The Peak Oil Crisis: Part 7 – The Government Intervenes

Falls Church News-Press (US)
By the time gasoline passes $5 per gallon, or, there are shortages causing lines at the pumps, nearly everyone will have realized it is time for government intervention at all levels in the looming oil crisis. On the way to $5 gasoline of course, there will much demagogy with politicians calling for tax cuts accompanied by denunciations of oil companies, regulators, speculators, Arabs, Chinese and anybody else who has a finger in the oil market. But, gradually all this will subside and there will be a general reconciliation to the notion that oil from beneath the ground will become increasing expensive and scarcer for all time. While state and local governments will be fully occupied in helping people cope with reduced energy, it is the federal government that will be critical in setting nationwide policies and establishing new relations with the outside world. …
(16-22 June 2005)
Part of ongoing series describing the most likely developments of energy descent.

Has oil production peaked?

John C. Kuehner, Cleveland Plain Dealer (US)
The post-peak oil world will look a lot like the bleak 1970s. But much worse. A recession will grip the globe because the price of oil, and everything tied to it, will skyrocket. Starvation will abound because oil-based fertilizers we’ve grown to depend on will be in short supply. Energy wars could erupt to control the remaining oil fields. Sleek, small, fuel-efficient cars will rule the road. Central cities will thrive and suburbs will gradually wither and die because the cheap oil that made their existence possible will be gone. We’ll go back to this Mad Max-like future once oil production peaks and starts to decline, which could be this year. “For any American under 65, this will be tough to swallow,” said Julian Darley, director of the Post Carbon Institute, a think tank based in Vancouver, British Columbia, that explores how the world will operate without oil. “We will go backwards,” he said. “We will have to sacrifice.”
(19 June 2005)
Long report on Peak Oil by a metropolitan daily. Interviews with Julian Darley, Matthew Simmons and Kjell Aleklett (ASPO). Part of the Plain Dealer’s yearlong series on the energy crisis.

Ohio was once oil king, but production peaked in 1896

Cleveland Plain Dealer (US)
An oil boom swept across the Ohio River when John Newton and Mophet Dye struck oil in 1860 in Macksburg, just north of Marietta. Blacksmith William Jeffrey made a similar hit in Mecca Township, northeast of Warren. Hundreds of wooden derricks soon poked the Ohio skyline as petroleum speculators and businessmen drilled deep into the ground searching for black gold.
(19 June 2005)
Good job of explaining the local historical aspect of Peak Oil. Part of the Plain Dealer’s yearlong series on the energy crisis.

“The Deal” — A Peak Oil “Day After Tomorrow”?

Jamais Cascio, WorldChanging
At the time, we suggested that The Day After Tomorrow might be the first of a trend of movies with an environmental edge. The Deal may be the next in that trend. The movie is set a few years in the future, with the US at war with the Confederation of Arab States, gasoline in hitting $6/gallon and the economy on the verge of collapse. Reviewers call it dark, dense and cynical; it’s not as sprawling nor as effects-laden as The Day After Tomorrow, but in its own way, it’s also a movie about the end of the world. …Whether the film gets wider release than just a handful of big cities depends on how well it does this weekend. If you’re in one of the target areas, you may want to check it out. If you do, please post your reactions in the comments for this post.
(18 June 2005)

Roger Ebert reviews “The Deal”

Roger Ebert,
…More than most thrillers, this one seems to be based on expert insights; its author, Ruth Epstein, wrote the screenplay against a background of Wall Street experience, and its view of boardroom politics has a convincing level of detail. It’s not in every thriller that you hear, someone say, “Oil is a fungible commodity.” … I admire the film’s anger and intelligence, and the generally persuasive level of the performances… But the problem is, “The Deal,” like a lot of real-life Wall Street deals, is a labyrinth into which the plot tends to disappear. The ideas in the film are challenging, the level of expertise is high, the performances are convincing, and it’s only at the level of story construction and dramatic clarity that the film doesn’t succeed. One more rewrite might have been a good idea. I can’t quite recommend it purely as a film, but as a double feature with “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” it’s a slam dunk.
(17 June 2005)

Earth To Humankind: Back Off
Mark Morford, SF Chronicle (columnist)
Say good-bye to your car, computer, everything. We are burning up the planet too fast to hang on. Don’t take my world for it. Just read the headlines, the latest major, soul-stabbing report. It’s one of those stories that sort of punches you in the karmic gut, about how they just completed this unprecedented, four-year, $24 million, U.N.-backed study involving 1,360 scientists from 95 nations who all pored over thousands of satellite images and countless scientific reports and reams of stats, and they all distilled their findings down to one deadly, heartbreaking summary. And here it is: We, humankind, people, sentient carbon-based biped creatures, only us and no one else but us because it sure as hell ain’t the goddamn lions or caribou or meerkats or rhododendrons, we humans have, in our shockingly short time on this wobbly sphere, used up a staggering 60 percent of the world’s grasslands, forests, farmland, rivers and lakes. That’s right, 60 percent. Gone. Burned up. Used up. Much of it irreversibly. These are the basic ecosystem services that, simply put, sustain life on Earth. …And this heartbreaking study, it comes hot on the heels of one of the most distressing and sobering pieces of journalism I’ve read in ages, an excerpt from a book by James Howard Kunstler called “The Long Emergency,” all about the imminent and staggering oil/natural gas crisis now looming large over the U.S. and the world, a crisis of such dire proportions that it will very soon reshape American life like nothing since the Industrial Revolution. Except in reverse.
(13 April 2005)
One of the angriest and most articulate voices in the mainstream media. Morford can also be exruciatingly funny. Pointed out by Amanda Kovattana.

Slippery Slope: Oil after the Global Peak (Peak Oil, Part I)

Ryan McGreal, Raise the Hammer
Raise the Hammer has written about energy issues rather exensively in our hammerblog, as well as writing reviews and conducting interviews (see Related Articles at the bottom of this page). However, as we head into the summer driving season, it seems a good time to take stock of the issue in a more coordinated manner. This is Part 1 of a three part series on oil peak production and its implications for Hamilton’s future development. Part 1 provides an overview of the “peak oil” theory; Part 2 will explore the unique properties of oil and the limitations of possible replacements; and Part 3 will examine what cities can do to plan and prepare for the future.
(16 June 2005)
“Raise the Hammer” is a Canadian online journal/blog. See the end of the original article for a list of energy-related articles that have appeared in “Raise the Hammer.”


Bolivia’s Gas War Moves Inside

Jean Friedsky, Znet
These surface images and neat-ending stories of the last five days in Bolivia are misleading because they portray closure where there are only more beginnings. La Paz is calm, market stalls are again overflowing with fresh fruit and recently slaughtered meat and tregua (truce) is the word of the week. But the quiet on the streets is a symptom of the noise that now fills the meeting halls, organizational offices and livings rooms. With a break in the marches, thousands sit analyzing this most recent “battle” and deliberating the future. So, whether its apparent on CNN or not, the Gas War here still continues – it’s just gone inside. This article is therefore a brief analysis of what’s happened, what continues and what might follow. …A recent poll by El Deber, a newspaper in the conservative Santa Cruz region of Bolivia has found that 75% of Bolivian’s favor nationalization of the gas industry.
(16 June 2005)

Farmers ‘terrified out of their homes’ to sue BP for £15m

The Indepenndent (UK)
BP is facing a £15m compensation claim from a group of Colombian farmers who say that the British oil company took advantage of a regime of terror by government paramilitaries to profit from the construction of a 450-mile pipeline. In what will be a landmark human rights case in the UK, the farmers allege that the pipeline destroyed their land and forced them into destitution. …
(18 June 2005)

Iran Oil Min: Expect High Prices For Next Few Yrs -Report

Dow Jones Newswires
Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said Sunday that high oil prices will continue to afflict major oil-consuming countries, the semiofficial Fars news agency reported Sunday. … But major oil-consuming countries can help build spare capacity by helping major oil-producing countries to attract the necessary investment to the sector, he added. “If the world should want to resolve the issue (of spare production capacity), it must help major oil producing countries to develop capacity speedily and also keep the oil sector depoliticized,” Zanganeh said. The Iranian oil minister has said repeatedly that ongoing U.S. economic sanctions against Iran, particularly against the hydrocarbon sector, has slowed the development of the sector in Iran considerably.
(19 June 2005)
A number of industry commentators have blamed lack of investment in certain oil producing countries (including Iran) on those governments insistence on receiving a greater share of the proceeds.

Rising oil prices could spark recession Economists have backed off previous dire predictions

Dean Calbreath, Copley News Service (via the Springfield State Journal-Register)
If history is any guide, the U.S. economy should be sliding into a recession right now, after being hit with one of the biggest jumps in oil prices since the 1970s. Since the end of World War II, every major spike in oil prices – until now – has led to steep increases in inflation, massive layoffs in oil-dependent industries and sharp cutbacks in retail spending, ultimately culminating in recession. The link between oil spikes and recession seemed so clear that in a Wall Street Journal poll in October, a third of the economists surveyed predicted recession would ensue if oil traded for weeks on end between $50 and $59. That is exactly where oil traded between February and April this year. Yet no recession has occurred – not even a deep slowdown – and the consensus among economists is that none is in the offing. But the price of oil has been gnawing at the edges of the economy – eroding consumer spending, boosting the trade deficit and building up inflationary pressures.
(no date)


Fiddling as the planet burns: There is nothing left to debate about climate change. It is happening and each of us must act

Henry Porter, Observer
…Last winter, I attended the climate change conference at the new Met Office headquarters outside Exeter. In theend of the conference, there was an open session in which scientists talked about what they had heard over the previous days. I will never forget the solemn urgency of that session. Even the scientist were shocked by how advanced various manifestations of global warming were. I was sitting next to the woman who has done pioneering work on the pH levels of the oceans. Like the others, she had seen the abyss and it showed in her face. I wish we could all have that experience, because the conviction of the masses is the only way things will change. But here’s the catch. It involves sacrifice and a loss of what we previously regarded as our rights to travel and consume freely. If I criticise the backwardness of Bush and his oil lobby, it follows that I must take action on a personal level – retire my ancient Volvo, use energy-saving light bulbs, switch off the computer at night, do away with the dishwasher, make fewer journeys by air, install solar panels, get a bicycle. As yet, I have done none of these things.
(19 June 2005)
Also at Common Dreams

As TVs grow, so do electric bills

Mark Clayton, Christian Science Monitor
Not long ago, Andrew Fanara was shopping with his wife for a new big-screen television. Everything was going fine, until the sales clerk discovered Mr. Fanara was an energy watchdog for the federal government. Pulling Fanara aside, the clerk confessed: His own new 61-inch TV gulped electricity the way a big SUV guzzles gasoline. “The month after he got it, he got a call from his landlord, who noticed a big jump in the utility bill,” recalls Fanara, team leader of the Energy Star program at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “It was the kid’s big-screen television.”Revelations about energy-munching appliances aren’t uncommon in Fanara’s job. But lately, he’s hearing more about big-screen TVs – and that’s worrisome. With sales expected to skyrocket – and with only outmoded testing and efficiency standards available to alert people about energy consumption – digital big-screen TVs are poised to generate big hikes in home energy use and pollution, unless manufacturers act swiftly to adopt more efficient technologies.
(16 June 2005)


Hydrogen Won’t be our Energy Savior It takes more energy to produce than it yields

Frank Kreith and Ron West, Boulder Camera (guest opinion)
Hydrogen is widely viewed by environmentalists, as well as by many large corporations, as a panacea to air pollution, global warming and shrinking petroleum supplies. This view has been endorsed by President Bush who, in his 2003 State of the Union Address stated, “The first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen and pollution free.” Hydrogen-powered cars and trucks that use fuel cells to drive electric motors instead of internal-combustion engines could potentially eliminate tail-pipe pollution and dependence on foreign oil. But hydrogen is not an energy source. It is only an energy carrier that must be produced from a primary energy source, such as natural gas, coal, nuclear fuel, wind or solar radiation. … There are no huge technical obstacles to making hydrogen and using it as a fuel. But a hydrogen economy would be more expensive and use more primary energy than other options. Moreover, it would require many hundreds of billions of dollars to build a storage and transport infrastructure. We should not accept President Bush’s statement that hydrogen will replace oil without examining other options that are more economical and for which the technology and infrastructure already exist.
Frank Kreith and Ron West are retired engineering professors from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and both live in Boulder. Kreith also served as Branch Chief at the Solar Energy Research Institute for 10 years.
(19 June 2005)
Also at Common Dreams.