" crowd are claiming oil demand will naturally plateau and decline as well as electric cars and renewables take off.

Riiight- the only thing causing a reduction in demand is the economic slowdown, and it's not coincidence that the market crashes started just after the $146/barrel summer.

The frustrating thing is that tackling peak oil and tackling climate change require substantially overlapping solutions, with the exception of burning more coal. Here in Scotland, burning more coal is exactly the SNP's response, though.

Dorothea said...

I agree James.

The trouble is though, that it's not just global corps that are in the "don't worry crowd" it seems to be the majority of people around us. Most people I meet just cannot - or simply will not - accept the idea that their lives have to change and that they could live without owning a car that they can use whenever they want, to drive as far as they want. The idea of not having cheap fossil fuels and not being able to use as much electricity and buy whatever consumer goods they fancy at the drop of a hat is just too terrible for many of our friends and neighbours to contemplate for a minute. Dismissing any such thoughts, and the horrid people who make raise those nasty queries, from their minds is the most comfortable option every time.