Remember the movie ‘Independence Day’? How the alien ships arrived over major cities around the world and a countdown began towards apocalypse? Well that’s kind of where we are today except the mainstream media and world governments are hiding the threat from view while the US regime under Bush 2 is running rampant across the globe to secure as much as it can before the news breaks worldwide. Apparently we’ve run out of cheap oil.
It’s easy to get confused with all the mad news stories going around nowadays, especially given the overwhelming criminal compliance of our corporate and public media and the government propaganda it pedals, you’d hardly think we’re all actually involved in a global war, an illegal attack on Iraq, in extra-legal detention and torture, and in the ongoing mass murder of 10 000+ innocents while our world plummets on towards a global warming catastrophe. The biggest news in the world at the moment however is also the most suppressed, and it is actually quite frightening. It’s suppressed because it completely obliterates all the ludicrous reasons we’ve been fed about why we’re in Iraq and Afghanistan, and because once it becomes self-evident the global stock markets will panic and crash.
Obviously it’s all about the neo-colonial theft of Iraqi oil but the motivation driving this theft is rather more urgent than just funnelling oil into Haliburton’s maw. Apparently, according to oil industry people and independent geologists, Hubbert’s Peak has possibly already arrived with a plateau in global oil production this very year, midpoint peak by 2008 and terminal decline setting in from 2010. You may have noticed a growing number of stories about it but for those of you who don’t know, peak oil occurs when half the oil in the ground around the world has been pumped out. From that moment on the remaining oil is harder to extract, so they pump water and natural gas into the oil field to maintain pressure as the production in barrels per day declines. Using more energy to pump it out and less of a flow means oil is more expensive to produce and there’s increasingly less of it to go around. Or in other words, and it’s just a simple geological fact, there’s no more cheap oil.
The notion of ‘peak oil’ has been around for a while ever since Hubbert predicted it for the year 2000 back in the late 50’s. The recent predictions are based on geological data from the 2000 US Geological Survey and after the latest Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO www.peakoil.net ) conference in Berlin in late May attended by oil company geologists, market analysts, members of the European Parliament and international media this story is starting to break all over the internet just this last few weeks. It’s not a conspiracy myth, it’s not the ravings of disaffected lefties, it’s science. Dr Colin Campbell has recently revised the ASPO estimate for peak oil and gas production to just 4 years from now:
“The present model departs from earlier ones in recognition that the Middle East no longer has sufficient spare capacity to discharge a swing role. A volatile epoch of recurring price shocks and consequential recessions dampening demand and price is now regarded as more likely, with terminal decline setting in and becoming self-evident by about 2010”.
There are lots of recent 2004 reports speculating about the Saudi’s ability to increase production suggesting that the peak plateau may already have arrived with midpoint by 2008. OPEC is apparently pumping at its full rate, while everyone else from the Russians, US, North Sea to our own oil fields are apparently depleting already. The first major oil shock could be as early as the fourth quarter of this year and some analysts suggest that the Saudi’s are on the verge of a collapse in their major Gawar oil field, the largest in the world.
According to what I’ve read, if this all turns out to be true then we’re currently on the threshold of a gigantic transition in the structure of our modern globalised industrial civilization, a transition that humanity seems completely unprepared for. More than just the price of petrol at your local bowser, cheap oil means cheap road/rail haulage and international shipping as well as air travel, it means cheap food produced by mechanised industrial agriculture with its petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers, more than just underwriting the value of the US dollar and their domestic economy it upholds the global stock markets and banking system. Cheap oil has paid for our modern lifestyles since WW2. The end of cheap oil will mean a lot more than $4 per litre and rising, just to drive a car around.
Beyond the current oil wars and the short term economic effects of unstable oil supply and prices over the next 5 years, peak oil threatens an irreversible global economic decline that will force a massive, radical and sustained change in our way of life as we transition to alternative energy sources and the economic/political order they support.
The cost of everything will rise and rise with the poorest of us the first to start suffering. A terminal economic decline will begin with a recession in Australia the size of the one that occurred in WW2, and this possibility is already being discussed in our mainstream media. Think an end to public welfare across the board, food stamps and eventually food riots, massive rising unemployment, the collapse of Medicare and public hospitals, a severe crisis in the cost and delivery of water … but at least the roads will be less congested, more room for the ultra wealthy and their gas guzzling limousines.
At worst peak oil could mean a complete global economic collapse sometime after 2010, middle class poverty and the breakdown of law and order, truly gigantic starvation in the third world and the unrestrained outbreak of global warfare with the risk of numerous ‘limited’ nuclear conflagrations. It could ultimately mean the extinction of the human species through global nuclear war and its companions famine and pestilence.
If you’re a radical anarchist then quite possibly your time in the sun is coming very soon.
We need a government of the day that can honestly face this global energy crisis and work towards a coordinated international transition to alternative and sustainable energy sources apart from coal and nuclear energy as soon as possible.
Unfortunately it appears that current political and corporate leaders around the world are incapable of an honest and open response to the problem of peak oil, let alone global warming and other related ecological disasters in waiting that are fueled by our exponentially growing consumption of fossil energy. Far from facing the inevitable threat of peak oil, our current government’s oil friendly energy policy, theft of East Timorese oil and participation in the illegal war in Iraq keeps us in lock step with the Bush administration’s militarist regime.
Responding to this looming terminal oil crisis by collaborating in the mass murder of upwards of 50 000 Iraqi civilians and soldiers in order to gain strategic control of the Persian Gulf oil fields is probably the most criminally dangerous act imaginable in the circumstances. And it’s us liberal Anglo democracies that have done it.
My question to the Indymedia network is what potential exists here to organise around this global problem and help get this ‘Peak Oil’ message out? With the likelihood that oil prices will never again fall much below $US40 a barrel but on the contrary will inevitably keep rising as peak sets in the time is right for the truth to start making a whole lot of awful sense to a lot more people.
An Australian federal election is imminent, perhaps as early as August, in which Howard stands to win an implicit mandate for our involvement in a global oil war with no end. The real election issue is do we want global total warfare as a way of life or international cooperation in dealing with the impending collapse of our modern industrial civilisation?
Perhaps now is the time for all anti-globalisation activists to come together and fight the propaganda war currently being waged on us by the corporate media and mainstream political parties, using the new media weapons at the disposal of Indymedia. There is an editorial policy but is there any sort of consensus of opinion nationally and internationally amongst the Indymedia crews about the threat of peak oil and can Indymedia coordinate its activities and agenda on a national and international level?
What sort of relations can be built with local youth and student groups and other fringe dwellers focusing on an information campaign about peak oil as the underlying problem fuelling globalisation, oil wars and the disaster of global warming?
Some possibilities for action are: Encourage people to vote against Howard’s response to peak oil; encourage the stencil and graffiti artists to go political about it; organise ongoing poster/leaflet campaigns; form letters to government, corporate and union functionaries; online petitions; letters to the editor; indie ‘end time’ gigs; sit ins; rallies and whatever else comes to mind.
The central message is simple – Peak Oil is Here – everything else from corporate and governmental interference in our daily lives and the rape of the environment, to Howard’s use of concentration camps for ‘illegal aliens’ and the prosecution of an international war crime in Iraq, is a consequence of that simple geological fact and the end of the cheap energy that fuels globalisation. If 60’s activism revolved around ‘make love not war’ and the atrocity of Vietnam this generation is faced with nothing less than the possibility of the end of our modern industrial civilisation, a global apocalypse.
Ideas can be powerful, especially if they’re true and most especially if they involve an overwhelming threat to a peoples well being. That’s how the government’s propaganda campaign on ‘terror’ works, and its principles are based on Goebbels Nazi propaganda machine. Instead of spin and machination though what you have on your side is scientific truth.