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THE FAST APPROACHING ENERGY CRISIS

by Derek J Wilson, June 2005

 

(This is an update of a September 2004 paper — The Approaching Energy Crisis)

 

The life contest is primarily a competition for available energy. Ludwig Boltzman 1886.

 

There is no substitute for energy. The whole edifice of modern society is built upon it…It is not ‘just another commodity’ but the precondition of all commodities, a basic factor equal to air, water and earth. E F Schumacher 1973.

 

On the 24 August 2004, the following exchange took place in the New Zealand House of Parliament between Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons and the New Zealand deputy Prime Minister Dr Michael Cullen:

Fitzsimons: What does the Minister understand by the term ‘peak oil’ and when does he expect it to occur?
Cullen: I have to confess that, for once, the member has floored me; I do not understand what is meant by the term ‘peak oil’.
Fitzsimons: Does the Minister agree, then, that the price of any commodity is likely to rise over time, when demand is increasing exponentially while supplies are being restricted by physical limits, and does he agree that oil is a commodity that has just such characteristics?
Cullen: In theoretical terms, yes; in practical terms, no. We have yet to reach the point where it is all clear that new discoveries in oil — and I now think I understand what the member was getting at before — fall below the level of the projected demand for oil. At the present time, the production of oil is actually outrunning demand, and stockpiling is occurring. Prices are high because of, primarily, the uncertainty in the Middle East, plus the growing demand from China, plus the somewhat confused situation — to put it kindly — surrounding oil and gas companies in Russia.
Fitzsimons: Has the Minister been advised that the current oil demand is 81 million barrels a day and the total capacity of the world’s oil fields to produce oil is 82.5 million barrels a day; and does he think that that provides sufficient headroom for demand to continue to increase — for example, with China’s 40 percent increase in demand in the last year?
Cullen: Clearly, therefore, the member has confirmed what I have just said: supply is actually exceeding demand at the present time. And, as prices rise, that will encourage new exploration and also new exploitation of known reserves that were previously uneconomic to exploit — for example — the extremely large Canadian oil shale reserves.
Fitzsimons: Has the Minister been advised that for some time now oil discoveries have been running at the rate of one barrel for every four that are burned, and how long does he think that that can continue; further, has he been advised that Canadian shale and tar sands oil will be extremely expensive compared with current supplies, as well as a lot dirtier?
Cullen: Certainly on the last point, given the nature of the area there are several environmental issues, and exploration would certainly be more expensive. But it does seem to me rather odd that a Green Party member would bemoan a rise in price for a limited product. [1]

A comment by Robert AtackDr Cullen’s admission that he did not understand what was meant by the term ‘peak oil’ was alarming. In a reply to the writer, Jeanette Fitzsimons reinforced her sound beliefs:

With regard to China, official customs data shows it to have imported 91 million tonnes of crude oil in 2003. (The year 2004 imports could exceed 100 million tonnes.) China imports more than 40 percent of its crude oil needs, a proportion that is rising as domestic production declines and consumption rapidly increases to fuel remarkable economic growth. China has marked out four sites at which to build 16 million cubic metres (100.6 million barrels) of strategic reserves — about 20 days consumption. With 10,000 new vehicles on the road every day China is ravenous for oil, and with its deserved reputation for thinking long term is buying up oil fields in Venezuela and the rights to the Athabasca oil tar sands in Atlanta, Canada.

It does not matter how many billions of tonnes of oil shale there might be in Canada - or anywhere else for that matter - if it takes the expenditure of one unit of energy to get two or more, is it going to be worth the effort, especially when the effects of carbon emissions and environmental destruction are considered? What will the price per barrel of oil have to be before it reaches an uneconomic extraction rate? In the light of what is known about ‘peak oil’, I find it almost impossible to understand the thrust of the Automobile Association-commissioned report released on the 25 September 2004. As the Green Party rightly says:

New Zealand is a member of the International Energy Agency (IEA), which in its World Energy Outlook 2002 report saw enough oil to comfortably meet demand to 2030, a date which it seems the former Minister of Energy, Pete Hodgson, went along with, as does the present Minister, Trevor Mallard. As for ‘peak oil’, it is based on hard science. Global oil production is in the process of ‘peaking’; soon it will level off, if it is not doing so already, and then decline. As Colin Campbell so eloquently put it in 2003: “Deal with reality, or reality will deal with you.” [4] The IAE is now backing rapidly away from its earlier projections and recognising that it has a crisis on its own hands. Recently leaked IEA emergency oil conservation plans titled Saving Oil in a Hurry: Measures for Rapid Demand Restraint in Transport succinctly state: “Why should governments intervene to cut oil demand during a supply disruption or price surge? One obvious reason is to conserve fuel that might be in short supply.” As the report puts it, while suggesting a whole raft of restrictions: “Our main conclusion finds that those policies that are more restrictive tend to be most effective in gaining larger reductions in fuel consumption. In particular, driving restrictions give the largest estimated reductions in fuel consumption.” [5]

Initially, to greatly reduce our oil dependency it will be essential to drastically reduce the use of all the energy wasting paraphernalia of our profligate consumer society - the list is very, very long. The question is of course: are the leaders of our society prepared to accept the evidence and take measures to ameliorate the inevitable effects of peak oil, or are they incapable of dealing with an issue of this magnitude such as our civilisation has never before experienced? What happens as production declines and the remaining oil becomes increasingly expensive? If the year 2000 turns out to have been that of ‘peak oil’, as Princeton Professor Kenneth Deffeyes told the May 2003 Paris Peak Oil Conference it was, adding that we are now on the plateau [6], worldwide production in 2020 will be the same as it was in 1980. But the world’s population in 2020 is predicted to be approximately twice its present size and more industrialised than it was in 1980, producing a situation in which demand for oil will have greatly outstripped production.

It seems common sense, regardless of whether non-renewable energy sources will decrease more or less rapidly and finally run out in 20, 30, 40 or more years, to adopt the Precautionary Principle (prudent foresight) and do all that is humanly possible to mitigate the severity of civilisation’s crash. Remember that on our evolutionary time scale, 2000 to 2050, say, is far less than the blink of an eyelid. Ali Bakhtiari, head of corporate planning at the Iranian State Oil Company, put it like this in 2003:

Countries will be increasingly prepared to overlook death and destruction in order to maintain the oil flow. “Indeed, the US is explicit that the protection of pipeline routes (rather than the protection of people) is a prime reason why ‘war on terror’ is being waged.” [8] There can be little doubt that Washington intends to turn Iraq into a strategic oil supplier. Iraqi pleas for the approximately 150,000 US troops to return home is unlikely to be received kindly. The Gulf War was the latest US battle in a long line of oil wars by the West, some of which are listed below from one source, with approximate deaths, to control Earth’s energy-producing reserves.

 

Iran 1953      
Algeria 1954-1962      
Suez 1956   1,000  
Nigeria 1956to the present      
Sudan 1959 to the present   2,000,000  
Guatemala 1960s-1996   200,000  
Colombia 1960s to the present      
Democratic Republic of Congo 1965 to the present   2,500,000  
Amgola 1975-2002      
East Timor 1975-2002
  100,000 (other sources give figures up to 250,000)
Ache, Indonesia 1976-2002   30,000  
Kuwait and Iraq 1991   100,000  
Chechnya 1994 to the present   40,000  
Congo 1997   10,000  
Afghanistan 2002 [9]      
   

It is not, however, just the world’s basic energy supply of oil which the US is determined to command, but the whole world itself. The emphasis is no longer on waging major theatre wars — its ‘pre-emptive’ war doctrine as detailed by the Neocons’ 2000 Project of the New American Century (PNAC). This has been replaced by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s March 2005 Agenda for Global Military Domination. According to Greg Jaffe’s report in The Wall Street Journal recently, this planning document outlines a vision for a massive remaking of the military into

According to Michel Chossudovsky: “This calls for a more ‘pro-active’ approach to warfare, beyond the weaker notion of ‘pre-emptive’ and defensive actions, where military actions are launched against a ‘declared enemy’ with a view to ‘preserving the peace’ and ‘defending America’… From a broad military and foreign policy perspective, the March 2005 Pentagon document constitutes an imperial design, which supports US corporate interests worldwide.” [11]

Before leaving this question of global power, the US Department of Defense in a 2004 report to Congress made clear some of its worries. “China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is embarked on an ambitious, long-term military modernization effort to develop capabilities to fight and win short-duration, high-intensity conflicts along its periphery.” [12]

However, the document which must be causing some headaches in official quarters in Washington is Crisis on the China Rim by an American research team and dated April 2005. It includes China’s anticipated energy requirements.

China’s rapidly growing energy requirements stand in direct opposition to those of the US. Some idea of the latter’s military energy requirements may be gauged from the following:

Michael Renner of the Worldwatch Institute told us early in 2003: “US oil deposits are increasingly depleted, and many other non-OPEC fields are beginning to run dry. The bulk of future supplies will have to come from the Gulf region.” [15] But there are immense problems here. The chief oil supplier to the US is Saudi Arabia, a dynasty as corrupt as they come. Craig Unger, in a recent explosive book, points out that: “More than any other country, Saudi Arabia is responsible for the rise of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism that threatens America today.” [16] Lutz Kleveman, New York correspondent for the German news magazine Der Spiegel, puts it this way:

The US spends an estimated $50 billion annually on its forces in Saudi Arabia in order to protect the oil wells — a military presence on what is holy soil to Muslims. Possibly no other act has done more to motivate al Qaeda to wage jihad against the West. Of course, the conflict over the control of oil in the Middle East has been going on for many years. A 1947 Foreign Office secret document described Middle East oil as “a vital prize for any power interested in world influence or domination”. [18] In a 2002 documentary, Noam Chomsky attributed President Eisenhower with saying in 1958:

What’s changed? Quite apart from the continued exploitation of the countries with oil, Eisenhower’s observations may be applied to the US administration’s domination of many parts of the world over many years — a Pax Americana under which, as the American imperial planner George F Keenan put it, the United States had ‘a moral right to intervene’ anywhere in the world, and did so relentlessly, subverting and destroying governments which dared to demonstrate independence, from Italy to Iran, Chile to Indonesia. [20] All of which contravened Shakespeare’s worthy advice of some four centuries ago: “Oh! It is excellent to have a giant’s strength, but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant.” For a brief appraisal of ‘terrorism’ refer to www.derekjwilson.co.nz under Where on Earth are We Going? A guide to global issues. 2004.

To examine Peak Oil let’s go back a bit to 1956 when the late M King Hubbert, “probably the world’s most famous and influential geologist”, publicly announced the ‘peak oil’ theory which has it that 40 years after peak discovery comes peak production. It had already been established that US oil discovery had peaked around 1930. Hubbert noted that exploration in all its forms follows a bell-curve with production plotted against time. In the ascending curve exploration and production are easy and cheap, but in the descending curve it becomes progressively more difficult and expensive. [21] At the time, Hubbert and his ideas were much disparaged. However, with US oil production peaking in 1970-71, a few people began to realise that all was not well.

In 1972 the Club of Rome surprised the world with its study, Limits to Growth, which concluded that:

The report made clear that the Western economic model of development based on the pursuit of ever greater growth and material wealth, which placed profit before people, denied the most basic laws of Nature. About the same time, E F Schumacher asked whether the Earth’s resources were “likely to be adequate for the further development of an industrial system that consumes so much and accomplishes so little.” [23] Officialdom was not listening; had no intention of listening; may have been incapable of listening; while generally speaking people had little idea of what was happening. Over the past 30 odd years this development accelerated exponentially and with it the destruction of irreplaceable resources. At the same time, public warnings increased. It seemed officialdom was still not listening. There were some exceptions, President Jimmy Carter being one who declared in 1976:

Carter appeared on TV on the 18 April 1977 and told the American people that “ours is the most wasteful nation on Earth; we waste more energy than we import” and exhorted them to a massive national effort to conserve. Nevertheless, the Carter Doctrine, expounded by Carter in his State of the Union Address, January 1980, made it clear that any hostile effort to impede the flow of Persian Gulf oil would be regarded as an “assault on the vital interests of the United States” and would be “repelled by any means necessary, including military force.” With the advent of the Reagan-Bush regime in 1980, Carter’s ideas of energy conservation were nullified. Reagan ordered the Carter-installed hot-water panels on the White House roof removed and junked.

In 1995, Petroconsultants Pty., Ltd., one of the largest and most respected oil industry analysis and consulting firms, released a document called World Oil Supply 1930-2025. This report predicted that global oil production would peak around the year 2000 and decline by 25 percent by 2025. [25] Professor Kenneth Deffeyes has had this to say about Petroconsultants:

The situation overall is perhaps worse than those concentrating on the energy problem alone may be aware of for as Daniel Quin says:

Petroconsultants’ report, which caused little notice to be taken of the deteriorating situation, was followed in 1998 by a sobering article by Colin Campbell and fellow geologist Jean Laherrere. Campbell, former geologist for Texaco and Amoco, whose career took him exploring in 10 countries, was associated with Petroconsultants, and was former executive vice president of Total Final Elf, while Laherrere had worked for Total Final Elf for thirty-seven years exploring for oil in numerous countries.

Then in 1999, Dick Cheney, then CEO of the giant Texas oil company Halliburton, stated:

This is equivalent to six times the amount of oil produced per day by Saudi Arabia, the world’s leading oil producer. [30] In a late 2000 speech, Campbell summarised his current views:

A report commissioned by Cheney and released in April 2001 was no less sanguine.

The year before this, the NZ Ministry of Commerce issued a report which stated:

It seems obvious that locally and globally massive cut backs in energy consumption are essential. Ali Bakhtiari’s remark about oil depletion not being a problem of tomorrow but of today, can be applied equally to climate change. It is here now. But the more people who understand ‘oil depletion’ the more one hopes the massive energy reduction essential for some sort of welfare can be achieved smoothly and without bloodshed.

With the new millennium, interest in the energy situation obviously sharpened. In February 2002, Colin Campbell reported:

Campbell followed this up in 2003 with his book The Essence of Oil & Gas Depletion:

In June 2003, Matthew Simmons, CEO of the world’s largest energy investment bank, Simmons & Company International, George W Bush’s energy advisor, and one who has highlighted the reality and significance of oil depletion, acknowledged that: “The situation is desperate. This is the world’s biggest serious question.” [36] Simmons went on, in an August interview, when asked if it was time for Peak Oil to become part of the public policy debate:

Most politicians and economists are part of the problem, few are part of the solution. In a fundamentally flawed worldview, economists especially are trained to believe that natural resources come from ‘markets’ rather than Earth. As Kenneth Boulding, himself an economist, put it “anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever is either an economist or a madman.” [38] This would make an excellent daily pre-TV news flash. Growth, of which energy use is a vital part, together with the rapid and on-going depletion of Earth’s resources, is a product of the Industrial Revolution. It has become an unassailable mantra — “the ideology of the cancer cell” [39] — and an absolute impossibility on a finite Earth. Just as a continuously growing cancer eventually destroys its life-support systems by destroying its host, this continuously expanding global economy is surely and mercilessly destroying its host — Earth’s ecosystems. [40] According to Herman Daly, until recently senior economist with the environmental department of the World Bank:

But to return to the energy part of the equation, a month later in September 2003, in another interview, Simmons expounded further:

Asked for a solution, Simmons advised:

Prayers for mild weather are most unlikely to be answered. The Precautionary Principle has not been applied in the past to reduce our contributions to climate change. As a result, we can expect the weather to worsen. Simmons followed this up by saying:

Also in September 2003, came a report that Chevron-Texaco planned to dispose of 550 filling stations in the United States; 900 in Asia and Africa; retailing and refining operations in Europe, South America, Australia and the Middle East and the exploration and production holdings in North America, the North Sea and Papua. Such planned actions should deliver a broad message about the pending peak and decline of world oil production. In May 2005, Exxon-Mobile, one of the world’s largest publicly owned petroleum companies, quietly predicted an impending production plateau.

George W Bush’s Secretary of Energy, Spencer Abraham, also echoed Simmons’ sentiments:

Alhough made prior to Simmons’ and Abraham’s comments, George W Bush’s public announcement on 23 September 2002: “We need an energy bill that encourages consumption,” is ludicrous. Bush was echoing President Nixon’s 1973 comment on his country’s global energy situation.

Was Nixon, in turn, harking back to earlier times? In 1948 George F Kennen, US Cold War planner, had rationalised American Imperial supremacy in a brutally frank State Department Policy Planning Study:

The past five decade’s history indicates that Kennen’s advice was heeded. “Today the average US citizen uses five times as much energy as the world average. Even citizens of nations that export oil — such as Venezuela and Iran — use only a small fraction of the energy US citizens use per capita.” [49]

It is extremely difficult to establish clear parameters for the true quantities of oil production and reserves, for there are many figures available. But one thing stands out — much false information has been broadcast. Colin Campbell puts it this way:

What then are we — the public — to believe when CNN International reported in October 2003 that a research team from Sweden’s Uppsala University had discovered that worldwide oil reserves were as much as 80 percent less than previously thought? [51] When the Royal/Shell Group was reported to have slashed its ‘proven’ reserves 20 percent in early 2004? [52] When a month later energy company El Paso Corporation cut its proven natural gas reserves estimate by 41 percent? [53]

The energy industry has quietly acknowledged the seriousness of the situation. For example, Exxon-Mobile recently posted an article on its homepage, in which the company director Jon Thompson stated:

Early in 2000, former UK environmental minister, Michael Meacher, stated: “It is hard to envisage the effects of a radically reduced oil supply on a modern economy or society. The implications are mind-blowing.” [55] Shortly afterwards The Toronto Star reported him as saying that we were facing “the sharpest and perhaps the most violent dislocation (of society) in recent history.” [56] Peak oil has become the most powerful force for global destabilisation reaching as it does deep into our economic systems, our environment, our geopolitics and the whole of our societies.

With regard to food and water provisioning, which are irrevocably dependent on energy supplies, the future is not encouraging. World grain production has dropped every year since 1996-1997. [57] World wheat production has dropped every year since 1997-1998, while recent food prices in China could signal a coming world food crisis. [58] In the US in 2003 a quarter of the fertiliser factories shut down permanently. [59]

A measure of our failure to live within our hydrological means is that the world’s population used three times as much water in 1995 as it did in 1950, [60] while the supply of water per capita in 1994 was only one third of what it was in 1970. [61] These trends continue to worsen. (For more details of our water situation refer to www.derekjwilson.co.nz Where On Earth Are We Going? A guide to global problems, 2004 and to Anita Roddick’s 2004 brilliant appraisal, Troubled Water: Saints, Sinners, Truths and Lies about the Global Water Crisis.)

The thought of oil depletion and its consequences hasn’t yet entered the consciousness of the general public. Society, being addicted to oil, is unprepared for shocks of this kind. But as Aldous Huxley has warned us: “Facts do not cease to be facts simply because they are ignored.”

We are a species in denial. Few seem to appreciate the gravity of the situation, where almost every current human endeavour — especially in our voracious consumer, growth-orientated, materialistic world — from transportation, manufacturing, electricity, pesticides, plastics, fertilisers, computers, paint — some 500,000 products in all — and particularly food and water production, is inextricably dependent on non-renewable oil, coal and natural gas supplies somewhere along the line. Any discussion about solutions must be based on scientific principles, not business and economics. Many suggested substitutes for oil have serious technical limitations. Coal, a long-term finite resource, is particularly harmful to our environment. Natural gas is also a finite resource. Hydro dams create their own raft of problems. Hydrogen is only an energy carrier and an energy loser, not a primary energy source. Nuclear power won’t fuel transport, is horrendously expensive (remember the boast — “safe, clean and too cheap to meter”), its deadly wastes will be with us for millennia, while a September 11 type attack would make a nasty mess of a country’s wellbeing. Biomass is one possibility, while wind and solar power have great potential. Proven or unproven laboratory technologies will not be ready for use within out required scale and timeframe.

THERE ARE NO COMBINATIONS OF ENERGY SOURCES WITHIN SIGHT THAT WILL SUPPORT A SMALL FRACTION OF THE LIFE STYLE THAT THE WESTERN AND WESTERNISED WORLDS HAVE GROWN ACCUSTOMED TO.

In an interview with ABC News, David Goodstein, Professor of Physics and Vice Provost of Cal Tech University, (his recent book is Out of Gas: The End of Oil), had this to say about Peak Oil:

In spite of all this, every viable alternative form of energy supply, especially wind and solar power generation, should immediately be put on fast-track by all concerned, to “reduce oil dependence,” as physicist Alfred Cavallo says, and not wait “for Mother Nature to slap them [the people] in the face.” [65]

Above all other considerations, a responsible government-led programme for energy conservation is essential. The possibilities are legion.

Nevertheless, there are grounds for hope. None of the problems that beset us are insoluble. What’s more, it’s now a very small interconnected world in which few — that is in the developed world which is mostly causing the problems - can claim ignorance and most should be able to claim awareness. Unlike a possible collision with an asteroid our problems are of our own making and therefore we are the ones who control them. As Jared Diamond puts it — “we have the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of distant peoples and past peoples. That’s an opportunity that no past society enjoyed to such a degree.” [66] But what if we’ve already crossed the Rubicon? Shouldn’t we be working towards a survivable collapse?

Perhaps the Saudi Arabians will be better able to cope than the Western world, for they have a saying: “My father rode a camel, I drive a car, my son flies a jet aircraft — his son will ride a camel.

Notes

  1. Parliamentary Debates, Hansard, Tuesday 24 August 2004.
  2. Jeanette Fitzsimons, letter to the writer, 8 September 2004.
  3. Green Party comment on the Allen Report, 2004.
  4. Matt Savinar, The Oil Age Is Over: What to Expect as the World Runs Out of Cheap Oil, 2005- 2050. Matt Savinar Publishing, Santa Rosa, CA, USA. 2004.
  5. International Energy Agency, Saving Oil in a Hurry: Measures for Rapid Demand Restraint in Transport, March 2005.
  6. Michael Ruppert, “Paris Oil Conference Reveals Deepening Crisis,"e; From the Wilderness, 30 May 2003.
  7. Ali Bakhtiari, “Running on Empty,%quot; New Internationalist 361 October 2003.
  8. Chris Richards, ”Pipelines on Empty,“ New Internationalist 361 October 2003.
  9. The Ecologist, April 2003.
  10. The Wall Street Journal, 11 March 2004.
  11. Michel Chossudovsky, New Undeclared Arms Race: America’s Agenda for Global Military Domination, March 2005. www.globalresearch.ca
  12. US Department of Defense. Annual Report on The Military Power of The People’s Republic of China. YF04 Report to Congress on PRC Military Power Pursuant to the FY2000 National Defense Authorization Act June 2004.
  13. Crisis on the China Rim. An economic, crude oil, and military analysis, April 14 2005. Laguna Research Partners LLC Irvine, California 92614.
  14. ”The Military’s Oil Addiction,” Earth Island Journal, February 1991.
  15. Robert Fisk, “Over a barrel: How can a war in Iraq not be about oil?” Listener, February 1 2003.
  16. Craig Unger, House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World’s Two Most Powerful Dynasties, Scribner, 2004.
  17. Lutz Kleveman, “The new great game.” The Ecologist, April 2003.
  18. Mark Curtis, Web of Deceit: Britain’s Real Role in the World, Vintage, 2003.
  19. Noam Chomsky. Power and Terror in Our Times. Documentary 2002.
  20. Noam Chomsky, Year 501: The Conquest Continues, South End Press, 1993.
  21. James J Puplava, “Hubbert’s Peak & The Economics of Oil, Financial Sense, 16 March 2003.
    Kenneth Deffeyes, Hubbert’s Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage, Princeton University Press, 2001.
    Richard Heinberg, The Party’s Over: Oil War, and the Fate of Industrialised Societies, New Society Publishers, 2003.
    Jeremy Rifkin, The Hydrogen Economy, Tarcher/Putnam, 2002.
    Colin J Campbell, The Essence of Oil & Gas Depletion, Multi-Science Publishing Company and Petroconsultants, 2003.
    John Howe, The End of Fossil Energy, McIntire Publishing, 2004.
    Ronald R Cooke, Oil Jihad & Destiny, Opportunity Analysis, 2004.
  22. Donella Meadows, Dennis Meadows, Jorgen Randers & William Behrens, The Limits to Growth: A Report for the Club of Rome’s Project on the Predicament of Mankind, Universe Books, 1972.
    Jay Hanson, “Energetic Limits to Growth,” Energy Magazine, Spring 1999.
  23. E F Schumacher, Small is beautiful: A Study of Economics as if People Mattered, Abacus, 1974.
  24. Richard Heinberg, op cit 21.
  25. “Peak Oil. The Greatest Story never Told?” American Assembler, 11 June 2004.
  26. Keneth Deffeyes, New Internationalist 361 October 2003.
  27. Richard Heinberg, op cit 21.
  28. Colin Campbell and Jean Laherrere, “The End of Cheap Oil?” Scientific American, March 1998.
  29. William F Engdahl, “Iraq and the Problem of Peak Oil,” Current Concerns, 26 January 2004.
  30. Matt Savinar, op cit 4.
  31. Colin Campbell, Peak Oil: An Outlook on Crude Oil Depletion, (online), October 2000.
  32. Larry Everest, Oil, Power and Empire, Common Courage Press, 2003.
  33. New Zealand Ministry of Commerce Report, 2000.
  34. Matt Savinar, op cit 4.
  35. Colin J Campbell, op cit 21.
  36. Matthew Simmons, interview From the Wilderness, June 2003.
  37. Matthew Simmons, interview From the Wilderness, August 2003.
  38. Kenneth Boulding, Ecology and the Politics of Scarcity Revisited, W H Freeman & Co., 1992.
  39. Edward Abbey, The Fool’s Progress, Henry Holt, 1988.
  40. James R Hepworth & Gregory McNamee, eds., Resist Much, Obey Little — Remembering Ed Abbey, Sierra Club Books, 1996.
  41. Anita Gordon & David Suzuki, It’s a Matter of Survival, Harvard University Press, 1991.
  42. Matthew Simmons, interview From the Wilderness, September 2003.
  43. Ibid.
  44. Matthew Simmons, New Internationalist 361 October 2003.
  45. Jay Hanson, op cit 22.
  46. Michael Klare, “Other People’s Oil,” Foreign Affairs in Focus, January 2004.
  47. “Notes and Comments,” The New Yorker, vol XL1X, no 42, 10 December 1973.
  48. George F Kennan, US State Department Policy Planning Study, #23, 1948.
  49. Richard Heinberg, op cit 21.
  50. Colin Campbell, New Internationalist 361 October 2003.
  51. Graham James, “World Oil and gas Running Out,” CNN International, 2 October 2003.
  52. Joseph A Giannone, “Major Oil Shocks Fall as Shell Revises Reserves,” Reuters Business News, 9 January 2004.
  53. “El Paso Trims Reserves,” Reuters, 13 February 2004.
  54. Matt Savinar, op cit 4.
  55. Michael Meacher, “Plan Now for a World Without Oil,” Financial Times, 5 January 2000.
  56. Richard Gwyn, “Demand for Oil Outstripping Supply,” The Toronto Star, 28 January 2000.
  57. David Good, “Will Shortfalls in World Grain Production Continue?” Farmdoc, 17 November 2003.
  58. Matt Savinar, op cit 4.
  59. Richard Heinberg, “Oil and Gas Update,” Museletter Number 142, January 2003.
  60. New Internationalist 273 November 1995.
  61. United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 1994, Oxford University Press.
  62. The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream. Canadian-US film. Producer Barry Silverthorn, 2004.
  63. Geoff Kearsley, Newzstel News Agency Ltd., RNZ Supplement, 1 February 2004.
  64. Lee Dye, “Dried Up? Are We Running Out of Oil?” ABC News, 10 February 2004.
  65. Alfred Cavallo, National Geographic, June 2004.
  66. Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive, Penguin/Allen Lane, 2005.


30 STEPS TO AN OIL-FREE WORLD (The Ecologist April 2003, with permission.)

People

  1. Walk, cycle, take public transport or consider a car-pool whenever possible.
  2. Reduce your travel by air.
  3. If you need a car, buy the most fuel-efficient.
  4. Service your car regularly — keeping the engine tuned and your car tyres at the maximum recommended pressure saves petrol.
  5. Live as close to work as possible [or work from home].
  6. Shop locally rather than in out-of-town superstores.
  7. Buy regionally and seasonally produced organic food wherever possible.
  8. Switch your investments away from fossil fuel to renewable energy companies, or exercise your right as a shareholder to pressure energy companies to make the transition to renewables.
  9. Boycott the products of companies like Esso that are obstructing the transition to renewables.
  10. Lobby your political representatives to press them to act, and vote accordingly.

Government

  1. Accept a target of phasing out oil & gas use within 50 years.
  2. Discontinue all direct and indirect subsidies to the oil and gas industry.
  3. Refuse licenses for the exploration and development of new oil and gas reserves.
  4. Provide investment, grants, and tax breaks for the development, use and purchase of clean renewable alternatives to oil and for energy alternative vehicles.
  5. Increase investment in public transport.
  6. Pedestrianise city centres and introduce congestion charges in cities.
  7. Require car makers to ensure an escalating proportion of their vehicle fleet sales consists of petrol-free vehicles.
  8. Increase minimum energy efficiency standards for vehicles.
  9. Charge tariff policies on imports to support the local consumption of goods (particularly food) that have been produced locally.
  10. Phase out subsidies to industrial food production, which is petrol-intensive, and support conversion to organic methods instead.

Business

  1. Oil & gas companies should commit to converting themselves into renewable energy companies, and redirect their investments accordingly.
  2. Car makers should commit to mass-manufacture cars now that run on hydrogen fuel cells or other renewable fuels [hydrogen is not a renewable fuel - Carpanix], and that use lighter materials.
  3. Companies should convert their truck and car fleets to the lowest petrol-consuming vehicles available.
  4. Companies should provide incentives for employees to leave their cars at home and use public transport instead, reduce air travel, and promote telecommuting.
  5. Companies should site their offices close to public transport.
  6. Retailers should adopt a purchasing policy that provides preferences to goods from short supply routes and regional markets.
  7. Companies should shift freight out of trucks and onto rail and waterways.
  8. Farmers should convert from industrial to organic farming methods.
  9. The plastics & packaging industries should replace their use of oil with corn, soybean, potato starch or limestone derivatives.
  10. The clothing industry should use vegetable starch and natural fibres, such as wool and cotton, instead of oil-derivatives in their products.


I can’t do without pointing out that «The Ecologist» “forgot” to include the most relevant step in this list: never give birth to more than one child or, even better, avoid breeding at all! Every human added to the lot of us is a new consumer requiring more and more of everything and releasing more and more pollution. That human’s attitude towards resource saving may reduce his/her impact, but it can’t ever turn it to zero. - Carpanix