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Peak oil has already begun. Demand accountability and transparency from IEA, the US & UK government NOW

November 10, 2009

Many respected critics have long speculated that official projections from the International Energy Agency, major world governments and the oil industry of how long oil production can be sustained for are exaggerated. Today this was substantiated:

Key oil figures were distorted by US pressure, says whistleblower

Most people haven’t even gotten their heads around the fact that oil will run out. It will certainly run out, very few people are denying that any longer and they are rapidly losing any credibility. We’re now at the stage of bickering about how many decades of increased oil production we have left. As it turns out, we may have less than one.

Just to recap, our economic system relies on infinite growth in order to be able to sustain itself. When we are reasonably certain that the economy is going to grow it means we can borrow against future income – we can be reasonably certain that there will be increased income in the future. Our entire financial system is based on the ability to borrow against future earnings.

Infinite growth is made possible by fossil fuels, chiefly oil – the energy source behind the vast majority of worldwide manufacturing and transportation of all products – including food. As long as we can keep increasing oil production at fairly predictable rates, we can have infinite growth – we know that our consumer distribution networks will function etc. Once oil production begins to decline the economy will begin to shrink. Banks will stop lending. In case you haven’t noticed, we are already in a deep recession. The recent financial meltdown is not unrelated to peak oil. I believe that the key figures at the helm of the financial system are privvy to the actual projections of oil production. If that is the case these figures have been wilfully negligent at our greatest expense.

If we do not deal with our dependency on fossil fuels before oil production begins to decline, we will no longer be able to afford to do so. Replacing the fossil fuel infrastructure will be extraordinarily expensive, but the cost must be measured in terms of energy. We may not have enough energy to meet that cost. For example, 12-15% of the gasoline a car uses in its lifetime goes into its own manufacturing. How much would it cost to replace the majority of the 750 million+ cars in the world in terms of energy? That is just one example.

Of far greater importance than cars, roughly 10 calories of hydrocarbon energy are used to make 1 calorie of food across the globe. In industrial agriculture oil powered machines are used to till the land, plant the seeds, harvest the crops, transport the raw produce, transport the final products and in all likelihood to transport the consumer to to the supermarket to buy the product. Natural gas, coal or oil are used to make the electricity that powers the irrigation systems, food processing plants and microwaves. Commercial fertilizers largely rely on natural gas to produce a synthetic nitrogen component. Commercial pesticides are also made from oil. Any plastic involved in the process is of course also made from oil.

Feeding a growing world population is therefore also directly dependent on a steady increase in oil production. We are already failing to do that adequately. The result of being caught unprepared for a decrease in oil production would be catastrophic. Many hundreds of millions of people would starve to death.

It turns out that the US is at least partially responsible for these exaggerated figures by putting pressure on the IEA to distort figures. Somewhat ironically, the stated reasons for doing so are to avoid a situation of panic buying of oil and to avoid general panic on the stock market. There will certainly be panic when the public realizes that the negligence of the powers that be will imminently result in the total collapse of the civilized world.

You can bet that a small amount of priveledged and wealthy individuals have been exploiting this situation for some time. Of course these private interests don’t want to cause panic on the stock market – they are raking in a fortune every second that this system is maintained. Today these interests – consisting at least to some extent of figures within the US government – have been publicly caught out displaying a distinct absence of intent to remedy this situation for the greater good. This is irresponsible on an unprecedented scale.

We need to wake up and demand immediate transparency and accountability from our representatives. Any further waffling about reducing fossil fuel dependency must cease. We need swift, decisive and comprehensive action.

We all need to demand this from our governments immediately.

For those in the UK, I refer you again to the incredibly convenient Write to Them website.

For those in the US you will have to make do with the Contact Elected Officials page on usa.gov.

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