Establishments around the world have been in denial about the finiteness of fossil fuels. Their argument has been that petroleum companies would invest massively to discover new oil fields and keep supplies flowing. One may try and persuade the uninformed but not those in denial. How can anyone argue a finite resource last forever but many people tend to do.
Now, why did I begin by saying the Peak Oil time maybe now? Because of this article which deserves to be widely known and applauded.
Excerpts from the Jeremy Leggett’s article:
“We live in a world geared to the assumption that demand for oil can be met by supply. But it can’t for much longer. The fallout will dominate our lives within a few years.
“Economists tend not to see the problem. As the oil price goes up, they assume more cash will be available for exploration, the oil majors will duly explore, and they will find more oil. But if so, why have the big five oil companies cut exploration spending in real terms? ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell and ConocoPhillips used more than half their increased operating cashflow between 1998 and 2006 not on exploration but on share buybacks and dividends. Do they know something the economists don’t?”
By a coincidence this article appeared around the time I was busy planting pongamia and other trees. I was comforted by what I was doing. I have been in terror of the Peak Oil phenomenon for about 4 years now. One of the reasons for my taking a sabbatical from publishing GoodNewsIndia to work on the pointReturn site has been to explore a model life in a post-Peak Oil world without petroleum but with many of the conveniences that petrofuels give us. I believe locally produced biofuel for self or local use is a viable proposition.
I say it is “the wrong question to ask and the wrong goal to pursue” to expect biodiesel to keep the petrofuel grid working- it can’t. Produced in a few refineries and made available within a few kilometres of most places on earth, petrofuels have seduced us to think life will end when oil dries out. One kind of life will end but another good one is possible. The EU’s fiat that 10% of all diesel consumed in 2010 should be from renewable resources is hare-brained. irresponsible, misleading and doomed to cause famines and result in eventual failure. Biofuels can never step into the shoes of petrofuels- Monbiot is right. But biodiesels grown in a million locations for local use can enable the good life- Monbiot’s summary condemnation is wrong.
The petrofuel party is almost over. You don’t have to take my word for it. Gaze at this chilling shot of an oil trader’s screen. It was the moment on Feb 20, 2008 when oil edged past $100 a barrel. As I write, it is still climbing.