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Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Peak Oil--Again

Australian Earl Mardle has a very interesting post which suggests that the incredibly aggressive and risky behaviors of the Bush administration have been based on very rational thinking. Mardle suggests that Cheney and the other oil people in the adminstration were and are well aware that the year of world "peak oil," the year when the earth coughs up more oil than it ever has before or ever will again, is rapidly approaching, or may already be here. He quotes George Monbiot:
Never again," the Texas oil baron and corporate raider T Boone Pickens announced this month, "will we pump more than 82m barrels."

As we are pumping 82m barrels of oil a day at the moment, what Pickens is saying is that global production has peaked. If he is right, then the oil geologist Kenneth Deffeyes, who announced to general ridicule last year that he was "99% confident" it would happen in 2004, has been vindicated. Rather more importantly, industrial civilisation is over.

Not immediately, of course. But unless another source of energy, just as cheap, with just as high a ratio of "energy return on energy invested" (Eroei) is discovered or developed, there will be a gradual decline in our ability to generate the growth required to keep the debt-based financial system from collapsing.
Mardle suggests that Cheney's energy task force discussed this very fact, and that is why they have insisted on keeping it secret (once the arrival of peak oil is widely known and understood, widespread financial panic is likely to follow). Mardle sees peak oil as the reason behind many other otherwise incomprehensible behaviors by the Bushies and others, from the war on Iraq, including the scorning of the UN, to Mark (son of Margaret) Thatcher's recent arrest for involvment in a coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea. He suggests that for those who believe that the American way of life can and must go on for as long as possible, George W. Bush may well be the best possible president we could have.

For those like me who believe that the other six billion people on the planet have a right to live, however, Bush is a total disaster. Not because he is stupid--if Mardle is right and Bush knows that we're at peak oil and believes in extending our way of life into the future, his actions begin to appear quite logical. But decisions have been made that will affect every person on the planet for years to come, and they were made in secret by a few right-wing oil jocks. Even most of those most likely to "benefit" from these decisions, Americans, were left out of the process.