Saturday, March 08, 2008

More CIF Peak Oil Argument

As ever, any article on Peak Oil in The Guardian's CIF section attracts a huge barrage of proponents from the extremes at both ends, and this is no exception.

Now I cannot understand why the concept of Peak Oil can be regarded as a 'doomsday cult' as the author implies. Likewise, in response to "And there is a grain of truth to peak oil theory. Oil is a finite reserve, so the more we extract, the closer we come to exhausting the resource."; A 'grain of truth'! It's an inescapable fact! Look, crude oil is a finite resource that human beings risk exhausting to their own detriment, as our modern industrial civilization is based almost entirely upon it!

No-one, other than a handful of real doom-mongerers, is suggesting that Peak Oil implies a sudden and disastrous disappearance of petroleum as a resource. However, it is entirely clear that over the coming decades the amount of easily available and recoverable sweet (i.e. easily usable) crude is without doubt going to decline. It may decline slowly over several decades, or it may start to decline at an accelerating rate some time in the future, but decline it inevitably will.

As for Peak Oil's proponents being "a rag-bag of geologists, green activists, Malthusians, and people who yearn for a return to some pre-industrial idyll", well, the only one of those monikers I can hold my hand up to is that I am (well, was) a trained Geologist (Geo-Chemist actually).

And comparing the cost of a barrel of oil with a barrel of Coca-Cola - well, that has to be one of the most spurious comparisons I have ever seen!

Perhaps, as one of the CIF posters suggests, we should term the problem that is now starting to confront us as Cheap Oil, rather than Peak Oil. Maybe more people will be able to understand that description.

Whatever side of the argument that you sit on, it is abundantly clear that: in conjunction with [Likely] Man Worsened Climate Change (with its associated loss of water supplies and harsher crop growing conditions); an already rapid increase in the prices of staple foodstuffs; the ever increasing population of our little lump of planetary rock; our continuing destruction of native environments in the pursuit of earning a few bucks; our rape of the oceans already highly depleted resources; Peak (OK then, Cheap) Oil, is simply one problem in a long list of issues that humanity needs to address urgently.

Now if that makes me subject to being termed a 'Malthusian' then so be it. Sorry, but to me, it seems little more than basic common sense. Remember what happened to the population of Easter Island?