Saturday, April 29, 2006


FA stands for 'Football Association'. If you put 'sweet' in front of those two letters, it also stands for what that august institution knows about people-management, diplomacy and organisation.

At least Chelsea beat the Mancs...


Good learning church session, I felt, this morning - had potential to break out into open warfare at one point, I suppose that's a good sign (grin).

Key question was about suffering, and how far it's possible to detach oneself from it, and think it illusory. Is this real or just an illusion? (That's a rhetorical question. I wrote my thoughts up on the question earlier (see this but it isn't a question I think we can answer.)


Outside my study window is a tree which I believe to be a cherry blossom (there's never any fruit). It is something I find quite beautiful, and I've spent many hours contemplating it through the different seasons - normally through the study window. I thought I'd share a few piccies of it taken yesterday.


Friday, April 28, 2006

Am I wrong about Tesco? (part one)

I've been meaning to write something about Tesco for a while, but I haven't had a chance to do the research I need to. However, Peak Oil Debunked has a great post (it's a very good site) covering some of the relevant material - see here. What his article doesn't take into account is the multiplier effect, which will exacerbate many of the issues. But I'm convinced that there will still be some international trade. It's just that it won't be by plane (so those just-in-time vegetables won't be transported - strawberries don't get shipped in containers!!) and - as the article affirms - transport >within< the UK will get much more expensive (we'll see a resurrection of the canals, I'm sure). West Mersea - at the end of the supply chain - is better off strengthening the local. That's what I need to put some hard figures to.

In the meantime, this is the text of an article that I had published in the local newspaper, just trying to set the record a little straighter!
What I really think about Tesco

Now I know what it feels like to be 'spun' - and my sympathy for politicians has gone up hugely! The Daily Mail featured me in their pages on Friday 10 March. I had high hopes for what they might say - the interview lasted for more than an hour - but from that hour they quoted a mere two sentences of what I actually said, and placed it in the context, not only of things which I hadn't said, but of their own desire to attack Tesco.

For the record, I am not particularly aggrieved at Tesco as such. I think they are an extremely well managed British company, and whilst I think their record on things like Fairtrade could be improved hugely, they are an exemplary company on other matters. For example, 5% of the diesel that they sell (sold as 'normal' diesel) is in fact derived from bio-fuels. This is a very good thing, in that it reduces the demand for fossil fuels and lessens the impact of carbon dioxide emissions on global warming. So I do not want to be part of a process that 'demonises' Tesco - and I certainly don't want to say 'Thou Shalt Not Shop at Tesco', the words that the Daily Mail put into my mouth. I think that Christians should take seriously the questions about where their food is coming from, but I am also quite aware that, for example, for a pensioner concerned to make ends meet, cheaper food from Tesco is a tremendous blessing.

My concern remains focussed on the introduction of Tesco into West Mersea at this point in time. The simple truth is that the business model of Tesco - or of Sainsbury's, Asda or even the Co-op - is not one that is sustainable more than about ten years into the future, at most. Supermarkets are able to retail cheap food because they are able to employ tremendous economies of scale, harvesting food resources from around the world, and delivering them to us via planes, trains and lorries. At the moment the costs of such transport are negligible, because oil is so cheap. Yet it is precisely this system that will break down in the foreseeable future - not because there won't be oil available, but simply because the cost of that transport will be too high for people to afford - and therefore the food transported in this way will be too expensive for most people. Instead of costing the same as bottled water (what oil costs now) oil will cost the same as gold, because that more properly reflects its value to the modern way of life. At that point, when the supermarkets are no longer able to make money in the way that they have previously, we will be thrown back upon our own resources, more or less painfully, dependent on the actions that we take now. Our future is local, and the sooner we act to strengthen our local economy the better.


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Who's the Anglican?

I loved this (HT T1:9).

"Anglicanism is not a doctrine, creed or confession—it is a Book of Common Prayer and a remarkable dose of “common sense”...There is no way that having the Eucharist be “divisive” is part of the Anglican ethos!...I’m the Anglican here. I’m the “big tent” guy. I’m willing to be in communion with anyone who will come to the Table. I am waiting patiently, compassionately, lovingly, ready to break the bread and pass the wine. Join me if you can."

I thought Andrew Linzey spoke much sense as well (here) "Not all truth is given in the past; the Spirit has something to teach us in the present. It is untrinitarian consistently to oppose God’s work in the past to what we may learn here and now. All innovations should be tested, but it is a mistake to assume that all development is infidelity."

The right way forward is not clear to me - my opinions haven't really changed much - but one element of my thinking is hardening, and was expressed by Bradley (first link above). I don't believe in a communion of the pure and sinless - I believe in a communion of the sinful, for that is the only place where I might hope to receive. That's what I think Anglicanism asserts, and asserts strongly, and I think it is one of the ways in which it is most true to Christ's own example and teaching.

The pure church doctrine is a heresy, it always has been. We need to be robust about saying that.

Being a witness to the resurrection

Much muttering in the blogosphere about believing in the resurrection (see here where I came across it first, and also here.)

I tend to agree with Tom Wright: “I have friends who I am quite sure are Christians who do not believe in the bodily resurrection. But the view I take of them — and they know this — is that they are very, very muddled.... I do think, however, ... that for healthy Christian life individually and corporately, belief in the bodily resurrection is foundational.”

But I >also< agree with Ben when he says this: "I myself believe in “bodily resurrection,” and I think this concept is the most faithful way of following the New Testament witnesses—but I could never tell you exactly what “bodily resurrection” means, and I would never want the term to become anything more than a metaphor."

This is on my mind a lot at the moment because this Sunday sees the launch of a discipleship campaign in the largest parish (to be followed in the other parishes during the year) and the theme I'm going to be discussing is 'what does it mean to be a witness to the resurrection' - the texts being Acts 3.15 and Luke 24.48. I'll probably also mention the Greek for 'witness'...

I don't think it's possible to be a Christian without believing in the resurrection, but it's even more crucial to live out a life "in the light of the resurrection" - and I think that this is possible even if the mental assent is lacking to a particular conceptual framework. Let me unpack that a bit.

I don't believe that what we say matters so much as the orientation of our life ("It's not those who say 'Lord, Lord'" etc, plus a Wittgensteinian account of language). In other words, it is the shape of our lives - their motivations and priorities, and how that works out in actual existence - that is important in the sight of God. There is a way of life that is governed - initiated into existence - by the resurrection, which is characterised by love, joy, peace, gentleness, self-control and so on, but most of all by forgiveness. To forgive, to make forgiveness (and refusal to judge or condemn) a central aspect of life is, for me, what it means to be orthodox, what it means to really believe in the resurrection. That's why I'm convinced that Gandhi was "saved" even though he denied the priority of Christ. He lived out the Sermon on the Mount, and that is what Christ himself says is necessary.

The alternative is precisely an 'honouring with lips' though the heart is far from God. It is the shape of life - our deeds - that matter in the sight of God, not that we can 'achieve' salvation (that argument is such a distraction) but that God cares about the concrete and the everyday, not the abstract and ethereal. It is, to put it slightly differently, to give more authority to the Old Testament than to the intellectual presuppositions of Modern Protestantism.

There is a shape of life which is orthodox, which is holy, which is fruitful; which is brought into being by the incarnation, confirmed by the resurrection, and sustained by the Spirit of forgiveness that descended at Pentecost. The church's vocation is to live out that life. Not to achieve merit, but to sing in thanksgiving (eucharist). It is the only real life - life in abundance.


Hey, I got tagged (by the Ranter).


Accent: slightly posh Estuary English
Booze: wine, port, gin and tonic, real ale (alcohol is my principal vice)
Chore I Hate: putting out the rubbish on a Monday morning
Dog or Cat: Ollie!
Essential Electronics: Palm LifeDrive (there are others, but that's the really essential one)
Favorite Cologne(s): Obsession, although I very rarely use it
Gold or Silver: Gold; I've made a nice little profit already this year :)
Hometown: don't really have one; home 'place' is the Blackwater Estuary, both in the past and now in the present
Insomnia: yes
Job Title: Rector of West with East Mersea and Priest in Charge of Peldon and the Wigboroughs; Warden of Ordinands.
Kids: two boys.
Living arrangements: possibly the best Rectory in the county.
Most admirable trait: Who am I to say? Probably loyalty.
Number of sexual partners: what, now or in the past? The answer to the first is obvious, the answer to the second is 'none of your business' ;-)
Overnight hospital stays: rare
Phobias: being trapped in a small confined space; something bad happening to my kids
Quote: "Practice gives the words their sense" (Wittgenstein)
Religion: Ha! See my job title
Siblings: One elder brother, who runs this company
Time I wake up: 6am (although it was nearer 4am twice this week!)
Unusual talent or skill: I have remarkably flexible toes, and I can make strange shapes with my tongue
Vegetable I refuse to eat: celery and sweetcorn
Worst habit: not finishing the details of projects
X-rays: most recent was of teeth (routine)
Yummy foods I make: vegetarian lasagne
Zodiac sign: Leo (Sun Leo conj Mars, trine Moon in Aries and MidHeaven in Sagittarius; opp Asc in Aquarius, square Neptune in 10th House Scorpio (priesthood) and square Saturn in Taurus. In other words: a bottled up volcano. If you believe that sort of thing.)

I tag Psybertron, who never accepts a tag (tho' in fairness he's probably a little distracted by moving across continents ;-)


Probably the lowest tide that I have ever seen this morning, which says more about how recently I have started to come out on the beach in the morning, and the coincidence of a high tide today etc, than it does about anything of more wide signficance.

Compare and contrast this picture this morning:

with this one taken yesterday lunchtime:

Monday, April 24, 2006

TBTM20060424Blue Monday

Up very early today (5am), first proper day of 'work' after holiday (tho' I took three services yesterday). A Blue Monday, but that's not my mood - I'm actually quite glad to be up and running again - must be a sign that the holiday had good effect!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Instincts about 9/11

Interesting long interview with George Bush in the Telegraph here. There was one in the paper today with Blair, following on.

I'll do a longish review of the David Ray Griffin books when I've finished the second - probably at the end of this week - but I just wanted to say that having pretty much exhausted my 'head' patience - ie explored all the things I'm interested in sufficiently - I find I can't fully swallow all the "9/11 truth" conspiracy stories. I think there are legitimate questions to raise, which need answering, but I find both a) the official story unbelievable, and b) the conspiracy story largely unbelievable. I just can't believe that publicly elected officials (ie Bush) could be that wicked. So the answer must be 'mu' (unask the question).

I'm also convinced of the civilisational clash between the West and the Islamists, and that that is one of the fundamental truths revealed by 9/11. So there is a large part of the official narrative of recent years that I buy into, even if it does play to the interests of the 'new Pearl Harbour' crowd.


Saturday, April 22, 2006

Economist article on Peak Oil

I resubscribed to the Economist a few months back, largely because I became interested in current affairs again as a result of understanding Peak Oil. Ironic really. In the latest edition there is an article criticising the Peak Oil theory. As there are some serious errors and omissions in the article, I thought that I would write a detailed rebuttal of it here. My comments below are in bold, the text of the Economist article (relevant extracts) is in normal type.


...Now comes what appears to be the most powerful threat to oil's supremacy in a century: growing fears that the black gold is running dry. For years a small group of geologists has been claiming that the world has started to grow short of oil, that alternatives cannot possibly replace it and that an imminent peak in production will lead to economic disaster. ...But is the world really starting to run out of oil? And would hitting a global peak of production necessarily spell economic ruin? Both questions are arguable. Despite today's obsession with the idea of “peak oil”, what really matters to the world economy is not when conventional oil production peaks, but whether we have enough affordable and convenient fuel from any source to power our current fleet of cars, buses and aeroplanes.

So far, so good. The issue is only secondarily an energy crisis, it is primarily a liquid fuels crisis. The Hirsch report is good on explaining this.

With that in mind, the global oil industry is on the verge of a dramatic transformation from a risky exploration business into a technology-intensive manufacturing business. And the product that big oil companies will soon be manufacturing, argues Shell's Mr Van der Veer, is “greener fossil fuels”. The race is on to manufacture such fuels for blending into petrol and diesel today, thus extending the useful life of the world's remaining oil reserves. This shift in emphasis from discovery to manufacturing opens the door to firms outside the oil industry (such as America's General Electric, Britain's Virgin Fuels and South Africa's Sasol) that are keen on alternative energy. It may even result in a breakthrough that replaces oil altogether.

I find this line of argument profoundly strange. If we are not running out of oil, why the shift? But if there is the shift, doesn't this mean that we are running out of oil, and therefore needing to look at substitutes? This is a theme in the article that I find incoherent. There are other problems with this, but I'll discuss them below.

To see how that might happen, consider the first question: is the world really running out of oil? Colin Campbell, an Irish geologist, has been saying since the 1990s that the peak of global oil production is imminent. Kenneth Deffeyes, a respected geologist at Princeton, thought that the peak would arrive late last year.

It did not. In fact, oil production capacity might actually grow sharply over the next few years (see chart 1).

This I find astonishing - brazen untruth from the Economist! To say baldly 'It did not' would imply that we have increased our production from the time of Deffeyes prophecy (one of many he has made, to be fair). Yet it is not the case that our oil production has increased - but unless you were following the situation, and knew the details, simply reading the Economist would be profoundly misleading. Stuart Staniford has been keeping track of the production data, and the current 'record' of actual production was in May 2005 (matched in December 2005 - Deffeyes prediction) . His most recent analysis is available here. NB There have been previous 'plateaus' in oil production, this may prove to be another. Note, of course, the heavy weight placed on the weasel word 'might' in the last sentence.

Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA), an energy consultancy, has scrutinised all of the oil projects now under way around the world. Though noting rising costs, the firm concludes that the world's oil-production capacity could increase by as much as 15m barrels per day (bpd) between 2005 and 2010—equivalent to almost 18% of today's output and the biggest surge in history. Since most of these projects are already budgeted and in development, there is no geological reason why this wave of supply will not become available (though politics or civil strife can always disrupt output).

The CERA figures are fairly widely accepted as accurate for the amount of new capacity coming on stream. What they ignore, however - and where the real meat of the discussion lies - is whether the depletion rate of established oil fields will overwhelm this new capacity. In other words, whether the running down of production from old oilfields will outweigh the production from the new fields. All the signs are that this is exactly what is happening.

Peak-oil advocates remain unconvinced. A sign of depletion, they argue, is that big Western oil firms are finding it increasingly difficult to replace the oil they produce, let alone build their reserves. ...It is true that the big firms are struggling to replace reserves. But that does not mean the world is running out of oil, just that they do not have access to the vast deposits of cheap and easy oil that are left in Russia and members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). And as the great fields of the North Sea and Alaska mature, non-OPEC oil production will probably peak by 2010 or 2015. That is soon—but it says nothing of what really matters, which is the global picture.

This is an optimistic analysis of non-OPEC oil. At least they have implicitly accepted the notion of 'peaking' - and this represents progress.

When the United States Geological Survey (USGS) studied the matter closely, it concluded that the world had around 3 trillion barrels of recoverable conventional oil in the ground. Of that, only one-third has been produced. That, argued the USGS, puts the global peak beyond 2025.

This is probably the biggest error in the article - an uncritical acceptance of the USGS figures, which have been widely discredited. The USGS figures for total reserves are hypothetical, based upon a 50% probability of discovery (in other words, it is equally likely that they are wrong) and the total figure stands in stark contrast to that arrived at from many other academic studies. Consider this chart:

Here you should be able to see how much of an oddity the USGS figure is, compared to that arrived at by many other independent geologists. The figure of 2.1 trillion barrels of oil, ultimately recoverable, is more soundly based, and undermines the point that the Economist writer is making.

It is also true that oilmen will probably discover no more “super-giant” fields like Saudi Arabia's Ghawar (which alone produces 5m bpd). But there are even bigger resources available right under their noses. Technological breakthroughs such as multi-lateral drilling helped defy predictions of decline in Britain's North Sea that have been made since the 1980s: the region is only now peaking.

This is either a simple error or disingenuous. Britain's North Sea fields peaked in 1999 and are declining extremely rapidly - see graph below (source for figures: DTI).

If the world fields decline as swiftly then the doomer scenario will unfold and we are looking at severe population decline. However, the change of language in the article (from 'Britain's North Sea' to 'the region') makes me suspect that the writer is shifting to include the Norwegian sectors, etc, when 'only now' might (just) be defensible (ie only a year or three out). This is just sloppy journalism.

Globally, the oil industry recovers only about one-third of the oil that is known to exist in any given reservoir. New technologies like 4-D seismic analysis and electromagnetic “direct detection” of hydrocarbons are lifting that “recovery rate”, and even a rise of a few percentage points would provide more oil to the market than another discovery on the scale of those in the Caspian or North Sea.

This line of argument has been extensively discussed by Deffeyes et al. Whilst there is undoubtedly some element of technological impact, it is nowhere near enough to offset the decline in production, and in fact is more likely to increase the decline rate, from gentle slope to scary cliff - as has been demonstrated in the North Sea, where all the most modern technology in the world is doing nothing to slow the decline.

Further, just because there are no more Ghawars does not mean an end to discovery altogether. Using ever fancier technologies, the oil business is drilling in deeper waters, more difficult terrain and even in the Arctic (which, as global warming melts the polar ice cap, will perversely become the next great prize in oil). Large parts of Siberia, Iraq and Saudi Arabia have not even been explored with modern kit.

It's possible that there will be more oil discovered - indeed, that is assumed in most Peak Oil analysis, as by Colin Campbell, for example - but again, this is disingenuous, as it ignores the scale of the problem. I still find this the most striking graph (based on Exxon figures, it's a couple of years old now)

Essentially, the area under the black line can't be bigger than the area of oil discovered. The rate of production WILL decrease. What figures like this don't examine, of course, are the 'alternative' sources. Yet an honest analysis would account for those separately, in terms of net energy (EROEI). Otherwise we could simply include the worlds coal reserves in the equation - because they can be converted to liquid fuels too. (This analysis has been done, of course - a wholesale plan to replace oil with coal etc pushes the peak back by two decades. It'll make global warming much worse as well, of course).

The petro-pessimists' most forceful argument is that the Persian Gulf, officially home to most of the world's oil reserves, is overrated.... So vast are the remaining reserves, and so well distributed are today's producing areas, that a radical revision downwards—even in an OPEC country—does not mean a global peak is here.

This is just garbage. Total reserves aren't the issue. The issue is rate of production, and despite all their words the Saudis a) aren't able to increase production, and b) admit to serious declines (8%) in existing fields.

...The baleful thesis [of economic recession] arises from concerns both that a cliff lies beyond any peak in production and that alternatives to oil will not be available. If the world oil supply peaked one day and then fell away sharply, prices would indeed rocket, shortages and panic buying would wreak havoc and a global recession would ensue. But there are good reasons to think that a global peak, whenever it comes, need not lead to a collapse in output.

For one thing, the nightmare scenario of Ghawar suddenly peaking is not as grim as it first seems. When it peaks, the whole “super-giant” will not drop from 5m bpd to zero, because it is actually a network of inter-linked fields, some old and some newer. Experts say a decline would probably be gentler and prolonged. That would allow, indeed encourage, the Saudis to develop new fields to replace lost output. Saudi Arabia's oil minister, Ali Naimi, points to an unexplored area on the Iraqi-Saudi border the size of California, and argues that such untapped resources could add 200 billion barrels to his country's tally. This contains worries of its own—Saudi Arabia's market share will grow dramatically as non-OPEC oil peaks, and with it the potential for mischief. But it helps to debunk claims of a sudden change.

The notion of a sharp global peak in production does not withstand scrutiny, either. CERA's Peter Jackson points out that the price signals that would surely foreshadow any “peak” would encourage efficiency, promote new oil discoveries and speed investments in alternatives to oil. That, he reckons, means the metaphor of a peak is misleading: “The right picture is of an undulating plateau.”

This is fair enough, although it perhaps places too much trust in the free market - the position there is not as reassuring as the writer would have us believe (track the oil price futures market and see what they make of it!). Stuart Staniford reckons on a Slow Squeeze which is reassuring. But virtually everyone I read in the Peak Oil community is expecting an 'undulating plateau' - not least because of the lessening of demand through 'demand destruction'.

What of the notion that oil scarcity will lead to economic disaster? Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren of the Cato Institute, an American think-tank, insist the key is to avoid the price controls and monetary-policy blunders of the sort that turned the 1970s oil shocks into economic disasters. Kenneth Rogoff, a Harvard professor and the former chief economist of the IMF, thinks concerns about peak oil are greatly overblown: “The oil market is highly developed, with worldwide trading and long-dated futures going out five to seven years. As oil production slows, prices will rise up and down the futures curve, stimulating new technology and conservation. We might be running low on $20 oil, but for $60 we have adequate oil supplies for decades to come.”

Again, this is ignoring EROEI.

The other worry of pessimists is that alternatives to oil simply cannot be brought online fast enough to compensate for oil's imminent decline. If the peak were a cliff or if it arrived soon, this would certainly be true, since alternative fuels have only a tiny global market share today (though they are quite big in markets, such as ethanol-mad Brazil, that have favourable policies). But if the peak were to come after 2020 or 2030, as the International Energy Agency and other mainstream forecasters predict, then the rising tide of alternative fuels will help transform it into a plateau and ease the transition to life after oil....Alternative fuels will not become common overnight, as one veteran oilman acknowledges: “Given the capital-intensity of manufacturing alternatives, it's now a race between hydrocarbon depletion and making fuel.” But the recent rise in oil prices has given investors confidence. As Peter Robertson, vice-chairman of Chevron, puts it, “Price is our friend here, because it has encouraged investment in new hydrocarbons and also the alternatives.” Unless the world sees another OPEC-engineered price collapse as it did in 1985 and 1998, GTL, tar sands, ethanol and other alternatives will become more economic by the day (see chart 2).

The sense of this depends upon the peak being far enough off that we have time to prepare - which is the gist of the Hirsch report, which argues that it will take twenty years of determined effort to switch fuels. The Economist is assuming that the USGS figures give that length of time. If they're right, then we really don't have anything to worry about. I don't think they are though.

This is not to suggest that the big firms are retreating from their core business. ...China also has deposits of heavy oil that would benefit from such an advanced approach. America, Canada and Venezuela have deposits of heavy hydrocarbons that surpass even the Saudi oil reserves in size. ...All this explains why, in the words of Exxon Mobil, the oil production peak is unlikely “for decades to come”. Governments may decide to shift away from petroleum because of its nasty geopolitics or its contribution to global warming. But it is wrong to imagine the world's addiction to oil will end soon, as a result of genuine scarcity.

There is another major factor which the Economist writer doesn't address - rather surprisingly given their area of alleged expertise - which will exacerbate the problem and make the decline swifter (price rise larger) than the pure amount of oil would suggest. That relates to the exporting capacity of oil producer nations. Only a small number of oil producer nations are exporters; each also has an internal demand for oil and oil products. As the oil production itself declines, and the internal demand rises, the amount of oil available for export is being shrunk from two directions. This can be seen clearly in the case of Mexico, whose Cantarell oilfield is entering rapid decline. See the discussion here.

OK, summary of main flaws: dependence on over-optimistic USGS analysis, underestimate of difficulty in transition from oil to alternatives, complete ignorance of the principles of EROEI and the impact that this has on the mining of, eg, Canadian oil sands. Two serious factual flaws: denial of Deffeyes' point (it's too soon to tell if he's wrong or not) and discussion of North Sea decline. On the whole, sloppy, biased, ill-informed reporting. Not what I would expect from the Economist. Makes me wonder whether those analyses which I read and enjoy in the Economist are any better informed.

UPDATE: 'Heading Out' gives a more sophisticated analysis here.



Friday, April 21, 2006

We're all doomed!!!

Good article from Frank Furedi here discussing our imminent demise. My thoughts, linking it to theological mistakes, are here. Despite my occasional pessimism (sorry Ranter) I am actually quite optimistic for the long term health of our species, and even of technological civilisation. I just think we're going to have a bumpy ride for the next twenty years or so. Beginning soon.


Despite being 'by the numbers' this wasn't at all bad. Perhaps I just had low expectations, so when they were surpassed, I felt more positive towards it.

PS Have also this week started watching 'Band of Brothers'. Only one episode so far, but it is shaping up nicely.


"When the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines will be thrown in to the sea"

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

U2 and liturgy

Some excellent thinking from Dylan about U2 and liturgy here. (Dylan also does a nice line in sermon preparation notes, which I sometimes take advantage of).

I particularly liked this:

"There are few ways -- maybe even no way -- to get that kind of confidence and chemistry in a band without lots and lots of rehearsal. I think the same goes for a team of folks leading a church service. If everyone from the altar guild and acolytes to the celebrant has enough good communication and time together, things will be more likely to go as planned when that improves the worship experience and the team will be more free to do something differently if that's needed in the moment."

Well, I can daydream.

Does Jesus love porn stars?

See this (HT: my favourite genius).

So far as I'm aware, Jesus didn't discuss pornography(1), but he does tell us that prostitutes will get to heaven before the religious leadership (Mt 21.31b). I've always liked the CS Lewis line from The Four Loves: "I believe that the most lawless and inordinate loves are less contrary to God's will than a self-invited and self-protective lovelessness". I think our spiritual path is precisely the right ordering of our loves (our desires) - the seven deadly sins are categorised, I believe, according to being an excess or a deficiency of love in certain areas, which makes lust the "least worst". Something for the Anglican church to ponder, I think, when we get so worked up about the right ordering of sexual desires and neglect the much weightier matters of justice and pride.

(1) The NT discusses 'the lust of the eyes' of course - see 1 John 2.16.


Ollie sit! Ollie stay!

Ollie's master achieved a lie in this morning, first for a number of months. It's taken me three days of holiday to unwind sufficiently.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Watching the tide come in

I thought I would explain the subtitle to the blog. (Explanation of the title can be found here.)

On one level it is a response to getting Ollie, walking on the beach much more, taking my pictures, and literally watching the tide come in.

On the next level it is a reflection of global warming, and the fact that by the second half of this century Mersea will be much more emphatically an island than it is now. The mean tide level will be the level that the tide reached in the great floods of 1953. The Peldon Rose will become a waterfront property.

On the next level again, it reflects a concern about population movements, and the cultural clashes that will be provoked.

On the final level, however, and rather more optimistically, it refers to the first sermon that I ever preached when I arrived at West Mersea, and this is the most important sense. This is the text of the sermon, which, on re-reading it nearly three years later, I find I am rather pleased with it, as it really does set out the things that I most believe in, which was the intention (the text was Ephesians 3 14-21)

'What a wonderful text for a new Rector on his first Sunday! "I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love." Surely a prayer which a new Rector should share with St Paul. For it does link together some central ideas about what it means to be a Christian, to confess Jesus as our Messiah.

For being Christian is just that being rooted and grounded in love - as the hymn has it, they will know we are Christians by our love; and we are called to love one another as we have been loved by Christ. But what does that actually mean for us, for our Church? I would like to say a few words this morning about this, about what it means to be a church where Christ dwells in our hearts through faith.

In recent weeks there has been rather a lot of publicity about the nomination of Canon Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading, and his subseqent withdrawal of acceptance of that nomination. I don't intend to talk in any detail about what has happened; I would rather take a step back, and talk about what it means to be the Church, what it means to be members of the Church of England, what it means to be - as the Bishop said on Thursday - part of the one holy catholic and apostolic church. It seems to me that the overriding impression that non-Christians will have received of the Church from the Canon John affair is of strife and argument, of hostility and rejection - all within a community of people who profess a shared belief in a loving Saviour. There seems to be some distance between the apostolic community and the one in which we now share communion.

Let us consider that early Christian community for a moment. That community was a community of the resurrection, for it was born on Easter morning and it received its life and Spirit from the action of the risen Lord amongst it. This community was a dynamic and astonishing new thing - a community of people who loved each other, who forgave each other, who - most important of all - recognised each other as sinful, where all fell short of the glory of God. From that recognition, and the shared love, came the shared life - a life marked out by Grace.

What is this Grace - this amazing grace, about which we just sang? For it is amazing, the grace that can save a wretch like me - like you - like all of us gathered here. As I understand it, grace is when God reaches to pick us up after we have fallen down. Many of you will have seen my son Barnabas on Thursday evening. He has just got to the stage of learning to run - and as he is still learning, he falls over quite a lot. And he bumps his head. And it is an instinctive reaction when Barnabas falls to reach out and pick him up, to hold him if he is crying, to cheer him up if he is upset. That is how God reacts to us and our sin, our falling downs. He reaches out to us, with arms wide open on the cross, and he takes on and heals our hurt.

This forgiveness offered to us is what the Christian faith means for us who live it out, day by day. For Jesus tells us to love each other as he loves us - to not judge, to bear one another's burdens, to lay down our lives for our friends - and we are His friends, if we do what he commands us. This is what makes our common life a Christian life - not that we are perfectly holy, or marvellously spiritual, or exceptionally pious and praying several times a day. What makes our common life a Christian life is an acceptance of each other in Christ. An acceptance of each other's faults and foibles, all those little characteristics which - if we are not careful - we will allow to really rub us up the wrong way, we'll get irritated, we'll get angry and cross - and then, our communion in Christ is lost. For Jesus tells us that not everyone who calls him Lord will inherit the Kingdom, but those who do the will of his Father - and that will is clear - it is to love each other, to forgive each other, to place our common life in Christ above all other things, to break bread with our neighbour and to meet Christ in that action. That for me is what Paul is talking about when he talks of Christ dwelling in our hearts through faith - that our hearts are moved to love and accept each other, in just the way that Christ loves and accepts us.


At my induction service on Thursday, the Bishop said as part of the formal process, that the Church of England is part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. What that claim means is that we share in the inheritance of that original community of the resurrection - we look to them as our foundation, and as our guides back when we fall away. And the Catholic part of that claim is a claim about being inclusive, it is about being all embracing. It is about accepting those whom - let us be honest - accepting those whom you dislike, whom you don't agree with, whom you would rather cross the street to avoid. Christ's claim upon us is that we put those things to one side for his sake. For his arms are bigger than we can know, and in him we find our only possible unity. Christ came to save sinners - he went out of his way to seek the lost, those whom polite society had rejected, those whom the religious leaders considered beyond the pale, not worthy of inclusion in the community. And it is from those who were excluded that Christ built his inclusive church - his body as it continues in the world today.

It is one of the wonderful things about the Church of England that it emphasises this inclusive nature. The Church of England invites all Christians to participate in Holy Communion, it does not seek to place barriers in front of those who would wish to come. For who are we to judge who is worthy or unworthy? Who are we to try and say 'you are not worthy to have communion with us, for we are worthy, and you are not'?

Unfortunately, it has been a recurring feature of Christian history that every so often, a group of Christians will claim "We have the answer! Agree with us!" And when such agreement is not forthcoming, that group sets out on its own - it breaks off communion. It is really saying - we know what Christ is; we have captured Christ in our understandings; and consequently, it is saying that we are the saved - and you are not. It tries to preserve a little bit of purity in the face of all the sinful dangers of the world. It is something that has come to be known as the 'pure church' heresy - the idea that by following certain rules we can keep ourselves pure, and thereby earn our way to salvation. Such a community has - I would argue - lost something essential to the life of faith. For what it means to be a part of the Catholic church can be simply stated: one church, one faith, one Lord. It is when we abandon a sense of having all the right answers, and are prepared to put aside our disagreements in the name of the one who asks us to do just that - it is then that we are walking in His way. It is when we say: Lord Jesus, you are deeper than I can understand, you are larger than I can comprehend, let me lay aside all my understandings and trust only in you - it is at that point that we start along the way.

It is, in so many ways, a more difficult path, to leave aside a sense of confidence or certainty in possessing the right answer. In our gospel reading this morning, we heard about those who were fed by Christ, and yet, within hours of seeing such a miracle, the disciples go out upon the water and are terrified when they see Jesus walking towards them. If the disciples, who spent so long in Jesus' company, become fearful so quickly, what hope have we? Yet let us listen to Jesus: "It is I; do not be afraid." We are people who walk by faith, not by sight. We are a community centred in mystery - formed by a love that cannot be grasped or contained in our minds, but only acted out and lived through our hearts and hands. At its heart is trust, not certainty. As St Paul says, it is rooted and grounded in our love. If we love and we trust, then the waters will not overwhelm us.


There is one final point that I would wish to make. It may not have escaped your notice that I believe strongly in the Church of England. Not as deeply or as passionately as I believe in Christ, but it is a strong belief all the same. I think the Church of England, amidst all its controversies and occasional errors is a true vehicle for the gospel; it is a vessel for the sacred mysteries of Christ. But I have been struck, since returning to Essex, by the note of quiet desperation amongst a number of people in the church community - sometimes clearly expressed, sometimes just a note in the background. I guess that it might be related to the drop in church attendance that has taken place in recent decades, which has really been going on for some one hundred and fifty years now, in this country. The poet Matthew Arnold described it in terms which Islanders might find familiar - he described it as the long slow melancholy roar of the sea of faith, withdrawing with the tide.

Yet as all of us gathered here will know, tides go out, and tides come in again. And, while I am conscious that this might sound lacking in humility, but also with a real confidence that it is the truth - I come to you now at the turning of the tide. I have many reasons for believing this to be true - reasons which I am sure I shall be sharing with you in the coming weeks and years, reasons which I have spent the last year exploring in my writing - but I have great confidence in the future of the church. And having been in these communities for just a little while, and seen what tremendous potential there is here, I have great confidence that our work, as we toil together in the vineyard, will be very fruitful.

For my confidence does not lie in our efforts, our knowledge, our abilities. It certainly doesn't rest in a confidence in my own abilities. My confidence lies in the actions of a God who manifested his glory on that Easter morning nearly two thousand years ago. For we are a people who have been changed by the resurrection - we are the people who have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord - God has already overcome, and what we need to do is to follow in his footsteps. So let us walk together, in faith and in trust, living that life of forgiveness and acceptance, loving one another as he loved us. "Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen".'

World War Three postponed

I'm very glad that World War Three hasn't yet arrived. I remain concerned about the overall situation relating to Iran though. There are no good options, and I don't expect profound wisdom from the present Western leadership.

I do expect armed conflict between Iran and the West (including Israel).
I am more hopeful than I was that China will stay out of it. The more I discover about their Peak Oil strategies, the more convinced I am that their leadership is comparatively sane and saintly.
I worry about a 'false flag' incident being used to start the process going at a time convenient to the US.
I worry even more about nuclear weapons being used against the Iranian establishments (see the Seymour Hersh article in the New Yorker recently).
What I don't worry about - in the sense that I see it as absolutely inevitable, and therefore just something that needs adjusting to - is the economic s#!t-storm that is going to descend when Iran retaliates, and takes out the oil supplies, however temporarily. (I don't think it will be that temporary, but I'm sure I'm in a minority on that.)
I see this as the 'turning point' predicted in Strauss and Howe's book, ushering in the twenty year 'winter'.

My advice? Stock up on your food supplies; get at least two weeks basic provisions in your house and don't let them fall further.

Sorry to be so gloomy.

High Tide (Mark Lynas)

Writing about the zombies in the last post reminded me that I hadn't written up this book, which I read a couple of months ago. I was a little disappointed with it, in that it had a lot of very interesting information and reportage, but the writing itself didn't engage. That being said, I do think it is a book which we should all read, and the argument seems largely incontrovertible. The planet is warming; sea levels are going to rise.

The point about the zombies was this: consider the city of Lima in Peru. Virtally all of its fresh water comes from the glacier which is rapidly melting (and the inhabitants have been drinking the meltwater). When that process comes to an end in the next decade or so, there will be ten million people without water for six months a year. They will move because, to put it in the words of Darth Cheney, the human way of life is non-negotiable. They will then migrate to where water is available.

There will be many situations like this. They will cascade, like dominoes, each separate area will negatively reinforce the others. It has already started in Africa, in Zimbabwe and Darfur.

I believe that it is too late to prevent the global warming that is already in train. Peak Oil itself will "solve" the emissions problem; eventually the carbon emissions will come down to virtually zero, but by then the damage will have been done. I think we are facing a decade or two of continuous low-level warfare, with the possibility of larger ones breaking out every so often.

What do you do if you can't get water to drink? Roll over and die? Some will, but those who are prone to aggression - young males - will make every effort to take water from those who have it. Guess where the most young males are located?

Land of the dead

A little disappointing. Romero has one of the wittiest eyes of all horror directors, and I was hoping for some very sharp social satire. There was some, but perhaps this seam is exhausted.

The apocalyptic side of me thinks that the collective unconscious is aware of what is coming, and the recent upsurge of interest in zombie movies is writing on the wall. But it's a beautiful morning outside, so I'm not going to think about that too much.


A Thames Sailing Barge has moored a little way off the island. This is not an uncommon sight, and it is a sight that I always find moving and gratifying - for the simple reason that I spent some formative years living on one, moored some eight miles up river from here. My father told me that for a long time it was the most efficient method of transport, as the barge could be sailed by one man and a boy, and the tonnage carried was very impressive. You could say that it had an outstandingly good EROEI.

In the background, in case I haven't mentioned it before, is Bradwell Nuclear Power Station, now being decommissioned. I think that nuclear power in some form does have a future, but not the way originally planned. Quite a contrast to ponder. The technological future recedes into the past, the tried and tested come back to life.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Losing my religion

Have a read of this post (and follow the link). (The link with viscera is not just a metaphor, by the way.)

I too have been fortunate in finding my place within a tradition that is balanced, hence when I was outgrowing my atheism, I could grow in faith without having to leave behind my sceptical intelligence. Hasn't always been easy though. At a time when I was struggling the most with my faith (second year of priestly training, believe it or not) it was reading Jacques Pohier's book 'God in Fragments' - about his breakdown and renewal of faith (he was a Dominican priest) - that brought me back from the brink.

This is why it is utterly essential for doubt to be embraced within the church, and for questioning to be affirmed and valued. We cannot exist if we are afraid of the truth. Faith and doubt are not opposites, they are siamese twins (as I keep saying). The opposite of faith is fear.


Lots of thoughts about different Passions going through my mind at the moment.

1. It had been my plan to watch Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ on Good Friday - or at least Holy Saturday - but circumstances prevented it. Probably this week. It made such an impact on me when I watched it at the cinema (took a coach of parishioners with me) and I would like to make it part of my annual devotions.

2. I'm getting clearer in my own mind that I don't want to be in my own regular place of worship in between the close of the Good Friday liturgy and the Easter Vigil. If so much of the strength of the prayers and worship flows from the dramatic re-enactment of the great events (which I believe) then it makes no sense to interrupt that drama with anything else, no matter how fitting to the theme of the day. The disciples scatter, they run away. I think we should do the same. Which raises one particular problem, in that there is a custom of 'musical meditations' on Good Friday evening in the parish. When I arrived, they even sang Easter Alleluias!!! At least now they're doing Requiem Masses (ie singing the settings, it was Schubert this year) and so forth, so it is appropriate for the day, and it does provide for many non-church goers a way in to our story. I don't think I'll ever be wholly comfortable with it though.

3. I spent Friday night in King's College, Cambridge, for the UK premiere of a new setting of the Passion (broadcast on Radio 3, see details here). My beloved and I went to it (a remarkable night away from children!!) because we are friends with the poet who wrote the libretto, which was excellent (and I'm not just saying that because of the friendship). Consider this, from the sequence at Gethsemane: Jesus draws a shawl around the body recoils from even a little suffering. A lot to ponder from it - I might do something more substantial in due course. I have to say that the music was beyond me though. Some art forms require training in order to be appreciated, and my musical understanding was insufficient to gain full value from the composition. To me it just sounded like a film soundtrack (which isn't to knock film soundtracks - I'm listening to the LOTR one rather a lot). I was particularly frustrated that it was set in such a way that it obscured the words being sung, rather than enhancing them. (I'm told by my mother-in-law - an RSM trained composer - that this flows from a decision made by the composer, it's not down to how it is performed, and consequently it is a flaw in the music, not in my listening!). I was very glad to be there, partly to support my friend (and to catch up with lots of other friends) but spiritually the experience was frustrating.

4. I have spent much time this morning researching the Manchester Passion, which I wish I had seen all the way through. Go here and follow the links (although it's not the official site, it's a more informative place to begin! Truth be told I am gutted (splagchnizomai) that I didn't see it. What might be called 'alternative worship' has always been a passion of mine. I remember a conversation when I first began to believe in God, at University, talking about how we should use pop music in worship (I was thinking of the U2 album Achtung Baby, which had just been released, particularly 'Until the End of the World') and was told dismissively that this was 'old hat' and was already being done. Not true, and I think it is needed now more than ever. There are all sorts of creative ways in which it could be done, and the Manchester Passion seems to be a very good example of it. Haven't been able to pursue this passion as much as I would wish since finishing my training, but I benefited from an attachment at St Luke's, West Holloway which was pushing the boundaries at that time (still is, I think, but then so are lots of others). When Bach was composing his passions, he took popular German folk songs and translated them into fitting vehicles for telling our story. We must do the same.


Sunday, April 16, 2006


"...for Christ our Morning Star has RISEN, never again to set..."

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Steal this movie

More years ago than I care to remember I was staying with some academic friends at Columbia Uni in NY. They were the two of most left-wing people I've ever met - they had been friends with Abbie Hoffman in the 60's, who if memory serves died whilst I was there, and they put across what seemed an incredibly plausible case that the FBI had poisoned him for his anti-social activities.

I didn't take them 100% seriously at the time - didn't really have any context from which to judge - but I take it more seriously these days.

An OK film, but very sad. I'll have to get my 'best of Abbie Hoffmann' off the bookshelf again. He's really quite an inspiring figure, although the drugs destroyed his mind.

Not conventionally good looking

I am the subject of a remarkably flattering interview in the Colchester Evening Gazette (certainly much nicer than the treatment I got from the Daily Mail!). Something of a 'testimony'. Hope it does some good.

"The Rev Sam Norton sort of hits you between the eyes...."

he he he he :-)

A slave to contentious discourses

This has been on my mind much in recent months (it was stuck to the wall above the kettle by my wife - a guarantee that it would come to my attention!):

"My son, in many things it is thy duty to be ignorant, and to esteem thyself as dead upon earth, and one to whom the whole world is crucified.

Thou must also pass by many things with a deaf ear, and rather think of those which belong unto thy peace.

It is more useful to turn away one's eyes from unpleasing things, and to leave every one to his own opinion, than to be a slave to contentious discourses.

If all stand well betwixt thee and God, and if thou hast his judgement in thy mind, thou shalt the more easily endure to be overcome."

(I think it's Thomas a Kempis, but I'm not certain).

It has been on my mind for two main reasons. The first is that it is why I have left behind MD/MF. Losing my temper was a definite sign that I had taken a spiritual wrong turning, so I have resolved to 'leave every one to his own opinion' in that regard. I shall continue to outline my own opinions here. The second though, is about thinking of those things 'which belong unto thy peace' - which I'm still working on. I've been doing more research about 9/11 recently, reading David Ray Griffin's books, which are excellent. Yet a friend pointed out that a) I will never be in a position to know the truth here, and b) there are many more spiritually fruitful avenues to explore.

So I shall continue to read as widely as I can, but I shall try to attain a little more humility in the face of the truth. Could be difficult. Time to rely on prayer and grace a little more.

TBTM20060415 Holy Saturday

A terrifically gloomy morning. Fog shrouded the beach and the wind blew straight into my face, making the lens of my camera condense drops of water. Hence the strange image. I thought about trying to wipe it and make something cleaner and nicer, and then I remembered what the day was.

How very fitting.


Thursday, April 13, 2006

Mad vicar

My friends see me as the mad vicar, with a tendency to chase up strange phantoms (like 9/11 conspiracy theories and Peak Oil...)

Have a read of this. I enjoy Giles Fraser, even when I sometimes disagree with him (absolutely not the case on this occasion). I particularly liked this: "In exchange for a walk-on part during major family occasions and the opportunity to be custodian of the country's most impressive collection of buildings, the vicar promised discretion in all things pertaining to faith: he agreed to treat God as a private matter. In a country exhausted by wars about religion, the creation of the nonreligious priest was a masterstroke of English inventiveness. And once the priest had been cut off from the source of his fire and reassigned to judge marrows at the village fete, his transformation from figure of fear to figure of fun was complete."

It was precisely because that was my image of the priest that I had a struggle accepting my vocation (I still struggle with it). I think I have too much passion to fit into the establishment box. What encourages me is that the passion is finding an outlet, and seems to be sparking a response. I'm being profiled in the Colchester local paper tomorrow, and Channel 4 want me to take part in a documentary in the autumn.

God is up to something - the Spirit is restless and uprooting the old certainties. I'm more and more convinced that a real capital-R Revival is around the corner.



Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A talented mother

My mum has taken up stained glass as a hobby. This was her first major work, and I think it is rather wonderful - the entrance into our home. It is based on John 1 and John 6 (my two favourite texts). My friend Andy set it into a new door made of oak.

What a talented mum!


Monday, April 10, 2006

On top of the world

Been thinking about my holiday last year - and the fact that I haven't yet gotten round to writing it up (tho' I still have my notes). The high point was (literally) standing on top of a mountain though - piccie above, courtesy of IL.

We're all off to Germany in the summer...

Notes to self

Guess who's catching up on his blogroll today?
See this (Barth is looming larger in my thinking at the moment)

and this

and this.

Admission (What is my true purpose in life?)

I think it was from Steve Pavlina that I got this little exercise.

What is your true purpose in life?

If you don't know the answer, take a blank piece of paper. Write freely whatever comes to you as an answer. Give it time. When you write something that makes you cry, you've finished.


My answers were these:

(swift answers)
To preach the word
To be a priest
To love
To speak the word I have been given (something which my ordaining Bishop told me)

(pause for thought)

To heal people

(further pause for thought)

To teach
To sing

(much more pausing, then eventually)

To communicate by the beauty of my voice

Which got the eyes mildly moist, so I stopped there. There's an ambiguity about 'voice' at the end of course - it's not really a claim about the quality of my singing, although I've been given reason recently to think it's not that bad. It's the content of what is sung as much as how it is sung (it's 'the word I have been given to speak'). (Von Balthasar hovers in the background)

I was reminded of this because that MII test (see last post) gave me a higher score on music than I was expecting, and it brought to mind just how important I think it is to sing the liturgy (see this). One of the highest moments in my ministerial life so far was singing the Exsultet on Easter morning several years back. I am reinstituting it this year; I think it's when one of those things most deeply embedded within myself is enabled to peep out and blink in the dawn. It is probably the moment when I am most profoundly in tune with my true purpose in life.

Multiple Intelligence Inventory

Something to do when the mind is idling a little:

Linguistic 40
Mathematics 40
Visual/Spatial 36
Body/Kinesthetic 35
Naturalistic 32
Music 39
Interpersonal 37
Intrapersonal 47

(HT Bending the Rule and MREM).

I think the important thing is the distribution, not the absolute score (which may simply reflect how emphatic the person is in answering). It's all self-description anyway - but top score on Intrapersonal seems about right.

Random stuff

Got rid of the flu but now seem to have succumbed to a cold: I feel mentally shot to pieces at the moment - not the best place to be at the beginning of holy week :(

But I'm sure I'll recover slowly. Monday's are always the 'down day' after the weekend, and the most strenuous thing on my plate today is preparing some compline addresses - I'm going to expand on my Orthodoxy post over the next three evenings.

In the meantime, this made me smile (HT Chrisendom), as did this for very different reasons.

And Matt Kundert is sustaining a very hiqh Quality output of MoQ related thoughts on his blog, and this reading of Pirsig's Lila is remarkably fruitful. You'll hear more of that in due course.

Oh yes, and on the Peak Oil front, this is worth glancing at. Key quote: "The oil industry has for several years claimed that the production from existing fields is declining at around 5 % per year or a decrease in production of about 4 mbpd each year. Adding the increase in demand and the decline we get that an extra 27 mbpd is needed in new capacity in the next 5 years" - is that going to be found? No. Buckle your seatbelt Dorothy, because Kansas is going bye-bye.


And a gratuitous Ollie picture from yesterday afternoon:

Sunday, April 09, 2006


It was astonishingly clear this morning (and cold). Tried to get some sense of that in the picture, but you never really can.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Apocalypse not

Have a read of this. Which, with a few caveats, I agree with. I get more and more pessimistic about the economic effects, and more and more optimistic about the social and cultural effects of Peak Oil.

UPDATE: good discussion of the paper at the Oil Drum here.


Thursday, April 06, 2006

Brief thoughts on football

I'm fed up with Chelsea, but I still hope they do the double.
I'm looking forward to an Arse-Barse CL final, and I'd be delighted if the home side won ;)
I'd be gutted if Portsmouth stay up.


2.6mbd (million barrels a day) is how much new capacity (new oil fields, effectively) has been brought on stream by the oil industry in 2005. That's significant in the context of an annual supply of 85mbd last year. You might think this means that the situation is rosy. It's not - because the declines in existing production (ie peak oil in various separate fields) completely offset this increase, meaning that in 2005 there was effectively NO increase in the oil supply. Here's one of Stuart Staniford's helpful graphs:

This doesn't mean that the present rate of production won't increase. But if we reach 90mbd I'll eat my hat.