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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Why doesn't government get Peak Oil?

View from Hubbert's Peak prefaceImage by n2teaching via Flickr

Good article on peak oil in the Christian Science Monitor. And even the execrable "Marketplace" program has one here. The question is this: Why are such articles otherwise so rare and so little discussed by governments?

This is from an interview with Colin Campbell, one of the founders of the Assn. for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO) after the recent ASPO international conference in Denver:
Question: The peak oil message doesn’t seem to be heard in the halls of government and in corporate board rooms. Why?

Colin Campbell: The question of peak oil is a difficult, sensitive one. There are many people, especially in government and industry, who’d prefer not to know it. The reason is quite logical: they’re looking for expansion, for economic growth, for prosperity, and for a continuation of the successful epoch we’ve lived in. To suddenly wake up and say, well, things are changing radically and we don’t really know what it means, is not something an executive would wish to say. And yet I think behind the scenes they are beginning to plan and prepare in sensible ways. You’ll find the oil companies, for example, are selling and disposing of secondary marketing chains, secondary refineries and so on, because they know full well that the supply is going to lead to surplus refining capacity. I think if you look elsewhere, the airline businesses is changing radically because it’s so dependent on cheap oil. We see hidden messages that do deliver the correct reading of all of this, but it’s not something people really want to talk about.

Question: What about the notion of making America energy independent?

Campbell: It can’t be done voluntarily. To make America energy-independent is not something I think any government can achieve. But within 50 years that’s what nature will deliver. Countries will have to be energy independent. They have no alternative. Some may get there quicker than others, but it’s not something some government will say, well this is our plan of action. It will delivered to them by the force of nature. So America will indeed be energy independent and probably quite soon if these imports dry out. What that means and how they react to such a situation is another day’s work.
Given the way we've organized industrial oil-dependent societies, government officials who ignore the looming rapid collapse of oil exports (as producing nations keep more and more of their oil for their own uses) is guilty of gross negligence and supreme indifference to risks of harm to the people they supposedly serve.
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