Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sheer foolishness about petrol prices

There have been some e-mails circulating about a proposed boycott of Shell and BP garages with the avowed aim of carrying on "UNTIL THEY LOWER THEIR PRICES TO THE 69p a LITRE RANGE".

Get real people!! Are you really this delusional? Here are some facts that you might like to ponder.

1. The Western oil companies have very little control over the oil price, for the simple reason that they control very little oil.

The companies that control the world's flow of oil are the national oil companies of Russia, Venezuela and the Middle East. Feel free to share with them the plight of the western consumer.

2. The UK government has much greater say over the price of our petrol, but THIS IS A GOOD THING. I'm not in favour of high taxation generally, but the fact that our petrol is so heavily taxed means that the increase in the cost of crude is muffled. In other words, a doubling of the oil price does not mean, for us, a doubling in the price that we pay at the pump. This means that our economy is less likely to go to the wall, and people's jobs will be more secure. THIS IS A GOOD THING.

3. The fundamental reason why the cost of fuel is increasing is PEAK OIL. If you haven't taught yourself what this is yet, then I'd recommend Googling the phrase. There are only two essential facts you need to know:

- worldwide production of conventional crude oil hit a plateau three years ago and not only is there no prospect of this production increasing but it is certain that this production will be decreasing significantly over the coming years;

- worldwide demand for oil is increasing, principally due to the industrialisation of Asia.

Supply is stagnant; demand is increasing - this is why the price of oil is going up! It will continue to go up until there has been enough 'demand destruction' to balance supply and demand. In other words it will carry on getting more and more expensive until most of us can't afford it any more. It's got nothing to do with BP and Shell trying to gouge the consumer.

4. As a result of Peak Oil, and the painful but unavoidable truth that humanity knows of no possible substitute for oil capable of reproducing all the work that oil presently does in our civilisation, oil will first become more and more expensive (see 3 above) and then more and more scarce. The habits of life, centred on the car, which we have built up over the last two generations will be forced to finish as we simply won't have the energy to keep them going. Our future is local, sustainable and resilient. For more information on that, Google the phrase 'Transition Town'.

Boycotting Shell and BP is not only pointless foolishness, it is a distraction from the much more serious and far-reaching changes in our patterns of life that we need to start on NOW! It's time to get real, and to leave the comfortable politics of protest behind us.

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