A paper to accompany the presentation to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil, Tuesday 24th November 2009
We are so often told about the problems of climate change by the various political parties in Britain, but in fact the changing climate is just one of a number of factors that we will have to manage over the course of this century. If we take an ecological or biophysical perspective then we see that society faces a far wider set of problems to resolve as it adapts to the reality that growth within a finite environment has its limits. Such limits are not theoretical, and are being played out within our lives today under the guide of phenomena such as global food shortages, resource depletion or climate change.
These are global issues; in many cases they will require global solutions in order to create a satisfactory outcome for everyone on the planet. However, Britain has its own domestic problems related to the “ecology” of our past history in these islands: Britain was one of the first countries to industrialise, and we mined many of our natural resources as part of this effort; during the early 19th Century we were the “Saudi Arabia of coal”, exporting British coal around the world; more recently Britain has exploited the oil and gas reserves of the North Sea, and this has inarguably contributed to the the well-being of our economy for the past three decades. Today, this 250 year arc of economic and technical development has reached its zenith; the accelerating depletion of North Sea oil and gas production marks the point at which we must plan for the “downside” – and the inevitable decline in the easy availability of energy and material wealth that is the inevitable result of this transition. What’s important is to ensure that as part of this process the “decline” of our ability to generate economic wealth from our material resources does not translate in a more general crisis in British society; we must learn to reap the benefits of our human assets rather than the geographic chance of possessing abundant natural resources…
Along with the PDF you can also download the slides of the presentation and background data.
Audio files will eventually be available via the APPGOPO web site: http://www.appgopo.org.uk/