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Peak oil - Feb 10

Click on the headline (link) for the full text.

Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


Former White House official admits SOTU energy comments were about peak oil

phasmatis, Daily Kos
I was watching Hardball on Thursday night and Chris Matthews had on Former Commerce Secretary Don Evans. Secretary Evans is a good personal friend to President Bush and a former member of his administration. Amazingly enough during the interview, there is this exchange:... Former Secretary Evans gives the money quote:

MATTHEWS: James A. Baker from Texas, the former secretary of state, said the first war in the Gulf was about jobs, jobs, jobs. He said that was what the war about. I'm accepting your argument right now, your statement that this call for energy independence by the president is not because we have to rely on oil from the unstable Middle East. It has to do with our needs for economic growth. Is that your bottom line?

EVANS: Chris, that is my bottom line. The world is producing oil, the Middle East, every country at its full capacity and it's very unlikely that we're going to be able to see supply in the world grow from the levels where we are right now. There's a debate about that. I'm one that falls in the camp that says it's going to be very, very hard to do that. But what I do know is China needs to continue to grow, India needs to continue to grow, America needs to continue to grow. So what that simply says is we've got to develop new forms of energy for the United States and the world.

Holy Guacamole, Batman. The line about "it's very unlikely that we're going to be able to see supply in the world grow from the levels where we are right now" is pretty much the definition of peak oil. This guy is coming out and saying that the president is concerned about the growth levels seen in world oil production. Of course, if you've been following any of the comments by Matthew Simmons or Roscoe Bartlett, this is not a shock. But for myself and the other 10 people in the country watching Hardball, it was a bit extraordinary to have a former official on a mainstream media outlet just come out and say it.
(6 February 2006)
Hat tip to Leanan at peakoil-dot-com.


Macleans: When the oil runs out

Jonathan Gatehouse, Macleans

Are we heading for the end of civilization -- or are the warnings of a coming apocalypse just another case of Chicken Little?
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The Four Horsemen have upgraded to SUVs. Not the hybrid ones either, but those gas-guzzling, bunny-crushing behemoths that Arnold Schwarzenegger favours. In oil-rich Babylon, whores are so thick on the ground that it's a little hard to pick just one. Although everyone can agree on what the Antichrist is up to -- running a multinational petroleum company. Yes, the End is nigh, if you believe the consensus that has been brewing in the halls of academe and the non-fiction aisle at the local bookstore. Starting in 2010, no later than 2020 or 2030, according to the latest vision of secular apocalypse, global oil supplies will peak, and the world will begin to unravel at the seams.

...Each addition to the bleak chorus paints a slightly different picture of the Fall, but all tip the hat to the same unlikely literary father -- M. King Hubbert, a crotchety petroleum expert who died in 1989.

...Unlike the religious vision of the Apocalypse, which offers the promise of the Rapture for true believers, the Peak Oil books mostly promise only a decisive ending, not a new beginning. There are faint hopes of a granola Eden with wind power and straw-bale homes for the few who remain. "And it will be here -- amid economic depression, dreadful suffering across the planet, and a rising tide of authoritarian horror -- that the seed of hope will finally be planted," Leggett writes of the enforced switch to green power. But there's also a pervasive sense that the earth would be better off with a lot less people, consuming fewer resources. "I take it as a given that we have already overshot earth's long-term carrying capacity for humans -- and have drawn down essential resources -- to such an extent that some sort of societal collapse is now inevitable," Heinberg says in Powerdown.

Most people spend their lives trying to avoid the issue of their mortality. Staring into the abyss is only bearable if you have a way to avoid falling in. If scientists, thinkers and politicians really want the public to pay attention to a pressing problem, they'd best find a way to offer some hope along with the fear.
(9 February 2006)
Gatehouse's column does represent progress -- this is a detailed discussion of Peak Oil books in a mainstream publication. Unlike many other scoffers, Gatehouse has done some research. Unfortunately, he hasn't done enough. To label an analysis as pessimistic and Apocalyptic, as he has done, is superficial; is the analysis true? The canard that the "Limits of Growth" was wrong is simply false, as Matthew Simmons calmly explains in his essay, Revisiting The Limits to Growth.

A second shortcoming of Gatehouse's column is understandable: the complaint that there are too few positive visions of a low-energy future. And yet here too, a little research would uncover the many thinkers, researchers and activists who have been working in the field of sustainability. At Energy Bulletin, we've tried to highlight these approaches in the "Sustainability & solutions" series. Many interesting projects are done by regular people who see a problem and come up with a simple solution on their own, such as this Geothermal pump for heating.

Finally, there is the passivity implied in Gatehouse's closing comment: "If scientists, thinkers and politicians really want the public to pay attention to a pressing problem, they'd best find a way to offer some hope along with the fear." Are we really such babies that we have to be spoonfed? Isn't each one of us responsible for learning about the world, coming to terms with difficult truths and taking action? -BA


Peak oil on Irish radio

Five Seven Live, RTE
From "Bosshog" on peakoil-dot-com:

Ireland's Public Service Broadcaster is RTE. The evening drivetime news and current affairs programme '5-7 Live' is currently running a series of reports on Peak Oil and the consequences for Ireland.

Previously broadcast material is avalable to listen to online at www.rte.ie/news/57live.html

The series started on Monday 6th Feb and we will try and sustain the debate as long as possible. Your contributions will help in that respect.

Submit your thoughts to 57live@rte.ie and info@rte.ie. Your thoughts and observations will help broaden the discussion and would be appreciated.

(7 February 2006)


Pat Murphy on peak oil and Cuba
(video)
David Room, Global Public Media
Pat Murphy of Community Solution talks on camera with GPM's David Room about Agraria, the community solution to peak oil. Also discussed is how Cuba survived peak oil and how their experience will compare with that of the United States.
(21 May 2005, but just posted at GPM)
Several more articles and interviews have just been posted at Global Public Media: John Bunzl of SimPol.org , Australia: An Adventure in Domestic Sustainability , William R. Clark ("Petrodolalr Warfare"), and more.


BBC coverage on "Fuelling the future"

BBC News
A new section of the BBC website focuses on energy. Recommended by "Zardoz" of peakoil-dot-com, who says: "The other major media organizations will eventually get fully up to speed on the energy crunch, but at the moment, the Beeb leads the way."
(February 2006)

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