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The urgency of preparing for the impact of oil shortages | a letter to Sarah Teather MP and other elected representatives

November 16, 2009

I sent the letter below to Sarah Teather MP and a slightly reworded version to the following elected representatives of my constituency, Brent East

London Assembly Members

Members of the European Parliament

Last of all I sent the same letter to Lord McKenzie of Luton who seems to have spoken often about oil related issues. I will post each and every response that I receive (if I receive any) on this blog as they arrive.

Dear Sarah Teather,

First of all thank you again for all of your support and continued correspondence,  for dilligently and faithfully answering each of my letters.

I must now bring your attention full circle to the first letter I sent you some 16 months ago with a particular emphasis on peak oil. I said then that time is already short to prepare adequately for the impact of a decline in oil production. In the year that’s followed I can safely say that not nearly enough has happened in the UK neither to make the public aware of the realities of peak oil nor to make real provisions in anticipation of imminent energy shortages and a transition away from hydrocarbon dependency. I do not hold you responsible for this nor am I writing merely to winge about it. You are my only approachable representative within the UK government and it is all I can do to place as great an emphasis on these matters as I possibly can speaking not just for the sake of your constituents but for the entire UK and mankind as a whole.

Figures published in the latest IEA World Energy Outlook have reportedly been distorted in order to massage US interests and keep global markets calm. I have corresponded with the head of energy diversification regarding this matter and he has not engaged with the allegations other than to say that they have been warning for years that projected demand will not be met with current investment levels in exploration and development. The point is that peak oil is a reality and it is merely a question of when the decline will begin – at what point will the supply fail to keep up with the demand. According to the more pessimistic accounts it will begin in 2013 (Uppsala University’s study entitled The Peak of the Oil Age), and the optimistic accounts put the date back to between 2020-2030 (International Energy Agency). This doesn’t leave us much time in any case.

We are now deep into a recession. As a nation we have already spent our future under the assumption that the economy will continue to grow and we will be able to pay it all back over the next x decades. What will happen when the price of oil begins its permanent escalation? The financial system will collapse. Furthermore it isn’t only transportation that runs on oil but the entire food industry (10 calories of hydrocarbon energy per calorie of food produced), the pharmaceutical industry, all plastics, etc. The implications are staggering. Without proper oil conservation in the wake of the decline not only would few commodities including food be affordable to anybody but we would no longer be able to make or distribute sufficient quantities of medicine or vaccinations for instance. Most medicines are made possible by petrochemicals. The healthcare industry relies massively on disposable plastics. Another outbreak of a swine-flu like virus could quickly decimate the population under those conditions. If there is any risk of this scenario being as close as 4 years away then surely we should be doing everything possible to insure erring on the side of caution?

I am aware that the UK government has over the past few years continued to be dismissive of the fact that oil production is peaking imminently or has already peaked. I continue to be shocked at this attitude. At a certain point this will be construed as criminal negligence on an unprecedented level. Concealing the true motives behind our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan or trying to prevent panic on the stock markets are not good enough reasons for withholding information from the British public that is directly pertinent to its survival. These are also not good enough reasons to neglect preparing for what is to come, whether in 4 years or two decades.

There is much that can and should be done now. I refer you to Mike Ruppert’s work – particularly his book A Presidential Energy Policy. Visit for more information on Mike and one of the best collections of independent research on peak oil.

What worries me most is that our economic system is the greatest obstacle to a smooth peak oil transition. Required investment is stagnant when there is no profit to be made. In order to facilitate sufficient investment in renewables, demand destruction and improved public infrastructure the government will need to take extreme measures such as redistributing wealth by capping profits and levying severe penalties on polluting industries et al.

It is the overriding authority of profit that needs to be addressed immediately and the survival of our people and planet made the highest priority. I have no doubt that this will be a painful and arduous process with huge resistance from monied interests.

In short I urge you to raise your voice on preparing for oil shortages now. I urge you to continue demanding transparency along with uncompromising and swift energy reforms. I urge you to push for corporations to be made financially and legally accountable for their impact on the environment and cease to externalize their costs on the public.

The place to start is the call on the government from the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security ‘to reassess its dismissive views about the potential threat and impact of oil shortages.’ (The Guardian)

Yours sincerely,
Seth Mowshowitz

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