Friday, December 01, 2006

Peak Oil Pessimism

This might seem strange, but I actually consider myself to be an optimist when considering all the issues thrown up by the energy tsunami now approaching our shores. For confirmation of this, please have a read of this article, which describes a scenario 100 years from now. The Archdruid (he really is an Archdruid, and his site is very interesting) hints at one of the things which I see as most important, viz the capacity to retain our understandings, and scientific and technical knowledge, and implies that we will lose much of our accumulated capacity. In my view this is unlikely. There is far too much inertia in the scientific and technical system for even a rapid and sudden economic crash to remove what has been achieved. This does assume, however, that the desire to retain scientific and technical expertise remains. It comes back to St Benedict, and Alasdair MacIntyre's prophetic words once again. I do see one of the essential Christian tasks of the coming century as - once again - taking up the burden of preserving western civilisation from all those forces, within and without, that are lining up to destroy it. It is one of the great ironies that science will be saved by those with religious faith.

However, none of this is to dispute the gravity of the crisis that is bearing down upon us more and more quickly. One of the heroes of the Peak Oil community, Stuart Staniford, has just broken his purdah, and posted this graph at The Oil Drum:



All of the official pronouncements for future energy supply, over the next thirty years or so, are predicated on there being a) lots of easy oil left to find (see this for a debunking) and b) production from Saudi Arabia doubling. What the graph shows rather strong evidence for is Saudi Arabia's complete incapacity to do any such thing. They have vastly increased the number of wells deployed to drill for oil, and their production of oil is decreasing. Almost certainly, Saudi Arabia has passed peak production; they know it; and they are lying about it for as long as possible, because of the political consequences that will follow.

What I am most convinced of is that we have begun the descent into the great dislocation, that our world is about to be broken apart. I am very pessimistic about the short-to-medium term (ie from now to about 15/20 years hence - all I can see is war, famine, pestilence and disaster) but the longer term I am much more optimistic about. As I have said many times in my talks - the post Peak world will be a very good one, for those who live to see it.

Then the LORD said to me, "Do not pray for the well-being of this people. Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry; though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Instead, I will destroy them with the sword, famine and plague." But I said, "Ah, Sovereign LORD, the prophets keep telling them, 'You will not see the sword or suffer famine. Indeed, I will give you lasting peace in this place.' "

Then the LORD said to me, "The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds. Therefore, this is what the LORD says about the prophets who are prophesying in my name: I did not send them, yet they are saying, 'No sword or famine will touch this land.' Those same prophets will perish by sword and famine. And the people they are prophesying to will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and sword. There will be no one to bury them or their wives, their sons or their daughters. I will pour out on them the calamity they deserve.

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