Conflict 8 Peak Oil


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Photojournalism by Neil Jackson

Published in: Business, News & Politics
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Conflict 8 Peak Oil

  1. 1. CONFLICT Eight: Peak Oil
  2. 2. ‘ Most people thought it would come but no man prepar’d for it; no man consider’d that it would come like a thief in the night.’ Political satirist Jonathon Swift (1667 – 1745), on the South Sea Bubble financial collapse of 1720
  3. 3. ‘ Oil production is in decline in 33 of the 48 largest oil producing countries.’ Chevron
  4. 4. ‘ There isn’t a company quoted on the stock exchange that doesn’t tacitly assume a business as usual supply of cheap oil. When that isn’t there any more that means that virtually every company is over-valued on the stock exchange and as the financial community recognises this, well, that might trigger some kind of over-reaction and stock market collapse. I think it’s very likely. I wouldn’t be surprised personally if it triggers another great depression comparable to the one of the 1930s, if not worse, because this one is imposed by nature rather than being a speculative bubble.’ Dr Colin Campbell, retired petroleum geologist and consultant to Exxon, Fina, Mobil, Shell, Total and others. Dr Campbell is the world’s leading exponent of the Peak Oil theory
  5. 5. Peak Oil...
  6. 7. ‘ At any given moment, there is a sort of all-pervading orthodoxy, a general tacit agreement not to discuss large and uncomfortable facts.’ George Orwell
  7. 8. ‘ The oil crisis is very, very near. World War III has started. It has already affected every single citizen of the Middle East. Soon, it will spill over to affect every citizen of the world.’ Ali Samsam Bakhtiari (1946-2007), senior expert in the Corporate Planning Directorate of the National Iranian Oil Company
  8. 10. ‘ The doubling of oil prices from 2003-2005 is not an anomaly, but a picture of the future. Oil production is approaching its peak; low growth in availability can be expected in the next five to ten years. As worldwide petroleum production peaks, geopolitics and market economics will cause even more significant price increases and security risks. One can only speculate at the outcome from this scenario as world petroleum production declines.’ Energy Trends and Their Implications for US Army Installations , US Army Corps of Engineers September 2005
  9. 12. ‘ It took us 125 years to use the first trillion barrels of oil. We’ll use the next trillion in 30.’ Chevron advertisement
  10. 14. In 1956, Professor Marion King Hubbert, a Shell geologist, developed what became known as the ‘Hubbert peak theory’. With it, he worked out when America’s oil production would reach its maximum – its peak – and afterwards go into terminal decline. His maths proved chillingly correct. And so by extension there will be a time when global oil production will peak and then drop away to nothing. Forever. That time is the subject of argument, but ever-growing demand does nothing to allay oil industry fears - until the 2008 recession, China’s economy has been growing at 9.9% a year since 1978. Indian consumers are also demanding their share of the Western dream, and everyone, everywhere will demand more oil
  11. 15. All other fossil fuels will have their own production peaks, so there’ll eventually be no coal or gas. Before that, ecological stresses will be heightened as we switch back to coal. Uranium will run out, or be left unmined; the gain not worth the effort to find. But before all that, there’s the oil wars. Barack Obama’s choice of National Security Advisor, retired US Marine Corps General James Jones, was elected to the board of directors of the Chevron Corporation on May 28, 2008. The official line for these close links with the oil industry is that people holding top government posts should have some business experience at senior level
  12. 17. ‘ The whole flimsy financial edifice has now crashed, and some of the sillier governments are now pumping yet more fictional money into the system to encourage new consumption. Such policies may briefly succeed, but will only make the subsequent crash worse. We enter a new world, as the principal energy that drove the anomalous past two centuries heads into decline from natural depletion.’ Dr Colin Campbell, interview with myself on February 8, 2009
  13. 18. ‘ It’s just a handful of people that run everything and that’s provable… I have this feeling that whoever’s elected president, like Clinton was, no matter what promises you make on the campaign trail - blah, blah, blah - when you win, you go into this smoky room with the twelve industrialist scum***ks that got you in there, and this little screen comes down… and it’s a shot of the Kennedy assassination from an angle you’ve never seen before, which looks suspiciously off the grassy knoll… And then the screen comes up, the light comes on, and they say to the new president, ‘Any questions?’ ‘ Just what my agenda is.’ ‘ First we bomb Baghdad.’ ‘ You got it.’’ Comedian Bill Hicks (1961 – 1994)
  14. 19. An obedient British government wagged its tail as the neo-cons scrabbled to secure the world’s remaining fuel. Thirteen bases are now established in nine Central Asian countries, allowing over 60,000 troops to guard pipeline routes. Camp Bastion, the British base near Route One through Helmand (bordering the Pakistani border and a perfect pipeline route, is the largest and most expensive overseas base the British have ever built at a cost of over £1billion. The pay-off? Who knows beyond Bill’s smoke-filled office? Scraps from the table when the fuel becomes scarce? Or is it just temporary election-winning political support from a media magnate consolidating his monopoly?
  15. 20. Meanwhile, Britain’s North Sea oil peaked in 1999, at over 2.5 million barrels per day, as opposed to the 2007 figure of less than 1.5 million per day. The largest decrease of any oil exporting nation in the world, leading Britain to become a net importer of crude for the first time in decades. Oil exporting. As in – we sold it abroad, instead of saving it for the coming generations. Leaving them… what? Something like this?
  16. 23. ‘ I don't think new technologies will have any impact on the date of peak, which I estimate to have been passed in 2008.’ Dr Colin Campbell, interview with myself on February 8, 2009
  17. 24. ‘ 2009 will be the most difficult for the Russian and world economies. I cannot remember a worse year since the end of the Second World War. This will be the worst year for the economy in modern times.’ Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, December 27, 2008
  18. 25. With oil, we have found a way to artificially – and temporarily – extend the world’s carrying capacity. Extended transport systems, refrigeration and global trade all depend on oil This frame: cooling towers at a disused power station
  19. 27. As, of course, does industrialised agriculture. Nature abhors a vacuum. When there’s a sudden availability of resources, there’s a subsequent explosion in population. Common sense tells us that, once the bonanza has gone, this population will drop back to a normal, sustainable level. In 1806, when the internal combustion engine was invented, the world’s population stood at around one billion. Today there’s over six times that number. All consuming, all demanding more. Farmers use fantastic amounts of fossil fuel to keep the food flowing. They’ve also become de-skilled in relation to the older methods of farming, methods that were perfected over millennia
  20. 28. Is it possible, without oil, that our farmers could grow as much food as was grown a century ago, the peak, as it were, of pre-engine production? Enough to sustain that one billion? What’s left of the old infrastructure are museum curiosities. Our self-reliant forebears were feeding a billion people using honed skills and techniques – Shire Horses, intricate mechanical devices to dig and seed and reap, craft skills, life methods in harmony with the environment such as preserving what food was available and setting their waking and sleeping to the rising and waning of the sun
  21. 30. And it took half of them, working long, back-breaking hours, to feed that billion. Today, even the bees are critically threatened, such is the state of the environment. But despite bread and rice doubling in price, we all keep turning away, secure in some seeming knowledge that growth will go on forever. That, after all, is the plan. It’s why we vote for them; They and their four-year shelf life promise on-going prosperity. Why would we vote otherwise? Why would they promise otherwise? To my mind, a well-feathered nest – and personal power - is about the extent of any politician’s plan. The promise of perpetual growth is the biggest lie of all. It’s the docility drug that stuns all those on the treadmill into silence
  22. 31. ‘ We are on the verge of a global transformation. All we need is the right major crisis and the nations will accept the New World Order.’ David Rockefeller, speaking at the UN, September 23, 1994
  23. 32. ‘ Let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories.’ President George W Bush ‘ Now we can see a new world coming into view. A world in which there is the very real prospect of a new world order.’ President George Bush Senior
  24. 33. ‘ Thanks to words, we have been able to rise above the brutes; and thanks to words, we have often sunk to the level of the demons.’ Aldous Huxley, Adonis and the Alphabet
  25. 34. ‘ Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.’ All Along the Watchtower , Bob Dylan ‘ Break On Through (to the other side)’ 1967 song title, The Doors ‘ If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.’ William Blake (1757 - 1827) The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
  26. 35. Perhaps we can for once learn from our political masters by looking at the response they gave the last time we faced such a deadly threat. When Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain said ‘I believe it is Peace for our time’ on his return from Munich in 1938, he finished off with the following words to the cheering crowd gathered in Downing Street…
  27. 36. ‘ Go home and get a nice, quiet sleep.’
  28. 38. Trained from infancy to respect and obey authority, conditioned to expect ruthless big business and grubby politicians to solve our every need, we make our way in a mad world. Evil flourishes around us as we nightly sit and stare at the electronic box in the corner of the room. A vacuous media ensures we are lulled with frivolity just as honest reporting is needed most - as the resource wars spread and a permanent recession begins. For those who can think outside the mass indoctrination, Ralph Glasser’s ‘ stage sets of make-believe’, it is time to prepare for a new way of life as we make our way down the slopes… ++of Hubbert’s Peak++
  29. 39. ++ ends++ This work is the copyright of Neil Jackson. Reproduction is permitted as long as the original meaning remains unaffected. Feel free to copy, use and send. In fact: please do.
  30. 40. Comments, questions and suggestions welcome. Email: [email_address] . Please note: Conflict is a constantly evolving polemic, and so - unless I am silenced – there will be fresher versions as time progresses. This is the November 2009 version. Currently working on a blog Thanks. Neil Jackson Acknowledgments: John Pilger, Barbara Gluck, Professor Brendan Simms, Norman Baker MP, Colonel Bob Stewart, Dr Colin Campbell and Mikael Höök, ASPO Scotty for the idea, Sheffield Sue for the tech support, Iain Dale for the Rohini Simbodyal deception, all those who’ve encouraged me to keep going This has been an extract from Conflict . Click here to visit Conflict