'The Post Peak World' by Dr Colin Campbell of the Institute for Policy Research and Development. It says that we have already passed the peak of oil discovery and that production of oil and gas from fossil sources will inevitably decline. Given much of our civilisation is based on fossil fuels this is disturbing reading. The concept of peak oil is well established and has moved from a concern of environmentalists to well informed former oil company insiders. The oil companies themselves play down the peak oil debate and their own brand of denial pushes the issue down the political agenda. But it is coming.
Dr Campbell outlines a future where oil goes up to 100 dollars a barrel and where the world population falls by billions to a level half what it is today in 40 years. All pretty apocalyptic stuff. Modern food production is highly dependent on oil and therefore food production and prices are highly sensitive to the cost and availabity of oil. It seems crazy that we are actually using oil to produce plastic bags and useless plastic rubbish from mainly China when oil should be used carefully and sparingly. It gives an additional push for renewable energy in a post oil world.
Today I've been in a Council briefing on the Kirklees budget issues we face and quite rightly we are looking at how we deal with the cuts being passed down by central government and it is truly horrendous. We are as we know 'in a deficit situation' a financial deficit and the Tories (and Lib Dems) tells us we are living way beyond our needs. Whereas money is an artificial construct, oil is a very real commodity and a limited resource which we have been using at an alarming rate. We are effectively in an 'oil and gas deficit' with consequences which affect our very civilisation. We have to really understand and accept there's a problem before it can be addressed. We have a long way to go in a short time.
We have been here before of course back in the 70s with the OPEC crisis which prompted a flurry of concern about oil depletion and apocalpyptic films which the deniers point to as 'proof' that the peak oilers are crying 'wolf'. The other charge of course is that there is some sort of hankering to live in the past and that talk of a transition to a low oil (and carbon) economy is anti - progress. This sort of talk is just dodging the issue, the problem exists and we have to find ways of dealing with it some of this will be using technology to take us to a low carbon future and yes there will probably be some old skills that we have to employ to boost local food production. Anyway to reinforce a few prejudices about peak oilers here's 'Heavy Horses' by Jethro Tull from 1978 about a time when the 'Oil Barons have run dry' and when we will be using horses again to work the land.
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