by Jerome a Paris
Mon Sep 4th, 2006 at 08:05:15 AM EST
Michael Meacher, a grandee of the UK Labour party, and Tony Blair's environment minister from 1997 to 2003, has written a pretty explicit column in today's Financial Times:
Urgent action needed to avert looming oil wars
The world is consuming about 84m barrels a day, but because of increasing demand from accelerating economic growth in China, India and other countries, the US Energy Information Administration recently forecast demand at 121m barrels a day by 2025. Yet a near-50 per cent increase in demand cannot be met in 20 years. As the head of exploration at Total recently said: "Numbers like 120m barrels per day will never be reached, never." First, the oil is not there. For the past decade the world has used some 24bn barrels a year, but has found on average fewer than 10bn barrels of new oil annually. Second, even if it were available, the cost implications are prohibitive. The World Energy Outlook 2005 estimated investment of $17,000bn would be needed to bring the oil to consumers: half again more than US gross domestic product. Third, the infrastructure does not exist to deliver it without unmanageable price spikes. Global spare production and refining capacity is virtually gone.
Pretty blunt, and pretty clear, no?
We will not be able to provide enough oil for all the expected demand of the world in the very near future.
Already, production by non-Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is nearing its peak and subsequent decline. When, by 2010, it cannot meet incremental demand, Opec will become less able to accommodate short-term fluctuations. Volatile price hikes will be inevitable and demand growth will have to be curtailed.
He only writes about demand "growth" that needs to be curtailed, and not demand itself, so he is still being VERY optimistic, but at least he mentions the topic that I've been banging about incessantly: demand destruction.
There are only three ways out of this looming crisis. One is "demand destruction", which falling supply will to some extent enforce, but almost certainly too little, too late. A second route is to diversify out of fossil fuels and into renewable sources of energy and energy conservation. There are no signs that this is being pursued worldwide on the scale necessary. The third route, which is both short-sighted and counterproductive but the one being pursued at present, is to grab the lion's share of ever-dwindling oil repositories.
Either we start using energy less and/or smarter, or we go to war for it.
It could not be said any clearer.
And we are choosing war, currently.
This is a turning point in history. Never before has a resource as fundamental as oil faced rapid decline without a substitute in sight. The self-destructive strategy of cornering diminishing oil and gas supplies must urgently be switched to building a new world energy order based on a renewables and hydrogen economy, alongside energy conservation. If it is not, we risk a second Great Depression, rising military tensions and the prospect of big wars.
There. It is said, in black and white, by a senior politician (and a still active one, as he still is a Labour MP, although one mostly in opposition to Blair and thus powerless for now). Will anyone actually in power do anything but rush us headlong into that well identified nightmare?
We HAVE to tell our politicians to stop choosing war as an energy policy by default. We HAVE to stop complaining about high gas prices and change our ways.
Oh? And oil prices are below $70 again, so the topic is forgotten...
See how we've gotten used so quickly to $70 oil prices? Don't think it will be any different with $100 oil, or $200 oil. The more I think about it, the more I think that the only way we're actually going to change our behavior is with actual physical shortages.
I'm really hoping for the Day of the Oslo Warning.
Earlier "Countdown Diaries"
(links to both ET and DK when the versions are different enough):
Countdown to $100 oil (29) - Alaska joins axis of evil (unreliable oil suppliers)
Countdown to $100 oil (28) - New records suggest more to come
Countdown to $100 oil (27) - 'Mission Accomplished' - High oil prices are here to stay
Countdown to $100 oil (26) - Time to bet again (eurotrib)
Countdown to $100 oil (26) - Time to bet again (dKos)
Countdown to $100 oil (25) - Iran vows that oil prices will not go down
Countdown to $100 oil (24) - What markets are telling us about future energy prices
Countdown to $100 oil (23) - Running out of natural gas in North America
Countdown to 100$ oil (22) - gas shortages in the UK - 240$/boe
Countdown to 100$ oil (21bis) - long term vs short term worries (dKos)
Countdown to 100$ oil (21) - 8-page extravaganza in the Independent: 'we're doomed'
Countdown to 100$ oil (20) - Meteor Blades is Da Man in 2005
Countdown to 100$ oil (19) - Your bets for 2006 (Eurotrib)
Countdown to 100$ oil (19) - Your bets for 2006 (DailyKos)
Countdown to 100$ oil (18) - OPEC happy with oil above 50$
Countdown to 100$ oil (17) - Does it matter politically? A naked appeal for your support
Countdown to 100$ oil (16) - We'll know on Monday
Countdown to 100$ oil (15) - the impact on your electricity bill
Countdown to 100$ oil (14) - Greenspan acknoweldges peak oil
Countdown to 100$ oil (13) - Katrina strikes / refinery crisis
Countdown to 100$ oil (12) - Al-Qaeda, oil and Asian financial centers
Countdown to 100$ oil (11) - it's Greenspan's fault!
Countdown to 100$ oil (10) - Simmons says 300$ soon - and more
Countdown to 100$ oil (9) - I am taking bets (eurotrib)
Countdown to 100$ oil (9) - I am taking bets (dKos)
Countdown to 100$ oil (8) - just raw data
Countdown to 100$ oil (7) - a smart solution: the bike
Countdown to 100$ oil (6) - and the loser is ... Africa
Countdown to 100$ oil (5) - OPEC inexorably raises floor price
Countdown to 100$ oil (4) - WSJ wingnuts vs China
Countdown to 100$ oil (3) - industry is beginning to suffer
Countdown to 100$ oil (2) - the views of the elites on peak oil
Countdown to 100$ oil (1) (eurotrib)
Countdown to 100$ oil (1) (dKos)